Sakura Diaries Vol. #4 - Mania.com



Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sakura Diaries

Sakura Diaries Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     February 27, 2001
Release Date: February 27, 2001


Sakura Diaries Vol. #4
© ADV Films


What They Say
When Meiko tells Toma a shattering secret, he runs right into Urara's waiting arms (or, more precisely, her wet, warm bathtub). Unfortunately, just as his backrub begins, duty calls. Upcoming exams, the big baseball tournament, and Meiko's two-faced desires. Now it’s time for Toma to step up to the plate—on the diamond, at the desk, and in the bedroom. But will he be sliding into Meiko's sheets, or slipping in between Urara's covers? 3 Complete Episodes!

The Review!
With the fourth volume, the series has come to an end. And like many of the shorter series like it, the manga run is longer and probably still running. So what does that mean? Well, not quite the definitive ending one might hope for....

Audio:
For our primary review, we listened to the original language track, Japanese. Throughout the three episodes, things were pretty straightforward with the majority of dialogue through the center channel and the music and a few effects sounds using the left/right channels. Dialogue was clean and undistorted with no noticeable dropouts. This is your basic TV soundtrack that does what it's supposed to do without any surprises.

Video:
There's very little different in the video department with this volume compared to previous ones. There's still a touch of softness throughout (which I still believe is intentional). This also looks a bit grainy in a few places, but nothing too major. Colors are good with no noticeable bleeding. The few blacks throughout the show are artifact free. While I haven't had any real issues with the look of the series, it won't win awards for best looking disc, but the material isn't suited for that kind of showing off.

Packaging:
Call me whatever you want, but these were some great covers (and inserts) for this series. And they're practically the same as the Japanese laserdisc covers, with only background changes. A sporty Urara takes the stage on this cover with a bathing suit version on the insert. The back cover has numerous animation pictures and a decent summary of the final episodes as well as a few menu shots. Definitely an eye-catching package.

Menus:
The menus are pretty basic but have some of the features people love in that episodes are easy to get to and selections are accessed very quickly. Even better, ADV's discs continue to read the presets on my Pioneer player for Japanese language and English subtitles, so I only visit that submenu for review purposes. The main menu uses a cropped version of the front cover, while there's minimal artwork used elsewhere in the submenus.

Extras:
Nada. My sole regret is no creditless openings and endings. The opening song is one of my favorite opening songs in quite awhile (so much so that I bought the soundtrack just after hearing it once).

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To some extent, you know you're in trouble when you get to the last episode of a series and the first thing that pops into mind is, "How are they going to resolve all of this in one episode". Even worse, when the first half of it is over and you amend your statement to cover the remaining ten minutes...

With things having settled down somewhat since Touma's revelation to Mieko, Touma finds himself becoming more enamored of Urara. Of course, who wouldn't when she's practically naked and giving him a bath? There's actually a few touching moments during this sequence when she tries to find out why he was so much in love with Mieko. Touma gets his reasoning out, but not all that clearly. Urara asks him what she can do to help him get over this....

Silly woman. Never ask a man what he wants. Never. Most (not all of course) will always be thinking of one thing. Most of them won't actually ask! Touma sidesteps a bit and gets courageous. He asks her to wash his back with her breasts! A man after my own heart.

And thankfully she does!

From there things follow the life of Touma as he continues his cram school studying and hanging out with his classmates and the whole baseball subplot. Unfortunately as he continues to sink lower and lower in his grades (due to his constantly thinking of both Mieko and now Urara), he ends up ranked last in his class and begins to really wonder what he's doing with his life.

There's also a subplot running about Mashu and Mieko and their relationship. A lot of this is touched upon through Mashu talking about his childhood, but feels like a really condensed version of a manga subplot being animated for little real reason. But, that's part of the problem with some manga adaptations. Some things feel more complete than others, while some things just feel tacked on. Simply put, the manga needs to be brought over.

The show continues its spiral of angst with Touma trying to decide where to go in his life, which gets a serious monkey wrench thrown into it when Urara's father calls and talks to him from Italy. Things definitely take a turn here, though somewhat predictable.

That's one of the things I've enjoyed about the series. While it's certainly had it's predictable moments, there's been a number of unpredictable ones as well that kept us alert. It does turn into a series though with an unfulfilled ending, but done in a way that life itself often works. It wasn't a bad ending per se, but one that leaves you with hopes for a second season, or at the very least a couple of stills with where things end up for everyone in the future.

Sakura Diaries was a fun series that had a lot of raunchy moments, lots of fan service and some very surprising lines and situations for a TV series. I've enjoyed the heck out of this series and wouldn't mind buying it again at all.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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