Sakura Wars OVA 2 Vol. #2 : Wedding Bells -

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Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sakura Wars / Sakura Taisen

Sakura Wars OVA 2 Vol. #2 : Wedding Bells

By Chris Beveridge     October 19, 2002
Release Date: November 26, 2002

Sakura Wars OVA 2 Vol. #2 : Wedding Bells
© ADV Films

What They Say
Captain Ohgami is leaving the Imperial Flower Combat Troupe, and it's clear he may not be the only one who's saying farewell. But whom is Sakura marrying? And why does it seem she herself is against the wedding? Can the Imperial Troupe rescue her before it's too late? Does she even want to be rescued?

For Sakura, returning home is a demanding journey. Can she reconcile herself to the death of her father, whose destiny compelled him to give his life in the Demon Wars? And what about her own destiny? Will she carry on the Shinguji legacy? Find out in the awesome conclusion of Sakura Wars!

The Review!
While I still won’t put myself anywhere near the same level of fandom as some of the Sakura Taisen fans that I know, I’m finally warming up to this series due to the final two episodes of this OVA release.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. And in something of a rare event, the Japanese went and made a 5.1 language track for this. This track is rather well done, with some solid use of the rear speakers for ambience and various sound effects during action moments. The main use is to really build a well layered forward soundstage, and it comes across great here. The English language track is done in a standard stereo mix, which sounds good but definitely lacks what the Japanese 5.1 track provides.

I’m hard pressed to find anything wrong with this transfer, and the extremely minor thing of some slight shimmering along building lines during a handful of panning sequences is the ultimate in nit picking. Other than that, this is a fantastic looking transfer that takes advantage of a very vibrant piece of animation. Colors are rich and lush, backgrounds are wonderfully solid and cross coloration is non-existent. ADV also did the same thing they did with their original OVA release in that depending on the selections you make in the language menu, the opening credits play different angles. Angle 1 provides the characters with their English voice actors while Angle 2 provides their Japanese actors. This process had some problems way back in 1999, but works flawlessly on this release.

Continuing in the same style as the first OVA release, the front cover features the bright red and yellowish orange coloring.. The front cover lets Orihime and Kanna shine with a couple of their armors below them as the cherry blossoms fall. The back cover provides some small screenshots and a few lines of a summary. The discs features and technical information is all clearly listed, and there’s a small volume numbering on both the front and back covers as well as the spine. The insert isn’t a standard one, as it folds out to a nice four panel poster featuring the cast. The reverse side has two interviews that provide some nifty bits on the series background and what goes into the show.

The menus are done up in a similar style to the front and back cover with the colors and general layout with various bits of animation playing through the menus, including submenus. There’s music playing along well, keeping it lively. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is pretty standard.

Some good extras round out this release. The clean opening sequence makes another appearance here as well as some more production sketches. More of the girls from the show get their spotlight in the bio section this time as well. The remaining three covers and inserts from the Japanese release for these three episodes are shown here as well. The original Japanese promo video runs about eight minutes and covers a lot of promotional material, though I was hoping to see more of thelive action stuff in there.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second half of the daily lives OVA series continues on much like the first, though with just a single episode story and then a two-parter. There’s lots to like here, with some really good subtle moments and some really fun big moments.

The single episode is a fun little light hearted piece for the most part. Orihime’s father has been selected to provide the cover artwork for the upcoming big production Red Lad book. The series creator, a good friend of her fathers, has asked the Kohran wear the costume from the play that they did with her in the Red Lad outfit. At this time in the Taisho period, realism was coming back into paintings and art in general, and they wanted to capture this instead of a more abstract style. She agrees and heads off the row house where the creator lives along with Orihime so that the four of them can be there. She gets out the costume, dresses up and gets ready to be painted.

Things never go smoothly though, and a local building magnate of some sort has acquired the row house on the cheap and has sent in his goons to scare everyone out so they can destroy it. Everyone except Orihime and Kohran end up there and try to fend off the thugs. Some of the kids who live in the row house end up coming across the two girls though, and upon seeing “the real Red Lad”, they end up in a chase as the girls try to avoid getting entangled. But you know in the end that they do take on the thugs, as well as with the help of the rest of the troupe. They don’t want to ruin the imaginations and fantasies of the kids, and this proves to be a very entertaining piece of work.

The second and third episode on the disc round out this release and this OVA series, and provides some wonderful time with Sakura herself. Though done a bit on the sneaky side, Sakura and Yoneda head off on the train to the countryside. Some rumors are left behind though, as some heard about Sakura and a wedding. So naturally most panic into thinking that Sakura’s going off to get married and Yoneda is standing in for her father. The way they all react is interesting, as well as the realization that Sakura, once married, won’t be coming back. Then it settles in that most of them will eventually get married as well, and their time together is not quite as forever feeling as they thought.

Naturally, you know it’s all confusion about Sakura getting married, but rather a relative. Yoneda and Sakura’s father had close ties, and he had been charged with looking after her after he had died several years ago. The time we get to spend with both of them as they travel the train along the lush autumn countryside is really well done, as numerous small moments become larger, and we get to see sides to these characters we normally don’t. The bond between Sakura and Yoneda becomes even more apparent here, though he’s smart enough to broaden it to include all the girls in the Flower Division.

What really helped me personally to get into the overall Sakura Taisen universe is the way these two episodes bring up parts of the past, as we learn more of Sakura’s family history and what they’re charged to do. This comes in some excellent flashback sequences with Sakura’s father, and arguments with a slightly younger Yoneda, about what his destiny is and what Sakura’s destiny is going to be as well. This really helped to flesh out things that I simply didn’t know about since I presume it comes up in the games or was lightly covered in the original OVA series that I last saw something like four years ago.

In the end, I’ve looked at these two releases as primers for the characters for the TV series that’s forthcoming. A good amount of quiet time in their daily lives to familiarize the viewer with who they really are before the larger more action oriented piece comes up and things just get hectic, never mind hidden in uniforms and their combat robots. The quality of these OVA’s has been gorgeous, and that they were able to take the time to tell slower stories lets us linger with the lush production even more. I doubt this is for everyone, but I can feel the conversion coming over me.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening Animation,Production Sketches,Character Bios,Original Japanese Artwork,Original Japanese Promos,Special Printed poster with Japanese Staff interviews on reverse side

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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