Sakura Wars -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: C
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: All Region DVD
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 120
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sakura Wars / Sakura Taisen

Sakura Wars

By Christian Nutt     February 18, 2002
Release Date: October 26, 1999

The Review!
Hi. I've never written a review for anything on this site before, although I do contribute regularly to in that capacity. The main reason why I decided that Sakura Taisen (sorry, I'm going to refer to it as Sakura Taisen the entire time - long habit) needed a fourth review is that my pet peeves were not touched on in any of them, especially the perspective of someone who is interested in the Saturn (and soon, Dreamcast) games.

I played quite a bit of the first game (although not to completion) and Hanagumi Taisen Columns was quite popular with my friends and I for a good bit, so you could definitely say I like Sakura Taisen. The anime, however, seems like a fairly cheap attempt to cash in on a popular video game franchise. The production values are quite mediocre, especially in the first two episodes. I'd rank it below even some TV series, definitely sub-Escaflowne. I have a saying: there are two kinds of anime - the kind where the dialogue makes sense, and the kind where it doesn't. While this is obviously open to interpretation (you'd be surprised which anime I assign to which category, I'm sure ^_^;;) Sakura Taisen is basically in the latter category.

To get the grisly technical detail out of the way, first: I agree wholeheartedly with Frederic Badin - there is absolutely no point in the alternate-angle credits the way this disc has them. I want unaltered Japanese credits on the alternate angle, or don't bother. This goes triple for Evangelion, where the US credits just look cheap and tacky compared to the originals, especially with the episode titles. Hopefully ADV will make better use of this cool idea in the future. As for complaints about the angle and language resetting between episodes, I didn't experience that on my Panasonic A110. I briefly flipped over to the dub - while the foreign language parts were much better (i.e. Maria's Russian, etc.) the dub makes me ill. In general, I could be characterized as a dub-hater, but this is just nightmarish. The fake-sounding foreign accents that the girls effect totally wreck everything, and if Iris has try (and fail) to sound French then Sumire, Sakura, Yoneda, Ayame, Ohgami, etc., should all speak with hokey, fake-sounding Japanese accents. The other, minor qualm is that the translation fluctuates. ADV can't make up their minds whether it's Shinguji or Shinguchi Sakura. Finally, the video looks nice, and the sound sounds nice (I don't have my DVD player hooked up to a receiver, however) but it just doesn't seem as clear and crisp as, well, serial experiments lain. I dunno if that's due to the source or ADV, however.

The anime tries to fill in plot elements that the game didn't really touch upon; while the first game begins with Ohgami Ichirou's [the player] arrival in Tokyo, the OVA shows scenes from some of the characters' childhoods. In fact, Ohgami doesn't show up until the third episode, and there's a sort of chintzy time-lapse where you'll just "insert experience of having played game" between episodes 3 and 4 if you want to understand what's going on. The anime really does assume that you are a fan of the game and even relies on it, basically, to be able to skip parts of the story and character development that it would otherwise have to address itself. The OVA also appears to be setting up Ohgami with Sakura, whereas in the game you can win with whomever you choose.

This anime really suffers from the fact that it is merely a product. While it's true that all anime is intended for commercial consumption, you can easily strain the inspired from the fodder. Sakura Taisen is fodder. It's fodder that's aimed at an especially small market of people in the US - fans of the Sakura Taisen video game franchise. There are things it does well, but there is absolutely nothing that is original. From the cliché "we can all be the best if we work together" theme to the team of girls with their own unique talents - hey, I know the game had that stuff but it just came off better when Red Company was at the reigns. The truth is about the only thing the Sakura Taisen anime made me want to do is hook my Saturn back up and pop in the game.

Review Equipment
Panasonic A110 DVD player, Panasonic CT27SF14 TV


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