Mania Grade: C+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: C+
- Packaging Rating: C+
- Menus Rating: B+
- 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
By Edmund Lee
February 18, 2002
Release Date: October 26, 1999
Welcome to the world of Sakura Wars. When I first watch the show, I was aware of the fact that this had been a popular game in Japan that will never see a Western release, so I basically set it upon myself to try out what made this series a cult hit.
On the first episode, we are basically given a very brief understanding of what is happening in the world of Sakura Wars and the war that happened earlier as some of the characters might mention in the show. We get glimpses at the 6 girls that will pilot the Oobu, steam powered mechas. All of them are rather cliché sort of characters that are all too common in many videogames. Sakura Shinguji, the innocent country girl, Maria Tachibana, the calm and cool leader, Sumire Kanzaki, the proud little rich girl, Kana Kirishima, the big strong good nature fighter, Iris, the quiet child, and Li Kohran, the disaster scientist.
The next episodes, the story continues on as the Teikoku Kagekidan (Flower Division) is starting to form into a respectable amount. Of course there are some conflicts here and there, as it will be foretold with cliché characters not getting along. There aren't any big battles as of yet, but the show is rather interesting in how the characters react to one another.
The third episode on the disc, the main character Sakura, has finally join the Flower Division, and being a new girl she has trouble getting along with the group, and everyone, except for Sumire, is trying their earnest to make her feel more accepted. But the enemy begin their assault on the city and Sakura realise that in order to be accepted she mustn't shy away from the challenge.
And on the final episode, we finally have Ichiro Ohgami, leader of the Flower Division, in the group as this episode, which is based somewhere halfway thru the game storyline. So if you haven't had the chance to actually play the game, the episode itself seem rather disjointed in terms of plot. Anyway, the whole point of this episode is that Ohgami is just as important to the group as he is to them.
One thing sprang to mind as I finish watching the show, it fuel my intention to get the game. Not just to continue on the story after the 3rd episode, but to really experience the phenomenon. And after playing thru the game and going back to this disc, the plot makes more sense and I would like to say that these stories are a great extension to the game's storyline. But for those that don't actually had a chance to try the game out, it's not a lost cause as the first 3 episodes are really good building blocks and makes the show a little more interesting. Another thing I like to note: I'm a Kousuke Fujishima junkie, so that's the other reason why I wanted to check this series out.
Video on the other hand isn't up to it I'm afraid. As it being one of ADV's earlier DVDs this is one of the bad ones. On my regular setup, rainbows aren't too common but it's there and there were in places lots of pixelation and artefacts. Part of it was due to the masters but the main fault of it was the encoding. The faults were amplified more on my DVD-Rom setup.
The audio also has its share of problems. The English track has is the worse affected, especially on the 4th episode. When played in Pro-Logic mode, the voices are coming out of the back speakers, similar to the Slayers boxset audio problem. The Japanese track is suffering from a hollowness in Pro-Logic.
There ain't much for extras, just 12 trailers form ADV's catalogue.
The dub is rather iffy. Some of the voices were rather alright but the main fault of it is in the fake accents of Iris and Kohran. With Iris, it sounds rather forced and has this weird tendency to make her sound louder than what the scenes call for. And Kohran, it was so laughably bad, I take it as an insult considering I've heard better fake Chinese accents. And don't get me started about the Mandarin they spoke. The Japanese side sounds a little more natural, but the English sounds like any Westerner speaking from a "How-To" book. Well the good thing about the dub is that it didn't skimp out on the important stuff so that's gotta be good.
Overall, looking aside from the technical details and the dub, this is a good introduction to the world of Sakura Wars. Not an outstanding title, but enough to get people interested in the game is always a start.
Panasonic SA-HT80, Sharp 25" X-51F4