The year is around the 1920′s and the darkness of the demons have arrived. Now, only the people with large amounts of spirit energy can save the Earth. The Flower Division is now going to be sent out destroy the demons for they’re our only hope for survival with their new steam-powered machines and unique fighting techniques.
- Title: Sakura Wars (Sakura Taisen)
- Series: OVA
- Episodes: 4
- Status: Finished Airing
- Release Date: Dec 18, 1997
- Genre: Action, Comedy, Mecha
- Rating: PG
All of last month, I went over various adaptations of Visual Novels from various companies, such as Air and Koihime Musou. My next set of reviews will also be over adaptations, but this time over a different sort of series: The Sakura Wars series. The Sakura Wars games are a combination of visual novel gameplay in regards to the many girls in those games, and strategic gameplay you would see from strategy games such as Final Fantasy Tactics or the Super Robot Wars titles. Though only one of the games (based on the fifth game) has made it to the states, anime based on the first series have made it over here to the states, starting with the 4 episode OVA that was made in Japan in 1997.
Starting as usual with the production side of things, the company Radix was was behind the animation in this OVA series, and other series to their credit have been Amazing Nurse Nanako, Inuyasha, and Nazca, to name a few shows. The animation is all right and does look very gorgeous in some scenes, such as one night time scene in particular for the second episode. The music is passable, with the OP and ED songs being good, while the background music is passable, which is a bit sad considering the theater aspect of the series. Since this series did receive a US release, it does have a dub. It isn’t a good one, however, as the production of it sounds too echo-y a good chunk of the time, not to mention that the VA’s sound too quiet in other scenes. That isn’t getting into the forced accents on some of the characters either. I should also mention that since their are singing numbers in some of the theater scenes, they are Japanese in both the dub and the sub, since I think they did not want the English VA’s to attempt singing.
The basic story of Sakura Wars is that it is a military unit comprised of mostly young women that fight against demons in their steampunk mecha and also are part of a theater troupe. How this adaptation goes about things is a bit disjointed, however. Character focus is the name of the day, as the story is constantly moving forward, with numerous time skips over the course of the 4 episodes. Because of that, you get the basics, but the detail and look at the overall storyline makes things feel incomplete. I assume that this OVA series was made to test the waters to see if a longer series would be made, and that did end up happening, so, if that is the case, it at least accomplished its goal.
The characters of the series all seem to follow certain stereotypes to some extent, though that doesn’t mean they can’t be entertaining. For example, you have Kouran, who is usually a comedic character with her inventions being rather accident prone. She doesn’t receive much development aside from this, and other characters, such as Iris and Kanna, are the same way. The characters that receive any time to develop or expand their stories are Sumire and Sakura, who are pretty much the star heroines to begin with. You also have a male lead, Ogami, but he doesn’t really receive any spotlight at all until the final episode. When he does receive focus, their are aspects of his character that are brought up, but never explained. Also, due to the short nature of the series and how it likes to jump around, you hardly learn a thing about the villains at all, other than that they are, well, demons and must be stopped at all costs. They are pretty much faceless grunts for the most part.
If you are a fan of this genre or want a warm up to the TV series, I could recommend this to you. Otherwise, this short series would probably not be to your liking since there just isn’t much substance to it. The series was brought over by ADV, but this particular OVA series might be hard to find as a word of caution.