Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Sakura Wars (Sakura Taisen) OAV 2

Genre: Shoujo / Action / Mecha
General Audience
Original Japanese © 1999 Sega / Bandai Visual / Animate Film © Red 1996 1999
English Version © 2002 A.D. Vision, Inc.

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ADV Website Description:
Flower Division Captain Ichiro Ohgami is preparing to depart the Imperial Capital on his journey to study abroad in France. As the young Lieutenant collects his belongings, Ohgami reflects upon the many wonderful adventures he has had with the girls of the Flower Division over the past couple of years.

(6 episodes)

Where's the mecha? >>> by Kyubi Kitsune (01.23.2002)
This particular anime I picked up on a whim when the previously viewed copy of the first volume was on sale at Blockbuster. I had seen ADV's trailer for it on another DVD, and seeing short and stubby, almost super deformed, mecha doing battle just seemed to have some redeeming value to it. Unfortunately I absent mindedly forget that ADV tends to make their trailers from editing the opening of a particular anime. Sadly the mecha does not make an appearance outside the opening, but this proves to be irrelevant as this OAV itself is a solid anime.

The six episodes in this OAV play out to be a character study of the girls who make up the Imperial Flower Combat Troop; a dual purpose group that not only defends Japan from demons, but is also a renowned theater company. seriously. Each episode tends to focus on pair of the girls as they encounter a situation which highlights particular attributes that define who they are. The plots for most of the episodes are not that original, but each episode is written well enough to prove interesting and enjoyable, even if you are not that familiar with the series.

Characters tend to fit into the usual stereotypes you will find in this type of anime, yet they are written well enough to prove interesting and, when put together, they create a nice dynamic group.

For a recent OAV the animation is very good, but some rather obvious and misused CG shots do kind of detract from the overall quality. Character designs and the mechanical designs, that center around steam power, are nice but are kind of on the plain side of things.

The music in this OAV is actually one of its strongest points. For each episode a different seiyuu of one the girls will sing the rather catchy opening theme, and for each ending there is song sung by one or both of the seiyuu of the featured characters. The ending songs will relate to the episode in some way, and most of them are pretty good. Background music is good but neither stands out nor is memorable

If there is one weakness to Sakura Wars it would be the dub. Considering that the Japanese seiyuu actually do live performances of the songs found in the various games and series, and have a strong following in both Japan and with American fans, the American voice actors have tough act to follow. While ADV has done some very good dubs recently of show like Excel Saga and Princess Nine, the dub for Sakura Wars turns out to be pretty bad. Some performances are wooden and uninspired, but some the worst aspects of the dub come from the ADR director's idea that some of the characters need some thick, exaggerated, and badly done accents. The worst offenders of this are the voice actresses for Maria (Russian), Kohran (Chinese), and Iris (French). Some may find a certain camp value in this, and others may not even be bothered by this at all, but most will quickly switch to the sub. Yet it should be noted that there is one good performance in the dub as Kelly Huston does a nice job voicing Reni.

For a person like me who has not seen or played anything Sakura Wars/Taisen, this OAV proved to be rather enjoyable experience, and I am sure it is worth the money for any Sakura Taisen fan.

Individual Rating:Art: 8; Story & Plot: 8; Characters: 9; Sounds: 9

omething to top off your ST collection with... >>> by Xellos-sama (02.15.2002)

If you're looking for a sequel to the TV series or the first OAV, this ain't it. The story continues with Sakura Taisen 3 (the Dreamcast game). OAV 2 is merely a bit of additional material to satiate fans of the series.

The series' plot centers on Ohgami as he is about to leave the Hanagumi (Team Flower) for Paris to join up with the Hoshigumi (Team Star). As he packs his bags, he comes across mementos that remind him of specific experiences with the individual Hanagumi members. Each episode is based around one or two Hanagumi members.

If you're a fan of the series then you definitely need this in your collection. While it lacks in action, it provides an even deeper look into the lives and personalities of each team member. Think of it as a great supplement to a great series. As always for the Sakura Taisen series, the seiyuu are all top-class and perfect. The opening and ending tracks are performed by the seiyuu of whichever girl is being featured in the episode. It's nice hearing all the new, different versions of the opening track (though I STILL think Chisa Yokoyama has the best voice among them). Also, I especially liked the seiyuu of the new girl. Orihime, this is the first time I've heard Japanese spoken with an accent (thumbs up), yet more proof that the seiyuu involved with this series are in a class of their own.

Individual Rating: Art: 8; Story & Plot: 7; Characters: 8; Sounds: 10

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