Friday, May 6, 2005

Sakura Wars Movie (Sakura Taisen: Katsudou Shashin)

Genre: Shoujo / Action / Mecha
General Audience
2000 Ouji Hiroi, Mitsuru Hongo, Character and Anime Dot Com, Imagica, Inc Kyowa Kokusai, Kadokawa Shoten, Production I.G, Rent Rack Japan, Sega, Toei Animation

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Cover Description:
The Imperial Fighting Troupe is called again to defend Tokyo against the demons. However, this time, the Douglas-Stewart Company is selling a superior fighting machine that will revolutionize Japan's defense and make the Flower Division obsolete. However, the girls suspect something may be wrong when members of their team begin to vanish! But what can they do when their division has been placed on indefinite stand-by status?

Original character designs by Kosuke Fujishima (Ah! My Goddess!, You're Under Arrest, Ex-Driver), animation character designs by Hidenori Matuhara (Ah! My Goddess! The Movie) and animation by Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell, Jin-Roh).

Inner Turmoil. >>> by skysenshi
This movie is all about internal struggles, both within the Hanagumi (Flower Division) and the Imperial Capital. Sakura Wars (Sakura Taisen) Movie is set in 1926 and the struggle lasts for two years. It all begins when Ohgami -- the man you've known as the lieutenant in past Sakura Wars titles -- leaves for Paris and is somewhat replaced by newcomer Lachette Altair, former head of the Hoshigumi. Discord arises within the group because Lachette seems to love doing things on her own, an understandable circumstance, considering leaders shouldn't be going solo in the first place. Meanwhile, the Douglas-Stewart company ran by Brent Furlong and his butt ugly assistant Patrick seem to be having their own hidden agenda. In a nutshell, there is bedlam within Hanagumi while Japan is being secretly infiltrated by glory-seeking imperialists.

Story-wise, I find this movie a bit too jumpy. There are no character introductions, which would make it quite confusing. Questions are left hanging in the air. Why is Reni upset about Lachette joining the group? How come Orihime seems to genuinely like Lachette in the beginning and just suddenly turn to hating Lachette? There are no explanations as to how Lachette becomes an overbearing leader. She just is. You'd see the Hanagumi perform in one scene and then injured the next. Then people would just disappear in a way that would leave you puzzled in a not-so-good way. You'd just find yourself saying, "Wha? What happened?" a lot of times. In other words, there are no proper transitioning from scene A to scene B, scene C to scene D and so on.

As for the animation and artwork, I could say that this is one of Sakura Wars' best productions. You get to see the Kobu and other backgrounds rendered in 3D CG. But more importantly, the 2D art are so detailed, they could take your breath away. I've never seen the Kobus this detailed before and your eyes can feast on their 3D and 2D glory. The sounds are all right, except for the voice acting of the English-speaking characters. The French and the Americans just sound so...Japanese. I wish they had stuck to speaking Japanese instead.

Sakura Wars movie isn't so bad, especially if you're used to this yuri-infested franchise. It just needed a bit of work on the story flow. Oh, and has a penchant for coming up with Sailormoon-y spiels -- you know, those times when the girls just speak gibberish about love, hope, courage in the heat of battle-which can get distracting. Other than that, everything seems to be fine.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 8; Story 7; Characters 8; Sounds 7

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