Sakura Wars the marathon has now reached the big movie. It’s always great to see a series get its first feature film since that’s when you know that you’ve made it into the big time. The Sakura Wars film does not disappoint and is a quality follow up to the show. It may not be going for a very ambitious story but it’s a nice chance to see the characters again and even introduces another member to the squad. You’ll be entertained the whole way through and most of the characters get their big moments to shine.
All right, so the film opens with the heroes having another successful show. They’re then introduced to a new person who has been dispatched to join the Flower Division. Her name is Ratchet and she comes from a more extreme division. She’s not here long term but figures she can learn something from the group during this stay. She has a reputation of being quite fierce though. Orihime and Leni used to work with her. Orihime is jealous of how skilled Ratchet is while Leni straight up fears her. It’ll definitely be tough to get this unit working together, particularly since Ogami is no longer with the group.
Then you’ve got the fact that a new company has shown up and claims that the Flower Division may not be needed soon. That’s because they have built their own mechs and in their defense, these mechs do seem rather powerful. The demons are attacking more than ever but these guys are always around to stop them. It’s a little convenient that they show up at the perfect spot each time right? The business man quickly gets the government on their side but when things go sideways the Flower Division will have to band together for one more adventure. Will they be able to get to the bottom of this conspiracy and keep the country safe?
I think the instant the businessman shows up you’ll suspect foul play. In truth I don’t think you’re supposed to have any doubt on who to root for here and the real dilemma is seeing the bigwigs at the government get fooled yet again. It’s really not hard to trick these guys eh? You’ll mainly just be disappointed in the fact that all of the higher ups are not particularly quick on the uptake here. Yoneda’s right hand woman is eager to just follow orders and Yoneda himself doesn’t do much until it’s too late. It’s really up to Sakura, Ratchet, and the crew to set things right.
Now, at this point the cast is rather large so not everyone gets to do a lot. While most of the characters get their moment to shine, some don’t do a whole lot. Sumire for example is one very popular character that I was surprised didn’t get to properly do anything here. I suppose she got enough screentime in the show but I would have expected some kind of rivalry between her and Ratchet. It’s hard to see them getting along very well but they were pretty amiable here. Kanna gets to knock out a guard but doesn’t do much beyond that. Kohran finally had an invention that didn’t break so I’ll give her a pass here. Iris spends her time consoling Leni and this is Leni’s worst appearance by far. Ratchet is pretty intense but I feel like Leni exaggerated in being so afraid of her. At the end of the day Ratchet does seem like a good person.
That leaves the characters with the bigger roles. Orihime has a presence in this film but I can’t say that it’s a good one. She lets her jealousy get the better of her rather easily. Now, it’s a fun plot point and all but if you’re going to act like this then you gotta be able to back it up. Orihime volunteers for a mission that is clearly over her head and doesn’t prepare at all. It’s no surprise that she gets wrecked almost instantly. The sad truth is that Ratchet would have done a lot better which really justifies why she is so confident in herself.
Maria’s role is quite excellent though. She’s always been portrayed as one of the sharpest characters and she’s the first to suspect that something isn’t right. She gets two full action scenes to herself without the mech which is always fun to see. It makes for a great way to close out the film with her final moments and she proves why she is qualified to lead the team while Ogami is away. She’s such a strong character and the only reason I don’t have her higher up the list is because the team is stacked with such quality characters like Sumire and Kanna.
Then you’ve got Sakura who is still the main character of course. She looks very good and patiently helps to make sure that the team sticks together. She naturally disagrees with Ratchet’s more lethal approach throughout the film. While they never really come to blows, Sakura does step in to block Ratchet from murdering more people. Had things continued on that path I could have seen them fighting and I think it would be a close fight. Ratchet seems more skilled to me, but with her holy power Sakura just needs one hit to win. It would be a fun battle for sure. So Sakura is consistent as being a very solid character here.
Then you have the newcomer Ratchet. I must say that I thought she was a fun rival type character. I always like having the hero who shows up and decides that the villains must all be terminated. It always makes for some solid internal conflict. She can also have her lighter moments like when she trolls the characters at the beginning by pretending she can only speak English. Having her show up from America was a nice way to acknowledge the global presence of the fighters. The Flower Division reps Japan but of course there are divisions all around the world. I can’t say I’m surprised that the American branch is the one that murders everyone who stands in their way. That seems to be a common element when America gets involved in these things. Ratchet’s utmost confidence is one of the reasons why her character succeeds.
The only scene I found a bit questionable for her was the final play and in general the scene was a bit confusing. It’s an interestingly layered approach to having her and Sakura talk things out. Thing is, I’m all up for the conversation but it’s implied that Ratchet comes close to murdering her. It can be hard to tell where the play starts and ends with their conversation having multiple meanings but Ratchet seemed deadly serious. Destroying Sakura seems like it would have absolutely no benefit and doesn’t seem to be in line with Ratchet’s goals. Ratchet wants to complete the missions at all costs so destroying Sakura during a mission if she gets in the way makes sense but now? I just couldn’t really grasp Ratchet’s inner motivations at this point. She was clearly conflicted and confused but I thought it was an odd time for this to come out. I’d also argue that the other friends should have been closer by to try and put a stop to things. At their distance they wouldn’t have been in time to do anything.
Ogami gets a very small role here but it’s an excellent one. I won’t spoil what goes down but it’s one of the standout scenes in the movie. I’m glad he’s finally getting some respect here. The animation is definitely really good as you would expect. The best animated scene is likely when Sakura and Ratchet are taking care of the guards. They handle them quite seamlessly and the choreography is on point. The climax is also fun although the animation has less time to shine since the heroes are taking down one of those “I’m huuuuuuuge” opponents who can’t really do much in response. We get some good teamwork combos and determination moments though so it balances out. You always got to end the film with a big action scene and while I question why it always has to be a giant opponent in the end, it does work as a threat to unite everyone.
I didn’t talk much about the government plot but there’s not a whole lot to tell there. The idea of using mechs to support the division honestly isn’t bad. If they weren’t so greedy it could have worked and it’s something Commander Yoneda should still look into. I always thought there was no reason why they can’t make more robots. Sure, the users wouldn’t have spirit energy but wouldn’t the actual mech suits be enough as good backup? I believe it comes down to how durable the demons are but since conventional weapons sometimes have a bit of effect I think it’s worth it. Using captured demons to fuel power to fight demons? Now that’s a plan that sounds doomed from the moment it starts.
The soundtrack is fairly standard. You’ll recognize some tunes from the show and some new ones. None of them are super memorable or anything but they work well enough in the context of the scenes they show up in. I’d describe the tunes are smooth background music that doesn’t really stand out so it helps you focus on the dialogue. I wouldn’t mind more of a metal theme for the fights at some point though. The film has its share of darker moments where an ominous theme would work like when the villains first encounter Maria. Those two villains were pretty creepy and definitely came across as very intimidating.
Overall, I would definitely recommend the Sakura Wars movie. You may be a little confused if you jump into this one before watching the show though. The scenes with Sakura and Ratchet were definitely fun and the movie moves on pretty quick. None of the scenes drag on and there is always something happening. The movie has enough of an upgrade in animation where you definitely feel like this is a cinematic experience. I always feel like having that extra boost helps to make the experience feel legitimate. It tells a very complete story from start to finish. I look forward to seeing what other stories the franchise has in store. I admit that while the franchise does tend to move the characters around I’ll miss having the original group at the ready although it would be nostalgic if they could bring back the American branch from the So Long My Love title. That group was a lot of fun as well.