Sakura Wars: Sumire Review

Sumire has definitely been a pretty key figure in the Sakura Wars franchise. She’s always around to help the heroes out whether it be directly in a fight or by pushing the rest of her team to perform even better with her tough love approach. She quickly became one of the best members on the team so it’s fitting that she would be one of the only people in the series to get her own special. Next to Sakura you probably could say that she had the biggest role in the series.

The basic plot of the special is that Sumire has decided to retire from the Flower Division. She’s getting older now and has realize that her powers have started to wane. While she could theoretically try to stay in a support role, you need your powers to be able to use the mechs and I doubt she would be satisfied on the sidelines. This also means she will have to retire from the stage performances. None of the other members are happy about this but try to see her off with a smile as she has her final show. The special’s more of an emotional epilogue so there aren’t any big fight scenes or anything. It’s really here to give Sumire some closure.

So there isn’t a ton to say about this one because it’s only about 20 minutes and it’s not like there is a whole lot going on here. Sumire continues to look really good. She noticed her powers beginning to go away before anyone else and made the retirement decision on her own terms which is important. Sumire takes the whole thing in stride as well and already knows what to do now that her career is over. Building mechs with the company is a good way to keep fighting against the forces of evil. Also, her powers are not completely drained so if there’s an emergency I’d like to still see her get into the action. Maybe if we ever get a sequel movie she could have a quick scene where she gets into the mech one last time.

The rest of the division doesn’t get to do a lot here beyond saying goodbye to Sumire. Kanna takes it the hardest since she always had a lot of good banter with Sumire. Even to the end she isn’t quite able to keep up a game face the way that the others did. Of course that’s definitely a lot easier said than done so it’s nothing to fault her for. Sakura is finally able to gain some confidence after coaching from Sumire so she will be ready to be leader now. Technically Maria was the leader but everyone on the team knew it was secretly Sumire and now that role will be Sakura’s.

We get a clip show at the end of Sumire’s adventures with the team as the OVA finishes. So it was a pretty fun little adventure from start to finish. It’s the kind of special you can probably only appreciate if you saw the rest of the series. It’s all pretty low key after all but definitely worth the watch. The animation is good, the writing is solid, and there are no real mistakes here. It’s just a fun special and it’ll be tough for the Flower Division to really continue going on without her. I feel like a new character may need to be added just to help with bringing in more banter. To an extent I feel like that was Orihime’s purpose originally but she didn’t really end up sparring much so you still need another piece.

Overall, Sakura Wars: Sumire is a very direct epilogue. It accomplishes what it set out to do with concluding Sumire’s story and definitely ends this part of the franchise. There are a lot of ways you could still write in her return of course so if the writers are desperate she can return but otherwise it’s definitely a nice end to her character. I’d definitely recommend checking this out if you’ve been going through the Sakura Wars series and don’t know that this special exists. If you haven’t started the series yet then you should probably at least check out the main anime before watching the special so that you’ll really know the characters first.

Overall 7/10

Star Fox Zero The Battle Begins Review

It’s time to take a look at the little Star Fox special that Nintendo came out with to promote the new game. Unfortunately, the game was rather underwhelming, but the special is fairly good. It’s short so there is only time for one real battle, but this was more of a promo than anything else. It’s only around 15 minutes so there is naturally not much of an opportunity for it to drag on or have any real negatives while its potential is also limited as well. It’s a double edged blade in the end.

The Star Fox team must try to protect Corneria from the invaders or all hope will be lost. Luckily Fox is here and when he is around the group knows that everything will ultimately be okay. Unfortunately, the government is keeping secrets from Fox. Gee, what else is new right? He’s saving their lives on a daily basis and that’s how he is repaid. The secret is explained in the game and you have to wonder why it was kept a secret the whole time. Naturally, the special ends abruptly since you are meant to play the game to see how it all unfolds.

The animation looks fairly sharp, but unfortunately that only really applies to the backgrounds and lasers. The actual characters use very odd designs that really don’t work very well. They clash with the rest of the effects on screen. Maybe the animation company was experimenting with a new animation strategy, but I can safely say that it did not work. Sometimes going for something new and original is simply not the smartest strategy. Sometimes you just need to play it safe.

There’s not a whole lot more to discuss from this advertisement. There is a “This villain’s too cool!!!” moment that the special tries to sell you, but it will all depend on whether or not you can take the guy seriously. The villains are mostly comic relief so it’s safe to say that you won’t find them to be all that intimidating at this point. Slippy’s new voice actor isn’t quite as epic as the old one, but he still tries his best. At least he is likable unlike the old pal from Fox’s dad’s crew. Fox and Falco are easily the two best members of the crew even if there isn’t a whole lot of differences in their personalities. That will come with time I suppose. When you get down to the nitty gritty of it all, this special has all of the aspects that you want in a short. It has a nice battle scene and a decent background theme with no really bad characters. I definitely give it a pass and would recommend checking it out. After all, it’s not very often that Nintendo steps into the animated world. I still long await the day that we get a proper Super Smash Bros TV show or movie. That could have the potential to be one of the all time greats after all. Well, until then I suppose!

Overall 7/10