Sakura Revolution ~Blooming Maidens Review


This latest incarnation in the Sakura Wars series is definitely a pretty interesting one. Since this is just a quick OVA to hype up the game I don’t expect we may see these characters again for a while. Still, the OVA does a terrific job of getting you hyped for what is about to come up next. This is the right way to set-up the game and the stakes seem a lot higher than any of the other incarnations since the heroes have effectively already lost this time. The villains seem to control Tokyo so it’s time to win it back. It’s too bad that it seems like the OVA isn’t super popular based on how hard it was to actually get a true anime poster for it so I pretty much settled for the mobile version and an anime screenshot at the end so you could see the actual animation. Maybe it’s one of those things more people will discover as the series gets bigger.

The OVA starts off with a mysterious lady who is accompanied by a trio of monsters decimating one of the combat teams. One of the heroines tries to get up but is promptly murdered. We then cut to the home base where The leader and her right hand man are the only ones left. She instructs him to go to an island to find Sakura and then bring her back to Tokyo. They’ll need her fighting ability if they are to succeed in this war. He heads off as the villain attacks once more and has a big confrontation with the leader. Presumably the villain won since we see her later but she was attacked by another mech shortly afterwards which may have been the leader.

Either way, the guy arrives onto the main island where he meets up with Sakura. Her grandmother Kirin isn’t thrilled about Sakura being thrown into the action like this but relents to her going. The 3 monsters show up to the island and the OVA ends with Sakura getting her sword and being able to create a mech suit around her made of psychic energy as opposed to jumping into a formal suit the way the others would. With this power humanity may finally have a chance against the demons and monster hybrids that threaten all of Japan.

As the Sakura War series has gone on we have definitely seen a whole lot of changes. The original series was very straight forward with humanity using steam powered mech suits to take on aliens. This continued although in the France division we started seeing more people with true magical powers. The New York version made flying suits a normal thing so everyone could fly and turn into jets. Then we had the recent animation which introduced the idea of humanoid monsters and hybrid life forms that were both human and monster. This OVA is continuing with that concept as the main villain seems to be another hybrid form. Additionally her aliens have the most sci-fi type designs yet as they look like something out of Gurren Lagann.

In general the animation here is just top tier. You can tell that the company put some solid effort into this. The fight scenes are a blast and in particular when Sakura is shredding the competition the animation is on point. The colors are sharp and there is a lot of potential here. Additionally this has the best soundtrack for any Sakura Wars product I have encountered. The battle themes are on point and this feels a lot like a modern installment in the series. It’s all a lot more high energy than the older versions would tend to be. Not to say that any of the Sakura War soundtracks were bad since I’ve enjoyed them all but this one easily takes it to the next level. Even the stage play theme from the intro was the best one I had heard yet.

Now, with only around 30 minutes to introduce the plot, new setting, and characters that does mean it has to go pretty quickly. Sakura and Kirin are the only two characters whose names you will remember off the bat. Kirin has a lot of hype but she is rather old at this point in the story so it’s not like she is about to go out there and fight. That’s really for the next generation of fighters like Sakura. Sakura is introduced well. She is ready to fight and seems a lot more enthusiastic about this than other versions. While I wouldn’t be ready to say she is the best Sakura from the various titles, she easily seems to be the most powerful and we’re only at the intro of the game. I can tell the power creep should jump up considerably with this one.

The main guy is less impressive since he’s not really a fighter nor does he have the bravery that you would find in guys like Captain Ogami, Taiga from New York, or the more recent one from The Animation. I do like that he has some skill with his eyes where he can detect an enemy’s movement. It may not have done much of anything against these powerful aliens but if he was fighting humans then I dare say that it would have taken him far. Clearly the leader does trust him so I’m sure the guy has some talent.

Overall, As soon as the OVA had begun, it was over. It really does serve its job well of throwing you into the experience though. It’s just a great title all the way around as it makes every minute count. In general that can be a fun thing about pilot OVAs like this though. Since they want you to play the game they can throw as many concepts and fights at you as possible along with a bunch of cliffhangers to make sure that you play the game. It definitely has a very epic feeling to it from the start. Now, I assume the actual mobile game will dial things back for a bit since you can’t stay in climax mode all the time but I’m sure it would begin to build up to that again. This OVA is definitely one that I would recommend whether you have played/watched the older Sakura War titles or not since either way this OVA gives you everything you need to know in order to succeed. After all, the idea of humans vs demons/aliens is a pretty quick one to get and all you need to know is that Sakura is humanity’s last hope. Without her all will be lost. Maybe one day they’ll make a full anime based on the mobile game, now that would be hype.

Overall 8/10

Sakura Wars: The Animation Review


It had been a long time since Sakura Wars had gotten a complete TV show before this one came out so it was definitely a big deal. Between this and the new game the franchise was finally going to hit it big again. I get the feeling it wasn’t quite as big a hit as they intended at least since to me the series seemed to vanish again. That being said, the show is great. It’s easily the most complete Sakura Wars product out there and in 12 episodes it accomplishes a whole lot. This is absolutely the kind of vibe you want to have for the show and the new cast is a lot of fun.

The show starts out with a very engaging scene as a monster shows up to kidnap a kid named Klara. She is stopped in her tracks when a mysterious lady shows up known as the White Cape. Both of them are interrupted when Seijuro along with two guest stars from foreign combat revues show up. Seijuro takes the girl over to his team to look after her since it’s clear that a lot of villains are after her. While he will be away in Europe tracking down some clues, he leaves Sakura in charge of the team. She vows to watch over Klara with her life and the two of them hit it off really well. The rest of Sakura’s teammates are pretty cool about this as well. It won’t be so easy though. The Moscow team have arrives and claim that Klara is one of them and demand that the team hands her over. They refuse but the Moscow team is appealing to the government so this may be taken out of their hands. Can Sakura and her team protect this kid?

When you think of Sakura Wars, action usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. It’s more of a drama or slice of life that includes a lot of action. Well, this show definitely tossed that out the window. There is a ton of action here and as you can probably guess, I was a big fan of that. The first scene in the show is a pretty powerful battle between the various characters. We got to see Excalibur and another girl briefly as they helped Seijuro fight these girls off. They definitely feel more like guest star characters and so you shouldn’t expect to see them do much again until the very end. Still, they had excellent character designs and just really helped to start things off on the right note. They’re exactly the kind of allies that you want to have by your side at all times.

This was also a nice way to build up the stakes and get the show ready from the start. It wouldn’t let up after that either as you could typically look forward to some kind of fight going on in each episode. Surprisingly the heroes don’t fight the demons quite as much as usual since it’s mostly the Moscow group getting in their way and the Black Cape. The monsters probably figured they should lie low for now and I don’t blame them. They do look pretty good when they appear though as the main unit had a lot of trouble with them. There is even one moment in particular that is pretty rough for the group since they had to be saved. It just goes to show that there is always someone stronger after all.

This time around the animation is in pure CGI. Fortunately this is an example of using CGI the right away. The character designs are on point and the fight scenes look good. Naturally with hand drawn animation I’m sure the show would have looked even better but this one handled everything pretty well so I had no complaints. The energy effects are still quite vibrant whenever the characters are attacking and the fight scenes are good. There’s one scene where White Cape has to deflect a ton of bullets and she does it with ease. Then you’ve got Leila blocking Hatsuho’s punch with ease which was another pretty hype moment. You can still feel the impact each time which is definitely the important part.

Then we’ve got the soundtrack. The opening is pretty solid and it feels like a nice remix of the classic intro. That said, the ending is what really stands out here. It is quite stellar and just feels like an epic way to end each episode. You’ll be at the edge of your seat each week as you wait for things to continue. In the actual episodes the music is a little more forgettable though so mainly it’s the beginning and ending where it shines.

Still, this wouldn’t be Sakura Wars without at least having some time to calm down and just enjoy the sights. We get one full episode where Sakura gets to go on a family outing with Seijuro and Klara. The main villains as well as the rest of the heroes all decide to tag along and wreck this little trip of theirs. It’s pretty interesting to see even the villains get in on this. I suppose it may have been a decent time to try and steal Klara away but you feel like they’d never get away with it. You could say that this is the only episode that doesn’t seem to further the plot so in a way it’s like filler.

It was a fun episode though and it gave Shiba some much needed screen time so that alone makes the whole thing worth it. The show balances out the genres pretty well. Aside from that happy episode then you get a more emotional one early on with Hatsuho as she feels bad that Seijuro didn’t choose her to be leader. The tough truth is that Sakura was just better suited for it. Then of course you have the pretty serious episodes of the climax where the villains are making their big play. The show succeeds at every theme so whether the heroes are just having fun on their own or jumping in to make some kind of great stand against the villain, the episode really flies by.

The writing is on point throughout but you would expect no less. The ending to the series is also very satisfying. There are a few ways they could have gone about this of course but this was the optimal route. Additionally, there was one character moment that would have just been plain unfortunate but the very last bit of the ending made sure to correct this. Make sure you stick around til the very end of the show. Ultimately the ending was just great when you consider all of that and so the whole show benefits as a result.

Lets talk about the characters now. First up is Sakura, the leader of the team. She is a very dedicated fighter who stuck to her guns and wouldn’t let Klara go. She also took a lot of big risks in putting her life on the line to protect Klara. Sakura also mastered the more powerful suit of armor pretty quick. It’s clear that she is the most powerful member of the group, especially thanks to her sword skills that she can use even without a suit. When you put that all together, her allies just don’t have anything on her. Seijuro made the right choice.

The bond between Sakura and Klara is also just a lot of fun. Sakura’s always got her back. As for Seijuro, he doesn’t get a whole lot to do here. The higher ups keep throwing him on wild goose chases so he can’t help out at home. From what we see he is clearly a good fighter though. While Black Cape was able to take on the entire Sakura team and do well, Seijuro was able to take on 2-3 of them at once and came out on top. He’s easily one of the most impressive fighters in the series so that’s why it’s a shame that we couldn’t see him fight more. He has trained the team well though.

Klara has a big role of course and she’s good. Now it’s not always easy for a kid character to be very impressive as worst case they can just be really annoying and hold everyone back. Fortunately that isn’t the case with Klara. She’s just a nice kid from the start. While English isn’t her first language (Well, technically it would be Japanese since this is a translation) she does well at fitting in and even throws in a few Russian lines on occasion. The fact that she has some special abilities helps out quite a ton as well. There’s a lot of build up to this so when she finally gets to join the team the scene feels very well earned.

I was also glad that Seijuro was quick to let her help instead of just wasting time and trying to stop her. She is a member of the team after all so it only makes sense that she would jump in right? This is one case where Klara feels necessary to the team’s dynamic so it was good that she was on board. She ended up being a lot more fun than I had expected. Then we have Hatsuho who is the power member of the group. Unfortunately because of this she loses just about all of her fights. It’s sort of like Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon or Tauros from Saint Seiya. Since they are the power members of the group, they are always the first to get wrecked to show how powerful the next villain is and after a while you wonder if they really are the strong member. I guess physically yes, but when Hatsuho is physically weaker than every villain she encounters in the series, that makes things rather difficult for her.

It does lead to one of the best scenes in the show though when she throws a punch and Leyla casually catches the hit while also bringing Hatsuho to her knees. Hatsuho has a tough time here in other scenes as well like when she lost to the demon twice and then growing jealous of Sakura. Fortunately the two talk it over with Sakura being oblivious to what the chat was truly about and then Hatsuho was able to get over it. It was good character development because staying jealous would have just made her look really bad. As it stands I do like Hatsuho quite a bit but she’s got to work on that.

Azami’s the ninja of the group and is not nearly as talented as she thinks she is. This leads to a lot of fun little scenes where she does her best. My main issue with her is the fact that she seems insanely weak in a fight. Ninja stars aren’t going to work on giant monsters. Additionally she seems like the character who would be quickest to betray Klara so I definitely would not trust her in the slightest. Anastesia is another member of the group but unfortunately she really gets nothing to do here. I guess maybe she had enough screen time in the game so they decided to skip her here but it is a shame since everyone else got a big role. All we know about Anastesia from the show is that she’s probably the most serious character of the group.

Claris is more of a low key character but she is quite solid. Her magical attacks definitely look a lot more impressive than the bullets and ninja stars everyone else is using. She is a very pleasant character who is happy to help and doesn’t really worry about anything. She’s quick to try and cover for Azami despite not being too invested in what’s going on just because she is a good friend. So while she doesn’t do a lot in the show, she leaves a very good impression. Their boss Sumire doesn’t do much either but you wouldn’t expect the boss to get mixed up in all of this. Mainly she is notable just because she was on the original show so it’s nice to see that she moved up. Hopefully one day she can access her powers again and suit up, defying what we thought was possible.

Then you have Hakushu, the White Cape. The show makes it plain as day that they are the same character so you don’t have to worry about spoilers. The show is definitely self aware about this the whole time as her disguise is completely obvious. All she does it put on a mask and a cape but everything else is the same from her voice to the hair style. In her first scene we have Sakura chasing White Cape and when she turns the corner there is Hakushu who half heartedly says the Cape ran off. Hakushu also tends to make errors when talking as if she was White Cape and always has a weak excuse as to why that happened.

The show has a blast with this so get ready for the big reveal. Either way Hakushu is easily the best character in the series though. The fact that she is portrayed as the most powerful character while not having a robot is pretty incredible. She always jumps in to help and is willing to do a whole lot more than any of the other characters. The scene of her deflecting tons of energy blasts using super speed is pretty incredible. It’s clear to see why she commands so much respect as Sakura’s boss. Part of why she is the best character is because of how many times she saves the characters. Aside from that, she also seems to be the most intelligent as she stays one step ahead of everyone else. She also finds time to run an orphanage so she is truly a woman of many talents. She steals any scene she is in.

Then you have the main villain Kaminski. This guy is your classic take over the world kind of villain. There’s not much different about him but he does have a flair for the dramatic which works really well. In general he tends to be a fun guy. He keeps a polite demeanor about him at all times even though you know it’s most likely fake the whole time. Considering how long he kept up this charade though, you feel like he gets really sloppy by the end. If he hadn’t suddenly tried being as evil as possible and being cold to Leila then he had a good chance to win this. It almost felt a little out of character for him to be honest as he made things really easy for the heroes. Well, either way he was a pretty charismatic villain that’s for sure and definitely not someone to underestimate.

Leila is his right hand woman and a great villain. She’s the standout villain because of her great character and hype demon form. Her story is a tragic one since she looks up to Kaminski and sees him as a hero so she chooses to ignore the fact that he is manipulating her the whole time. Again, at least he was pretending to be nice which is good so why wreck a good thing and start pushing her away? Leila does all of the hard work throughout the series and is quite powerful. Not only is she able to take on the whole Sakura team with ease but I dare say even White Cape would have a tough time with her. Part of what makes things tragic for Leila is there’s also a lot of memory and emotion tampering going on within her so she is rarely in her right state of mind. You’re certainly rooting for her to break free the whole time.

Then you have Shiba who is a solid mechanic here. One thing that separates him from most is that the guy can actually build useful things that don’t break. It’s a bit of a foreign concept in Sakura Wars where usually the geniuses are a little eccentric to put it mildly or just build walking disasters. This guy even showed some leadership experience like when he had the team tail Sakura. This guy’s a pure comedy character that’s for sure but he excels at it and all of his scenes are a blast. Now, would I sacrifice a scene of his to get some more of Excalibur and the other heroine? Absolutely, but that was likely not on the table anyway so I’ll take what I can get here.

This show even manages to avoid having much of any real fanservice. The fact that the show is CGI probably helps a bit with that since even if the character design for Leila’s super form could have gone tricky, the show didn’t go there. Aside from CGI, that’s just a directing thing though so the director did really good to always play the scene straight. She’s a demon fighting the heroes, the show never tries for anything other than that. That’s when you know that the show is going to be a really solid adventure from start to finish. I suppose we have the gag of Shiba running out of the shower to get slammed but I wouldn’t really count that to be honest. If you like the gag of someone yelling as the camera fades out though, Shiba gets a lot of that.

While the animation is quite solid as I mentioned, I will say that it’s still hard not to chuckle during the dance scenes. Maybe it’s because of how smooth and gracefully the characters move, but it’s just hard to take the villains seriously when they’re just dancing as they talk about the plans. I will say that it’s fun when Leila styles on the heroes while dancing though. Now that’s a whole other level of disrespect right there. There’s even a dancing battle so you can tell the show was having some fun with this. Hey, if you can do solid dance numbers and want to show off the animation why not right? Then you have the epic stills where the colors really jump out of the page and you’re reminded of the potential of CGI all over again. Honestly if every CGI show looked like this we wouldn’t have any problems. Hand Drawn would still be the best but this would be a much more respectable backup plan.

Overall, Sakura Wars: the Animation is a terrific anime. The government looks pretty bad as they fall for every trick in the book but Sakura’s team stays strong throughout and makes sure to protect Klara. When they fail that job White Cape is always around to help out so they have a great system going. Part of what sets the show apart from the rest of the titles in this series is how much action it has. The rest of the Sakura War titles just can’t match this. The best bet would be the OVA for Revolution but that is shorter so by definition it can’t match up. This one’s got fights in pretty much every episode. The final episode especially goes bold with this as the whole episode is really a big fight scene. By the end of the series we learn why one character is so exceptionally strong and I dare say that leaves room for a nice sequel someday. Honestly the humans are in a fantastic spot right now so they don’t need to worry but it’s still good to be prepared. One plot still going is the demons approaching. It’s implied that as long as Klara exists they will keep on coming so ultimately they need to find a way to take out the demons for good. That would make for a fun sequel.

Overall 8/10

Sakura Wars: New York Review


This Sakura Wars OVA definitely feels a lot different from the previous ones. On one hand it easily has a lot more action than any of the others to come before it as well as an ongoing plot instead of being episodic. On the other hand it decides to engage in more harem antics as everyone fights over the main character. It basically evens out so this ends up being on par with the other OVAs but it could have otherwise had potential to be the very best. I suppose that just wasn’t in the cards this time around. I will say the posters for this OVA are easily the best ones I’ve seen compared to the others though.

The story starts off with Shinjiro in high spirits after taking out the Samurai Warriors villain, Nobunaga. When he goes into work he is in for a shock though as it turns out that the troupe is starting a new play for Cleopatra. The worst part is that they want him to be the main heroine in it. Shinjiro never performs in the plays and to be placed into this role is not something he’s looking forward to. Unfortunately the group won’t hear any objections. Meanwhile, a mysterious pair of individuals have appeared. They are targeting various landmarks in New York and seem to want to resurrect Cleopatra or do something with the Egyptian artifacts. Can the New York team of fighters stop them?

First off, I do have to say that the actual premise of the OVA is quite forced. Bare in mind that the Star Division is completely made up of young women with the exception of Shinjiro. So naturally one of them should be playing the main female part right? Instead they play the male roles and you’re left shaking your head. Clearly the whole point of this story is to put Shinjiro in a tricky spot. Then to market the play (Because you do that apparently) he has to run around in his Cleopatra outfit for the entire OVA.

Fortunately for Shinjiro he is oblivious to basically everything but even so, you know that the characters are intentionally messing with him for no real reason. Each episode tends to follow a formula where he hangs out with one of the girls who teases him a lot and then they team up to stop the villains. Sometimes they succeed in protecting the artifact and sometimes they fail. Shinjiro’s costume is also so realistic that the villain actually mistakes him for Cleopatra as well so there’s also that.

On the positive side, as I mentioned we do get some real fights. This is due in part to the fact that these villains have actual powers. The main villain can use his energies to summon monsters and his sidekick can fly. We get a solid hand to hand fight with Subaru even if you could tell that the budget wasn’t entirely ready at that moment. On the whole I would say the animation is good though. The final fight looks really solid for sure and on the whole the character models are on point. That fight just felt like there was less going on despite it being a close quarters encounter. The soundtrack is more on the bland side but we do get the intro song near the end so that was fun. Adding a lyrical song at the end is always a good move.

In true harem style each episode focuses on a different character. Shinjiro gets to hang out with almost everyone although at 6 episodes there isn’t quite enough time for everyone with the plot also taking time to shine as well as Shinjiro’s mother showing up. The episode with his mother was definitely pretty fun. It was definitely nice to see her clowning on the team. It makes sense that she would be quite powerful since she’s related to Ogami. Clearly even though she is not on the front lines her fighting ability hasn’t decreased.

For the rest of the characters, Gemini is still the best heroine of the group like in the games. Admittedly she doesn’t get a huge role here but she does always try to support Shinjiro and doesn’t mess with him the way that some of the others do. She’s also always up for a fight which I think is important. When all of the characters brought Shinjiro various meals to cheer him up, her idea of steak had to be one of the best options. I’ll take that over the other meals which were pancakes, chicken n rice, fish, and some more that I’m probably not remembering.

Shinjiro Sagitta helps get Shinjiro out of a jam when he’s being peppered with questions from his Mom but otherwise doesn’t get quite as big a role as the other heroines here. Then you have Diana who is still the worst member of the group. She never has Shinjiro’s back when it counts and isn’t as decisive as the others. I didn’t care for her much in the game either. Rikaritta’s really a kid compared to the others so you can’t take her quite as seriously in a fight. She’s a gun character with her twin gun style but sometimes they’re fake guns anyway so it’s not quite the same as a real weapon. While it’s a comedy plot she does always threaten to eat her pet as well which is a big no no.

Finally there is Subaru who may get the biggest role here and I dare say the OVA was shipping her the most. She’s relatively emotionless next to the other characters but also turns out to be the strongest one. She’s the only character to actually try to attack the main villain on her own and she was doing pretty well in the fight. Without any outside interference she very well could have won the battle and ended the OVA just like that.

As for Shinjiro, I can’t say he’s the best character. He spends a whole lot of the OVA yelling and being pushed around. Almost every episode ends with him yelling as the other characters tease him. He never stands up for himself. The only thing Shinjiro has going for him is the fact that he’s a solid fighter. While Ogami is likely still stronger, we see Shinjiro fighting outside the mech with his twin blade style more which is important. He’s not afraid to get out there and start fighting. He definitely should have declined the play position though if everyone was just going to make fun of him the whole time though.

While I was glad to have a real villain here, the villain was pretty bad. I don’t even remember his name and the wiki doesn’t bother to list his name on the OVA page as it is. That’s how forgettable the poor guy is. My main issue here is how he keeps on thinking that Shinjiro is the reincarnation of Cleopatra somehow and constantly suffers from huge headaches whenever he uses his ability. There’s no way you can get intimidated by someone who can’t even control his ability right? No matter how you slice it, this guy just isn’t impressive in the slightest. His sidekick was more interesting and she didn’t get to do much.

So at its core this OVA has quite a lot to make fun of. It’s clear that it was just thrown together without a ton of effort or anything. That said, it is nostalgic to see the cast from the game. Despite the crazy plots, the episodes all do flow together well and are over in a blast. The episodes can be ironically funny and I would say the writing is good. The villains may not be very solid but we do still get real fight scenes. It also can’t be understated how having a real ongoing plot is a nice change of pace as well. There’s a lot more you could have done with the New York cast to be honest but this is a start.

Overall, Sakura Wars: New York is going for a very different direction than the specials before this. I guess New York would have to be a little different right? It’s not perfect and the story is so incredibly forced, but it’ll keep your attention. If you liked the Sakura Wars video game based in this location then you’ll like the OVA even more. It’s pretty fun and at the end of the day that is important. I wouldn’t say there are any negatives that really end up hurting the OVA. SO it may not rise up to great territory but it’s pretty good and a consistent watch. I wonder if these characters will ever return.

Overall 7/10

Sakura Wars: Le Nouveau Paris Review


Sakura Wars returns with the Paris troupe once more. Like the last adventure we’ve got a 3 episode OVA here. The stories are all pretty solid so this one holds its own with the last batch. I’d say there’s a little less action in this case and the first batch had the team’s origin which is always nice to see but we get some good character dynamics here. I would ultimately say that the third episode was the best one and that’s good since it means that things end off on a high note just as you’d hope.

The first episode focuses on Hanabi which is nice for her fans since she had a pretty small role in the last adventure. Her father is coming to town and he doesn’t know about Hanabi working on stage as part of the troupe or of her secret role in protecting France. Hanabi decides to make things a little difficult on herself by explaining that she is in a circus. Honestly the easiest thing here would have been to have just told him she was part of the theater and that would have worked a lot better. Still, misunderstandings happen awfully quick and so she lost her window of opportunity right away.

Hanabi was just a little too stressed out so even though her father turned out to be a reasonable guy who probably would have heard her out either way she ended up going through these elaborate measures. Give the rest of the team props for quickly having her back though. They are certainly quick thinkers as always which was really important here since Hanabi would have pretty much been out of luck otherwise. It’s a fun way to open up the saga. It may not be one of the more high stakes missions but we do get some danger towards the end of the episode. Mainly this was for Hanabi’s development and I would say it was handled well. Her father was also reasonable which is nice to see since sometimes parents in these things tend to be quite extreme.

The second episode gives us a mystery and this time the main characters are two of the assistants at the troupe rather than any of the main characters so that was also a twist in itself. Basically someone’s clock gets stolen and the issue is that he is an ambassador from another country. They want to use this as an excuse in order to infiltrate the troupe and find evidence that they are actually related to the secret defense force. It’s actually not a bad plan, especially considering that they didn’t fake the theft. It actually happened so they really were thinking on their feet here.

Lobelia looks really good in the subplot as she actually tracks down the thief. We also get a James Bond homage there as M16 appears along with their star agent. In his defense, the agent actually tried to hold his own even if you knew there was no chance he could beat someone with advanced fire magic. Those kinds of special abilities just give you a big advantage that can’t be solved without some kind of extra edge.

The main plot is still with the attendants though who are put in a pretty tough situation. The episode actually gets rather intense here while they are being interrogated and zapped since they won’t relinquish the information. It takes the heroes a while to get there so it’s impressive that they stood strong. I didn’t really recall their names but in honor of their efforts I figured I’d look it up so the two attendants are Ci and Mell. They ultimately make the heroic move to spare the villains at the end as well so give them points for not murdering those guys. Honestly I think the Paris group should try for harder punishments on the foreign groups after this incident though. It went rather far so the heroes should be able to get something out of this. From the 3 episodes this one had the most going on for sure. The idea of several intelligence agencies all getting involved along with a random criminal trying to pull the moves on everyone was fun to see.

Finally the third episode ends one of the subplots that had been going on throughout the first two episodes. When Ogami left he didn’t really get to choose who would take over as leader. He deserves full blame for this by the way as a quick line would have been enough to have gotten everybody on the same page. Instead he kind of waffled on this and gave every character a cryptic message making them think they would be leader. Naturally this hasn’t gone over well. Now there’s an old man who has taken over the Paris tower and is basically threatening to blow up the island. The Paris group has to finally choose a leader so they can unite and fight.

I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise who they pick as leader. The choice makes a lot of sense although I would argue that Glycine is the most qualified for the position. This is a fitting way to end the OVA because the leader plot was a big one and also because this special did allow Erica to get back in her robot so we got some big action scenes here. The second special had some good action too of course but no mech suits were involved so this one got more of the full Sakura Wars experience. It also felt rather grand due to the tower takeover because now the stakes were high. The old man and his abilities/tech may feel a bit random but in a world of aliens and mechs everywhere there are bound to be a lot of characters around who get their hands on things. Additionally I wouldn’t be surprised if he was from the game or a previous media because with the dialogue between him and Erica it’s clear that he’s not just some average joe. Based on his high position he’s in a good place to disrupt everything.

So while I wouldn’t say this beat the last Sakura Wars OVA, it’s a pretty well balanced one. The first episode would probably be the weakest for me with the final one being the best. The second one is in the middle. The Lobelia plot was definitely the best part since it’s always nice to see one of the team go rogue to an extent and just solve things on her own. Ci and Mell deserve credit as well of course. Meanwhile Coquelicot definitely gets the smallest role here. She doesn’t really get to do anything this time around while the other characters all got their big moments here and there. The cast works well together and there are a lot of different personalities so the contrast is effective. It would have been fun if Ogami had gotten to show up a bit but I suppose he can’t come rushing in to save the day every time. This way the group was able to stop the villains without any outside help.

The writing is solid here as you would expect and the animation is solid. It might not be anything breath taking but there isn’t a whole lot of action or anything so it’s not like the animators are really trying to stretch their limits. This is more of a little bonus adventure for fans who played through the video game and in that sense it succeeds quite well. The episodes all flow together well and you’ll have a good time with it. The soundtrack is a little less on the memorable side but it works well enough while you’re watching it so I’d definitely have no complaints there.


Overall, The Paris adventures end on a solid note. It’s been fun hanging with this group. With the New York group coming up we’ll see how those guys hold up. Personally I would consider them to be the best group but of course that’s the first one I was introduced to so they will always be rather nostalgic. At the same time the Sakura branch is the one I’ve seen for the longest period of time so they’re hard to beat as well. In a sense the deck was stacked against the Paris group so they’ve really done well in spite of that. It’d definitely be nice to see them get a full anime someday or something like that.

Overall 7/10

Sakura Wars: School of Paris Review


The Sakura Wars marathon continues as we now focus completely on the France division. Aside from Ogami that means it’s time for a completely new team to shake things up. The OVA has 3 episodes so it’s definitely a pretty quick experience but that’s enough time to get all of the characters introduced. It looks like the team will have a fun dynamic. I certainly wouldn’t put these guys above the original Flower Division or the hype New York Branch quite yet but it’s definitely early as I’ve been with those guys for many hours while this group only about an hour so far.

The first episode focuses on Erica and Glycine meeting up for the first time. Glycine has royal heritage from her Viking ancestors so she believes in always holding her ground and behaving in a prim and proper fashion. Meanwhile Erica is more of a spacey person who gets distracted easily. She is a little more capable than she lets on though as Erica is actually a member of the Paris division. A group of secret fighters who protect the country from alien monsters who would attack it. Unlike Japan, Paris isn’t attacked very often but the government wants to be ready as they fear the attacks will soon increase in intensity. It’s why they are looking to bring Ogami in but at the moment their group is pretty small. In fact, Erica may have been the only member.

It’s a pretty fun way to start the OVA. Erica is a fun enough lead and her banter with Glycine is good. We also get a solid action scene in the museum which gets pretty intense. The monster was actually giving them a pretty good fight here. It’s why I always advise not having a gun as your main weapon because it will always be limited in how much damage the bullets can deal unless you are somehow able to augment their abilities. Otherwise you’re just not going to win the big battles. Fortunately for Erica, Glycine was able to use her super strength to turn the tides.

The second episode is more of an elaborate chase. So there is a villain known as Lobelia who seems to have the same spirit energy as the main heroines. Unfortunately she uses it for evil though as she is a burglar although the government says she performs just about every kind of crime. They’ve decided to take her down alive so they can force her to join the other heroes. It won’t be easy though so the two political leaders decide to have a chess match while waiting. The episode has a lot of subtext going on here as the chess battle mimics the actual events. It’s also pretty interesting to see onw of the future Sakura War members actually be a villain. She may be forced into helping them out but it doesn’t mean that she’s happy about it.

While not as solid as the first episode this is still a pretty reasonable follow up. I always like being able to see the actual powers on display since that gets a lot more focus in the game than in the actual OVAs and shows. Lobelia’s abilities are definitely the real deal with her master over fire. It’s pretty impressive how long she is able to elude the heroes and even to the end her reaction times served her well. I may not really be a fan of the character but she would definitely add quite a lot to the overall dynamic.

Then we’ve got the final episode which probably does end up having the most action. So the team is finally all united with the various members. Ogami is running them through a typical practice session when the robot ends up being corrupted by the clown villain. The Team has to then try and team up to take it down but this robot’s actually pretty tough and most of the members don’t have their robots ready. As a result it’s really Erica and Ogami doing their best to take it down. The fight switches between hand drawn and CGI a lot which makes for a pretty interesting action sequence. You definitely couldn’t have ended with a more fitting episode. You’ve now got the team assembled and also got to see what they’ve got against a true villain even if most of them were caught resting on their laurels here.

With only 3 episodes not all of the characters get a lot of development quite yet though. Coquelicot for example joined the group later on but doesn’t have much to do yet. We know that she likes animals but haven’t gotten to see much more than that. I can only assume that she is able to fight pretty well with the spirit power but we’ll have to wait and see that. Then you’ve got Hanabi who seems rather timid and trying to get over a recent death. She’s very polite and seems like a pretty kind hearted soul who’s a little in over her head. She doesn’t get a focus yet either.

Mainly the OVA is trying to give the screen time to the main 3 plus Ogami. Ogami definitely looks pretty good here even if it does seem like he’s not ready to handle this group yet. They’ve already started driving him crazy and he’s brand new there. I can only imagine how it’ll be for him soon. He probably just misses the gang but maybe he’ll warm up to these guys soon. In the meantime his sword skills are as good as ever.

As mentioned, Erica is a fun enough lead. She can maybe be a bit too oblivious at times and doesn’t have her priorities straight at times but at least she is good when it comes time to fight. She’s definitely experienced there. Glycine was definitely my favorite character here. I like her confidence and she was ready to jump right into the action when needed. She also doesn’t put up with Lobelia’s attitude the way the rest of the characters do. One thing she definitely does not tolerate is disrespect.

As for Lobelia, I do typically like when the characters show a lot of attitude and are rebellious. Lobelia fits those qualifications but at the same time her bar adventures are pretty suspect at best. She definitely goes all in on keeping her edge as she refuses to help even when her teammates are in trouble and about to be blown up. At least they definitely know where they stand with her. I imagine she’ll soften up a little more with the rest of the group eventually but for now even Sumire would have to be impressed with how antagonistic she is.

The animation is pretty solid here. You can definitely tell that it’s a bit newer than the last few. The colors are sharp and it’s all smooth. For the fight scenes it is interesting that they’re using more CGI. It’s definitely noticeable but CGI can work well. I’ll never put it quite above the classic hand drawn but it’s still good enough where I’d say the fight scene with the robots was pretty solid. It’s nice to see the mechs looking pretty fast now and having some real fight scenes here.

The OVA definitely leaves you with a good amount of questions to wonder about for the future. The villain appears briefly here as a clown but other than that we don’t really know anything about him. Most of this you’re not supposed to figure out as this is a supplementary OVA to the game as opposed to adapting the whole thing. It’s a pretty fun thing about these materials because if you own the game you can really pop these episodes in and have the complete experience. I’d definitely be down with more series doing this where you get to see the characters a little more in different scenarios.

Overall, The Paris Division is off to a pretty solid start. The Sakura Wars series is still in good hands here. The group dynamic may be a bit weaker but it’s always hard to catch up to the original bunch. I definitely hope we can have a crossover with the original cast from the Japan branch someday. After all we know without a doubt that these guys are in the same universe so I don’t think it’s too far fetched or anything like that. They just need to go ahead and do it. I think it would definitely be a pretty big hit. Hopefully we can also get more Sakura War titles licensed in the U.S.

Overall 7/10

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

Sakura Wars: The Movie Review


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.

Overall 7/10

Sakura Wars Review


Looks like it’s time to finally review the original Sakura Wars anime. This one has definitely been waiting its turn for quite a while now so it’s time I get right to it. Ultimately I would consider this to be the definitive Sakura Wars experience at the moment from what I’ve seen. While the OVAs may have more energy to them, this is a complete 26 episode anime so it gives us a full plot complete with an array of enemies. You also get a lot of interactions with the cast and natural character development as a result of it. I’d classify this as a slice of life that transitions slowly into more of an action series for the second half. Lets take a deeper look at one of the classic mech franchises!

The show starts off by introducing us to the Flower Division. This is a group of undercover fighters who use mech suits to take down the alien/robotic creatures that attack the capital. In order to not draw too much attention to themselves the group operates a theater by day. It’s a pretty detailed disguise as the group actually performs quite a few plays throughout the show. It’s a career they have dedicated themselves too. Then when the enemies strike they get into their uniforms and get ready to strike the opponents down. Well, one day Commander Yoneda is finally able to recruit the final member of the team. Her name is Sakura and part of the reason why he is eager to recruit her is because she is related to one of his old partners who saved the world a while back. There’s a decent chance that she would have inherited those abilities plus her own maiden ones.

See, in this world maidens are able to use a sort of energy that powers their mechs and allows them to unleash super moves. Guys aren’t able to draw out this energy with the exception of Sakura’s father as well as a man named Ogami. This suggests that men can use the energy but it is an extremely rare occurrence. How the energy manifests will differ from person to person. Of course at its most basic level it will move your mech but after that you can do so much more. For example, Iris can teleport and Sumire seems to amp up her spear’s attacks with this. Sakura channels the power into her sword and Kanna may use it with her fists although she may just be naturally strong. That’s a real possibility as well to be honest. The show doesn’t go into the energy abilities all that much to be honest as the OVAs show more of that like with the elemental abilities. Still, the process of controlling it is a big part of the show.

The Flower Division is definitely not a big fan of Sakura’s when she first shows up so the heroine gets a very cold reception. Eventually she wins them over but it takes a while so you may not even like them for a while there. At the very least you feel like they showed their true colors initially. I can’t imagine Sakura giving other characters a hard time like that although she is by far the nicest character of the group. By the end of the series they are a close knit group even if you feel like Sumire will continue to give Sakura a tough time as long as they are teammates. Some things never change after all.

Sakura Wars goes for a pretty interesting tone here. The whole time the villains keep on invading and being pushed back and yet this often feels like an after thought. A lot of times the main plots for the episodes will be about the theater which leads to a lot of character development. You’ll have an episode where Sumire wants to be the star over Sakura or one where Kohran has another crisis of confidence and runs off. The villains don’t become more of a major factor until near the end of the series. You should think of this as more of a slice of life and then it’ll all feel pretty natural. Just don’t think of it as an action series despite the mechs.

I wouldn’t have minded the action part coming in a bit sooner but the slice of life stuff is fun enough as well. It’s a pretty good cast. Perhaps not the strongest out there but most of the characters are good which is important. The heroes are also a bit lucky that the villains don’t use much in the way of teamwork because just one villain is enough to put the heroes on edge so if they had all attacked initially then that would have been game over for the heroes. As it was, the heroes should blame Commander Yoneda for not leaving them more prepared. Sakura had a meeting with one of the villains and had no idea of his true identity until later on since so many secrets were being kept.

I’m not a big fan of the robot designs because they are so old school and don’t feel very streamlined. It’s going for a very steam type design here which does match the rest of the era. It’s to the point though where you feel like the heroes would be better off fighting without them some times. I don’t think the show did a great job of making them appear to be stronger than the heroes individually. Meanwhile the villains go down like butter except for the high ranking members of the cabal who seem to easily crush the robots. Those guys definitely can’t be defeated 1 on 1 at all. You really want to have the whole group ready for them.

The soundtrack is a little on the forgettable side but I’d say that it works out well enough. It’s a pretty peaceful ost that never feels repetitive. It isn’t the easiest bit to remember by heart but as soon as it plays during the scene you’ll immediately be able to recall it. Likewise the animation isn’t anything special but it gets the job done. I’d consider it to be standard animation so it’s good and I have no complaints. In a lot of ways that is how the show is in general. It’s not about to become the next Railgun or Madoka but it’s a quality adventure where you’ll have a lot of fun. You’ll have fun with the case before very long and this is the kind of series where I feel like an anniversary OVA/TV show reboot would probably do pretty well.

Lets quickly take a look at the characters. Sakura is the lead so it makes sense to start with her. She can be a bit of a timid character so at first she definitely gets steam rolled by the others. I wouldn’t say that her character has any negative qualities though. I’m not usually a fan of timid characters though so I was ready for her to regain her confidence. Fortunately that happened sooner than later. She begins to stand up for herself more by the middle of the series and since by then she was awakening her abilities it’s not like the other characters could say a whole lot about it. Once the hazing period was over she was able to make a good connection with the other characters. I wouldn’t say that Sakura has a ton of personality, but she’s a good character and definitely a nice person. She brings a good contrast to the group.

Then you have Sumire who is always pretty entertaining. At first she may come across as overly mean spirited though since she is pretty unrelenting in how she hounds Sakura. As the show goes on you learn that she is like that with everyone so her character will be hit or miss. I ended up liking her by the end although at first she wasn’t quite my favorite character. By the end you can see how Sumire really enhances the character dynamics though and the show wouldn’t be the same without her. She’s also a lot more eager to just jump into the fray and let the chips fall where they may. That’s definitely the kind of character that you need in a group. Sumire pretty much took down one of the enemy commanders on her own and then also won in the rematch.

Kanna is next and she’s a lot of fun as well. Her deal is that she’s very good in hand to hand combat and sensitive to changes in nature. She’s the only character who can really stand up to Sumire on an even playing field in part because she has a lot of confidence as well. Kanna is unquestionably a much nicer character than Sumire while still having that absolute confidence which makes for a lot of banter between the characters. These two definitely have the best dynamic to be sure. Kanna doesn’t really get to show off her strength quite as much as in the OVAs but you still know she is the power hitter here.

Then we have Iris who is one of the weaker members. I’m talking in terms of character as power-wise she should be the best. She has much greater amounts of spirit energy than the other characters but she is also a lot younger so she is unable to control it. As a result what tends to happen is she’ll panic and teleport away from the characters rather than actively using her abilities to help out. That bit is unfortunate because she would have been a great asset to the team. She never quite gets her confidence even by the end of the series. Sure, Iris has her big moments on occasion but it’s more like Luigi or Scooby having a quick brave moment. It doesn’t exactly stick which is unfortunate.

The worst member of the Flower Force is Kohran though. It’s hard to know where to start with her. I guess the main thing is that she ultimately ends up running out on the team when the going gets tough. I understand (very slightly) that there would be some shock upon learning that the inventor of the legendary robots is evil, but it should be very mild. Certainly not enough to run away and hide while the heroes are fighting for their lives. It was a terrible moment and every other character handled it better. She had not even met the guy before so why is there such a strong connection just from reading his notes? I also felt like Kohhran never really did much in the way of improvements for the mechs. She would repair them a lot but that’s about it.

Finally we have Maria. She’s a very serious member of the group who is effectively the leader of the team when Ogami, Yoneda, and Ayame aren’t around. She’s a Russian fighter who specializes in gunplay to take down her opponents until she gets into her mech suit. One thing I hadn’t mentioned up til now is the series has the Flower Division be a global group of sorts. All of the girls are from different cultures which also helps to make this a pretty interesting dynamic since they have different ideas on everything. One episode had Iris throw a fit because French parties are different from how they celebrate in Japan where it’s about festivals. That episode still came across as very petty on Iris’ side though which is another reason why I wasn’t a big fan of hers. The whole group went out of their way to make her birthday exciting and that’s how she reacts? Yeah, definitely not a good look.

Back to Maria though, she’s a solid character. I’d say that she’s one of the better ones. Her serious nature means she doesn’t have as much fun with the group for the most part but by the end I’d say that they have started to chip away at her. She is a solid tactical fighter and never backs out on the team the way that others (Iris and Kohran) do so I’ll give her points for that. She also acts as a mentor to Sakura at times and is easily the most supportive member of the group.

That covers the Division but then you have Ogami who is effectively the captain. It’s pretty tough for him because he doesn’t have the same level of ability that they do. At times he tries to compensate by having the drills run very strictly which tends to backfire. He goes through his own sets of issues during the series like struggling with confidence and such so he never has an easy road. I liked Ogami well enough. He may not be the most exciting character but he did a good job of hanging out with the team. He took some key steps in improving their unity like when he made everyone have dinner together. That was definitely a pretty good move.

Then you have the higher ranking Yoneda who didn’t do a very good job. For one thing he tends to get drunk quite often. It’s mainly played for laughs of course, but even so this isn’t someone I would trust to have my back. He also decides to go up against the villain completely on his own which was a really bad idea. I understand not wanting to get everyone involved but he should have at least left some kind of letter in case he was defeated so people would know what was going on. As it stood, to them it looked like he just vanished without a trace when they needed him most. Then he also took the bomb and hinted that he would have used it if the heroes had failed. You can assume that it was a bluff, but I’d have liked to see him throw it away later on or something to show that he wasn’t serious. As it stands, I just wasn’t impressed with Yoneda.

Ayame was his right hand woman. She didn’t really get much of a role although we can assume she used to have a much more active role within the group before the series started. Maria and Yoneda both trust her guidance quite a bit although now she tends to decline on giving her thoughts so the others can grow. The last hero to really talk about would be Kazuma. He died before the series started so we only see him in flashbacks but it’s easy to see why Yoneda believed there was so much promise to Sakura’s future with the group. Kazuma was an incredible fighter who could harness spirit energy better than anyone else in the series. He really did a good job of making his last stand count. At most maybe you could say that if he kept fighting with his sword he could have won without sacrificing himself but there were still a ton of monsters at the end so his sacrifice felt pretty justified. It’s too bad we couldn’t see more of him, the guy was definitely cool. A prequel TV show about the guy would definitely work well I’d say. Since they had to fight without the robots I can see those fights being pretty tense. Additionally, it seems like this is a case where the previous generation may have been stronger than the current one so I’d like to see what other abilities they had. Although if like in the games every character should have special moves, maybe the TV show just toned down the super abilities a bit.

Yamazaki is the main villain of the series and makes for an interesting guy in general. He’s easily my favorite villain of the series. His motivations for being evil are a little on the weak side to be honest as the guy just totally cracked but since he does completely remember how things used to be it makes him a pretty deadly opponent. For the most part the enemy forces tend to be rather mindless so when they finally got a leading figure I was happy about that. He made for some good fights with Sakura and the team as well. Between a solid character design and impressive abilities, I would definitely say that Yamazaki is a winner in my books.

Then you’ve got Miroku who was the first big villain to make a move. She gave Sumire a solid fight and the two almost became rivals in a sense. It definitely got personal there and was one of the first moments where you really saw what a great character Sumire was. I’m not sure if the others would have fared so well in this battle. Miroku is a fun villain. She doesn’t have quite as much personality as Yamazaki but she is dedicated to the cause and doing what she needed to. She represented a shift in the series from mindless drones to an opposing army so she was effective in that respect.

Then you have Jade who looks like a kid but can actually be a pretty dangerous opponent. It’s hard to land a hit on him because moves tend to go right through him. He definitely has his way with Ogami’s friend for a while there before they learn how to counter him. I wouldn’t even say that his physical power is anything to be afraid of, but his abilities are tricky. You’ve got Silver to compensate for that though. This guy is rather slow but has a lot of super strength. He’s like a Frankenstein of sorts who just barrels into his opponents. This guy’s the definition of a mindless opponent though and is my least favorite member of the group. At least Jade gave us the closest thing to a horror episode here and was a thorn in the heroes side. Silver would have been doomed without backup.

There are other characters but I think I’ve covered most of them. The show definitely has a lot of events happen during its run. In part because of how stand alone a lot of the episodes are it lets the show cover a lot more with all of the characters and their personalities. I’d say it’s a pretty organic way of adapting the game if it’s anything like the Wii installment I played where you focus on improving your bonds with the other members while also defending the capital at the end of each chapter. That format lends itself really well to a show like this. At the end of the day what is really key here is the writing and characters. So long as those are strong then the show will be a success and that’s exactly what happened here.

Overall, Sakura Wars is a pretty fun show. It’s definitely going for a different angle than other mech series like Gundam or Transformers. It’s really balancing the action element with more slice of life themes like the girls all trying to get alone despite having such different personalities. Sakura Wars can definitely handle the action elements really well though as you can probably tell from some of the images I chose. The stakes do get pretty high and the series definitely picks up the action at the end with the quick onslaught of fights but I expect you should enjoy the series before then for the strong writing and pacing. I’d definitely recommend this series no matter what genre you like. It’s a fun title that should satisfy you with action, adventure, and comedy.

Overall 7/10

Sakura Wars: Return of the Spirit Warriors Review


It’s time for the next Sakura Wars OVA. This one introduces two new members to the group who show up pretty quietly in the second half. That’s a fun part of having a spinoff to a game where they are probably introduced midway. They’re gone one moment and here the next. They’re not bad, although naturally it feels like they have less character development than the others. This is a pretty follow-up OVA with a good array of stories. I would still give the first OVA the edge but it’s pretty close.

The 6 episodes have 5 stand alone stories and one two part adventure at the end. The main story holding them all together is that they are being presented via flashbacks from Ogami as he remembers his time with the Flower Division. It’s an unforgettable time for him and I suspect that he is slowly regretting his decision to leave them. It just won’t be the same at his next location but I’m sure he’ll make the most of it. It almost becomes meme worthy by the end as every step he takes triggers a new flashback to the point where you feel like he will never leave the house. There is just too much to remember at this point. So lets take a look at the 6 episodes.

The first episode is a good way to start things off. An assassin from Maria’s past has arrived in New York and he is determined to destroy her and the rest of the Flower Division. Maria goes off to confront him but her skills have been faltering a bit lately. Perhaps it is because she has started to come out of her shell and be more friendly with the other members. Sakura will have to convince Maria that this is actually a good thing as they team up against this guy. Can they defeat his giant mech? The episode had a lot of action and pretty high stakes. Sakura Wars as a franchise isn’t always about the big fight scenes and action segments but this one certainly went in that direction and I’d say that it worked out quite well. Maria’s a fun character and Sakura’s always got everyone’s back. They make for a very solid tag team.

Next up is the episode about introducing Reni. She seems to look up to Iris to an extent or at least appreciates how nice and innocent she is. As a result Reni lets Iris put the blame on her for the latest mishaps in the theater. When Iris runs off to pout, Reni goes after her to try and talk sense. It’s not so bad being a kid, at least that’s what Reni is trying to convince Iris of, but it’s been a tough sell. I’d say that this was the weakest episode. It wasn’t bad or anything but Iris was definitely acting like a kid here and just made things tougher on everyone. If she had been a little more reasonable then the episode would have been pretty short if anything.

After that we get a haunted opera. So Sumire and Kanna are co starring in an episode about a detective who is taking out a corrupt business lord. The play is going as normal except a lot of unfortunate accidents start happening on set. Supposedly it is the work of a ghost who is haunting the place. Sumire doesn’t buy into this but the rest of the group is nervous. Turns out something wrong is happening here and the ghost intends to murder them all. Can the Flower Division handle it? It’s always interesting when you’ve got a ghost running around because the main characters do have powers so you’d think they could wreck it right? Kanna does pretty well with blocking the attack so I think she was doing pretty well. Sumire wanted a peaceful resolution for once though so we don’t get to see the battle.

This was probably my favorite episode in the saga. It had a little action so that was good and I’m always up for a supernatural angle. The ghost could definitely put up a fight and even was able to fire off energy blasts which was pretty cool. The scene of Kanna being able to block one with her fist was also pretty noteworthy. That’s not something just anyone can do. The actress comes across as pretty spoiled throughout but I’m glad she had her happy ending. She was fortunate here since if the others knew that she tried to vaporize the friends they may not have been quite lenient.

Next up was an episode about a town getting harassed by a bunch of bullies who wanted the land. This one’s a little less notable but we got to see the heroes pretend to be costumed fighters so that was interesting. It also continues to show why Kohran is easily the worst member of the group with how reluctant she was to help. She had the costume so at that point it was her duty to help out as best she could. It’s definitely a pretty wholesome episode. Orihime helped to make it better than if Kohran had to hold the whole episode on her own.

Finally we get the two part episode where Sakura and Yoneda leave on some kind of journey. Word gets out to the team that Sakura is about to get married and they’re all sad about this as well as upset that she didn’t tell them. It’s all gossip and yet they believe that it’s probably true. After some sleuthing they find a letter that hints Sakura doesn’t want to go through with the marriage so they take the blimp to go and stop Sakura. Meanwhile Sakura’s intent on following the traditions and won’t take a man for herself. In the Shinguji family what happens is you take a man who then becomes one of their family and the next in line to be a demon slayer. As a result it seems like she would rather do this on their own. The family traditions seem to be pretty bad as always so hopefully they put a stop to this. It seems like there is no end to the demons anyway so they should all keep fighting as opposed to doing this. Well, Sakura may wish she had told the others ahead of time because they’re on the way!

This was a solid way to wrap things up since it is going for one of the more emotional beats in the series. There’s definitely a good amount of character development here and we get to see some more flashbacks of Sakura’s father which is always fun. A shame he couldn’t live through the battle but the guy was heavily outnumbered so he really did good when you think about it. Definitely a character you can look up to. Yoneda also spends most of the episodes drunk but at least in this one he tries to be responsible since Sakura asked him to be in the event in place of her father. The guy ends up drunk in the end though so I have to deduct some points. Sorry Yoneda but you just can’t stay serious long enough to be a likable character.

Right away you can also tell that the animation certainly got an upgrade here compared to the first OVA. The colors are very sleek and this looks way newer than the first one even though there technically wasn’t much of a gap between this one and the first so that’s impressive. I wouldn’t say that the soundtrack is particularly notable although the theme song is definitely pretty iconic at this point. The 6 episodes really breeze by as well. The pacing is on point and same for the overall writing. It’s why the 6 episodes are all pretty solid. The characters are interesting and so this is a title I would recommend to any viewer who likes a good story. It’s effectively a solid slice of life.

Sakura is a solid lead as she was last time. She’s definitely still the heart of the group and without her I don’t think they’d be the same. Aside from being the most powerful member, she’s also the sharpest and tends to know when something’s not going well like with how she helped out Maria. Meanwhile Maria is definitely a solid character as well. Even though her confidence was shaken early on she was able to bounce back from that and came in handy for the future fights. She may be getting more emotional than she used to be, but it’s nothing overdone or handled crazily.

Then we have Sumire who looked the best here. As always she can be pretty harsh with her criticism and doesn’t mince words. I think the reason it continues to work more and more in the execution is that the team is already one unit. So it’s not super personal when she’s taking shots at Sakura because they are friends. It’s more posturing than anything else to put Sakura on notice. Then there’s Iris but she is a bit weaker here than last time. She acts a bit more spoiled and otherwise doesn’t get much to do. In the first OVA I liked seeing her flaunt her abilities so confidently while she takes a bit of a backseat here.

Kohran is not very good as always. She continues to mess up all of her inventions which is sad since being a genius is her whole gimmick. If she’s not really able to make any great inventions anymore then what’s the point of her character? The original show played it straight but in the OVA adventures they act like she’s just not that bright. It’s pretty unfortunate and so she continues to spiral down the chains. Even making the microphone box was a pretty low moment for her since it’s not like the thing didn’t work, it was built to be a microphone and she just didn’t realize it. That’s pretty sad.

Meanwhile we’ve got the more battle tested Kanna who is a hype member as always. The scene of her punching away an energy blast was extremely impressive. You never really see a character doing much against the supernatural without their mechs but Kanna wasn’t worried. She comes across as the most reasonable member and the banter between her and Sumire is always a lot of fun. They’ve got a great dynamic there. From the two new characters Orihime is definitely the better of the two. I still maintain that she doesn’t add much to the story though. Effectively she is like a backup version of Sumire in that she believes in being very harsh on everyone. She’s also super rich so it really feels like they just grabbed the same character. It’s not really a bad thing per say but at the same time it means that her character doesn’t feel necessary. I’d have liked to have seen her and Sumire go at it a bit more, I think that would have been fun.

Reni may need some more time to really get going but she’s not off to a great start. We didn’t really need another kid type member of the group. She may try to always be very calm and collected, but we already have Maria for that who executes this a lot better. Finally we have Ogami who has certainly started to get very nostalgic in his old age. He’s a solid character as always even if his getting drunk is never a good look. The guy needs to learn how to block peer pressure and just do his own thing instead of drinking to make his boss feel good. Ogami certainly can’t handle his drinks. When he’s serious he’s a solid character though and means well. He helps to balance out the dynamic.


Overall, The Return of the Spirit Warriors is a pretty solid second OVA. It carries on the strengths of the first OVA and brings them along here. While the first one still takes a narrow win thanks in part to the fun of seeing the team get together initially, this one’s pretty close. I wouldn’t say it has any weaknesses or anything like that. The characters are still as solid as ever (Or in Kohran’s case as weak as ever) and it’s always fun to see them have adventures. I look forward to seeing how the next one stacks up.

Overall 7/10

Sakura Wars: The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms Review


It’s time to look at the Sakura Wars OVA. I actually saw the show before the OVA but this one certainly makes for the quicker review since it’s only a handful of episodes. It’s a pretty solid alternate look at the series. It’s got a greater focus on the origins of the characters and works as a solid prologue for the most part even if it ultimately ends up catching up to the main series a bit. You could almost watch the first 2 episodes of this show and then cut right to the main show for an almost seamless experience. Of course, you will have to get used to the new voices if you’re watching the Dub though so that’s one thing to keep in mind here.

The show introduces us to the setting. It’s old style Japan but the world is a lot different than the one we are used to. Monsters continue to attack the capital so the Flower Brigade has been tasked with taking them down. A lot of the older members are already dead or not strong enough to win though so now we need a new generation. Several characters are brought in who I will talk about shortly. The main character is Sakura and as the daughter to one of the strongest warriors of all time, people expect big things from her. There is certainly a lot of pressure. Will she be up to the task and do the heroes really have what it takes to defeat an entire army of fighters?

Right away you can tell this show is buffing the power levels quite a bit compared to the show. It feels more accurate to the game to me. I haven’t played the original Sakura Wars but I played the Wii game and the characters were all quite powerful there. You had elemental attacks and special abilities while in the TV show for the most part that just wasn’t there. Kanna is able to punch through solid brick and Sumire/Maria are using elemental energy blasts. It’s definitely nice to see and the battle on the bridge was pretty exciting due to that. I also liked the aerial fight scene against one of the monsters where Iris took him down for the count. Iris is greatly improved from the TV show here. In general I think the OVA’s short length helped it really focus on giving you a solid peak into the video game.

I also always like seeing the heroes get together for the first time. It makes for a lot of solid banter and the OVA doesn’t disappoint here. It’s not surprising in the slightest that Sumire and Kanna would be bickering right from the jump. Their idealogies and personalities are just completely different so they won’t see eye to eye. They do work well once a battle is on though and that’s the kind of dynamic you want to see. Constant bickering is fine if at the end of the day you still join forces to stop the enemy in front of you. That’s exactly how these things should go. Sakura and Ogami start to take the show over for the last two episodes but the first two are really about the other characters who get the starring spot.

The writing is definitely solid. The characters are introduced well and you quickly get a feel for them. The animation also holds up rather well. It looks pretty much identical to the show. It’s certainly old enough where you can tell the OVA’s age to an extent but there aren’t a lot of shortcuts taken or anything like that. It’s very smooth. To an extent the fact that it’s going for a very steam based aesthetic also means it won’t look quite as flashy as some of the other titles. It’s not exactly Gundam but that’s also why it’s good that we finally got some more energy attacks here. It gives the show a chance to show some solid energy effects here.

Sakura is the main character of course and she’s solid. Sakura is definitely quite nervous at first and doesn’t believe in her abilities as much as she could but she gradually gets over it. I feel like she’s not hazed quite as much in this version although the characters can definitely be tough on her all the same. I’m glad that at least Maria and Kanna would stand up for her at times but even then Sakura had to fend for herself at times. Even Iris was surprisingly antagonistic towards Sakura. You’d think that she would at least cut Sakura some slack but I guess she didn’t want to risk being out with the in crowd. Well, Sakura does a good job of pressing past this and shows them why they need her on the team.

Sumire is definitely the meanest character of the group but it’s part of what makes her fun. She adds a lot of division to the group and you always need a member like that stirring up the pot. Her rivalry with Kanna is especially good and we even get a bit of a fight scene between them which I wasn’t expecting. That was a lot of fun and if they hadn’t gotten interrupted I fully believe Kanna would have won that match. Based on the strength we saw earlier she would have punched through Sumire’s weapon like it was butter. Sumire’s technique is the best from the group though and against the aliens she is an absolute machine.

Kanna is the best member of the group although she and Sumire are close. I just like Kanna’s confidence and how she is always ready for a fight. She also makes the right choice in heading off to avenge someone. The OVA is a bit vague on this and she settles her business off screen. Still, she has to go and do this while the enemy is around. Why should she have to wait in the building? I’d say that Yoneda made the wrong call here. Then we have Maria who is not quite as emotional as the other characters. She still likes to enjoy life and its experiences though, she just keeps it to herself more. Her main weapon is a gun though which I’d say puts her at a bit of a disadvantage next to the other characters. In shows like this guns just don’t do a whole lot. If anything they just hold you back and prevent you from really accessing your full abilities. Part of why I like Maria is she doesn’t bow to Sumire like some of the others. When Sumire threatens to not be in the play because Sakura will lead Maria basically shows her the door and tells Sakura to lead anyway.

Then we have Iris who is greatly improved from the show. In the show Iris could often be annoying, had no idea how to use her abilities, and would just get in the way a lot. Here Iris is a whole lot more confident and takes down the enemies like it’s nobody’s business. The heroes would have been in considerable trouble without her. She can still be a little mean to Sakura but for the most part Iris is a much more consistent character. I think when you’ve got a kid with overwhelming ability it’s nice to see them confident for a change instead of still working to train at it. Then we have Kohran but from the main girls she gets the shaft here. She spends most of the episodes still working on building the mechs and as a result doesn’t even get to interact with the other characters much. By default she would be my least favorite character for that reason.

Ogami takes a little while to really show up here but to make up for that he gets a whole episode to himself where he tries to write a play. It was a pretty fun episode and I’d say that the plot was handled well. We even have an interesting meta subplot where his inner self is following him around and helping out. He’s a solid character. I do feel like the fact that he can’t fight as well as the other characters hurts him a bit but as commander the main thing he just needs to be able to do is make good plans and execute them. At the end of the day he does good in this task so it all works out for him. He is a pretty solid commander and he’ll only continue to get better. He would have gotten even more props from me if he was able to take down all of the monsters by himself. Now that would have been impressive!

Ayame doesn’t get a huge role but she definitely makes for a solid sub-commander. You get the feeling that if she was able to harness the energy abilities the way that the others could she would have been commander instead of Ogami. She certainly seems well equipped for the task, but I suppose if you can’t access the power then that’s the end of that. Yoneda is also a better commander here than usual. I still don’t particularly like the guy all that much but he was absolutely correct in yelling at everyone for prioritizing a stage play over an alien attack on the city. Really guys? That one’s a no brainer. I know they worked hard on the play but you’ve absolutely got to go after the aliens right away. The sub-general should have told them all right away and they all run off after Ogami. So Yoneda seemed like a capable leader here and he also knew when to stay out of the action.

The mecha themselves are let clunky here which is good. I remember thinking at times that it seems like the heroes could fight better without them than in the suits in the show. In the OVA it seems more like they help channel the abilities to their fullest so the heroes can use elemental attacks. I feel like that helps to justify their use a lot more. I still have my issues with the suits like the fact that if you fall down in them you can actually get trapped though. That seems like a huge oversight. I think that’s the point of the designs to an extent but I still think they could have been better. I’d also have liked to see one fight where the heroes try to fight without them and lose to really spell out that they need the mechs. As it stands I have some doubts but I will definitely give the series this, the suits have a very unique design. I can’t think of another anime where they look quite like this.


Overall, Sakura Wars is definitely fun to check out. With only 4 episodes it’s not like it’ll take you a long time to get through either. The characters are well written and the plot is pretty interesting. It does feel like the adventure just doesn’t end of course, but it’s not like this was meant to adapt the whole game. If you want a full adaption then for that you get to watch the whole show. This is like a preview of the story which I have seen less of in anime format. It would have been nice to have seen more of the villains but that’s why I appreciated the fact that we got a few more action scenes early on. In some ways that’s why I would say it even beats the full length TV show but at the same time that one’s just so much longer that it gets to do a whole lot more. SO for example, on average each of these 4 episodes would beat the show’s, but when you take the full 26 vs 4, I would still say that the TV show wins. The climax was pretty intense there. If you want a solid mech anime adventure then you should definitely check this one out.

Overall 7/10