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.