"A war is about to begin. Conventional weapons won't cut it, neither will conventional soldiers. Humanity needs the Few, the Proud, the Pure: the Spirit Warriors. Recruited from around the world, these women are beautiful both inside and out, but can they master their steam-powered spirit weapons in time? This is the world of Sakura Wars, an all new animation epic based on the best-selling video game that took Japan by storm."
Original Story: Ohji Hiroi Director: Takaaki Ishiyama Screenplay: Hiroyuki Kawasaki Character design: Kousuke Fujushima/Hidemori Matsubara/Kazuya Kuroda Mechanical design: Futoshi Nagata Music: Kouhei Tanaka Copyright: Sega Enterprises Ltd./Bandai Visual/Animate Film English soundtrack: Director: Gary Dehan Translator: Keisuke Okamoto Script: Jennifer Presto/Gary Dehan VHS version: Language: English Label: ADV Films Volume: 1 2 Running time: 60 mins 60 mins Certificate: PG PG Catalogue no: VHSSW/001D VHSSW/002D Price: £12.99 £12.99 Release Date: 4th Oct 1999 3rd April 2000
Knight of the Black Rose: This four episode mini-series is a prequel to the uber-popular Sakura Taisen (Sakura Wars) videogames. Character designs are by the Kyosuke Fujishima of Ah! My Goddess and You're Under Arrest fame. The Japanese cast is also to die for (if you're into that sort of thing), starring the talents of Yokoyama Chisa, Tomizawa Michie, and Orikasa Ai among others). Being a prequel, this mini-series isn't nearly of epic stock which is unfortunate. A sequel series following the story of the videogame would be truly great if it maintained the quality of what we currently have. What we do have is a well-drawn and acted story of the formation of a team assembled to fight demons in the early 20th Century. Apparently, people need to be of a certain mental (or psychic) caliber to pilot the steam powered mecha used to fight the demon army. These special individuals are the Hanagumi (Flower Troops). Incidentally, each of the pilot girls are named after a flower. Also, the Hanagumi is run out of a theatre to hide it from the demons. As a result, they also run the theatre and perform the plays (which would also help to build teamwork they may have thought). To me, this show moved at an incredibly fast pace, but don't expect non-stop huge battles. Although events happen quickly, it takes some time for everything to fully develop. Primarily, it focuses on the background of Sakura and Sumire. Sakura is quite endearing as the country girl, but Sumire is slightly more caustic than she is in the game. Each character is given their time. Several of the characters are also given an unintentionally funny scene when they speak in their native language to the Hanagumi's recruiter. We are subjected to nearly incoherent English, Chinese, and French. I enjoyed episodes 1 & 3 the best. Episode 4 seemed not to be up to par as far as the action scenes went, but fights weren't the object the last episode. I guess I was spoiled by episode 3. This series is good, but it may not be what some people are expecting. Fans of the videogame and/or the characters will be likely only to complain about there not being any more. Others may be upset that those who've played a videogame get more out of it (the story of the beginning of the Hanagumi may not seem as great and wonderful to them). However, anyone should be able to find at least one character memorable from this show. Overall: There's not enough time in this short series to develop the story of the Demon War; however, the series does its job of being a prequel very well. This is a pleasant watch, and anyone should be able to pick out at least one character they like.