Sakura Wars

volume 1 sleeve

Official Blurb:

"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

Comment from newsgroups:

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.