Sakura Taisen: Ecole de Paris
Nuns with giant cross machine guns, women wielding battle axes, a woman with cat like reflexes, and several others with extraordinary abilities. Their powers have been given to them by god and they intend to vanquish all evil that appears in the city of love, the city of Paris. For those of you who enjoy watching women battle for the stage in a local theater in their spare time and fight evil in steam power robots and with spiritual energy for a living, you’ll love this show.
Episode one, Flowers at Daybreak, sets the scene. We meet a few of our main characters: Erica, a nun, Glycine a member of a noble family and protector of the people, and more. But all isn’t bad cabaret and training. An evil creature appears in the city and Erica and Glycine must join forces to defeat it.
Episode two, The Black Cat and The Bad Girl, we focus on the jewel thief, Lobelia. But is she really as bad as she seems, or is she the perfect addition for fighting evil and for the stage of the Paris Flower Division?
Episode three, The City of Love, is told as Captain Ichirou reports on the women of the Paris Flower Division. We meet the rest of the crew, Coquelicot the youngest member who has a mysterious past, and Kitaohji who is a very reserved quiet woman. While all of the women had great power, the Captain doubts their ablity to bond and work to protect Paris. But when trouble appears will they fight together proving him wrong?
This series takes place after World War One, and focuses on 5 women and their captain–who make up what’s called the Paris Flower Division. Their job is to fight evil that appears within the city in their steam- and spirit-powered mechs. It follows their lives and battles as they bond and learn to work together. However, when they’re not fighting the dark things that go bump in the night, they’re performing on stage and learning about life and love.
I was always a fan of Sakura Wars, the previous series, there was just something about the wacky mix of shoujo and stage performance with battling evil in steam mecha that mixed just right, even though it seemed so wrong. Sakura Taisen carries on the trend with a whole new crew to make up the Paris Flower Division. Though the previous incarnations had a more equal balance of stage performance and battles, Sakura Taisen is a lot more action packed. There was very little down time in the action, which defiantly kept my attention and was a nice change of pace. How ever without as much explanation as the other series, a new fan to the show might be confused because of the lack of back story. It throws an awful lot of everything at you at once and expects you to just accept and understand it.
The sound was good, the battle music was exciting and well placed, and the comedy music totally made the lighter scenes. The classical music gave the series a bit of class that was fitting of its Paris setting. How ever a few of the accents took some getting used to, such as Lobelia’s Romanian accent. It wasn’t bad per say, just not what you’re used to hearing in anime. The other sound effects were done good as well, I was particularly impressed by the sound of the energy blasts.
The animation lived up to its reputation, giving the viewer interesting angles and didn’t cut any corners on the action sequences. How ever the mechs were CG’d and stood out from the rest of the style of the anime. I would have liked to see a smoother transition between the two.
This series is good for those already a fan of Sakura Wars, but I think some of the appeal will be lost on newcomers. They could have done some more introductions to explain what exactly was going on.
While I have no complaints, it didn’t wow me. I wasn’t sitting there after the DVD finished playing in awe. The extras were also pretty good and gave you an inside look of the creation of the series, as well as in interview with the producer.
Episodes: Flowers at Day Break, The Black Cat and the Bad Girl, The City of Love
DVD Features: On Bringing the Paris Flower Division To the Screen, Encole de Paris: The Black Cat and The Bad Girl, A special Conversation with Producer and Director Ohji Hiroi, Japanese Sakura Taisen Commercials, Japanese Episode Previews, FUNimation Trailers