Sakura Wars: The Movie umd

Chimaera

Sakura Wars is a full movie based on Japan’s Sega games, anime, and manga. It’s huge. It’s very steampunk, and that’s just cool. However, the start of the movie gives the viewer a completely wrong impression that these young ladies are even capable of the tasks they have ahead over the next hour by sticking them in ridiculous outfits and in a musical number. Once the fighting kicks in, things improve drastically. However, not only do our ladies (known as the Flower Division) have demons to contend with, but the evils of progress, revolutionary technology, and capitalism.

Their division is part of the Imperial Fighting Troupe, and all the divisions named after innocent objects. Names such as Flower, Moon, Star, Fluffy Bunny Division fill the roster – I am only slightly kidding about that last one, but you get the impression whoever was in charge of naming these divisions just might have been eating a box of Lucky Charms at the time while writing this script. Silliness aside, the Flower Division quickly learns that the Douglas-Stewart Company is out to make them obsolete by selling a superior fighting machine – one that doesn’t put ‘little girls’ at risk, and it looks like everything is going according to plan as members of the team start to be taken out of the action, eventually leading to the entire unit being placed on stand-by.

Being put on stand-by status is bad enough (and boring) until one of the group decides to go investigate Douglas-Stewart’s operations. Then things get amusing for a while, bad guys are fought, things blow up, blood is shed, until right about the end, where things tend to drop off the interesting scale a bit.

Technical/Extras: 6.5
Sakura Wars is a beautiful film, and when the girls aren’t trying to entertain lyrically, the music isn’t bad either. Even the subtitles come closer to the mark than any other Geneon anime I’ve reviewed to date. The extra trailers are a typical mix of odd (Bottle Fairy) to mildly intriguing (Petite Cossette). If the writing wasn’t already a dead giveaway to the stereotypical nature of the Flower Division, the voice acting more than pushes it over the top into a place where you feel they are trying way too hard/overacting in many places (this may not be the case except in English).

Entertainment: 6.5
Apparently Sakura Wars is a fairly big franchise. I would not have known this had I not gone looking after watching this movie, and having seen only this movie I’m sure this one was made “for the fans” instead of “for the newcomer”. One major problem shines in the movie like a beacon to the less otaku of us – the movie counts on that popularity, and is somewhat inaccessible at first as it never spends any time introducing us in some fashion to the characters like most movies try to. Unfortunately it’s just easier to refer to each of the characters by stereotype – the Diva, the Tomboy, the Obligatory Brilliant Scientist, Token American Outsider, Evil Corporate Bad Guy and the list goes on (and does it ever go on). The plot is shallow and entertaining (bad guys and more technology and underhanded plots, oh my), but the musical bits are just cringe worthy. But it has action, mecha, and demons between that cute, sappy, girly thing they try to do and do badly – in terms of personalities, they could either kill each other or the bad guys, and I’m not sure which I’d find more entertaining. However, the movie did cause me to go look up the series and see if I could possibly understand how these girls got to where they were at the time of this movie, so it was engaging enough and succeeded on some level.

Overall: 6.5

Less music and interaction, and more mecha would have improved this feature considerably. Also a smaller cast would have helped, and more demons.

Features: Quick start instructions for the PSP.

Extras: Previews of Petite Cossette, Jubei-Chan2, Fafner, Bottle Fairy, Gankutsuou

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