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Sakura Wars TV, Vol. 1: Opening Night (2000) – DVD Review

Sakura Wars TV, Vol. 1: Opening Night


Based upon the manga by Ohji Hiroi
Directed by Hideyuki Morioka
Character Designs by Yasusuke Fujishima & Hideyuki Matsubara


  • Production booklet
  • Clean opening & closing animation

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Lots of pink in the case area
  • Mecha violence
  • Maidens in distress

Released by: ADV
Region: 1
Rating: 12+
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: A must for all anime collections.

[ad#longpost]Don’t let the pink DVD case or the prim heroine on the cover fool you: Sakura Wars TV puts more emphasis on the “wars” part than on the “Sakura/cherry blossoms.” The series, loosely based upon a kind of 1920s steam-punk Japan, begins with young Sakura, Our Heroine, arriving in the capital to fulfill her dream of joining the Imperial Flower Combat Troop. However, the Troop isn’t quite what she had imagine, seemingly much more like a theatrical troupe, and they don’t seem to like her and don’t want her to join. Now Sakura must prove herself to the troupe and memorize her lines, while at the same time preparing to defend the world from the evil of Wakiji and his demons. This first volume sets up the world and introduces Sakura, her spiritual powers, and some of the other pilots in depth.

Anime titles based upon games have a way of not being all that they could have been, but this title is an exception. It may not be the deepest, most fascinating anime show ever, but it’s just plain good: fun to watch, interesting, well-plotted, and peopled with interesting, developed characters, or at least as developed as they can be after only one volume. Don’t be put off by the fact that it’s an adaptation.

As you expect from a shonen/shojo series, especially one as beloved as this one, the art of is just plain gorgeous, though the opening sequences seemed a wee bit grainy, though that may be to be expected from a show already six years old. Aesthetically, there are some pretty scenes, but there are also some frantic battle scenes that display the kinetic virtuosity of the artists and the digital transfer techs. The audio is on the same level as your average anime or good TV series, with few if any clarity issues, and at least some appreciation of the uses of stereo sound. Both Japanese and English casts do a good job here, even the actors for the more “girly” characters, who are all-too-often reduced to screechy twits.

The special features list includes a lengthy production notes insert sporting a large number of production sketches with informative captions, a schematic of the Combat Troop hierarchy, and some character information. The problem is that the whole thing is printed in hot pink ink, which is not only hard on the eyes, but not exactly attractive. We also get a clean opening and closing, which shows off the characters and show design nicely.

Intended for older teens, this show should please adults and younger children alike. The 12+ rating is accurate, but younger kids who can handle minor violence should do fine with some parental discussion. If you’re already a fan of the Sakura Wars franchise via the previous OAVs and games, then you’ll love this one to death. Anime-lovers new to the series/world will still enjoy this one for its deft combination of shojo and shonen elements. Whether you like comedy, artsy things, battles, magic/fantasy, or mecha, this is one title that should truly appeal to most everyone, except maybe the die-hard romance fans, who may be a bit disappointed. A classic of the genre and quite famous for good reason, this should find its way into everyone’s collection.

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