Shin Sakura Taisen

September 26, 2020

After about 20 years and several OVA spinoffs and movies in between (as well as the series being dormant somewhere in 2008), finally we have a sequel, Shin Sakura Taisen. Feels like a long time but hey, I wasn’t exactly a Sakura Taisen AKA Sakura Wars fan. Aside the first season of the TV series which is the only one in the series that I’ve watched, the rest of the OVA spinoffs and movies I never watched at all. So with the new sequel, I hope I won’t miss out a lot. Oh, new characters to replace the old ones? Phew. Looks like I don’t have to go back and watch that nostalgic first season and catch up on all the other OVA spinoffs and movies. Time to start anew! And hope I don’t bitterly complain how I don’t understand anything by the end of it…

Episode 1
High stakes kidnapping on a train. Some loli must be very precious. Thanks to the interception of Lancelot, Elise and Seijuurou Kamiyama, the perpetrators, a masked woman and a devil woman give up. Now we go back to Tokyo as we see the Imperial Combat Revue Flower Division consisting of Sakura Amamiya, Anastasia Palma, Hatsuho Shinonome, Clarissa “Claris” Snowflake and Azami Mochizuki prepare themselves for a play. Sakura is excited because today is also the day Seijuurou returns. See her eyes light up? And then… WHO THE F*CK THIS LOLI WITH HIM?! Secret daughter???!!! Hope that won’t spoil her day or the play… She is Klara and she will be joining their division as an apprentice member. Anyway the performance goes well and everyone is of course amazed. Now we see their other role in this division. Led by Sumire Kanzaki, everyone is in a meeting to discuss a recent explosion that left a crater somewhere in Europe. But this was just a cover for a secret mission that Seijuurou underwent. The Moscow division has crashed and all members went missing except for one. It is believed that Klara is that sole member and only survivor. In addition to orders for all Revue divisions to send members and investigate, there are also seemingly multiple factions who are interested in getting their hands on Klara but ever since they have not made their moves. As Klara has lost her comrades and memories since the crash, Seijuurou brought her back here. He believes this division like his own family and hopes the girls can treat her as one and keep her safe. Yes, Seijuurou will be away for a while to handle the paperwork and do more undercover investigation. The girls are happy to get a new little sister. The time is right to also show what these girls are made of as the capital is under attack by, uhm, demon raptors?! And winged ones too?! Flower Division to sortie! We see them kick ass with their flashy moves. Easy pie. You bet Klara is so impressed.

Episode 2
Seijuurou believes in Sakura that she can take care of Klara. Then they kiss. If this seems cheesy, bear in mind this is Sakura’s dream-cum-delusion. But it gives her lots of motivation. There is also rumours about a mysterious person known as White Cape going around punishing evildoers. Sakura shows Klara around the theatre and personally introduces her comrades and other characters such as Kaoru Rindou (Sumire’s secretary and the financier of the theatre), Komachi Oba (runs the shops and merchandises at the theatre) and Reiji Shiba (chief engineer who maintains their Kobu robots). Klara feels happy to become part of this family. Sakura then brings her to meet her sword master, Hakushu Murasame at the outskirts but she isn’t in. When Sakura makes a call back to Kaoru, suddenly somebody attacks her. She takes Klara and run so the rest think it is White Cape. But this dude is all in black. I guess they’re just nearby because Sakura’s comrades arrive in time to assist but the Black Cape is still superior. Until he kidnaps Klara but that is swiftly overturned with the appearance of the real White Cape. After putting Klara to safety, she fights Black Cape and then letting Sakura deal the finishing blow. Though, Black Cape escapes. Sakura goes after White Cape as she wonders how she knows her name. Sakura then bumps into Hakushu. Well, I guess it is freaking obvious that Hakushu is White Cape! She might have just taken off her mask but does Sakura not realize her same outfit???!!! While Klara is safe, she is starting to have doubts of staying here. The rest ponder over if Klara has something to do with the destruction of Moscow’s division when suddenly a giant flying castle hovers over the capital. This is Mobile Air Fortress Sevastopol, operated by the Moscow Combat Revue.

Episode 3
Girls, meet Valery Kaminsky, the commander of this Moscow’s division. He explains that they received orders to retrieve a new member but were shot down by an unknown enemy force. Luckily, there were no casualties and the badly burnt crew underwent rehabilitation. As you can guess, they are here to take Klara back as she is their member. Kaminsky has Leyla get Klara but she is obviously scared. Somebody tell her she has no memories. Of course the Flower Division won’t hand her back so easily. I mean, did Kaminsky even show proof if she is part of their team? Leyla tries to be forceful but Hatsuho stops her. Kaminsky stops them from fighting. They should be fighting demons and not each other. With Sumire stepping in, Kaminsky explains the situation. Even so, Sumire cannot give Klara to them as she cannot overturn Seijuurou’s orders. In that case, Kaminsky will get official orders from WLOF. While Sumire confirms from WLOF that this is the real Moscow unit, they are still awaiting orders to hand over. So until then, Klara stays with them. It is revealed Leyla is Klara’s sister and even if Kaminsky is going to wait from orders from WLOF, he isn’t just going to wait idly. Next day, Klara feels weird that something is coming. A demon pops up. We see a flashy sortie and launch of the Flower Division into action. Despite there is only 1 demon, this one is bigger and faster. They take a pounding so Kaminsky offers to help. No thanks. Tokyo pride. Okay. Feel free to call him if they change their mind. It seems the demon is making its way to the theatre and they have to stop it at all cost. Hatsuho seems to be jealous of Sakura as the acting commander so she goes off to fight it herself. She counted her chickens too early as the demon revives and gives her a beating. She could have been done for had not the more powerful Moscow unit drop in to help and destroy it. I guess this gives some ammo for some snarky remarks how they have fallen. Kaminsky even warns them that the demons will return as long as Klara stays here. So isn’t it better they hand it over to them? Your call. Don’t give in to this provocation to make you girls feel powerless and guilty!

Episode 4
Seijuurou and Sumire trade info. The former believes they are making it hard for him to make Klara official and he is surprised to learn a new Moscow unit. Nobody here said anything. Also, WLOF is dragging their feet over Klara and gave excuses that they should sort it out themselves. Hatsuho must be embarrassed from her recent plunders so she left a note and went home. Sakura had to cover for her that she might be preparing for the spring festival and explain to the rest of her non-Japanese comrades that she hasn’t run away forever. Sakura then takes Klara back to Hatsuho’s place. They’re childhood friends so she knows where she lives. Meanwhile Azami commissions Komachi to investigate more on the Moscow unit. She manages to get a picture of the epicentre of where the old Moscow unit when down. Magnifying it, in the centre stood Klara and she looks unscathed. Hence Azami goes to ‘stalk’ on Klara. Putting her ninja skills to good use? As Hatsuho dances for the festival, Klara is amazed but also feels some pain. Some ballerina trauma flashback? Once the dance is over, they head back as Hatsuho points out the sakura tree that never blossomed ever since. Some flashback where Sakura and Hatsuho argued over who is being more talented and it ended up with Sakura in tears. To show how both girls have matured, they apologize and try to own up to their own silliness. Hatsuho also gives her special thanks to Sakura because had it not been her and Seijuurou, the Tokyo unit would’ve been done for as everybody was about to give up. But of course Sakura attributes it to everybody. With the girls bonding and making amends, Klara joins in and this awakens some power that makes the sakura tree bloom in full! Wow. Miracle. Cue for Klara to note how they are her friends too. Friends help friends, right?

Episode 5
Azami thinks after watching Klara’s power, she could be a spy. Fearing that this might put her team in danger, she ropes in Claris to help further spy on her. Apparently Shiba also wants to help and is confident with his intelligence gathering skills? You know, for a ninja, Azami gets caught pretty easily by Sakura and Hatsuho. Claris has to cover for her that she is helping her with some materials for her new story. So we see the duo stalking amateurishly and to a point they see Shiba naked in the bath? Fail! Then on another tailing, Klara’s ‘secret’ at the rooftop seems to be feeding a stray kitten. But look, here comes Kaminsky. He wants to talk to her but time isn’t on his side. Kaminsky goes to talk to Sumire about getting Klara back. Since WLOF is still dragging their feet and they’re not going to wait till kingdom come, he has a proposal. Azami and Claris continue to tail Klara as she makes her way out to the streets. Oh, now a demon attacks. Don’t worry. Shiba is going to help out with his, uhm, mini robot?! I didn’t want to look down and thought the robot could actually do something but it got destroyed by a 1 hit. Fail! Even Klara helping out with Claris’ magic seems to have more effect in destroying it. But the drama continues with Black Cape kidnapping Klara but luckily White Cape saving her again shortly. Then off both capes go. What was that all about? With the whole gang here, Klara brings them to a spot. This scenery reminds her of her hometown. She thanks everyone for saving her. In the end, Claris thought they couldn’t find anything on Klara but on the contrary, Azami has confirmed that Klara’s ability is to amplify one’s power. It is no wonder the Moscow unit wants her. With that, they vow to protect Klara who is part of their family.

Episode 6
Hakushu pays a surprise visit to the theatre. They introduce Klara to her for the first time but Klara wonders if they’ve met before. Hakushu of course denies. Hakushu then brings Sakura and Klara to the temple and orphanage where she often helps out. Klara gets acquainted with some of the orphans who for the first time see what a Russian loli is like. And then of course Black Cape pops up to kidnap Klara. Hakushu so skilled in defending Klara while fending the enemy off, you bet Klara is smart enough to believe she definitely met her somewhere. After Klara and the orphans are put to safety, the other Flower Division girls arrive in their Kobu to help out. Even Sakura’s. Now they can have special unmanned launch of their Kobu? It is revealed that Black Cape is actually an android. Now it’s attacking stronger and faster? Oddly, only White Cape can fight on par with it. Oh Sakura, still don’t get it how White Cape knows your name? When the android turns into some golem demon, White Cape points out the obvious core they must destroy to defeat it. After doing so, it explodes. But this explosion reminds Klara of the one in Moscow so she gets traumatized. Back at the theatre, Hakushu reveals this was all part of her plot to use Klara as bait to draw the enemy out (since they won’t go after her if she remains in the theatre). How dare she put Klara in danger?! Well, Hakushu and Sakura were there to protect her, right? Do you not believe they can protect her? Despite knowing Black Cape’s identity, they do not know who is controlling it. This means Klara is still in danger. But don’t worry. Everyone will protect her like usual, right? Meanwhile we see Kaminsky reminiscing that Moscow explosion. He was caught in it but also saw, uhm, God? But this angel then flew away. Cue for his madman laughter as he mentions something about a false God and how the world does not need for that.

Episode 7
Seijuurou is back! Oh man, Klara getting emotional to hug him. I hope this doesn’t give the wrong impression she was bullied by the Flower Division!!! Seijuurou reports of his findings and most of which are strange. Especially about Kaminsky because there are no records of him in the previous Moscow unit nor was there anything about his appointment. And trying to go through more data, looks like some WLOF director destroyed those files. Fishy. Then there is this prototype developed by Kanzaki Heavy Industries and the Berlin unit that was taken to Moscow by parties unknown. Sumire thinks she knows what they are and thought they were lost in an operation. After everyone cooks for Seijuurou’s return, Seijuurou talks to Sakura and personally thanks her for taking care of things when he isn’t around. I guess this means he will be heading to Europe to investigate and won’t be around soon. So to make it up, go on an outing tomorrow? With Klara, the trio sneak out the next morning. Apparently the other girls aren’t happy about this. Especially Shiba. He is hell bent in breaking up this date? With the help of Moon Division girls, Itsuki Saijou and Hiromi Hongou, they tail the trio around town. Looks like even Kaminsky and Leyla are also doing their own tailing. Sakura stumbles into Hakushu bringing the kids out and is warned they are being tailed. So they run all around town trying to give their unknown pursuers the slip. Weird. Finally they board a ship and though the Flower Division girls couldn’t make it, Kaminsky and Leyla chase after and try to JUMP aboard! FAILED!!! Seeing how silly all this is, the Flower Division give up on their jealousy and go have their own fun. Shiba, you’re all alone. But he gets reprimanded from Sumire for unauthorized use of the command centre. Klara sleeps as she is tired from running around all day. So Sakura gets to have a special time with Seijuurou watching the sunset. I guess he needs her to take care of things when he is gone so he gives her a little bell souvenir.

Episode 8
Why is Leyla so loyal to Kaminsky? Here’s a short flashback. Seems she hated herself in this ugly form but Kaminsky found her beautiful instead. Now the fight for Klara will be a competition between Tokyo side and Moscow unit. Komachi and Shiba are the commentators. No spectators but this event will be live streamed around the world? Wait. WTF?! I can accept steampunk machines and flying fortresses but now we have the internet?! This doesn’t look like the Taisho era anymore… The competition will be best of 3 and the first part is a dance. Hatsuho amazes the crowd with her traditional dance. Then Leyla does her Russian ballet of Black Swan and beats her. I guess this is bound to happen when the judges are all Europeans… Next up is an obstacle course. Azami is up to it but Kaminsky forfeits this one, claiming it is too unrefined for them and would love to give their opponents a handicap. Okay. A win is a win. Finally, a battle to save Klara encased at the tower top. The first team to do so wins it all. So easy to see Klara is really vouching for Sakura’s side to come save her. We see Sakura and co making it look so easy and taking down the enemies. Until Kaminsky gives the signal that it’s time. Kaminsky and Leyla reverberate and this also effects Klara, causing a blackout. Nothing like Shiba can fix it to resume streaming. By this time, the Moscow unit has moved in to surround Sakura as Leyla claims they will be taking Klara back. By force? Sumire orders Claris and Anastasia to apprehend Kaminsky but he’s not in his room. Only Black Cape. Sakura tries to protect Klara. Because they’re family. FAMILY. This irks Leyla so she reverts to her form with wings and brushes aside Sakura. Trying to take back Klara, the loli struggles as she too reverts to her winged form. Kaminsky is pleased that Klara as the messenger of God has awakened and will bring a new justice and equality to the world. Klara is probably frightened by her form but not as frightened as she sees Sakura’s face. Poor loli flies away.

Episode 9
Klara is missing. Sevastopol is also missing (nobody ever thought it was hiding underwater?) and our Flower Division girls ponder about Klara hiding the truth on them. Hey, I hope you didn’t forget she is amnesiac! Leyla talks to Kaminsky and offers herself instead of Klara. However Kaminsky thinks she is jealous of her sister and uses some mind control element to brainwash her and go collect Klara. Klara wakes up in Hakushu’s orphanage. Now that she has remembered everything, she can’t stay. On the contrary, Hakushu says this orphanage has some demon kids here and that’s the reason why she created this in the first place. A call from Seijuurou to report his findings. Apparently all that Kaminsky said was a lie. The actual Moscow unit is dead. All of them. How convenient. There’s their grave he’s at. Then he visited an old researcher named Natalia. After many failures, she was able to create a half-human half-demon life form called Nadezhda. 2 of them: Leyla and Klara. Later on, Kaminsky joined the research team but it was a mistake because they found out too late his goal is world domination. After taking Leyla, his target is Klara but Natalie escaped with her. To ensure her safety, she tried to hand Klara over to the Moscow unit but as we know, they got vaporized. Natalie hopes that Seijuurou would send Klara to her friend in Japan (Hakushu). How convenient then she dies. Seijuurou believes that the whole truth was not told in fear that they would hesitate to take Klara in. So now that we know the whole truth, we also know that their sentiments for Klara won’t change, right? Yup, they’re going to save her. Leyla drops in the orphanage to take Klara. Or else she’ll target the other kids. Klara goes with her but of course not without some resistance from the Flower Division. White Cape also joins in but this time she reveals herself so that those dumb ones can put the rest who her real identity is. Leyla transforms into her true monster form (why so sexy?) to fight. But Hakushu tells her that the question is not who wants Klara, but who Klara wants. And the answer is obvious. The damning verdict that Klara wants to be with Sakura. If Leyla is her big sister, she must respect what makes Klara happy. Happy ending then? Not quite. Kaminsky fires a direct shot from Sevastopol at Sakura. Her Kobu is going to explode and she is unconscious. Klara tries to user her miracle but she expended it too much the day before. Nothing happens. As Hakushu pulls her out, Leyla uses this confusion of Sevastopol firing random pot shots to take Klara away.

Episode 10
Looks like their Kobu units are badly damaged and Sakura’s one is done for. Leyla tries to impress Klara with a room that is remodelled a lot like Natalia’s home. But Klara isn’t impressed. In fact, she has a point that they can’t return to that same past but what they can do is make the future. So she’s hinting the Tokyo side is her future, eh? Leyla asserts humans and demons cannot coexist so Klara asks her what about mom? She loved them unconditionally, right? That is true love. Before Leyla could have doubts, here comes Kaminsky and he’s not going to waste a single moment in using her power. After putting her to sleep, he makes an announcement to the entire world. Yup, he is now their God! His demand is for all nations to dismantle their police, military, etc. This includes all revue divisions. 24 hours for that or be obliterated. He demonstrates by using Klara who is tied to some machine. Then using her power, he fires the Rage of Tunguska to destroy a mountain! Oh sh*t. Meanwhile Seijuurou relays his report that some of WLOF’s directors are robot puppets of Kaminsky. He has taken them out but it might have been too late. He asks Sakura what she is going to do next since her unit is destroyed. She is adamant to use an older unit. With that, he orders the girls to protect Tokyo and rescue Klara. He also requests Hakushu to look after his girls. Can’t say no. You bet the girls are going to fight seeing the European cowards have decided to surrender their liberty to Kaminsky. Wuss. The Flower Division girls are blasted via a giant crossbow directly into Sevastopol. Now they have to face off with Black Cape clones. Sakura’s unit gives way. But to show how determined she is, she manages to move it. But not much. Her comrades want to fight and let Sakura go save Klara. But Sakura’s stubborn. Can’t leave them behind. Hence Sumire confirms how determined she is. Is she willing to use her spiritual power and risk dying? Yes. Okay. Send in this prototype Obu unit. Nothing powers it up faster than strong determination. And it shows because Sakura takes out all the enemies in a single strike! Don’t mess with Sakura now.

Episode 11
The power of cooperation defeats those golems so easy. Now before Kaminsky, they’re going to take Klara back. But it won’t be easy because Klara is clearly brainwashed and will bring justice to this world. Kaminsky insists Klara has that power to do so but Sakura dismisses that because Klara is made to bridge humans and demons. Time for Kaminsky to tell a bit more of his past. One day wandering in the Russian woods, he was caught in some meteorite blast (more like a ray of heavenly light). What he saw coming out from the centre was some angel popping out. He was entranced by this godly power. It also made him realize who fragile humans are. Though he accepted his fate to die, fate f*cked with him because he was soon healed by the effect of the blast. He wandered around the world only to discover the ugly greed side of humans. He became disappointed when God didn’t answer his calls to make world peace. Then one day he saw a scared young Leyla and found her beautiful. This led her to Natalia and Klara. Realizing they aren’t angels, he decided to use this power to save humanity. Typically, he thinks he is chosen by God. Yeah, become God himself too. Of course nobody is buying into this BS. Kaminsky is going to destroy part of Tokyo to make them yield. Oh, the cannon gets destroyed? How the heck can Hakushu do that? But not to worry. Kaminsky shows his God-like power by repairing the cannon!

Kaminsky has Leyla toy with them while he resumes the cannon. Sakura tries to open Leyla’s eyes that Kaminsky is the real monster manipulating her. However Leyla admits that she knew Kaminsky is a bad man and manipulating her from the start. So why so loyal to him? Because he called her beautiful? That can’t be it, can it?! I guess as long as she’s happy, she doesn’t mind serving him. As long as she is needed. But then Klara came along. He became obsessed with her power as he built Sevastopol in secret (by himself?! HOW?!) and chased her all the way to Tokyo. So Leyla is saying that she is jealous that the sister whom she wanted to live and love, she is the reason why her heart was taken from Kaminsky?! Time for Kaminsky to show us he is a big dick so we won’t care when he gets his ass handed to him. Kaminsky uses the core to further make Leyla obedient. Though he admits he needs his strongest sword to fight but after that she can die! Leyla so sad that the power of sisterly love overcome that obedience as she rips out her own core. She is going to stop him. That is how she’ll show his love. As Leyla is about to get Klara, Kaminsky stabs through her. Proof sisterly love is stronger as Leyla rips Klara out from the machine. This makes Sevastopol malfunction?! Death flag coming soon for Leyla so her last sisterly act is to rip the core out from Klara and then wake her up with those poor sisterly tears. Bye sis. Engulfed by the flames. Traumatizing. Klara so in despair that her power goes berserk. Oh dear. Nothing is worse than a loli in raging despair.

Episode 12
Only Sakura can stop a rampaging loli. So in another dimension or something, we see Klara encased in some prison to show that she is scared her powers bring harm. And of course Sakura the saviour says it’s not. Rather than dragging out the drama, Klara believes in her and just like that, Klara is back to normal. Proof, she blasts Kaminsky away with 1 shot! But that’s not going to put him out yet. Because Sevastopol has absorbed those half-demon powers and Kaminsky will absorb them. So I guess he doesn’t need Klara anymore. Now he becomes his God form. Uhm, naked guy with crystal parts? Uhm, this fashion better not catch on. Luckily Seijuurou and the international combat revue girls are here to aid. They manage to rescue the Tokyo comrades as Sevastopol crashes into the sea. Hakushu says Kaminsky couldn’t survive that? Do you not remember he has become God???!!! True enough, he comes bursting out with his new fusion form with Sevastopol. Some giant mecha crystal golem whatever. He won’t toy with the small fries so he’s going to destroy Tokyo. Oh no! Quick, aim for his weakness. It’s that big red core in the centre, you can’t miss it! If you can only get through his rock solid defence. To show the combat revue girls’ bonds are solid, they combine their spiritual power to block Kaminksy’s shot. Yeah. Whatever. It worked. Since Klara doesn’t want to be a protected loli, she joins in the fight. This means she is given this Tenjin machine to fight with. Better still, it is supposed to aid the Obu because both can combine to be a more powerful unit. Yeah, just merge your spiritual power as one. You don’t think that would be too hard on Sakura and Klara, no? Even in this form, Kaminsky is still formidable. So how? Suddenly… The ghost of Leyla hugs Kaminsky! OMG! Nothing scarier than a dead woman still in love with him! This allows Sakura and Klara to break through his defence and core. Sakura deals the final blow and the truth to his face: You are not God. Just a lost man. Yeah. But damn, a loving woman brought down God!!! THINK ABOUT THAT!!! In the aftermath, we see Klara performing together onstage with her Flower Division comrades. Truly feels like home now. Lastly, Hakushu flies away in her angel form!!! OMG! She’s the real God???!!! Damn, I’m so confused.

Loli Wars: No Loli Return Policy!
Well… I guess the final episode was pretty okay with all the action and climax. Though, it was still weird and cliché because damn, I never thought that Leyla would be the one who ultimately brought down Kaminsky! And to think that Hakushu was some sort of God, oh man, it just got a lot weirder. No wonder Kaminsky kept clicking his tongue accusing Hakushu as some false God or something. Yeah, I was like, this sword master is just some caped crusader wannabe and what God is he talking about?! Oh… Angelic wings… Come to think about it, Hakushu fights without a Kobu unit and you wonder how a puny human body can withstand all that impact. And for her to run an orphanage with demons, yeah it all makes sense now. But still so weird when I think about it. So too bad Kaminsky, you aren’t even chosen by God. You lost to a real God (or at least His angel) and now you get to rot in hell. Okay, enough of him and let’s return to happy loli Klara and the rest of her new Flower Division family, shall we?

The story seems pretty standard and nothing extraordinary. Good versus evil who is trying to become God and shape the world based on his own ideals. And yeah, a loli got involved in this tug of war. At first, I was stumped by the synopsis of the anime of this sequel. They were talking about some upcoming tournament between the other international revues and thought this would be more prominent in the second half. And as I have seen, there was no way there was going to be a tournament whatsoever. How can there be one when self-proclaimed God is going to destroy the world? In fact, the anime doesn’t even mention or hint anywhere close to this. Before I jumped to conclusions to accuse how the series was trying to clickbait me and lied to me with this fake synopsis, luckily I did a little Google search and discovered that this story is actually the settling of the game itself. Hence this anime adaptation takes place after the game. It is no wonder why I didn’t see the Russian characters anywhere on the official website for the game.

As I have said, I haven’t watched all the other OVA spinoffs and movies and I certainly did not play any of its games either, including the latest one. But thankfully with the simple plot, there is nothing much to lose. Nothing really complicated that would make you scratch your head with all the twists and turns. I mean, it is already so evident that Klara would have been the key and centre of attraction. If you’re a veteran anime watcher like me, you could’ve seen it from a mile that Klara possessed a power so great that only a madman would think it is equivalent to God and claim it for himself. And so we have the first few episodes establishing and introducing Klara and making her home to Tokyo’s Flower Division, a few filler episodes in the middle to make Klara feel like as though she is family and at home, then the big finale where the truth is revealed and everyone heads in for the climactic battle to save the world. Now, isn’t that so easy? Heh. I kept my promise of not complaining and b*tching things were too hard to understand! Though, there are some really dumb moments like Sakura never realizing Hakushu = White Cape until the obligatory reveal. Duh! Yeah, I’m so smart…

As for the characters, it feels like there is very little character development here. After all, I believe that if you want to know more about Tokyo’s Flower Division better, the game could have already done that and it would be just a waste of time trying to repeat that here, a season with only a dozen episodes. So if you felt that the foreigners in the Flower Division like Claris and Anastasia need more fleshing out, better go play the game. They feel a lot like minor characters here and don’t really do much to stand out. Even Hatsuho and Sakura’s childhood flashback is short but nothing really deep. I’m also sure that the game would also explain better about the ninja village Azami comes from because it just feels strange that a ninja who needs agility and dexterity would be piloting a bulky Kobu. Not to say that the Kobu is inefficient, but I thought stealth should be what a ninja excels in. Just saying…

Sumire being the only recurring character from the original Sakura Taisen series, I suppose she has mellowed and matured a lot because I remembered her as a prideful and arrogant b*tch who was always some sort of rival to the original Sakura. I am guessing that with Sumire acting as their director, she is the bridge that links to the original Sakura Taisen and the new one so that we will not consider this as some sort of alternate retelling or soft reboot whatsoever. Who knows what happened to the original Sakura because I hope she didn’t die and conveniently they got a new Sakura to take on the titular role. Unless some prophecy says that only those named Sakura can stop the evil demons. Heh. Seijuurou is quite a reliable guy but he is often away. Perhaps to let us get our hopes up for some cheesy romance with Sakura. I don’t remember much about the romance department in the original but I didn’t think it was this cheesy. Shiba feels more interesting in the filler episodes because he seems to be quite passionate when Sakura’s involved in something else other than fighting demons. So I take it this guy has a crush on Sakura? He might be a good engineer but he’s just a lousy executioner of his plans. It’s a running joke to see him squeal like a girl each time he gets busted by Sumire for unauthorized use of the command centre or fooling around instead of working. Oh well, all work and no play makes Jack Shiba a dull guy. No wonder he’s just a mechanic… Other new characters like Kaoru and Komachi are just so minor that they’re forgettable.

As for the new Russian counterparts, it is pretty cliché that a Russian loli is taken in with her new family in Japan. Because, Japan. What else? Why go back to the cold rigid winters of Russia when you have all the nice stuffs here in Japan? Heh. Just making them up. Just like a little fledging bird imprinting, Klara loves Sakura and co because they’re the first one to treat her nicely as family. I’m sure the other international revues would have done the same had they picked her up. Lucky Japan. Leyla is also your typical cliché character of a confused character serving a villain because despite all the bad news this guy is, she’s just clinging on to that meagre percentage of his goodness. Well good for her, he has none. Too bad she found out the hard way. Yeah, it also made me think that perhaps this is why girls also pass up good guys and stick around with jerks like Kaminsky.

Speaking of him, I guess they decided to turn him into a one-dimensional villain once his true colours is revealed so that we will have no pity for him when the Flower Division girls kick his ass or he dies. Yeah, it’s like they want us to really hate this guy for misguiding a big sister and trying to get his hands on the hidden power of a loli. That’s why the final fight he sounded like a poor desperate villain who lost his mind and just wants to kill, kill, kill, destroy, destroy, destroy everything. Wow. So cliché. Scumbags like that should just die, don’t you agree???!!! Now you also know why they say behind every successful man is a woman and a failed one as well!!! Oh damn, I think I can milk this meme till it’s dry!

The series being an action genre, the action sequences doesn’t disappoint. Not to say that it is a masterpiece but it falls within expectations. After all, with its alternate steampunk setting, it is not Sakura Taisen if you don’t see those big Kobu machines taking on those demons or whatever adversaries. They keep it big and flashy with the moves and while it is normal for Sakura’s Kobu to swing her sword, it feels weird for the rest just because we need some variety. I mean, Hatsuho wields a giant hammer, Anastasia has a giant umbrella, ninja daggers for Azami and a magic book for Claris? How does even technology do that?!

One thing you’ll notice which differs greatly from past Sakura Taisen editions is the art and animation. Totally 100% CGI animated! So if you’re not a fan of CGI, you’re going to be turned off by it. Yeah, but the game is also 100% CGI… Anyway, it is very high quality and my experience is that initially I was confused if this was CGI or traditional 2D animation since the CGI movements looks slick and very close to 2D animation. I mean, not so perfectly smooth that you can actually pick out it is definitely CGI. Eventually there are some movements that are too smooth so it puts an ease to my dilemma of which one it was done with. If only CGI could be done this good for other animes but that’s none of my business… Since this anime is done by Sanzigen, perhaps the CGI is right up their alley as they have done so with the BanG Dream series (second season onwards).

The girls in their battle uniform sometimes feel a bit like Power Rangers. I don’t know, I just felt so. After all, each of them is colour coded just like the original so I’m just waiting for the day they turn into a Power Ranger spinoff. Heh. Heck, even when they go into action and launch into their Kobu, it just felt like some Voltron knockoff. Anyway, the only weirdest character design goes to Azami. What I mean is that she is a ninja so it feels weird that her outfit is a yellow maid. Like, huh?! And Hakushu, I thought her very pale face makes her look like a living doll. No, seriously. I thought he skin is made of porcelain or something. Is this what true beauty of God looks like?! In that case, I think Leyla looks much prettier… Honest! Not because she’s busty, mind you! Also, I read that the characters are designed by the legendary Tite Kubo. You know, the guy who created Bleach? So maybe that is why I thought I see shades of Orihime in Sakura and Claris, Soifon and Rukia in Azami, Yoruichi in Anastasia, Matsumoto in Hatsuho and Nana in Kaoru. Or maybe anime characters design are so general that any anime character looks like another character if you look at it from a different general perspective.

For the voice acting, as Sumire is the only recurring character, naturally Michie Tomizawa reprises her role. The rest are new ones with the recognizable ones include Ayane Sakura as Sakura (I hope they didn’t pick her just because she shares the same name with the titular character – double Sakura joy!), Saori Hayami as Claris, Miyuki Sawakshiro as Hakushu, Tomokazu Sugita as Shiba and Nana Mizuki as Elise. I thought Komachi sounded very familiar and couldn’t put my finger to it. So I gave up and went to check it is the kansai expert Ryoko Shiraishi! Oh, I thought she retired since I haven’t heard of her for a long time. Oh well, cameo appearances of old seiyuus somewhat excite me nowadays… The other casts are Maaya Uchida as Hatsuho (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Hibiku Yamamura as Azami (Sara in Island), Ayaka Fukuhara as Anastasia (Veronica in Fairy Gone), Youhei Azakami as Seijuurou (Deathpierce in Nanatsu No Taizai), Misaki Watada as Klara (Delmin in Show By Rock!! Mashumairesh), Haruka Shiraishi as Leyla (Asirpa in Golden Kamuy), Kenji Akabane as Kaminsky (Arashi in Triage X) and Yui Ishikawa as Kaoru (Mikasa in Shingeki No Kyojin).

More nostalgia flooding my mind when they decide to keep the opening theme’s most identifiable tune. Although Geki! Teikoku Kagekidan – Shinshou by the new quintet of the Tokyo’s Flower Division girls has major changes in its lyrics and a few parts of the tune tweaked, I’m glad the main chorus remains the same. After all, this I feel has become the series’ identity so it is only right to retain this flashy blazing military-like fanfare. They’re doing a show after all if they’re not fighting demons. Though, I can’t say the same for the ending theme, Sakura Yumemishi sung by the same quintet. It is very dramatic and it’s like as though the song needs them to showcase their vocals with some powerfully belted out lines. Well, not bad actually. But oddly, the song in some sites is credited to Nana Mizuki, Manami Numakura and Sumire Uesaka (all of whom have cameo appearance from other international revue units) but I can’t seem to hear this version anywhere. Is it the song from the game? I could be wrong, though.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the series, this could be a good extra story after playing the game. New viewers will not be lost as it doesn’t delve heavily into the lore or previous events of the original Sakura Taisen. It feels fresh and can stand on its own like a new chapter in the franchise. And people like me can still enjoy it while having the nostalgia experience of the old. The story and characters are pretty basic but it has quite high quality visuals and explosive steampunk action so it’s give and take. Not so sure if this new sequel is going to have tons of OVA spinoffs and movies to add more depth to the new characters and setting. But only time will tell. Hopefully it won’t sputter out so soon after its revival. Sakura flowers may not have a very long life after their blooming period but when they do, they’re the most beautiful thing in the world. Enjoy them while they last!

Yume Mite Iyou

August 11, 2006

  Yume Mite Iyou, Kimi no mirai mieru,
  Ookina yume ga, Itsuka mirai hiraku
 
Here’s another classic and early anime song that I’ve fallen in love with when I first heard it. Yup, it’s the ending theme song for Sakura Taisen, Yume Mite Iyou.
 
  Wakatte iru yo minna mo,
  Ganbatte ru ne itsumo
  Tokidoki wa megeru koto mo aru keredo
 
The start of the song will give an impression that this may be a chinese song. That’s because of the seemingly sounding like chinese musical string instruments used (I think so lah). So you might be taken into surprise when they start to sing in Japanese.
 
  Yume mite iyou, Mirai wa kitto,
  Kibou ni afure, Kimi no soba ni aru,
  Dakara zutto zutto, Yume mite iyou
 
The song starts off with a slow pace first then gradually introduces strings which then makes it quite a lively piece. But overall, I’d still consider this song to be a ballad. One thing though, if you intend to sing this song, you need to sing it with a group, like 5-6 people (at least the chorus part). Otherwise, a solo performance wouldn’t be really fitting. Believe me, I tried it myself (still haven’t in a group), and I find it better the former way.
 
  Kokoro ni sakura sakaseyou,
  Sore wa yume miru koto,
  Itsumo yume wa miyou
 
So you’ve guessed it. I’m having the instrumental version (read: no background vocals) rather than the karaoke version. But I don’t think the latter exists. Plus, the lyrics are short and simple enough to remember. In addition, this is the first song that I’ve actually remembered the entire lyrics! Hehehe, saves the trouble of needing to refer to the lyrics whenever I’m singing this song. Though, I’ve hardly sing this song nowadays, but singing it once in a while sure does bring back memories of that time (and the time when I’m watching that anime too).
 
  Dakara zutto zutto, Yume mite iyou…

Sakura Taisen

November 3, 2005

I remember one of the early animes that I watched was Sakura Wars. About a group of female fighers-cum-opera performers (Some weird job combination isn’t it). But this isn’t exactly a comedy type anime. It’s more of a good-versus-evil kind of drama/thriller. They use some kind of a mech type robot to fight some strange demons, and when they’re not fighting, they perform theatrical plays to the public. And there’s always that obnoxious Sumire trying to boss around showing her authority whenever possible especially to Sakura, since she’s the newcomer. Well, at the end, they eventually got along just find and manage to defeat the evil forces. But that’s just the first season. Since then it has generated several sequels and even video games. Not only that, there’re several soundtracks too! Just like forming a pop group and releasing their own album. Although overall I find this anime a little draggy, I’m not quite sure whether I’d watch it again or not… since the I even haven’t watch the sequels yet too! But you know me, maybe those ‘pretty kawaii koutetsu no otome’ may do the trick.

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