Time Paladin Sakura

June 1, 2012

Hey, hey! It’s another Da Capo series! Actually, Time Paladin Sakura is a spin-off from the Da Capo series. It has nothing to do with the original plot of the Da Capo series as in this double OVA episodes, we have Sakura Yoshino as the main protagonist instead. Don’t expect this to be a love-romance genre, though there are some magic bits involved. This spin-off that came out in early 2011, uses the characters from the Da Capo series and some of its setting, nothing more. The plot is relatively simple (why make it so complicated when it is going to last for only 2 episodes?). Sakura may seem like an ordinary third grader but she has some secret powers. She is what you can call a Time Paladin and travels through time to fight villains, especially those who want to destroy or alter history for their own nefarious ends.

Episode 1
Back in the period of Edo, the magistrate chief and his men are chasing the elusive thief, Nezumi Kozou. Thanks to the distraction of a black cat, Archimedes (a black version of Utamaru – and talks!), Nezumi is apprehended. Sakura then appears not because she is arresting Nezumi, but the chief magistrate himself who is actual the Temporal Thief Suginami! He has loads of treasure stolen in his sleeve. Sakura uses T.P. Evolve Change so that we can see some henshin scene like a magical girl to reveal her true pink kimono uniform. In an attempt to capture him, Sakura accidentally destroys part of the roof with her magic cards. Not good if you’re trying to keep history intact. Suginami continues to mock her but gets trapped by her Giant Punch spell. He seems confident like as though he has a trick up his sleeve. Indeed he does. Out of the wormhole come his assistants, Nemu and Miharu to rescue him. Suginami thought he had the last laugh but Sakura zaps him as he drops his treasures. Maybe next time, eh?

Back in present time at Hatsunejima, the Sakunomiya Shrine houses the headquarters of the Historical Continuity Defensive Department which is headed by Chief (who is also Sakura’s grandma) along with Alice, Mako and Moe. Sakura gets lectured by Chief over her little destruction, which is unacceptable for a Time Paladin. You know who much work needs to be done to maintain history coherence? I don’t know. She reminds her of their important mission to stop those planning to rewrite or destroy history, bla, bla, bla. You think a young girl who is forced into this kind of line is interested to listen? She meets up with classmate, Junichi and on their way to school, he gives her some sweets seeing she had to rush for another time travelling job without breakfast. Junichi is the only person who knows of their secret. However they are stopped and chided by Suginami who is the student council president for eating in the school grounds and is going to reprimand them for being delinquents. With Nemu and Miharu coming by, Nemu offers to take care of the situation seeing Junichi is her little brother as Suginami can’t be late because he’s the school role model. In class, Sakura is a slacker in just about anything. She sucks in history (you think travelling back through different times would make her good in remembering dates, eh? Wrong!), she sucks in music and she definitely sucks in art (heck, Archimedes fares even better). During PE, Sakura thought she could dance with Junichi but got Suginami. Yeah, the duo are like cat and dog. It’s lunch time and before Sakura could sink her teeth into her food, she gets an emergency dispatch call from headquarters to move out. Oh darn. Hate this on-the-job-duty-calls, don’t you? Yeah, she’s being chased by the mammoth anyway. How can she run on an empty stomach?

Somehow she manages to finish that mission and she’s not too happy. Archimedes reminds her that only the Yoshino family has the powers to travel through space and time. Therefore it is her destiny to be a Time Paladin. Sakura isn’t amused, though. Junichi saves the day with more sweets and desserts for her hungry stomach. He mentions his dream of becoming a great pastry chef to make great Japanese sweets to bring smiles to everyone so Sakura says her dream is to become someone who will protect that smile. Back in the student council room, you might have guessed that Suginami is that thief. Yeah, the room is filled with stolen treasures. He is unhappy that this time he had only stolen a Bible. It could be from Geronimo or Shirou Amakusa, the one during the Shimabara uprising whereby the Christians rebelled against the Shogunate. Junichi knocks on the door and immediately the room reverts back to normal. Junichi got the scare of his life when he sees an eye popping out from the Bible. Maybe he’s just seeing things? One Suginami’s student council duties are over, he is now free to do as he wish as the Temporal Thief. He’s going back to Edo. Meanwhile Sakura gets another dispatch message while cleaning so she has no choice but to leave it to Kotori. When the eye from the Bible opens, Junichi suddenly collapses. The headquarters identify a Time Eating Worm, dangerous worms born from distortion of time that feed off various things and damage history. It must be eliminated before it grows. Though Junichi is resting at the infirmary, his mind finds himself in a desolated place, and Amakusa materializes from the Bible. He is going to be one with Junichi and… Did he kiss him?! Anyway, Junichi falls under his spell. Mako thought she detected another Worm but the signal disappears and she scoffs it off as a mistake.

Sakura is still in the Edo period when some guy is nearly completing his Elekiter. A lightning strikes it and the Worm turns the Elekiter into a giant monster. Sakura is to intercept it when Suginami and his assistants intervene. He won’t allow her to destroy that historical treasure even if it’s being inhabited by the Worm. Why? That’s because he is an ally of justice! Is he kidding us? Both sides attack and though Sakura won, the distraction causes the monster to go on a rampage. She brings order back by firing her Dimension Rifle (I thought she was going to pull off something like Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica’s Mami’s super blast) to destroy the monster. Suginami thought the treasure is done for but to his surprise and relief the Elekiter is still intact. But this causes him to be tied up and arrested by Sakura. Suddenly Sakura receives a distress message to return to headquarters as they are being attacked by an unknown enemy. Amakusa, who has seen visions of the world being led to the path of destruction and feels the need to correct it, barges into the main bridge and wipes everyone out. Sakura returns with Suginami only to find Chief messed up. Her worse fear comes true when she sees Junichi in Amakusa.

Episode 2
But as Amakusa explains, he is just borrowing Junichi’s body and memories. He is going to absorb the sakura tree, which is the spiritual tree connecting to all epochs. Chief, Alice, Mako and Moe combine their Fusion Magic to blast a Rainbow Storm into Amakusa but is has no effect. He returns the favour and knocks them all out. Amakusa continues to absorb the tree till it withers and is pleased to have the ability to time travel and rewrite history. When everyone regroups, they assess the damage as Chief orders a Dimensional Lockdown. Sakura keeps wondering about Junichi and wants to save him but Chief mentions she is in no shape to do so. Even if she could, the tree is already withered so time travelling is impossible. Meanwhile Amakusa has trouble using his powers and went back too far in time instead of his intended destination. Nevertheless he still causes rampage. The headquarters are able to detect him as Chief plans to deploy Magical Torpedoes and even the powerful but forbidden weapon, Magical Cannon. She has no choice since the enemy has absorbed the tree’s powers and must prepare for the worst case scenario. Sakura protests in using that as it might destroy Junichi’s body. She is escorted back to her room but breaks out and returns to the roots of the tree. Chief orders the firing of the torpedoes. Not only it did not work but Amakusa can still hop into other dimensions despite the lockdown. Suginami is confined in a room and ponders if the Bible and Junichi had anything to do with what’s happening now. He pleads for someone to release him when the door suddenly comes down on him, thanks to Miharu’s super punch. He should properly time his move. It’s time to bust out.

Emotional Sakura pleads to the tree to give her powers to save Junichi. A single petal drops into her palm and this is enough to open the dimensional gate for her. Amakusa finally arrives at his intended time period, the Shimabara uprising. Since Junichi is awake, Amakusa lets him see how his brothers and sisters were abandoned by God they believed so much and got slaughtered. Amakusa couldn’t believe He chose a corrupt future where cruel dictators flourish. His hatred developed into a Time Eating Worm and waited for ages for this chance at revenge. He chose Junichi because of his special body. It won’t be affected by the changes to history. His goal is to destroy everything and become God himself. So, another maniac who wants to play God, eh? Sakura arrives on scene as Amakusa dispatches his Worms to keep her company. Mako intercoms Sakura to return as they are going to fire the Magical Cannon. That distraction has Amakusa binding her for the moment. Chief fires the cannon but to their dismay, there is no scratch on him despite taking a direct hit. Amakusa is enraged and blasts away Sakura. Luckily he is caught by Suginami who happened to pop up just in time. Why is he helping her? Because he is the ally of justice! Remember? Actually, if the world was destroyed, he had nothing more to steal :).  Sakura can’t give up now and will think of a way to save Junichi. She will tackle Amakusa while Suginami and his assistants will take on the pesky Worms. Sakura wants Amakusa to give Junichi’s body back and he challenges if she manages to touch her, he will. Sakura clones herself as Amakusa confidently takes them all out till the real one is left. In perfect timing, the headquarters did a brief Dimensional Lockdown and transfer Sakura to the imaginary space. This allows Sakura to appear from behind Amakusa as she pats him on his back. But Amakusa isn’t going to honour his words and strangles Sakura instead.

Junichi fights to regain control of the body so Amakusa lets him taste some electrifying pain. Junichi wants Sakura to defeat Amakusa but she can’t because of his promise. He too reminds of her promise so Amakusa is surprised he is willing to sacrifice himself for these corrupt people. Junichi says there are people who would help others even if they are already hurt themselves. Sakura is convinced to finish Amakusa off and blasts her Dimension Rifle through Amakusa while Junichi holds him down. In the aftermath, Sakura is weeping over Junichi’s body. But alas, he opens his eyes! No, this is not heaven. As Chief explains, anything inhabited by the Worm will return to normal once the Worm is destroyed (like the case of the Elekiter). Junichi hopes Sakura won’t hate Amakusa too much because he just naive that he couldn’t forgive the evils of this world. Before he disappeared, he whispered something to Junichi: “It isn’t God who creates the future. Therefore I shall leave the future to you two”. Well, that’s a huge responsibility I’d say. But we’ll think about that after Sakura fills her stomach. Guess what? It’s deja vu again. Just before she can sink her teeth into that yummy dish, it’s another dispatch order. Why does Suginami always ruin her lunch time?

Magical Girl Sakura…
Everything is rather okay and perhaps the nostalgic feeling of the Da Capo series is what compelled me to watch this spin-off. So will Sakura continue her Time Paladin destiny with a different view now seeing it’s just more than a job or a family tradition? Well, that’s another story. But it still boggles me how they kept history intact with Sakura bloopering in some of the missions. Maybe they have a way. Like making all those who have seen lose their memories. I mean, if that is not the easiest explanation, how do you explain that all those people back in the olden days seeing magic from Sakura and hi-tech inventions (Suginami’s flying saucer)? Wouldn’t they be spooked to see flying humans and magic spells that come out from just cards? Hmm… Maybe that’s why we have legends and this sort of fairytales passed down from generations, eh?

Though the main art and drawing is still similar to what we see in the other Da Capo series, some of the characters have been slightly altered in their appearance. As we know Sakura in the original Da Capo series looks like a little kid but she’s actually a teenager. To match that, Junichi and Kotori have been turned into third graders themselves! While Kotori looks cute as ever (as she was even if she’s a teen), Junichi was just unrecognizable. The only reason why I would have guessed it is him is because off the process of elimination. Who else could this person be if you’re going to use the characters from the Da Capo series? Suginami also looks different too. He looks a bit like a villain. Due to the couple of episodes, don’t expect to look out for any character development. Don’t bother finding out why Suginami is a Temporal Thief along with Nemu and Miharu. It is mind boggling the fact that if Junichi knows Sakura’s secret as a Time Paladin, how come he doesn’t realize his sister Nemu is part of Suginami’s thief trio. Who the heck is Archimedes, really? Maybe every magical girl needs a pet mascot? Miharu is amusing because well, she gets to shoot beams out from her eyes! Okay, so the Miharu in the original Da Capo series was somewhat an android too. Kotori has been driven to the sidelines so much so her presence was forgettable. In a way, this OVA would’ve moved on with or without her appearance. The action is rather okay with all those fancy magic nicely executed. Thus Sakura isn’t just your ordinary magical girl who transforms but fights villains using her magic cards. If she had used those to capture her enemies, she might have been called Card Captor Sakura! On second thought, maybe not.

A totally different aspect to this OVA is that all of the characters are voiced differently from the original Da Capo series. Except for Suginami (still by Daisuke Kishio – Kaname in Vampire Knight). Yeah, it’s like the same guy transcending different parallel worlds. I guess putting different seiyuus mean you get a different feel like as though this is another parallel dimension. It felt a little odd at first without the squeaky Yukari Tamura voicing Sakura and instead we have Suzuko Mimori (Sherlock of Tantei Opera Milky Holmes) doing the petite blonde. Then we have newbie Aina Kase doing Junichi instead of Yuuki Tai. No more Yui Horie for Kotori but Emi Nitta (Malga Naruze in Kyoukai Senjou No Horizon). What was Akemi Kanda as Miharu now has become Ayana Taketatsu (Azusa in K-ON!). Mako was done by Yuki Matsuoka and now is voiced her by Kanae Itou (Sanae in Shinryaku! Ika Musume) likewise newbie Hitomi Haruka does Nemu instead of Sakura Nogawa. Archimedes is voiced by Rie Nakagawa (Nue in Tayutama -Kiss On My Deity-). The opening theme, Fly Away T.P.S. by Sayaka Sasaki is an upbeat dance-pop beat while the ending theme, Boku Wa Kimi No Soba Ni Iru is a moderate pop piece by yozuca.

I’m not sure if there are going to be another spin-off projects from this series. But if they do make them, I’ll definitely have a look because, well, for nostalgic reasons. This anime has become such to me. Maybe they can do one with an RPG theme, eh? So time travelling and keeping it safe from those with evil intentions seem like a tough job. Well, if it seems plausible, then the perpetrator who altered history will have a different path in the future, which means he/she will never had the chance to go back in time to alter history, right? Confused? Never mind. Can’t think on an empty stomach. Lesson learnt after watching this series: Better grab something to eat fast before something ‘important’ turns up. Well, like they say: Time waits for no man. Or a little girl in Sakura’s case.

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