Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Sakura Wars (TV Series, Episodes 1 - 5)

SUMMARY: When Sakura arrives to fight with the Imperial Floral Division, she's in for a shock. She accidentally stumbles into a room containing the group's Koubu, their spirit powered mecha's, and they react unexpectedly to her enormous untapped power. (summary taken from HIDIVE)

I only recently heard about this franchise when the title popped up on my Twitter timeline several times over a single day. I figured that had to be significant in some fashion so I looked into it. The premised intrigued me. When I discovered it was streaming on HIDIVE, I was all in.

What I found prompted me to pre-empt the review I had planned next in favor of this one.

For a show that's nearly two-decades old, Sakura Wars does more in four episodes than some recently produced anime I've watched. In fact, more in one episode than those same recent anime.

Remember my 3-episode litmus test?

Sakura Wars passed it in one episode and surpassed it at the second.

Within the first five minutes of Episode One, I'd already gotten curious about the opening meeting between government and military types and then found myself attached to this bright and eager young woman in the kimono and red hair bow who, it seems, is set on doing things on her own and in her own fashion. Much to her detriment, as it turns out.

By the time we hit the 21-minute mark, everything's been FUBARed, it's all a veritible clusterfuck but I'm fully in Sakura's camp and rooting for her and what the hell it's the end of the episode already!?!?

Let's just say this show has brought back the same excitement I felt when I first saw Robotech. That show hooked me within the first four episodes and I give kudos to writer Satoru Akahori for doing the same here.

Sakura is likeable from the get-go and this is one of things I love about the show. As I said earlier, I immediately found myself attached to her bright and eager nature. A combination of healthy innocence and desire to do the right thing which, unfortunately at the outset, seem to be her biggest flaw.

But we've got 25 episodes so there's going to be some growth potential and I can't wait to see where that takes her.

What really cinched it for me about Sakura was the entire sequence at the theatre. Here we're treated to an unabashed look at how Sakura sees the world around her and her reactions to said world. It's new and exciting, she doesn't quite understand it, but she's eager and willing to learn and get better, even when the world seems to be knocking her down. And it does knock her down. But she persists.

And that got me rooting for her.

25 episodes. Room to grow.

I'm also curious about Maria and Sumire, particularly in their backstories. Even more particularly, why they're both more or less cold-shouldering Sakura. Sumire most of all. We get that Sakura comes from a family with Division history. Does that figure somehow in Maria's and Sumire's backstory, too? Does that connect them in some way that creates this tension, like Christian Slater later turning out to be Kevin Costner's brother in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves? I mean did Sakura's encounter with the Koubu in Episode 1 really deserve that slap from Sumire?

A bit overmuch, I thought, but then again: am I missing something?

And: when will I find out more?

And when we get to Episode Five, my curiosity has skyrocketed. The fight with the Wakiji and Sumire's seemingly adverse reaction. Same for Maria though not as intense.

And then Iris.

What. Is. Going. On?

And what is the deal with the unit being in a theatre of all places?

What the what?!?

And that makes me want to watch more.

This is how you do a series, Gang.

Also: Kohran Li. Big fan now.

Oh yeah: I'm also not quite sold on Ichiro Ogami. Yet. This may change, of course.

Can't wait to see what happens next.

And did I mention the opening theme song is catchy as hell?

On to the next episode....

Genre: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction, Shoujo
Length: TV series, 25 episodes
Version Viewed: Digital streaming on HIDIVE
Review Status: Partial (1-5/25)

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