I remember hearing about the Sakura Wars video game series quite some time ago, and while they look interesting enough, I have yet to play any of them. Any who are familiar with the series will be happy to know that this anime film from 2001 that’s based off the games has been given the high definition treatment from Funimation with the Sakura Wars: The Movie Blu-ray. There are some pacing and direction issues that keep it from being its best, but the lively and fun cast of characters and some mecha suit battles keep things interesting for any that give it a chance.
Things kick off in a 1920’s era Japan where steam has brought all sorts of new technology there, from cars to mecha suits used to fight off any who threaten the country. One such group known as the Imperial Assault Force’s Flower Division consists of a group of young women (and one young boy) who sing and dance in stage shows by day and fight off evil in their battle suits at night. A new member from America’s division named Ratchet Altair has joined the group right as an evil businessman named Brent Furlong decides to phase out the Flower division by getting the leaders of Japan to replace their group with automated battle suits that are actually controlled by demons. It falls to our young heroes to fight off these suits along with the demons who brought them there, if they can get their teamwork together first.
I did enjoy the film for the most part as the lively main characters are fun to watch, but it’s not without its faults. The main thing I had a problem with is the bad pacing and plot direction of the movie. There are times when things just don’t seem to be going anywhere at all, and other times where the film doesn’t know what it wants to be or where it wants to go. A good example is when the team is off fighting monsters and some of them get hurt, but you never see how they got hurt or how they recovered as they’ve just conveniently back in the fight the next time they’re deployed on a mission. It felt like I was watching some bad edit points where I missed something that was cut out even though it wasn’t. There’s also the fact there’s a lot of CG being used for the battle suits and the monsters they fight that’s made to look even more dated thanks to the high definition transfer of the film, but that’s more of a nitpick than a fault.
As far as special features go, it’s a little on the light side, but there’s some interviews with some of the staff that worked on the film, promotional videos, trailers and more. Given how old the movie is, it’s not too surprising there’s not a lot of special features, but it would’ve been nice to have some more to go along with it.
While the bad pacing and direction will turn off some who watch, those who push past these gripes will find a decent anime movie to watch with the Sakura Wars: The Movie Blu-ray. The high definition makes things look fairly good (except for the dated CG), the audio comes through without a hitch and the special features are light but add a nice touch to a Blu-ray that’s worth suiting up for.