To continue the exploration of Sakura Wars media this week, it’s time to look at Sakura Wars the Movie. I went through the series, why not talk about the film that came shortly after it too. Why not spend some time talking about all the available Sakura Wars content available to me? The 2020 anime series was obvious, the 2000 anime series felt necessary, then I was told by @redblinky about Sakura Wars: The Movie afterwards so this is the final part of my short Sakura Wars explanation. Seemingly reasonable sounding I suppose. After watching this film, I feel like I really shouldn’t have probably? After researching, this is a movie would make a lot more sense if I have played Sakura Wars 3 first. This of course didn’t frighten me at first because this was another Nadesico: Prince of Darkness situation. Oh, then I thought about Prince of darkness again. Uh oh, is that what this film is going to be like? Well yes, actually. Don’t remind me to cover that movie too, please? I don’t want to.
There would be a spoiler warning here, but I honestly don’t think you should watch this movie. I’m just going to do what I want and spoil it all with lesser details then watching the movie will give you? The journey is better than the ending location is going to be the logic that I am going with here.
Sakura Wars: The Movie starts after a play occurred. I’ve mentioned most of the cast that show up in my Sakura Wars TV series review from Wednesday, but I do need to mention them existing. Sakura Shinguiji is there with all her clumsiness. Same with Sumire and her id, Iris and her cutness, Maria and blue steelness, Kohran and her cheerfulness, and Kanna and her ability to be calm. It doesn’t seem like any of them have changed in any sense from the tv series. However, In that after stage changing room are also two new members of the Flower Division. German Dancer Leni Milchstraße, who is a calm, quite guy and the Japanese Italian Orihime Soletta who is a little more outgoing are two recent members of the flower division. Outside of this theater, an American intervention is about to occur which will attempt to change control of the protection of Tokyo to a new, experimental and unmanned unit.
This was where the film first got my attention. The way the film first presented and some of it’s themes felt very Mamoru Oshii in how it’s constructed. I mean, it helped that the film started with a Mamoru Oshii sort of staple with sweeping cityscapes to put you into the environment of this film and at least make you feel like you can live there. Same with the American interventionism in the Japanese governing through trade deals and such. I fear that I must have hyped myself up a little too much for that, because the story did go in that direction but in the most simplistic way possible. By giving it almost no layers and making it almost blatant at possible for the reasons why this is happening. You know, besides the generally good idea of not having girls on the front lines of fighting demons. The villain absolutely sucks and does not make that good pitch to the audience to make it seem viable.
Like, he literally sucks because there is nothing interesting about him. He’s only racist and that’s it. The main antagonists name is Brent Furlong who owns the Douglas-Stewart Corporation. Don’t worry, that name doesn’t come up too much. His goal is replacing the Japanese Koubu Kai mecha units by inserting some American product that you can guess are Kouma demon powered mecha. Of course, they are under the guise of being unmanned or uncontrolled. He’s just a vague force of American intervention with no other personality at at all. The one major plot thing that Brent ever says is he hates how Tokyo looks compared to New York or whatever vague city he wants to mention. He controls demons, does the obvious thing in the end after the Flower Division reunites from being pushed away by becoming a kouma angel, and loses. This movie just moves to fast to have add any weight to anything. Plot or newer characters, none of them matter a lot in this film.
At the same time, there was an attempt to give the two newer members of Flower Division some more character to at least flesh them out. Attempt. Leni and Orihime came from the failed European Star Division. What better way to give them characterization then introducing yet another member to the Flower Division, Ratchet Altair into the cast. She’s the person that the two are running away from. Ratchet is a beautiful, blond woman who feels like she would be sophisticated, but then immediately shows that she is an unrelenting killer in her who takes no quarter no matter what the situation is. Whether people are innocent or not, she just kills when they are in her way. It’s a good gimmick to be sure and you can see why Leni and Orihime hate her, but that’s all she’s got. Her arc is handled in the end where she learns not to kill on the stage in an ok scene between her and Sakura.
Still, the three have no impact to the story. I mean, the story for them isn’t that interesting. There is that obvious tension betweenLeni, Orihime, and Ratchet while having some (ha) tension between each other and Ratchet’s push to bring them to New York to start another unit sort of. It’s not addressed that much alongside the fact that they don’t really do much besides breaking up the status quo for the Flower Division a little bit because there isn’t enough time to do that. In the final battle, there units are the only koubu units that break down despite the fact that they took the same damage as everyone else. It’s a little frustrating because it makes their impact nil. I know the point of this plot in the movie was to give it a more of an international sort of feeling with characters from different nations in it, but just having them in the film for them to end up not doing much doesn’t really add a lot to the experience, wouldn’t you say? Or is that just me. I hope it isn’t.
I don’t have to a lot to add from an artistic and character design level from that Sakura Wars design besides they are updated a little bit and look better and fuller in weight and character construction. The character animation has improved a lot too considering that it’s a movie and the lesser amount of episode time gives the animators the time to give these characters some attention. The switch from Madhouse to Production I.G. was big. For the Koubus and Kouma demons are pretty much the same except for modifications here and there from whose controlling theme. Ok, I admit that I didn’t care to look for the differences. There were still the human Kouma, the more gigantic and monster sized Koumu that you have to fight against in mecha, and the last unit which is very eva like in construction. It’s the same thing as the tv series only slightly different.
The major addition here is the cg for everything mechanical. It’s actually pretty decent CG which is much more layered then one would expect from a product from the early 2000’s where bad cg was running rampant. The fights were pretty great and choreographed well too. Still, Sakura Wars: The Movie really loved its CG a little too much. All the way to the point where there is a really slow 15-minute launch sequence all in gold CG which is so lame. It’s just way too elaborate for functionality reasons. I already don’t like the Koubu designs, so adding more things I don’t like doesn’t do it any better. You can see why the government wants to replace the Flower Division just by how long it takes to take for them to mobilize. That’s not a problem they had in the TV series; Just this movie. You know this was supposed to be big and impressive to look at just by how much time was put into the launch sequence and it felt like the animators were proud. the depth you can add to characters in this film with those missing 15 minutes.
I don’t have much to say, this movie was just a bad experience for me. Bad rating for sure for me, sorry. The execution was bad from a story telling and character level and it had some more then passable cg and mecha action compared to the sometimes good sequences in the tv series. You know, when the tv series was interested in mecha fights? Just having interesting fights for fights sake doesn’t work for me, unfortunately. Maybe it didn’t help that I didn’t play Sakura Wars 3 before trying it so I would have some more explanation and story on the newer characters we were introduced to. For people like me with no investment at all, it hits way too flat. So boring, so uninteresting, so lame. An easy miss unless you are a massive fan and have played the games. Which, I know people who watch everything related into a series, especially Sakura Wars, online. So yeah, very Martian Successor Nadesico: The Prince of Darkness like. Just ugh.