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Sakura Wars TV - Curtain Call (Vol. 6)

ADV Films // Unrated // December 23, 2003
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Don Houston | posted January 21, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Movie: More often than not, anime tends to split off into sub genres. All anime fans have a basic understanding of the types of shows available, from the space age future dramas to the ancient Japanese ninja tales to the contemporary romantic comedies, there appears to be something for everyone that enjoys the wonderful world of anime. Every once in awhile, you get to see a show that is a bit off the beaten track. I saw one such title, and really liked it, recently. The title was Sakura Wars: The Movie. The movie was an offshoot of the series, which came from the OVA, which is said to have been made from the popularity of a videogame in Japan. If that sounds confusing, well, it is, but the popular franchise has a large following in Japan and seems worth checking out here with ADV owning the television series rights. The setting is in the 1920's Tokyo. The world had been at war with a horde of demons from parts unknown and conventional weapons weren't doing any good. Using new technology, steam-powered mech robots, that were developed in order to combat these evil beings, the Japanese led the fight against the hordes. The catch was that they could only be operated by young, virtuous girls because they had some sort of mana or spiritual power that allowed the technology to work. In the third DVD set of episodes from the television series, Sakura Wars TV: Curtain Call(Vol. 6), the team does more fighting and less exposition about their past. They are undercover agents who have become popular singer/dancers in the Imperial Theatre Troupe (an opera group) but when threats to Japan arise, they are really members of the Imperial Flower Combat Troupe. As such, they jump in their robots and fight the forces of evil, using their training, wits and personal spiritual power to great success. The series focuses mainly on one such fighter, Sakura, and her interaction with the team.

Well, this was the end of the series, containing episodes twenty-two through twenty-five, and started off on a dire note with the enemy attacking the troupe at their headquarters, effectively neutralizing the team, at least initially. As some of the team appears to be missing, Sakura herself even hesitates to join in on the final defense plan as Satan and the horde of demon attack the city. Will the team be able to organize and fight them off or will they fall back to plan B, a plan that entails destroying the city by means of a super weapon, the Shogei-Maru. Will the citizens rally around the team, giving them the strength to continue fighting or will all be lost? That's what's in store in the last four episodes of the series.

Okay, the series ends on a pretty solid note with many, though not all, of the threads tied up reasonably well. While the episodes here required less background information (compared to the earlier DVD's at least), you'd still do well to watch the series in order since so much goes on that the premise can easily get lost by skipping volumes (as I have had to do). I'm going to give this one a rating of Rent It since I didn't get to see the previous volume. I'd advise you to check out the first volume in the series and then act accordingly depending on how much you like it.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame as originally released in Japan. The colors were bright and accurate but there were some grain and motion artifacts to be seen. There were other minor issues that were distractive but infrequent and the transfer was pretty good.

Sound: The sound was presented with a choice of the original 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo Japanese track with English subtitles or a remastered 5.1 Dolby Digital English track. The English track made better use of the capabilities of stereo, particularly on the sound effects and music score, but both tracks were solid (I listened to a couple episodes of each, finding no major issues with either) with a slight nod going to the original Japanese audio track.

Extras: The best extra was the paper insert that detailed the weapons such as the Shogei-Maru, and a few of the characters. It was in red and white (as opposed to black and white) and also outlined some of the characters of these episodes. The other extras were the clean opening and closing, trailers and a second paper insert that lists a few of the related products in the Sakura Wars franchise by ADV.

Final Thoughts: The series has been a bit spotty for me in recent months but much of the problem lies with only getting a few volumes in the series to review. This was the strongest release in terms of traditional fighting, mech-style, anime but too much of the story relied on knowledge of what went on before and that lowered the rating for me. In all, it looked worth checking out but I'll reserve my judgment until I can watch the whole series at once.

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