Total # of Volumes: 1
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Languages: English VHS, Japanese w/subtitles VHS, or Multilingual DVD
Video: 4:3 NTSC Standard Aspect Ratio
Audio: Dolby Digital
American Release Status: Unavailable
Creator: Ohji Hiroi
Director: Takaaki Ishiyama
Character Designer: Kousuke Fujishima
Music: Kohei Tanaka
Animation Director: AIC
Animation Studio: Animate Films
American Producers: ADV Films
Title: Sakura Wars
Running Time: 120
Number of Episodes On This Volume: 4
1: Act One: The Demon Wars Begin Again
2: Act Two: The Cherry Blossom Spirit Attack
3: Act Three: Spring is the time for battles
4: Act Four: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Act One: The Demon Wars Begin Again
The story opens with a brief introduction to Sakura and her sword techniques. This gives way to a floating airship over an idealized turn of the century Tokyo. Inside, Ikki Yoneda receives news that the demons they had defeated a year earlier have returned. He realizes that he is being called upon to lead the defense efforts and comments that a very special defense force will be required. The anime's opening (a very energetic rally song with many cut sequences and character pose shots) then plays.
After the opening the scene shifts to everyday street life in this mythical Tokyo. This is a place of great peace and prosperity and where all the technology is based on steam. We see young boys hopping rides on passing cars and then a huge construction machine, all steam-powered. Outside a construction site (for a new theater) Ikki sips coffee or tea and comments on how pleased he is with the progress so far.
The story then jumps to the search for the spirit warriors. We get a brief glimpse of the young scientific genius girl, Ri Kohran, in Shanghai and then are introduced to Kanzaki Heavy Industries, Japan's largest steam conglomerate. It is also the home of Sumire Kanzaki. Sumire walks into a lab just after an experiment with the Oobu (spirit armor) have failed. The machine works fine, but the team just can't seem to find anyone with a strong enough spirit aura to activate it. It is then that the gauges spin of the dial. So they quickly toss Sumire into the armor and begin the test. This time, thanks to her immense power, the suits finally moves (though the lab is severely damaged). The news is then sped to Ikki who is overjoyed.
Time passes, and the story moves on to Sakura Shinguji, a sword woman in training at her family's home high up in the snowy mountains. She is trying to follow in her famous father's footsteps and master the Shinguji techniques known as "the spirit sword." When we first see her, she is praying at her father's grave marker. The family servant approaches and comments that she has been spending much time up here. She responds with a question. "Why did her father give up so much, including his family, to fight?" Gonji, the manservant, does not have the answer. Sakura then lets out a cry of exasperation and playfully flops back in the snow.
The story then presents a sequence of scenes in which we are introduced to other team members as they are recruited from across the globe. The first is Kanna Kirishima, the fighter and true to her nature, she is battling when we first meet her. Second is Maria Tachibana, a more mature woman with a mysterious past and never-miss marksmanship.
Once the introductions are complete, it's back to Kanzaki Heavy Industries where more Oobu have been completed. Sumire has decided to take a personal interest in the project and announces that the armor will be called "the colorful pansies."
The story then returns its focus to Sakura. She begins a very rigorous training regimen so that she may inherit the family's most precious heirloom, the spirit sword. She is told that the sword cannot be taken but only received by those who are worthy. A montage of time passing is then shown.
Two years has now passed, and it is time for the team to assemble. Maria, Kanna and Ri are already in place and Iris arrives to join them. She is a powerful physic but appears to be only a small girl. At the Kanazaki Heavy Industries plant, Sumire is attending yet another party for a milestone in the Oobu development. But, her heart is not in and she leaves, after taking a photograph of her and the Oobu with her.
With most of the team assembled, Ikki Yoneda orders them to go on their first mission, a day trip to the local amusement park. At first, all seems well (except for Iris showing off her powers in public). But, soon enough trouble arrives in the form of a flying demon. Neither Maria's bullets or Kanna's punches seem to effect it. The demon bears down on Iris, but she teleports out of its path. Iris then leads the monster on a chase that cumulates on the top of a tower. Iris plays cat and mouse with the devil until it corners her. Kanna smashes through a window and protects Iris just as she was about to be struck by acid. The threesome (Maria, Kanna and Iris) finds themselves face to face with the beast and out of options.
But, the monster suddenly bursts into flames as he is struck by some unseen weapon. It is Ri, who has arrived with her new weapons in tow. She launches another barrage of gunfire, and the monster is wounded. Maria takes the time to reload and approaches the creature. She unloads her ammo into the head of the demon, and it is destroyed. Iris then uses her powers to ruin any photos of the event to protect the team's identity.
Back up on the mountain, it is the time of truth for Sakura. She approaches the spirit sword and this item, the sword responds. Glowing, the sword unwraps itself and floats in the air in front of Sakura. She begs the sword to speak with her and to show her destiny. The sword unsheaves itself and points towards the rising sun. Sakura realizes that it is telling her that she must go Tokyo and fight. Knowing this, she orders the sword to come to her and it obeys. She swings the sword and both glow with energy. This is where the episode ends.
Act Two: The Cherry Blossom Spirit Attack
The second episode opens with scenes of New Year's Festivities around Tokyo. The camera finally comes to rest on Maria, Kanna and Iris, dressed in traditional kimonos in front of the capital theater building construction site. There, they meet Ikki Yoneda who informs that of this day they are now officially the Imperial Floral Assault Unit. The opening credits then play.
After the credits, there is a brief "slide show" of impressive steam-powered weaponry. Ikki reappears and informs the girls that these machines have been created to assist them in their mission. He then tells them they will begin new training. To their dismay, this "training" is dance lessons. It seems that traditional Japanese dance enhances their spirit power and improves the coordination of their attacks.
The scene then shifts to may of the same year up in the mountains with Sakura. She is asking permission from her mother and grandmother to leave for Tokyo. But, they will not grant it until she has mastered the greatest technique of their family - the north long blade style "Cherry Blossom Spirit Attack." They present her with a scroll, telling her the instructions are within. Sakura takes the scroll but is dismayed to find that the scroll is blank. She then tries various methods to make any hidden writing appear but none works.
The action then shifts to the home of Sumire Kanazaki. She is in bed and having a nightmare. She awakes and senses that she is not alone. She slips from the bed and grabs a staff. She challenges the demon that is the room to attack, and it lunges towards her. Her first blow slices the beast open, but it heals instantly. Sumire then summons her spirit energy and the second blow destroys the monster. As she stands there in the aftermath, she hears the voice of Ayame Fujieda, who has been recruiting for the team.
So now Sumire has joined the team and the first introduction does not go as smoothly as they hoped. Sumire does not take kindly to being told that she is not the team leader and her and Kanna clash from the start. Things boil over when Sumire tries to take over the dance production. She and Kanna fight, and Maria has to step in to prevent them from beating up each other. But, Iris then explodes with anger over all the sniping.
Time has passed. It is now another new year, and the story goes back to the mountains to check on Sakura's progress. She has been practicing hard and realized the scroll is not a step by step instruction book but a starting point for her training. Relying on memories of her father's techniques, she attempts to use the attack. If done right, it allows the user to send a focused blow of spirit energy at a specific target, hitting it while leaving all objects in the way undisturbed. Unfortunately, the first try does not work as planned.
When the story returns to Tokyo, it is now March of the same year and Kanna has a request. She wishes to leave to avenge her father. Ikki is adamantly opposed and forbids her to leave. Kanna then goes up on the roof to work out her anger and manages to knock down much of the scaffolding with one punch. Sumire then joins her on the roof and hands Kanna a duffel bag. She says (rather unkindly) that if this need for revenge rids her (Sumire) of Kanna, even for a short while, it is worth it. Kanna then heads off. But, everyone sees her go and knows that she will be back.
With Kanna gone, Ikki and Aiyama realize that they are shorthanded. Although Ri is nearby, she is focused on her inventing (a short humorous scene is then shown) so they are forced to seek out Sakura. Ikki first approaches Sakura's mother and grandmother to ask their permission. They acknowledge that Sakura posses the power that Ikki needs, and her destiny is to fight evil but they say she is not ready.
Out in glen this is reinforced by her failure to destroy the stone without effecting the tree in front of it. Sakura is on the verge of giving up hope. But, first Gonji and then Ikki volunteer to stand in the way as targets. Ikki is selected. Sakura focuses and finds that she can see the spirit of her father and he advises her how to use the technique. Sakura lets lose a powerful blow and successfully destroys the boulder.
The next day, Sakura heads off to Tokyo. At the station, her grandmother reminds her not to bring shame to the family honor and her mother wishes her well. Gonji runs along side the departing train crying out his goodbyes and Sakura is gone. The scene then shifts to the deck of a ship where a young man is mopping the deck. The Count, whose has been running the entire defense program, asks an unseen man if this is the young man he has been called out to see. The voice answers yes; this is Ichiro Ohgami. But, simultaneously Ichiro is busy knocking over his bucket (thus having to start his chore over).
Act Three: Spring is the Time for Battles
The third installment of the Sakura Wars series begins with the news of a battle between Sakura and a mechanical monster. It is in the papers, and everyone has flocked to the site to see the crater. Some even try to profit from their eyewitness accounts. The scene then shifts from the battleground to the stage, where Maria and Sumire are performing and a stage-struck Sakura labors behind the scenes. She is so bitten with the theater bug Iris has to remind Sakura to pull the cord for the effect she is responsible or the moment would have been missed. Sakura whispers that she hopes to be a star on the stage one day and this is when the opening credits roll.
Once the credits are complete, we see a convoy of trucks racing across a field in the predawn darkness. They reach their destination and set up. The soldiers scurry about and set up the Oobu. Meanwhile, back at the Imperial Floral Assault Unit's headquarters, Sakura has made it onto the stage. She waxes poetically about how happy she is until Maria appears and challenges her. Sakura is confused to why Maria would keep telling her to wake up until she falls backwards off the stage. Sakura then awakes to find that it has been a dream and Iris, Maria and Sumire are standing over her. Maria reminds Sakura that they have to go to the Oobu testing and Sakura dashes off to change. While she does this, we are treated to yet another moment of slapstick from Ri as she continues to experiment in the lab with humorous results.
The scene then shifts to the Count's office where Ikki is showing the film of the earlier Oobu test. We know it will not be pretty because Ikki is covered in bandages. At first, everything goes well. Maria hits her targets and Sumire destroys the tank. But, then an Oobu comes running across the screen, out of control. It chases the soldiers and then fires upon them. This is where Ikki stops the film. He reveals that the out of control unit was Sakura, and he wonders if she will ever fit in. The Count tells Ikki that he wants the girls to start doing musicals. Ikki says that he knows that the performances draw out the girls' hidden spirit energy but the Count says that performing does even more, but we do not get to hear why.
Later, at dinner, Sakura sits by herself while Sumire and Iris sit at the other end of room. When Maria enters, Sumire and Iris excuse themselves. Sakura cries that she is no good and Maria sighs at the difficulties. Meanwhile, Kanna is still on her quest to avenge her dead father.
Maria then goes to Ayame with the intention of resigning her command. Ayame is surprised at Maria's request because she has not heard of any problems but then she proposed a new solution. "What if we were to make a man the commander?" she asks. Maria expresses shock at the idea believing that only women possess the amount of spirit energy required to operate the Oobu armor. Ayame says that is not necessarily true and anyway a young man would serve as a catalyst that would draw the team together.
While walking back to her room still thinking about Ayame's plan, Maria discovers Sakura singing to herself on the stage. She sits down at the back of the house and listens to the song. Sakura's voice carries through the building and touches each member of the team. Maria is then surprised by the sudden appearance of Ikki, and he comments that Sakura is not that bad. Maria then suggests that Sakura be put into a production and Ikki replies that one learns by doing.
Later, a rumble shakes the early morning darkness of Tokyo and lamps are smashed on the Nippon bridge. Ikki notices the disturbances and remarks "they are finally starting to move." We are then taken beneath the damaged bridge to a sinister looking altar where three men, calling themselves the "three Black Lords of Death" call upon an entity named "Tenkai". They summon the demon and he promises to "flood Tokyo with evil."
Meanwhile, back at the theater, Sumire has just learned that Sakura has been cast in the next production and she is unhappy. She demands that Sakura be removed and refuses to back down the argument continues until alarms begin ringing and Ikki announces that the enemy has begun a full scale attack.
The team rushes to the site, a bridge in the middle of the city, and prepares for battle. But, Sakura is told to remain behind the others because she is not ready. Then Sumire, Maria and Iris race forward to fight. But instead of fighting as one, they each try to attack separately. The battle quickly falls apart, and there is much collateral damage. Just when they think they have won, the enemy reveals a huge cannon and the girls realize that they have sucked into a trap without an escape route. Ikki orders Sakura to rescue them and Sakura hesitates. But, Ikki tells her it is time to stop worrying about failure and start doing. Sakura rushes forward and uses her powerful sword technique to destroy the gun. Unfortunately, the bridge is also a victim.
In the aftermath of the battle, Ikki asks the Count to repair the Oobu and take care of the damaged bridge. The Count agrees but tells Ikki that teaching Sakura how to control her strength remains his duty. Ikki replies that the battle has already done that. This leads to a scene in which Sakura proudly and forcefully announces that she will perform in the next play and when Sumire protests, Sakura does not back down. Ayame enters and gives Maria a knowing look and then asks her whether she is ready to meet the new commander. Maria jumps up, and then the scene cuts to a spinning paper that announces the promotion of Ichiro Ohgami.
The episode ends with Sakura rushing out to greet the new commander. She is so excited that she forgets to take his picture along. But that is not a problem as she immediately recognizes him as he leans against a cherry tree in the park in his smart white naval uniform. The last image is of Ichiro approaching Sakura, done in a stylized manner.
Act Four: A Midsummer Night's Dream
The final episode opens with "theater ninjas" (set crew dressed in black with face masks) building the stage at the Imperial Theater. They finish, and one ninja claps two blocks together in ritual. The scene then shifts to a group of men in a festival boat enjoying a midsummer firework festival. The first man talks excitedly about the fireworks and asks why the other man is not watching. He replies that he is watching even prettier "flowers" on the river. Those "prettier flowers" are Sakura, Maria and the rest of Imperial Floral Defense Unit. They are also enjoying the show and for Sakura, this is her first time. Sumire takes the opportunity to slip in a sarcastic remark but otherwise, everyone is having fun. Ichiro, having joined the unit as its new commander at the end of the last episode, has prepared a snack of watermelon and the girls knock him off the boat in their rush to grab a piece. It is then that the opening plays.
After the opening, we get to see what a day in the life of the new commander is like. After he is woken by one of the "theater ninja," Ichiro is asked by Sakura to help her with her chores. Next, Ri needs attention. Then Maria, followed by Iris and Sumire. After that, Kanna is overwhelmed in the daycare center and Ichiro has to pitch in. Then a steady stream of girls demands his attention. Finally, his long day ends and Ichiro wearily returns to his room. But, before he can get there, he runs into Ikki. At first, it looks like Ikki plans on offering Ichiro a drink but he hands him a flashlight (for night patrol) instead.
The next day, Ichiro seeks refuge by resting on the roof. While he lies there, Sakura and the other girls watch him and realize that their demands are draining him. They all agree to give him a break and be more considerate with their requests. Later, Ichiro walks the dark halls on night patrol. Another "theater ninja" leads him to the auditorium, where he finds Sakura practicing her swordsmanship. The two of them talk and this leads to a flurry of blushing from both parties. As the result of a brief humorous scene involving a mouse, Sakura extracts a promise from Ichiro that he will remember that he is human and can ask them for help. This leads to Ichiro making a speech about how he admires the Flower Division girls from the ability to hope and joy to the people of Tokyo in this dark time through their performances. Sakura takes this to mean that Ichiro wants to perform on stage with them and makes the offer. The other girls, having appeared in the theater as well, stand by and wait for his answer. Ichiro thanks her but says that is not what he wants. Sakura then offers him the role of director/producer and insists that he selects the next play.
Ichiro selects "A Midsummer's Night Dream" and Ikki approves it. This leads to a fast moving montage of preparation for the production. At the end, on the eve of the opening night, Ichiro admires how the entire team came together to create this beautiful event, but he also remains aware that the evil forces are set to spoil their good deeds. In fact, just as the curtain is about to go up, the Defense force receives the word that the enemy has attacked. But instead of canceling the show, Ichiro leaves to face them himself. This angers Ikki, and the girls overhear his arguing with Ayame. They decide to cancel and join Ichiro on the battlefield.
Sirens wail, and the townspeople excitedly prepare for the launch of the "Shogi-Maru," the team's airship. The ship lifts off and races to the scene of the fight. There, Ichiro figures he has met his match but just as things look their darkest, the girls arrive. Avery thrilling fight sequence then unfolds with each character being showcased. The battle, which is scored by the orchestra back at the theater, cumulates with Sakura and Ichiro combining their powers in one final attack that vanquishes the enemy.
The victorious team returns to the theater and is surprised to learn that the audience has remained. As they sneak peaks of the crowd, Ikki reprimands them and tells them to get into costume. He explains that they told the audience that the show was canceled, but they insisted on waiting for the girls to return. The girls leave to prepare and Ichiro goes to the back of the audience to watch. The credits and song then play. But, if you sit through the credits, you will see a short scene in which Ichiro has a conversation with his inner self and another in which the Floral Division girls make their "curtain call." This is where the episode and the Sakura Wars OVA series ends.