Sakura Wars OVA

I don't walk out on movies. It's not something I'm particularly proud of, but I just can't force myself to do it. When I've paid my $8 and go to see a film, I want to know how it ends, even if the thing's terrible. Thankfully, I haven't been in on too many stinkers. It's really not that different when it comes to home video, either...if I paid for it, I'm gonna get my money's worth. I can count on one hand how many videos or DVDs I've shut down in the middle.

But I found an exception. Left hand, you're going to have to start counting soon.

Most shows based on video games have been competant at best and ludicrously bad at worst. Tekken, for example, comes to mind as being completely pointless, even if there was a lot of action. But Sakura Wars takes the next step into ridicule as a video game conversion--it's dull. And we're not talking lull you to sleep dull, we're talking about brain hurting, staring at the screen, attempting to figure out why this is so boring dull. Tekken and its kin certainly have their faults, but one usually faults them for being inane or mindless--they have their share of action and at least something for the viewer to enjoy at a visceral level.

Sakura Wars, sadly, has not even this to save it.

The first two episodes of Sakura Wars introduce several main characters to the fray, all of whom have various skills and backgrounds. The time is the 1920s, and it's a steam-based culture. Apparently, the Demon Wars (which are never explained) happened a long time ago, and the demons are coming back. Thus, the military is preparing for a fight. It seems, however, that the people most suited to the fight are young women with special talents. Their names escape me, as each character is pretty much a throwaway anyway. During the course of the hour that comprises the two episodes, nothing really happens. Maybe that's not quite true, but it feels that way. An alien...ahem, demon, attacks once, but it's dealt with quickly. (The demons are a ripoff of H. R. Giger, to be certain, and look like fat versions of the original Alien film.) There is no other action, really. The show truly fails because it breaks the cardinal rule of storytelling: have an interesting main character. All of the characters have just a tiny focus, and so all of them are weak.

The girls must prepare for their upcoming feats. Prepare, prepare, prepare. The girls must bicker amongst themselves because they are, after all, not women, right? Bicker, bicker, bicker. The lead, Sakura, must train herself how to fight since her dad died years ago fighting the demons. Train, train, train. Ugh ugh ugh.

I cannot, in fairness, give a complete review to Sakura Wars. I didn't make it to the last two episodes. I was so disenchanted with the wearying sameness and uninspired plotting that I had just had enough. I will give it the lowest passing grade simply for an enjoyable enough music score and bright, clean animation. Save the money and rent something else.

Sakura Wars OVA -- mild violence, mind-altering tedium -- D-