Spoilers for all preceding Sakura Wars works, as well as this one, will be left unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
Sakura Wars the Animation, known in Japan as Shin Sakura Taisen the Animation, is a CGI anime sequel to the 2019 Sega video game Sakura Wars, directed by Manabu Ono (The Asterisk War, The Irregular at Magic High School, Dragonaut: The Resonance). Series composition credits are shared by Ono and Tatsuhiko Urahata (Strike Witches, Gate, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere) and Sakura Wars veteran Kohei Tanaka once again wrote the music. The series was produced by Sanzigen Animation Studio, which produced the cinematics to the 2019 game. It is the first Sakura Wars TV series in 20 years and the first to be dubbed by Funimation since their release of École de Paris in 2005.
Set in 1941, one year after the events of Sakura Wars, peace has returned to Tokyo at last. Seijuro Kamiyama (Yohei Azakami), the captain of the Imperial Combat Revue's Flower Division, is transferred to Europe and Sakura Amamiya (Ayane Sakura) assumes leadership in his place. Kamiyama eventually returns to Japan, accompanied by Klara M. Ruzhkova (Misaki Watada), who is the apparent Sole Survivor of the first Moscow Combat Revue. Meanwhile, the team is approached by Valery Kaminski (Kenji Akabane) and Klara's older sister Leyla Ruzhkova (Haruka Shiraishi), two Moscow Combat Revue members who seek out Klara to have her rejoin the team. The Imperial Combat Revue must protect Tokyo once again and learn what the Moscow Combat Revue's real motives are.
The series premiered on April 3, 2020 as part of the Ultra Super Anime Time block on Tokyo MX and BS11, and it consists of 12 episodes. Outside of Japan, Funimation premiered it same-day in North America and the United Kingdom. Madman Entertainment streamed it on the AnimeLab service in Australia and New Zealand, while Aniplex made it available via country-specific Wakanim services in Europe.
Sakura Wars the Animation provides examples of:
- Affably Evil: Valery Kaminski, the captain of the new Moscow Combat Revue, is friendly and charming in his interactions with the Imperial Combat Revue, but at the same time, he is also a devious schemer.
- All-CGI Cartoon: Unlike the previous anime adaptations and spin-offs, the show is fully generated on computer, specifically using software programs such as Autodesk 3ds Max, TVPaint Animation and Pixologic Zbrush.
- Artistic License History: The Moscow Combat Revue's airship crash occurs in Petrograd. Although the series is set in 1941, Petrograd was already renamed Leningrad and considered part of the Soviet Union in real-life.
- Bad Moon Rising: At one point in the opening theme, Leyla's true form is surrounded by a red moon.
- Bittersweet Ending: Thanks to the Imperial Combat Revue's efforts, Kaminski is killed off for good, the Moscow Combat Revue is no more and Klara becomes a permanent member of the revue. However, Leyla is dead, Sakura's Mugen and Kobu are destroyed and Hakushu has to go her separate ways with Sakura after several years as her sword master. Worst of all, the threat of the Archdemon still lingers.
- Breather Episode: Episode 7, where Seijuro returns briefly and takes Sakura and Klara out to an amusement park. Compared to other episodes, nothing serious happens here. Instead a lot of comedic moments occur, such as Reiji having some Serious Business moments with the other ladies tailing Sakura, Klara and Seijuro, to Kaminski and Leyla attempting to reach the boat the trio were on, only to completely miss it and fall into the water instead.
- In the teaser trailer, the familiar "Coming Up Next Time" preview appears for the first few seconds, similar to the previous entries in the Sakura Wars franchise.
- The opening narration in the first two episodes is accompanied by silhouettes of the original Imperial Combat Revue in stage outfits, with Ichiro Ogami appearing last and tossing his hat towards the camera, similar to the opening sequence of Sakura Wars 4: Fall in Love, Maidens.
- In the opening theme:
- The first scene is the Flower Division members turning around to reveal themselves ending on a close up of the main heroine, just like the Paris Combat Revue from Sakura Wars 3: Is Paris Burning?.
- The Flower Division's introductions, along with the stage performance, as well as their battle with the villains all harken back to the 2019 game's opening. Makes sense since Sanzigen also did most of the anime-esque cinematics.
- Anastasia's introduction where she points her gun at the screen and fires is a reference to Maria Tachibana doing the same thing in the opening theme of the 1996 game.
- In the final scene, the Flower Division closing out their stage performance is a direct reference to the opening theme of Sakura Wars 4: Fall in Love, Maidens.
- In the premiere episode, "The Curtain Rises! The New Combat Revue", Sakura Amamiya has become the temporary captain of the Flower Division while Seijuro Kamiyama is away in Europe, referencing the situation where Maria Tachibana temporary took Ichiro Ogami's place as captain of the previous Flower Division by the time of Sakura Wars: The Movie.
- At the beginning of "Identity Unknown! A Mysterious Foe Appears", the White Cape thwarts an attempted attack on a boy, similar to how Geminine fought off the robbers in Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love.
- Sakura introduces Klara to the Flower Division in a similar manner to what Kamiyama went through in the 2019 game.
- The Flower Division's method of breaching the airship Sevastopol is reminiscent of the Paris Combat Revue using the Revolver Cannon in Sakura Wars 3: Is Paris Burning?.
- Much like in the game as well, Sakura's Mugen is destroyed and her Kobu is rendered inoperable, forcing her to once again switch into the Obu.
- Casting Gag: This is not the first time Cherami Leigh (Sakura Amamiya) played a girl with magical powers, as she previously played Kiriko Kiyuna in Daimidaler the Sound Robot.
- Cool Mask: Hakushu's disguise as White Cape consists of a wide-brimmed hat accompanied by a mask concealing her eyes.
- Cool Ship: The Moscow Combat Revue's ship, the Mobile Air Fortress Sevastopol, is a black, eight-legged ship that is likened to a floating castle.
- Date Peepers: Kaminski, Leyla, Reiji and the other girls of the New Imperial Combat Revue Flower Division follow Seijuro, Sakura, and Klara around during episode 7. Hilariously neither group is aware of the other, and they abandon their plans after the trio go on a boat ride and the others fail to board in time.
- Demoted to Extra: While Seijuro Kamiyama appeared as a major protagonist for the 2019 game, here he doesn't get to do much since the Flower Division is the main focus this time around.
- Facial Horror: After their ship was destroyed, the original Moscow Combat Revue members had to wear masks due to the facial scars they suffered from. Well, except for Leyla.
- Happy Ending Override: The 2019 game ended with the Imperial Combat Revue winning the Combat Revue World Games and thwarting President G/Genan Sotetsu's plans to resurrect the Archdemon. But it didn't last long before another demonic invasion occurred in Tokyo.
- Idiosyncratic Wipes: The teasers for the first two episodes end with the cherry blossom petals covering up the screen to make way for the opening.
- Location Theme Naming: The Sevastopol is named after the largest city on the Crimean Peninsula.
- Musical Nod: A snippet of the main theme from the original 1996 game is heard during the Opening Narration.
- Opening Narration: The opening sequence describes the history of the Imperial Combat Revue:"The winds of adventure blow over the Taisho cherry blossoms. Once, legendary maidens protected Tokyo. Maidens who would dance on the stage, and fight, too. They were known as the Imperial Combat Revue. Fourteen years have passed, and a new Imperial Combat Revue: Flower Division, has been born!"
- Narrator: As with the 2019 game, Show Hayami narrates the series.
- Put on a Bus: Seijuro retrieves Klara in the first episode, but is then whisked off to deal with the procedures needed to officially transfer her. These are then immediately complicated when the New Moscow Combat Revue shows up. He comes back in Episode 7 but Sumire sends him to investigate further and leaves at the end of the episode.
- The Remnant: The destruction of the original Moscow Combat Revue's airship left Klara as the only surviving member of the group.
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: In the opening theme, Anastasia points her gun at the screen and fires.
- Serious Business: Reiji's Date Peepers mission for the other ladies of the New Imperial Combat Revue Flower Division after he tells them that Seijuro went with Sakura and Klara somewhere in secret. It turns out that Kaminski and Leyla were also tailing the trio, but neither group was aware of the other, and both groups abort the mission after they're unable to get to the boat the trio were on in time.
- Sole Survivor: A Double Subversion. Klara is the apparent sole survivor of the original Moscow Combat Revue, whose airship crashed during an assault in Petrograd. But "Tokyo Trembles! The New Moscow Combat Revue!" reveals that everyone in the Moscow Combat Revue survived the crash, including Kaminski and Leyla. It then gets complicated. After Kamiyama investigated the crash site, it turns out the Moscow Combat Revue really were destroyed leaving Klara, Leyla and Kaminski. The rest of the supposed Moscow troop turns out to be androids of Kaminski's design.
- Something About a Rose:
- Kaminski is often associated with red roses, as exemplified after he and the Moscow Combat Revue enter the Grand Imperial Theater.
- Hakushu often wears a rose on her hat when dressed up as White Cape.
- Time Skip: The anime picks up one year after the events of Sakura Wars (2019). As such, Sakura now has a personalized Mugen in place of her Obu, Kamiyama has traveled to Europe with Lancelot and Elise, and so on.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The promotional videos revealed several returning characters from the 2019 game.
- Wave-Motion Gun: The Sevastapol is equipped with a cannon powerful enough to destroy a mountain.
- Wham Episode: Episodes 8 and 9 reveal that Leyla and Klara are half demons. Episode 9 also reveals that Hakushu is hiding demon children, relating back to her mysterious past in the game.