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Sakura Wars: The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms is a four-part Original Video Animation series based on Sega's Sakura Wars series, and the first anime entry in the history of the franchise. It is directed by Takaaki Ishiyama, written by Hiroyuki Kawasaki and produced by Radix.
Beginning in 1919, four years prior to the events of the 1996 game, the first three episodes OVA focuses on the origins of the Imperial Combat Revue's Flower Division and the events leading up to the game. The fourth episode takes place during the events of that game.
The series was released from December 18, 1997 to July 25, 1998. It was later licensed for an international release by ADV Films, who released it under the title Sakura Wars.
The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms provides examples of:
- Anachronic Order: The OVA released from 1997 to 1998 and takes place before and during Sakura Wars, with the last two episodes being released after Sakura Wars 2: Thou Shalt Not Die.
- Call-Forward: The third episode concludes with Sakura meeting Ogami in Ueno Park shortly after the latter arrives in Tokyo at the beginning of the game.
- Coming-of-Age Story: For Sakura Shinguji in the first three episodes. She leaves her home in Sendai to become an actress and swordswoman in the Imperial Combat Revue.
- Continuity Nod:
- In the first episode, Sakura hides in a corner of her home when lightning strikes.
- In the second episode, Kohran works on the lie detector that she would later use on Ogami in the game. As with most of Kohran's inventions, it malfunctions.
- At the beginning of the third episode, there's a brief mention of Sakura Shinguji obliterating a Wakiji, as depicted in the Action Prologue of the 1996 game.
- Dead Person Conversation: Sakura converses with Kazuma during her training in the second episode.
- Dénouement Episode: The fourth episode takes place during the first few chapters of the game.
- Due to the Dead: Sakura's home in Sendai has a memorial shrine for the late Kazuma Shinguji. In the first episode, Sakura is first seen giving a quiet prayer moments before Gontaro Iwai arrives.
- Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who is familiar with the first game will know that:
- The Hive of Darkness and Aoi Satan will not only survive the events of the OVA since they die in the game proper
- Sakura's training with Arataka will succeed and she will leave Sendai for Tokyo.
- Ogami will replace Maria as the Flower Division's captain.
- The third episode takes place immediately after the Action Prologue of the 1996 game.
- The fourth episode is set shortly after Ogami becomes the team's captain in the first half of Sakura Wars.
- Musical Nod: Sakura's theme song from the first game, "Sakura", is once again played during a flashback to her childhood with Kazuma.
- Origins Episode: The first three episodes show how the Flower Division members were recruited.
- Peacock Girl: In the second episode, the girls get into a fight while wearing costumes that have feathers arranged this way. It creates a comedic contrast to see them dressed this grandly while arguing, and resorting to attacking each other with their powers.
- Prequel: The first three episodes serve as a prequel to the 1996 game.
- Saved by Canon: The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms is set before and during the original game, so Ayame Fujieda, Aoi Satan and the Hive of Darkness will survive the events of the OVA.