Spoilers for this film and all preceding Sakura Wars works will be left unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
Sakura Wars: The Movie is a 2001 anime film in the Sakura Wars video game series directed by Mitsuru Hongo, produced by Production I.G and released in Japan by Toei Company on December 22nd, 2001. Writing credits are shared by Hongo, Hiroyuki Nishimura, Nobuhisa Terado and series creator Oji Hiroi. Longtime franchise composer Kohei Tanaka wrote the film's score.
Picking up one month after the events of Sakura Wars 3: Is Paris Burning?, Ichirō Ōgami (Akio Suyama) has just left Paris and New York City actress Ratchet Altair (Akiko Kuno) is dispatched join to the Imperial Combat Revue's Flower Division in Tokyo, so that she would go on to found the New York Combat Revue, which would later be seen in Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love. But darkness comes as the American company, Douglas-Stewart, under the leadership of Brent Furlong (Kōichi Yamadera), unveils a plan to make the division obsolete by using Japhkiels, which are supposed to be unmanned mechs. Soon, the Flower Division and Ratchet are drawn into the heart of Douglas-Stewart's plans.
The film also stars Chisa Yokoyama as Sakura Shinguji, Michie Tomizawa as Sumire Kanzaki, Urara Takano as Maria Tachibana, Kumiko Nishihara as Iris Chateaubriand, Yuriko Fuchizaki as Kohran Li, Mayumi Tanaka as Kanna Kirishima, Maya Okamoto as Orihime Soletta, Kazue Ikura as Leni Milchstrasse, Ai Orikasa as Kaede Fujieda, Keiji Fujiwara as Haruyoshi Tanuma, and Keiichi Nanba as Patrick Hamilton.
Like the episodes of the TV series, the film is also a self-contained story in the same continuity (no Alternate Continuity here, thankfully) and leaves no hanging plot threads behind; such as Ratchet being introduced here, and eventually goes on to appear in Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love. The movie does assume you have familiarity with the characters and game timeline (providing no explanation as to why Ogami isn't even present for almost the entire movie, expect being mentioned about being in Paris, where Is Paris Burning? takes place). The movie also substantially expands the world of Sakura Wars beyond Japan, exploring in greater depth the dynamics of the prototype team (which consisted of Ratchet, Orihime, and Leni) fielded in wartime Europe. A recent production, it makes extensive use of CGI effects, particularly for the Kobu-Kais.
Sakura Wars: The Movie is also the final entry in the series to feature Kōichi Kitamura as the voice of Yoritsune Hanakōji before he died in 2007.
The film has received a novelization, written by Hiroyuki Kawasaki and illustrated by character designer Takuya Saito.
The film is chronologically followed by Le Nouveau Paris, Sakura Wars Story: Mysterious Paris and Sakura Wars 4: Fall in Love, Maidens.
Sakura Wars: The Movie provides examples of:
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Most of the animation is in 2D while the mecha, Goraigo and theater are all animated in 3D.
- 11th-Hour Ranger: After being absent throughout most of the film, Ichiro Ogami returns to help the Flower Division foil Douglas-Stewart's plans.
- All There in the Manual: Hiroyuki Kawasaki's novelization explains additional plot points in the film—for example, Ratchet teams up with Brent in a misguided attempt to protect Tokyo.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Douglas-Stewart has the IJA take over the Imperial Theater after Yoneda is captured. Fortunately, it doesn't last long thanks to Yokihiko Ota's help.
- Amusing Injuries: When Sakura trips over herself and falls on her face at the beginning of the film, she has a red mark on her nose.
- An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The film takes place during the 1926-1927 holiday season, in which the Flower Division celebrates Leni's 17th birthday, Ratchet Altair arrives from New York City, and Brent Furlong sets up a gambit with the Imperial Japanese Army to replace the Flower Division with the Japhkiels.
- Back for the Dead: The Eisen-Kleids previously used by Orihime and Leni appear during the second half of the film, only to get destroyed shortly before the Final Battle with Brent.
- Big Bad: Brent Furlong is motivated by a quest for power and he sets up a gambit for the Flower Division's demise and replaces them with Douglas-Stewart's Japhkiels.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- In the film's second half, Yokihiko Ota helps the Flower division return to the Imperial Theater and take it back by force.
- Towards the end, Kikunojo Oka helps the IJN destroy the Japhkiel facilities and Kayama rescues Hanakoji and Yoneda.
- Then, Ōgami arrives in his F2 Kobu to help the Flower Division kill Brent for good.
- Big "NO!":
- One of the Douglas-Stewart guards yells "No!" when Ratchet has him at her mercy with her throwing knives.
- Leni lets one out just before she stops Ratchet from killing Orihime.
- Book Ends: In her first appearance in the series, Sakura walks in Ueno Park while the cherry blossoms are blooming. In the final scene of the film, Sakura takes a stroll in the park while the cherry blossoms bloom once more.
- Bond One-Liner: Maria gives one to Patrick after killing him:Maria: Goodnight. Sweet dreams, Patrick.
- Just like in the first two games, Sakura trips over her clothes and falls on her face before wishing Leni a happy birthday.
- Yuichi Kayama mentions Ichiro Ogami's stay in Paris while talking with the Flower Division post-stage performance, which was depicted in Sakura Wars 3: Is Paris Burning?.
- As in Sakura Wars 2: Thou Shalt Not Die, the Imperial Japanese Army temporarily takes over the Grand Imperial Theater and captures Hanakoji.
- The final shot is of Sakura walking through the cherry blossoms at Ueno Park. This recalls the famous scene where Sakura does the same thing in the first Sakura Wars game.
- The Cameo:
- Yūji Mitsuya makes his return as Musei Edogawa, the director of the Flower Division's stage play.
- Seiji Sasaki appears as an IJA officer whom Kanna and Sumire encounter in the Imperial Theater.
- At the end of the film, Kazuki Yao, Taiki Matsuno and Daisuke Gōri reprise their respective roles as Kotone Seiryuin, Kikunojo Oka and Yokihiko Ota.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Kohran mentions to the other Flower Division members that she developed a spirit bullet meant for Maria. Sure enough, this bullet is used when Maria finally kills Patrick.
- The soundwaves used by the Japhkiels in the first half of the film, then exploited by Kohran so that the Flower Division can kill Brent in his Japhkiel form for good.
- Continuity Nod:
- The songs "Miracle Bell" and "Everything Is Into the Sea" once again make appearances in the opening and ending stage shows, respectively.
- In her introductory scene, Ratchet asks Tsubaki and Sakura where Yoneda is in English. Maria Tachibana did the same thing when Ayame recruited her in the first OVA.
- Ratchet pilots an Eisen-Kleid similar to the ones that were first used by Orihime and Leni when they joined the Flower Division.
- Ogami arrives in his F2 Kobu from Is Paris Burning? shortly before helping the Flower Division kill Brent.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Once the Flower Division takes back the Imperial Theater just as the demons are invading Ginza, the tide is turned and the Flower and Dream Divisions obliterate the demons.
- With Leni and Orihime taken out of the Final Battle, Brent uses his One-Winged Angel mecha to overpower the rest of the Flower Division and is just about to kill Sakura before Ōgami intervenes. Seconds later, the revue quickly makes short work of Brent, with Sakura delivering the final blow.
- Darkest Hour: Occurs twice in the movie:
Sumire: What can we do, I ask you? Shogei-Maru has been sealed, Wind Division and the deputy commander [Kaede] are being held at the Imperial Theater. What can we do in such a predicament?
- In the second half of the film, Commander Yoneda is captured, Orihime has been ambushed and brainwashed by Patrick Hamilton, Maria is missing after attempting to investigate Douglas-Stewart, Kaede Fujieda and the Wind Division are placed under house arrest at the Grand Imperial Theater, and the Flower Division is issued the stand-down order. It's even lampshaded by Sumire:
- Defiant to the End:
Kanna: Of course! We'll obey any order as long as it's designed to safeguard Tokyo. You tell me how cozying up to Douglas-Stewart is going to help. You think that's gonna make this city any safer?! (Cue karate chop from Kaede)
- When Kanna is ordered to stand down by the IJA officer before Kaede knocks him out.
- Dub Name Change: In the English dub:
- Ratchet is called "Lachette". The English-language release of So Long, My Love would keep the Ratchet spelling.
- The Imperial Combat Revue and Imperial Revue are respectively named the "Imperial Fighting Troupe" and the "Imperial Operetta Troupe".
- The Grand Imperial Theater is translated as the "Great Imperial Theater".
- Establishing Character Music: True to Sakura Wars tradition, Ratchet's leitmotif from Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love is heard the moment she meets Sakura and Tsubaki.
- Evil Plan: Brent Furlong and Haruyoshi Tanuma plan to make the Flower Division obsolete by using the Japhkiels to overpower the Flower Division, capturing Ikki Yoneda, working with the IJA to take control of the theater and brainwash Orihime.
- "Eureka!" Moment: At the end of the film, Kohran discovers that the sound waves used on the Japhkiels are the same ones used when Brent goes into his monstrous form.
- Face Plant: When Sakura attempts to join the Flower Division to celebrate Leni's 17th birthday backstage, she trips over her clothes as usual and falls face first.
- Faux Affably Evil: At first Brent Furlong seems to be an honest executive who is willing to help Japan. However, it turns out that he has mafia ties and is willing to cooperate with Tanuma and the IJA to make the Flower Division obsolete through the use of Japhkiels.
- Foregone Conclusion: Since the film takes place after Is Paris Burning?, we already know that Ōgami will return from Paris to help his friends in Tokyo on Grand-Mère's orders.
- Patrick deactivates a malfunctioning Japhkiel with sound waves. Guess what Kohran tells her allies after humming the same sound waves?
- Ratchet Altair arrives from New York to help learn about the Imperial Assault Force for the New York Combat Revue, and would later serve as its captain in Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love.
- Gratuitous English: In the original Japanese version, some of the dialogue is peppered with English (especially when it comes from Ratchet, Patrick and Brent). Averted in the English dub.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: During the battle at the Imperial Theater, Sakura uses her Kobu-Kai's sword to bisect some of the demons. Seconds later, Sumire does the same thing with her naginata. Then, Leni uses her Eisen-Kleid's spinning spear to also bisect one of the demons.
- Heel Realization: Orihime realizes how badly she screwed up after she's snapped out of Patrick's trance and Leni wakes her up.
- Heroic BSoD:
- Leni falls into one when she sees Ratchet again after several years.
- The Flower Division has a collective one when they realize that they are placed on indefinite standby.
- Ratchet goes through a brief one after Leni stops her from killing Orihime.
- History Repeats: Once again, the Imperial Japanese Army stages a coup d'etat and takes over the Imperial Theater, only to have their plans thwarted.
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- After Leni's Eisen-Kleid is destroyed, Orihime tries to fire energy blasts at the Flower Division, but it destroys her Eisen-Kleid, breaking free of Patrick's control.
- Brent uses the Japhkiel's sound waves to merge with them so he can fight the Flower Division personally. This gets exploited by Kohran, who fires her missiles at the shields so that Ogami and Sakura can kill Brent for good.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The fate of Brent Furlong at the hands of Sakura Shinguji.
- Immune to Bullets: Patrick Hamilton, as Maria Tachibana found out the hard way. But he's not immune to bullets with spirit power as he learned the hard way!
- Interquel: The film takes place at the end of Is Paris Burning?, placing it two months before Fall in Love, Maidens by the time Ogami returns in January.
- Jet Pack: In the second half of the film, Kohran upgrades the Kobu-Kais with rocket packs that increase their maneuverability by 120%.
- Just in Time: Leni manages to use her Eisen-Kleid to step in front of Orihime just as Ratchet is about to kill the latter.
- Let's Split Up, Gang!: After the Flower Division uses the Katsuryu-maru to infiltrate the theater, the group decides to split up. Sakura, Ratchet, Iris, and Kohran return to the Kobus with Sakura and Ratchet taking down a few guards. Meanwhile, Sumire, Kanna, and Leni rescue Kaede and the Wind Division.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": The Flower Division has a collective moment of terror when they see Brent merging with the Japhkiels.
- Musical Nod:
- When the Imperial Combat Revue is introduced, a new rendition of "Miracle Bell" from Thou Shalt Not Die plays.
- "Blooming Maidens", the ending theme to the first Sakura Wars game, returns during Sakura's monologue at the beginning of the film.
- The conference room theme from Thou Shalt Not Die appears as Tanuma discusses his plans to safeguard Tokyo with Brent and the Elder's Institute.
- When the Imperial Combat Revue prepares for their battle briefing, the "Dust Chute" theme from Thou Shalt Not Die is heard.
- During the Goraigo's deployment sequence, both the Skywhale and the Goraigo launch themes can be heard.
- The 1996 game's battle theme makes an appearance at the start of the Flower Division's first battle with the demons.
- An updated rendition of the boss battle music from Thou Shalt Not Die makes an appearance when the Flower Division launch their assault on the demons invading Ginza.
- After Brent curb-stomps the Flower Division in his One-Winged Angel form, the somber music from the first game that plays whenever a mission fails appears.
- Once Ogami arrives in his F2 Kobu to stop Brent once and for all, an extended rendition of the final battle music from Thou Shalt Not Die plays.
- "Everything Is Into the Sea" from the stage show based on The Sea God's Villa is played as a duet between Ratchet and Sakura. This song makes a brief Triumphant Reprise after the rest of the Flower Division forgives Ratchet for what she's done.
- Mythology Gag: In the first half, Ratchet Altair arrives from America to become the Flower Division's newest recruit, albeit in a temporary capacity. In the early scenario drafts of the original game, Maria Tachibana originally came from America and became the division's new recruit by the time of chapter 7.
- Non-Dubbed Grunts: The Dream Division's chant for the Imperial Capital Barricade Formation and Brent's incantation to transform the Japhkiels in the finale are kept in its original language in the various foreign dubs.
- Non-Protagonist Resolver: Douglas-Stewart's demon incubation facilities aren't destroyed by the Flower Division; that honor belongs to Yuichi Kayama, Kikunojo Oka and the Moon Division.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Unlike the OVAs and TV series, the film's English dub doesn't give the characters any regional accents.
- Novelization: Written by OVA and TV scriptwriter Hiroyuki Kawasaki and illustrated by character designer/animation director Takuya Saito, the novelization is an Adaptation Expansion of the film.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Sakura and Orihime when the former once again trips after changing her clothes and falls on her face during Leni's birthday reception.
- Tanuma when a Japhkiel goes berserk in the Douglas-Stewart Factory.
- Maria when Patrick attacks her while she is investigating the Douglas-Stewart Factory.
- The Douglas-Stewart guard in the theater when he realizes that Ratchet is about to kill him.
- The demons have a brief one seconds before the Flower Division uses the Imperial Capital Barricade Formation on them.
- Ratchet when she realizes that she destroyed Leni's Eisen-Kleid when she attempted to off Orihime.
- The horrified look on Leni's face the moment Orihime is about to attack the Flower Division again says it all.
- The Flower Division when they see Brent Furlong transform into his One-Winged Angel form.
- Tanuma has a shocked look when Yoneda punches him in the face and arrests him in the finale.
- Once per Episode: Sakura, being the Cute Clumsy Girl she is, trips over her clothes again. This time around, it's after the Christmas Eve performance.
- One-Hit KO:
- When Ratchet is fighting Orihime, Leni jumping in the way causes her Eisen-Kleid to shut down.
- Brent knocks out Ratchet's Eisen-Kleid with a single punch, rendering it inoperable.
- Opening Scroll: The film opens with one, explaining how the steam industry has improved Tokyo during the Taisho era.
- Post-Climax Confrontation: The final confrontation with Maria and Patrick takes place on the rooftops shortly after Yoneda arrests Tanuma and the Flower Division kills Brent. When it seems that Maria has used up all of her bullets, she quickly uses Kohran's spirit bullet to kill Patrick.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: When the heroes once again deploy in their mecha to fight the demons atop the Imperial Theater.Sakura: It's our duty to protect this great city!
- Say My Name: Leni yells Orihime's name when her Eisen-Kleid gets destroyed by her own blasts.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: In the second half of the film, after Maria is missing while investigating Douglas-Stewart, Sakura and whoever's left in the Flower Division decide "let's go back to the theater, take it back and get back our Kobu-Kais and defend Tokyo", even though they were placed on indefinite standby.Sakura: Hey, I know why not?
Everybody Else: Huh?
Sakura: Do what we can while we can. I don't want to live with regrets in my heart. Come on! Let's do this together.
Iris: Let's do it!
Leni: Let's do it!
Kanna: Let's go for it!
Kohran: I'm with you!
Sumire: I suppose that we must.
Yokihiko: I agree!
- Show Within a Show: Like the rest of the series, an adaptation of a popular theater work is performed by the Imperial Combat Revue. This time, it's an adaptation of Kyoka Izumi's The Sea God's Villa.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Brent taunts the Flower Division that Tokyo is nothing more than a speck of dust, Sakura immediately shouts him down.
- Spanner in the Works: The Rose Division's involvement in helping the Flower Division take back their theater and destroying the Japhkiel incubation facilities, as well as Ogami's return from Paris, ultimately put a dent in Douglas-Stewart's plans for making the Flower Division obsolete.
- Theme Music Power-Up: A reprise of the game's opening theme, also from Thou Shalt Not Die and the first OVA, appears when Ōgami and the Flower Division finally kill Brent.
- Throw It In!: An In-Universe example occurs in the stage adaptation of The Sea God's Villa at the end of the film, where Ratchet and Sakura improvise their dialogue during their characters' final confrontation.
- Thwarted Coup de Grâce:
- When Ratchet tries to kill the panicking Douglas-Stewart guard at the Imperial Theater, Sakura stops her just in time.
- At the end of the film, Brent attempts to kill Sakura, only for Ogami in his F2 Kobu to fire his cannon at him.
- Time Skip: The film takes place one month after the end of Is Paris Burning?.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The announcement trailer reveals that the Imperial Combat Revue along with Ratchet are fighting atop the Imperial Theater.
- Triumphant Reprise:
- The series' main theme returns as Ogami and the Imperial Combat Revue launches their final assault on Brent.
- "Everything is Into the Sea" has a brief reprise when Sakura and everyone else in the Imperial Combat Revue forgive Ratchet after the latter admits how she feels about her past.
- Unwitting Pawn: The Imperial Japanese Army becomes one to Douglas-Stewart when Brent and Tanuma trick them into issuing the stand-down order to the Flower Division.
- Villainous Breakdown: After the Flower Division takes back their theater and the Rose Division destroys the Japhkiel incubation facilities, Brent eventually loses his Faux Affably Evil demeanor he'd shown throughout the film. Even his final gambit on merging with the Japhkiels is a desperate, insane measure to take down the Flower Division once and for all.
- Wham Shot: In the Final Battle, Brent is about to kill Sakura when a cannon blast hits him squarely in the face. Cue Ichiro Ogami arriving in his F2 Kobu as he disposes of the cannon he just shot Brent with.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Sakura calls out Ratchet for her more violent approach in taking down the guards after the former stops her from killing one of them. However, Ratchet assures Sakura she prefers using the most efficient options.
- Why Won't You Die?: Patrick is frustrated when he meets Maria again after having thought to have killed her in the Douglas-Stewart warehouse.
- The Worf Effect: Towards the end of the film, Brent does this to virtually the entire Flower Division, rendering Ratchet's Eisen-Kleid out of commission in a single blow, overpowering the division's attacks and sending Kanna's Kobu-Kai flying to the ground.