Like her character Maria Tachibana, Urara Takano once lived in New York City and can speak English.
Adaptation First: The Imperial and Paris Combat Revues (with a few exceptions like Jean Leo) made their first major Western appearance in the various anime/OVA adaptations, which were released years before So Long, My Love was localized in North America.
Adored by the Network: Sakura Wars is one of Sega's most popular franchises, to the point where it has spanned six OVA series, two TV series, a film, as well as over 25 stage musicals.
All-Star Cast: Here are the main cast members of each game. See how many you instantly recognize:
Cash Cow Franchise: The series not only spawned numerous spin-off games and OAV, TV and theatrical anime, but had semiannual stage shows and even a Cosplay Café of its own.
The Cast Showoff: Though the Sakura Wars cast are generally voice actors who just happen to also be talented at singing, Shintaro Sonooka, who plays Kosuke Dan (the leader of the Dandy Gang) in the stage shows, is a known singer who has significant experience in stage musicals and it shows.
Theater plays only: Many of the actors are much older than the characters they're supposed to play. The most notorious examples are both Mayumi Tanaka (Kanna) and Kumiko Nishihara (Iris). Iris is supposed to be a little kid, but Nishihara is an adult woman and much taller than Mayumi Tanaka, who (in-universe) is supposed to be one of the tallest women of the games.
Subverted with Etsuko Kozakura (Coquelicot): Despite the fact she's also voicing and playing a little kid, she's as short as Tanaka and is able to look as closely like Coquelicot as she looks in the games.
In the English dub of The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms OVA, Gary Dehan is the ADR director as well as the voice of a demon and limo driver.
In the English dub of The Radiant Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms, Charles Campbell is not only the ADR director, but is also the voice of the director in the second episode and Shigeki Kanzaki (Sumire's father).
Dueling Dubs: Considering that ADV, Funimation and Geneon had a hand in dubs for North America with different people playing different characters (This was cut down on in the wake of So Long, My Love with the Bang Zoom dub being used).
Fake Nationality: Many of the foreign characters such as Maria Tachibana, Orihime Soletta, Leni Milchstrasse and most of the New York Combat Revue are played by Japanese voice actors.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: Considering the fact that the Sakura Wars series is a Long Runner franchise, it has seen quite a few works falling out of circulation and remain lost for years.
Since the franchise was resurrected with Sakura Wars (2019), the older games (especially the main ones) have been in high demand. However, the first five games, as well as several spinoffs such as Sakura Wars V: Episode Zero and Sakura Wars Story: Mysterious Paris, are now out of print. This didn't stop Sega from including Sakura Shinguji, Erica Fontaine and Gemini Sunrise in the Project X Zone series, but to this day, they've dropped no hints of re-releasing the games. Not only do the games tend to be sold at higher prices, but the advent of the PlayStation 4 as well as the discontinuations of the Sega Saturn, the Dreamcast, the PlayStation 2 and the Wii make playing them even more impossible.
Aside from the 2019 Sakura Wars, the PlayStation 2 video games haven't seen a digital release on the PlayStation Network.
With ADV Films' license to the Sakura Wars anime expiring as a result of its 2009 liquidation, their OVA releases have become hard to find. While its successor, Sentai Filmworks, doesn't seem to have any plans to release the OVAs, the TV series is still in circulation and is much easier to find since they acquired the license to it that year.
Funimation released the École de Paris and Su-Mi-Re OVAs in the early 2000s and they have since gone out of print. On the other hand, they would later go on to license Sakura Wars: The Movie from Geneon in June 2013 as well as Sakura Wars the Animation in April 2020.
Several interactive games related to the series, such as those promoting the stage musicals as well as a radio drama and online games, became this trope, with no word on their status since the Turn of the Millennium.
Before launching the official Sakura Wars website in March 2001, Sega already had official profiles of the original Sega Saturn releases of Sakura Wars and Sakura Wars 2: Thou Shalt Not Die. When Sega redesigned the website the same year, the content was not converted to Flash and was lost. There's little chance of finding some of the official material on Sega's pages for the SS releases, such as the promotional videos outside of Nico Nico Douga and YouTube.
Even after Sega redesigned the official Sakura Wars website yet again in March 2019, the original video content that was on the Sega Channel wasn't converted when it was shut down in late 2010, meaning the only places you can find the content are through Nico Nico Douga or YouTube, or in the case of So Long, My Love, the promotional DVD that came with Samurai Daughter of the Wild.
The Sakura Wars Online game was released in December 2001, at least eight months after Sega ceased production of the Dreamcast. Through Sega's Open Dice services, there were online voice actor events, gaming competitions, and special events like Valentine's Day or celebrating the players' birthdays. Open Dice shut down on November 30, 2005, making online play impossible.
Red Entertainment published the canonical Taisho Roman Route stories, written by Ryoma Kaneko and supervised by Naoki Morita, on their former official Sakura Wars website [[in 1997. Then, after that website shut down on June 25, 2000, the revised edition was posted on "Dragon-za" throughout 2001. However, the "Dragon-za" site merged with Red's own website on September 30, 2003. Thus, both websites can only be accessed through the Internet Archive.
Ogami and Sakura make a bit appearance in the start of So Long, My Love (the first game released widely in the West).
Sakura and Ogami, along with Is Paris Burning's leading lady Erica Fontaine, finally made a playable appearance outside of Japan in Project X Zone, alongside Is Paris Burning? villain Ciseaux. Aya-me is a subversion: Ayame Fujieda did appear in some of the media that came to the west, but never as a villain.
Sumire Kanzaki, who appears as one of the heroines of the first four games, makes her Western gaming debut in the international release of Sakura Wars (2019).
The first episode of The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms was released on December 18, 1997, with the first episode of The Radiant Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms and the Su-Mi-Re OVA respectively coming out in 1999 and 2001 on the exact same date. Not only that, but it also coincided with the 66th, 68th and 70th birthdays of Yoritsune Hanakoji's voice actor Koichi Kitamura.
The first episode of Le Nouveau Paris was released on October 20, 2004, the 43rd birthday of Sumire's actress Michie Tomizawa, while the second was released on January 19, 2005, which was the 63rd birthday of Laurence Roland's voice actor Yasuo Iwata.
For years, localization efforts for the first four games were not planned because Sega was uncertain that the series would find a large audience outside of Japan. However, the fifth game, So Long, My Love, became the first to be released overseas in 2010 by NIS America. Later on, Sega itself announced that they would localize Sakura Wars (2019) for an international release in April 2020.
The first two games were available in PC for Russian-speaking countries/territories in the early 2000s.
All of the four games were released in Simplified Chinese.
The Original Darrin: Dave Wittenberg, the voice of Ogami in the film and Su-Mi-Re OVA, returned to voice the character in So Long, My Love after being replaced by Daniel Katsük in the École de Paris OVA.
The Other Darrin: This is in the North American English dubs of the OVAs and the TV series, since they were recorded intermittently in Texas and California. Although the production companies avoided this with the worldwide release of So Long, My Love.
Production Posse: Many of the staff who worked on the series have been frequently retained throughout the years:
Tomoyuki Ito directed the first Sakura Wars game. He was promoted to chief director for Thou Shalt Not Die and Is Paris Burning?.
Akira Nishino directed Thou Shalt Not Die and Is Paris Burning? before he was promoted to chief director for Fall in Love, Maidens. He would later serve as a production supervisor for the 2019 game.
Shoichiro Irimajiri served as chief executive producer from the 1996 Sakura Wars to Is Paris Burning?. Upon his retirement, Tetsu Kayama became the chief executive producer for Fall in Love, Maidens and In Hot Blood. For the 2019 Sakura Wars, Haruki Satomi served as a chief executive producer.
Noriyoshi Ohba served as a producer for the first two Sakura Wars games before he was promoted to executive producer for Is Paris Burning?, Fall in Love, Maidens and In Hot Blood.
Mika Akitaka served as the series' main mechanical designer ever since the first Sakura Wars game.
Yoji Ishii was a producer for Sakura Wars and was promoted to executive producer for Thou Shalt Not Die.
Takaharu Terada first worked as a planner for Thou Shalt Not Die. He would later serve as the main planner for Is Paris Burning? and Fall in Love, Maidens before he was promoted to series director starting with In Hot Blood. For the 2019 game, he worked as a scenario part director.
Tetsuya Ohtsubo was a planner for Is Paris Burning? and would later go on to direct the 2019 game.
Masaharu Sato voiced Yoichi in The Radiant Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms and would later go on to voice Yattansai Mochizuki in Sakura Wars (2019).
Yoichi Nishimura played one of the men in the Ai Yueni stage show before portraying Yantaro Nishimura starting with the second musical based on The Blue Bird.
Naoya Uchida made his Sakura Wars debut playing Tetsuma Shinguji, Sakura's uncle, in the 2000 TV series. Uchida would later voice Michael Sunnyside in So Long, My Love and physically play the character in the subsequent stage plays and concerts.
Kaya Matsutani, who provided additional voices for the first TV series, would later go on to play Diana Caprice in So Long, My Love as well as all subsequent stage plays and concerts.
As mentioned, Ogami, Sakura, Erica made their appearances in Project X Zone as regular, playable characters.
Sakura and Erica would later end up being collaboration characters for Star Ocean: Anamnesis of the Star Ocean franchise. Unfortunately, due to the global version being shut down early, they're only contained within the Japanese version, the global version would never experience the sight of Sakura and Erica fighting alongside Roddick, Claude, Fayt, Edge and Fidel.
This series has a rather peculiarly interesting relationship with the Super Robot Wars franchise. You'd think that with all the mecha fighting, this series might end up making it to Super Robot Wars (even moreso because another Sega property made it there, no problem). Unfortunately, series creator Ouji Hiroi was noted to severely dislike SRW, barring them or any of his creations to ever enter the crossover. This is also compounded with how the cast of Sakura Wars were strictly fighting demons only, they don't like fighting humans whereas man-to-man fighting are aplenty in Super Robot Wars. It's only after Ouji Hiroi left Red Entertainment and they merged with Sega that eventually they agree to put some of Hiroi's works in SRW, chiefly Mashin Hero Wataru Series (which appeared in one mainline SRW game). Unfortunately for Sakura Wars, their appearances are still limited to the story-light Super Robot Wars X-Ω as time-limited appearances, since the series taking place in Alternate History will require very careful tinkering to fit in with the crossover narrative.
Refitted for Sequel: A lot of ideas from previous games are often recycled into various mediums. For example, the original development drafts of Sakura Wars was to have Maria Tachibana join the Flower Division as a new American recruit, which was later adapted into the scenario where Ratchet Altair arrives from America as the Flower Division's newest recruit in Sakura Wars: The Movie.
Voice actors from previous Sakura Wars games reprised their roles for the stage shows, including Chisa Yokoyama as Sakura Shinguji, Noriko Hidaka as Erica Fontaine, Sanae Kobayashi as Gemini Sunrise, Akio Suyama as Ichiro Ogami, and Hisayoshi Suginuma as Shinjiro Taiga.
For the Shin Aoi Tori and Shin Ai Yueni stage shows, Daisuke Gori reprised his role as Yokihiko Ota. Shin Ai Yueni would be the final time Gori played Yokihiko before he committed suicide in 2010.
Conversely, the actors in the stage shows reprised their roles for the later OVAs. These include Shintarō Sonooka as Kosuke Dan, Yōichi Nishimura as Yantaro Nishimura, Shigehiro "Velo" Takeda as Beromucho Takeda, and Rumi Kasahara as Futaba Taiga.
Ren Tamura, who first appeared as the voice of Bob Lassie in Over the Rainbow Sunshine drama CD, would physically portray the character for the stage shows and concerts starting in 2006.
Saved from Development Hell: In the years following the release of So Long, My Love, Takaharu Terada made yearly pitches to Sega regarding a new Sakura Wars game, but it wasn't until 2018 that Sakura Wars (2019) would finally be announced as the next game in the series.
Sending Stuff to Save the Show: After Sega ended the franchise with the third New York stage show in 2008, fan demand prompted composer Kohei Tanaka and series director Takaharu Terada to help create a new Sakura Wars entry. Eventually, the support paid off in 2018 with Sega announcing a sixth game in the series at that year's Sega Fes.
The first two games were initially co-developed by Sega's CS2/AM7 R&D team. In 2000, Sega split off the in-house Consumer Software (CS) and Amusement Machine (AM) teams, and Overworks was formed; the team developed Is Paris Burning? and Fall in Love Maidens as well as the remake of the first game. Then, after the Sammy Corporation purchased Sega in 2004, Sega restructured the development teams once again; So Long, My Love was developed by their GE2 R&D team and Neverland developed the DS game. Finally, Sakura Wars (2019) was developed by a reorganized CS2 team, which included team members from both Overworks and Sonic Team.
Radix served as the main animation studio for the OVAs, but when the studio merged with Mobanimation to become Radix Mobanimation in 2006, AIC animated New York, NY.
The mainline series was originally developed by Sega and Red Entertainment. In 2017, Sega gained ownership of every Sakura Wars project co-produced with Red shortly after Sakura Wars (2019) began development.
The first two OVAs were released by Bandai Visual. Beginning in 2005, the next three OVAs were distributed by Pony Canyon. Thirteen years after releasing New York, NY, Pony Canyon acquired the distribution rights to the first two OVAs.
Vaporware: Three titles under the "Sakura Wars World Project", which included an adventure game set in Tokyo, a prequel detailing the Demon Wars, and a title set during the Sengoku era, were all canceled in 2008.
Oji Hiroi intended for Sakura Wars to be localized from the beginning, but Sega was uncertain that the franchise would have a profitable audience outside of Japan. It wasn't until 24 years later that Sega would eventually go on to localize the 2019 Sakura Wars game once they discovered how popular the franchise was.
There have been quite a few canceled games since the fourth game. Gaming news sites reported that Sega had plans to export Sakura Wars outside of Asia under the "Sakura Wars World Project". So Long, My Love, Sakura Wars V: Episode Zero, Sakura Wars Story: Mysterious Paris and the remake of the first game were released.
As part of the World Project, there were also plans for a Prequel game detailing the Demon War, something that was touched upon in the games and given a Whole Episode Flashback in the anime adaptation. Unfortunately, the project was scrapped.
Sega announced a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game in the franchise at the 4th China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference in 2006. However, it was canceled after Sega withdrew from the online gaming industry in China in 2007.
At one point, the PSP port of the first two games was planned to be localized for a North American release, but Sony axed it after they classified it as a text novel.
Sega originally intended to end the franchise with the third New York stage show in 2008. Due to fan demand, however, they decided to continue the series to the point where they developed a Soft Reboot, titled Sakura Wars (2019).