It’s the age old question - a question that’s worried me from time to time, in fact. How best should I remind old friends of my existence, should I ever meet up? A simple introduction could turn into an embarrassing ordeal should they completely forget who I am. A letter could be torn up as junk mail, or forgotten on the mantelpiece. A reunion party is far too common. No, the best way is to pose as a prostitute and con my way in, hoping that whoever my target is will somehow be stunned at the similarities between the lady of night they’ve found in their bed, and the sweet little ten-year-old girl I once was.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised at all to find the same tactics employed by the heroine of the piece – after all, it really makes sense to get someone in bed before reminding them you used to be childhood buddies, doesn’t it?
Touma comes to Tokyo to study, and finds himself housed in a hotel – immediately he turns on the porn and a few seconds later there’s a knock at the door. Urara, his long lost cousin, is posing as a prostitute, and is hoping to rekindle the fires of their 8th grade romance. After a quick ‘should I lose my virginity to this hooker or wait for a romance’ internal tussle, Touma kicks her out in her undies and continues to ‘study’ alone. (For ‘study’, read ‘fumble under the covers’)
Touma catches a cold from the young lass, and manages to stuff up two of his entrance exams, but along the way meets up with Mieko, who he decides he simply must marry. Late for his final exam, he is met at the gates by Urara, who gives him a nutritious lunch. Blaming her for his poor performance at the exams, Touma knocks the lunch from her hands and makes her run off crying. So begins the juggling act that Touma has to manage – one girl who loves him but leaves him cold, and another that he loves but doesn’t seem to be interested in him.
Sakura Diaries is one of those bizarre rom-coms you often come across in anime – weird love triangles, convoluted plots to gain people’s attention, and of course, the standard ‘oops, it’s time for cram school’ student who has to desperately try to juggle their scary personal life with a host of academic commitments.
All of this is completely fine in its own way, of course – harmless escapism with more than a hint of fan service has always proved to be popular with fans of any form of entertainment, and anime fans certainly won’t be missing out on the action with this enormously long (265 min) single volume series. All twelve episodes are crammed onto two discs, making this pretty good value for money in a world where you can spend just under the same amount and only get three episodes on a disc.
The downside is that there’s no Japanese voice track, so if you’re a dub hater you’ll probably burn the DVDs rather than play them – waste of money, in that case. The dub is a little high-pitched and squeaky, but bearably so. Also, considering how handy the subtitles are for hiding the sound of dodgy scenes – heavy breathing, and the like – perhaps leaving off the Japanese soundtrack was a bit of an oversight in this case…
The animation is starting to look a little dated, but considering that ADV have released the series as a collection rather than over several volumes means you really get what you pay for. The special features are minimal, too.
If you’re after a cheap anime fix, you can’t go far wrong with this. A raunchy, silly love triangle of a series.