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ADV Films presents
Sakura Diaries: Chapter 3 (1997)

"I thought she was a tease who was sleeping around..."
- Touma (Mitsuaki Shinden)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: February 22, 2002

Stars: Mitsuaki Shinden, Kyoko Nagaue
Other Stars: Rumi Kasahara, Mako Kondo
Director: Hiroyuki Yanagise

Manufacturer: AIX Media Group
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (17+ for mature situations and opressive crotch shots)
Run Time: 01h:05m:02s
Release Date: January 16, 2001
UPC: 702727003325
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Once again, I can't discuss this show without some spoilers, so read with caution.

It'd be impossible for Sakura Diaries to go downhill after the last volume, and I'm happy to report that this one was nowhere near as difficult to sit through. I still really have a lot of problems with the lead character Touma, who always, always thinks only of himself, only letting concern for others flit across his mind for brief moments before he goes back to feeling sorry for himself. No matter what he has done to those "others."

The elements that made me hate the last volume are, of course, still present, especially in the first scene. Idiotic Urara forgives Touma for trying to rape her because he said he was really, really sorry. Then she proceeds to ask him to take her out on a date. Touma, proving he doesn't really feel bad for what he did to her, but is only trying to assuage his guilt, agrees, but not without a lot of bitching. You know, Urara isn't an offensive character by any means, but it is hard to feel for someone who is so stupid. Forgiveness is divine, Urara, but dating a guy who tried to date rape you doesn't prove you the brightest crayon in the box.

Once we're past this pesky plot point, the show settles down into its familiar routine. The love triangle lumbers on, with Meiko still ignoring Touma, Touma still lusting for Meiko (even though, I suspect, he knows little about her aside from her approximate cup size), and poor little Urara still throwing herself at her despicable pig of a cousin, who never once seems to genuinely regret anything he's done to her. Cheer up, though, because at the end he gets to twist the knife into her again when he uses her to make himself feel better after Meiko reveals what the back of the box calls "a shocking secret," but what I'd call a relief, since it probably saves us from a scene where Touma tries to rape Meiko too.

Well, the plot continues to be equal parts lame and infuriating as Touma doesn't appear to grow or learn from his experiences at all, but the animation is still pretty good. Nothing inspired, mind you, and there is still way too much seriously degrading "fan service," but I suppose that's a staple of the genre (but it usually isn't presented quite as ickily as it is here).

It seems I've simply found an anime that I don't like, and I really don't see what about it is deserving of some of the outright glowing reviews it has received. I'll admit that someone from a different background than I am might not be as offended by some of the story elements (I'm sorry, but date rape is never ok, even if you learn from it, which I'm not convinced Touma ever does), but even so, the storyline isn't compelling, the jokes don't play very well, and even the familiar love triangle setup can't manage to get me invested in the characters. Oh well. There's always Cowboy Bebop.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: This is another good-looking disc for the series, with bright colors and an absence of line jitter, digital artifacting, and print flaws. The only problem is a bit of aliasing in a few scenes. Very good by anime standards.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Japaneseyes

Audio Transfer Review: The mix is also equal to past discs in the series, with clean dialogue and a decent presentation of the score. The front soundstage is kind of narrow and the music doesn't do much to fill it out, but the show doesn't require much more than a simple front-heavy mix, so it isn't a problem. For a laugh, listen to the English dub with the subtitles on for some really random changes in dialogue and meaning.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Martian Successor Nadesico, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Dirty Pair Flash, Generator Gawl, Bubblegum Crisis: 2040, Cutey Honey
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: As with the other discs in the series, this one is bare bones save for the ADV trailer gallery (though only six are included this time, not 12). Sure to provide you with minutes of fun are clips for Martian Successor Nadesico, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Dirty Pair Flash, Generator Gawl, Bubblegum Crisis: 2040, and Cutey Honey. Those Japanese and their TV show names. Wackiness, I tell 'ya, wackiness.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Well, at least this volume wasn't as downright offensive as the last. It's hard to describe my feelings about this show. I really find the lead character to be totally unlikable and self-absorbed. At the same time, the heroine is a na´ve idiot. I can't stand the way he treats her, and his reprehensible actions are often presented like I'm supposed to be able to identify with them. But that's all baggage I'm bringing to the series. Ignoring that, it still isn't very good, devoid of humor or heart.


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