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ADV Films presents
Sakura Diaries: Chapter 4 (2000)

"Love isn't about wars, horses, or crippled birds. It's about getting your heart ripped out by a cold steel claw that mocks you and sleeps with some guy in Paris."
- Touma (Martin Burke)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: February 28, 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 themes and a degrading boob massage that will haunt me forever)
Run Time: 01h:05m:05s
Release Date: February 27, 2001
UPC: 702727003424
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B C+A-B- D

DVD Review

To begin: spoilers within, and this won't make much sense to you if you haven't read my three previous reviews. Go ahead, it's an adventure deep into the recesses of my twisted mind.

I think I know what my central problem with Sakura Diaries is. It's Touma, the most unlikable main character this side of A Clockwork Orange (hey, Alex was a rapist too! Maybe they can hang!). Let's pretend I'm over his attempted rape of poor little Urara. Why, if he really feels he has learned from the experience, does he keep playing with her emotions, using her as little more than a focal point for his sexual frustrations?

Take, for example, the first episode on this, the last disc in the Sakura Diaries quartet. He's bathing when Urara comes in to wash his back. He knows what this means to her, he knows he doesn't feel the same, yet he lets her do it. And, of course, being Touma, he decides he can humiliate her a little more, so he asks her to wash his back with her breasts. Touma, I hate you. Stop messing with your cousin's mind. She's three years younger than you, full of some kind of screwed up lust, and has totally fixated her world around you. Why put her in a position to be hurt any more? And when he complains to her about getting dumped and she begins to cry, he naturally assumes she is sad for him, and not because she realizes how meaningless she really is in his life. Yes, Touma, it's all about you.

Yes, I still hate Touma. But this disc isn't all bad. The love triangle has happily fizzled out, but we do get to see a little bit more of Meiko's life, and Touma finally realizes that he saw her only as a sexual goal and not as a whole person. There's also some mildly diverting inanity about a baseball game and some amusement from Touma's friend from cram school, who I haven't yet mentioned in my reviews but who is one of the few bright spots in this show. I also liked the interaction between Urara and her schoolmate—it seemed very natural and innocent (which made me hate "It's-not-a-Touma" all the more for corrupting her and putting her through emotional turmoil). Blame the women's studies courses, a liberal arts education, or my "Women in Film" class if you want, but in my eyes, this show has some screwed up sociological implications.

I actually feel pretty good about how everything ends. Touma hasn't grown all that much (he still thinks mostly of himself), but at least he has realized the inappropriateness of his weird sexual fixations (even if for the wrong, self-centered reasons—I hate you, Touma). Meiko, who has really been an inconsequential character, grows up more in her brief moments of screen time, which is nice. And poor, dumb Urara manages to push her abusive, scarring relationship with her cousin into her subconscious and move on. She even manages to convince herself that Touma is a great guy. I tell you, it's Stockholm Syndrome with this girl.

And with that, my torrid affair with Sakura Diaries has come to a close. The show tried its best and almost succeeded at souring me on anime in general. But in the end, it was I who prevailed. I can still look at my copies of Princess Mononoake, Cowboy Bebop, Serial Experiments: Lain, and Evangelion and remember exactly why it is I became interested in this stuff in the first place. Never again shall Sakura Diaries see the inside of my DVD player. I'm done!

P.S. Touma sucks.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Thank goodness this is the last time I have to say that the video quality here is actually very nice for an anime disc, with rich colors (for the most part—some night scenes could use deeper blacks), no apparent artifacts, and only slight aliasing. Yay.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Japaneseyes

Audio Transfer Review: The audio mix on this disc is easily on par with others in the series. The dialogue is clear, but the music, while crisp, does little to expand the rather narrow main soundstage.

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, Sorcerer Hunters, Princess Nine, ADV on DVD Promo, Bubblegum Crisis: 2040, Cutey Honey
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The trailer gallery contains 6 trailers: Martian Successor Nadesico, Sorcerer Hunters, Princess Nine, ADV on DVD Promo, Bubblegum Crisis: 2040, and Cutey Honey.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Well, I can't say the series ended on a high note, but it did improve a bit in this last volume. As I'm sure you've discovered if you've bothered to read all four of my little diatribes, this is not a show you'll see me adding to my Amazon.com "Best of Anime!" listmania anytime soon. But you know, I've said my peace. Fans, feel free to e-mail me with your views. Newbies, try it if you like, but please rent first. I'm done, and I couldn't be happier.


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