For all I’ve been critical of Sakura Wars: The Animation throughout its airing, I’m glad that episode 11 continues the anime’s upswing in momentum from recent weeks.
Ever since the tone of the series dramatically shifted following episode 8’s grand reveal, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the anime’s consistent level of quality when it comes to developing its narrative and tying loose threads together. While still flawed, it’s a vast improvement over what came before it.
A Stereotypical Villain
Episode 11 of Sakura Wars: The Animation recenters the conflict on Kaminski as his desire for world domination was revealed. Ever since the anime’s tonal shift, the series has shifted its focus between each of the 3 anime-original characters in order to help the viewer understand the evil intent and history that has brought about this conflict. At first, this was used to unveil his evil plans, then it was used to explore Layla’s motivations for assisting him before attention was then placed on Klara as her abilities and power were unveiled.
This week sees Kaminski expose on his path to evil, revealing a backstory with some slightly surprising inclusions. As it turns out, his desire to control the world stretches back long before his research on Klara and Layla that first introduced him to the power he needed to realize his dreams.
Kaminski should have been dead long before now after an explosion left him close to death. An encounter with an angel-like creature similar to Klara and Layla not only saved his life but made him immortal, but his new lease of life only allowed him to see humanity’s greed and suffering. He saw the exploitation of the masses by those in power and hated the world he lived in now he had opened his eyes to the truth. His desire to create a new world only grew as time went on, with the research serving as his way to realizing these goals.
The news of Kaminski’s immortality is one I perhaps hadn’t fully expected, but I can’t say it’s surprising within the grander narrative. Every element of his character has followed the traditional evil villain playbook to the letter, to the point where it’s almost refreshing to see a villain that’s so by-the-numbers and stereotypical.
I mean, seriously. They have the evil laugh, the plan for world domination, the need to overly explain their evil plan for long enough that the protagonists can interrupt it (which also happens during this episode). The evil villain handbook is almost made for an evil scientist with dominating tendencies to be placed on its front cover.
But honestly, I don’t mind too much. The voice acting performance behind their character is strong and they fit right in within the world of Sakura Wars.
What I’m particularly impressed by this week is the animation. The choice to use CG as opposed to traditional 2D animation for Sakura Wars works best for scenes with heavy action, something episode 11 of the show has in spades. While I’m a little disappointed the series hasn’t featured more action before this point, seeing the mecha in action here as they fight their way to Kaminski and battle them in-between bursts of exposition, the smooth, rapid movement elevates the battle sequences of the episode immensely. When the characters react and cry out, these scenes are only improved through the decision to employ such techniques.
Admittedly, for much of the show, the animation has felt static and clunky, and I have been left yearning for the traditionally-animated flashback sequences which seemed to compliment the character interactions better. The argument of whether this would have been a stronger choice for the series as a whole remains to be seen, but this episode benefits from the stylistic choices made.
Sakura Wars: The Animation Episode 11: Was An Anime the Right Decision
Sakura Wars: The Animation episode 11 ends with Klara going berserk and activating her powers in a way that surprises all involved. The shock of what happened at the end of the episode has made her lose control, and this sets up next week’s finale nicely for a strong finish to this inconsistent show.
Saying that I’m also left torn as I reflect on the series as a whole. The story feels padded and awkwardly paced in animated form, and I wonder whether the series would have been better served had it been a more refined piece of story DLC for the game it was following on from. This issue something I’ll need next week’s episode to conclude upon, but at the very least, the sour taste of the story’s inconsistent pacing is harming what is otherwise a strong ending to this latest Sakura Wars animated project.