It should be stressed that Sakura Wars The Animation is intended to be just 12 episodes long. With the airing of Sakura Wars episode 5, that means we’re now approaching the halfway point of this story, and the thought has me a little concerned.
Even though I can’t say there’s anything inherently bad about this episode, much of this week’s story is unnecessary in the context of the grander narrative. While it’s nice to be given time to see the focus of the anime shift to give secondary characters a chance to shine, when much of last week’s episode and episodes before that have been similarly expository, it’s difficult not to feel frustrated at the lack of progress and pacing of the story as a result.
A Slow-Going Affair
For a story that’s rapidly approaching the halfway mark, it’s worrying that Sakura Wars episode 5 continues to leave audiences with little indication about what the overarching narrative or who the primary antagonist is.
I’ve previously mentioned that this anime is both a continuation and not an adaptation of the recent series reboot on PS4 and that although the titles share characters this anime is telling a new story within the same world. The only new character and therefore the source of all the mystery for the series is found within the audience stand-in character, Klara, the amnesiac girl rescued in episode 1.
The show leaves a few interesting hanging threads about her true identity and why she lost her memories that I would love to learn more about but has so far failed to explore them. We know that Klara was rescued in Russia and that the attack which resulted in her rescue caused her to lose her memories, and we learned last week that she was pictured at the site of the destroyed Russian Combat Troupe, raising questions as to why she was there and whether she could be involved. We even saw her using magical powers to bring life back to a dead sakura tree.
Audiences have been teased with some interesting mysteries surrounding her character yet have been left lacking a reason to care about the answers. There’s no definitive antagonistic force working against our characters for the mysteries to be worth solving, especially since the characters are living a perfectly happy life without any of the answers right now.
Random demonic forces have started attacking the city they live in, but at least for now, these are being framed as isolated incidents and solo efforts without any rhyme or reason. As a result, once they’re dealt with, there’s no reason to start searching for the reasons behind the attack afterward. You have the so-called New Moscow Combat Revue with questionable origins trying to take Klara, but they’ve been trying to do this since episode 3, and while we have reason to be suspicious, they aren’t using force or being antagonistic. Simply put, they aren’t a threat.
These are the only forces that have come against our team by the time we reach Sakura Wars episode 5, and neither become a relevant force in this episode. The majority of this week’s events see Azami and Claris stalking Klara to see if she’s hiding any secrets, and after spending most of the episode failing to be secretive about their endeavors they find out the truth… she was caring for a cat.
It’s a cute story, I admit, and I did laugh a little in places, but it feels completely redundant. We learn nothing about Klara or any of the other characters and we don’t advance the plot. Once you realize that nothing of note is going to happen it’s very easy to switch off and stop caring about the events on screen. I found myself skipping back on more than one occasion to catch the moments I missed because my attention was elsewhere.
The episode isn’t bad, but it’s a lot of build-up for little payoff when we have little reason to care about this clumsy endeavor for the truth
Sakura Wars: The Animation Episode 5: Lacking in Purpose
Sakura Wars episode 5 struggles from a lack of purpose. The premise of sneaking around to see if Klara is hiding anything is handled well enough but would’ve been much better if this were a change of pace from a grander story, or if the knowledge learned from these adventures was more substantial.
As it is, I don’t have a reason to care about anything to do with this episode. I can only hope the series find its purpose sooner rather than later.