So, I totally had this expected order of what came first when it came to the Winter ’14 Recaps. Yeah. About that. My brain just latched onto this review in particular and would not let go, even when I physically forced myself to work on others, all my critical thinking kept wandering back here. So here it is, shmucks! The much anticipated Sakura Trick review.
As is typical, I adopt one series a season that is outside my comfort zone. For Winter 2014, that series was Sakura Trick, and to me it proved that this policy is a good one, as it exposed me to a show that was surprisingly sophisticated for the genre tags it hosts.
Now I think it’s important to note that over the past few months we have been cutting Sakura Trick a lot of slack, of a sort, because it was not as bad as we feared. Indeed, some have scored it 10/10 or 5/5, perfect scores for just not falling into the tired stereotypes of Yuri and Slice of Life.
While true, Sakura Trick IS to be commended for basically being the best a series of its subject matter can be, we also have to remember that it is STILL recognizable as being a part of the box. If you’re outside the box too much, you cease being part of that box and have found yourself in another. It’d be like advertising a science fiction series. Science fiction? Sure, but it only uses science we know. Okay. And it’s about criminals. And instead of being in space it’s set in New Mexico and about drugs. Eventually it is not recognizable as science fiction and you’re suddenly another crime drama, you understand?
But let us not lose sight of the fact that Sakura Trick IS definitively inside its boxes. The praise to be delivered is in its execution of its elements in a way that does not offend our senses. And as someone who does not watch Slice of Life or Yuri with any serious frequency (certainly not as you’d expect for all my girl-love comments), I am of the opinion that Sakura Trick is probably as good as those genres will ever hope to become. Any further from the stereotypes, and you might have to label it full-fledged drama, or romance.
And for those of us who are okay with Sakura Trick but don’t particularly care for the slice of life genre….12 episodes was about as much as we could take. And indeed, the conclusion of the season’s plot in Episode 12 did sour me a bit towards the series. Don’t misunderstand, one misstep does not completely undo all the good the show did, it wasn’t quite ME3. But one season was a good fit, for me. If it had dragged any longer it would truly grate on me, I feel. I had a similar attitude about Baka to Test, and lo and behold when series 2 of THAT show appeared, I did get fed up quite quickly. The first season remains one of my favorite comedies, hands down. But I don’t need, or even want, more of it.
Though things did draw me into Sakura Trick like few comedies could do. First, it presented a relatively realistic world. Take, say, InuHasa, that show is still my top anime comedy because it is the absurdity of that world that endears itself to me. Sakura Trick doesn’t have mail order bazookas and high schoolers crashing through windows (save one Matrix-esque feat of gymnastics on the veranda) like a James Bond movie.
No, what drew me in here was the cast and their dynamics. Along with the aforementioned not-falling-into-tropes. Most surprisingly was the introduction of story-arc elements. I’m going to examine the main cast members piece by piece. Because they were so inconsequential, I am lumping Yuzu and Kaede under the supporting roles. Sorry, but they just did not net the screentime, earning only two half-episodes of their own (I’m counting episode 4 here), and getting some focus in the cultural festival. So there isn’t much to really discuss about them from the analytics that doesn’t ALSO apply to other B-cast members. It’s a hard call, but I made it. It’s hard enough to justify examining Kotone and Shizuku independently.
I also feel that, while this disclaimer always applies to the blog, here it applies more than ever. I will be examining things in detail that, intentionally or unintentionally, reinforce themes and the subject matter, as I experienced it, in this show. That is just me, and your viewing experience may be different, but I think of any show I have delved into this is what you might call “the least deserving”. I can say with 100% certainty that not everything I see was intended, and yet the fact it reinforces the same points over and over again speaks to the good grasp on the story presented during its inception. Continue reading