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Main article: List of Sakura Wars media

Games

The first installment of the series was released in Japan on September 27, Subsequent entries are numbered and listed as direct sequels. As of November , the series includes the main installments from Sakura Wars to Sakura Wars: So Endless, My Love as well as spin-offs, both released and confirmed as being in development. Most of the older games own been remade or re-released on multiple platforms.

Main series

  1. Sakura Wars 4: Drop in Love, Maidens is the fourth entry in the series, released in for the Dreamcast.[7] It was the final Sakura Wars game produced for Sega hardware.[16] It was later ported to Windows.[17]
  2. Sakura Wars: So Endless, My Love, titled Sakura Wars V: Farewell, My Lovely in Japan, is the fifth entry in the main series, released in Japan in for PS2.[7] It was the first mainline Sakura Wars games to be produced following Sega abandoning game console production.[16] The game was localized and published internationally by NIS America for PS2 and Wii in [18][19]
  3. Sakura Wars 2: Thou Shalt Not Die is the second entry in the series, released for the Saturn in [7] It was also the final title developed for the platform.[11] It was later ported to Dreamcast and Windows.[12] It released as part of a bundle with Sakura Wars for the PSP in [9]
  4. Sakura Wars is the first entry in the series, released in for the Sega Saturn.[7] The original game was ported to a number of platforms including Dreamcast, Microsoft Windows and mobile devices.[8] It was also ported as a bundle with its sequel to the PlayStation Portable (PSP) in [9] It was remade for PlayStation 2 (PS2) as Sakura Wars: In Boiling Blood.

    The remake included additional voice acting, redone graphics and battle system based on later entries, and new scenarios.[10]

  5. Sakura Wars 3: Is Paris Burning? is the third entry in the series, released in for the Dreamcast.[7] It was later ported to Windows,[13] and then to PS2 with Dreamcast-exclusive featured redesigned to work on the PS2.[14][15]
  6. Sakura Wars is the sixth entry and a soft reboot, released in for the PlayStation 4.[20] Taking put in the year , the game is said to «inherit the DNA» of the series.[21][22] The game is due for an international release in [20]

Spin-offs

In addition to the main series, numerous spin-off games covering multiple genres were released, every with the «Dramatic» moniker of the main series.[6][7][23] The first spin-off title was Sakura Wars: Hanagumi Taisen Columns, released for the Saturn in A sequel for Dreamcast released in [7][24] A spin-off set just after Sakura Wars for the Game Boy Color, Sakura Wars GB, released in A direct sequel released the following year.[6][25] A little peripheral titled Pocket Sakura was developed and released alongside the first Game Boy Color title.[26]

A little group of spin-off titles were developed under the umbrella title Sakura Wars World Project.[27]Sakura Wars Story: Mysterious Paris, a visual novel adventure set after the events of Sakura Wars 3, was released in for the PS2.[28] A prequel to So Endless, My Love, Sakura Wars V Episode 0: Samurai Daughter of the Wild, also released on the PS2 in The gameplay deviated from the main series in featuring hack and slashaction.[24][29] A Nintendo DSdungeon crawler spin-off titled Dramatic Dungeon: Sakura Wars — Because You Were There was released in , featuring the casts of every three games.[7][23]

Other releases included fan discs, supplementary materials related to Sakura Wars and its first sequel, and Sakura Wars-themed pachinko machines.[7] Multiple mobile titles based on the series were also released, beginning in with Sakura Wars: Keitai Club.[7][30][31][32][33]Sakura Wars Online for the Dreamcast released in with two character packs, one themed after the Tokyo Flower Division and one after the Paris Flower Division.

It operated until Sega closed below its servers in [7][34]

Other media

Alongside the video game projects, Red Company and Sega supervised a large number of multimedia projects.[36] These include anime, manga, stage shows, several light novels, concerts and CD album releases of the. These own met with substantial commercial success.[37][38] Despite a shared identity, Hiroi took care to hold each of these elements distinct and separate from each other.[39] A dedicated department store based in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo, Sakura Wars Taisho Romando, was opened in to sell a variety of merchandise related to the series.

The store remained open for ten years until it closed in March [35]

A prominent feature was an annual stage show dubbed Sakura Wars Kayou Show supervised by Hiroi, for which new musical numbers were created by Tanaka.[37][40] The show featured the cast reprising their roles and performing stage shows drawn from the series. Each character had songs themed after their characters.[24][37][41] The original stage shows ran from to [37][41] Since then, it has seen irregular revivals with both the first cast and later additions.[37][42][43][44] The cast, which grew to include those of later games, remained for the entire run with the exception of actress Michie Tomizawa who retired from the series and her role as character Sumire Kanzaki in [45][46] Tomizawa never returned to the game series, but did appear in later revival concerts.[42][45]

Following the first game’s release, Red Company and Sega began supervising production of an original video animation (OVA) series which supplemented the games’ narratives.[37] The first OVA adaptation Sakura Wars: The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms was produced between and , following the cast of the first game.[47] A second OVA series The Radiant Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms was produced between and , relating side stories from between Sakura Wars and the finish of Sakura Wars 2.[48][49] Further OVA series based around the characters of Sakura Wars 3 and So Endless, My Love (École de Paris; Le Nouveau Paris; Sumire; New York, New York) were released between and [50][51][52][53] The OVAs were produced by Radix Ace Entertainment until New York, New York in , when production shifted by Anime International Company.[47][48][52][53] The first two OVA series were localised for the West by A.D.

Vision.[54]École de Paris and Sumire were dubbed and released by Funimation.[55][56][57][58][59]

An anime television series based on the first game was co-produced by Red Company, Madhouse and Studio Matrix. The episode series was broadcast over six months during the year [60] While based on the first game’s narrative and preserving Hiroi’s vision, the series changed and added in several events. A major problem was remaining loyal to the source material within a TV format.[61] The series was dubbed into English for Western release by A.D.

Vision.[54] A anime feature film, Sakura Wars: The Movie premiered in , taking put between Sakura Wars 3 and Sakura Wars 4 and featuring new character Ratchet Altair who would later feature in So Endless, My Love.[62][63][64] Produced by Production I.G, production took three years and was inspired by the wish to expand the series animation beyond what the short cutscenes and OVA projects had achieved.[65] The movie was released in English by Pioneer Entertainment in [66][67]

Hiroi wrote a manga adaptation of the first Sakura Wars, which began serialization in The original run finished in December , but its popularity led to a second series continuing the narrative.[68][69] Since , the manga has been published as tankōbon by Kodansha.[70][71] A comedy manga titled Sakura Wars: Show Theater, which featured comedy skits of characters from each main Sakura Wars location, was serialised between and , and published by Kodansha in four volumes between and [72] A spin-off manga Sakura Wars: Kanadegumi was created by Chie Shimada, based on concepts from the Sakura Wars team, and published in the shojo magazine Hana to Yume published by Hakusensha.[73] In contrast to the main series, it was aimed at a female audience and shifted the narrative to a male harem set-up; main protagonist Neko Miyabi is assigned to the titular Kanadagumi, and develops relationships with its five male members.[73] Originally a two-chapter special published between November and December ,[73] it was expanded into a full series in February [74] The manga ran from to Between its debut and final issue, the manga inspired both an anime short and a dedicated stage show.[75] It was published in four tankōbon by Hakusensha between September and July [76][77]


Development and history

In , Oji Hiroi at Red Entertainment (formally Red Company) decided to create Sakura Wars.

Hiroi drew inspiration from Japanese stage shows when creating the project, initially titled «Sakura» (桜).[][85][] Because of lack of interest from publishers, Hiroi shelved the project until he was approached by Sega vice president and Shoichiro Irimajiri approached Red Company about developing a new project for the in-development Saturn. Successfully pitching his project to Irimajiri, Hiroi began development of the project, now titled Sakura Wars.[][][] While the scenario and gameplay went through multiple redrafts, Sakura Wars always made use of a steampunk setting, a female lead and mecha combat.[85][] Development lasted three years, double the original estimate, and was Sega’s most expensive project at the time.[36][85][] Numerous within both Red Company and Sega were sceptical of the game’s success, but Hiroi remained confident.

Following the critical and commercial success of Sakura Wars, Sega and Red Company expanded the original premise into a franchise, starting with Thou Shalt Not Die.[36][96] A recurring feature from Thou Shalt Not Die onwards was the use of subtitles drawn from renowned poetry or other types of fiction related to a game’s location or mood.

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A recurring poet was Akiko Yosano, whom Hiroi admired.[96][][]

Following Thou Shalt Not Die, the team moved onto the Dreamcast to develop Sakura Wars 3, rebuilding the game engine and utilising the console’s functions for gameplay elements.[11] Following the release of Sakura Wars 3, Sega discontinued the Dreamcast due to declining console sales, transitioning to a software developer and publisher.

Rather than move their planned next entry to the PlayStation 2, the team created a final Dreamcast entry as a celebratory title for series fans.[16][82] This became Sakura Wars 4, which was completed in 10 months as opposed to the usual two year development period of other entries.[] The original tale planned for Sakura Wars 4 was moved for the team’s next entry on the PlayStation 2.[16]

The next entry, Sakura Wars V, formed part of a seven-game group dubbed «Sakura Wars World Project»; the purpose was to release these games overseas.[27] In the event, only Sakura Wars V was published overseas as Sakura Wars: So Endless, My Love, and only three of the other planned games were released.[23] The remaining three titles were cancelled in [] Sega and Red Entertainment greenlit Dramatic Dungeon: Sakura Wars in an attempt to revitalise the franchise using a new gameplay genre.[] In , Red Entertainment divide from Sega after it bought back its majority share holding, although it continued to be involved in the Sakura Wars series.[] Red Entertainment was bought by Chinese company UltaZen in , with Sega regaining the Sakura Wars property.[][] At Sega Fes , after years of rumors and speculation, the main series made its official return with the announcement of New Sakura Wars.[21]

All titles from to were developed by the same central team.

These included author Satoru Akahori, artists Kōsuke Fujishima and Hidenori Matsubara, director and later chief director Tomoyuki Ito, producer and later executive producer Noriyoshi Ohba, and designer Takaharu Terada. Hiroi had contributed to every the projects as a general producer.[78][80][81][96][][] Red Entertainment co-developed the games with an internal Sega team which shifted identity over the years—originally known as CS2 R&D during development of the first two Sakura Wars, the team was renamed Overworks in when Sega consolidated its 9 semi-autonomous subsidiaries into six studios; they worked on the series between Sakura Wars 3 and Sakura Wars V: Episode 0.[][][]Sakura Wars: So Endless, My Love was developed by the same team as part of Sega’s GE2 R&D division, the same team which would develop Valkyria Chronicles.[][]

The soft reboot of Sakura Wars was developed by a team within Sega’s CS2 R&D division.[] New team members for Project Sakura Wars included character designer Tite Kubo and writers Jiro Ishii and Takaaki Suzuki, every renowned names in anime and video games respectively.

Hiroi remained in a supervisory role, and also wrote the theme song lyrics.[20][94] Other developers worked on the series alongside Sega and Red Entertainment, including Thought Factory, who created the Wii port of So Endless, My Love;[]Jupiter Corporation, producers of the Sakura Wars GB duology and the Pocket Sakura peripheral;[6][25][26] and Neverland, who developed Dramatic Dungeon: Sakura Wars.[] A notable feature of the series is its FMV anime sequences.

The first game’s scenes were animated by Kyokuichi Tokyo Movie (now known as TMS Entertainment).[][] From Thou Shalt Not Die to Fall in Love, Maidens, they were produced by Production I.G.[][] In So Endless, My Love, the scenes were animated by M.S.C. In the soft reboot, Sanzigen provided the animated sequences.

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Music

The Sakura Wars series features a variety of music, and frequently reuses themes. Kohei Tanaka is the chief music composer of the series. Tanaka’s first major work in the video game industry, it brought him widespread recognition.[] Tanaka was among the first to support Hiroi with Sakura Wars, having worked with him during work on an original video animation (OVA) of Tengai Makyou: Ziria. Tanaka acted as a teacher figure for the relax of the development team.[][] At that time, rhythm and percussion dominated Japanese favorite music rather than melody.

Both Tanaka and Hiroi wanted to reintroduce younger Japanese to beautiful melodies.[] Tanaka has been involved to some degree in most of the Sakura Wars games, composing the music for every mainline entries, and several spin-off titles.[23][95][] A recurring theme in the series is a piece called «Geki! Teikoku Kagekidan». Tanaka wrote the theme based on Hiroi’s request to combine the music of a Super Sentai opening theme with the vocal style of the title song for the film Aoi sanmyaku ().[] Versions of it were included in Sakura Wars 2, Sakura Wars 4, and the soft reboot of Sakura Wars.[20][][]

Localization

While Hiroi wanted the series to be released internationally, almost every games in the Sakura Wars series remain exclusive to Asian territories.[] Early efforts at localizing the series were not undertaken because of Sega’s uncertainty over whether the game’s mix of genres would discover a large enough audience exterior Japan to be profitable.[] Sega tried localizing the game at one point, but were stopped during the concept approval stage for unknown reasons.[] Attempts by an unknown company to localise the PSP port of Sakura Wars and its sequel were halted as Sony did not give its approval to the project.

This was because Sony classed Sakura Wars as a text novel, making licensing for importation and translation hard after Sony’s initial rejection.[]

A Hangul translation of So Endless, My Love was published in South Korea by Sega in [] The PC CD-ROM versions of Sakura Wars and its sequel were localized and released in Russia by Akella in and respectively.[1][2] Dysin Interactive published the PC versions of Sakura Wars to Sakura Wars 3 in China,[3][4] and Sakura Wars 4 was released in the region by Beijing Entertainment Every Technology.[5][]

The first official English release in the Sakura Wars series is So Endless, My Love, which was translated by NIS America in collaboration with Red Entertainment and Thought Factory.[] The dub was produced at Bang Zoom!

Entertainment, and included actors from NIS America’s localization of the Disgaea series.[][] The team also included the Japanese voice track in the PlayStation 2 version, with a dedicated translation which preserved the original character names being created for it.[][] The localization took two years to finish, becoming NIS America’s largest localization effort to date.[][] The reboot of Sakura Wars is scheduled to be released worldwide by Sega in , using the Japanese dub with subtitles in multiple languages including English.[20]


Reception and sales

Between the series’ debut in and , the series has sold over million copies worldwide.[] Each entry on Sega hardware rank among the best-selling titles for their respective hardware.[][] The original Sakura Wars was an immediate success, with several stores being sold out of copies within hours of its release.[36]Sakura Wars 2 remains the best-selling title in the series, with over , copies sold on the Saturn alone, making one of the console’s best-selling titles in Japan.[][]So Endless, My Love is the worst-selling mainline entry to date,[] and was a commercial failure in the West.[]

Japanese website described the series as a legendary property connected to Sega, citing several elements such as the anime-style presentation and mix of genres that were hardly seen in gaming at the time.[24] Jenni Lada of TechnologyTell wrote a retrospective on the series in , calling Sakura Wars «an strange series [] that defies genres».[23] In a IGN article on the franchise following the announcement of Sakura Wars 3, journalist Anoop Gantayat described it as «probably the greatest series of games to never make their way stateside», citing its unprecedented success when compared to other games on Sega hardware at the time.[]

The series has been favorite with both journalists and fans in Japan since the first game’s release.[36] At the inaugural CESA Awards, Sakura Wars won the Grand Award, as well as awards in the Best Director, Best Main Character and Best Supporting Character categories.[] At the Animation Kobe event, Sakura Wars 2 was awarded in the «Packaged Work» category.[] The soundtrack album of Sakura Wars 4 won in the «Animation – Album of the Year» category at the Japan Gold Disc Awards.[] Prior to release, Sakura Wars was the second most-wanted game in a Famitsu poll in , coming in behind Final Fantasy VII.[] The first four games every appeared on a public Famitsu poll from of the best games of every time.[] A second later poll ranked the Sakura Wars games as among the best on the Saturn and Dreamcast.[]Sakura Wars heroine Sakura Shinguji was rated in by Famitsu as the 17th best Japanese video game character.[]


Recurring elements

Setting and characters

The Sakura Wars series is set during a fictionalised version of the Taishō period, with the chronology currently running from (Taisho 12) to (Taisho 29).[21][78][79] The games are set in the cities of Tokyo, Paris and New York.[23] The setting combines genuine locations with fantastical events and steampunk-based technology.[23] The central conflict of the series is between demonic forces created by the ingrained darkness in human hearts.[80] To combat this in Tokyo, the Japanese government created a unit of steam-based mecha called Koubu powered by spirit energy.

While a few men are capable of using them, women form the main combat units due to their stronger spiritual power. This group is known as the Imperial Assault Force, based in a theater and working undercover as the Imperial Theater Revue.[23][24] The group to which the protagonists belong is the Flower Division (Hanagumi), the main combat troop. Other groups make cameo appearances in the tale if present.[20][23][81]

The first four games follow the military and romantic exploits of Imperial Army officer Ichiro Ogami.

Originally assigned to the Imperial Assault Force in Tokyo, he later traveled to Paris and trained the newly-formed Paris Assault Force before returning to Tokyo and commanding the two united Flower Divisions during the events of Sakura Wars 4.[24][82] For So Endless, My Love, the lead protagonist was changed to Ogami’s nephew Shinjiro Taiga, who is sent in put of Ogami to train the New York Combat Revue.[83] The soft reboot of Sakura Wars takes put in , twelve years after an event called the «Great Demon War» saw the destruction of every three original Flower Divisions.

New divisions were created across the world and began competing with each other, with the newly-reformed Tokyo Flower Division being the main protagonists.[20]

Gameplay

The gameplay of Sakura Wars incorporate tactical role-playing, dating sim and visual novel elements.[23] This mix of genres and styles resulted in it being labeled as a new genre dubbed «dramatic adventure» in its marketing.[84] The original combination of narrative and gameplay was inspired by the Fire Emblem series.[85] The gameplay is divide between adventure-style segments where the player explores environments and interacts with cast members; and battle sections where choices during the adventure segments came into frolic.

With the main female cast, the protagonist can pursue a romance.[23] Players may save their games during eyecatches. Romance options can be carried between the first four titles using save data.[86]

Throughout the series, the games own used diverse battle systems. The first Sakura Wars and its sequel made use of a traditional turn-based battle system on a tilted two-dimensional grid-based battlefield. Each unit has two actions from a selection of five.[87][88] The sequel expanded the number of actions to six, and included cinematic attacks.

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The leader could also issue commands to the entire squad to take specific battle formations.[89][90]Sakura Wars 3 introduced the «Active & Realtime Machine System» (ARMS), which takes put in three-dimensional battle arenas. Under this system, units own an allotment of Action Points (AP). AP are used up by moving around the battlefield. Units can act out one of six actions, with two actions per turn as in earlier titles.[91][92][93] Each unit has special abilities, and attack ranges based on their weaponry.[87][89][91][92]

Central to every the games and most spin-off titles is the «Live & Interactive Picture System» (LIPS).

During conversations with characters and key tale sections, the player is faced with critical choices with an imposed time limit.[24][33][94][95] The concept behind LIPS was to maintain player engagement while making narrative rather than freezing time and allowing prolonged time for thought, a trend the staff found annoying.[85] The most basic version was established in the first Sakura Wars,[36] then later expanded into «Double LIPS» with the incorporation of a personality meter which could indicate a character’s feelings towards the player.[96] Between Is Paris Burning? and So Endless, My Love, a version called «Analog LIPS» was used.

This allowed players to alter the intensity of a single response. It also included interacting with the character and environments.[97][98][99]So Endless, My Love expanded it further with quick-time events using the control sticks and buttons.[91] Choices made during LIPS sections directly impacted character performance in battle.[23]


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Japanese media franchise

This article is about the media franchise. For the first entry, see Sakura Wars ( video game). For the movie, see Sakura Wars: The Movie. For the English translated video game, see Sakura Wars: So Endless, My Love. For the sixth entry, see Sakura Wars ( video game).

Sakura Wars
Genre(s) Tactical role-playing, dating sim, visual novel
Developer(s)
Publisher(s) Sega[a]
Creator(s) Oji Hiroi
Artist(s)
Writer(s)
  1. Jiro Ishii (–present)
  2. Satoru Akahori (–)
  3. Takaaki Suzuki (–present)
Composer(s) Kohei Tanaka
Platform(s) Arcade, Dreamcast, Windows, Game Boy Color, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, mobile phones, Nintendo DS, Sega Saturn, Wii
First release Sakura Wars
September 27,
Latest release Sakura Wars
December 12,

Sakura Wars[b] is a Japanesesteampunkmedia franchise created by Oji Hiroi and developed and owned by Sega.

The first game in the series was released in , and has since spawned five other main entries and numerous spin-off titles since then. The series—set during a fictionalized version of the Taishō period—depicts groups of women with magical abilities using steam-powered mecha to combat demonic threats.

The original Sakura Wars was an ambitious title for the then-in-production Sega Saturn. The first game’s overlap of the tactical role-playing, dating sim and visual novel genres prompted Sega to classify it as a «dramatic adventure», a moniker which has endured during the series’ lifetime.

Both Red Entertainment and Sega co-developed most of the games until , when Sega became the sole developer. While the series has seen continuity in the main actors who could both act and sing as well as composer Kohei Tanaka, several other designers, programmers and animation studios would be employed through a number of games.

The series has sold over million copies as of , and garnered both critical and favorite acclaim. The original Sega console games own been voted among the most favorite for the Saturn and Dreamcast.

The Sakura Wars franchise includes numerous anime productions, manga, and other media projects such as stage shows. With the exception of Sakura Wars: So Endless, My Love and the soft reboot, the video game series has not been released in English. Several of the anime series own been localized for English territories.


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