Directed by: Ken’ichi Ishikura
Written by: Ken’ichi Ishikura
Studio: Studio Deen
Episode Count: 12
No. of Discs: 2
Format: DVD & Blu-Ray
Release date: 19th December 2016
Licensed by: MVM Entertainment
Sakura Trick is a romantic comedy surrounding a young yuri (female) couple. Haruka and Yuu are two teenage girls that have just started High School together. The pair have been inseparable since Junior High, but the new class seating plan has put the girls at two opposing ends of the classroom. Believing that their new long distance relationship will test their friendship, they aim to become even closer. Their relationship goes to the next level, as they seal it with a kiss, opening up a new world of emotions and raging hormones. Hiding their secret from fellow classmates and an unapproving older sister, will Haruka and Yuu maintain their new relationship in secret, or will pressure from their peers allow them to drift apart?
Haruka already has some strong feelings towards her best friend and is seen as the more passionate partner in this couple. Haruka always has her best friend Yuu at the forefront of her mind, daydreaming about her in various scenarios. This was happening even before their first kiss. Yuu is more conservative, and is even reluctant when it comes to kissing Haruka. However raging hormones do get the best of the two of them from time to time, with their actions raising a few suspicions amongst the students. Yuu’s sister Mitsuki adds some additional confusion and pressure to the young relationship. However, her interaction may be fueled by something other than a sense of protection towards her little sister. There are a few clashes in the love department, dating in secret, and a love triangle, which does become a tricky situation for all involved. There is also some tension amongst family members when it comes to Kotone Noda, and her recent residence at Shizuku Minami home. This pair are our second same sex couple in the show. There is balance amongst the cast as not all the characters are in a relationship, or gay. Being gay is something that is almost frowned upon in the Japanese society depicted in this anime, a viewpoint shared by several of the secondary characters (Yuu’s older sister being the most obvious) but they are not treated unsympathetically.
Whilst the relationship is definitely the focus, there is more than just this young female couple in this show; apart from young love, we also have the sad news that the high school they are attending will no longer be accepting new students after Haruka and Yuu’s year. Meaning, they will be the last freshmen to enter the school, creating a situation that will bond the students even further, as well as their passion for holding school events.
It is certainly a slice-of-life anime, as it does represent the uncertainness and new emotions a teenager experiences during their first crush/relationship. Once again with raging hormones, there are some steamy scenes amongst the two characters and the hypothetical question gets raised – will they get married? This does make for a generally interesting show, but some episodes are distinctly lacking in action and contain less than dynamic cast members.
Sakura Trick was animated by Studio Deen, a company that has produced some of the most memorable anime through the decades. Including Fruits Basket, Gravitation, Full Moon o Sagashite, Junjó Romantica and Vampire Knight. Sakura Trick began as a four panel yuri manga series, created by illustrator Tachi. With Sakura Trick being his only noted work. The yuri comic strip began serialisation in Japanese seinen magazine ‘Manga Time Kirara Miracle!’ Since its debut back in 2011, it has been released in seven volumes and is still going. Following its success, the manga was adapted into this 12-episode anime.
It is more than your typical high school anime, as the relationships involved are being kept a secret. The animation is bright and cute, of reasonably decent quality, and can still show us the difference in appearance amongst the three years of students, making it easy to differentiate amongst the classes. The character designs were not over the top and did include a good array of different body types, although Haruka has a piece of fabric attached to her head, which was quite distracting to look at and completely unnecessary. I do not know if it was meant to be a handkerchief or a ribbon, but it was sloppy in my opinion. The majority of the show did take place only in the high school, a typical design used in numerous anime (bar Kill la Kill of course). This is perfectly serviceable for the story. This twelve episode anime was directed by Ken’ichi Ishikura, who has also worked on Hidamari Sketch, Gun x Sword and ef: a tale of melodies. Sakura Trick is the only anime where he had the most numerous roles, including Director, Series Composition and Storyboard.
This is truly an interesting slice-of-life anime, perhaps the first truly yuri anime that I have ever seen. Although script-wise it was a tad boring, it was very successful in portraying the first emotions experienced in a new relationship. The unease, the shyness and doubt, as well as those truly head-over-heels moments. Then we have the social pressures and family interferences. Sakura Trick is certainly worth the watch if you want to see some impressive character development. The show is out now on DVD & Blu Ray from MVM Entertainment.
Bonus Features Include:
Clean opening & closing