Friday, January 10, 2014
For the most anticipated anime series of the season among yuri fans, Sakura Trick has gotten a really polarized response- and it's easy to see why. It's a cute story- and one of the very few anime titles focusing on two girls in love- but execution-wise, it has service shots up the wazoo. It isn't enough to be a deal-breaker for me watching and enjoying the pleasant aspects, but I can totally understand why the service would be a deal-breaker for some people. (My sweetie's note: "It feels in a lot of ways like if you took the entire script of Juno and reshot it with the same actors but trying to take as many upskirt shots as possible. 'This story is heartwarming but why are there so many boob shots of Juno.'")
Like the Sakura Trick manga, the Sakura Trick anime is about Haruka and Yuu, two best friends starting high school. To their relief, they are in the same class- but their desks are far apart, so they start socializing more with other girls (at least two of whom will couple up.) Haruka worries that she's losing her closeness to Yuu, so she and Yuu kiss to have something just between them- but they really, really like that kiss (which I will say was a pretty great kiss) and their relationship crosses from barely platonic to blatantly romantic.
That's the first half of the episode, which covers the manga's prologue and first chapter. More service aside, the only story difference I caught was that the anime cuts to the theme song right before Haruka's night-before-school dream ends in her kissing Haruka in their classroom- I guess to give her and Yuu's actual first kiss more impact?
The second half of this episode adapts chapter two of the manga, which is just Haruka and Yuu leaving their classroom at lunch to get yakisoba for a friend and failing. While they're on their errand, Haruka wonders if the kiss really meant the same thing to Yuu that it did to her, so cue more kissing and a happy (if ultimately concussed from jumping between two second story verandas- don't ask) Haruka.
This show's director is Ishikura Kenichi, who storyboarded and directed several Hidamari Sketch episodes before becoming the third Hidamari Sketch season's Series Director. As a ton of people have noted, it shows. Sakura Trick has some funky, very Studio SHAFT/Hidamari-like art direction even though Studio DEEN is animating it. I like the SHAFT-ness of the art direction, even though I don't like the service.
In short, this is a light story about a cute couple filtered through a lens I wish I didn't need to see through in order to watch it.