Episode One-Derland: Sakura Diaries

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Plot: Touma is up for college entrance exams, but as he’s relaxing in his hotel room a mysterious girl arrives at his door acting like a call girl. While he didn’t request her services, she seems to be acting like he already has an appointment with her, and he struggles over the decision to lose his virginity to her. He suddenly decides against it and throws her out of the room, making her very upset. However, she’s not so much upset that he didn’t want to sleep with her and more upset that he didn’t remember she was his cousin, having only met once when they were children.

Breakdown: I imagine everyone has seen a show where the ultimate reaction is ‘this show would be alright if the characters weren’t so terrible.’ Well, chalk up another entry in that list.

Sakura Diaries follows Touma as he prepares for college entrance exams. As he’s getting some last minute studying in, a girl arrives at his hotel room acting like a call girl. Touma is completely confused, but considers taking advantage of the situation for the sake of losing his virginity to a pretty girl. He continues to get more and more tempted as the girl starts stripping down to just her panties and even watches porn with him before inviting him into bed. He continues to struggle with his decision, but ultimately decides that he wants to save himself for a woman he loves.

Stopping right there, everything seems all fine and dandy up until this point. It’s obvious something is up with this girl but Touma is too dense to remember her. Also, it’s admirable that Touma doesn’t want to just lose his virginity to some random call girl, no matter how attractive she is.

But that’s where the good points end. You’d think that Touma would kindly say that she’s made a mistake and that he wasn’t interested in her services before kindly asking her to leave, right?

Nope.

Instead he flips right the hell out at her, angrily saying that he doesn’t have time for this BS and demanding that she leave. He throws her out into the hallway while she’s topless and throws her clothes at her before telling her to leave him alone and slamming the door.

Whoo, yeah, you’re certainly Prince Charming, aren’t you? Yes, I could see how this situation could be a nuisance, but she was being completely kind the whole time and wasn’t even pressuring him into doing it. Why be a total asshole to her?

The girl gets upset at this and calls him Tonma through the door, which is his childhood nickname. Hearing this, he opens the door back up and the girl asks why he doesn’t remember her before calling him an idiot and running away.

We later learn that her name is Urara and that she’s Touma’s cousin. Though they had only met once when they were children, he still left a lasting impression on her and she wanted to cheer him up before his entrance exams.

While I do believe Touma is largely in the wrong, she let this prank go on for way too long and went way too far with it. Normal people might keep up the charade for a minute or two without actually doing anything, then if the person is still not getting it they’d reveal it. She not only kept this going for quite a while, but she also took off all of her clothes except her panties, watched porn with him and got into his bed inviting him for sex all the while wondering when he’d remember her.

She had yet another opportunity to make this reveal when he opened the door back up, but instead she just ran off. I can understand why she did, he was being a dick, but she could’ve cleared it up with him after calling him an idiot and before running away.

After this happens, he has a nice wank and she writes a message of good luck to him on the window of the train she’s riding. That’s a nice contrast to their relationship before it even gets started.

The next day, we see that Touma has failed all but one of his entrance exams because he has a cold. He blames his cold on Urara because she sneezed once before running off. Yeah, she showed no signs of being sick and sneezed once in his general area, so it’s totally her fault. Not that it matters much because the cold seems to be one of those three-hour colds and is cleared up before the third act.

Since he doesn’t want to return home to run his family’s business, he decides to go for his last choice, Keio University, though it seems like it’s out of his league. When he arrives on campus, he meets a beautiful girl named Mieko, which is somehow pronounced ‘Mei-koh’ and not ‘Mee-koh’ or even ‘Mai-koh’, who looks exactly like Urara just with a different hairstyle. He instantly falls for her because she’s hot. He makes it his goal to get into Keio and make Mieko his wife.

He has such a weird approach to love. On one hand, he appreciates romance and saving himself for love, supposedly; on the other hand, he pervs on hot girls all the time, and on the third mutant hand he vows he’ll make a complete stranger his wife. He’s like a weird mix between a young girl, a teenage boy and a middle-aged creepy man.

The next day, he arrives at the school for his entrance exams only to find Urara there, and he becomes enraged again, blaming her for his failure on his exams, calling her a stalker and telling her to leave him alone. Even after she hints again that they know each other by asking him to remember her and calling him Tonma, his only response is telling her that he has nothing to remember and demands that she never call him that again. He hasn’t even made an effort to remember her, even with the hint of the childhood nickname indicating that she’s a childhood friend. As a topping on this awfulness sundae, he swats the bento box that she kindly made for him out of her hands while yelling at her, causing it to fall on the ground.

She rightfully points out what a terrible thing he just did before running away crying. Touma picks up the lunch, which seems to have a photo in it, but who cares?

Later, Urara wishes Touma luck again while she’s warming up for tennis and even goes so far as to think that Touma didn’t mean to drop the lunchbox. 1) He didn’t drop it; it was in your hands and he backhanded it out of them in a fit of anger. 2) He didn’t mean it?! That was a purposeful backhand. Either he meant to smack the lunch out of your hands or he meant to smack YOU.

At Touma’s exams, Mieko shows up again and he spends forever perving on her and imagining him coercing her into sex. Because I guess right in the middle of your college entrance exams in a university classroom with a person you barely know and in front of about 100 people is that sweet romantic moment you were saving yourself for.

Touma sees his results posted on the wall and the episode ends.

While the episode does a decent job at establishing these characters, you don’t want to root for any of them. This will supposedly be a bit of a love triangle anime, meaning we’ll have to root for someone, but Touma is a pervy dickwad and while Urara is nice enough, she’s also pretty damn creepy and almost a doormat. Her only two interactions with Touma in recent years involved him perving on her, screaming at her twice, embarrassing her twice, insulting her, and ruining a gift she made for him. Most normal people at that point would just accept that the person has changed since they were kids and give up, or at least take the time out to clear things up with him somehow, but she keeps forgiving him when no apology has even been offered and doesn’t bother to even try telling him who she is.

As for Mieko, she’s nice and hot and supposedly very smart, though we only know this because she’s trying to get into Keio.

Since the only two characters with actual development are not likable enough to root for, and I don’t want to root for anyone with Touma at this point, it makes the series start off on very shaky ground. And do I even need to mention the ick-factor of them being cousins? It just makes the possibility of romance support even lower.

The story would’ve been perfectly fine, albeit bland, had the characters not been terrible. But they are….

This doesn’t even seem to work as a proper romance because we keep flip-flopping between Urara’s romantic side and tons of pervyness from Touma.

On a technical level, the art and animation are bleh. It’s not that bad, except maybe with Touma sometimes, but it’s also not that good either. Plenty of care seems to have gone into the fanservice, though. Shock beyond shocks.

The music is actually pretty catchy with the OP being the highlight there with some fresh instrumentals for an anime.

The voice acting, English Dub, is okay. Urara is alright, as is Mieko, and Touma is usually okay, but he’s shaky when he tries to sound legit angry. He just doesn’t put any energy into it.

Final verdict?

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The characters might get better over time, but as we explore time and again in this review series, first impressions are very important and starting off poorly with aggravating characters and the shattered remains of a romance plot does not make me intrigued for more. It’s not quite bad enough for me to want to continue just to see how bad it gets, and I don’t have high hopes that it will be good enough in the end to warrant it either.

Recommended Audience: Bare breasts, non-graphic porn and a censored masturbation scene are the key issues in this realm so far, though I imagine they get worse as time goes on (THEM mentioned that there’s a near-rape that is actually removed from some releases.) 16+

 

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