Time Paladin Sakura – review

You just know how good this OVA is when the virtuous heroine declares that it’s wonderful how she ended up starting a fire in a major city on her first mission…

The typical kiddo-Mahou-Shoujo-series can be quite bad, I know but some series can be even worse, it seems. This review is about an Da-Capo-OVA whose second final episode was just released a few days ago, it’s called Time Paladin Sakura and is a stereotypical Mahou-Shoujo-series that tries to say something about… many things, I’m not exactly sure what it’s trying to say but I think it’s something along the lines of “God is dead” and “History is something happening somewhere else”.

Plot:

Basically it’s just another Mahou-Shoujo-series with Sakura being a so-called “Time Paladin” that has to travel into the past to stop some kleptomaniac from stealing… stuff, you know, what the archaeologists like to do only combined with timetravel (and that’s bad, at least this series seems to think that). And since stealing is bad these Time Paladins have to make sure that the stuff of the past stays in the past. This even goes so far as that Sakura is stopping the Time Thief from stopping a thief and makes sure that he doesn’t steal the stuff that the other thief stole. Sometimes even time-eating bugs appear which is quite bothersome for Sakura because they always arrive just when her lunch-break is beginning. But Sakura has also a few other problems because she is dumb, incompetent and whiny. The plot really tries to convince the audience that Sakura can’t do anything right and complains about that all the time (her first mission in the OVA ends with her starting a fire in Edo). In contrast to that her boyfriend Junichi does everything right he even has special supernatural powers for no apparent reason and he’s insufferably nice to everyone even to the villain who wants to murder a few thousand people. He also knows about Sakura’s secret identity because Sakura doesn’t know what the ‘secret’-part in ‘secret identity’ means and it all boils down to Sakura being very bad at concealing her secret part-time-job and Junichi then making excuses for her to everyone.
So the plot goes basically like this: The kleptomaniac steals a book from the past and is analyzing it in the room of the student-council because the time thief is the student president and that room in the school is his hideout (people don’t have homes in this series). He stores there his collection of stuff from the past since he’s actually good and just wants to save the stuff from the past getting lost due to the passage of time. He also has two girls as partners-in-crime but they are actually good and just help him because they’re friends. While they’re checking out the book, Junichiro arrives and sees the book that grows an eye all of a sudden and stares at him because the book contains a soul of someone from the past (why? It’s a book from the past, doesn’t that make it obvious?). As Junichiro leaves again the time thief starts another one of his stealing trips while Sakura has been called away because of a time-eating bug. Of course, Sakura and the Time Thief end up in the same time period with the Thief interfering in Sakura’s business of destroying a toaster that has gone berserk. So Sakura wins against the time thief and destroys the bug in the toaster who just patiently waited for the Thief and Sakura to finish their fight. After that the Thief gets his hands on the toaster but Sakura arrives and arrests him. That’s when she gets the message of the Evil Guy invading the Good Guys Hideout who is actually Junichi being possessed by the Evil Guy from the book.

Here you see the difference between the typical dumb character of this series and Junichi: He at least had his earplugs ready as soon as he found out that Sakura tried to play the  flute again…

The side-characters on the good side prove to be continually worthless and so the Evil Guy arrives in the main room with this giant Sakura-tree that connects all space, time and other iffy stuff and that’s when Sakura with her prisoner arrives. Sakura can’t do anything especially since she would hurt Junichi by fighting the Evil Guy. The Time Thief just seeks cover and realizes that one of his goons is the sister of Junichi (yeah, it’s a series with quite complicated character-relations…). The Evil Guy wins because nobody can do anything to oppose him and he absorbs the power of the giant Sakura Tree which makes it impossible for Sakura to travel through time. And while the Evil Guy starts his “How things should’ve been?”-plan the good guys throw the Time Thief in some kind of prison cell and Sakura is treated like half-dead and gets confined to a small room where she’s supposed to sleep until the end of the world or something. Anyway, the good guys have their solution of the Evil Guy Problem and start to dig up some serious ancient weapon-thingy that wasn’t used in centuries because it is just that powerful (believe me, it actually isn’t…).
As the good guys prepare to take out “the big guns” and get serious, Sakura wakes up and has the bright idea to save Junichi – somehow… she’s dumb and incompetent after all. The Time Thief’s two goons free him without anyone noticing (another proof that Sakura isn’t the only one to be dumb and incompetent in that organization) and the Time Thief says to Nemu, Junichi’s sister, that her brother is in danger. It doesn’t occur to him to add that he’s in danger of being killed because he wants to destroy the world or something. The Evil Guy’s plan to change history starts with him arriving before a certain battle in the Tokugawa era, his first action is to destroy a random Buddha-statue with people running away. Of course he ignores them but he’s soon distracted anyway because the good guys start now to shoot him with their special guns and stuff mocking the concepts of space and time since these don’t play a role in any of this. But of course the Evil Guy is too strong and so after the first failed attempt of the good guys they take out an even more powerful weapon – and fail again… This is repeated a few times with the villain laughing disturbingly and the grandma getting frustrated. But that’s when the weak Sakura appears and whines about how they should save Junichi instead of trying to kill him. But she’s ignored because nobody takes her serious anyway and so Sakura turns to her last friend who could help her – a tree. As she cries in front of the giant Sakura tree and whines about how she wants to save Junichi but has no idea how, the tree in its desperation opens a portal for her to the time-space where the Evil Guy is. In the head of the Evil Guy Junichi has awoken and talks with him and in a flashback the Evil Guy reveals that he’s actually good but a little bit more on the emo-side than what’s healthy for anyone. The Evil Guy blames God for everything and he wants to take matters into his own hands now as far as the past goes.

The plot-twist of this scene: She’s actually talking to the person behind her instead of the people in front of her. Why? Because she simply likes to confuse random strangers, it seems…

The Evil Guy is of course not the least bit amused by Sakura’s arrival and attacks her with Sakura seemingly already being on the losing side as the Time Thief with his two goons arrive suddenly to help her (since they are actually good, you know). So they fight and the Evil Guy proclaims that he won’t free Junichi unless Sakura succeeds in tapping him (since this is the stuff to make fights exciting, right?). So she attacks him and with the help of the other good guys back at the Sakura Tree she can teleport behind him which is basically cheating as far as a contest goes but it’s enough for Sakura who uses this moment of surprise – to tap him on the shoulder and saying “I win!”. The villain grips her throat as if saying “So what?” and Sakura seems to die as Junichi jumps in to force the Evil Guy to release Sakura which he does. The Evil Guy punishes Junichi but he’s (naturally) stronger than Evil Guy and so he can paralyze him while Sakura is attacking with everything she’s got. The Evil Guy loses and Junichi is also saved by some kind of flimsy explanation that Sakura’s attack only exorcises the evil from objects and seemingly Junichi is the same as the toaster as far as this attack is concerned. The Time Thief leaves again without anyone asking himself why he isn’t in a prison cell anymore. And that’s it – the happy end. Junichi closes with the message of the OVA that declares that history isn’t in the hands of God but is shaped by the hands of men. So there is no God after all…

Review:

I’m always amazed how these kind of cheap series aren’t even able to be just stereotypical. It’s really beyond me how anyone could watch this series without laughing out loud about the silliness of it. You would really think that a Mahou Shoujo who has to prevent some evil guys from changing history in bad ways can deliver a solid average script by being shamelessly unoriginal and just copying anything that was done before in that genre. But no, they couldn’t even do that.
The first thing you’ll probably ask yourself is what does a series about time travelers has to say about history. Nothing much, it seems. Sakura freely admits that despite her job she has no clue about history at all. And the Time Thief is just a kleptomaniac since he has no real plan at all what kinds of things he wants to steal and which are worth stealing. But the Evil Guy surely said something about history? Yeah, well, he witnessed a battle that his side lost – and blamed it on God. Well, people blame him all the time for all kinds of things so it’s quite a funny idea for an OVA, isn’t it? So cursing God his soul was trapped in a book as he died. But he had a plan. As soon as he would’ve a chance to do something he would change history to be a little fluffier for all the people he likes. Everyone surely remembers Junichi’s closing words about how history has nothing to do with God and how men decide it by themselves. Well, that seems contradictory at first, I mean, the Evil Guy wanted to do things his way and Junichi thinks that humanity controls their own fate rather than God. But I think the anime wanted to say – the Evil Guy was God! Exactly, this anime wants to prove to us that there’s no God and if there’d be someone out there who decides humanities fate by himself – life would suck. It’s just like this statue, if God doesn’t like it… Bamm! One lightning strike and it’s gone! One person deciding everything would be a disaster which is an understandable position as far as this anime-setting goes because in the universe of this series people are generally dumb (and with that I don’t mean the Sailor-Moon-Syndrom where Mahou Shoujo Costumes hide your identity although only the clothes change). And so there can’t be a God out there, this anime says, since looking at humanity he must be very dumb and can’t possibly decide the fate of humanity by himself without leading it to destruction. Every dumb human for himself will surely lead humanity to a more peaceful future.

The best moment of the OVA: Sakura being surprised that Junichi survived. It’s not like him breathing or having a heartbeat are signs of him being alive, right? He has to spell it out for her to make her understand…

Characterization is also a great problem with this series because every character is bad, really bad. That starts with the Time Thief’s bad laughing. Not only does he laugh at his own convenience without any plausible reason at all, he also does it all the time. He’s also dumb but that’s, like I said, normally everyone in this series. Like Sakura, the main character. She had some successes but that was only toasting a toaster with her magic beam thingy (each review of bad animes should have at least one bad pun) and catching the thief twice – but letting him escape shortly after that also. But the Time Thief is dumb so that hardly counts as a success. The rest of the time this series really tries to show that she’s too incompetent to do anything right. You know why there’s a happy end? Not because of her, no, it’s because of Junichi, that spoiled bastard. You really see who the real main character in the original series was by all the shit he’s got going for him. Not only is he intelligent, nice and can cook, no, he also has strong magical abilities. He’s probably even stronger than Sakura, why didn’t they make him the goddamn TP? And the villain besides having a ridiculous voice-actor who tried to let this voice sound deeper but failing miserably doing that, he also had the same villain-problem as the Time-Thief with unsettling laughter for no apparent reason and a way with words that lets him repeat himself stating the obvious. And the rest of the characters are there to say some stuff from time to time but in the end they show the remarkable presence of trees in a forest.
And consistency was simply given up to force the plot to go the way the writers want instead of how it should’ve gone naturally. Trying to understand what this series ultimately was about is a murky business because seemingly nobody is evil but there are still two sides fighting each other for just having different principles. The confusing thing is not how this works in concept but how the series in the end just gives up to say anything about who’s right and who’s wrong. There’s no interaction going on here, characters are set in their roles and never evolve beyond that. So in the end it doesn’t matter at all that everyone is actually good because the characters are just the bland one-dimensional representation of their role. Of course that makes it all the more ridiculous when the series tries to explain to the audience why the characters are doing this and that although it’s already clear that it doesn’t matter at all. And at other times the series seems to think this too as it just ignores the question why things happen this way and just lets them happen without explanation. There’s for example this one scene where Sakura gets a message in her lunch-break that she has another TP-mission to do. So she leaves her food untouched and in the next scene you see her hunted by mammoths (she’s faster than a mammoth…) and then the series abruptly switches to her lying on her back on the roof of the school complaining about still being hungry. Then Junichi arrives and says that he has saved her some food for her. The last time I checked she still had her own food at the start of lunch-break, so she disappears for a couple of minutes – and her food is simply gone? This sequence simply made no sense and wasn’t even explained. It just happened…

This 2-Episodes-OVA-Series really shows perfectly what one can hate about cheesy mahout shoujo series but even more than that the series fails at the most basic elements of storytelling while the characters are just ridiculous. But if you ever want a MST3K-like experience with an Anime this is the series to go.

Rating: 1,5/10

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About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on August 22, 2011, in Anime, Reviews, Time Paladin Sakura and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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