Progressive Plots: Sakura Trick Analysis

Hello, this is AniMo and you’re reading Animated Monologues! Today I finally start my first leg of my New Year’s Resolution. I wanted to start with something that people were more familiar with, so I decided to watch a series I’d seen already to be safe.

Anime fans enjoy their yuri, but unfortunately not all anime that feature yuri actually do anything with yuri romance. This means that the vast majority of yuri that we see is simply baiting the viewer, which is a good way to arouse excitement temporarily, but it doesn’t leave a lasting impression which can be detrimental to our view of an anime when we look back on it. Luckily, this anime isn’t like that. It’s an anime that actually features yuri romance, and does stuff with it. Normally this alone wouldn’t be a positive point, but sometimes yuribaiting gets hard to watch and people want to see what fully realized yuri can be.

Sakura Trick is a high school slice of life comedy anime from 2014. It features Haruka and Yuu, and how their friendship turned into a special relationship when they entered high school. We see their lives throughout the anime, with a high school life and their many friends. The series has 12 episodes, each split up into smaller mini plots for every episodes. Usually each miniplot acts as it’s own storyline, effectively giving us 24 mini-stories which mostly stand alone.

In terms of actual story, or an overarching plot, there is very little. The high school that they are at is shutting down after Haruka and Yuu graduate, but it is seemingly not treated as an important fact. It’s not the they don’t state it or talk about it (as they try and plan festivals and events around the school only having 3 years left), but it’s more about the show never using it. There was one episode where they were playing in the snow, since they were unsure if they’d ever see snow in the next few years. That is the only time where they used to depth of the situation to really do something interesting with the story. Sakura Trick is a slice of life series, of course, so it’s forgivable because that’s the point.

So instead of analyzing Sakura Trick as an overall story, it’s much better to see what it does with the elements of life. The show can still tell a story without a plot, even if the story is “the story of the simple life of a few lesbian girls”. Luckily the stories/miniplots themselves can be a lot of fun, and seeing these characters do that is also fun. The way I see plots like these is it should develop something if it isn’t a story (though I’d prefer story of course). The thing is that this series doesn’t really develop. There is no change in character, pace, or situational anything until the last 3 half episodes. When stuff like this happens in anime that are mostly episodic or unmoving, what it comes down to on a viewers perspective is “did you enjoy everything else before?”. It’s important to ask yourself that when this happens. For me I was kind of bored of Sakura Trick by this point, so seeing some of the drama at the ending didn’t mean anything to me. Specifically, Haruka and Yuu get discovered by Yuu’s older sister, and then she later confesses that she’s in love with Haruka. I came out of those episodes not caring enough because the series showed it had dramatic potential and reached it once.

To contrast, a show like Panty and Stocking (which is a very different show, but it helps illustrate my point on enjoyment) was entertaining for me from episode 1 to episode 12, so when the finale did something kind of dramatic and crazy I was thrilled, and it heightened my already positive feelings about the show. Sakura Trick had none of that for me because nothing about the show really drew me in. As the show progressed, I couldn’t find anything either that really intrigued me so the finale just kind of happened and I got nothing out of it.

panty-and-stocking
Maybe I should find an excuse to talk about it one day

The animation of Sakura Trick is actually worth mentioning about, oddly enough. It has a standard art style for a High School SoL series, with no use or need for beautifully moving character animation. Because of that, the art style and animation are usually unnoteworthy.

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I legitimately think I’ve seen this school in a different anime

However, it has this habit of doing things visually that I otherwise don’t think I’ve seen much of. From small transition screens

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Which are only ever a gimmick

To random dots/circles that they only ever use for a shot at a time.

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The circles in there hair disappears next cut, never to be seen again

Don’t get me wrong, it looks nice but it doesn’t do anything for it. It’s just there, and it feels like an unnecessary gimmick. While it is interesting to see a Slice of Life try and change things up with these little touches, they don’t add a lot to the visual aspect. Other than these little flairs, the animation style and movement are very standard for Slice of Life series. Because of this, the flairs get distracting at worst. I’ll be watching it and seeing all this normal animation quality and then BAM…flair

screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-7-42-18-pm
Hey, here’s a distraction from the otherwise boring animation!

It’s not that I necessarily dislike that or the animation in general. It’s traditional average quality animation that likes to spice it up, which is more than many other series that only have the average animation. I guess I wish that it meant something more than just a flair of color. If it served some kind of meaning I could really get into the art style and have an interesting conversation about it, but that’s not what happened.

When it comes to most of these comedy slice of life shows, the single biggest difference in them is characters. Most shows have a similar storyline and similar quality in animation, so I then turn to the characters to help distinguish these anime. Before I go into it, I am going to bluntly say that I barely remember any of there names. For the most part, they are kind of flat. I’m entertained by their shenanigans, but I struggle to really get into them because they don’t feel rounded. They all have traits and quirks, but it doesn’t feel like a characteristic attached to a human. Their character designs don’t really help.

screen-shot-2017-01-07-at-7-28-11-pm
What are the first 6 characters you notice? Chances are they’re a main character, because no one else in the class really matters

Haruka’s defining trait is her obsession with Yuu, and it’s played up quite a lot. Besides her fanatic love for Yuu, she doesn’t have much else going for her personality. She’s nice and cheerful, and is very caring for her friends. Yuu is playful with Haruka’s obsession, but still has obvious compassion as well. She’s nice and friendly as well. As with Haruka, she doesn’t have a hell of a lot going on for her otherwise. Finding unique things to say about her is harder than I thought it’d be.

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Also the “embarrassment” trope is real between them

Even tougher is finding things to analyze about the other characters, whose names I forgot between my first viewing of this show about a year ago and the viewing I had for this review. Shizuku and Kotone also have a relationship, and there was a half episode dedicating to securing that when they revealed Kotone had some engagement to someone else but left it and her rich life behind to live with Shizuku. They showed very little details on that, and never fully explored it (which would have been great). As more side characters they got little spotlight and less development. I barely remember anything about Kaede and Yuzu, who round out the main group. They’re all generically generally nice people that enjoy their friends and school. I would be wrong though to not fully explain Yuu’s older sister Mitsuki, because of her impact on the ending. She’s obsessed with Haruka, and is sometimes overbearing with her disapproval of Yuu and Haruka’s relationship. Her obsession also doesn’t feel grounded, again played up because something something yuri heaven or whatever Sakura Trick is trying to do. Hence, the drama in the ending coming from Mitsuki oping with her feelings towards Haruka. It’s interesting dramatic potential and it happened right as the series ended, and never anything like this before.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike the show overall. I’m critical of it because it’s in my nature to do so. I’m critical of it because of what I said before about not being engaged with series for really any reason, even if I had times where I did like what I was seeeing. I’m still mostly entertained by Sakura Trick despite my issues because the show manages to be fun despite not sticking to great screenwriting, and slice of life is the only genre that can genuinely pull that off in terms of entertainment. Sakura Trick is a show made for people inherently obsessed with yuri that gains status just for going somewhere, but on every other standard, it’s just standard quality. I can’t help but think Sakura Trick is known only because they do something with it, and that cannot be a shows only draw conceptually. That means to me that maybe more yuri should try it, though I’d be a happy camper if it was also a really great show. You won’t get that out of Sakura Trick, and that may be enough for some people.

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It is cute after all!

This has been Animated Monologues, analyzing animation in every post. Thanks for reading, and have an animated day.

 

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Author: (AniMo)nologues

I am an animation fanatic. While I do watch Disney and Pixar, and other blockbuster studio stuff, I specialize in the big picture of animation. This includes Indie projects, Anime, World Cinema, other TV Series and Short Films. This blog will serve as a way to write stuff and get my opinions out there with the absence of video making equipment. I will post rambled thoughts, and possibly reviews or countdowns.

2 thoughts on “Progressive Plots: Sakura Trick Analysis”

  1. Mirrored a lot of my own issues with the show, but I actually really liked those random animated flairs.

    Also, I don’t recall if it was episode one or two, but when they’re on the school’s terrace and use that combo super quadruple flip to get to the other side? MVP scene of the entire show. Made me “LOL.”

    Like

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