Sumire Might be Back in New Sakura Wars
Shin Sakura Taisen Producer already teased throwbacks; if Sumire's really in the game, it's huge news for multiple reasons.
A few hours after Sega revealed New Sakura Wars for PS4 during Sega Fes 2019, multiple fans on social media with a keen eye noticed how the trailer teased that Sumire Kanzaki, one of the former members of the Imperial Combat Revue, might be appearing in the game.
— yf51ktmbv (@yf51ktmbv) March 30, 2019
This scene in the trailer shows a piece of paper reading “Imperial Theatre General Director: Kanzaki Sumire” hinting that she’s now the boss of Imperial Tokyo’s Theater. New Sakura Wars is thought out by its developers like a reboot, but the game is still a proper sequel to the rest of the series. We’ve detailed the game’s story and characters, and it’s been stated that it takes place twelve years after the events of Sakura Wars V. While Producer Tetsu Katano did tease that New Sakura Wars will have plenty of references for older fans, the appearance of former characters hasn’t been officially confirmed yet. It’s entirely possible Sumire never actually appear in New Sakura Wars, with the story using excuses such as “she’s on a business trip”. One thing we know at least is that while the former Combat Revues of Imperial Tokyo, Paris and New York “disappeared” following a “cataclysmic” war ten years before the start of the game, it’s not like all the former cast of characters disappeared themselves.
Another thing most fans noticed is how in that scene, the pink Koubu behind seems to be Sakura Shinguji’s Koubu. Personally, I think it’ll be the kind of scenario where Sakura Amamiya, the new Sakura, finds the old Sakura’s Koubu and decides to pilot it, rather than the original Sakura herself being the pilot.
In-universe, Sumire Kanzaki now being the leader of the Imperial Theatre would make a lot of sense for multiple reasons. She was one of the best members of the former Flower Division, and the biggest star when it came to the theatre performances. The Kanzaki family is also at the head of a financial empire, which has been supporting the Imperial Theater for decades, including participating in the Koubus’ development. Sumire has been trained to pilot and fight to protect Imperial Tokyo since her childhood. There’s also how Sumire lost her powers and retired after the events of Sakura Wars 4, so it would make sense for her to come back holding such a background position.
Sega choosing Sumire as the first former character to tease is very interesting from a real-life standpoint as well. For most Sakura Wars fans, Sumire is actually the true face of the franchise, even more so than Sakura Shinguji. Sumire has been a main character from Sakura Wars 1 to 4. She is Sakura’s rival, and represents a different type of Japanese women archetypes than Sakura and Kanna, the three Japanese girls of the original game. Sakura is the female samurai, Sumire is the haughty but refined noble lady, and Kanna is the Karate girl.
Lastly, Sumire’s seiyuu, Michie Tomizawa, actually retired from appearing in the franchise’s real-life theatre performances in 2002, and Sakura Wars 4 was established back then as the final game with her. At that time, a special theatre performance was organized in Michie Tomizawa’s honor, and her retirement even influenced the series’ storyline. A whole anime OVA released in 2002, covering how Sumire decided to retire in her peak after noticing her dwindling powers. What’s funny about all this though, is despite the announcement of Michie Tomizawa’s retirement from the franchise, she kept coming back regularly at the real-life theatre performances anyway. So now it’s like she’s coming back again with New Sakura Wars.
Michie Tomizawa still works as a seiyuu. She voices Rachel in Ninja Gaiden/Dead or Alive games, and her newest main role will be in Eve Rebirth Terror, releasing this April in Japan.
— 少年ジャンプ編集部 (@jump_henshubu) April 1, 2019
In related news, Shonen Jump Magazine also announced that the next issue will include a poster by Kubo Tite for his “newest project which stirred Japan last weekend”, meaning a poster of New Sakura Wars.
New Sakura Wars/Shin Sakura Taisen will be available in Japan on PS4 in Winter 2020. The game is temporarily named Project Sakura Wars in the west and will launch there in Spring 2020, with the Japanese voiceovers. The European version will include, besides English, a translation in French, German and Spanish.