New Sakura Wars Details Its Characters, Story and Systems
Everything you should know about New Sakura Wars' story, characters, songs, and more, with comments from the staff.
During the Sega Fan Meet-up 2019 stage event at Sega Fes 2019, Sega Holdings CEO Haruki Satomi revealed the first trailer and release date estimate for New Sakura Wars on PS4. The game was initially announced at Sega Fes 2018.
Right after the trailer was shown, New Sakura Wars‘ producer Tetsu Katano took the stage to introduce the game in detail. He was later joined on stage by series’ music composer Kohei Tanaka and New Sakura Wars‘ scenarist Jiro Ishii. I’ve included their comments as well, along with the game’s first screenshots.
But first off, let’s reintroduce Sakura Wars for those unfamiliar with the franchise. It’s basically a Steampunk series, mixing visual novel and dating sim elements, with tactical RPG battles where the characters pilot robots to fight demons. These groups of characters are called “Combat Revues” as they also hold theatre performances as their public covers.
Sakura Wars 1 to Sakura Wars 4 had the same male protagonist, Ichiro Ogami, and you’d get a different ending depending on which girl Ogami ended up with. Sakura Wars 1 and 2 on Sega Saturn have a classical tactical RPG battle system, with a grided map. Starting Sakura Wars 3 on Dreamcast, however, the battle system evolved, removing the grid and adding real time to the mix. A nearly identical battle system was later used in the Valkyria Chronicles series, which was created by the same team.
Sakura Wars is extremely popular in Japan, and actual theatre performances with all the characters’ voices actors and actresses would be held regularly back in the days. The series greatly influenced the world of video games overall as one of the first series mixing RPG and dating sim elements. However, the last main game, Sakura Wars 5, was released in Japan in 2005, in 2010 in English, and the series has been silent, until New Sakura Wars/Shin Sakura Taisen.
As already announced last year, New Sakura Wars takes place on Taisho Era Year 29. One thing important to note here is how you shouldn’t try to find the Taisho equivalent year in real life, as Sakura Wars‘ “Taisho Era” is written as 太正 instead of 大正 and is a fictional and different era altogether.
New Sakura Wars is set 12 years after Sakura Wars 5: So Long My Love, in the Imperial Tokyo. The former Combat Revues of Tokyo, Paris and New York have disappeared ten years ago during a cataclysm, the “Great Demon Cleansing War”. However, new Combat Revue have now been formed in each city of the world, and all of them are competing in the “World Combat Revues Great War” contest.
The story will follow the protagonist and his Revue as they protect the Imperial Capital from demons and clash with Combat Revues from around the world.
New Sakura Wars’ protagonist is Seijuro Kamiyama, voiced by Yohei Azakami. Seijuro is 20 years old and an ex-Imperial navy ship captain. He was transferred and appointed as the captain of the new Flower Division of the Imperial Combat Revue of Tokyo. Producer Tetsu Katano said during the event that Seijuro looks really cool, but you shouldn’t be fooled as he often acts pretty lame or gets beaten up.
Then, following Sakura Wars‘ tradition, there are five girls part of the Flower Division of the Imperial Combat Revue:
Sakura Amamiya, voiced by Ayane Sakura. She is 17 years old. She’s a new recruit, who decided to join the Flower Division as she looks up to Sakura Shinguji, the ace member of the former Flower Division. She takes her role at heart, be it to protect the Imperial capital or her duties to soothe the heart of the citizens with the Revue’s theatrical representations. She wishes to restore the Flower Division to its former glory.
Hatsuho Shinonome, voiced by Maaya Uchida. She is 17 years old. Hatsuho is a shrine maiden of the Shinonome Shrine in the Imperial Capital. Her family has been taking care of the shrine for generations. Everyone knows her as the main face of the shrine. She was born and raised in the capital’s downtown, loves its festivals, and is loved by its citizens as well. It seems like she has a rough personality, but she’s actually easily approachable and the only one who can rally together the members of the Flower Division.
Azami Mochizuki, voiced by Hibiku Yamamura. She’s 13 years old. She’s a Kunoichi and a descendant of the Mochizuki clan of Shinobi. She’s well versed in multiple combat arts and tactics. She received a very strict education and lives by the “108 codes of the Shinobi”, an ancient law code taught in her village.
As a side note, a Kunoichi leader called Mochizuki Chiyome possibly really did exist in Japan.
Anastasia Palma, voiced by Ayaka Fukuhara. She’s a 19 years old girl from Greece. She’s a star who transferred to multiple Combat Revues in Europe before ending up in the Flower Division. Her singing and acting skills are unrivaled and she can nail any role, be it cool male characters or sexy female characters.
Clarisse, voiced by Saori Hayami. She’s a 16 years old girl from Luxembourg. Her real name is Clarissa Snowflake but everyone calls her Clarisse. She loves books and has an insatiable curiosity. She’s the brain of the Flower Division, brimming with knowledge from the books she reads every day. The Snowflake family is a noble family of Luxembourg, and the members of Clarisse’s family, herself included, are practitioners of “Heavy Magic”, a type of magic which uses books.
If you’re familiar with Sakura Wars, you can easily see how each girl follows the same archetypes found in previous games. Kohei Tanaka also revealed that all characters have their own character song, which he composed.
New Sakura Wars‘ game flow will be similar to the previous games in the series. Between battles, players will control Seijuro and explore the city, triggering various events with the girls. The places shown in these screenshots are among the places you’ll often visit. The one at the right is a Kabuki-like theatre. The screenshot at the bottom depicts the Imperial Theatre’s new look.
The traditional timed answers are back as well, with the return of the LIPS/Live ＆ Interactive Picture System. Depending on your actions and answers, you’ll be able to deepen your trust and romance level with the girls, influencing the events in the story and unlocking new abilities in battle. Like in past games, multiple minigames will be present as well. Anime cutscenes have been confirmed too.
New Sakura Wars‘ theme song is “Geki! Teikoku-Kagekidan <New Chapter>”, sung by the girls’ seiyuu. It’s a new version of Sakura Wars‘ traditional theme song, with new lyrics by Hiroi Oji. Kohei Tanaka mentioned how he first composed the new version, and then Hiroi Oji listened to it and wrote the lyrics. Meanwhile, for the original version of the song, Hiroi Oji first wrote the lyrics, so the two of them working that way was a first.
Kohei Tanaka already finished composing all of the game’s music for over a year now, and he was really frustrated how he couldn’t tell anyone about it. He knew how long people waited for this game, so he was really happy to be able to talk about it in public. He jokingly said he’s listening to the theme song every single day ever since he finished composing it.
Listening to the song is pretty interesting as the lyrics by Hiroi Oji hold both meanings towards the series’ themes, and towards the fans as well, with lines such as “the dream has been revived”. A short excerpt of the song was played during the event.
Needless to say, Jiro Ishii also already finished all of the game’s story. He talked about how he first heard about this new Sakura Wars project during winter three years ago. Sega asked for his help to revive the Sakura Taisen franchise. Multiple longtime running franchises Ishii saw as he grew up recently got new sequels or reboots, such as Gundam or Yamato, so he really wanted Sakura Wars to come back as well. Ishii added that New Sakura Wars was made by greatly taking into account the will of the original staff of the series, and it’ll be a game which won’t betray the original staff or the original fans’ expectations. Newcomers will enjoy it as well. The game will have multiple references to the past games, but he couldn’t say anything, to avoid spoilers.
Producer Tetsu Katano also mentioned how each character in New Sakura Wars is so well done you’d think each one of them could be the protagonist too, and he also teased a certain famous developer is involved on the game as well, but more information will be revealed later.
Stay tuned as another article with a summary of an interview of the staff by Famitsu is coming soon. Next week’s issue of Famitsu magazine will also have more information on New Sakura Wars.
New Sakura Wars/Shin Sakura Taisen launches this Winter in Japan on PS4. The game will launch in Spring 2020 in the west and is currently temporarily named Project Sakura Wars.