The Winter 2014 Anime Preview Guide
Sakura Trick

Rebecca Silverman

Rating: 3 (out of 5)


Sweet and a little gooey at times, Sakura Trick really makes no bones about what it is – a yuri romance done anthology-style with three different couples in the same classroom. This first episode is mostly about introducing all six main girls and getting the first couple together in an official way. Haruka and Yuu have been friends since middle school, and Haruka at least has feelings that go beyond friendly. It soon becomes apparent that Yuu shares them, and cuteness ensues. My favorite aspect of their relationship is that they are so very comfortable with each other, both emotionally and physically, that even before the kissing starts, they feel like a couple you can get behind.

And my, there is a lot of kissing for the first episode of a high school romance! Whether this is because it is based on a four-panel manga or because of the multiple couples, or maybe just out of a desire not to drag things out, Sakura Trick is ready and willing to deliver the romance right off the bat. The girls share multiple kisses and one boob grab, and the camera loves to linger on breasts and thighs, especially Haruka's fuller figure. While it is surprising, the kissing doesn't detract from the overall introductory nature of the episode and will prove a bonus to some viewers. The thighs and breasts are a bit off-putting, as it objectifies the girls' romance for the audience, but I am aware that that is part of the deal with the genre, generally speaking, whether or not I personally like it.

Some of the yuri genre's conventions remain adhered to, such as the fact that pretty much every girl in the all girl class (it appears boys are in a different classroom) is a lesbian, as well as the aggressive lesbian stereotype in one of the new classmates, but even if you are not a fan, this is cute and sweet enough that yuri-curious or viewers who don't care but like romance can enjoy. Sakura Trick looks like a charming bit of fluff for those cold winter days, and if you're looking for a nice bit romance, this looks like your best bet.

Sakura Trick is available streaming at Crunchyroll.

Carl Kimlinger

Rating: 3.5

Review: High school girls fall asleep at their entrance ceremony, chat with their new homeroom neighbors, run to the store for yakisoba… We recognize this pattern. Sakura Trick is a typical girls-school slice-of-life comedy. With one small difference. It's also a surprisingly frank yuri romance. The combination is charming, especially if you're a fan of girls smooching each other, and it's bright and sweet too, but it also shares the slice-of-life genre's general distaste for substance.

It also shares the yuri genre's tendency to turn the entire female population lesbian. Already there are two girl-girl couples in one classroom, and if you're to believe the opening sequence there's another on the way. This episode focuses on one of them: best friends Haruka and Yuu. On entering high school, the two end up seated at opposite ends of the room. Haruka is afraid they'll drift, so Yuu suggests they do something special to cement their bond. That something special turns out to be a very non-friend kind of kiss.

That kiss is the show's first surprise. It's sudden and lengthy and very sexual in nature. It's the show's calling card, telling us this is not going to be one of those will-they won't-they, implied-lesbian yuri shows. These are two girls who are deeply and very much romantically involved. The second half-episode features more necking, and a still further deepening of the girls’ romance. It's rare to see a love story that moves as swiftly and definitively as Haruka and Yuu's, and heartening too. The show meanders through a lot of sugary, meaningless, and only lightly funny everyday situations, but it doesn't waste time when it comes to romance. While it's unlikely that Trick will ever develop a larger dramatic arc or a terribly deep emotional life, it'll definitely be a sweet yuri treat for the fans out there.

Sakura Trick is available streaming at Crunchyroll.

Zac Bertschy

Rating: 3

Cutie-pie 4koma lesbian girls Haruka and best pal Yuu are off to their first day at anime high school, where pastel colors, cherry blossoms and a cast of equally cute girls await. These two are in love, you see, and will have to traverse the perils of a new school together while stealing away for a kiss or a grope or one of maybe 48,000 lingering shots of their thighs. The new girls they meet are ripe for romantic confusion and yet more fanservice, and in this thrilling episode, Yuu screws up their lunch order and gets stuck out on the school veranda where she shares one of two lovingly-animated kisses with Haruka and grabs her tits for good measure. The end!

So this is 4koma stuff and it's pretty well animated for what it is, which is a completely harmless (but not particularly funny) comedy that's chiefly about yuri fanservice. As I mentioned before, the camera is singularly obsessed with these girls' inner thighs, although there are plenty of bouncing breasts and slow pans up the girls' bodies and whatnot. Most of the animation budget seems to have gone in to the scenes where Haruka and Yuu kiss, which is presumably what the audience for this is here to see, so hey, good on 'em for giving them what they want, I suppose. I didn't laugh at all, I have zero intention of watching another episode - I need a bit more than "Look boys, cute little lesbian anime girls! Start your drooling!" to keep my interest for 23 minutes, and I couldn't help but think with the glut of 3- and 5-minute shows this season that this one would've worked better in that format - but for yuri fans who want their fanservice unambiguous and plentiful, this is the show to beat this season. It just wasn't for me.

Sakura Trick is available streaming on Crunchyroll.

Theron Martin

3.5 (of 5)

The screenshot tells you probably the most important part of what you need to know about this series: it makes no bones about being a dedicated yuri series, with girls kissing as a major element. The other important aspect is that this is a romantic comedy, with the emphasis firmly on the comedy side. And unlike a lot of romantic comedies which have yuri elements, Sakura Trick mixes the two; for instance, the first major kiss scene ends with both girls toppling over because one is close to passing out from not breathing.

Events play out largely (but not exclusively) from the point of view of Haruka, a fledgling high school student implied to be a bit of a ditz. She is elated that she gets the same class as her BFF Yuu. The first day they meet four other girls who look like they will be a regular part of the mix (and possibly have their own romantic entanglements?) going forward. When Haruka gets jealous of her “special place” on Yuu's arm being usurped by other girls, Yuu suggests doing something that “no other girls do” to prove how close they are. At Haruka's prompting, that leads to the kissing. In the second half segment Haruka and Yuu find an unused classroom to each lunch and get locked in when teachers come by and do not realize they're in there. That leads to a ridiculous “hop from one veranda to another” scene which is as terribly funny as it is terribly improbable.

The first episode has enough humor in it to be entertaining even if one is not enthusiastic about the yuri aspect, and the mild fan service is mostly limited to shots which emphasize Haruka's (fully-clothed) D cup-sized breasts. It also looks like the yuri aspect is going to be handled more delicately, as Haruka is simply deeply enamored with Yuu, and is implied to not fully appreciate exactly where those feelings might lead. The other four girls look like they will be a good complement, too. The artistic merits are nothing special, but that is largely irrelevant for a series like this.

Ultimately the first episode is a success because it makes a strong appeal to yuri fans but is still accessible and funny to those who are not.

Sakura Trick is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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