Review: Sakura Angels

Sometimes it can take developers years to gain name recognition with any size audience. Developer Winged Cloud only had to create a fanservice-fueled visual novel by the name of Sakura Spirit to develop an immediate following. With the game being a massive success, it only made sense that soon enough they announced a new title in a similar vein – Sakura Angels. Despite the similar naming, there’s no direct relationship between the two in regards to plot. The primary similarity seems purely to be that the “Sakura” games offer a heavy dose of fanservice. Given that’s what a lot of Steam users want, it’s a smart business move.

As difficult as it may be to believe, the visual novel genre has more to offer than pure heterocentric imagery to titillate players. The folks who do enjoy all that, and there’s nothing wrong with that being the case, don’t need a review. They were likely day one downloaders who have long since played through each ending and screenshot every scene. As such, this review is tailored to someone who needs to know if there’s really that much lurking under the surface of Sakura Angels, or if it’s exactly what it appears to be.

Sakura Angels tells the story of a high school-aged guy named Kenta who is effectively a loner. Every day is the same: he wakes up without his busy parents present, goes to school and doesn’t interact with anyone, and then returns home. The strangest thing about his daily life is that he has an odd, frightening dream repeatedly. Accompanying this are terrible headaches which seem to crop up only at certain times.

Still, he goes on through life without complaint just accepting these quirks. This all changes when one day on the way to school his headache takes on a new level of pain and a monster suddenly appears. Just as suddenly, two women in skimpy attire, Sayaka and Hikari, also show themselves and defeat the creature before Kenta can even grasp what has just occurred. The two suggest they’re guardian angels but keep everything else under wraps. Thus begins the surprisingly brief tale of this visual novel.

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As with many games in this genre you’re going to sit back most of the time simply reading along. Every so often a dialogue option will pop up and serve as a bit of interactivity to break things up. The ending will change depending on which choices are selected. Thankfully, each decision is rather obvious, making a guide unnecessary to complete all endings. Writing-wise, the mechanics are mostly sound.

The most notable issues were where sentences seemed to skip over an entire word, leading one to stumble over the intent. There’s no voice acting included and only a few songs on the soundtrack. Both make it feel a bit “cheap,” but then again it only costs ten bucks.

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Secrets are slowly revealed as the game unravels which keeps one interested in what’s going on. The setup of two magical angels, one dull dude and some sort of world-changing evil lurking prove great instigators for the storyline. Both Hikari and Sayaka also have loud personalities. Sure, they might play a little too strongly to tropes, but both are likeable in their own ways. The interplay between the two is generally amusing, if predictable, and the right tone for this lighthearted affair. There are moments where things do get a bit serious or dramatic, but they never last long. The game is about two to four hours long and wraps up in an incredible hurry. It seems just after the basics have been explained the incredibly underwhelming climax suddenly rolls in. Then the game ends, leaving you with only the start to a neat story and tons of CGs to stare at.

In some ways, that could be considered a let down of Sakura Angels. For every stride it makes further than Sakura Spirit in interesting storytelling, it pushes right back with a heaping amount of sexualization of the two women. You can’t get away from it! Any fight, or heck, any sequence where it can be smushed in at all there are CGs of one or multiple of the female cast members thrusting out their breasts or butt to meet the player’s eye. Instead of allowing the story to drive the experience — with sexual art being a simple addition to a great time — fanservice takes control. The constant rate at which you’ll see it really seems like an act of desperation. Perhaps there was fear that without so many scenes that everyone would absolutely hate the game. Maybe they would, but only because Winged Cloud has become known for anime fanservice rather than a cool plot in addition to seductive artwork.

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Closing Comments:

If all you want out of Sakura Angels is anime gals with their shiny bodies contorted for your viewing pleasure then that’s exactly what you’ll get, so enjoy! Pleasing such an audience doesn’t seem that difficult, though. Open-minded visual novel fans may be surprised to find themselves initially hooked upon playing, but won’t find the experience tremendously rewarding. Sakura Angels is short, seemingly robbed of an exciting ending, and tries to stifle its positive strides with copious CGs. Hopefully if there’s a third “Sakura” visual novel in the works it will be able to find a better balance between pleasing those who just want to oogle at screens and those who want a great storyline along with the fanservice aspect.