Something that I find fairly interesting about Sakura Trick is the title itself. What comes to mind when “Sakura Trick” is uttered? Sakura, which is a flower with a lovely shade of bright pink, and trick, a fake-out of sorts, which may contain mischievous undertones. What was the inspiration for the name of this title? Every time I see this title, I can’t help but feel like I’m about to stumble upon a beautiful disaster, or a “sakura-colored trick,” if you will. Of course, the term “trick” can also be defined in other ways, but for the purpose of stating an argument, the previously stated definition will be used.
The “trick” in this case, would be the underlying messages that accompany Sakura Trick. On the surface, this title is about two girls who attend a school that is slated to be closed (though, this holds no importance), and decide one day, by complete chance, to kiss each other, in order to strengthen their relationship. Once this happens, their relationship becomes more than that of ordinary friends, as they cannot seem to get through an episode without kissing seven times.
While the kissing between two teenage girls itself is the main factor of the show, it is also by far the worst problem this show has. Not in the kissing itself, but the way it is presented. Contrary to popular media, love is not a drug, and the act of kissing shouldn’t be compared to that of taking cocaine. What Sakura Trick does so well is displaying a strange, relieving sense of tranquility while the kiss is going on. Feelings of anticipation, slight awkwardness, and a genuine amount of affection can be felt during (roughly) all of the kissing scenes, and not always necessarily between the two main characters. Despite this, it’s both predictable and out of nowhere. When an opportunity arises where the two main characters can be alone, the audience knows they will take it, and the audience know they will kiss, regardless of whether or not the mood suits it. It starts to become the only reason this show has any airtime. This is where the “trick” comes into play.
The two characters that kiss most often are Haruka and Yuu, and are assigned as the show’s main protagonists. When these two characters are with each other, they act as though they’re a couple, except they aren’t. Though, when surrounded by friends, they show discretion, almost as if their kissing is a secret from everyone. Oh wait, it is. Something to note about the characters in this series is that they try to be funny. They try to make the audience laugh and feel good about any situation. Though this might cause the audience to not take anything seriously, there’s a larger problem: the characters are dull. Try as they may, most of the jokes aren’t that funny. When Sakura Trick decides to spend more time “developing” the relationship between Haruka and Yuu, they brush off other characters to do so, lest the secondary characters have a romantic relationship of their own (all characters are female, by the way). This leaves any screentime not dedicated to girls kissing much to be desired.
The “sakura” within this trick comes through with the animation style. Upon watching this, I would’ve bet my house that the animation studio responsible for Sakura Trick was Shaft. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out Studio Deen was responsible, as they seemed to dabble in Shaft’s mannerisms within Sakura Trick. The art style and design of the entire show will at least keep an audience attentive. There are multiple examples of quick, transitional frames that showcase a character’s personality well. Yuu’s signature flower clip is shown prevalently throughout, and I could tell that the animators had fun stylizing the characters’ features to their whim. It helps an already dull cast of characters seem full of life and charm.
While the animation is fun and the kissing scenes are nothing but passionate, Sakura Trick is conveniently named as a trick. The entire concept of the show and its emphasis on two girls kissing feels shallow altogether, and a lot like bait. Any redeeming factors this show has is muddled down by tryhard dialogue and bland characters. Only the final two episodes of Sakura Trick try to deal with the relationship of Haruka and Yuu in a mature manner, but by then, the damage has already been done. It’s a show one can turn their brain off to, through and through. But it’s not like we have enough series like that already, right?