Touma is a high school graduate who is under a lot of pressure to get into college. While staying in a hotel in Tokyo the night before he was to take entrance exams, a girl appeared at his door. Urara knew Touma from years time ago, and jokingly offered to do him certain favors. Unfortunately Touma didn't get the joke, and he threw her out. That night he got sick and failed the entrance exams the next day. Touma decides to endure a year of prep-school and try again for next years exam. Urara is a cousin who adores him, and is interested in a relationship even if Touma's not.
Things get complicated when Touma has his sights set on a girl in college. He fakes getting into college in order to talk to her. Touma struggles to hide his secret, while Urara struggles to get his attention.
Sakura Diaris is from an era when "fanservice" wasn't a background thing, but more a deliberate feature. The resqué stuff is intended to be "tantalising". In the context of todays anime, viewers are desensitized to this stuff, making much of Sakura Diaries seem pretty cheesy. Some parts are just puzzling. Like a cute girl is going to cook you breakfast wearing NOTHING but an apron and still claim to be innocent. Is that even safe? The story comes across better than expected. It looks like there's no substance, but the story is decent underneath all that. Characters never act totally over the top even if the setup isn't realistic.
Touma is a male lead I had difficulty sympathising with as I found his actions frustrating and at times stupid. Urara is a sweet girl, with the kind of domestic presence that seems like a male fantasy ideal more than an actual person. Putting them together, I felt a large disconnect with the show.
I wondered why she even likes Touma. Why put up with all of this crap for him? Wait, where had seen this before? Main character with no redeeming values chased by multiple members of the opposite sex. I realized I stumbled on the evil twin of Fushigi Yuugi, but instead of the guys having a goatee in this evil universe, women always seem to end up in tantalizing situations. Then again if Miaka were more apt to show some skin like Urara, perhaps I would have liked Fushigi Yuugi more.
Sakura Diaries was created for a target audience that no longer exists in the same form it once did. The sexy teasing visuals are pretty tame by today's standards, and it's hard for a title to get by on those alone (although there was a time some shows actually did). Because the story is basically a prop for that feature, it's not especially strong, but fairs well enough.
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reviewed by archen in 1999