Sakura Diaries Volume 1: Secrets & Lies is a single disc release of the first six episodes of the Sakura Diaries OVA series. This DVD was released by ADV Films in 2005.
A young man named Touma Inaba is a high school graduate trying to get into college. In the first episode, he has come to Tokyo to take the entrance exams for three schools. While in his hotel room, a high school girl claiming to be a call girl comes to the room. After an awkward encounter, Touma throws the girl out of his room. The "call girl" is actually his cousin, Urara Kasuga; he had only met her once several years earlier, so he didn't recognize her. Urara fell in love with him all those years ago, and is still in love with him.
After failing his first two entrance exams, Touma takes the test for Keio University. While he's there, he meets a beautiful woman named Mieko Yotsuba, who is also trying to get into Keio University. Mieko passes, but Touma does not; however, Touma lies and tells Mieko that he passed because he has fallen for Mieko. Touma decides to stay in Tokyo and live with his uncle and his daughter; he discovers that the "call girl" Urara is actually his cousin. Touma attends cram school, and at the same time trying to deceive Mieko into thinking that he actually attends Keio University.
Touma is rather clueless when it comes to love, and is blind to Urara's feelings for him because he's attracted to Mieko. The early episodes on this disc tend to put a little more emphasis on the comedic side of the story; however, by the final episodes on the disc, the narrative tone has changed to more of a "darker" and serious tone.
While there is "fanservice" in Sakura Diaries, it complements the story and fits in with the narration; it's not included simply for titillation purposes. There is also some female nudity included in the visuals. While the DVD box says that Sakura Diaries is rated TV-14, I would personally recommend this series for anime viewers who are 16 or 17 years of age and older.
As for the DVD itself, there is a preview included for the second volume that ADV Films released for Sakura Diaries, in addition to the bonus features. The bonus features include a version of the opening credits sequence without text, as well as a version of the closing credits sequence without text. A "Bonus Unused Closing Theme" shows a version of the closing credit sequence that was never used for Sakura Diaries.
The "Liner Notes" section is a text feature that provides information on and explains some of the Japanese references that appear in the episodes on this disc. This is a pretty decent feature, and it helps the viewer to better understand the importance of the references that appear in the story. There is also a section with previews for six properties that ADV Films was promoting at the time this DVD was released, as well as the DVD Credits.
For the most part, the extras included on this DVD are pretty standard extras on anime releases. In my opinion, the "Liner Notes" extra was probably the best bonus feature to be included on this disc.
If you're a fan of Sakura Diaries and haven't included it in your home video library yet, buying either the two single DVD volumes of the series or the Complete Series release would be your best bet for acquiring this property.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of Sakura Diaries Volume 1: Secrets & Lies that my husband and I purchased.
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