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Street Fighter Round 3
SAKURA

Welcome to my Sakura review! I was supposed to do Guile first, but I figured I'd clump all the Alpha people together since they've had less exposure than their Street Fighter II buddies. Besides, some friends have been clamouring for upskirt pictires.

Sakura Kasugano is an upbeat, athletic schoolgirl introduced in Street Fighter Alpha / Zero 2, the sole new character in the batch of 5 that were added for that game. In the time since, she has gone on to become one of the most recognizable mascots for Capcom.

Sakura spotted Ryu once, during a tournament battle. While other girls her age started swooning over pop stars, she idolized Ryu instead. She became Dan's student to learn the basics of the shotokan style, but soon surpassed him. When her best friend Kei Chitose (you know, that long haired girl who follows Sakura around in some of the Vs games) got into trouble, she instinctively copied Ryu's fighting techniques to save her friend. Sakura then decided to seek out "the man who wears a white headband, and red gloves", to learn the meaning of the fight from him.

Sakura is the featured female of this Round, and she marks the last of Capcom's "Big 3" Street Fighter ladies (gee, guess who the other two are). As expected, she's a very small figure, standing shorter and slimmer than all the other figures. In package, she seems really insubstantial compared to muscle mountains like T Hawk or Balrog. Looks are, of course, deceiving.

Sakura comes with the usual two interchangeable heads and extra hands, and a whole lot of other accessories. So much so that, if not for the figure itself, you'd think you were buying one of Palisade's Muppet figures! Going through them one by one...

Sakura's head has been the subject of much argument online (much of which was fueled by yours truly! :-D). SOTA has a very good knack for doing ugly guy heads, but when it comes to bishonen and bishojyou (That's what the Japanese call pretty boys and girls), they still have some ways to go. Chun Li and Vega were short of the mark, but Cammy was quite good. Sadly, Sakura doesn't score very high either. I do not like this head, and I think that those who have seen the Sakura merchandise that have come out of Japan will find that this sculpt is unsatisfactory as well.

The regular head is kinda cute, truth be told. But that's not Sakura. The shape of the face looks flat, with strangely contoured cheeks and jawline. Her hair is slightly on the wide-side, which gives it a Cindy Lauper-esque funk that broadens her already broad face sculpt. Her eyes have got an over-exaggerated, anime-wannabe look, and to me it looks like she's squinting to entertain some unseen infant. That's not to mention her wide, goofy smile. It's like there's something just ever-so-slightly wrong with each component of her face, and while you can't really say she's fugly, you can't say it's spot-on either. So like I said, it's cute, but it just doesn't reflect Sakura's personality at all. All in all, it reminds me of the Resaurus Chun Li, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

While I'm ranting, let's look at the alternate head. It's more or less the same sculpt, with Sakura's mouth open in a huge laugh. Concept-wise, I think it's a perfectly justified choice, although if they hadn't done the closed-eyed, laughing Chun Li head for Round 1, I would have preferred that kind of expression, since Sakura does have a winning pose that looks that, and it'd be more accurate to her taunt.

I do have to fault the execution, however. It looks like they just resculpted the mouth-portion of her face with a new laughing mouth. Now, when I was a toy-customizer starting out, I used to do this all the time to get a new expression. After studying anatomy, I know now that it usually just looks strange. Moving a facial organ will pull and stretch skin so the whole face changes, and that's what makes this head look really disconcerting.

I apologize for griping so much about her head. I'm a huge Sakura geek, having once made an internet shrine and all that, so I really care about how her figure turned out.

With that off my chest (I feel a bit better now, sniff sniff), I have to say that the figure does hold up very well. The design is pretty much spot-on, right down to the white circles on her shoes. She does come with an extra shoe to simulate her win pose where she sends one flying and it bops her on the head. It can kinda hook onto her hair protrusions if you really like that pose. It is however, missing the white circle, and she doesn't come with a socked foot so she'll end up having 3 shoes on at the same time...

Sakura comes with 3 extra hands, for a total of 5. 2 closed fists, 2 open "fireball" hands, and a left hand with a pointed finger. The last is what you'll need to simulate her infamous taunt, that actually causes damage in the game. (Man, I love offing opponents with that. It's so insulting! I'm evil.)

  

I do like that they sculpted her physique to look like the original Sakura artwork. Her body definitely belongs to a person who's active in sports, and is neither too beefy nor too streamlined in a girly sort of way. Quite a bit of Japan-originated sculpts tend to play up the "girl in a schoolgirl outfit" angle to appeal to the ecchi (perv) crowd, and some of those Sakuras don't look like they can swing a punch at all.

 
  

Sakura also comes with a set of interactive accessories: a schoolbag, 2 books, and a camera. They're all accurately scaled, and the best part is that EVERYTHING fits right into the bag. YES, EVERYTHING. They go in easy, and the bag shuts with no problems. The bag has only one open strap, which fits very well over her shoulder. Tuck it under her collar to make it more secure, and it won't drop off even with some serious play. She can't quite hold her books, since they're too small for her hands, but with some fiddling, her "hadouken" hands can hold her camera quite securely.

Accuracy wise, you won't find these in the Alpha games. Well, she's never appeared with books before, so they are pretty much a liberty SOTA took, but they are in line with what Sakura is. Her camera is off-model. In the Alpha 2 game, the one she holds looks more like an instamatic, and not the 1970's version the toy comes with. I've blown-up some screengrabs for reference. You'll also see that her bag in Alpha was pink. However, in the Capcom vs Marvel type games, Sakura does appear with a brown schoolbag similar to the one the toy has, so it does pass the accuracy test.


If you own any of the other girls, you can expect the kind of articulation Sakura offers. She does, of course, come with the double jointed elbows everyone loves, and the new Round 3 calf-twist is located at the top of her socks. She has a very good range of movement, especially at her hips, as like Gen, her ball joints are quite well exposed, allowing her to do almost 90 degrees on her forward bend. Her skirt does hamper things very slightly, since it is sculpted and solid. But it's soft and bendy, and there's enough allowance for Sakura to sit while not looking like it's over-billowing in the breeze. The skirt is really well-designed, and looks natural whether Sakura is standing or sitting.

Her neck does seem to stick out quite a bit. If you bend her upper torso backwards, she looks fine, as the neck straightens perpendicular to the ground. She'll look like she's sticking her chest out in pride or defiance. Bend the body forward, and her neck looks like it's straining forward, like in the running picture above. It does add a strange look to her body language, in certain poses.

Overall, she has quite a good range of movement, and can be posed in a either active or passive stances. She doesn't have big feet either, and for some reason the front portions of her soles bend slightly upwards, so she does have some small problems standing. Big no no on flamingo, tho. That goes for poses that unevenly space her weight around as well, like half-squats. She does do a mean hadouken, and her hands can come together, unlike her mentor's.

Upskirt shots here ->>

One inaccuracy would be the cut that they gave her bloomers. Contrary to popular belief, no, Sakura does NOT wear red panties. In Japan, girls wear gym shorts that they call "bloomers". They're cut very low much like volleyball tights, and that's what Sakura has on. To be even more specific, Sakura has red bloomers with a white stripe running down each side (told you I was a Sakura geek!). SOTA didn't seem to know. Her underpants are red, but they're painted to look like underwear, with a relatively high cut. It would have been better to just paint her entire crotch assembly red. Now you may say think that it's a small matter, and that no one's going to bother since it's hidden under the skirt anyway. How naive, my friend. How naive. :-3

In closing, I'm still positive about the Sakura figure, despite my disappointment with her face sculpt. She's nicely scaled, and barring her face, she does look good with lots of excellent accessories that really work well. If she had a nicer set of heads and properly painted bloomers I'd give her an A+. Oh well, there's always the chance that SOTA's femme faces will improve, and that Sakura will get a new head by way of an accessory pack (or a custom resculpt... hmmm). Till then, hey, you can't have a decent Street Fighter collection without Sakura!!!

Sakura will be available in 6(!!!) colours. One regular, and 5 variants based on her palette swaps in the Alpha game. You can 4 of these variants at Gamestop and various online retailers.

Blue Sakura - Regular mass retail version, packed 2 per case.

Black Sakura - Randomly packed assortments at Gamestop stores

Orange Sakura - Exclusive to various online retailers.

Green Sakura - Exclusive to various online retailers.

Red Sakura - Exclusive to various online retailers.

Dark Sakura (not shown here) - Exclusive to SOTA's website


Variant pics courtesy of SOTA toys.

Coming up next: The individual reviews! Click on the links to read em!

Adon
Gen
Guile
Sakura
Balrog


Back to Street Fighter Round 3!


Got a question or feedback? Think I suck at this? Do let me know... -Dare

 

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All text and commentary are the opinions of the authors solely, and not to be attributed to any other parties.
All images, format, content, and design are copyright © 1999-2008 D. ”Julius Marx” Pickett unless otherwise noted. No part of these pages may be reproduced without express written consent of D. Pickett. Licensed character names and images are copyright © their respective companies. But hey, ask me; you just never know what I'll say. - Logo Design by Matt Cauley. Web Design by Jason Geyer.