Hello And welcome to the The Story Arc, my name is Skeith and I’m a die hard Sakura Wars fan. I don’t normally like writing list articles like this but as The Story Arc is running behind schedule this month I needed to put something together to keep our readers occupied, so why not talk about Sakura Wars a little bit?
Last time I did a Sakura Wars list I ranked every main love interest, well this time I’m going to rank what those love interests pilot into battle! This week on The Story Arc we shall be ranking every Sakura Wars mech…well almost every.
See there are a lot of Sakura Wars mechs that apparently exist only in timeline lore PLUS there are a lot of enemy mechs so let’s keep this simple and just rank every mech that the girls in the various divisions pilot. That leaves us with 16 different types of mechs, so let’s go!
Number 16: Koubu X
Up first on the list we’ve got a mech that actually didn’t debut in Sakura Wars itself but rather in a Super Robot Wars mobile game collaboration event with Sakura Wars: the Koubu X! The Koubu X is ugly and I hate it. On the surface it’s just a recolor of Ogami’s Koubu Type-2, so how could I possibly hate it so much? Because look at those colors! It’s an explosion of white, blue, red, and yellow that overall just makes the Mech hard to look at!
If I were Asahi Inui I’d be convinced that the Flower Division absolutely hated me and gave me this Koubu as a prank. I have very, very little to say about this Mech mostly because I didn’t know it existed until earlier this week, so let’s just move on to the only other Mech on this list that I consider to be bad
Number 15: Tenjin
Next up on the list we’ve got the Tenjin from Shin Sakura Wars the Animation. I already said that this is the other Mech on the list that I consider to be bad but unlike the Koubu X I actually have reasons that go beyond “It’s ugly”.
See, I personally believe most Sakura Wars mechs work well because of how big and bulky they are. The series’ most iconic mech, the Koubu, isn’t the type of Mech that you would expect to be speeding around and saving people because they’re big bulking barrels of steam and we love them for that. Even as the series progressed and introduced new mechs that look how you would expect video game mechs to look they stayed big and bulky.
Then we get to Klara’s Tenjin is Shin Sakura Wars the Animation, it’s slick, it flies, it can shoot lazers in directions all round, it’s…..not Sakura Wars. Even if we forgive it for not being a big, bulky mech factors like it being able to easily fly around (Previous Sakura Wars mechs needed to fully transform into planes to fly) and the weird lazer attack just make this mech stick out like a sore thumb, making the Tenjin my least favorite mech that’s actually in Sakura Wars.
Number 14: Bridven
Now that we’ve got the two bad mechs out of the way let’s move on the “meh” section of the list, and nothing embodies the word “meh” better than the country of England, oh and I guess also the Bridven mechs from Shin Sakura Wars.
Now there’s nothing generally wrong with the Bridven or the next few entries on the list, it’s just that in a series with 16 different mech types that we see there’s bound to be some that just don’t stand out to me. So since I have nothing negative to say let’s just talk about the positives.
I actually really like the knight armor aesthetic that the Bridven’s have. It would have been really easy for them to go overboard with the aesthetic and make it goofy but they showed good restraint and just made the body of the mechs be shaped like a helmet.
Color scheme wise while I don’t really like Lancelot’s all black Bridven I really dig the contrasting blue and gold of Arthur’s, though it is a bit odd that Arthur doesn’t have any blue on his normal clothes to match the Brivden.
Overall the Bridven’s are pretty meh, but I’m glad they exist just because I enjoy every combat revue having a different type of mech in Shin and I hope that trend keeps going in the sequel.
Number 13: STAR
This is probably the only placement on the roster that will be in any way controversial. Yes, I am putting the STARS from Sakura Wars 5 in the bottom 5 of this list. It’s the only mech piloted by our protagonists to be put this low too.
Like the other mechs I consider to just be “meh” the STAR just doesn’t particularly stand out to me as good. Although one negative thing I do have to say about it is how I’m not a fan of how everyone’s STAR looks pretty much the same with only Rika’s having a different look other than the color. While having very similar mechs can work (spoiler: the original Koubu is high on this list), in the case of the STAR it just causes them to not stand out even more.
Other than color, the one thing that makes the STARs stand out from one another are the different weapons they have, and personally while the weapon variety of the New York Combat Revue is good I think all the other main teams just have better weapons.
One highlight of the STAR is that it is the first flying model of mech in the franchise (and the only before the Tenjin), with the ability to transform into small planes the STARs can soar through the sky. While the gameplay sequences that this flying gimmick is attached to are well, bad, I’m not going to hold it against the STAR because I’m not judging these mechs on gameplay, just design. Plus, the flying version of the STARs leads to some cool visuals like in the opening of New York, New York.
Number 12: Wanlong
Next up in the “meh” section we’ve got the Shanghai Division’s Wanlong mechs! I have one major issue with the Wanlongs, they look evil. These mechs are supposed to be used by protectors of the city and NPCs talk about how they love the Shanghai Revue but their mechs are covered with spikes and have sharp claws for no reason. I guess this fits in a way because “Evil for no reason” sums up most player’s thoughts on the Shanghai Division in the game’s first chapter.
I do have a few positives to say about the mech’s design though. For one I love the dragon tails the mechs have, it’s a cool way of making these mechs stand out from other Sakura Wars mecha while also being visually pleasing. Another thing I really like about the mechs is the pose they make before you fight them, these are probably the only mechs in the franchise that can make a kung-fu pose without looking bad.
I really don’t have much to say about these mechs, I don’t like how evil they look for no reason but I think the overall design is better than the previous few mechs on the list. It’s the very definition of middle of the road. So let’s just move on.
Number 11: Type-3 Koubu
Next up on the list we’ve got our first Koubu model: The Type-3 Koubu! Thank God the Koubu-X exists so I don’t have to say that the Type-3 is the worst Koubu in the series.
The Type-3 is just strange, as the series progressed we got more and more Koubu models that were personalized for the users compared to the original Koubus which had next to no personalization. Because of this the Type-3 feels like a step backwards as the only personalization that makes it “Amamiya’s Koubu” is an armband with a flower on it.
At the end of the day though, it’s still a koubu and koubus are too “shaped like a friend” for me to have negative things to say about them. It’s just the lamest main series Koubu.
Number 10: Jinbu
Next up on the list we’ve got the Jinbu, I am specifically going to talk about the In Hot Blood versions of the Jinbu because those are the ones with good images online. If I were to describe the Jinbu in a sentence it would be “Really overdesigned Koubu”.
While I love the personalization of mechs that this series does I do think it’s possible to go too far and the Jinbu definitely go way too far. Some of these are just overdesigned. Why is Kohran’s Jinbu a tank? Why does Sumire’s have wings for no reason?
The only Jinbu I like the design of is Sakura’s because it’s basically just a more ornate version of her Koubu Type-2 but even then it’s pretty meh to me.
What makes it worse is that release wise these were the final new mechs designed for the original Flower Division, which makes them much more disappointing. Let’s just move on and forget that In Hot Blood ever happened.
Number 9: Prototype Obu
Next up on the list we’ve got the Prototype Obu. Gee Amamiya, why did Sega let you have three mechs? The Obu is a very strange design for a mech, let alone a Sakura Wars one. The most noticeable thing about it is that it has engines and wings that make it almost look like a plane, as if it had some sort of evolution of the STAR’S flight capabilities. Not only that, but it has a bizarre horn on its head. It’s easily one of the most unique looking mechs that has come from Sakura Wars.
I hesitate to say the Obu is a good design because like, what am I even looking at? But because of that factor I think I like the Obu more than every other mech we’ve talked about so far. I don’t know what to say, I just do. Plus the Obu is pink which gives it extra points from me.
Enough of the “meh” mechs though, let’s finally move on to the Sakura Wars mecha which I think are legitimately good.
Character 8: Mugen
Up next we’ve got the main mech type of the New Flower Division: the Mugen! The Mugens tend to get hate among the fanbase and I perfectly understand why. They are nothing like the previous mechs in the series and are definitely the start of a trend of making SW mechs more slim combat machines than big bulking steam containers, a trend that I think hit its peak only two designs later with the Tenjin.
However, despite this I really like the Mugens. Each of them I feel stand out from each other well by having small details such as Hatsuho’s having a Shinto Shide on hers and Azami’s having a gauntlet while all keeping a nice, uniform design. Speaking of that design, I think it’s pretty good too! I really like each Mugen having two flaps of metal in the front that depending on how a character is standing can either look like armor or a dress to my eyes, which I think is really fitting for the Flower Division.
In addition, my personal bias is taking hold here as the Mugen are the only type of mech we have ever seen Azami piloting. As Azami is my favorite character I cannot help but associate them with her so they get extra points in that regard.
Overall, the Mugens are a good design but I understand the hate they get for being so different from the Koubu of old. So let’s move on.
Number 7: Eisenjaeger
Next up we’ve got our final non-player mecha on the list: The Eisenjager! These are the main mechs of the Berlin Division in Shin Sakura Wars and I instantly fell in love with them.
The Eisenjaeger is an upgraded version of the Eisenkleid from Sakura Wars 2, and what an upgrade it got. While Eisenklied means “Iron Dress” the name Eisenjaeger translates to “Iron Hunter” and god do these mechs live up to that name. With a gun on each arm and the ability to also fire cannon shots while jumping around the battlefield quickly the Eisenjaeger appear to be some of the most efficient mechs in the franchise.
Their design is also very threatening in a way that I think actually works unlike the Shanghai Division’s mechs. At this point in time the Berlin Division is the top dog of Combat Revues, everyone is supposed to be afraid of going against them in the tournament because of how strong they are. So having a mech like this that is very militaristic looking and thus looks inherently evil is actually a positive aspect.
Overall a great mech for the best non-playable Combat Revue.
Number 6: Koubu Kai
The next FOUR entries on the list are all Koubus, so instead of explaining why Koubus are good each and every time we get to one I’ll just explain what makes these mechs work in this entry and then quickly go over why I like each Koubu variant in the following entries.
Unlike most mecha, especially mecha that originate in video games, the Koubu are small and almost friendly looking depending on the context. The franchise is always doing cute things with the Koubu like putting them in a bath or having Iris teleport around in them. They’re cute mechs.
However the Koubus design also allows for it to look intimidating and cool in combat. Take the opening of Sakura Wars TV for example, the shot of Sakura and her koubu quickly dashing down a Tokyo street is so cool.
The Koubu somehow hit a perfect balance between cute and cool that most media strive for and I love them.
The Koubu Kai is just as good as all the other Koubus but it loses a point for me just because they’re basically identical to the original Koubu but with little head vents that I don’t understand design wise.
Number 5: Koubu F2
Next up in our Koubu marathon we’ve got the Koubu F2 from Sakura Wars 3! As the name implies these are upgraded versions of the Koubu F’s but I actually don’t like them as much. There are some on here which I think are better than the Fs like Erica’s model with the angel wings and Hanabi’s having a proper bow and arrow but overall I think the base F’s are just better.
Not to say that the Koubu F2’s are bad of course. When it comes to each mech being personalized for the user Sakura Wars 3 and 4 easily do that the best without going overboard. Each of the Koubu F2’s feel designed for their user while all feeling like the same kind of mech and that needs appreciation.
Another factor in why I really like the Koubu F2s is that I feel the upgrade chapter in Sakura Wars 3 is the best one in the series. It truly feels like the team is transitioning to a much more powerful series of machines when you get the F2s.
Overall, a nice little machine but not the best type of Koubu.
Number 4: Koubu F
Up next in our Koubu conga line is the Koubu F from Sakura Wars 3, yeah I said I like the F2’s less than the base Fs but it isn’t by much.
The Koubu Fs can be considered pretty middle of the road as far as Koubus go. They exist just to be replaced in the second disc and unlike the original Koubu none of these designs are particularly iconic. I greatly enjoy them though, Erica’s and Glycine’s Koubu Fs in particular I find really good looking.
I would also like to cover myself here for something I said about the Shanghai Division’s mechs higher up the list. I greatly criticized them for having claws but here I am putting the Koubu F’s in the top 5 despite the fact that Lobelia’s has massive claws.
The difference there is that Lobelia is supposed to look evil and threatening. She isn’t those things (most of the time) but it’s her aesthetic unlike the Shanghai Division which are supposed to be beloved by the public.
Anyway, the Koubu Fs and F2s are great but I just enjoy the Tokyo Flower Division Koubus more so let’s move on to those!
Number 3: Koubu
Here we go, this one is for all the marbles! The original Koubu design is downright iconic and deserves all the love it gets. I kind of played my hand way too early by describing what exactly makes the Koubus good in the Koubu Kai section so uh, just read that again!
I love the original Koubu just as much as I love the Koubu F and F2s but it does get to go slightly higher than them on the list just because of its iconic status. There would be no Sakura Wars without there mechs and I think that deserves a little respect.
Number 2: Eisenkleid
We’re going to take a brief detour from talking about Koubus to talk about the second best mech in the series: The Eisenkleid! I absolutely love the Eisenkleids in Sakura Wars 2 and the movie, I actually considered them to be the very best mech in the series until I started writing this list and began comparing pictures of various Koubu.
I think part of it is how alien the Eisenkleid feels compared to all other mechs in the series, including its successor the Eisenjaeger. The eye of the Eisenkleid immediately tells you that this machine is no Koubu as it moves around. Reni and Orihime were child soldiers so the eye of this mech being one that can move around and scan for enemies feels a world apart from the Kobu’s more compact face.
The very first start up sequence we see if the Eisenkleid also makes it feel different from the Koubu is a strange way, we see the mech jittering around as the steam engines start in contrast to the Koubu that stay stationary during their start up sequence.
I couldn’t find a good picture of it before uploading this article, but the colors of Orihime’s Eisenkleid in particular are really good. I like the shade of pink they used.
All in all, I love the Eisenkleid but when writing this article I couldn’t put it over our number 1 slot in good faith, so let’s talk about the best mech in the Sakura Wars franchise.
Number 1: Koubu Type-2
Whenever Sakura Wars shows up in another game and gets the fortune of actually bringing over its mechs they always use the Koubu Type-2, and there’s a good reason for that; the Type-2 is easily the best koubu type in the entire franchise.
Every single one of the Type-2’s are personalized for their user in a way that shows perfect balance between personalization, looking uniform, and being cool. Every Type-2 design from Iris’ ‘dress’ to Kohran’s being absolutely decked out with cannons is perfect for each character!
Back up in the list I heavily critiqued In Hot Blood’s Jinbu’s for being over designed and I think that’s because they desperately wanted to top the Type-2’s in terms of having each mech fit the character and went overboard with them. This is the type of design I want for Sakura Wars mechs.
The Type-2’s were the last mechs the Flower Division canonically piloted and honestly I can’t think of a better way to go out. It’s honestly a crying shame that Shin Sakura Wars didn’t go down the same design philosophies that the Koubu were made under because for as much as I liked the Mugens they just can’t compare to these mechs.
I’m Skeith from the Story Arc, allow me to sign off by saying please buy me a model kit of Azami’s Mugen, please, I make literal pennies writing these articles.