Back in September of 2020 I wrote an article about Iris Chateaubriand and her relationships with the other characters in the Sakura Wars cast. I had always intended to write more articles like that for the rest of the Sakura Wars cast but by and large most of the original cast had very well defined relationships with each other and you don’t need me to explain them to you.
The same unfortunately cannot be said for the 2019 soft reboot of the franchise; Shin Sakura Wars. I absolutely love Shin Sakura Wars and go to bat for it in most arguments but one of the big issues I have with the game is how the Flower Division has next to no visible chemistry with each other.
Sure, Sakura Amamiya has obvious relationships with some of the cast with her relationship with Hatsuho and her admiration of Anastasia being super well defined, but that’s all she’s got! Good luck figuring out what her relationship with Claris or Azami is like as she rarely if ever interacts with them. Everyone else meanwhile you really need to squeeze the few character interactions we see in the game and anime to figure out how this cast feels about each other.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to do today! Today on The Story Arc I’m going to analyze my favorite Sakura Wars character, Azami Mochizuki, and her relationships with the rest of the cast. Every claim I make will be entirely based on evidence from the game, anime, and by a lesser extent the stage shows. I want this article to be informative so I will try my best not to stretch these relationships beyond what is outright said and keep my headcanons to myself. With all that said, let’s begin with the character that Azami easily has the most well defined relationship with: Hatsuho.
Almost immediately after meeting Azami in the game’s second chapter Hatsuho tells Seijuro to look after her “precious little sis”, to which Azami immediately blushes and says they’re not related. This is the only instance where Hatsuho and Azami’s relationship with each other is outright spoken about but it’s easily the relationship that runs most true when examining their other interactions.
At the end of Azami’s character episode when she performs her victory pose she immediately jumps on Hatsuho’s shoulders for a ride and at the very end of the game Hatsuho can be seen ruffling up Azami’s hair in the final victory pose. These interactions aren’t much, but they do show that Azami and Hatsuho are at the very least friendly enough with each other for physical contact.
Beyond the game, Azami and Hatsuho get some more interactions in the Shin Sakura Wars anime. Specifically, when Azami is snooping around to spy on Klara she is grabbed by her dress by Hatsuho and made to help serve breakfast. Both of them are clearly annoyed by this but Hatsuho’s annoyance appears to be because Azami snoops all the time. This interaction doesn’t expand their relationship much but when I have only 4 examples I feel it’s worth talking about.
Finally, for the most recent Shin Sakura Wars stage show the girls all switched songs with each other for the concert portion, and do you know whose song Azami got? That’s right, Hatsuho’s! While this doesn’t exactly count as a character interaction as it was just a concert gimmick, but you could reason that as a character Azami is most comfortable around Hatsuho and thus would sing her theme if she was given the choice.
And that’s all I really have to say about Azami and Hatsuho’s relationship, interactions in total with only one of them involving an actual conversation between the two. Bare in mind, I started this by saying that this is Azami’s most defined relationship! Hatsuho and Azami do come across as siblings not by blood but by dynamic in the game’s victory pose images but we really need a second game to expand upon it more.
Let’s move on to the second most defined Azami relationship; her dynamic with Claris! The Azami and Claris duo was the focus of an entire episode of the Shin Sakura Wars anime despite it not being a thing at all in the game, however I actually think that works in this case. While the main plot of the episode is centered around the two of them getting into shenanigans while tailing Klara, there is a small and subtle character arc for Azami in this episode.
At the start of the episode Azami is clearly dissatisfied with Claris coming along on her stealth mission. When Claris spends some time talking with Reiji for story ideas, Azami gets annoyed at her and this feeling clearly lingers as Hatsuho catches them. However a bit later on in the episode Azami is once again caught sneaking by Sakura and nearly interrogated before Claris saves her with some quick thinking and a good excuse!
After this interaction Azami immediately praises Claris and says she thinks she’s amazing. Keeping in account that Azami and Claris never have any character interactions in the game this episode can be seen as the beginning of Azami’s friendship with Claris and learning to like her. Admittedly this is extending into the realm of headcanons but when this is the only thing we’ve got to go on you need to cut me at least a little bit of slack.
Next up we’ve got the member of the main cast who Azami has the least defined relationship with by far in the game: Anastasia! Anastasia and Azami share exactly 2 lines of dialogue with each other in the game. Anastasia asks if Azami is a maid and Azami denies it before jumping away. That’s it, they never speak to each other again. They don’t even get any interactions with each other in the anime! Under normal circumstances I use these two as my main argument for how the cast of Shin Sakura Wars needed more interactions between the cast so why am I mentioning them in this article? Because I’m going to stretch some stage show logic as far as I possibly can.
In the concert section of one of the Shin Sakura Wars stage shows Azami and Anastasia sing Iris and Maria’s duet from a previous Sakura Wars Les Mis stage show. I have it on very good authority from the world’s biggest Maria fan that Maria and Iris had an almost parent and child-like relationship. So by extension you could maybe argue that Azami and Anastasia have a similar relationship in the stage shows but like I said, this is easily the biggest stretch in this article.
To close things off I would like to not talk about a relationship that actually exists but rather one that should exist. In the fourth chapter of Shin Sakura Wars the Berlin Division visits the theater, upon seeing Margarethe of the Berlin Division Azami instantly decides that she wants to murder her from the second floor before she is soon stopped by Seijuro. That’s the one and only time Azami even acknowledges Margarethe’s existence until the ending photo where they’re standing next to each other.
Why isn’t there more to this dynamic? When one of the major plot threads of Shin Sakura Wars is a tournament arc where we’ll need to fight the Berlin Division in the final round, why would you not have two characters in the separate divisions be rivals to each other?!
Like I said at the very start, Shin Sakura Wars has a character interaction problem and I think Azami is actually a great way to exemplify it. Azami has breadcrumbs of interactions with other characters and while these breadcrumbs are enjoyable there is almost no substance to her relationships. The girls of Shin Sakura Wars do not feel unified with each other as members of a theater troupe but rather as well, separate love interests for the protagonist to end up with. It feels like the largest step back we’ve taken from the writing of the old games and if Shin 2 is to change anything about the writing, I hope Sega takes this criticism to heart.
Thank you for reading my thoughts on Azami’s relationships with the other characters, I’m Skeith from the Story Arc signing out. While you’re already here and in an Azami mood, can I interest you in this article I wrote for a hypothetical Sakura Wars Musou game? Or perhaps this list I made ranking every Sakura Wars Love Interest?