Then I rubbed my eyes, to make sure that I was not dreaming.
Then I checked to see if I had taken my daily medication.
Then I went outside, to see if the moon had turned blood-red in the daytime, if the seas had risen to consume the land, if plague and pestilence had already taken those around me, if the Mother Harlot and her seven-headed dragon stood tall over the remains of humanity, the loyal followers of the one true God having already been lifted to safety for their piousness.
Seeing that that was not quite the case (though perhaps Swine Flu is a plague), I believed the announcement that NIS America would be bringing Sakura Taisen V over to the US as Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, was, in fact, true. In fact, so true that it would also be getting a Wii incarnation.
It had long been rumored, but up until recently, the Sakura Taisen franchise, as a game, was largely considered untranslateable, namely due to the fact that most gamers outside of Japan (or rather, with more westernized sensibilities), would barely consider it a game at all.
Even titles like Persona 4 and Ar Tonelico and such, which heavily featured the relationship-juggling and dialog-branching aspects familiar to "dating sims", got the pass with western gamers due to the fact that they had a significant portion of gameplay devoted to more traditionally recognized elements. Persona had dungeon-crawling, Ar Tonelico was a standard JRPG, Disgaea and its cousins are massive tactical games in their own right. The Japanese-ness, the Anime-ness, the stuff a lot of folks hate, that was usually balanced out.
Sakura Taisen (I suppose I should start calling it Sakura Wars)? Not on your life. The game is so heavily skewed towards its bishoujo elements that one could even consider replacing the tactical battles punctuating each chapter with dialog trees and event cutscenes, selling it as a traditional dating sim. Of course doing so would cut out much of what even the Japanese considered unique (enough to transform it into a franchise of great significance.
After all, the rise of publishers like Atlus, Nippon Ichi and others have busted open the doors to accepting games of any shade and persuasion. Maybe that quirkiness will be enough to sell it in spite of itself. Perhaps I've been underestimating the diversity of peoples' tastes. The fact that its anime and manga adaptations have all made it off the boat (though it's been a year since another volume of the manga has been released, which doesn't bode well) may soften the blow. Perhaps, being a Japanophile animu snob's conditioned me to self-deprecatingly believe that few others could be so weird as to enjoy what I enjoy.
Can this game make it? I don't know. What I do know is that Sakura Wars is crossing the sea after a decade and a half and that makes me very very f*cking happy.
To success! And steam-powered-mecha-piloting, katana-wielding, theater-acting, half-Japanese-half-Texan cowgirls!