On second thought, labeling Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love
a JRPG is a bit of a misnomer. There's an RPG element to the game, but it's more of an interactive graphic novel mixed with a dating sim that just so happens to contain a strategy RPG tacked on for the fun of it. In Japan there was at one time a name for the genre, though for the life of me I can't think of it. Besides, I'm not sure if it actually stuck - so for all intents and purposes consider Sakura Wars
a really different JRPG.
Without getting too deep into the story (like Lost, it's best if you discover it for yourself), you play as Shinji Taiga, a member of the Imperial Assault Force who is transferred to the New York branch, Star Division. The core mission of Star Division is to protect the world from demons. Since it is a secret organization, the Division masquerades as the New York Combat Revue, a Broadway Dancing troupe. As I said, Sakura Wars is all kinds of different.
The main focus is on building trust with the girls in the Combat Revue. The idea is girls possess the type of spirit energy required to power the mechs and use them in battle. In order to tap into and get the most out of the energy, Shinji needs to build bonds with the girls. The concept isn't much different from Ar Tonelico, though here it's slightly more involved. Instead of navigating through dialogue trees (though you will run across a few), getting to know the girls involves a series of mini-games attached to story sequences.
Between conversation and story sequences, the Combat Revue will jump into mechs to fight enemies. Yes, the mission is secret and yes, battles take place out in the open... but at this point, its best to just take Sakura Wars for what it is.
In general, Sakura Wars is entertaining, though only if you have a high threshold for sitting and waiting while things happen. Mini-games during conversations at least keep you occupied, though you'll spend equal amounts of time with the mini-games as you will simply be pressing one button to push through dialogue. I'm all for a good story, but Sakura Wars lets things run a little too long. The same goes for combat. The system is complex and entertaining, but drag thanks to a few long-winded cinematics during fights.