Sakura Quest

Title:Sakura Quest
Keywords: , , , ,
Notables: Animation - P.A. Works
About-to-graduate college student Yoshino Koharu was raised in the countryside but wants to live in the big city. She needs to find a job, but isn't having much luck. When she is offered what she understands to be a one-day modeling job in a small town, she figures she might as well accept it. But this job turns out to involve a somewhat greater commitment than she had expected.

25 episodes
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 10 8 9 7 8 9 Ggultra2764 [series:3348#1552]
Sakura Quest focuses on struggling college student Yoshino Koharu finding herself becoming the member of a tourism committee attempting to attract tourists to the struggling small town of Manoyama. Joining her are four other young women who are local residents of Manoyama and come from their own unique walks of life, each aiding Yoshino to help develop plans to attract attention to Manoyama.

Sakura Quest offers up a rather unique premise for an anime as it explores the struggles faced by small towns to adapt to changing economic conditions. The anime believably explores the challenges faced by Japanese rural residents as more of its younger populace are attracted to the greater opportunities within urban areas and small town businesses find themselves struggling to keep up with the changing times. With Manoyama's tourism committee, the plans that are laid out to draw attention to the town also explore a number of the realities involving rural struggles with town locals preferring to stick with their traditions, clashes between younger and older generations, and the elders not realistically considering moving to an urban area thanks to having practically lived their entire lives in the town they consider home. Sakura Quest is conscious about the realities of Japan's rural conditions and does a solid job at exploring the dilemmas facing rural residents with changing times.

What makes the series also worthwhile is the characters surrounding it. Yoshino and the four main girls of the series all have their own distinct backgrounds and personalities with each facing their own unique dilemma such as job struggles, the impossibility of a dream job, or living in isolation. This gives the group of girls something for audiences to connect with thanks to their characters being fleshed out and nor being a full-blown archetype. Other characters within the series serve to support in the efforts of the tourism committee or explore elements of Manoyama and the lives of the girls. Many of these characters get enough fleshing out to understand their roles and intentions to relate to either Yoshino and the girls or the uncertainty of Manoyama's future. The characterization has a few rough spots such as an episode featuring some oddball Spanish tourists visiting the town, but it doesn't totally take you out of the experience with seeing how relatable much of Sakura Quest's cast can be.

With PA Works animating Sakura Quest, the series is beautifully animated with gorgeous scenic shots of the countryside of Manoyama and characters are drawn rather believably having nuanced facial expressions and different types of clothes they wear throughout the show's run. Animation isn't as heavily emphasized with the series, but has its moments to shine with the elaborate ceremonies planned by the tourism committee that show off the town's traditions.

Overall, Sakura Quest is yet another quality original work from PA Works thanks to its relatable cast of struggling young adults and its believable exploration of Japan's struggling rural economic development. Those looking for a unique and original series to watch should give this a peek whenever possible.

Last updated Thursday, November 29 2018. Created Thursday, November 29 2018.
Unevaluated Stretch [series:3348#628]
(Around 12 episodes watched):

You get the impression that Japan's small towns are dying as more and more young people flock to the cities. Japan does in fact have a shrinking population as the young are less likely to have children than their parents and grandparents were. In Sakura Quest I got the feeling that the story here would basically be that a girl who wants to live in the city finds that small towns aren't all that bad, and experiences a change in attitude. I also wondered if some government agency hadn't encouraged the making of this show, since a policy meant to arrest rural blight was mentioned. As for the anime itself, I was left uncertain whether or not I should watch it. It didn't seem to be trying to rely on humor, though there was some. Therefore an interesting story will be needed, and so far I can't tell whether that will be what we are going to get. One reason to be optimistic is that Yoshino Koharu gets a good introduction and is developed into a likeable character. Otherwise there was nothing seriously wrong with this show, but nothing that thrilled me either, and I do not have time for anime that are just average.

On the one hand, the five girls that come together are likeable and have some personality; on the other, the jokes are weak and I don't sense an intriguing story coming together as of yet. So I was ambivalent about Sakura Quest after two episodes, and ambivalent isn't good enough for me to watch it. But I didn't quite give up. In episode three a glimmer of an interesting plot emerges: perhaps these five girls are going to abandon the ridiculous Chupakabara tourism gimmick and find a way of their own to revitalize this dying town. They need something about the town which is sincere yet effective at drawing interest. The story moves from local woodcarving to a minor movie being filmed in town to the search for a special dish which the town can lay claim to. I felt that I needed to know both the girls and the town a little bit better, in order to care a little bit more about whether they succeeded or not. With time, that slowly happened. This show was good enough that I didn't want to drop it, but just barely. It was my least favorite of the six Spring 2017 shows which I had committed to watching, but even that put it miles ahead of most of the Spring fare which I didn't consider worth watching at all. The minor crises the different girls undergo, like one of them having feelings for an old house that is to be demolished, didn't move or intrigue me all that much. But the show has a sort of silliness--not this joke or that joke, but the vague, underlying ridiculousness of all sorts of things, that is fairly fun. However, I was not looking forward to yet another season of Sakura Quest, and when I learned there would be one I decided to quit.

Last updated Monday, August 06 2018. Created Wednesday, April 19 2017.

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