I’ll be honest, I’m digging this tale about the attempted runaway queen that ends up selling sweets in a self-made stand. Sakura Quest is a third of a loose trilogy from PA Works about characters and their specific jobs, after Hanasaku Iroha (about hot spring inn) and the heavyweight Shirobako (about anime industry) which are more adult-oriented than our typical anime field. This week runs more like the first trial for our Queen Yoshino as she has to sell 1000 boxes “Chupakabura manju” sweets, which ultimately failed. But of course, she’s having fun in a process and all of our primary cast is gathered to make the selling project altogether. It’s great fun to see those girls pour the hearts and passions for the work. Sakura Quest maintains its nice pace and firm gasp on small moments with great eyes for details and absurd humor.
After finding out about one year contract, meaning, she has to stuck in rural town Manoyama town for an entire year; Yoshino understandably freaks out and wants to escape the place as quickly as possible. But the old man Kadota gives her a first mission: to sell of those sweet boxes that he placed a wrong order (haha, this guy). So comes her first quest of gathering all the necessary people, meeting up the locals and running a website to promote the sweets. Only in 2 episodes this little town already has a warm and live-in atmosphere, and those locals already feel like my actual neighbors. There’s a diner store which do fortune-telling on a side. There’s the bus driver, the cranky old woman who hates tourism board, the cowboy blonde guy who plays harmonica (he actually doesn’t fit with the rest of the cast). This little town is not unlike any other small town, but it breathes so much refreshing air.
In order to sell that huge amount of sweets, the girls figure out the way of promoting it: making a fancyccult website. 0 products sold. Then the Queen will shake hands with the commoner. 3 sold by Shiori’s family members. Then putting an advertising video. 1 more sold. That’s it, they have no merchant skill at all. I have a good laugh with the absurdity of the video, but it’s well made, I totally sold to buy it. At the end of the week, all the girls just sit there and enjoy the expired sweets, while reflecting that the last week was indeed FUN.
The five champions, as the show put it, have their own personalities and while they’re not that flesh out yet, their interactions to each other are gold. Apart from Yoshino the running Queen who is energetic, we have the local members of Shiori (soft-spoken sweetheart) and Ririko (the typical dandere quiet, monotone shy girl. Still, her shifting glance is awesomely animated) and the girls from big city Sanae (who becoming anti-social when moving to this rural life; she’s sadly my least favorite character so far) and Maki (my favorite character, a no-nonsense local celebrity who appears in a popular series- as an unknown side character). All of them have different jobs and different characteristics, but that exactly why they can bring such great chemistry together.
The more serious theme for this episode, however, lies in the allure of big city versus quiet rural town. Yashino loves to live in big city Tokyo because it provides more job opportunities and it basically has everything. But nothing in particular. I guess this is the attitude from most of young people out there: going to the big city, getting the fine job and settling down there. But as Yashino finds out, putting a foot into that world isn’t easy with countless interviews without single job offer, but here in Manoyama she is given an opportunity. Sakura Quest presents an alternative mindset regarding that: “Doesn’t matter where you go, with the right attitude you can find a place for yourself anywhere”. That is a solid advice if you ask me. Sakura Quest is an energetic dose of anime that I’m gladly welcomed to my life right now. Long live the Queen!