Sakura Quest

After yesterday’s short notice post, I’m hoping this review is a little more coherent. Sakura Quest is a 25 episode show about a recent college graduate who gets a one year contract to become the “Queen of Chupakabura”. A P.A. Works show directed by Masui, Souichi (Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV) this comedic slice of life follows five 20-something girls as they try to bring tourism back to Manoyama.

A Story of Two Halves

Sakura Quest is a rather odd story. I enjoyed the story in its entirety but the first cour really suffered from a three episode arc. Find a problem, come up with a solution, it all backfires. Once you’ve seen that arc a few times it’s really tough to carry on watching. After all, there’s that old saying that insanity is defined by doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It’s not by the way.

It’s really hard to recommend that people push through that first cour to make it to the second. If you can, the story will drastically improve. Gone is that episode arc and it’s replaced by actual growth from all characters. I guess the results did change!

Yoshino & Sanae

It’s even hard to recommend that you watch it for the characters. While I was watching the show I felt as though they were rather complex characters. On retrospect it seems more like each one of them had their cliche and just enough extra thoughts to hide it while viewing.

Our main character, Yoshino Koharu, is played by Nanase, Ayaka (Servamp). As a character she’s our “lead problem solver” girl. She wanted to escape country life but things in Tokyo didn’t go to plan and now she’s back in a different village. I could relate to her desire to leave the country but that was end of it.

Sanae Kouzuki takes the “girl in IT” title. She’s probably my favourite character and I was really pleased to see a competent woman in a tech role. Outside of her tech career the only other thing we really know is that she dislikes bugs. Sanae is played by Komatsu, Mikako who you may know as Rose from Tales of Zestiria the X.

Maki, Ririko & Shiori

Maki, our failed theatre actor, returned to the village after failing to secure employment. I definitely enjoyed Maki’s growth the most. See if you can recognise her voice actor Anzai, Chika. She plays Hanabi in Scum’s Wish.

Ririko Oribe is an awkward girl played by Tanaka, Chiemi. That’s her place in this trio, the weird one. She has a lot of personal growth but it’s her relationship with her grandmother that you’ll enjoy the most.

Then we had Shiori Shinomiya. I can tell you so much about her family but all that sticks about her is that she’s the girl who doesn’t want to leave the village. Her voice actor did a lovely job and you may recognise Ueda, Reina as Lily in Recovery of an MMO Junkie.

Distinct Appearances

Although the personalities of the girls leave much to be desired, the art style is wonderful. Each girl has a very distinct style and you won’t ever confuse any of the characters. Even the side characters all have their own personality that comes through from the art.

Then we have the surroundings, Manoyama. Despite being fictional it was very easy to imagine it existing. From the farms and fields to the train station and restaurants, every place had a unique feel to it. I think that’s what drew me the most to this show. I enjoyed seeing all the places so even once I had enough of the story the scenery kept me pushing through to where the story picked up.

Wonderful(ish) Songs

The songs also helped keep me pushing through the first cour. I absolutely adored the first OP Morning Glory by (K)NoW_NAME. In fact they did all the OP and EDs for this series. Freesia, the first ED has already made my anime playlist. It’s one of the only EDs that I always watched, just because I loved the song so much.

The second cour had a questionable art moment in it’s OP and I never enjoyed it as much as the first. Even the song, Lupinus, didn’t stick with me. The second cour’s ED was interesting but still the song didn’t stay with me. That was titled Baby’s Breath.

If I could have had the first cour songs throughout I would’ve been very happy.

Should you watch Sakura Quest?

It’s hard to say. If you really enjoy Slice of Life you might get on with it. I won’t be re-watching it, nor will I be owning it but I don’t feel like I wasted my time watching it. At the very least I can recommend that you watch the OP and ED of the first episode to experience those wonderful songs. Especially the ED!

If a Sakura Quest season 2 came around I would probably watch it but I doubt I would watch it weekly. This show seems like it would benefit from binge watching and I did find it easier to watch when I was a few weeks behind and watched them in quick succession. Its pacing was just slightly off for a week by week experience.

I started watching Sakura Quest on April 6, 2017 and finished it September 20, 2017 with English subtitles and Japanese voices. At the time of writing you can watch this series on Crunchyroll.

As a side note, I usually try to reply to comments within 24 hours but the day this post goes live I will be attending a family funeral. Please don’t think I’m ignoring your responses, it might just take a bit of time. Thanks for understanding.

5 thoughts on “Sakura Quest”

  1. Solid, fair review.

    Most people who were interested in this show were hoping for a second coming of Shirobako, which many would consider to be P.A. Works’ magus opus. Maybe you want to give that show a look.

    Very sorry about the funeral. Hopefully you can keep your holiday spirit and cheer up.

    1. PA Works invited that comparison as Sakura Quest was marketed as a thematic successor to Hanasaku Iroha and Shirobako. Arguably they did a good job from that POV, but Yoshino couldn’t clear the bar set by Ohana and Aoi.

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