Sakura Quest – Preview
Original Air Dates: April 5th, 2017 – ???
Synopsis: Five young women all have one thing in common– the careers they planned for themselves just aren’t panning out. Job dissatisfaction, trying to make ends meet, and personal insecurities lead each to start working at a local tourism bureau where they find their lives intertwined. As each girl experiences their first year on the job, they learn a lot about their town, their industry and by conjunction, themselves.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Sakura Quest is lively, colorful and grabs you right from the start with P.A. Works’ wonderfully bubbly and appealing character designs. For fans of Shirobako, this already feels like a spiritual successor as Koharu Yoshino, a just out of college girl struggling to find work, looks like the younger sister to Shirobako’s lead, Aoi Miyamori.
Linny: The episode starts off focusing on Koharu’s desperate attempts to find a job, something that should feel very relatable to older anime fans who might soon face her position or are currently experiencing it. Once we hit the countryside plot line, as Koharu is called out on a seemingly short modeling/tourism job, things get a lot more comedic but nonetheless, Sakura Quest feels undoubtedly like a show meant for older viewers not because of lewd content but because of the more grown up topics and vibes presented.
Tom: Indeed things start a tad slow, although the fluid animation and vibrant color scheme keep it from feeling too uninteresting. But the show really picks up as we’re introduced to our rural setting with a host of charming, quirky and silly characters. The premise takes a sudden turn as Koharu finds herself mistakenly crowned ‘queen’ of this rural town, a move that injects a lot of hilarity to the setting.
Linny: The village of Manoyama lends the show its small town charm, the kind that anime pulls off so well and the colourful country folks give the episode so much personality and hilarity. My only minor gripe about this episode’s plot is how it projects its big reveal right from the very start, which might end up making said reveal lose its impact. On the other hand, what I do love about this show is that unlike other industry based shows, you do not have a cast full of girls singing its praises and acting like it’s the best dang job in the universe. Instead, you get a lead who’s fallen into this job out of sheer desperation and that gives it a more realistic and relatable tone.
Tom: Koharu is likable, adorable, maybe even a bit naive and foolish too, but perfectly understandable as a young college lead. The rest of the cast, mostly older villagers and a couple of the additional girls rounding out our main cast, all feel fun and interesting as soon as they appear on screen. The show keeps the narrative flowing in such a way that we get to see their unique aspects and persona’s from the get go, letting events flow in a fun and engaging manner. One stand out is Kadota Ushimatsu, the elderly leader of the village seeking to bring things back to a golden age by crowning Koharu as part of an odd PR scheme. His antics and prickly persona add so much to the episode, giving me faith that P.A. Works knows how to craft a large cast with plenty of unique traits and appealing personalities.
Linny: There’s no doubt in my mind that older audiences will relate or sympathize with our protagonist, Koharu, as it’s heartbreaking to watch her face rejection again and again. Some might even understand her desperate desire to remain in a bustling city rather than go back to her small hometown and be stuck there for life. But the true praiseworthy feature of this episode is what Tom just mentioned, how P A Works excels at creating a large cast that’s filled with interesting characters so much so that at times, it almost feels like the side characters could be the best part of the show.
Tom: Sakura Quest is, thus far, the best new series to come out of Spring 2017. Up till now there’s been a few with decent promise, or appealing aspects, but Sakura Quest is the first new anime that’s really caught my attention. You may not have an interest in tourism, particularly in back water, forgotten and run down towns, but Sakura Quest seeks to elevate what could be an uninteresting concept and turn it into one wild and hilarious ride.
Linny: One has to give Sakura Quest and P A Works applause for taking something that could potentially be deadpan boring and turning it into a story with personality and promise. Those familiar with the studio should already be well aware of the kind of quality to expect in the animation and story departments. If you’ve never heard of P A Works or its creations before this, pick this show up if you’d love to see the ins and outs of the tourism industry told through interesting characters and pleasing animation. Prepare for an informative and entertaining time.