In the wake of a nationwide movement during the Bubble economy period, a small town in the countryside has revived its "mini-nation" tourism program; hiring five girls as travel ambassadors. The series will follow a year's time of the five girls as they work in the tourism agency of a small failing town in an effort to reinvigorate it.
P.A. Works has been experimenting with a lot of ideas in recent years. Shows that focuses on coming of age storytelling, collaboration projects that adds a touch of fantasy to its world setting, and even mecha from their recent 15th anniversary project. Advertised as an anime about a “working series” involving people and jobs, one can’t help but relate to their previous works such as Hanasaku Iroha and Shirobako. However, Sakura Quest is also very distinguishable on its own.
As an original anime running for a span of 25 consecutive episodes, Sakura Quest has plenty to offer despite the simple premise. The idea of taking
a young girl to a new place with a big responsibility on their shoulders strikes intriguing. I mean, the idea can even be relatable like the time when you had to bear a big responsibility like being the class president or organizing a sports event. For Yoshino Koharu, she reluctantly becomes the Queen of Manoyama after a case of mistaken identity. Now, she bears the responsibility to help reinvigorate Manoyama, a town with an economic struggle. Following this coming age adventure, I can safely say that Sakura Quest intelligently crafts its story with its cast of characters.
A main part that attracted me to this show is the five main characters – Yoshino, Maki, Sanae, Shiori, and Ririko. They come from different backgrounds with different personalities. However, they all share the same goal and that’s to help the tourism agency reestablish Manoyama. Now I have to admit, it took me a little time to accept these characters. They each have their own personal problems. These range from graduating without a job or money, job depression, a rootless goal of a dream career, dealing with a town that gradually fades away, and living a life of isolation. In many ways, these social issues are very relatable. Think about it. Ask yourself the question: “have I ever faced one of these problems before?” Even if you haven’t, I’m sure you know someone or heard of someone that does. I can honestly confess that this problem exists in my life at one time. The bottom line is, Sakura Quest’s realism in exploring social issues is very realistic and we can all relate to them in one way or another.
The storytelling itself brings promise from the first few episodes. It establishes the setting, objectives, and reasons for the characters’ roles. It has a plot that follows a well-crafted pacing to make us appreciate its themes and emotions. At many times, I feel connected to the episodes’ intentions as it interconnects them with the characters. Even the characters themselves often question about certain purposes and the actions they take. The most noticeable character is Yoshino as she is the leader and surprisingly enough, she does possess leadership skills. As the leader, Yoshino wonders about her purpose as Queen of Manoyama and carries a big burden on her shoulders. What impresses me about Yoshino is that she always wants to improve. Whether it’s success or failure, Yoshino is a girl with a determined attitude and gets back up when life knocks her down. And that’s what it takes to be successful in life. On the other hand, the overlay of the plot sometimes feels lacking with anticlimactic resolutions. I also have to admit that the sub-plots in this show could need more work for improvement.
The other characters in the show each have their own distinctive roles as well. Shiori is a member of the tourist board so compared to others, she has more knowledge about Manoyama. Maki, the inspiring actress, struggles to secure a job and in some ways, I think her role in the show is very relatable to others. The idea of trying to obtain a dream job is something I’m sure most of us can relate to. Then, there’s Ririko, an isolated girl that locks herself away from society. She has low self-esteem and serves as the antithesis of a tourist. Finally, I have to admit that Sanae’s role in this show is perhaps the most mature among the main cast. With her experience from working from Tokyo previously, she can be seen as a de facto leader. In essence, these characters’ roles individually define them and amplifies personalities. It also does a neat job with clever background storytelling. Even some of the minor characters outside of the main circle gets spotlight in this show. For instance, Ushimatsu Kadota, the board and director of Manoyama often makes Koharu and the others perform difficult tasks. Erika, a sharp witted girl brings in a lot of the drama in the latter half of the show. Among the tourists, it’s also rather intriguing to see their interests.
On many different fronts, I think Sakura Quest delivered its entertaining values just right without missing its mark. The comedy comes out naturally and doesn’t feel like it’s forced down viewers’ throats. This is accomplished with the usage of the show’s mascot, the chupacabra. Entomophobia also becomes a source of humor with certain characters. In addition, I think it’s important to realize that the tourist attractions themselves contain entertainment value as the main cast tries to make the most of them. Whether it’s success or failure, it’s how we see these characters strive to improve themselves and make Manoyama a better place. It inspires hope and the show has a strong attitude.
The studio does it again. P.A. Works’ production quality is sharply appealing with its effective coloring, character models, and backgrounds. Manoyama is actually based on Nanto city in the Toyama Prefecture in Japan so it come as no surprise that some of the buildings and backgrounds look similar. Character designs looks mature for their age and doesn’t rely on cheap cardboard fan service to bring them to life. In addition, the show also decoratively make the characters look attractive as many of the female cast wears diverse clothing each episode. Character expressions aren’t over exaggerated but instead reliable as it’s cleverly timed.
Even the soundtrack for the majority of this anime makes sense and invites attention whenever it’s used. Theme songs has a very coming of age feel and rhythm. The OST is cleverly paced that matches each scene to bring the most out of them while character voice mannerism really sounds convincingly real. Koharu’s voice plays an important role as she is the Queen and I must admit, the VA performed her role quite well to bring her character to life. Among others, Maki also impressed me as her voice matches her personality perfectly. As I took notice of this show more and more, it really has a lot of personality and each episode showcase of that with its character voices.
Sakura Quest is an underrated gem that probably slipped from the radar this year. Some of P.A. Works’ series delivered questionable content in recent years but Sakura Quest proves that their original anime can still be valuable. The show takes many thoughtful ideas and molds them together to create this insightful story. With its strong circle of characters, realistic storytelling, creative themes, and high production elements, it really brings a golden slice of life anime that can be recommendable to almost anyone. With 25 episodes, you can sit back and relax to enjoy this with its easy pacing. The show is like a quest that takes these characters and embarks them on a life journey.
“A place is only as good as the people you know in it. It's the people that make the place.”
P.A. Works did it again! With a fresh and enjoyable concept Sakura Quest managed to distinguish itself from the regular seasonal shows through its original concept . With lovely and adorable characters designs , with an emotional and soothing atmosphere ,Sakura Quest is an anime that focuses on promoting tourism in a rural area called Manoyama.
A story is always passed down from a person to another during the passing time. Sakura Quest makes no exception to this rule
and each character has his own story to tell. Their stories filled with happy or sad memories , filled with regret , filled with decisions made on the spot , filled with experiences about their reckless youth ,filled with morals and lessons , are the very essence of Sakura Quest . What makes Manoyama a place to live are not the houses or buildings but the people . With this in mind Sakura Quest presents the lifestyle and experiences of the people who give a reason and meaning for why Manoyama needs to be saved.
Let’s talk about the characters , who without them the story cannot be passed down in Sakura Quest. Different circumstances and experiences led our 5 main female characters to meet with each other and work together. Despite having different points of view and personalities they influenced each other in a good way discovering what they really love to do for the common goal they set their minds on .The anime does a great job of fleshing out their characters during each task they do for promoting tourism . It also takes advantage of that and explores the surroundings presenting the mundane lifestyle of its inhabitants. Manoyama and the people who live there are peeled of their secrets just like the skin of an apple. I like how they used a local legend passed down through generations to flesh out Riri’s character and create an emotional attachment between her story and the viewers:” The dragon, surrounded by friends, smiled just a little”.
Manoyama holds different meanings for each character, for outsiders like Koharu and Sanae is a place where they can find their own identity , a place where they found their true selves and what they like to do after running from the suffocating life of Tokyo. For people who spend all their life in Manoyama until they got old it means everything to them putting a value on the traditions held there. Manoyama is also a place where people found love and established a family , a place of meeting and farewells . You can notice from each characters experience and story how Manoyama holds a special place in their heart.
Sakura Quest values patience , perseverance and innovation during the process of change that Manoyama goes through. Although the mindset of the people and the system cannot be changed overnight it takes time to do that , the small steps that our characters achieve during each task later on will have a great contribution for the whole image. The bounds and the way each character works as a whole to make the change occur in their hometown is one of the strong points in Sakura Quest worth praising for.
One of my favorites themes that I must mentioned is the conflict between modernism and traditionalism but also the collaboration between those two . The themes well very well portrayed through the stubbornness of a woodcarver who’s work was used as the first step for the Sakura Pond project . Another good example would be how they used the modern technology to improve the current lifestyle of the old population from Manoyama thus making their daily activities easier.
The characters art style is adorable and gives a soothing feeling to your heart , the details used for the background scenery and buildings captivates your eye and takes you into a fleeting state of melancholy , the relaxing and slow paced ost combined with the characters story creates an emotional atmosphere and manages to steal your tears away and put a smile on your face.As the story progresses you fall in love with them and they will take a special place in your heart .
Sakura Quest is the perfect medicine after having a hard day, it manages to put a smile on your face , it motivates you and makes you cheer for the boldness and reckless characters , it takes you away on a trip of feels and relaxing ost with stunning visuals and finally gives you a lesson about life , decisions and a lot of morals to learn from it. Thank you P.A. Works for such a great anime!
Sakura Quest an anime that shows us the simplicity of the life. We don't need fights, powers, weird plots to like a story. We just need a connection with the characters and a story that creates a living relationship with us.
How many times have we confronted problems, challenges, and feelings that affect our decisions and all around us? Sakura Quest answers that question and gives us an example in a very creative way. One day we hate our work, and the next we could start loving it as happened with Yoshino and this group of women with unique skills that complement between them. The need
to save Manoyama united this group, and they will fight hard for a common purpose on a daily basis. No matter their failures or the challenge this group will continue fighting to achieve their goal.
The art is marvelous. They add several details to all the persons involved in the animation. They didn't try to create a fantastic weird animation. They focused on the simplicity. Their goal was showing an animation that could be compared with our real life, and they succeeded.
The soundtrack, the OP and ED songs from both seasons are good. The sound mix is well executed on the right time. The combination of music and narrative highlights the emotions of the characters. The correct pacing created a fluid motion combined with a beautiful soundtrack that reflects the talent of the production group.
The characters could be the strongest part of this animation. I consider them as ordinary persons with some remarkable skills but with problems and fears. Yoshiko is a girl that arrived at Manoyama from a big a city, and she isn't satisfied with being there. She has a significant change after some time, similar to us when we arrive at a new unexplored place. After all, we are human beings that aren't perfect as these characters, but we could change our mind and our emotions no matter the adversities. Same with the other part of the cast that is simple but with their problems and differences.
The final MAL score doesn't give a real merit to this animation. Someone could consider this plot boring and tedious, but the point of the anime is the experiences on a regular daily basis and the hard work needed to complete a goal no matter how simple it is. I recommend that you watch the first episodes and don't give up with this animation, it is worth the time.
Sakura Quest is one of many in the line of adult work life focused designed by PA Works. It's in the same vein as Shirabako and many who watch it draw comparisons between the two of them, however, they aren't all that similar and ultimately while Shirabako works, Sakura Quest doesn't.
Sakura Quest has a really neat idea. The idea of these young women all with different backgrounds coming together to help out this town is a good basis. It's not overdone and it works well with the story that Sakura Quest is trying to tell. However, the execution of that story was missing. While there
are good moments that are able to detail the decay that happens as everyone moves to the city and what to do about it, there is also a lot of wasted time. A lot of it. Some episodes aren't able to make that point as well, or can't execute it. There is also a lot of plot filler. While those "filler" episodes are more notable for the characters, they do stall the plot, and sometimes it feels like the group is running around in circles rather than moving forward. In fact felt like a whole lot of circling and not a whole lot of getting anywhere. Furthermore, some of the plans that they have are pretty terrible or don't seem to aid in renewing the own at all. It feels like this interesting plot idea never fully got the focus and power that it could have in the end.
Furthermore, it lacks in feel, while shows like Akiba's Trip capture the busyness and obsession of Akihabara, and Non Non Boyuri captures the life of the sticks, Sakura Quest doesn't capture the life of its small decaying town. While it's obvious that it is one and I don't feel true immersion into the town itself. And for a show that is about that town, it's a problem.
The characters are really hit or miss. While they are given enough room to grow at times, it does feel like their development is often uncut by other plot lines or the annoying parts that surround some of the episodes. Some of the side characters can be really annoying. Some of the male characters in particular act in pretty annoying ways, that seem to do nothing more but point out how pathetic they are. One or two would have been fine but a lot of minor Sakura Quest characters fill this role, the worst of the lot being a serial butt grabber. Added onto that it can sometimes go for cliches in the worst of way. While Sakura Quest is trying to tell a more serious story it would insert in these childish cliches with no added value from them. They're played completely straight and completely generically. While it might have worked in a more childish show, the confliction and annoyance between these elements and Sakura Quest's more serious ideas didn't work well overall. While the characters did develop and grow, I never felt an attachment to that development, nor did I feel much from it. The execution of those moments was bland and lackluster, which is disappointing because if they were done right they could have been really good.
The presentation is standard and it doesn't really help with the standard feel that it has. It never really excels at any point, and sadly that's too it's weakness. If it were more stylized I think it might have portrayed the town more accurately and powerfully. This show needed some richness to it. Each part was built up so blandly. And while that might reflect their idea of what their city was like... I don't think that's true. Each city has its own character and unique life to it. And while they explain some of that they don't fully express it. I can't feel the richness of it. It's the same with the characters. I can see some good development, but I can't feel it. And without being able to feel it, it doesn't work. It was a nice attempt and it had some good points to it, but ultimately I don't think it lived up to what it could have done.