Sakura Quest – 03
「マンドレイクの叫び」 (Mandoreiku no Sakebi)
“The Cry of the Mandrake”
After three episodes, some of the shows this season are starting to break into their new shoes. This is especially true with Sakura Quest as it shows progress on Yoshino’s part, and makes the show exciting to come back to every week. While the first two episodes were wonderful, it was hard to gauge whether Yoshino was going to be dead-set on doing everything in her power to go back to Tokyo. As she grows accustomed to the town and her friends, however, Yoshino becomes genuinely concerned for the town’s decline. It’s here where she becomes a much more enjoyable character, who is determined and willing to go out of her way to try and find the answers she’s looking for. She even makes an effort to hold her own in tough situations like having to adlib answers. It was a refreshing change of pace to see Yoshino taking notes on what makes the town move out of a desire to see Manoyama grow.
It’s also one of the first times the show got invested in the setting as a character. As Yoshino tries to interview villagers on the state of Manoyama, they build the image of the town as a place that is lush yet static. Even on the verge of collapse, the older residents feel so set in their ways that they are content with how they are. Numerous fish-out-of-water stories have that cling to small town ideals, but the show makes it more evident that it will take a younger pair of minds to be able to make some kind of effort to revive interest in Manoyama. Throughout the episode, it’s emphasized the importance of needing young blood to come up with a fresh, revolutionary ideas, creating a nice duality between old school and new school in the series. It helps that the art captures the town well from its more beautiful sights to the barren fields.
This was mostly Yoshino’s time to shine, but the supporting cast still had some wiggle-room to glow. We learn that Kadota had the same mindset of wanting to revitalize the town when he changed it’s amusement park from a dedication to Manoyama’s famed kabura turnip to a capitalization on the late 90′s sci-fi boom. It gives Kadota more of a sympathetic take as an older man who’s efforts of reviving interest in the town were met with apathy from the villagers and scorn from Ririka’s grandma. What it also does is pass the baton off to Yoshino by giving him faith in someone younger to be able to help him realize what dreams he had aspired for back when he renovated the amusement park. Yoshino’s friends were also supportive, but Ririka and Maki had the most to do of the four. Ririka’s slowly gaining independence and coming out of her shell by joining the girls in their activities. Meanwhile, Maki is contending with the pressure her family is giving her to move back to Tokyo, and applying her prop skills to sow the kabura mask back together.
Seeing Yoshino wanting to open up to learning more about Manoyama, and happily recruiting her friends to help her focus on improving the town’s standing is a good start for her growth in the future. Knowing that the show will be 25 episodes long, I’m curious about what direction Sakura Quest will go in, and optimistic about seeing the characters’ stories fleshed out.