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Sakura Quest – 10

「ドラゴンの逆鱗」 (Doragon no Gekirin)
“The Dragon’s Sore Spot”

Moshi moshi, Zaiden desu! I’ll be covering Sakura Quest for Choya this week as he goes out of town for some business. Covering the arc conclusion between Kumano and Sayuri would have been nice, considering that Shiori is probably my favourite character so far. Anyway, doesn’t mean I’m not eager to provide coverage!

THE MATCH-MAKING PARTY

I use the term ‘country bumpkins’ endearingly when describing the residents of Manoyama. There’s just no end to their rustic, but uniquely quaint charms. However, I can’t withhold scepticism on my part regarding this whole match-making thing – it just seems like something waiting to go wrong. British Society typically loves this stuff as part of reality TV, especially when the drama blows out of proportion. Not to mention, I already made my allegiance with anime at an early age, while learning to hold reality TV in disdain. Colour me surprised when it didn’t actually turn out too badly; at least it’s gone better than Riot’s matchmaking system for League of Legends.

Initially the whole ordeal seemed superficial, until you learn that Kiyomi recently had her heart broken. Thus co-workers Ayana and Izumi, wanting to take her mind off things, signed up for the Manoyama match-making event. Something I also really appreciated was that these girls showed nothing but respect to Manoyama’s local customs and culture, when it would have been so easy to belittle the inhabitants.

It said a lot about the prospects of the three single stooges, when a highschool kid was considered more desirable than them. I chuckled hard when Kousuke brazenly walked in, and promptly received an earful from his older sister Maki for joining in on the match-making. To be fair, anyone would show concern if their underage sibling participated in these kind of things. Jealous Erika is so cute and the stare she gave Sandal-san together with Maki was hilarious, when he started playing Wagner’s Bridal Chorus on the violin.

Didn’t expect Kindaichi to successfully hit it off with Kiyomi, using somen as a red string of fate. The original idea itself might have been questionable but the execution from him was perfect, and I look forwards to any potential romantic developments. At the BBQ dinner party, the dancing took the limelight, even more so with the yukata. Call me a man of culture, but I still prefer the Hare Hare Yukai, though the Manoyama traditional dance is definitely up there!

RIRIKO

Despite the candour she inherited from Chitose, Ririko in no way possesses her grandmother’s fiery temperament. She seems withdrawn in her own weird but wonderful world, and I have almost no clue what goes on inside her mind.

Being an extrovert, I cannot claim that Ririko’s struggles are relatable. Nevertheless, I felt highly critical of Ririko’s elementary school teacher, mainly concerning her preoccupation towards outward appearances. Segregating Ririko for being unable to smile is a horrible way to punish a child, especially since she couldn’t help it. And this trauma becomes the source of Ririko’s conflict this episode. She might have hated learning Manoyama’s traditional dance because of her horrible experiences as a child, but she still wants to learn it with her newly made friends.

It really comes across as a rather human and realistic depiction of someone suffering from social anxiety. Ririko doesn’t seem accustomed to having many friends, let alone a huge group of them. She seems to struggle with fitting into a group and reciprocating the feelings of goodwill shown by everyone else. It makes me think that the show wants to emphasise the internal conflicts we have, when dealing with feelings or desires we are not used to having.

Here, I want to somewhat agree with Chitose – Ririko is fine the way she currently is. For me, her eccentricity is super charming and it would be a shame if she loses parts of what makes her so unique and lovable. That said, I have nothing against seeing her getting a little bit more comfortable with her friends. After all, it would be incredibly rewarding if she was able to make that kind of progress, while maintaining her core identity as an awkward occult lover.

When the thunder storm broke out, I could hear the audible fear of the Shimogamo matriarch (Help, Uchouten Kazoku is leaking!). Ririko on the other hand cut a seemingly unperturbed figure in the rain, contrasting how everyone else scattered. But it was sad to see her huddling up vulnerably upon reaching the bus stop. Given how the buses are still running, I hope she receives insights from Takamizawa that will help in overcoming her past traumas.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Though I have no idea about what is emerging from the river, at least it’s not a chupacabara. Other than the curse of the broken dragon statue, I look forwards to how this arc will develop Ririko, alongside Kindaichi’s unscripted romance with Kiyomi. Potentially there might be an issue, where a troublesome ex of Kiyomi’s might show up. But I have faith P.A. Works won’t harm the focus on Ririko by forcing it in.

I’m surprised more people aren’t watching Sakura Quest. It might not have started like Hanasaku Iroha or Shirobako, which may have dissuaded those hoping for some kind of spiritual successor. But it strikes a nice middle ground between the two and still has many episodes left to showcase its own differences. At the moment, Sakura Quest definitely has a lot to prove as it dwells in the shadow of legacy set by other P.A. Works series. But with the gradual build-up in character development, I’m confident that once every girl receives an arc, an interesting finale awaits!

Preview

June 8, 2017 at 2:13 am
15 comments »
  • June 8, 2017 at 4:12 amAnt

    I think almost all of the girls have been given the spotlight for their character building. And it’s good, really good. And yes it’s quite surprising that this show is below the radar most viewers. Well, ep 12/13 is nearby and the 1st arc (boss battle) will soon arrive.

    • June 9, 2017 at 4:27 amZaiden

      Now that I think about it, you’re right. It’s just been a blur to me as to who has received arcs, because Sakura Quest is pretty fun and it just all flew by.

  • June 8, 2017 at 5:34 amOne Pinch Man

    • June 9, 2017 at 4:29 amZaiden

      Strangely, although I said Shiori has been my favourite girl, I’d actually disagree with Sandal being the MVP and give it to Maki instead. While Shiori facilitated many insightful moments with Ririko, Maki’s reaction in this photo alone sealed it for me XD

  • June 8, 2017 at 6:36 amstarss

    Good, sometimes I identify with Riri. I need a lot of me-time, so I find myself having to announce my departure early from friend gatherings so I can go home by myself and be alone. :( Here though, Riri volunteered to take part in a public tourist event, and I feel like she has an obligation to help. Feeling like you’re just being accepted into the circle out of pity is no fun.

    • June 8, 2017 at 7:38 amsv

      You’re not alone starss.

  • June 8, 2017 at 10:21 amtheirs

    Do they really have these match making events in real life? Family sponsored I understand, but town sponsored? I know they’re trying to reverse urbanization, but something like this sounds really out-there.

    This episode really shows a lot about tradition. People from the outside tend to respect it. But those on the inside are rather varied. There are those that adhere strictly to it, those that doesn’t really care about it and those that rebel against it. Ririko doesn’t seem to care much about it, but I think she’s not really against it. While Kadota was the rebel, at least through the years he’s wizened up a bit. Slightly explains why he has a feud with Ririko’s very traditional grandmother.

    • June 8, 2017 at 10:24 pmScruffy

      I know that Gore, New Zealand which is as south and as rural as you can get in NZ has events to attract city woman. There was/is a ridiculous reality TV show in Aussie called “Farmer wants a Wife” on a similar concept. Of course they had the most urban woman thrown into the most rural of settings. Made for ?great? TV but poor matchmaking!

  • June 8, 2017 at 2:27 pmChris hall

    • June 9, 2017 at 4:30 amZaiden

      You seem to like the girls a fair bit. Make that two, including me! :)

  • June 9, 2017 at 12:47 pmChoya

    Thank you again. I’m glad that they’re shedding light on Ririko’s perspective. Her character has been fascinating to watch since the early episodes where she’s been tagging along with the girls despite Chitose’s rivalry with Kadota and being more of an introvert. It’s neat how while the other girls’ issues revolve around where they’re at as far as their life goals and careers, Ririko is trying to cope with all of the setbacks she’s had as a child in order to grow as a person. Her dilemma is an internal struggle between staying withdrawn from the troubles that social interaction has given her and opening up to the idea of being more social now that she has friends that give her incentive to work outside of her comfort zone. I’m interested in seeing where it would go from here.

    It was also nice to see how the town handled its matchmaking event. They were able to outline what makes the town special with its festivities, but also had some funny interactions between the singles and the organizers (Takamizawa and Erika were hilarious this time around).

  • June 9, 2017 at 1:30 pmKamion

    Well, I can’t say I’m surprised this show isn’t more popular. Of all the anime I watch this season, this is probably the show that leaves me the least satisfied most weeks. It’s not that it’s bad (it’s actually quite good) but it just has a very, very, very slow vibe making every arc last a bit longer until a satisfying conclusion than it would have to.

    This is obviously on purpose, considering the material – country life vs city life and whatnot. But I understand why it’s too slow for some people, craving a hectic tale such as HanaIro or Shirobako. Personally I think the setting wouldn’t work in such a context, so I’m glad they’re doing it in this way. But it’s not general appeal.

    It’s the same reason Sagrada Reset – another show that relies on setup and slow progress to weave its tale – is rated so low (in MAL terms) and not even covered on this blog. People give up on these shows – sometimes too easily.

  • June 16, 2017 at 9:38 amlunascha

    This episode was hilarious. lol I love this group of girls.

  • June 17, 2017 at 7:43 amStranger

    This show is worth watching for the ED alone.

    • June 17, 2017 at 7:45 amZaiden

      Listen and watch the ED at 1.2x speed. Some would call it blasphemy, but I call it a secret lifehack ;)