「集いし五人の勇者たち」 (Tsudoishi Gonin no Yūshatachi)
“The Gathering of the Five Champions”
Sakura Quest‘s 2nd episode set a precedence for what the series wants to do with Yoshino’s developing bonds between her, her new friends, and the town of Manoyama. Each of the characters have a sense of purpose by complimenting and challenging Yoshino’s point-of-view of rural and city life. Shiori starts out providing a good yin to Yoshino’s yang as a guide who encourages her to get further invested into the nuances that rural life has. Maki’s understanding of the workforce to get by as an amateur actress gives us another perspective of the frantic job search Yoshino has been on as she knows that chasing after the perfect job in the city might not pay off as well as it seems. Ririko (Tanaka Chiemi) and her fascination with the occult at the expense of her grandmother’s vitriolic attitude towards Kadota also creates potential for development. Her curiosity about venturing out further from the boundaries she lives under can provide a nice contrast to Yoshino’s anxiety about moving further away from the city life. One of the newer characters introduced, Sanae (Komatsu Mikako), brings the most to this episode with the way she challenges Yoshino on how significant a job in Tokyo would really be compared to at Manoyama. Centering around these characters creates a nice launchpad to the series to look into both the characters’ individual motivations as well as reflect back on Yoshino as she soul searches on whether she wants to bond in Manoyama with her new friends or chase after the life she had in Tokyo.
It also helps that the characters that would become Yoshino’s friends are starting out likable. Learning more about Maki was a treat since we learn that even though she’s rough around the edges about the motivations of those around her, she does want to contribute to Yoshino’s manju-selling project and applies the passion she had for acting towards trying to do the commercial right. Sanae turned out to be a fun character to follow too as a web developer, who is trying to get adjusted to the rural life and get away from the city, even if she has some growing pains with the wildlife, and had discouraged by the change in scenery. I appreciate that even when there’s conflict among the characters such as Sanae’s issue with Maki’s negativity and comebacks, it’s not amped up for melodrama or tension. It remains a relatively laid back, and doesn’t fall into the trap of making the characters unbearable for drama’s sake.
The rising sense of conflict between Yoshino’s desire to move back to Tokyo and the bond she has with her new friends should provide an interesting premise for the rest of the season, especially with the upcoming trip to the town’s cherry blossom pond. It was another very nice episode, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Yoshino gets acquainted to her new role now that she’s slowly connecting with more people in town.
ED: 「Freesia」 by (K)NoW_NAME