「孤高のアルケミスト」 (Kokou no Arukemisuto)
“The Lone Alchemist”

The manju and mascot projects remain personal accomplishments for Yoshino and company, even if they weren’t 100% perfect, but this episode shows that the series can still be comfortable with the girls being unable to successfully push an initiative they have. In fact, this episode draws a larger divide between the innovative ideas that the girls and some of the more imaginative villagers harbor, and the deep-seated loathing many of the villagers have to change. In this divide, it does a service to Sanae by shedding light on her motivations, and the conflicting feelings she has about being in Manoyama.

One thing about the episode that drew me in was that it introduced villagers other than Kadota who are excited to work alongside the girls in blending old and new. Doku, a mechanic who is constantly working on his next great invention, is pumped up about building mechanical suits and vending machine jukeboxes in a shed with a box of scrap. It’s refreshing to see him and Tatsuo, an open-minded woodcarver, take to Yoshino’s concepts, and play around with them to see how they could fuse Tatsuo’s wood-crafting and Doku’s machinery to create something to wow the general public.

On the opposite end, Kazushi provides a healthy contrast to their push for innovation that was previously only lead by Ririko’s crabapple grandma, Chitose. While Chitose wants to push back against any attempts at breaking tradition mainly to get on Kadota’s case, Kazushi offers a purist’s point-of-view, and calls out Sanae and Yoshino for having a fleeting interest in wood-working as outsiders who have not been aware of the complexities of carving. It is a pretentious, d-bag move, but at the same time, it’s something the girls can use as a learning lesson on Manoyama’s wood-carving history as they try to come up with a solution that courts tourists and makes the villagers happy at the same time. The vending machine wooden Buddha was awesome, but this would be a good chance to work on a project even they’d give a thumbs up to.

The episode also gave Sanae more to work with as she makes a rocky transition towards moving in with everybody. In the process of dropping a romance flag for Kazushi, Sanae places a bulk of the responsibility on herself to try and win his approval of the tourism agency’s wood-carving projects. Sadly for her, Episode 4 doesn’t give her a positive outlook on her work in Manoyama as Kazushi’s purist rant makes her feel that her desire to move to the rural town as an escape from the city life is not genuine. Even though it took her away from the stress and health scares she’s dealt with in the city to move over to the countryside, she’ll have to figure out what other perks the country has other than serenity if her new friends are going to try to convince her to stay on the team.




  1. … woah the credits already!? This ep flew by! This is the most engaging ep yet somehow! I really liked the wood carving experiments, and the cartoonish gadgets that that inventor shows off.

    I realized what drew me into this sleeper hit. It’s not a show for teens, or little boys, like most anime you see. It’s for adults. Which is why I really like PA Works’ animes overall. They don’t go with fantasy scenerios, they convey narratives from real life, which makes them grounded and have weight to them. The big conflict of reviving a struggling town seems no closer to Yoshiro’s grasp than when she first started, which means the effort will pay off once they DO gain progress. When PA Works DOES put fantasy into it, like The Eccentric Family, they put it over a setting that is special to them. Watching this show makes me feel the same when in the cool breeze of an overcast, low-key town. Nothing is particularly exciting, but I feel like I can walk through these environments.

    Sanae is now officially Best Girl, which makes me hope she doesn’t leave the cast before long. She’s got an uplifting and strong personality, cute antics when she’s spooked by bugs, determination, and her own goals that can shift and change with experience. Plus, getting depression from the daily grind is something I can relate to, and I already know it’s worse for the Japanese worker than here in America. That ending was a downer, but now I look forward to seeing our first two-parter in the series.

    1. Yeah, one of the most appealing aspects about the show is that the main cast deals with adult situations like employment, relocation, exhaustion, and generally trying to find a sense of purpose as time flies by. Unless it’s a show where a teacher gets a good amount of development, older people tend to get neglected. It’s refreshing to see that PA Works has been doing well this season with shows that are relatively mature and level-headed without being dry. From the imaginative Eccentric Family 2 to the down-to-earth Sakura Quest.

      The ending is a nailbiter with Sanae having enough of the work she does. I’m hoping that she’s able to get some encouragement from the rest of the girls to continue since she admits that her heart hasn’t been in the town just yet (especially with the local wildlife), but she’s also hard-working, determined, and takes her work seriously, so it would be great to see what she can do if they’re able to keep her in the cast.

    1. They were great ideas, but the fusion would have probably worked better in the city since the village saw it as blasphemous to their wood-crafting to mingle the two.

      It’s way too early for the show to have her leave like this. I’m holding out on the next episode to get her groove back.

  2. Woodworker dude needs to swallow one of his chisels. Especially after Sanae dressed up for him.

    Why does it matter if they are not expert woodworkers if they are trying to help? You might say the Buddha thing was in bad taste but it was an actually good marketing idea.

    1. It is a shame that it came off like that. The Buddha machine looked like a cool idea, but Chitose is all frazzled up about preserving the status quo and Kazushi let his dedication to wood-carving make him overly pretentious.

      He kept shaming the girls for not knowing what kind of wood he carves with. Well then, why don’t you tell us so that we’d know better instead of smartassing it up for us, oh wise master of carving! Hope he simmers down because Sanae really was trying to understand him, and wanted to be respectful towards what he did.

      I guess, like I said before, it is about what is respectable and in poor taste as far as the town’s history with wood-carving. Where it might be like going to a museum with Ukiyo-e exhibits to have them install an animatronic depiction of “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” where the squid’s tentacles come out at the patrons. Or the Kurt Cobain avatar from a Guitar Hero game that lets him sing all of the goofy songs on the soundtrack. Reanimating something that people find sacred or important can rub people the wrong way, and the line between appreciation/homage and disrespect can be a tricky one not to cross.

    1. Somehow i believe thats his wife, because if am not mistaken i saw a wedding ring on his left finger last episode. And the kid thats helping out there is their daughter…(but idk…maybe not)

      Onion Warrior
    2. Him and Angelica only have their first names up, so it’s something on my wishlist to have their background get some screentime. The only one with a full name at the moment is Erika Suzuki (the pessimistic waitress), so maybe she’ll have a better chance at having an episode.

  3. Sanae has officially become my Sakura Quest’s best babe in this anime <3 god im so in love with her :3

    I've been comparing this anime with Shirobako pately (maybe because Yoshino resembles Aoi's hair cut much. But as episodes went by, this anime seems to have Hanasaku Iroha's tensions all over the olace! Ahhhh…my SoL! Please stay Sanae-san!

    Onion Warrior
    1. It’s a tough tie between Sanae and Maki, but I’m glad to see that Sanae is getting a lot of development early on. Gives me hope that they’ll be more mindful of giving the supporting cast more to chew on.

      Haven’t seen enough of Shrobako, but I’ve finished HanaIro, and I see what you mean with the tension. I feel like Sakura Quest is more subtle since the drama doesn’t come from romance or the girls picking fights with one another, but it shares the show’s interest in building a dynamic among the characters that flesh out them and the setting. There’s also that show’s cliffhangers present here with Sanae’s dilemma hitting its peak right when the credits roll.

      1. I think its because the number of girls in this show. Like, HanaIro has more girls on screen compared to Shirobako, thats why SQ has the same tensions…minus the romance

        onion warrior
  4. Hope they’ll manage to talk it through with that crafts man. Working with those types of people is a PITA. It’s usually not impossible to find common ground though, but the real question is will it actually sell? They’ve been rather unsuccessful in the past too. Can’t wait to see if it’ll actually be doable.


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