「田園のマスカレード」 (Den’en no Masukareedo)
“The Rural Masquerade”

This week was a double whammy for Sakura Quest with Shiori and Maki facing a rush of emotional turmoil in the midst of the movie shoot in town. The episode was effective in being able to bounce between the two of them without overshadowing one or the other, but at the same time, it adds to the tension of what doubts they could resolve such heavy doubts the two characters are left with. The mood isn’t overly dreary either as the pessimistic waitress Erika starts crushing on Maki’s brother and Kadota copes with getting a line-free bit role as a zombie by giving it all he’s got. The good thing though is that the show is willing to move at a quick enough pace to give Maki and Shiori a sense of conflict now over later.

Maki’s background is given the most spotlight in #6. Even if The Oden Detective bit part haunts her in her conversations with Sanae, it’s the appearance of her former partner that ends up setting her off more. Despite her old partner wanting Maki to continue pursuing acting, Maki still holds on to a resentment that her career couldn’t take off as strongly from not eating a cicada. It’s interesting to look at in relation to the other girls’ motives for being in Manoyama since there is a bitter layer to Maki trying to look away from the past. The dilemma over whether some lifelong dreams were meant to wither away is something incredibly painful to face, and is relevant to the discussion that’s been occurring throughout the series as to whether it’s worth it to use the countryside as a vessel for escapism. Is it running away to escape from a harsh reality, or is it rebuilding a life anew? That’s something that many of the girls will face throughout the series, but I feel for Maki’s situation because the decision to take a different path outside of the one you invested so much time into mastering is a heart-wrenching experience that not only meets the disapproval of those around you (such as Maki’s dad and brother doubting her ability to move on from acting and wanting her to return), but also breeds self-doubt about what options are even left. I can understand the resentment that Maki had about Yoshino handing her a script for a small role as an “I thought this was your dream” kinda way. Still, it seems like the spark is still in her to maybe consider trying to act, especially with Sanae’s lecture, and it’d be great for her to find her mojo again as filming goes further. Whether that sparks an interest to start acting again or to commit herself to the tourism agency is up in the air, but the movie shoot should offer her a chance to confront these feelings soon.

Another plot-line that seems to be heading in a dramatic direction is Shiori’s feelings about the movie shoot. The girls face a large hassle with the indecisive director changing the plot of the movie from a rural slice-of-life (sounds familiar) to a zombie romp, but Shiori is having the deepest issues with the director’s choice of location. There’s very little they reveal about the abandoned house the director want’s to burn down in the film’s grand finale, but there are numerous times throughout the episode where Shiori looks upset about the idea moving forward. She goes as far as to say there is no news of what the property owners think of the director using the home after she was given approval from the owners to burn it down for the movie. There’s more on the surface of this than the episode is willing to reveal, but next week looks to be the breaking point where we’d have to find out what it is about the house that has Shiori emotionally attached to it, and unwilling to see it go down in flames.



  1. Q: Why was Shirobako a Hit?

    A: Because it was selling us a Dream

    Q: Why do i not get hooked here?

    A: Well, they are not selling an Dream right? What are they trying to tell us here? Tourism

    So, sorry. I appreciate their effort, but just take the appearance of the Shirobako characters do not create miracles

    1. This show is not really about Tourism, it’s about the death of small rural communities due to the pull of the “bright lights” of Tokyo. Unfortunately there is no easy solution to this.

      1. Scruffy is spot on. And it’s a problem that the whole western world is facing, not only Japan. I was really surprised to see an anime series address the topic, and the main reason I follow Sakura Quest is to see what it has to say about it.

    2. It’d be unfair to judge the show based on whether it’s similar to Shirobako or not. It’s telling a much different story, but the focus was always on working women trying to find their place in society. It’s not an idealistic version of “the dream” that they have to seek or fight to create, but rather the idea that they are still trying to figure out what their dream is.

      The tug of war between whether to settle down this early or remain active is something many of the women are facing on the show, and their stories go beyond just being an excuse to show off their background artists’ desire to draw rural scenery for a fictional town.

      1. i know that the red line of this Anime is about an exodus, but mostly families with children goes “back” to the country side.

        Living in the city is more “easier”, but you need money to pay not only food and stuff, no most of the money burns nearly 50%-70% just for rent, that on the country side is more cheaper (or not even exist)
        But even there you need money for food and stuff, and the next employer is far away, you are depending of you car or means of traffic to work…

        and here this anime is about exodus from the city, back in a village that losing their youngsters.. i dunno, TV productions with some Tourism baits will not work out. they need to focus on families with children that want to give them a future outside the city and stress (and cheaper life space)

        so i do get the gist of this show, but these Kappa TV try are targeting the wrong audience (in my eyes)

  2. This show is really a hit or a miss to anime viewers. Like many have already said, this is a slow-burn type of progression (considering the industry the show is tackling is tourism and or the small town/rural setting) which will take a lot of time to see the result, as many of today’s viewers instantly want the results to be felt/seen.

    I’ll watch this to the end as I find the characters and the story interesting.

    1. I don’t see the story ending with the town’s tourism troubles being fixed, especially with the lengthy timeline of the last episode’s renovation plans. The 26 episode window, however, is enough time to place more of the focus on the main cast’s motivations and dilemmas. It is a slow burner as far as anime go, but I feel like at this point, the viewers are starting to familiarize themselves more with episodes that flesh out the cast rather than show them setting/making all of their goals timely & efficiently

      1. Well, this series really makes the viewer invest their time following the characters and the town’s progression over time. There maybe an idealized solution but somehow it will be grounded to reality, and I know that being an anime series, there will be a moment of exaggeration. (Remembering the delivery scenes of the last episode of Shirobako)

    1. The Sanae/Maki dynamic is interesting because there is teasing and abrasiveness, but at the same time there’s also genuine concern where Sanae is trying to get Maki out of her funk. Sanae knows Maki is headstrong and enjoys doing some of the tourism planning, but also feels disappointed that she’s hit a wall as far as her own aspirations. I’m curious on if they’ll get along easier as the show goes on.

  3. onion warrior
  4. Here’s where I disagree with the story’s underlying message, which is typical of the Japanese cultural norm to ask people to ganbatte and face your demons head on.

    Sometimes the best thing is really to walk away, like Maki did.

    1. It might be too early for me to say, but I think the show has been handling this aspect well so far. Even though her co-workers want her to ganbatte her best, it makes Maki very sympathetic in that we understand why she has animosity towards being told to go back and face her demons, especially when everyone else is going through the same conflict of feeling lost. With Maki, it could go either way with her walking away with the resolve to go beyond her family’s expectations on a different career path, or finding her passion in acting again and making a comeback.

      I feel that if the characters and show didn’t respect her decision to walk away from everything, it would be much more one-sided and wouldn’t show Maki trying to tell her brother how she feels and show her hating the work she does instead of feeling like she needs to put her skills to the test with most of her goals.

  5. I suspect this is the house Shiori grew up in.
    Seeing it getting burned might be rather painful for her. Since it seems she’s been in this town for most her life.

    The owner is a relative of hers isn’t she? Shiori probably expected her to decline, but the economics probably overruled any sentimental attachment. If there is still any that is, after all they moved out already.

    They gave a good synopsis of the system in Japan. Not detailed, but explains enough. One of the few places where you don’t want to inherit a house IIRC.

  6. Maki’s plight is hitting me right in the gut.

    I haven’t given up on my own aspirations quite yet, but the realities of everyday life have pushed them pretty fucking far on the backburner. More than ten years, and that light at the end of the tunnel is still but a flickering mist that threatens to die.


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