「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.