「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!
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.
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!