「湖上のアルルカン」 (Kojou no Arurukan)
“The Harlequin on the Pond”
It was a treat to see how cool and cute the older residents of Manoyama looked when they were in high school. Doku looks exactly like you’d expect a younger version of him would look with the same pebble teeth and slicked-back hair as his older self, but Kadota and Chitose look dramatically different. Save for his passionate mannerisms and his Granddad frown that have since been mimicked by his employees, Kadota looked like a really cool anime protagonist. Likewise, Chitose was absolutely adorable as Kadota’s closest friend until he got cold feet about leaving town.I was very impressed with how well the motivations and emotions of Kadota and Chitose were encapsulated through the flashbacks, and how it reflects back on their present day animosity. To think that their grudge would stem from something as personal as a rift between moving away and staying at Manoyama to pursue their dreams of forming a rock band wasn’t something I expected. In an alternate timeline, this flashback could’ve been a nice, 12 episode historical music drama like Sakamichi no Apollon.
Learning about Chitose and Kadota’s past also forms a parallel between their experiences with wanting to learn about the world around them and the struggles that the present day Tourism Agency employees are dealing with. Chitose quickly became one of the more fascinating characters in the show with how her past molded her perspective on leaving Manoyama. As a young girl, she is the most gung-ho about leaving for Tokyo, and was enraptured by the idea of being in a youthful, bustling city away from her rural trappings and the family store. Getting burned by Kadota, along with her children’s run-in with moving to the city, manifested into a complicated relationship with the idea of travel. Her wish for Ririko not to deny herself of seeking out her dreams like she did in the 60’s conflicts with the weary, bitter feelings she has with trying to leave the city, and seeing the cityfolk that make their way to Manoyama. As Ririko gets serious about eventually wanting to travel around the globe with Lucia, Chitose might have to confront her negative feelings if she wants to give Ririko her approval to start her travel plans.
Seeing how Kadota’s stubbornness gave him the resolve to stay in Manoyama in a desperate bid to resurrect the dying town feeds into why he is so inspired by the part of him he sees in Yoshino. That youthful passion is what kept motivating him to try something new every time he failed such as gravitating towards the chupacabra mythos for the regional amusement park or other experiments that agitated Chitose. Although his passion ended up getting a long-running festival terminated and lead to a long history of facing resentment from Chitose from his fight to bring some level of enthusiasm to Manoyama, it is telling how much of it he holds onto to this day, and why he is embarrassed by having his failed attempt to spice up the town’s oldest festival unearthed.
From that day forward, his resolve was always on never running away from the town in favor of finding some secret recipe to success, but the opportunity hasn’t materialized until now. While the long-running restoration project is currently a pipe dream, bringing back the festival that Kadota accidentally ended seems like a more realistic goal for Yoshino and her friends. I’m shocked Kadota took it as well as he did, but it’s great to see him in good spirits after he drove himself crazy about the decayed shrine being seen by everyone. However, the festival is looking to be the ultimate goal for the Tourism Agency by the end of the show since Yoshino is already given a fetch quest to find three relics that would complete the festival. So far, the second cour of Sakura Quest is doing a great job at being able to sustain itself by letting Kadota and Chitose join the rest of the girls in fleshing out their past history and their own personal ideologies on their sense of belonging.