Sakura Quest – Episode 1

Sakura Quest is off to a good start, Spring 2017 isn’t. To be honest, I’m not quite reluctant in indulging too muchthis season given the amount of prequels that are airing. That’s not to say that they’re bad, or that I don’t have real expectations for them — it’s just they practically bring nothing new to the table. I’ve seen both Boku no Hero Academia and Shingeki no Kyojin‘s manga far enough to spoil the shit out of you guys; Saekano‘s still that good ol’ guilty pleasure of mine, and there’s Shingeki no Bahamut which I’ve yet to see but experience tells me it will do fantastic. Oh, well, whatever. Luckily, at least there are few good shows blooming out there, and Sakura Quest is one of them.

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Meet Yoshino Koharu. An unemployed 20-year old and soon-to-be Queen of the Chuparukubaka, struggling to decide whether or not she’s normal or abnormal , and whether or not mayonnaise tastes better together with raisins in bread. Oh, she’s also Aoi Miyamori’s twin sister. Memes aside, Yoshino so far has been a 10/10 character. I feel like based on what I’ve seen this episode alone, it would be safe to place my confidence that Sakura Quest is going to be hit behind the back of her character . Needless to say, she’s been pretty much the centrifuge of the comedy and entertainment this episode. She finds herself in absurd situations and gets out of it with a handful of hilarious facial expressions. She isn’t a pushover either, and has the initiative and agency to do what she needs to do. The quality of her voice reminds me of Megumin, and I was half expecting all throughout the episode that she’s going to shout EXPLOSION!!! out of nowhere. Those little gestures like poking a bottle of mayo on her cheeks and the smallest crook of her lips when she’s in doubt also makes her fun to watch even when she isn’t really doing anything, and we have PA Works to thank for in that regard.

It’s not everyday you get this amount of detail and nuance in character expressions. Most studios would rather settle with off-model faces and/or flapping mouths, but PA Works is consistently diligent with keeping the faces varied and amusing. It’s kinda amazing how much they can get from so little simply by playing with the line of the lips and of the eyebrow.

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As far as the plot goes, there really isn’t much provided yet. It looks like they’re going to aim for something lighthearted and fun, and that’s easily just right up my alley. Character interactions were gold too, and one of the best part of this episode came from that part when a random bard told the story of The Nose Hair of the Bus. God. Man, that had me in stitches. If anything, I kinda have high expectations that the comedic and emotional parts are going to hit the mark, considering that I just found out that Sakura Quest‘s director, Soichi Masui, is the same dude who directed one of the beloved shows I watched from last year, Scrapped Princess. Scrapped Princess tells the story of an epic and grand adventure, yet where it truly shines is at moments wherein a character is at their most unobtrusive — when they’re interacting with each other, when they’re having a friendly banter, when they’re simply enjoying the moment watching the sun set chewing on a piece of jerky, and this much looks to be apparent in Sakura Quest. I have a huge spot for subtleties and nuances — it just goes to show that the artists behind the art gave their work some thought and planning, and executed it to bring a more enjoyable viewing experience.

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Short thoughts:

  • I still can’t see myself calling Sakura Quest a “spiritual successor” to Shirobako. The only indication that the two are related in terms of the creators is the studio name and the character designerSakura Quest‘s theme and message isn’t set in stone yet, and to be candid I feel like it shares more evident similarities with Hanasaku Iroha.
  • Or maybe people just has this bias because Yoshino is almost a carbon copy of Aoi. Can’t blame them there. Or maybe because they just wanted to see more of Shirobako? I don’t know. It’s good for Shirobako, yet I feel like the hype train can be bad for Sakura Quest considering that the comparisons can only go so far as the chara-de and the studio.
  • MC taking on a job she doesn’t like? Both gets a check mark for Hanasaku Iroha and Sakura Quest. Restoring their workplace to their former glory? Check. Rural setting? Check. Studio? Check. Same character designer? Check.
  • Well, rant over. I just wish people can appreciate Sakura Quest for the anime that it is. I’m fine with the Aoi memes and that’s about it. It’s not to say that I ain’t guilty with drawing comparisons, but a spiritual successor? Not quite yet.
  • Man, I love that part where Yoshino smacked that kappa with her bag.
  • The acoustic track is awesome too. That start to the OP was catchy af.
  • Hmm. I’m guessing chief is playing dumb that he actually requested for Yoshino instead of the other model. Prolly he still remembers her when she was a kid?
  • Megurine Luca reference on Yoshino’s pin-up posters?
  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not sure if those were raisins.

Well, that’s that, I guess. Enjoyed the first episode. Hopefully they can keep up the same level of fun for the following 3 months. I’ll see you folks next episode~

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