Sakura Quest Episode 2: The Gathering of the Five Champions
The Chupakabura scares me.
Does Manoyama really get 30,000 tourists a year? According to Shiori, that boils down to 500 a week, but it feels like the town’s populated only by the few residents who live in it from what we’ve seen so far. They’d probably have had more success if they went around knocking on doors and trying to sell the manjuu as if they were girl scout cookies.
What a weird first ‘trial’. Everything about Sakura Quest really does feel like Shirobako, the character interactions most of all. I was definitely not expecting Yoshino to succeed, not least of all because she’d be on the first train back to Tokyo if she did, but nor did I expect things to go this badly. The number of boxes they sold could literally be counted with one hand, and none of their customers were actually tourists. It was just Shiori’s family and that strange bard whose pronunciation of the word mandrake is surprisingly native. Even after building that website, which was a very good call, they had less than 100 hits in a day, and the video clearly didn’t do much in practice (although I liked how they got Pink Myaamori to cut the Chupakabura apart and have it burst into lots of manjuus). One thing I will say is that the Chupakabura actually scares me. Both the concept art and the costume they have for it. Maybe that’s the source of all of Manoyama’s problems. With how ghastly that thing looks, it feels like the only option is for them to invent themselves as a horror-type theme park or something. It’s totally not cute at all.
The most significant thing Yoshino achieved this episode was to properly gather the main cast of Sakura Quest, all of whom are probably going to invest themselves in the town’s revival from here on out. I’m not sure which one of the five is best girl quite just yet, but I’m leaning towards Maki. Her, Sanae and Riri are characters just waiting to be developed. Maki and Sanae in particular, not only in terms of their relationship with each other but also the fact that they’ve both had a Tokyo career in the past and have moved on from that. Speaking of Tokyo, it’s highly likely that there’ll be a future plot point involving Yoshino and her return there, possibly after she’s completed a trial set by Kadota, where she might finally realise that life there isn’t all it’s made out to be. Is it not a little weird that she still wants to return after having constantly failed with her job hunting? I can understand her having romanticised Tokyo in her head before leaving her rural hometown for it (like in a Shinkansen and Tokyo Tower sort of way, a la Hikage from Non Non Biyori) but she must have understood the reality of things by now. Yet she was still really eager, and sadly oblivious to poor Shiori’s feelings of wanting her to stay.