Sakura Quest – First Impressions

We’re a few days into this year’s anime spring season, so it’s about time I got around to writing about the shows I’ve picked up the first episodes of. Starting Sakura Quest, the new series from P.A. Works (Shirobako, NagiAsu). It’s a series I was looking forward to quite a bit myself, both thanks to my enjoyment of most P.A. Works series and the rather interesting premise.

In Sakura Quest we meet Koharu Yoshino, a 20-year-old woman in Tokyo desperately trying to find a job before she has to graduate college. She has a memory of being crowned queen as a small child, in front of a large audience, but she doesn’t know if it’s just a dream or something that actually happened. Suddenly she gets a call from a modeling agency she worked a job for once, saying that the rural town of Manoyama have asked for her specifically to be crowned their queen. Koharu accepts, thinking it’s some sort of “Police Chief for a Day” style PR job (a rather common PR job that idols often take part in) and leaves for the countryside.

The series focuses on Koharu’s anxiety over not finding a job a great deal, clearly looking to relate to the millennial audience currently facing a rather tough job market and lifestyle in Japan as well the world in general for that matter. The scenes in Tokyo are practically joyless, focusing entirely on Koharu’s lack of money and job, as well as her not wanting to have to go back and live with her parents out in the country. But as the episode moves towards the main setting of Manoyama, it doesn’t shy away from mixing in a good deal of comedy with the more serious matters.

I like Koharu a lot so far. Much like Miyamori in Shirobako, she’s a solid and realistic portrayal of an adult woman trying to find her place in the world and striving for their childhood, or teenage, dream to come true. Though maybe another reason she reminds me of Miyamori comes from her character design. Sekiguchi Kanami worked on both titles as character designer and her style has definitely become more and more recognizable over the years.

Director Masui Souichi is another key reason why I found myself enjoying the mood the characters gave off. He’s previously directed the excellent Brotherhood: FINAL FANTASY XV prequel anime as well as Chaika the Coffin Princess, two series that relied heavily on social character interactions. It’s good to see him direct an original TV anime again and going by the first episode I think he’ll produce a positive result.

The voice actress behind the lovely performance as Koharu is Nanase Ayaka in her second major role. She’s still a newcomer to the industry but she has a rather distinct style to her delivery that works really well for the “not normal but not abnormal” Koharu. Hopefully she’ll be seeing more work after this series as well. While there are great performances from the other actors and actresses, such as Anzai Chika as the sleeping-bag confined landlord Midorika Maki, none of the supporting cast have had their chance to truly stand out to me just yet.

The opening theme song, Morning Glory, is certainly the standout song of the season for me so far. I know this is the first post I’m writing this season but I’ve watched plenty more, so just take my word for it for now. It’s performed by (K)NoW_NAME who previously performed the opening and ending theme song for Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash. In a rather unusual move, TOHO animation even uploaded the opening sequence to YouTube so that you can check it out right now.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing more from Sakura Quest and I have a feeling many people will agree with me on that too. The general reception so far seem to be very positive and I hope it lasts. A good start to what I’m hoping is a good season of first impressions.

Sakura Quest is licensed by Funimation and is currently being streamed on Crunchyroll.
Click here for more Spring Season 2017 impressions!

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