Welcome to another episode of cute girls doing cute things-I mean, Sakura Quest! We start right off from where we left off in the premier, and our lovely protagonists first task has been set. Sell one hundred, wait no, one thousand chupakabura manju in a week before the expiration date, and Yoshino can kiss the countryside goodbye! As if she’d pass up such a prospect. Unfortunately, selling the manju is easier said than done. Chugging along, the woman Yoshino met on the train and appeared to be squatting in her dorm was none other than Midorikawa Maki (Anzai Chika), an unsuccessful actress known fondly in Manoyama as “Maki, the oden detective.” With another member having joined the party, Yoshino continues on, attempting to complete this seemingly impossible venture.
Do you want a box? Or like…ten?
There’s a whole host of ways to try and get rid of the manju such as, praying the 500 tourists that visit Manoyama a week will by two boxes, or praying that one in fifty residents will buy it, or praying that the sweets shop will help you-oh, right…the old woman that runs it and the head of the tourist board hate each other. Crap. Luckily for our struggling Yoshino, the addition of Shiori’s childhood friend, Oribe Ririko (Tanaka Chiemi), an occult-otaku provides some well-needed information about the chupakabura.
I’m not going to lie…I really want that Big Foot doll.
With this new founded marketing-scheme, exploiting the occultness of the town’s mascot (which seriously would be the first thing I would have thought of), Yoshino and the gang embark on promoting the damn manju. Just remember, Yoshino…seven days. Seeing as we are currently living in the technological age, the obvious thing to do is revamp the town’s webpage and include a webstore to buy the manju from. But like most people, the current members in our party just don’t have the required skill set for the task. For this…they need a pro.
Ladies and gentlemen, my spirit animal.
And so arrives our last main party member, Kouzuki Sanae (Komatsu Mikako). Working as an IT worker, Sanae moved to Manoyama six months prior to Yoshino’s arrival, having quit her job in Tokyo. Sanae is quick to lay down the realness, you can’t make an online shop overnight, but you can make people come to you. With her website design finesse, the “fancy occult” theme (fancyccult) for the website is born. The result’s are, quite frankly, less than anticipated. Not enough people viewed the site, so they decided to go down a different route; buying directly from the queen of Manoyama! By blaming it on Yoshino, surely someone would pity her plight and buy some boxes. The end result was Shiori’s family buying three boxes because they felt bad for her. Not even rare manju can bring out the crowds, it seems. But Maki has a brilliant idea that might save this fiasco and send Yoshino back towards Tokyo; a promotional video.
Maybe this project is just doomed. Our mysterious bard character returned to buy a box of the chupakabura manju, only to pull out a most obvious of truth; the manju is scary. Cause seriously…whose going to buy scary manju?
With her first trial ending in failure, Yoshino didn’t come out empty-handed. Though it’s just blossoming, she’s got herself forming a good group of friends, which no doubt will bring her more smiles and laughs than she seemed to be getting in Tokyo. Maybe living in the sticks isn’t as bad as she thought it would be?
Thoughts: What makes Sakura Quest so damn relatable, is that I’ve gone through many of the struggles that our characters face. After graduation, I got a part-time job at a hipster bakery near my house while I was job-searching for something more permanent. Like Maki, you have to do what you have to do just to pay the bills, and my student loans weren’t going to go away. I applied to at least fifteen different jobs, but ended up getting nothing, despite the fact that I was living in a major city, just like Yoshino. It was the shitty prospects in my country that made me go to Japan, and while I like it far better here, it’s not perfect either.
I think Sakura Quest does an excellent job in showing that no matter where you are in the world, there are people going through the same struggles as you. That being young is hard, that trying to establish yourself is hard, that chasing your dream, whatever it is, is just freaking hard. I think the short conversation between Yoshino and Sanae put things in perspective. What’s so great about a city that you can’t get a job in? Nothing, it just leaves you bitter and salty, if my experience has anything to say about it.
What I love about Sanae, and makes her my favorite character, is that she carefully crafted this bubbly nature-loving persona, talking about fresh vegetables and shit, when she’s clearly been living off of conbini food and instant ramen. At the end of the episode, she even confesses that the gang is the first time she’s talked to people in two weeks. Does that really make the countryside much better than the city?
I honestly think it’s all about perspective.
I’ll have episode three out soon!
Seriously…who are you?