Sakura Quest – Season 1

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Five young women have one thing in common—the careers they planned for themselves weren’t working out. Job dissatisfaction, trying to make ends meet, and personal insecurities lead each of them to start working at a local tourism bureau where their lives become intertwined. As the girls experience their first year on the job, they learn a lot about their town, their industry, and themselves.

After being rejected in over 30 job applications, Yoshino Koharu finally gets a gig. When she travels to the job’s backwater location, Monoyama, bad news is broken to her – they thought she was going to be someone else! Although there is a case of mistaken identity, Yoshino has signed up for the job for one whole year! She is contracted to be the ‘Queen’ of the town, and her job is to try and promote the area to its practically non-existent tourist population. Looks like this Tokyo girl has got her work cut out her for in the sticks.

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After getting to know the villagers through some desperate, half-based plans for promote the village, Yoshino decides to remain in Manoyama and make a serious attempt at being it’s queen. The population is ageing, they don’t want things to change and all the young people head to the city at the earliest possible opportunity. How is Yoshino supposed to change things when nobody cares about change? Given her qualities as a young, foolish outsider, the tourist board thing she just might have the qualities needed to shake things up. And supported by some of the younger Manoyama residents, Yoshino sets out to be the town’s queen in both look and deed.

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P.A. Works does some incredible animation, so I knew I was going to get a certain level of quality from the very beginning – and I was not disappointed. There’s a kind of realism set to all the faces which just softens everything and suits the setting. You can also see some spectacular shots of the surrounding countryside, the rice fields and some incredible close-ups of sakura blossoms, which are just stunning.

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Through learning more about Manoyama’s history and heritage (an with the help of some eccentric residents), the group try to combine the modern and the traditional in order to create a PR campaign to keep the town alive. Whilst they have those that are all for it, they are also met with those that resist, wanting to maintain their pride and traditional values rather than exchange them for trivial entertainment for outsiders. It starts to hit members of Yoshino’s group just what an uphill struggle small-town promotion can be and why so many similar campaigns ultimately fail and Yoshino desperately tries to keep everyone’s spirits up. Slowly but surely, people become inspired with the idea of reinventing Manoyama, and plans slowly begin to take shake. We also begin to see Yoshino’s appointed ministers and their feelings towards the project; Shiori’s reluctance to see a traditional house burned down for the sake of a short film; Mari has to come to terms with the fact that her acting career didn’t pan out and Tokyo web developer Sanae is made to question whether she was running to the country or away from the city.

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Posted in Anime, Slice of life
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