This is an excerpt from my upcoming Top 10 New Anime of 2017 list.
Sakura Quest is another series from the “working series” line of shows by PA Works, following in the footsteps of Hanasaku Iroha and the phenomenal Shirobako. It’s a worthy addition to the grounded adult narratives the studio has been delivering, lightly funny and charming but at its core a sincere story about coming into adulthood in an ageing Japanese society.
It’s the interweaving of two of the most significant costs of Japan’s post-boom economy: the cost of young people disenfranchised by dwindling opportunities and unachievable dreams, and the larger scale cost of rural decay as a result of the ageing population. These ideas are told gracefully through Yoshino’s personal journey to the fictional village of Manoyama. Through her eyes we see this slowly fading place struggle to make itself relevant, and through the various character journeys that weave together with Yoshino’s we see the younger generation come to terms with life outside the monolithic fantasy of Tokyo.
Sakura Quest is brimming with these fantastic ideas, but it sometimes struggles to express them fully. Although the thematic core ultimately comes through in its arcs its exploration of them only goes so far, and the show ends up stranded in random events that don’t do much for it. The end result is a solid commentary but not necessarily a fully realised one.
All things considered though I’m glad Sakura Quest exists. I’m glad there’s shows willing to just be about the lives of adults, and moreover shows daring to tackle these extremely pertinent Japanese social issues. It also helps that the main cast is warm and likeable in spite of their sometimes bumpy character arcs. Sakura Quest is a truly worthwhile series. Here’s hoping we see more PA Works adult dramas.