Sakura Quest – 04

The situation they’re facing

winter15-highw Sometimes shows focus on one story at a time, and do either a good or bad job at that. But it’s much rarer that a show will throw 4 or 5 stories up in the air and continue to juggle them all for multiple episodes. But that’s where I’m hoping that Sakura Quest is going after seeing this week’s episode.

Newcomer Know-Nothings

Shiori always deals with the bugs

Inspiration usually comes in unexpected places. This week, Yoshino sees the exquisite ranma that’s in Sanae’s old house while they’re moving her to the dorm house that Yoshino and Maki are living in (I don’t know if Shiori has moved there yet, as hinted last episode). And the fact that Manoyama carving is considered a national treasure is something that, now that the newcomers know about it, they think it’s a good avenue for the promotion of the area. It’s not something that hasn’t been tried before, but I like the way that Mr. Kodata is defending the girls’ autonomy to try whatever ideas they want to try. It’s an attitude that you would think is rare in a show like this, and I wonder how much is due to the speech that Yoshino made last episode, and how much is just the way he usually is. He hasn’t seemed to be someone who needs to be in control, just someone who gets an idea and wants to see it through to the end. And I don’t think he’s ever argued that he has had the best ideas, just that he wants to keep trying things, rather than succumb to the attitude that things are fine and why bother changing them.

This crazy guy’s things actually work

 

Intersecting with the tradition of wood carving is the future-looking encounter with Doku, the local mechanic / inventor. His hobby is apparently making very future-looking things, like a “real” exoskeleton that he lets them use for moving, after fixing their truck. And the girls tend to get a little focused on this “mixing old and new” thing and come up with the idea of taking Doku’s mechanicals and putting wood carvings on them, to promote Manoyama. And while this gets some support from some of the locals, it really ticks off a few other ones, including Kazushi, the apprentice wood carver.

It looks cool, but not very practical

Running To or Away?

 

A difference in perspective

But more than just being upset about their use of the wood carving, Kazushi is the representative of the kind of person that they are actually trying to appeal to. He has actually moved to the town to participate in something specific to Manoyama. He chose this place for a different reason than the people he’s angry at: Yoshino and Sanae. And his entreaty about that difference really hits home with Sanae, who has been the one who could most be said to have “run away”.

Sanae takes it harder than the others

Sanae’s recollection of her circumstances for Yoshino shows that she was working herself ragged in Tokyo, to the point of getting sick and ending up in the hospital. And when she got out, she found that the work that she felt she was so important to getting done had gotten done anyway, by someone else. That really hit her with the idea that she wasn’t nearly as special as she had thought she was, and in an effort to try to reclaim some of that feeling of being special, she moved to Manoyama. But she feels like she’s not actually giving her all in what she’s doing, with her fake blog and her made up ‘minister’ position. So she can’t really say anything in response to Kazushi’s dressing-down, and ends the episode with telling Yoshino that she is going to quit.

Walking away?

The constant fight

Like I said in the opening, I love to have the multiple stories that this show is keeping warm on the back burner. Things like Kodata and Oribe’s ongoing disagreement about what is best for Manoyama, or Maki’s attempts to recover her pride after being “chased back home” from Tokyo, a mindset in Japan that is highly prevalent: that the big city, especially Tokyo, is the land of amazing opportunity, and if you are not able to actualize your dream there, then you are a failure. Even if you don’t have a dream. We’ve seen this same attitude in other shows, like ReLife or Shirobako, and I like the way that Sakura Quest has positioned Yoshino, Sanae, and Maki at different stages of that personal arc.

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Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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9 Responses to “Sakura Quest – 04”

  1. HannoX says:

    I think the vending machines inside wood carvings is an idea that would probably work. Doku’s inventions have a definite coolness factor to them as shown in the Buddha vending machine. Heck, I’d love to buy a soda from one.

    It should especially work if they can get permission to have the vending machines inside carvings of popular anime characters. Can’t you just see otaku wanting to buy a juice from their favorite anime girl? And taking pictures of her carving, with them posing with it?

    But they don’t have to limit themselves to anime characters. They can also use historical figures. Ones from the Warring States period (both Japanese and Chinese) should be popular.

    But that alone would not be enough to revitalize Manoyama. They need a mixture of the traditional wood carvings and the new. I don’t think it’d be hard to convert traditional ranma into wood panels that could be affixed to a wall in pretty much any home, with the carvings still done in the traditional style. Though they will have to promote Manoyama’s carvings as a recognized national treasure. I’m sure there are plenty of Japanese who would like to have a traditional art form that is a recognized national treasure in their home.

    I’m sure by the end of the show the girls (actually, young women) will have recognized that the key to succeeding in their task is a combination of the traditional and the new. The hardest part will be convincing the stuck-in-the-mud attitude of some of the town’s powers-that-be to accept that.

    • Highway says:

      The issue is not that people wouldn’t want the carvings in their home. It’s that they’re not willing to pay the amount that would be needed to get a bespoke, hand-carved piece. As labor becomes more expensive, things that cannot be automated bear the full cost of that increase, and eventually price themselves out of a market.

      • skylion says:

        I think they might have given the solution in the episode without telling us outright? Yoshino was talking about putting the carvings “on the TV”. I think she’s trying to express that people 1) dig their collectable tchotchkes 2) they like them rather visible and 3) somewhat ubiquitous. A ranma carving is a beautiful thing, but it’s a rare thing for a rare home setting. Something hand-held isn’t. So I think the episode was kinda “carving out” that territory of thought. Find a new place for the carvings, and a new lease, not the old ones. In that respect, it’s not a new vs old argument, it’s a working vs. non-working one…

        • Highway says:

          Well, they would need to keep the whole realm of products, and that’s part of the problem. The collectible tchotchkes are cute and easy, but they’re low margin and they’re not really representative of the craftsmanship that a national art form is requiring.

          I kept thinking back to the wooden figures that they had in Meidoragon last season. That would be your competition, a guy that gives them away for free. And a lot more conveniently, in that the customer didn’t have to go to a dull town on the edge of nowhere to get it. It’s a general symptom of the town’s lack of traffic.

          • HannoX says:

            People won’t have to travel to Manoyama to get a carving. They have an IT professional in town who can set up a web shopping page and they can ship to buyers. Maybe they can hook up with Amazon.jp.

            The biggest hurdle would be advertising, letting people know that the product actually exists. There must be some Japanese TV station that does at least an occasional show or several minute interest piece on interesting aspects of Japanese life and culture. They just have to convince someone to do a segment on them.

          • skylion says:

            The carving in Meidoraggon was a gift on new years in exchange for another good with a neighbor, you’re venturing far afield from a business model. These two things look similar, but aren’t.

      • HannoX says:

        I’m not proposing something that would cover most of a wall. They could come in several sizes, the smallest being something like a meter by a half meter. Plenty of room for an intricate carving, yet not something out of the reach of most people who really want one–it just has to be budgeted for. Then there can be larger ones for people with a larger disposable income. Don’t underestimate people’s desire for a prestige item to display.

  2. skylion says:

    If they can make it there (Tokyo), they’ll make it anywhere? But, they both need “something” they want to do, don’t they?

    Neither Yoshino nor Sanae seem to have anything they want to do with a specific beat. Yoshino’s angle is especially non-specific. Now a whole town is part of that?

    • Highway says:

      Yeah, Yoshino’s even less focused on what she wants to do than the protagonist of that other PA Works show, Aoi Miyamori. At least Aoi knew she wanted to work in anime, just not what she could do in that field. They haven’t said what Yoshino studied in school, but the fact of her applying to 32 different companies means that she wasn’t very focused at all in what she was even trying to do.

      I personally don’t know that you need to know what you want to do before you start doing something, as long as you apply yourself and try to find the things you enjoy about what you’re doing. And whether that’s by finding the inherent interest in the task, or doing it with people you like to be with, or some other method, there still needs to be some way.

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