Sakura Quest Episode 4 Review – “The Lone Alchemist”

10 comments

Despite the fact that the girls have decided to try to succeed in earnest, they continue to run into trouble. Bringing in more tourists isn’t as easy as it seems.

(Spoilers in this review

The problem is that Yoshio and the others are working for the tourism board, an entity that seems to ignore the opinions belonging to a good amount of Manoyama’s residents. Said residents are content with how things are and don’t see the need for anything different. As a result, the girls are pushing for unwelcome change and, consquently, face a fair amount of resistance. In other words, the girls fail this week’s “trial,” in which they try to use elaborate wooden sculptures to attract tourists, again.

Ranma, or wood carving, is one of Manoyama’s traditional arts and is also the focus of this week’s episode as this is the means Yoshino attempts to use in order to being in more tourists. I came to see the artform as representative of the mindsets of the Manoyama’s residents since both are inflexible. Once a piece of wood is whittled down into a sculpture, it’s difficult to change its shape without altering it completely. Similarly, (most of) the townsfolk are afraid of even slightly modifying traditions and are willing to let their rustic arts die out of pride (because there’s definitely a shortage of people who actually stick with the trade of carving wood).

Of course, there are a few individuals who disagree with this line of thinking. The tourism board headed by the old guy, for instance, and one of the wood carvers are both welcome to change. Doku, a guy who creates gizmos and gadgets lent the girls his support, as well. Shiori’s family shows up again and is willing to try out Doku’s exo-skeleton (that was combined with wooden carvings to bridge the gap between traditional and “high-tech”). But they seem to be the minority.

Another event of note is the fact that Sanae reveals that she had left Tokyo in order to escape her dreary office life. She was forced to work long hours until her health broke down. But after leaving the hospital early in order to get back to work, Sanae found that someone else had taken her place. She was essentially unneeded and easily replaced. All of this, combined with edsamac’s intruiging thoughts on Sakura Quest in this post, makes the show out to be seemingly reflective of a millinneal’s mindset – first there’s Yoshino, who desperately wanted to be more than just a normal girl, and now there’s Sanae, who wanted to be useful and wanted and valued. Hopefully I can write a piece on that train of thought later on. 

Unfortunately for the rest of the gang, Sanae decides that she can’t keep this up and decides to call it quits despite having just joined the board. I suppose we could have seen this coming back in episode 2 since she confessed that she was considering moving back to Tokyo. Having Kazushi, the eccentric wood carver who is both skilled in his trade and against the tourism board’s efforts, dismiss Sanae as a quitter who isn’t set to endure living in Manoyama really hit her hard. Perhaps it’s more devastating when someone you’re interested in criticizes you, huh, Sanae? Hey, this may be a yuri blog, but it seems like she just can’t get Kazushi out of her thoughts. And c’mon, Sanae, who else could do your job as Minister of IT? Please come back!

Having her fellow members bail on Yoshino is the kind of setback that is needed in this sort of show, to be honest. It just isn’t chaotic enough when they’re already failing to achieve their goals as a group, you know? I can see this potentially happening to the other members, too: Ririko’s grandmother is against Ririko’s involvement while Maki’s brother had showed up in the previous episode in an attempt to bring her back home. But maybe they’ll resolve these issues and thus find the means to solve the tourism “problem” by applying their newfound knowledge. I guess we will have to wait and see as we are apt to do with simulcast shows.

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As the other girls note, Shiori would make a great house wife (one of them should propose to her, please)
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Ririko’s grandma wants Ririko to report to her about what’s she’s doing. Helicopter grandmothers!
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The girls discuss progress with Doku, local gadgeteer.
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They decide to try combining Doku’s exo-skeleton with wooden sculptures to meld tradition with cutting-edge technology.
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Sanae making the moves on Ririko coming up with another idea.
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A wooden Buddha statue that doubles as a vending machine!
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Kazushi can’t approve of this marriage of tradition and technology and chews out Sanae.
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Sanae admits to running away to Manoyama. She then decides to call it quits.
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10 comments on “Sakura Quest Episode 4 Review – “The Lone Alchemist””

  1. I didn’t consider this when watching the episode, but I agree with your reasoning that having the members begin to abandon Yoshino is what this series needs to make it more intriguing.

    By opting to focus on Sanae’s personal struggles not only provided an excellent segway for her to leave the group, but gives viewers a means to connect with her character. It is interesting to reflect on how her self-determined inadequacies spur Sanae to react impulsively. For example, she is intent on returning to work, despite being hospitalized for fatigue and ordered to rest. When Sanae does return, she realizes “the world kept turning” without her. Similarly, Sanae decides to abandon her overwhelming life in Tokyo and find solace in Manoyama.

    It appears to me that when confronted with a seemingly useless situation, Sanae’s instinct is to abandon ship. So when she resigned from her position, at the end of the episode, it seems rather fitting, given her previous reactions.

    Aside from this, the influx of testosterone this episode was another welcomed inclusion. I personally resonated with Kazushi’s devotion to upholding the traditional craft of Ramna over the financial gain of “selling out” to tourists.

    As always, a thoughtful and excellent review, Remy. Your captions make my day (Helicopter grandmothers!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mmm your analysis of Sanae’s mindset is spot-on. Her decision to leave the team at the end of the episode definitely is within her character. Hopefully she overcomes her tendency to quit when she’s facing a dire situation as the series progresses.

      I think Kazushi’s beliefs are admirable, but the fact remains that the trade is at risk of dying out. Maybe an acceptable compromise can occur in a future episode.

      Like

  2. I really like what this episode did for Sanae’s character in both of its halves. Hopefully episode five pushes on her resolve a little more moving forward as I feel there’s still a lot left on the table to explore there

    Liked by 1 person

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