Or “it’s halfway through the new season and I still can’t think of much to say about these shows.”
The final ending card of *Rage of Bahamut: Genesis’ warned us: “I’ll be back”. For a time that seemed to refer to the indefinitely delayed Manaria Friends (not to be confused with your Italian food research group: marinara friends), until that is, Virgin Soul was announced. A direct sequel to Genesis with the same director - Keiichi Satou - and a returning cast of characters, would this new two-cour series be able to capture the same kind of adventuring fun that typified its predecessor?
Picking up ten years after the sealing of the Bahamut, humanity, under the new rule of King Charioce, have enslaved demons and begun to purge angels from their midsts. The fates of both Favaro and Kaisar are unknown and instead the impossibly cheerful and unusually brawny Nina takes centre stage. Unfortunately for her, she transforms into an enormous red dragon when coming into contact with a member of the opposite sex which has a detrimental effect on the buildings and people surrounding her when she does.
Sakura Quest is the most recent series from studio P.A. Works’ “earnest girls working earnestly” genre that it started back in 2011 with Hanasaku Iroha. Sakura’s story starts charmingly enough with the cherry-blossom haired Yoshino being mistaken for a singer from the 60’s and subsequently being hired by the tourist board as a representative of the rural town, Manoyama. Thus begins twenty five episodes of Yoshino and fellow cohorts Shiori, Maki, Ririko and Sanae trying to revitalise the ailing town.
At its heart, the series is about people fighting against the depopulation of a rural town. Once it moves past its initial two-episode stories of Yoshino attempting (and failing) with quick-fire tourist pulls, there are extended arcs focusing on the aging residents on the outskirts of town, as well as the perils of using flashy media pulls, alongside an undercurrent of resigned acceptance to the situation the town finds itself in. And what ultimately awaits it should the situation continue.