Posts with the “hanasaku iroha” tag


Sakura Quest's exploration of rural depopulation

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.

begins to pick at the cultural mentality underpinning the town’s situation

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.

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A review of the first and second New Game! anime series

Up until New Game! it seemed that P.A. Works held a monopoly on the “earnest girls working earnestly” genre, one it ostensibly started back in 2011 with Hanasaku Iroha and most recently with Sakura Quest. But here’s New Game! with its, admittedly still teenage, protagonist Aoba starting work in the video game production company Eagle Jump, aiming to be a character designer like her idol, Kou Yagami.

Faithfully adapted from the 4 panel manga by Shoutarou Tokunou, the two series of New Game! follow Aoba from a furtive newbie as she navigates both working life as well as commercial creativity. The question then is, can it hold its own in the same genre as Shirobako?

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