Sakura Quest – 03

When a television interview exposes Queen Yoshino I’s dearth of knowledge about the very town she rules (mentioning only its natural scenery and manju), Ushimatsu insists she go out into the town and “feel the wind”…which she does, literally, no no effect.

Shiori then accompanies her on a series of increasingly demoralizing interviews with Manoyama’s salt-of-the-earth residents, who either can’t hear what she’s saying, don’t trust her, or say there’s nothing she can do.

However, the bus driver (who was the prince when she was first crowned as a little girl) is one somewhat-heartening voice: if someone’s going to revamp the town, it will either be someone young, someone foolish, or an outsider. Yoshino’s all three, so she should be fine!

She also actually learns a few things about the town. One, it used to be just plain ol’ Kabura Kingdom, without the chupa- , and that Ushimatsu and his tourism board and the board of merchants (led by Ririko’s grandma) have always been at odds with the switch to UMA.

At the apparently super-important mascot contest, Ushimatsu finds his chupakabura mask has gone missing. Little do they know Yoshino’s new friends Shiori, Maki, Sanae and Ririko are ON IT. They put a ridiculous amount of time into tracking down the town’s previous mascot, Kabura Kid, then mending it in time.

It’s a real group effort, though the particulars of their motivation, beyond helping Yoshino out, escaped me a bit. I guess they really did all have a bunch of time on their hands!

They arrive at the contest with the Kabura mask the same time Ushimatsu’s underlings arrive with the chupa mask, soiled by spending time at the garbage dump.

(I’ll mention that I love that Mrs. Oribe takes such pleasure in taking Ushimatsu down a peg whenever possible, talking about how he’ll be saved by the very kingdom he once destroyed. It’s such gloriously big language for such a petty subject!)

But hey, maybe it’s not so petty. As Ushimatsu and the others bicker over which mask he’ll wear, the Queen finally puts her royal foot down, and says it doesn’t matter. (But she choses the kabura mask, since it’s not covered in shit).

In a stilted, serious speech probably not quite appropriate for the audience of mostly kids, she says she doesn’t yet know what Manoyama has that no other town in the world has, but she’ll spend the next year hoping to find out (assuming the entire town doesn’t die of old age by then).

The one condition she gives Ushimatsu is that she be allowed to perform her duties with the assistance of the combined force of Shiori, Maki, Sanae and Ririko, who all agree to be her “council of ministers.”

Again, because I guess they just don’t have a lot going on? It’s not made clear whether they’ll be paid like Yoshino is, but one would hope. What kind of kingdom can’t pay its subjects a fair wage for their services?

Watched with a hearty helping of suspension of disbelief, Sakura Quest is a pleasant enough place to spend time, if pretty much average in looks and sound. So I’ll stick with it for now. Can that sustain me for…25 episodes? That remains to be seen.

OreShura – 11

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Masuzu bristles at Saeko’s assessment that her and Eita are fake-dating, but the standoff ends when Saeko collapses from hunger. After a meal and a nap, Saeko suggests a way the Maiden Club can go to the beach: by participating in a contest at the promotional event for her new game, “OreDere,” which is near the beach. Saeko say’s she’ll stamp the marriage contract of whichever girl wins. Meanwhile, Eita notices that Ai has become good friends with both Chiwa and Hime, but Mazusu is alone.

Oh yeah, about those four girls…do you want to turn your life into a harem? Or do you want to turn it into a battlefield?

One thing’s for sure, this series doesn’t want to be just another harem series. If it did, it wouldn’t make skillful use of Eita’s young but sage aunt to pour cold water over Eita’s little love-in. She’s a designer of dating games and deals with artificial relationships all the time. When combined with her intuition, there’s no way she wouldn’t notice Eita and Masuzu are acting one out. Chihuahua, “Straight-Bangs” and “Tsundere” (both of her!) are all pretty clear about their love for Eita.

Despite Eita and Masuzu’s businesslike meeting at the playground, we still think Saeko isn’t being fair to Masuzu. Masuzu may be in love with Eita, but just doesn’t know it or want to acknowledge it in anyway, because she’d be betraying her anti-love stance. But the time has come for her to decide, like Eita, to choose between a fake relationship and a real one. We agree with Saeko’s insinuation that Eita is too nice a guy to be stuck in a weird fake one…and both he and Masuzu are too young to be giving up on love.


Rating: 8 (Great)

P.S. OreDere? Sounds awful…