We can learn all kinds of things from anime. We can learn about the value of friendship, how even bad guys have their own circumstances, insight into Japanese subcultures and, in the case of P.A. Works’ career anime series, working in Japan. We don’t just learn these things from good role models, either. In fact, sometimes you need your anime characters to really mess up in order to learn a valuable lesson. Enter Sakura Quest. As we follow five bright young women, we are reminded that adulting is hard. In fact, most adults are pretty bad at being grown-ups. But that’s okay, because it’s a learning curve, and with three very important lessons, Sakura Quest can teach us how not to adult. Onto our first class!
Lesson One: City Good, Countryside Bad.
This is a pretty common preconception across the world. Whether it’s Tokyo or another metropolis, people tend to flock to cities to escape their dull, countryside lives. They believe that the Big City has so much more to offer than their rural hometown - whether it’s the career opportunities, the nightlife, or the convenience of having everything at their door - only to find out that all the good jobs have high competition, you’re too exhausted from working your crappy job to enjoy the nightlife, and the convenience means you’ve been eating instant noodles for over half your meals. Not so glamourous now, huh?
This is the trap that Yoshino falls into. She flees countryside life to go to university in Tokyo, searching for that special something only city life could possibly give her. But when she graduates, she ends up failing thirty job interviews in a row. However, she still refuses to go back - that is, until she gets desperate and is finally offered the Queen job. We see her slowly warm up to the rural Manoyama, showing us that the countryside has just as many opportunities. Shiori, too, teaches us that it’s okay to love your rural roots. Then of course we have Sanae, who shows us the other end of the spectrum - running from the city to find a quiet life in the countryside. So what do we learn from this? It’s simple: don’t pin all your hopes on one place. You can make your own happiness anywhere!
Lesson Two: How Do You Career?
Everyone knows the process you have to go through to get a job. Build your CV, apply, have an interview or five and bam! the position is yours. Or at least, that’s how easy most people make it out to be. But our poor old Yoshino faces a seemingly endless stream of unsuccessful interviews, each more painful than the last. However, if there’s one thing we learn from the brief moments we see Yoshino in interview-mode, it’s this: she hasn’t seemed to have learnt from the process. Rejection is an opportunity to learn something and improve yourself, but with thirty failed interviews under her belt, our protagonist seems to have hit a standstill.
Then there was the whole issue with her contract for the job as Queen of Manoyama. If there’s one thing us adults are constantly told and yet constantly ignore, it’s to read the fine print. Lo and behold, what does Yoshino do? Assume the job is just for a day, only to learn that if she’d actually read her contract, she’d have known it was for a whole year. Then, instead of accepting her situation like a fully-fledged grown-up, she tries to bargain her way out of it. Sell enough manjuu and she can leave in a week - seems simple enough, right? Wrong. She ends up stuck there anyway. So what does this lesson teach us? Learn from your mistakes, read important documents, accept your failings and carry on. You just have to make the best of a bad situation!
Lesson Three: Run Away From Your Problems!
Ah, freedom from responsibility… Imagine that. Or, do as the Sakura Quest ladies do, and run as far away from your problems as possible. Either way. We see this everywhere in Sakura Quest: Yoshino running from her “boring” rural life to Tokyo to study and (attempt to) find work; Sanae running from Tokyo to Manoyama to escape her unfulfilling city life; Maki running from her acting career; Ririko running from her jobless life in Manoyama-limbo to the wonderful world wide web; Shiori running from her responsibility to the film crew in episode seven in order to protect her own memories. However, each character makes steps towards accepting their issues, showing us their growth and that running away isn’t the solution.
Yoshino realises that just because Manoyama is out in the sticks it doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer, so she starts to put her all into her job as Queen. Sanae realises that her change in location didn’t make her any happier (plus now she has to spend it with creepy crawlies) so decides to make her mark through Manoyama Tourism Bureau. Maki, despite wanting nothing to do with movie shot in Manoyama, ends up stepping in as a stunt double, reaffirming her love for acting. Ririko ends her shut-in life under her controlling mother, and gives herself all kinds of new challenges - including working as an extra in the film. Shiori faces her past and realises that some decisions are out of her control, and that she has to let go.
What’s a Grown-up?
It’s a fact of life: growing up sucks. But sadly, no cure for aging has been found yet and no matter how young you may feel on the inside, eventually you have to deal with dreaded adult stuff like getting a job and pretending you know what you’re doing with your life. Luckily we have anime, and the amazing Sakura Quest to teach us these very important lessons on how not to be an adult. Have you learnt anything from anime recently? Maybe Sakura Quest has taught you a thing or two about adulting? If so, make sure to let us know in the comments. But for now, class dismissed!