The post in which I talk about what I watched this season, but it ended up being a post mostly about Sakura Quest… Sorry.

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A Centaur’s Life:

From the OP, ’cause the last episode didn’t yield any great group shots of the main five.

A Centaur’s Life is certainly an interesting series. While I enjoyed it overall, the series can be very polarizing.

When the series is good, it’s very good. There’s some extremely heartwarming moments in the show, and some great social/political commentary. Honestly, I enjoyed A Centaur’s Life the most when it was featuring one of its more heartwarming storylines, such as Manami’s family situation or Himeno’s and Shino’s relationship. A Centaur’s Life also features some of the best world-building for a fantasy world that I’ve ever seen.

However, when this series is bad, it can get… pretty bad. There’s quite a bit of awkward and unnecessary fanservice in this series. A lot of the stuff aimed at the boyish Nozomi is borderline sexual harassment. Special mention also goes to the first half of episode 12 for being basically a full-on fanservice-fest. And oh boy, episode 4… As much as I want to forget episode 4 exists, I have to talk about it for the sake of this review. The first half of episode 4 adapts the infamous first chapter of A Centaur’s Life manga. And… there’s just no delicate way to put this: the three main girls all take turns looking at each other’s genitals. Why. Why this. This single storyline was so tonally jarring compared to the rest of the series that I suffered whiplash. I mean… I get that this storyline was placed in episode 4 because it would have scared everyone away if it was the first episode of the series. But then that begs the question: WHY BOTHER INCLUDING THIS AT ALL? It still had the unfortunate effect of making people who were on the fence about the show drop it, right before one of the best characters got introduced (the Antartican snake-lady, Sassassul). I truly think this one episode is responsible for the low scores that A Centaur’s Life has on My Anime List.

Beyond the weird fanservice, the other big polarizing effect of this series comes from the political/social commentary. Not everyone will enjoy this. Some episodes entirely focus on this aspect, shoving the main characters to the side. And frankly, some of the more political episodes do get very uncomfortable and even a bit painful to watch. This series is not afraid to show how cruel discrimination can get. I like that A Centaur’s Life has the courage to do this, but it is also pretty jarring at times.

Despite all the bad points, I do like this series. It’s definitely not one of my favorites, but it was interesting enough to keep me watching until the end. The main characters’ interactions with each other are both cute and funny; and it’s really fascinating to see how daily life is in this alternate world. It’s a shame that the animation quality for this show veers between “average” and “kind of bad.” The series ultimately ends in a kind of random place, with no sense of closure. I hope we’ll be able to get a season two, as I still find myself wanting to learn more about the world the girls live in.

Overall, this is just kind of a strange series, isn’t it? I find it a bit difficult to recommend this anime to others, because of just how much of a mish-mash of genres and storylines there are here. At times you don’t know if this anime is trying to be a charming slice-of-life series, or some kind of fetishy fanservice schlock, or some kind of intensely political drama. But I guess if you like monstergirls and are looking for something different… then this will probably fill that need nicely?

Out of five, I give this series:

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Sakura Quest:

Another series featuring five ladies.

(Yes, I know this anime actually first aired in the spring season. But being a two-cour anime it was only right for me to wait for the entire series to air before reviewing it.)

Gosh, I feel extremely bad for dissing this show in my First Impression review of it. Though, looking back at the first episode, I still stand by my initial remarks. Sakura Quest, like a lot of other anime, is a series that takes a long time to really get into the groove of things. I find this super unfortunate, as less patient viewers will probably drop out before the series starts getting good. To be honest, I only watched this series because new episodes for it go up on Crunchyroll in the middle of the week (most of the anime I watched on CR released during the beginning or end of the week). Long story short; I found myself more and more interested in the show as the season went on. Now that Sakura Quest has finally come to an end, I’ll happily admit that it was a phenomenal series.

Sakura Quest is a slice-of-life series about a group of young women that includes the “I don’t want to be ordinary” Yoshino, the kind-hearted country girl Shiori, the aspiring actor Maki, the introverted and occult-obsessed Ririko, and the Tokyo-native web-designer Sanae. At its core, the series is about the efforts of these five women who are trying to revive the “dying” countryside town Manoyama. However, the show also ends up being about these five ladies learning to find their place in the world.

Although I did initially dismiss Sakura Quest as “more of the same” in the way of town-revival anime, there are quite a few things that set Sakura Quest apart from the others. First of all, all the main characters are adults. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to have an older cast like this. There was basically zero teen drama or angst. Yes, there was still some “adult drama,” but at least adult drama is more relatable (to me) and also much more subtle. Being adults, the five main characters act very maturely. Annoying relationship problems between the cast isn’t long and drawn out, because these characters are adults and are able to navigate relationship troubles in a more reasonable manner. I can’t begin to tell you how many times petty teen relationship problems almost ruined entire series for me.

The second thing I’d like to point out is that there was surprisingly little romance in Sakura Quest. Yes, there are still some mentions of romance, but it does not involve any of the five main characters. To have a show that focuses on five young women, and not have them fall in love with anyone over the course of the series is frankly quite amazing. I suppose it’s because the main focus of the show is on the town revival; and having a romance subplot would have taken away too much time from the main story. But you know what? I’m really thankful for that. The third thing that I think sets Sakura Quest apart from other town-revival series is that there’s very little fanservice. I know that’s a low bar to set but gosh-dangit, I’m glad the show didn’t go the easy route and try to draw viewers with tons of fanservice.

Going back to the Sakura Quest’s story, I appreciate how realistic it is. The series manages to maintain the fine balance between having the characters failing and succeeding in their revival efforts. The characters sometimes fail because… sometimes that’s just what happens, despite their best efforts. But because they fail every once in a while, it makes their successes so much more impactful. It’s very easy to get drawn into the characters’ dilemmas and root for them. Seeing if Yoshino and co. succeeded or not was the main factor that kept me watching more episodes.

I personally think that Sakura Quest’s story doesn’t really “start” until episode 14; which marks the start of the second cour, and the actual start of the characters’ “quest” (which I won’t spoil here). The first 13 episodes are mainly concerned with building up the town of Manoyama, and having a focus episode for each of the main five characters. I like that Yoshino, despite being the de-facto main character; doesn’t hog all the spotlight. I’d say the attention is always equally divided between all five women. Shiori’s, Ririko’s, Maki’s, and Sanae’s individual stories, fears, and problems matter just as Yoshino’s. And that’s really rare to see in an anime– either the main character gets all the focus all the time, or the focus is on all the other characters and the designated MC barely matters. Even with just a cast of five, it’s very hard to maintain this much of a balance between all main characters; so kudos to Sakura Quest for accomplishing that.

Speaking of the characters, they’re all pretty great. The main five are well-written and well-rounded. They have far more depth to them than first meets the eye, and all five end up going through complete character arcs over the course of the series. Their interactions with each other also just feels natural and is really fun to watch. My favorite of the main five is Ririko, whose situation I strongly relate to. But gosh I love the supporting cast a lot as well. Manoyama is a small town, which works in this show’s favor. Yes, there’s still quite a big cast of characters, but it just feels right for everyone to be so “close.” Amazingly, many of the side-characters even manage to get their own mini-character arcs.

This review is getting a bit long, so I’ll start wrapping it up. Sakura Quest is not a series for everyone. It’s a very “slow burn” type of show. There is some comedy, but comedy is not the main focus of this series. I do very much appreciate how “calm” the comedy in this show is, as I’ve gotten a little sick of all the loud, slapstick shenanigans in other “wackier” shows. Sakura Quest can also be a surprisingly poignant series at times despite its initial silliness. Special mentions go out to episodes 11, 18, and 25 for making me cry. The animation and soundwork in this series is good—not always the best but it’s passable. Honestly, you’ll likely enjoy this series far more for its memorable characters and stories.

I feel like I’ve said so much about this series, and yet have not said anything at all. Sakura Quest is just something that needs to be experienced. You’ll know if you’re the type of person who would enjoy this series. If you like slower-paced, character-focused, slice-of-life anime featuring mature characters and realistic town-revival scenarios, you’ll probably love Sakura Quest. This is definitely one of the better-written slice-of-life shows I’ve seen, with great characters and an absolutely satisfying conclusion. It’s obvious that a lot of effort and love was put into this series.

Out of five, I give:

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Here’s hoping the Fall anime season has a gem of a show that is as good as Sakura Quest was.