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「Book Review」Sakura Quest: Official Memorial Book

Here's a book review on another one of P.A. Works' anime, Sakura Quest. The cover of the book shows the main five girls in the series, although the artstyle for this cover is unlike that of the anime.

In Sakura Quest, the five girls come together to attempt to bring tourists and life back to a rural town, Manoyama, together with some of the influential people in the town itself. They are faced with many hurdles as some of the plans fail, while others seemingly succeed, and along the way they unearth the feelings of the townspeople who want to change the town for the better, and those who want things to remain as they are.

Koharu also battles with her own emotions as she grew up in a similar rural town and has always aspired to live in Tokyo, but is instead dragged into this debacle in Manoyama, a town similar to the one she grew up in. Here, she finds a new sense of belonging and pride for being born in a rural town, as well as meaning in her life that was lost in the hustle and bustle of repeated failed job interviews back in Tokyo.
The book begins with showcasing the different views and outfits that the main five girls wore throughout the series. This probably helps if you like a throwback or wish to draw them in their various outfits. As with most P.A. Works artbooks, they put a lot of emphasis on the main cast, but add the other cast members in later in the book as well.
Being in a rural area, there is a very special festival that happens in Manoyama. This festival was lost for a long time, and with Koharu's persistence, they decided to hold the festival again! This page in the artbook showcases the different objects that are used in the festival, especially the dragon which plays a huge role in their folktale.
Along with the map of Manoyama included, we also see several important locations highlighted in the town. This isn't something normally highlighted in other artbooks so I find it interesting and a nice addition!
One of the cast members is a famous artist that specializes in tribal art. This page showcases some of his works and the colorful image in the middle is actually his design for the rebuilding of the castle (that never really happened in the end) but it was still one of the girls' plans for their Manoyama revival strategy.
We then get a lot more character based art with the main five girls in even more outfits. This is becoming akin to a fashion magazine at this point...
Thankfully some love is given to the other characters as well, though unlike the main five, they do not have a full page dedicated to them.

Props are something that is highly valued in the series. This includes the bags the girls use, and the "Excalibur" sword ploy that they did to try to convince Koharu to stay in Manoyama. The Chukakabura manjuu is also a recurring item that appears throughout the series so it's definitely heartwarming to see them add it in here!

Next up is the art board where we get to see the different background art and architecture drawn and shaded in great detail. I love the use of colors and light here! It makes it look like pretty backgrounds that you're likely to find in high-end visual novels :)

Other than these, there is also an interview corner which is completely in Japanese. If you can't read Japanese, fret not, because there are translations online. Besides, this interview only takes up several pages, so you are definitely not missing out too much in terms of material, even if you skip this section!
The last part of the book is actually a contribution corner which you can see many different art styles displayed as many different artists draw the cast members. There are quite a number of hilarious as well as pretty art in this section so be sure not to miss it when you flip through the book!

Personally, I like how the book focuses on background art and fleshing out the different aspects of Manoyama. It really helps create a better image of Manoyama when you have a map and famous spots indicated clearly on it! Besides, the backgrounds are of even higher quality than the anime which makes it miles better as a keepsake!

That being said, I think too much emphasis was put into highlighting the different outfits each girl has and all the different angles and views of them. I find that those pages can be put to even better use. It feels slightly lackluster for the price of 2,500 yen and this is even more so if you are not a hyped fan of the series.

~ Reina-rin

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