In the Summer 2017 season, the finale of Sakura Quest aired and it made me realise how much I’m going to miss this show. As a woman in my late 20’s it was a rather unique experience for me to see an anime show that connected with my current point in life. I wanted to discuss this show and what it showed me about representation for Day 2 of my 12 Days of Anime.
My Usual Genres
A lot of the anime series I’ve watched are either high school settings or extremely fantastical. Now maybe that’s just down to the genres I’ve come across. However, when you considering ‘Slice of Life’ is one of the genres I thoroughly enjoy, it is slightly odd that this is the first time I’ve seen the working age represented.
In series that focus on the school ages like Tsuki ga Kirei or 3-gatsu no Lion, I connect with them through empathy or reflection. Sakura Quest triggered something else entirely. Representation.
You may know already, but I grew up in a small village. It wasn’t in Japan, but I could see myself represented with Yoshino’s desire to escape village life. Sanae being a web developer was another very real connection as my career is programming. Not only because did I see myself but it highlighted women in STEM, something I feel strongly about.
All five of these women were still career women, even if their ideal career hadn’t panned out. They were doing a job that they were paid to do and trying to understand where they were in their lives.
I never watched anime when I was younger so maybe this representation is something I could have experienced as I was growing up. I certainly found role models in the western shows that I watched; Gilmore Girls for example. I still marvel that this is be the first time I’ve found something to represent myself in nearly a year of anime?
When I think of anime, I don’t think of my current situation being represented in the media. Fantasy shows have their place for me, just like comedy or historical shows do, but I would love to see more of strong adult women. It was really refreshing to see their lives about their work too, ensuring they never fell into the trope of making their lives just about men.
Diversity in Representation
This brought to light how other people must feel and how important representation is in any media. I have the privilege of constantly seeing people who look like me. Yet seeing other aspects of myself represented in anime still affected me in a way I didn’t expect. It really made me appreciate how much privilege I do have.
There’s a lot of films coming out in 2018 that will hopefully bring a lot more diversity for people of an ethnicity that isn’t white. Black Panther and Mulan are two such films that could be a source of representation for so many people. I hope these films are just the tip of an iceberg that pushes non-white and non-heterosexual into the main stream media. Everyone deserves to feel they belong and they are represented.
Hopefully, anime will follow suit and have some more diverse offerings of its own.