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Blend: Optimism vs. Opportunism


Featuring: Sakura Quest (Episode 18)

It's important that we view the world through both an optimistic and opportunistic lens, but there's no doubt that the two viewpoints are very different in many ways. This week, Sakura Quest takes a look at these two tangents and shows us how we can make improbabilities into realities, with just a bit of balancing between the two.

As always, beware of spoilers. It's recommended to visit this article as a post-episode thought piece.


 
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From the beginning of the series, Yoshino was roped into contracted work to assist the economically declining village of Manoyama with their tourism board as their "queen". Unwilling at first, certain circumstances combined with her kindhearted nature to persuade her to stay and fulfill her contract instead of running away as originally intended. Many, many episodes later, we're at a point where the nearby mountainous village of Warabiya is under threat of losing their only connection to Manoyama- a singular bus service. Warabiya's professor bands together with his fellow villagers in a last ditch attempt to try and salvage their bus service by leveraging something the villagers happened to learn about very recently- technology. 

Here's where our first bit of optimism strikes against the ironclad reality of opportunism. The professor reveals his honest opinion that their plan will likely not convince Manoyama to retain a full bus service for such a remote few people, despite the long term dependancies for it by its elderly residents. However, before Manoyama adds the service to their list of cut costs, the professor wanted them to know of their plight and that he's taken appropriate actions to meet them halfway. To me, the professor is the opportunist, composing a plan around the fact that his fellow villagers had very recently learned to use tablets and utilizing that to draw attention to such a rural village with a livestream and a surprisingly-too-willing hostage from Manoyama, Yoshino.

 
 

Yoshino's fellow tourism board members are conflicted at their appointed leader's decisions. Almost always seeing the best case scenario in her decisions, she falls into the occasional trap of allowing her opportunism to overshadow what can really be done with such a sinking budget and a traditional populous. Because of this nasty decline the villages have been struggling to survive through, many of them are doubtful and fearful of change, especially if it even temporarily dips into their dwindling resources. Regardless, Yoshino jumps right in to support Warabiya's campaign to draw Manoyama's attention to their plight by acting as their willing hostage. They even hold the most peaceful protest I've ever seen, sitting on a wheeled cart that automatically moves off the road for visitors upon detection.

 
 

Now, I don't wish to make optimism sound like a negative trait, as it definitely fosters growth and idealism when appropriately utilized. Following Warabiya's livestream of their bus retention campaign, Yoshino joins a few other members from the Manoyama tourism board and helps the elderly ladies of Warabiya harvest mushrooms. Always in a "help others first" mentality, I can definitely respect Yoshino's viewpoint on wanting the absolute best out of what she puts into.

 
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But the important thing is that those optimistic traits have their boundaries respected. On the final bus ride before the planned cancellation, Yoshino manages to go a bit too far in her persistence in confronting the bus driver about his realistic views on the campaign. Over 15 years, this bus driver had witnessed the things he had grown up around crumble, bit by bit. It's not the first time Yoshino has pushed too far with her optimism either, displaying exactly how even good-natured thoughts can be dangerous in extremities. What keeps me from disliking Yoshino is her own humility; the ability to realize her own wrongdoings and to show the respect necessary to backtrack her own cemented opinions. That's insanely important for people to be able to do, and it seems like as a populous, we've been getting worse and worse at it.

 
 

A consensus is reached when the bus route is ditched for an on-demand carrier service, primed for longevity. When originally pitched by the bus driver to his company, it was determined that running the phone lines with operators to call for the service was too expensive for the amount of traffic they would receive. However, with the existence of the internet and Warabiya's newfound knowledge of how to use it, the service was granted for use through an online booking system. Not running a full bus through a route with minimal traffic also cuts down the costs in general, making it great for both parties involved in the dispute.

 
 

This to me was a fantastic example of opportunism and optimism working in unity, despite the hurdles that had to be leapt over. With Yoshino's determination to convince others around her that change could be made, and the Warabiya/Manoyama combination doing what they can within their boundaries, they reached a conclusion that was beneficial to everyone. Change is always difficult, but Sakura Quest shows us that with the right amount of vigour and realistic focus, you can point yourself and others towards a positive direction.

Just to cap things off, doesn't Yoshino look fantastic with that crown? Maybe if they sell it, they could pull themselves out of this economic bubble.

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