Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin – PV First Impression

Staff List

Masayuki Yoshihara
Assistant Director:
Yasuo Fujii
Series Composition:
Jukki Hanada

Character Design:
Mio Fujishima
 Fujisawa Yoshiaki
Arti Direction:
Youko Kamiyama

Photography Director:
Satoshi Namiki
Color Design:
Naomi Nakano
Animation Studio:
 P.A. Works

For those unfamiliar with Sakuna, it’s a Harvest Moon-esque game with a side-scrolling combat twist that is entirely focused on rice. I’ve always been a fan of farming games, but admittedly, I first only heard about this game when the anime was announced a month or two ago, which is why I decided to check it out in the first place. I’m still in the middle of finishing it, but so far I am having a great time. So now that the first trailer is out, let’s talk about it!

Video game adaptations are always a bit hit or miss in all forms of media, but I wasn’t particularly worried about this one thanks to the announced studio being P.A. Works. Yes, it can be a bit misguided to trust a studio that much, and I won’t guarantee every P.A. Works anime will be amazing, but they just feel like the right choice for adapting video games for many reasons. I don’t think most video games (except for visual novels) can be adapted 1:1 and still turn out to be a good anime. Many creative liberties need to be taken regarding what content to cut and what to add. Adapting gameplay to anime form likely won’t land the same, as watching an anime and doing something yourself are two very different experiences. P.A. Works’ familiarity and near specialty in anime originals makes me feel like they have the scriptwriters and directors who are up for the task.

The trailer does show how deep they’re going to go into the story, as it includes parts I haven’t even played yet, but I don’t think it’ll be a rushed adaptation or anything. However, since we don’t have much to go on in that regard, considering I haven’t finished the game and the trailer doesn’t reveal much, let’s talk about the newly revealed staff and how it looks visually.

I find the actual character designs in the trailer to be a bit better looking than the previously released KV of just Sakuna. They seem a lot less rigid and less shiny than the KV first suggested, and I think it’s a great transfer from game to anime. The characters have a higher level of detail than I expected, and it seems like upholding the fidelity in their design will be the main priority of the anime, rather than a looser, more animated style that I thought they might have taken. I honestly really like the look. This is Mio Fujishima’s first time as a main character designer, but they have done sub-character design work in Skip and Loafers and Komada: A Whisky Family before. This makes a lot of sense; the character designs here come across as very warm to me. They are detailed but also soft at the same time. It feels very organic, and it came across that way in both of their previous sub-character design works.

More has to be seen, but the glimpses of the action and overall animation quality seem really good and up to the standards you would expect from the usual P.A. Works anime. They are quite busy this year with three anime releasing this summer, but their quality seemingly hasn’t dropped at all, as all three of those, at least in the PV, have come off looking very nice. Overall, it’s always hard to judge a trailer because 1 minute or even 2 minutes isn’t enough to give enough insight into a full series, but the adaptation already seems very solid. The character designs are good, and the color scheme and overall aesthetic seem to remain true to the game.

The director, Masayuki Yoshihara, has worked on many P.A. Works anime, and this will be his first TV anime since 2017. Unfortunately, I have never seen The Eccentric Family yet. However, I have seen an even older work of his when he was an assistant director, which would be Eden of the East. I find it really interesting that even with different character designs, he prefers a warmer, softer look to his characters and the way they express themselves visually. Unfortunately, I don’t remember too much about the specifics of his direction style. However, his history seems very solid, and all the anime he has directed are quite positively received.

Simply put, the trailer looks great. Sakuna is very much a cozy game, similar to other farming sim-type games but with a bit of an action twist, and that’s exactly the vibe the trailer gives off. The slice-of-life, rice-farming moments feel very warm and cozy, with the more tense action scenes breaking up those moments and providing a change in mood. The focus on rice farming itself also feels well-preserved. Sakuna has a very in-depth rice farming system, and I like that they showed some of the process in the PV, which I expect to be featured plenty throughout the show. This is especially true with PA Works tweeting about farming rice at their studio, showing how invested they are in the concept.

I think the only concern will be the pacing, as it is quite a long game. For example, I currently have about 9 or 10 hours in Sakuna, and the trailer surpasses where I am in the story by a longshot. However, I do not believe the visuals will be a concern. I will report back once there is another trailer. By then, I should hopefully be a bit deeper into the game or even finished with it, so I can discuss the story and pacing concerns in more detail. See you guys next time!

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