Original Run: October 4, 2018 - December 27, 2018 Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Supernatural Based on the Series Created By: Hajime Kamoshida and Keeji Mizoguchi
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai. Reader discretion is advised.***
The experiences Sakuta Azusagawa (voiced by Kaito Ishikawa) has had in his life have been odd, to say the least. They’ve been so odd, Sakuta was largely indifferent – although, he was, undoubtedly, a tiny bit surprised – when he saw his beautiful upperclassman, Mai Sakurajima (voiced by Asami Seto) walking around, seemingly unnoticed by everyone, dressed as a bunny girl.
Mai warns Sakuta that he needs to forget about their encounter, and he mustn’t bother getting involved with her. According to Mai, the problem she is facing is far too fantastical for anyone to take seriously. Fortunately for her, Sakuta knows a thing or two about the fantastical.
Sakuta tells Mai she suffers from Adolescence Syndrome, a phenomenon characterized by an untold number of strange occurrences. And whatever those occurrences may be, they are always more bearable when a person has someone who believes them. Sakuta is more than willing to be that person for Mai.
However, it turns out that what is happening to Mai is only the tip of a looming iceberg. Soon, Sakuta will meet many more individuals suffering from other irregularities.
Two words sum up the entirety of Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (Aobuta):
From what I have seen of the 2018 fall season – which, as of the posting of this review, is only seven series – there have already been a handful of duds. Fortunately, there have also been exemplary titles such as Goblin Slayer, Zombie Land Saga, and SSSS.Gridman. Aobuta took this season’s strongest and blew them out of the water. This is one of the best shows from 2018.
While watching Aobuta, I must admit, it was astonishing how much this series reminded me of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. In a few instances, the similarities were beyond striking. That said, Aobuta was not a carbon copy of its predecessor, far from it. Despite sharing some of the same themes, both shows had their own unique personalities, forever separating one from the other. Also, I want to go on record by stating:
Aobuta was far superior to Haruhi Suzumiya in every way. There you have it; come at me if you wish.
Assuming you have not seen Haruhi Suzumiya and thus, have no frame of reference to anything when I name drop it here, it and Aobuta dealt with – let’s call them – strange phenomenon. However, it was Aobuta which was the more gripping of the two.
This story had an acute matter-of-fact air to itself. It rarely focused on the shock of an irregularity, these effects of Adolescence Syndrome. When something strange did start happening, the intrigue of the event itself was more valued than coming to terms with it. Did this mean characters were indifferent to the troubles that were caused? Not at all.
One of Aobuta’s strengths was its logic-leaning approach, an approach that didn’t disregard emotion. Although characters could seemingly shrug off what was going on around them, their bravado would slacken the more closely affected by Adolescence Syndrome. This series was immensely skillful at smoothly shifting who was an observer and who was a participant.
I understand and apologize if I am not making much sense right now. The problem before us is, I’m hesitant to discuss details about this series. While doing so would allow me to better praise the show and make my points much clearer, I would be doing you a massive disservice if I provided an in-depth or even minimal-depth analysis of this story’s methods. Witnessing how Aobuta played out was what made it so amazing.
What I can do as an alternative is to highlight Aobuta’s most potent tool: Its characters.
Again, I want to leave a few surprises, so I will only focus on Mai Sakurajima and Sakuta Azusagawa.
At this point, I’m only going to go as far as to say Mai and Sakuta were among the best couples to come out of 2018 (I still have a huge soft spot for Hirotaka Nifuji and Narumi Momose from Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii). Mai and Sakuta’s relationship was outstanding to follow because they genuinely were a complementary pair.
These two characters had a very pragmatic outlook on their surroundings. More often than not, they could ascertain a given situation for what it was instead of immediately jumping to worst-case scenario conclusions. Granted, both could call upon their own well of childlike poutiness whenever the other did manage to deliver a resounding retort.
In short, Mai and Sakuta were expert s@#$ talkers, and they each had a deliciously satisfying brand of sarcasm; Sakuta especially.
On that note, Sakuta Azusagawa is now one of my favorite characters from 2018. He always knew how to take command of any circumstance. Sakuta wasn’t afraid to make himself look like an idiot if it meant helping out someone he cared about.
I could give you a specific example of how phenomenal he was. Still, along with my already mentioned aversion to discussing too many details about this series, Sakuta was responsible for so many memorable moments that I can’t pick just one.
Let me put it this way: You’re really going to care about Sakuta by the time you get to the end of Aobuta.
Let’s go a nitpickin’.
For a series that tried to see things through a more logical lens, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to learn Aobuta did try to explain the circumstances of Adolescence Syndrome. These explanations weren’t without merit, but they were the least interesting aspect of this show (mainly because something had to be).
I have no qualms admitting complex discussions about quantum mechanics can quickly start to make my brain hurt. I need quite a while to wrap my head around what is being said in these discussions. Credit where it is due, Aobuta’s trains of thought weren’t horribly challenging to follow – assuming they had even an ounce of credibility to them at all. However, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I fully grasped what was said.
Aobuta would usually provide one simplified detail, enough to establish a working understanding of its central point. The kicker was that this series tended to go on a bit longer than what was probably necessary.
Luckily, simply watching the actions of Sakuta, Mai, and the rest of their group as they tried to solve what was happening was far more informative than any wordy explanation.
Also – and this most likely has to do with me seeing more than my fair share of psychologically-based stories – Schrödinger’s cat has lost its fascination as a narrative tool for me. It is still one of my favorite thought experiments, don’t get me wrong. Too bad I no longer find it extraordinary whenever it is added to a plot.
How much did this “problem” weigh on Aobuta as a whole? I don’t know; how much heavier do you feel when an ant is crawling on your finger?
I imagine the two sensations are comparable.
There was so much I wanted to talk about in this review. I only scratched the surface of how great this series actually was.
The story was fascinating. The animation – something I didn’t even mention – was beautiful. The characters were beyond fun. The two leads helped turn this into one of the best romance anime of 2018, along with being one of its best shows, period.
Also, I am aware that a film follow-up to this series is coming sometime in 2019. Hopefully, that means I have an upcoming trip to the movie theaters in my future (good luck with this level of Japanese, Odyssey).
Regardless, this was an absolute treat, and Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is a show I cannot recommend any higher.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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Post Edited By: Onions