Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai anime series cover art
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Cover Art

Overview

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, or simply Bunny Girl Senpai as I’ll be referring to it from here on out, was the best anime of the Fall 2018 season, and yet the more I think about it, the less I actually like it. And, as I hope you’ll find out throughout the course of this review, it’s never quite what you expect it to be.

For starters, at the beginning of the season I think a lot of people who didn’t already know this series were going to pass up on it simply due to the title, the cover art, and the synopsis. While I wasn’t one of those people, I’ll be honest and admit that I was going into this series fully expecting it to be a train wreck.

I mean, seriously, the title is too long, like many light novel titles, and it doesn’t even make much sense. Who is “Rascal?” Why isn’t he dreaming of “Bunny Girl Senpai?” These questions are answered once you watch the series, but then you realize that the title has nothing to do with what you’re watching.

The general plot revolves around a high school student who just so happens to get involved with a bunch of girls who go through something called “Puberty Syndrome” at one point or another. This syndrome is a supernatural phenomenon which has varying effects on each person, such as making the titular “Bunny Girl Senpai” invisible to everyone but the main character.

If you feel like you’ve seen an anime with this same exact plot before, that’s because you probably have, it’s called the Monogatari series, and it’s pretty well-known and highly rated. Because of this, I’ve dubbed Bunny Girl Senpai, “Diet Monogatari.”

But, while the Monogatari series is clearly the main influence of Bunny Girl Senpai, we can also see influences from other extremely popular anime such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. So, it’s influenced by extremely popular anime, is that all it has going for it?

Well, no. While I wouldn’t say the art is anything particularly special, I do think the character designs are pretty well-done. And, speaking of the characters, some, not all, of them are pretty well-written too, such as our main pair of Sakuta and Mai.

Characters

Sakuta Azusagawa is both our protagonist and the titular “Rascal,” however, he’s only referred to as a rascal by one of the supporting characters a few times, so I feel like using this as part of the title doesn’t really make sense. Him being called a rascal really has nothing to do with the series in any way.

So, just how did Sakuta come to be involved with Puberty Syndrome in the first place? He seems to have been first introduced to it when his sister was affected by the syndrome (I’ll get to her in a bit), but then he too was afflicted by the syndrome shortly afterwards.

One day he suddenly got some large gashes in his chest, and I honestly don’t remember why. Around the same time, rumors started to spread about him being a delinquent who frequently got into fights. However, Sakuta doesn’t care about the rumors, and continued to live his life as an outcast (like any high school-based anime protagonist worth his salt).

One day, while in the library, Sakuta notices an upperclassman, Mai Sakurajima, walking around in a bunny girl outfit. Strangely, nobody else in the library seems to notice that she’s there. Mai later reveals that she too is being affected by Puberty Syndrome, and it’s causing an increasing number of people to not be able to see her.

Although she’s still in high school, Mai works as a model and actress, so she’s always in the public eye. Her version of Puberty Syndrome is connected to this, and after Sakuta helps her solve her problems, the two begin dating, you know, just like Koyomi and Hitagi from Monogatari.

In fact, their relationship with one another and even the way they act in general is extremely similar to Koyomi and Hitagi.

Mai Sakurajima and Sakuta Azusagawa from the anime series Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
Mai Sakurajima and Sakuta Azusagawa

At the start of the series, Sakuta has two friends, Yuuma Kunimi and Rio Futaba. The three of them seemingly have nothing in common, with Sakuta being the “average” guy, Kunimi being the sporty guy, and Futaba being the nerdy, science girl. However, they’re all best friends and will drop everything to help each other.

Kunimi is never afflicted with Puberty Syndrome, so I’ll skip over him and move right on to Futaba. For most of the series, her role is that of a mentor of sorts to Sakuta. Whenever he has a problem involving Puberty Syndrome, he consults Futaba who uses, you guessed it, quantum mechanics to explain everything to him.

Later on in the series, she too develops Puberty Syndrome and must be helped by Sakuta. As a bonus fact, Futaba has a crush on Kunimi, but he already has a girlfriend named Himika Akaneya who hates Futaba and Sakuta because they’re losers.

Next up we have Sakuta’s younger sister, Kaede Azusagawa. Kaede has been affected by Puberty Syndrome since the very beginning of the series, and as a result of it, never leaves the small apartment she shares with her brother. Her affliction was caused by bullies at school, although the full extent of her syndrome isn’t revealed until late in the series.

I don’t want to spoil Kaede’s plot line for anyone who hasn’t seen the series yet, but just know that it’s probably the best one, even if Kaede herself isn’t one of the best characters. You just can’t help rooting for the girl who always wears a panda onesie.

Sakuta isn’t the only one with a younger sister, though. Mai also has a younger sister by the name of Nodoka Toyohama, although they’re actually only half-sisters (or step? I forget). Nodoka has always been compared to her older sister and this is the cause of her own Puberty Syndrome outbreak.

The final character I’ll discuss here is Tomoe Koga, a first year student at the same high school as Sakuta and Mai. Koga just wants to be accepted by the other girls in her class and not end up as an outcast. The only problem is that whenever something doesn’t go her way, she has the ability to reset time and try again.

In her never-ending quest to have everything go as planned so she doesn’t have a falling out with the other girls she calls friends, Koga causes issues for Sakuta by forcing him to relive the same day over and over. You know, like the Endless Eight from Haruhi.

There’s one more character in the series, Shouko Makinohara, but she plays a strange role that isn’t quite clear even by the end. However, she appears to be one of the main characters in the upcoming movie, so I’ll talk more about her in my review of that I’m sure.

Conclusion

At the end of the season I had Bunny Girl Senpai rated as a 9/10, but I’ve decided that it’s actually more like an 8/10 for a number of reasons. The biggest reason I think is that although I really liked each episode as I watched the series, I just can’t picture myself ever rewatching it.

The issue I see with Bunny Girl Senpai is that although it takes influence from many popular series, I feel that each of those series do a better job at their respective strengths than Bunny Girl Senpai does. Remember how I called it Diet Monogatari? That basically sums up how I feel about this anime.

Yes, it’s extremely similar to my favorite anime series of all time, and yet the Monogatari series blows it out of the water in every single way. The art, animation, character designs, character developments, characterizations, OST, plot, everything about Bunny Girl Senpai is simply a worse version of Monogatari.

And, while I can say that the influence Bunny Girl Senpai takes from other series like Haruhi isn’t overwhelming, the same can’t be said about the influence it takes from Monogatari. It’s simply too similar to that series to not draw comparisons between the two, and that hurts Bunny Girl Senpai in the end.

However, I will say that I do really like both the OP and ED of Bunny Girl Senpai, specifically the songs used in them. I think a lot of people would agree with me when I say these were actually the best parts of the anime.

So, what are your thoughts on Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai? It seems like people either love or hate this anime, so which camp do you fall into, or are you somewhere in between? Let me know down in the comments.

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