Authors note: Spoilers ahead
Do you ever read a title and go, well that reads like some ecchi trash harem that I need in my life. Only to click it and find yourself 12 episodes into a brilliantly written repertoire filled with sarcasm and down right vulgar break of norms. It is at this moment you realize that you are a victim of click bait. And instead of being smut filled trash what you just seen was an emotional tale written by Hajime Kamoshida, the very man that did Pet Girl of Sakura Hall. Now you have to sit back, and thank him, rascal may not dream of bunny girl senpai, but after that, I sure as hell do.
When I break down these reviews I usually like to start with what I loved the most about the show. In this case, the obvious take away was not only the story, but how the characters acted within it. Now this show is surrounded by negative takes, though I think this is mostly due to the fact it blew the fuck up making people instantly hate it. But writing it off so quickly I believe is the worst thing one could possibly due especially with a gem like this. Though if someone finds sarcasm annoying or fails to see the humor in it I will tell you right now this isn’t the show for you, because that is literally what it is, sarcastic degenerate humor. And it is within this humor I think the attention comes from, this show blew up not because the art or whacky fight scenes, it blew up because to the majority of male anime fans, myself included, are fucking rascal.
But I digress, to wrap this up neatly Rascal doesn’t Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is a story that follows Azusagawa, Sakuta, a smart ass degenerate that says the most inappropriate stuff at the most inappropriate time. Making him have very few friends but that is exactly what he wants. Living alone with his younger sister, Azusagawa, Kaede after she suffered from a strange phenonium known “Adolescence Syndrome” a super natural event that causes the stressors if the young victim to manifest in reality. For Kaede this was online bully, where she was bullied so much it got to the point physical wounds would pop up on her skin, nearly breaking her mom forcing the two sibling to live alone. This syndrome becomes the major driving point of the series as Sakuta navigates the lives of the people close to them as they struggle with it. Now I know what you are going to say. A show about a guy running around helping all these girls with supernatural events plaguing them, doesn’t that sound a bit, familiar? And sadly this is where the second pain point for a lot of people come in, it is virtually a spin off of Monogatari. Personally I am not sure why people got so up in arms about this, mostly because Monogatari doesn’t own the supernatural whack genre and the driving point of the plot in Bunny Senpai felt different. The events that happen in Monogatari and Bunny Senpai are similar but how they are portrayed are different. One of the things I loved about Bunny Girl Senpai (It is going to get really fucking old typing that) is the syndrome events that occur had the same stressors I seen growing up. Being famous to the point you wish everyone didn’t recognize you, or navigating high school politics to try to stay popular but end up being placed in a no win situation. Or my personal favorite, growing into ones body faster then everyone else, forcing that person to hate themselves but the need to attention forces them to act on their developed body just for any type of feed back. This is stuff that is happening right now in schools all over America and even in households with adults. Social media has changed the scope of social pressure and I love how this show attempted to tackle it. Humans aren’t programed to have this much attention or information slammed at them constantly and it has created an environment where we feel this deep need of validation and the only way we feel we can get it is through online forms. And don’t even get me started on the mental wear that comes with fame, many of artist have taking their own lives because of it. It is in this world that really got me hooked into what this show was trying to lay down and honestly I think it did a fantastic job doing so. Then you throw in that style of humor and I gotta love it.
The first arc covers an actress named Sakurajima, Mai, as she is spotted at school by Sakuta wearing the famed bunny girl outfit. Now this is one of like two times she ever wears the dang thing so honestly I don’t know why they bothered to put it in the title but here we are. Mai’s issue is being a child into teenage actress fame has worn her out. She is tired of being noticed everywhere she goes and approached almost constantly. And just like that, the world slowly starts being unable to see her. Now this becomes her excuse for the bunny outfit, because in her mind how would people not noticed such an out of place costume, however her plan doesn’t work as well as she thought seeing only Sakuta is the only one that noticed her, and immediately she told him to forget it. Which of course he didn’t thus creating the first arc. I actually love these two together and apart, Mai is way more mature then a lot of people give her credit for and ive seen a lot of this take that she is simply putting up with Sakuta’s pery ways but I disagree. I think whole heartedly the sarcastic off the cuff remarks that Sakuta make time and time again is exactly down Mai’s ally. I think she genuinely enjoys his humor along with his willingness to do whatever he possibly can to help his small group of friends. I also adore how openly they talk about making out and messing with each other, because they are teenagers, OF COURSE THEY TALK ABOUT THIS. All of this comes to a boil when the rag tag group discover that people are forgetting Mai after they sleep, and once they wake up the next morning they will no longer see her. I think the show did something pretty interesting with this, instead of just writing it off as no one can see her they make it a point that she is indeed still there, just being ignored. With this knowledge Sakuta becomes desperate, using exams to shove down tons of caffeine to pull all nighters so he wont forget her, but Mai seeing this drugs him, patting his head as he dozes off. The next morning Sakuta goes to school like nothing happen, ignoring the girl he had fallen in love with like everyone else up until the moment he was doing his exam, the cram the night before slowly came back to his mind. Then in a rush it all did, the nights and days they spent together, all they had went through leading him to jump out of his chair and dart out of the room. Outside of the school he stops next to the windows before screaming for a quite a bit of time about how much he loves her, pulling the attention of everyone inside. In this overtly embarrassing move his outcry about his love not only makes him remember but the world remember as she appears next to him, simply telling him he doesn’t need to yell she is right there. This is followed by my favorite fucking scene of her running up to him and smacking the shit out of him because he forgot. I love Mai so much. Anyways this starts their relationship that plays out for the rest of the season as they grow closer. I really like this aspect of the show as well, mostly because Mai has boundaries and things she is okay with as far as it comes to Sakuta’s friends and those things are 1000% understandable. But I also like how it plays on his side as well, getting pouty around her cause she is at work all the time, these are both legitimate feelings actual couples have. Add in their humor, it makes their banter very alluring and draws me in whenever its on display. These two are by no means the only character that shares this humor or has their own banter in some way but they are by far the best and it is fascinating to watch.
Moving on to the second arc this one is my least favorite by a large margin but it follows Sakuta’s first year friend, Koga, Tomoe. Koga’s whole bit is she wants everyone to like her, and as much as I don’t understand that type of mental thought I definitely knew people growing up that were much of the same logic. Her arc starts with the same day repeating itself, which also happens to be the day Mai and Sakuta make it official so it is a rather bad time for him. As he investigates he discovers that Koga is being confessed to by an older student, the issue is this guy is her friends crush and in the political game she is playing it’s a lose lose situation. She can accept his offer, alienating her friends, but if she declines, she would be turning down a very popular basketball player, the fall out of that is obvious. So to fix this issue she comes up with the stupid idea ever, fake date Sakuta until summer. Now naturally this received some heat from Mai since this bitch is basically renting her boyfriend but in the end agrees to play along. Though warns Sakuta that he better be careful and make sure feeling are kept in check, in which he replied the only one in his heart was her, sadly he missed her point. So this arc plays out like you figure it would, they go on dates and hang out, yada yada. All the way until the first day a summer, their last date. So going to the beach they hang out, run around and then part ways as single people only to wake up the next day BEING THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER. By this time I was really getting tired of the whole repeat day thing so I was happy we moved on and was not pleased when it returned. So Sakuta, the idiot was like whaaaaaa how did this happen? As they repeat the day over and over as he refuses to think that Koga is lying until there is no other option. As they are headed to the beach he stops her and suggest something else, so they go to a shrine. Now at the end of a short hike Sakuta confronts her, tells her that he knows she is lying and we got to get past this. This is answered of course of Mia being right and Koga falling in love with him. Confessing she takes responsibility and understands she will get turned down, leading to the end of the day ONLY TO RESET TO THE FIRST DAY THEY WERE FUCKING REPEATING, *cough* sorry about that. So in a nutshell Koga takes full responsibility, turns down the first guy who started all of this and comes to terms that she indeed loves Sakuta and wants to be good friends with him either way.
Now the third arc has to be hands down my favorite though I can’t really put my finger on why. So this one follows Sakuta’s nerd buddy and problem solver extraordinaire Rio Futaba. Futaba is like the Neil DeGrasse Tyson if Neil DeGrasse Tyson was a high school anime girl that hated herself. Futaba at this point has actually a quite a bit of screen time when it comes to plot progression. She is the default nerd at school who is too logical, doesn’t understand emotions and happen to be really good at solving issues that comes with a syndrome she doesn’t believe in. This of course puts her in the back drop until one day Satuka and Mai are out and about when they run into her in a strange part of town, bewildered Satuka borrows Mai’s phone and calls her only to hear her voice on one end and the Futaba standing in front of him with no phone in sight. Dashing towards her he finds out that somehow, indeed these two Futaba’s have split and now they are unsure how to become one again. Desperate and without a place to go Satuka offers Futaba to stay at his place but is immediately approached by Mai saying no no, we all will stay there. Agreeing this starts an arc I wasn’t expecting to unfold. Developing sooner than most of her class mates Futaba became self conscious of how she looked and began to isolate herself from the class. As the years went on she felt more and more alone to the point where she decided to make a social media in which she would sudo anonymously post risky selfies. It was her using a part of her she hate to get attention she desired, we all know how this plays out. So as time went on the attention she had received online was hostile and toxic, tearing her into two people. A person who hates the way she looks, and a person who is tired of being invisible. Now I have to take a second to note how close to home this actually hit. I know many females who went through this, unsure about how they should feel about themselves only to reinforce it with negative attention. This is different then 2020 sex work, this isn’t people who love and are confident in themselves gawking for money. These are people that hate themselves, personally and physically, trying to find what their worth is any way they can, and that is why this arc really got ot me. So split into two, Satuka has to talk to both as if they are one and determine how to fix this issue for the first time unofficially without his big brained friend. I think this arc really shows Satuka shine as well as he seemingly understands about the people around him that most wouldn’t, and in this he really shows that the small group of well known friends know each other better than most. Minus the point he had to ask photo happy Futaba where the other one was, SHE IS AT THE SCHOOL YOU MORON, Jesus I could have told you that. Anywho, as this arc breaks down how hard it may be for a adolescences female and how complex and confusing those emotions can be even for that person. And when you compound that with the fact one is in love with someone they will never have it is hard to deal with. That is why I was super happy to see Futaba come to terms with who she is, but not stopping there, confessed to her love knowing damn well she would be turned down. But she was fine with it, because she for the first time understood her emotions, that she was more than a logical brain but a woman, and honestly, I loved all of that.
Alright so we aren’t done, sorry, but this is arc 4 we got one more after this. So in this arc we double down on what it is like to be famous, but have a younger sibling. Toyohama, Nodoka is Mai’s half-sister, and is part of a smaller up and coming idol group. Most of her back story is glossed over until she is brought front and center when she spends the night with her older sister and boom Your Name the anime….. Wait. Anyways with Mai in her half-sisters body and Nodoka in hers Satuka confusingly approaches his girlfriend to find out she was indeed, not. The path the show takes from here is another one that to me hits home. It shows a house hold divided and two sisters pitted against one another just for their parents greed, and because of this resent grew to the point the sisters hated each other. Nodoka would never be enough in her moms eyes, she will never be a Mai, she will always be second place to the big sister. The whole idea that your parent will never be proud of you by putting you in the shadow of a sibling is an extremely toxic take on parenting. It also put Mai in a strange spot because she truly loves her little sister but is still true to herself and her work. This is seen again in this arc as she commits fully to what it is to be an idol and actually transcends the ground that Nodoka had made herself, even more hurting Nodoka. It was at this point she tried to walk into the ocean, ah the old ocean trick, she of course was stopped by Satuka who took her back to Mai’s place and showed her one of Mai’s dearest possessions. All the letters from Nodoka. It was at this touching moment that Mai makes her presence be known and explain to her that she always loved having a little sister in and of itself. She never wanted Nodoka to be on her level, she was just thrilled having a sister and only wanted her to be happy. She also mentions Nodoka cannot live her life just to please her mother because that will just make her miserable. And after crying and a long hug in one of the strangest animated scenes I have ever seen before they snap back into their appropriate bodies. All and all it was a wholesome arc that covers the complexities of guardian pressure and how it can impact a child and their relationships with others. It also showed the dedication Mai has to her profession, which is always kinda noted but not on clear display as it was this time around.
The final arc of the season covers Kaede, and even though it was no where near my least favorite I didn’t find myself enjoying as much as the other three. A lot of it seemed forced and slightly absurd even more so when you look back to how Sakuta acts at the end of the whole thing. As the arc progress we discover Kaede wants to start living a normal life again, going outside, going to the park etc. In order to help her with this she makes a check list and slowly start to mark things off. It’s then we learn that Kaede actually isn’t the little sister everyone was lead to believe. Keeping it a secret, the crew finds out that after her episode with the syndrome she went into a coma, waking up not knowing who she was or where she was. It was as if the abuse was so great she locked it all away somewhere so far away she forgot who she even was. It had been two years since that happen and Sakuta slowly starts to notice small chips of her old self coming back. Now any sane person would be happy about this, yes she has been like this for two years but there is a whole life locked away somewhere however our rascal thinks otherwise. Going a different route then his parents he decides to let the ‘new’ Kaede live out her life the way she wanted to, liking different things then the other. And through this they form a strong bond to each other that Sakuta is terrified to lose. Soon enough however after a long day at the Zoo and a night at the school ground they return home and head to bed, the next morning the Kaede of two years ago returned. Taking her to the hospital they determine that she is indeed back to her normal self but the last two years are gone from her memory. Not being able to take the loss Sakuta breaks and runs out of the hospital into the rain sobbing. This is the part that seemed a bit forced, it was just a really strange way to mourn for this specific event. But none the less defeated and broken he is approached by his first love and the girl who comforted him two years ago Makinohara, Shouko. Taking him to his apartment she sets a bath for him and talks to him while he crys, then when he is asleep, leaving a subtle note, leaves. The next morning Sakuta calls Mai and tells her what happened and she would be there right away, the next scenes play out like him coming to terms that his old sister is back and gives her, her journal from those two years to help fill the gaps. Later that night however back at his place Mai spots the letter left my Shouko and even though he downplays it immediately she is visibly upset leaving the apartment as he chases her out. Near the elevator he tries to give her a hug but she stops him, leaving him depressed the following day as he mopes around work. Later that night however Mai’s sister runs into him, asking him what the fuck his problem is and he should be with Mai it is her birthday. Feeling like a POS he darts to the station and takes a bullet train to where she is doing the shoot, and tells her Happy Birthday just in time. They have a touching moment after this that closes out the season, but one thing that I adored was why she was mad. Mai wasn’t mad that her boyfriend had his old crush helping him out, she was mad because as his girlfriend, she couldn’t be there for him during all of this. Which is honestly a real and mature reason to be upset, and is just one of a billion reasons I love them as a couple. It doesn’t matter who the arc is about it always comes back to them, the dynamic duo of bunny and rascal.
So sound and animation. Cloverwork did a fantastic job which they always do, the music and overall sound for this show was, decent. The best way I can put this is simply it was fitting. It didn’t really stand out but it did fit the mood well and help round out the show overall.
Final thoughts. I fucking love this show, period. I think it was the best shows to come out of 2018 stacked ass year for anime. I am actually a bit upset I never gave this show a fair shot. At the time being caught up with some of the others shows this was placed on my wait list, I simply didn’t have time and 2 years later I discovered I benched one of the greatest shows I have ever seen. At every turn I was laughing, interested in what was happening and most importantly I became emotionally invested in both Mai and Satuka, which allowed me to care for the people they did. This show really pulled me in, in a way I wasn’t expecting and it held me there even through bits I didn’t fully enjoy. This is the type of show that I know can do some emotional trauma to me and I welcome it. It has been far too long since I have felt the wave of depression that crashes upon you as you read the last page or watch the last episode. I long for it. Overall if I had to put a number on this show it would be around a 9.4. It wasn’t really long enough to flesh out some of its ideas like with Shoko and some of the other supernatural stuff. But what they were able to execute they did fantastically well and we are all blessed to be able to experience it.
Thank you for the read!