As somebody who can never pin down what genre I’m a fan of, the one constant that I have noticed about my preference in storytelling is this: I love bittersweet storytelling. In fact, bittersweet anything is my jam. My favorite kind of chocolate is dark chocolate. Lemonade is better than orange juice. Happy endings are for naive optimists, and sad endings are for bitter cynics. Bittersweet, that happy-sad middle, that’s the kind of story I enjoy.
That’s how I can best describe Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai. A story that tells us the bittersweet experiences of growing up. So, without further ado, let’s jump into the supernatural metaphors of puberty in this review.
What Is RDNDOBGS?
Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai is an anime based on a light novel (because what isn’t these days) telling the story of Azusagawa Sakuta and his encounters with various students and their unique problems. It manages to be a surprisingly poignant metaphor for the effects that bullying and ostracization can have on growing adolescents, in the form of the possibly supernatural/psychological phenomenon known as the Adolescence Syndrome. Somehow, this Adolescence Syndrome manifests itself in a way that is somehow connected to the mundane problem.
For example, are you feeling self conscious about your crush? Well, too bad, now you’re your crush for a day until you figure yourself out. That’s pretty much what the series is about.
I’m not going to get into spoilers in this review because this show relies heavily on playing with expectations. It’s a slice of life drama that mixes in supernatural mystery elements to keep things interesting.
This anime feels like the love child of Clannad and Oregairu. It takes the snarky and cynical edge of Oregairu’s dialogue then applies that over a melancholy, supernatural story. In retrospect, Rascal, Clannad and Oregairu pretty much have the same story at their core.
A snarky and cynical outcast with generic hairstyle and literally one male friend at the start of the series-
-suddenly meet a girl that changes their perspective of others-
-and so they spend most of the series, begrudgingly or otherwise, helping out students in need (but coincidentally, a lot of them happen to be beautiful girls who may or may not have a large line of Good Smile Company products being developed for them).
You’ve heard of cute girls do cute things, but now, get ready for snarky boys do sad things.
Of course, despite those striking similarities, their differences lie in what they decide to focus on.
Tomoya and Nagisa are essentially polar opposites, but the role they fulfill for each other makes their relationship border on codependency. Throughout the series, we see Tomoya coming to grips with his broken childhood. Clannad shows us the importance of bonds more than anything else, and how family is such an important aspect of what makes a person who they are.
Also, there’s supernatural stuff, I guess.
In contrast, Oregairu focuses on the inherent problems with being a snarky and cynical douche canoe to hide from your problems. Sure, being blunt and hated means you have nothing to lose, but what happens when you suddenly have something to lose? Is being a pariah really the solution to all your problems, or do you just fear the realization that you could have solved those problems without making people hate you?
Oregairu may have an ensemble cast, but out of these three shows, I feel that Oregairu develops its main character the most. Unlike Sakuta and Tomoya, I feel Hachiman really was just an asshole from the start. Both Sakuta and Tomoya were jaded, but they never had any hate towards other people. They are social outcasts by happenstance, not choice. Hachiman is the only protagonist who actively seeks to be alone.
Despite having anime personalities, the characters in Oregairu are refreshingly flawed in ways that are actually realistic.
Finally, Rascal is a show that takes the supernatural aspect of Clannad and fleshes it out. They go deep into the logic of why a supernatural event is somehow tied to the mundane problems of your average teenager. Sakuta’s a lot more chill in comparison to Tomoya and Hachiman. Funny enough, I also believe he’s the most confident. Sakuta and Mai’s relationship is the one of this series’ strongest points.
I absolutely love the dynamic between Sakuta and Mai, and the casualness of their relationship is a refreshing change of pace from the hyperactive romance of old. It makes me actually invested in not just the plot, but how the plot affects all these characters. What I like about the series is that while they find a solution to each of the girls’ problems, it’s never with a bow tied neatly on it. Instead of fully resolving the problem, Sakuta only helps them along to their own conclusion. By the end of each arc, they resolve the supernatural aspect, but the mundane origin is left to that character to deal with.
In a way, this show is basically one big lesson about overreacting to mundane problems.
In conclusion, Rascal Does Not Dream Of a Bunny Girl Senpai takes the snappy dialogue of Oregairu and adds that layer of warm magic that made Clannad so comfy to watch. I’m like 2 years late on this review but at least I actually wrote this one.
Thanks for reading, guys, and I hope I get the hang of wage slavery soon!