Welcome everyone to Day 4 of the 12 Days of Anime extravaganza! (insert trumpets and confetti here.) I’m having a great time with this challenge so far, and i’ve got a lot of things to write about… but a lot of work still ahead of me if i’m going to keep on top of things. Today, I wanted to talk a bit about a show that’s really been in the spotlight recently, and why it’s captured so much attention, including mine.
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (despite having an eye-rollingly awful Light-Novel name) is my favorite show from the Fall 2018 season. I was invested right from Episode 1, and each new episode just adds to the wonderful experience that is this show. But what is it that truly makes this show special? What makes it stand out from the multitude of shows with a similar theme?
In a word… Adolescence.
Yes, Bunny Girl Senpai works because its characters so perfectly capture the feeling of adolescence, which helps them feel very human, and makes them instantly relatable. It’s the reason we were able to get invested in our characters so quickly, the reason an emotional climax in just episode 3 was able to work. So many shows try and fail to create characters that an audience can quickly care about, and many more successful shows tend to take the long route, letting us slowly get to know our characters over a longer period of time. However, Bunny Girl Senpai leaps that hurdle with ease.
Let’s start with Sakuta. At a glance, Sakuta is your typical Light Novel protagonist. Somewhat bland, a social outcast, getting dragged unwittingly into situation after situation. However, that mantle is quickly tossed aside when we learn more about him. His sarcastic attitude and dry wit make him a funny character, and his dedication to the friends that he does have helps us to empathize with him.
He’s also a bit of a perv, but is always respectful, using his perverted comments only to lighten the mood, or tease people, especially Mai. This lets us know that Sakuta is really a gentle and caring person, and while he doesn’t like to listen to societal biases, he’s also a very reliable friend.
There’s also a good reason why he wants to help these girls; he was a firsthand witness to the pain and suffering his little sister went through. Having seen her suffering, and helped her through it at significant risk to himself, he can’t help but want to help others who are suffering from the same curse. Of course, he denies this, telling Koga that he doesn’t know if he would have helped her if she hadn’t been cute, but Koga replies that he probably would have helped her anyways.
Each girl that Sakuta helps is dealing with a very real, very personal, and very relatable problem. Mai, tired of constantly being the subject of attention, simply wants to be normal, to be able to live a life free from constant praise and attention. This conflicts with her desire and love of her work, however, creating an inner turmoil. Koga just wants friends, and struggles every day to keep the friendships that she cherishes. She hates being lonely, is terrified of being abandoned, and so does everything she can to hang on to those friendships.
Futaba struggles with unrequited love. The guy she admires is dating someone else, and she doesn’t know what to do about it. She has confidence in her body, in her looks, but at the same time is afraid of being objectified. This conflict results in her splitting into two different personalities. Only when she discovers that her friends accept and love all sides of her, is she able to come to terms with herself, accept herself, and become whole again.
Between the clever, witty dialogue and abundance of adorable waifus, it’s a bit difficult, sometimes, to understand why we resonate with this show so much. But I believe that everyone goes through hard times, times of uncertainty. Everyone has, at some point or another, felt the weight of expectations on their shoulders, or had moments of self-doubt.
In the end, though, it’s those flaws, those doubts, that make each and every one of us a human. Life is hard, but there’s always a solution, there’s always something at the end of the tunnel. Koga and Futaba’s stories showed us that we can’t always have what we want. Even if it desperately hurts, a heartbreaking pain that threatens to consume us, as we hope for just one more chance to change that person’s mind, or wish passionately on a star to become a new person… in the end, things may not change.
But, just as Futaba was able to accept her rejection with a smile… just as Koga was able to move forward, each and every one of us has the strength to move past adversity and obstacles in our lives. For every person, there are friends like Kunimi, who will come running to help you when you’re in danger. People like Sakuta, who risk everything they have to lift you up. People like Mai, who accept everything about you, and place their trust in you.
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is a show that accepts everything. The good and the bad, the painful times, and the good times. It’s a show about friendship, courage, and overcoming our fears. It’s a tale of touching romance that warms the heart, and of the hurt and happiness that can both come from a family. And it’s a story that everyone can relate to.
That, my friends, is why I dream of Bunny Girl Senpai.