Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai「青春ブタ野郎はバニーガール先輩の夢を見ない」is not at all what I thought it would be. Which seems to be a common refrain. I’m sure anyone looking at that title would assume with a sniff that it was just another sexy, fan-service-laden romcom.
Such a person would be wrong. From Anime News Network:
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai takes a supernatural look into the complexities of growing up in the modern age through a psychophysiological phenomenon known as the “puberty syndrome.”
Yep. You read that right. It’s an SF/F psychodrama wrapped in a cheesy title to make you think sexy stuff is going to happen. Or whatever. Of course there’s a love interest for the MC, but that’s at least partly because he’s practically the only one who can see her at first. (I don’t think that’s much of a spoiler since all of the articles and synopses I’ve read of the first episode pretty much tell you that up front.)
There are five “arcs” in the 13 episodes so far. (We’ve been promised a second season, but that will probably be a while showing up.) The first arc concerns the promised bunny girl senpai, who has managed to place herself into a Schrödinger’s Cat situation. The second arc is somewhat reminiscent of Groundhog Day, with a girl who is acting as a LaPlace’s Demon. The third arc concerns a girl who has duplicated herself into what seems to be a split personality — but physically. The fourth arc is a “body swap” situation where the bunny girl and her younger half sister wake up in each others’ bodies. Trust me, there’s a reason. And there’s a fix.
The fifth arc…is about the MC’s sister, who has been in the anime from the beginning as a young girl who never leaves home because of a psychological trauma she suffered in elementary school*, and we finally learn more — a lot more — about her.
And I will be right the hell up front and tell you that if you do not ugly cry in the last episode, you are not a human being. So have the tissues ready. You’ll need them. I do not believe I have cried like that since my father died, 20 years ago.
There is a light novel series on which this anime is based (written by Kamoshida Hajime, published by Yen Press, available via Amazon). There is also a movie that apparently isn’t easy to find with an English translation. I haven’t looked at either.
All in all, Rascal is an absorbing surprise. The characters are well-drawn and (mostly) likeable — the red-headed girlfriend of the MC’s closest male friend is the exception, and you’ll wonder why he doesn’t dump her for the obvious replacement. The pacing is about right. I’ll give it 10/10.
(BTW, the closing title theme is so good, I bought the OST CD.)
* According to the first light novel (I’ve decided I’m going to read them) Kaede (the MC’s sister) is fifteen, so, given that she’s been the way she is for two years, she was thirteen and probably a first-year in junior high when she suffered her trauma. That is not at all the impression I got from the anime.