Review: Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

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.

Review: Domestic na Kanojo (manga series)

What can I say about Domestic na Kanojo「ドメスティックな彼女」that hasn’t been said before?  Hmm.

It is likely no great spoiler to manga readers that Domestic na Kanojo (English: Domestic Girlfriend) recounts the story of a high school boy, his teacher, and her high school-aged sister, as they traverse life through a number of years and myriad situations.  But it’s far more than the story of forbidden love it’s thought to be by more than a few people.  It’s a story about coming of age.  It’s very nearly a tutorial by a master of the genre on how to become a writer – not the simple mechanics of writing, but the mindset that makes the true author, and how one goes about acquiring it.  It is complicated, deep, and rich, with subsidiary but important story lines woven in and out of the major story lines following the three main characters.  It is at times happy; it is at other times, perhaps the saddest story you will ever read.  More than anything else, it is a story of love – love so deeply felt that you come to love the characters as they win through hesitation and uncertainty to pure love and true romance.  So you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cheer for the characters as they fumble through life and meet the people and experience the situations who mold them into their final forms.

Plus, the art is magnificent.

This being said:  I would urge Kodansha to complete the digital series they’ve put up on Amazon with the (currently four) missing issues.  (5, 6, 16, and 27 at this writing.)  I would love to have the full set.  While it’s true you can find the missing issues if you poke around the Internet, that’s not the same.

There is also a 12-episode anime that runs through about the first half of issue 8 of the manga (available on Crunchyroll), but I don’t think it tells as rich of a story as the manga (and frankly I don’t know how it could).  Still, the anime is not that bad.  Just ignore the comments, as with anything on the Internet these days; the otaku who post there are mostly idiots, fools, and jerks.  Probably virgins, too.