This anime has to be one of the most talked about of last season, and for good reason. This is another contender for top show of the Winter season for me as it is just all-around a great series in terms of animation, story, and characters. Bunny Girl Senpai has an interesting mix of romance, magical realism, and drama with a touch of wit to really keep you hooked for the long-haul. It’s the type of show that I can see sparking so many discussions about the nature of human psychology and how we cope with society and stress. I’ve already seen quite a few interesting discussions on its subject matter not to mention its catchy opening. I highly encourage anyone who has been wavering about watching the show especially due to its title, to really give it a chance.
The story follows Sakuta Azusagawa whose life takes a weird turn when he meets the actress Mai Sakurajima in the library dressed in a bunny girl costume with seemingly no one noticing she’s there. Mai is intrigues that he seems to be the only one who can see her, and as Sakuta begins to speak with her more, he discovers that more people are slowly losing their ability to see her as well. Sakuta calls this “adolescence syndrome” or “puberty syndrome” and works to help her solve this mystery as well as those of other girls he meets along the way.
CloverWorks took over production of this anime adaptation which has both a 9-volume light novel and a 3-volume manga to draw from. I have to say that I really love their work on this series from their character designs to the very catchy and interesting opening. The animation is really strong and I don’t really have that many complaints about it. The character designs are really cute especially for all the girls he meets throughout the series. I especially like the way the faces are drawn with the heavy black lashes and softer features that lends to more expressive eyes because of the contrast.
The opening to Bunny Girl is probably one of the best of the season in my opinion, and there have been a lot of great ones to pick from last season. The song, “Kimi no Sei” by The Peggies, is super catchy and admittedly get stuck in my head all the time. The animation that goes with it fits with the overall mood and story itself. It introduces us to the characters one by one giving us a peak at their personalities in how they move and express themselves. The hazy scenes of both Shoko and Mai in her bunny suit are a nice touch as well, referencing the almost dream like stake Sakuta saw both of them in and the fact that it’s just his memory of Shoko. The running scene is particularly stunning, with Sakuta racing against a trolly. I think it really reflects some of the desperation he feels later with Mai and Kaede’s cases.
I think one of my favorite parts about this series is the way it incorporates magical realism into the overall plot with the appearance of “adolescence syndrome” and how it affects those who contract it. Magical realism is basically where the story contains moments of magic or unbelievable circumstances that people in the story either take for granted as an everyday occurrence or, in the case of this show, a sort of psychological mystery manifesting as a strange occurrence. The main component of magical realism is that it incorporates these strange moments into everyday life or a very realistic setting. Adolescence syndrome manifests someone psychological problems as physical happenings in the world around them or physically on their body. It’s different from our real-life psychosomatic disorders where the brain can trick the body into feeling something for no apparent medical reason due to extreme psychological distress. In Kaede, we see the emotional and verbal attacks from her bullies manifest on her body as physical wounds. For Mai, we see her desire to be less well-known and people’s social perception that they should leave her alone leading to her being completely forgotten. It’s a pretty interesting mechanic that leads to discussions of psychology and quantum physics.
The story is set up in such a way that each girl’s adolescent syndrome mystery takes three episodes, making four full arcs. I really like how they stuck to this format, not draggin the mysteries out more than they needed to. At first I thought the other mysteries might get framed inside of Mai’s, but after episode three it was a relief to see her mystery solved and their relationship progressing at a normal, if slightly on-and-off pace. It gives a nice background to his interactions with the other girls especially Koga and Mai’s sister. Mai also provides a great sense of stability in the last arc when he’s all messed up about Kaede as Mai and Sakuta switch support roles in their relationship from the start of the series.
The real backbone of the series, however, are the characters themselves. I really can’t get enough of Sakuta and Mai and their interactions with one another. The series is fairly heavy on the dialogue, but pretty much all of it is golden especially with Mai and Sakuta’s witty banter thrown back and forth at one another. I’m having trouble remembering the last time I’ve seen a couple with such great chemistry. I love the quips they throw back and forth to each other and how easily Sakuta can catch Mai off guard and make her blush even when she tries so hard to put up a mature front. I also really love how not cringeworthy their romance is. In episode 2 or 3 they go to a hotel together and sleep in the same twin-sized bed, but there’s no real fuss thrown about and they both just roll with the circumstances. Even though there’s no real romancing going on in that moment, you can feel how much they feel comfortable with each other and care about one another.
Sakuta’s witty attitude transfers into his relationship with the other girls as well and it really makes for an all-around entertaining series. To round out this review, I think it would be interesting to talk about the part of the series that has stayed with me the most after it ended: the key theme or message Sakuta seems to embody. Throughout the whole series he’s driven by the message of his mysterious crush, Shoko, who says that life is here to make us kinder. This really stuck with me and I think it’s the motto that Sakuta has been living by for the whole series and is the foundation of his involvement in the various adolescence syndrome mysteries. It’s a fantastic message to live by and I think building the foundation of the series on this motto created a really relatable and sympathetic show that will stay with me for a long time.
There’s so much more to talk about with this series, like the various psychological problems the four girls face and whether or not Shoko actually exists, but I need to stop here for tonight. Let me know your wild theories and thoughts about the series down below, and maybe I’ll pick back up this discussion at a later date.
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