Sakuta Azusagawa was living an already peculiar life when he met a girl wearing a bunny outfit in the library. He was the only person able to see her. Mai Sakurajima was a famous child actress who transferred into Sakuta’s school and now suffers from a form of Puberty Syndrome, causing her to be unobservable. Through helping her, strangers, and his sister, the once-lonely high schooler finally finds company and helps others along the way.
Sakuta Azusagawa is a genuinely caring person. While most main characters are only really nice to people traveling the same path as them, it feels like Sakuta is willing to bring any reasonable person under his arm and care for them. Later in the show we learn that this is a choice he made. That he was not always who he was and his actions made him this way, not an arbitrary personality given to him by an author. I actively thought about the importance of that until Sarah, Lotag Gang Member, mentioned it, but once she said it, my eyes were opened. While flawed and hurt himself, his character is really defined by how he seeks to help others, despite his teasing. He has relationships with many girls throughout the show but only ever shows interest in one. He doesn’t waiver, but rather respects them all for who they are, and he wants to see the best for each one of them. In many ways, he feels like a character far older than portrayed. We learn a lot throughout the show about his difficult past, but he doesn’t use that to be a victim, he uses that to care about others. That is something to be admired and makes his character very likeable.
Kaede Azusagawa is just absolutely precious. Something about this pajama-loving girl who speaks in third person is just so adorable that you can’t help but care deeply for her as a character. A victim of childhood bullying, Kaede does not leave the house at all. She lives in an apartment with Sakuta, thriving in her panda pajamas and hanging out with their cat. I would love to write an entire review about her character but she is the final arc of the show and has some of the most impactful scenes. Each character has something in their life that burdens them, so watch for how Kaede and Sakuta’s burden get impacted by each other.
Mai Sakurajima cannot be seen. Our child star is found wandering the aisles of her local library in a bunny suit. She meets Sakuta, the only person who can see her, and after being caught in his gaze, she promptly leaves. I was shocked at this. If I met the one of the only people who could see me, I would cling to them. But Mai is a completely unphasable character. While independent, professional, and focused, she has a sweet spot for Sakuta and Kaede. Most of this show feels like Mai making Sakuta work for her love, even though she seems ready to give it. While some people could look at that as toxic, Mai has worked for other people her whole child life. People constantly take from her. So I can understand why she would want someone to work for her if they want to be closer to her. She shows that she learns from her experiences and this behavior can be excused for character development.
Before I even knew the main character’s name, my Tiktok comments demanded that I pay attention to Rio Futaba. Ok, TikTok, I’ll bite. Beyond being one of the worst olympics in modern history, Rio is a high school girl with an odd amount of knowledge about quantum physics and psychology. It feels very fitting that someone as unengaged with reality as Sakuta would gravitate to someone so ingrained in science. The projection that Rio is so grounded in reality (and coffee) that she is a rock in Sakuta’s life only makes her arc better. Again, I won’t spoil anything, but I really enjoyed how they set up her character to lead into what she struggles with. She really rounds out a fun cast of recurring characters that help each other in place of the emotional support they should be getting from their parents.
A little note about Bunny Girl: I refused to watch this show for a really long time. The Lotad Gang was just getting together and we had just finished My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU. I was high on my newly found love for anime but I shoved this love deep into my emotional closet. We were discussing the new show to watch and Preston recommended Bunny Girl. I heard the name, took one look at the title art, and declined. There was no way I, a Resident Casual Weeb Extraordinaire™, was going to watch a show about a girl in a bunny suit. You should know, I hate admitting I am wrong. Especially to Preston. But, I was wrong and the show is damn good.
I found myself rooting for the characters the whole time. Not to be in a romance, but to just have a happy life. Bunny Girl is sobering in how accurate the issues the kids face are. Not in terms of “wow literally no one can see me,” but in terms of not feeling seen for who you are and experiencing the other issues the characters faced. And while I normally like to feel happy or sad or angry, it was nice to feel sober for a while. If there was ever a line that made me seem like an emotional alcoholic, it was that one.
Bunny Girl is a great show for those who like to think a little bit more about characters’ emotional issues while following some really cool characters. I never felt very far one way or another about the show, nor did I grow particularly attached to the characters like I have with others shows, but the story and characters are so well constructed that it will stick in my mind for a while.
The entire show revolves around a series of mysterious events that are all classified as various cases of Adolescence Syndrome. The short version of the Wikipedia Alice in Wonderland trip I went down is as follows: Adolescence Syndrome is not actually a thing. It is a made-up way for the author to talk about the issues that each character faces, while mixing in a little bit of quantum mechanics and psychology. Yes, I promise that the ideas are armchair-approved so you don’t need a PhD for this.
So while each character has Adolescence Syndrome, their versions of it are unique to the person. I was texting my friend, Katy, who majored in psychology, about it, trying to learn anything I could about what it was or how you diagnose it. I have to admit that I was wildly confused that while most other theories discussed exist, Adolescence Syndrome is made up. Yet, that only intrigued me more. Adolescence Syndrome felt like a physical manifestation of the issues people experience as kids. I really wish I could talk about each specific manifestation in the characters, but it would give too much away. One specific instance was Mai, who manifested the idea of Schrodinger’s Cat. I really liked the way her issue was presented. It is so simple to have the character say, “I don’t feel seen in my life.” But the writers take that a step further. They make her physically unable to be seen and then show you how that affects that character. It is a subtle distinction, but hey,it’s usually the subtle ideas that resonate the strongest.
On brand, the show has a unique way of twisting reality. There are episode strings that last a day or two and jumps that last several weeks. The season is broken up into five distinct arcs that are surprisingly digestible for the kind of mental manipulation that goes on. The pacing felt very natural and allowed you to focus intensely on the issue at hand, as well as how Sakuta was going to help. If I was going to justify the point reduction, Tomoe does not play a recurring role like the other characters despite how close she and Sakuta got, spoiling the impact of her arc. Additionally, I felt like our final arc really brought about more questions than it ever answered. But maybe that is just another reason to watch the movie.
Bunny Girl is not a flashy show. The characters are animated very well because the show is all about the characters. The backdrops are fine, but if I was suddenly pulled into a third world war, I probably wouldn’t write home about them. There is something special about the characters. Like how I described the emotions, the characters brought a soberness to them. Their muted tones, lack of crazy hair colors, dry humor, and realistic movement accentuated the tone of the show in a way that adds towards the production in a positive way.
How does one define the world? It is hard for me to say that this world is particularly special from the scenery that we see. But what is interesting is a world where reality shifts for those inside of it. It’s a world where a Leponte’s Demon exists. It’s a world where we have to question if we can trust our characters’ perception of reality as fact. Yet, how the show twists reality is not visual, causing us to pay even more attention to all the details the writers want to know about the world. The world is not something in itself to be admired, but a tool to tell a story about those inside of it. Where the issues the characters are facing are all personal and internal, the world pulls those issues out and creates situations and events out of that emotion. This approach is unique and I liked it as a tool, but the visual elements of the world artistically felt lacking.
I can almost guarantee you have heard the outro to Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai. This outro is arguably one of the most iconic songs in the anime kingdom. Yet, the rest of the music is less like a lion and more like a deer. In general, it’s not particularly spectacular, but a functional part of the ecosystem. I can’t say that any one moment of music even particularly stood out, largely because I think that the string ambiance was never meant to stand out. Hajime Kamoshida, the writer, is using a world to tell a story about the characters. The music never had a space to be particularly relevant and that is okay.
|Category||Points Given||Points Possible|
|I am interested in the characters in the story||5||6|
|I liked the emotion the story made me feel||4||6|
|The story brings up interesting ideas||6||6|
|I felt the pacing of the show was appropriate||3||4|
|The animation in the show is beautiful||3||4|
|I am interested in the world that the story takes place in||2||3|
|I felt that the music added to the story in a meaningful way||2||3|
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is a slow burn of an anime. I would recommend this show to anyone who cares about anime, and am even considering it to be one of the shows I recommend to people who do not watch any anime. This show has some of the most interesting usage of the world and ideas to tell a story about its characters and is an easy recommendation because of that.