Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Series Review

Bunny Girl Senpai - Episode 1 - Mai Sakurajima and Sakuta Azusagawa

He’s Met His Dream Girl Just As She’s About To Disappear, And That’s Just The Start Of Their Problems

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is one of those incredibly weird series that seemingly come out of nowhere and captures the attention of an incredibly fickle community. As the series progressed, more cracks appeared in what was a fairly solid narrative beginning and more mixed reviews began to appear, however by and large this one swept a wave of positive buzz as it aired in Autumn. So, did it deserve all that praise?

Absolutely.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 6 - Sakuta

While I won’t even try to argue that this series is perfect (I doubt such a creature as a flawless anime narrative actually exists), nor will I say this series will work for everyone, Bunny Girl Senpai is a fascinating look at adolescence and the emotional problems that plague individuals. While thematically it doesn’t really do a whole lot with this idea other than provide supernatural analogues for the usual high school drama, what it does do is provide characters that connect with the audience, dialogue that enthrals, and for the most part provides bite size arcs that are easily digestible and very palatable.

And now I’m hungry.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 12 Kaede

The first arc, that introduces us to the titular Bunny Girl, Sakurajima Mai, is undoubtedly the best the series has to offer and outside of being a little bit dialogue heavy (so those who are after fast paced action are out of luck), there’s very little to fault in these opening three episodes. Mai and main character Sakuta quickly develop a chemistry few anime can even dream of presenting and every scene with these two on screen together becomes a delight to watch. Whether it is Mai offering to shove Pocky up Sakuta’s nose or friendly banter between the two, watching these two never gets old.

Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 2

It also helps that Mai’s problem and supernatural mystery is pretty compelling and the ‘scientific’ explanation provided for it is solidly linked enough to at least make for an interesting thought experiment. Basically, there’s nothing to complain about in these opening episodes and by the time the first narrative draws to a solid close most viewers will be well and truly on board with wherever these characters choose to take us.

Which is probably a good thing. Because while each of the stories that follows is interesting in its own way, the writing remains pretty tight, and the characters fairly delightful, none of them manage to quite strike the same gold that the opening does.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 6 - Sakuta and Tomoe

Part of the issue, outside of the bunny girl outfit not making much of an appearance (though I’m not sure I was watching for that anyway) is that the supernatural/pseudo scientific phenomenon are never quite click or are as clever or compelling as the first arc. I was particularly disappointed with the second arc when they introduced the idea of Laplace’s Demon and then more or less utterly ignored the possibilities of that and gave us a basic time loop story. Admittedly, it was a well done time loop story but they could have done so much more with that concept. Every arc after watered it down further until Kaede’s story didn’t even get a vague scientific explanation or comparison and so it was more just weird and inexplicable things happen and Sakuta tries to fix them.

If that sounds like I’m complaining, I’ll take it back. All of the stories remain very well executed. Comparing even the weakest of the arcs, which was probably Nodoka’s story toward the end, with most other anime that aired in 2018, and it is still a very well told narrative. However, when a series feels like it is in a slow slide downward in quality, it does leave the audience feeling a little disappointed as they see diminishing returns.

Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 10 Mai in idol performance

While we’re looking at flaws though, I’ll throw in the usual issue with high school anything and that is the absent parent syndrome. They go to a lot of effort to make adults in general pretty absent from the narrative. They appear enough so at least they aren’t completely gone from the story, but as usual we have teenagers with remarkably little adult supervision in their lives. I find this narrative conceit quite frustrating and it is a trope that endlessly repeats in anime.

Anyway, let’s look at the positives, of which there are many.

Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 8 Fireworks

The opening song is fantastic and distinctive. I’m not the biggest fan of how it starts visually, but it ends up being quite the entertaining opening. Though the sheer number of sequences from the opening that end up appearing in the final episode in one form or another is a little heavy handed. Still, it is hard to complain about a song that is that great.

Visually, the whole anime works very well. There’s the occasional animation that doesn’t quite work, but for the most part this one is gorgeous to look at. I already mentioned the dialogue is solid and the chemistry between the characters is amazing.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 3

Basically, this one was a solid anime from the year and one that I had a great deal of fun following week to week. The announcement of a movie to follow excited some but mostly just made me accept early on that it probably wasn’t going to resolve things solidly in the series, which is more or less what happened. I’m not the biggest fan of anime series that go with follow up movies (probably because I’m not the best at actually following up on movies when they come out).

Still, I’d highly recommend checking out Bunny Girl Senpai. There’s certainly some fun to be had here and the characters are fantastic to spend time with.

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SEISHUN BUTA YAROU WA BUNNY GIRL SENPAI NO YUME WO MINAI 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SAKURAJIMA MAI
SEISHUN BUTA YAROU WA BUNNY GIRL SENPAI NO YUME WO MINAI 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SAKURAJIMA MAI

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Awakening From A Dream, And Life Goes On

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode Review title

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 13 Review

Reminder: the poll is now open for you to vote on the best and worst anime of the 2018 Autumn Anime Season. Be sure to jump in and have your say. Voting closes on the 29th of December.

Part of me is a little disappointed with this final episode, and the other part is happy that this anime ended more or less as it started. The tight focus on the characters and their experiences as well as the need to face situations as they are rather than how we’d like them to be carried right through to the end.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 13 Shoko

However, this arc feels to be one of the least resolved of the series and given this is where it has ended I can’t help but feel a little bit like this wasn’t the solid ending it could be. Future movie announcements or not, it would have been nice for this final episode to have given us a solid resting place. Then again, in terms of character progress it kind of did.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 13 Kaede

Kaede is awake with her old memories (though missing the two years she’s just lived) and wanting to go back to school and even meet her old friend. Sakuta met up with Shoko again who helped him deal with Kaede’s return. He also finally managed a date with Mai on her birthday. It’s a lot of progress and we leave these characters in a place where they haven’t got to the end of the journey but they are very much moving forward and it is hard to argue that we could have got a more satisfying conclusion.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 13 Sakuta

Actually if I was going to criticise anything, other than the running animation which still isn’t great, it would be Sakuta early in this episode. While his heart-break and confusion were understandable their depiction wasn’t exactly subtle or nuanced and to be honest as he ran wailing it almost became laughable to the point where it jolted me right out of the moment. By the mid-way point of the episode it had managed to draw me back into the drama of the situation but this was perhaps the first time I really struggled to stay with an episode and the emotions it was trying to convey.

However, these are fairly petty complaints of what is an awesome series. I’m looking forward to writing a full series review of this one.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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SEISHUN BUTA YAROU WA BUNNY GIRL SENPAI NO YUME WO MINAI 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SAKURAJIMA MAI
SEISHUN BUTA YAROU WA BUNNY GIRL SENPAI NO YUME WO MINAI 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SAKURAJIMA MAI

A Journey Forward Equals The You Now Being Abandoned

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode Review title

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 12 Review

Bunny Girl Senpai continues to impress as Kaede, who should be a stereotypical and fairly bland little-sister-character, continues to show that she is anything but. Over the last few episodes they’ve built her up beautifully and as Sakuta explains to Mai and Nodoka what happened with Kaede and his family it is really sad. But instead of dwelling on that, we see Sakuta continue to support Kaede and we watch her flourish under his attention and her own determination until… well let’s just say the end of the episode is absolutely a cliff-hanger designed to force you to watch the final (as if we weren’t already going to).

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 12 Kaede and Sakuta

Though, it is at least a cliff-hanger done right with real stakes built up over time and the situation being as complicated as it is and the emotional mine-field that it is, it is unlikely to be wrapped up in the first couple of minutes of the next episode. I’m actually invested in finding out how this situation resolves and I think they are going to struggle to bring it together in a single episode, but Bunny Girl Senpai has been full of pleasant narrative surprises so far so I have absolute confidence it will succeed.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 12 Kaede

Mai once again is a little bit sidelined and her work is a convenient excuse to send her away. However, unlike other stories where sending a character away means everyone just kind of forgets their existence, here Sakuta’s father asks him to introduce Mai in the future and we know that Sakuta will call Mai if needed. She is gone but not forgotten.

However, Sakuta and Kaede are more than enough to carry the majority of this episode. The dynamic between the siblings has always been interesting and here we see them at their finest. The trip to the zoo is glorious and fantastic to watch and seeing Kaede that enthused and bubbly just brings a smile to your face.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 12 Kaede School

I do also like that they aren’t over-simplifying Kaede’s fear of going to school. Their repeated attempts to walk there, the meeting with the guidance officer before even trying to go, Kaede wanting mentally to go but her body being unable to take the steps, it all just adds to the grounding of this series in reality even as it uses supernatural elements to exaggerate the drama of being a teenager.

Another incredibly solid episode and the only criticism I’ll give this one is that I have to wait a week to see how it ends.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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SEISHUN BUTA YAROU WA BUNNY GIRL SENPAI NO YUME WO MINAI 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SAKURAJIMA MAI
SEISHUN BUTA YAROU WA BUNNY GIRL SENPAI NO YUME WO MINAI 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SAKURAJIMA MAI

The Panda Girl Removes Her Armour

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode Review title

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 11 Review

Bunny Girl Senpai continues to impress with its dialogue, particular the timing of responses and pauses. There are moments where just listening to the characters is such a distraction that I need to go back to pay attention to what they are actually doing. 

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 11 Sakuta

However, and this may prove an unpopular opinion, but after eleven episodes of watching delightful characters have interesting interactions, what troubles is that there is no escalation or ‘more’. While we turn into Kaede’s story, which is one I’ve been waiting for and has so far proven interesting, the tone and feeling of this anime is exactly the same as it has always been. And while it might fit the ‘if it isn’t broke don’t fix it’ mentality, as other anime step up their game for their conclusion, Bunny Girl Senpai remains exactly as it always has. It’s still brilliant mind you, but it doesn’t quite shine so much in amongst the pack as other anime are now coming to the end of a cumulative emotional journey.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 11 Mai

Still, that isn’t reviewing this episode, it is comparing, so let’s veer back on track. Mai deals with the photo in the magazine and her status as Sakuta’s girl-friend in a sensible and clear manner. One of the many things I appreciate about this show is they don’t just drag things out and over-dramatise them for the sake of it.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 11 Kaede

Half-way through this episode though we switch to Kaede’s story and this week she turns the cute up to 100. I’m not a fan of little sister characters so the sheer amount of charm Kaede brings to this story is almost unprecedented and she has most definitely become a character I really adore. Watching her smile while holding out her notebook with her goals was a really adorable moment as was seeing Sakuta both support her and temper her goals with reality. The fact that he isn’t just mindlessly cheering her on and saying ‘you can do it’ but rather is helping her to break her goals down into achievable steps was one of the best moments of the year because it was so grounded in reality.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 11 Sakuta and Kaede

Though, with two episodes left to go, Shouko’s story still unrevealed and Kaede still in kind of an emotional limbo, I guess there is still more drama to be had. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai continues to be an extraordinary watch and taking the whole season into account is most definitely a solid viewing experience. Its use of narrative arcs has kind of kept it from building to something that is over the top emotionally, but it has certainly left a far more lasting impression than anime that simply go for sensationalise in the moment.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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SEISHUN BUTA YAROU WA BUNNY GIRL SENPAI NO YUME WO MINAI ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
SEISHUN BUTA YAROU WA BUNNY GIRL SENPAI NO YUME WO MINAI ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK