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For the fall 2018 season, this series ended up being my favorite to watch. In Monogatari style, the series focuses on the main protagonist, Sakuta Azusagawa, as he helps various (female) characters with their personal struggles. These personal issues revolve around a unexplained “puberty syndrome”, a condition which seems to manifest psychological struggles into physical phenomena. His first encounter, as the title suggests, is with a girl named Mai Sakurajima, whom he meets in a library dressed in a bunny girl outfit.
Most of what drew me to the series was the mildly supernatural aspect of the premise, as they took scientific(-ish) thought experiments and applied them to everyday problems. And in general, I’m a big fan of taking well-known concepts and looking at them from a different perspective.
The scientist in me definitely had issues with how the token scientist character, Rio Futaba, was often used to explain away each character’s puberty syndrome with wishy-washy quantum language that even made me, with my limited knowledge of physics, shiver. However, I could tell that this wasn’t meant to be integral to the story in any way. These explanations mostly seemed to exist to add flavor to the situation, so I don’t think it was particularly egregious.
Although puberty syndrome does have a magical sense to it, the problems that cause it are always grounded in very real teenage concerns, such as feeling rejected by your classmates or being unable to live up to the example of your older sibling. As a result, the characters felt a lot more relatable and realistic. At the end of the day, the solution is to force each character to reach a state of acceptance rather than defeating an “enemy”.
The supernatural aspect might have been the reason behind my initial interest, but the character interactions overall were what kept my attention as I kept watching. The way the characters acted tended to make sense, and I didn’t find myself questioning people for stupid moves as much as I would in a typical series.
The main pair, Sakuta and Mai, were particularly laudable in this regard, as they develop a relationship that always felt mature and mutually respectful. There’s a give and take in their relationship, rather than having one person consistently setting the pace. When they run into problems, they talk them out rather than kicking up a fuss.
If I had to lodge a complaint about the series, I’d probably say that the pacing felt a bit awkward at times. It’s nice for a show to move quickly, and the story tended to make sense. However, I did sometimes get the sense that the show was blazing through a lot, especially with devoting only three episodes to each arc. Still, I didn’t think that this feeling impacted the show much at all (with the exception of the “ending”), so I don’t see it as too much of a problem. All in all, I’d recommend watching it.