Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai Review: School life is hard

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Rio definitely isn't suspicious

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.

Waving bunny girl

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.

Kaede's issues come from being bullied online

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”.

Sakuta and Mai totally look like a couple

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.

Mai has a scoop

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.

Overall Score: 9/10

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai Final Episode (13): Shouko returns

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Sakuta calls his dad with the news about Kaede's memories

As a finale, I think I’d have to say that this episode was only kind of okay. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been spoiled with how much I enjoyed the rest of the series, or it could just be that the episode was leaving part of its story for the movie still to come. Kaede’s story was surprisingly bittersweet, but the reintroduction of Shouko on top of Mai’s own insecurities felt a bit rushed. That being said, the series has a whole has been a joy to watch, so I’m sad to see it go.

Sakuta's wound appears again

It’s interesting that Sakuta’s chest wound coincides so well with Shouko’s appearance. I feel like she still has to be related in some way to the middle school Shouko we’ve seen, as her appearance lines up too well with disappearances of her middle school doppleganger. That being said, she seems to show up to support Sakuta when he mosts needs it, so it seems like that she’s just a manifestation of his own Puberty Syndrome.

Shouko comforts Sakuta about Kaede

Even if the panda Kaede never truly came back, I was fine with how her story was handled. I like the idea that she tried to better prepare Sakuta for the end that she had accepted by giving him the chance to “help” her. That way, Sakuta could feel like he was able to do something for Kaede, a regret he’d had about the bullying of the original Kaede.

Mai is upset about not being there for Sakuta

To be fair, I’m totally on Mai’s side for this whole thing. It’s pretty clear when she shows up that she sensed Sakuta’s grief and wanted to help, so it was unfair of him to keep her in the dark about Shouko. That being said, I guess I’m too used to these two as such a strong couple, that it was hard for me to accept this kind of rift between them. Sure, Sakuta was dealing with a lot of stuff at the time, but come on, man.

Mai wants to be there for Sakuta

Just kiss already?

Kaede resolves to go to school

It’s true that Kaede has the support of Sakuta when she goes to school this time, but I’m assuming there’s supposed to be some double meaning to this line about not being alone. Also, I thought it was cute to see her reading the journal that her other personality left for her.

Final Score: 9/10

Solid writing with incredibly likeable characters. If you can get past the shoddy science asides, I have a hard time finding much issue with this series as a whole.

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 12: Memory lapse

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Kaede loses her memories

I wouldn’t have believed it if you had told me at the start of the series, but this show managed to give a reasonable explanation for Kaede’s heavily archetypal brocon behavior. That’s…oddly impressive, but it goes back to why I enjoy watching this show so much. I definitely wasn’t expecting a situation where multiple personalities were vying for survival. This episode made me feel so bad for the post-amnesia Kaede that I want both Kaedes to somehow survive in the end.

Sakuta deals with the new Kaede

This episode got way more heavy than I was expecting. That being said, I do like the idea of Sakuta seeing the post-amnesia Kaede as a completely different person. It makes sense to me that he would focus so much on how Kaede became different after losing her memories, but I’m also curious. Usually, motor functions are retained in amnesia cases (like using chopsticks). It’s interesting that an entirely new personality surfaces for Kaede.

Sakuta gets life advice from Shouko

I’ve seen the theory floating around that Sakuta is actually the one with Puberty Syndrome, or he’s at least somehow responsible for bringing it out in the people close to him. This episode seemed to make a strong case for that. I know that we were seeing the memories from Sakuta’s perspective, but it definitely felt strange for Kaede’s condition to inflict physical harm on him. Given his link with the other characters in this series, it would make more sense that he caused it for himself.

Sakuta wonders if his sister's memories are coming back

One thing I didn’t truly understand in this episode was whether Kaede was actually able to notice that her former self’s memories were returning. It sounded like she knew her time was limited, but it seemed like a negative reaction to hearing this conversation between Sakuta and Mai. Could she actually feel her old memories taking over again?

Kaede taking things slow

It was cool to see how everyone was acting extremely patient with Kaede. It definitely feels like the right way to approach this kind of scenario.

Kaede's memories return

A moment of triumph followed by a complete reversal. This show really knows how to tug at the emotions, huh? I especially liked seeing Sakuta’s reaction to the situation, having lived with the other Kaede enough to feel the weight of her loss. I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 11: Kaede’s time to shine

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Reporters asking Mai about her boyfriend

Wow, this episode went straight from a heartwarming buildup for Kaede to a hardcore bombshell drop. I can’t even be upset about the sudden amnesia reveal because it actually makes a lot of sense in the context of the series. It’s not crazy for Kaede to want to shut everything out after her trauma, and that behavior can be amplified in this world by the Puberty Syndrome to block out all memories. I wonder if she’s been using the notebook she showed with her goals for the year as a way to remember important people.

Mai's boyfriend situation blows over

I’m a bit annoyed that the cliffhanger was used in the previous episode given how quickly it was defused in this episode. Of course, I liked seeing how Mai handled the situation, but it’s always frustrating on some level when a cliffhanger seems cheap.

Rio betrays Sakuta

Watching Mai and Sakuta talk over Sakuta’s interest in Shouko is nice and all, but seeing Rio get so fed up with Sakuta’s love problems that she texts Mai the details is just an amazing scene.

Kotomi is worried about Kaede

It’s not that much, but I did like Sakuta’s conversation with Kotomi about the classroom environment after Kaede left. I especially liked when she brought up the idea that the class felt triumphant when they drove out the girls who bullied Kaede as well. It speaks to a modern sense of justice that I always feel wary about.

Shouko checks in with Sakuta

This Shouko mystery is intriguing, so I’m kind of worried that it won’t get resolved before the end of the season. There’s supposed to be a movie following this series, right? It’s definitely suspicious that Shouko is conveniently sick when the older Shouko was supposed to have met up with Sakuta.

Marks appear on Kaede after answering the phone

Well, that can’t be good.

Kaede makes it outside

Kaede makes it outside sooner than I expected, but what can I say? This was a great scene.

Kaede has no memories

I honestly didn’t see that coming.

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 10: Putting in the work

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Sakuta looks inside Mai's secret box

I was surprised to see Nodoka’s arc end already, but I guess it makes sense if the series is trying to finish with Kaede’s arc. I guess it’s not a big deal, since Nodoka’s arc was fine. I do like the fact that the arc doesn’t go easy on Nodoka, basically saying that she isn’t putting in the effort needed to match her expectations.

Kaede playing games

Well, the Kaede interlude does a decent job of setting up her upcoming turn as story focus. I did find it funny that she felt pushed to fix herself after seeing how much of a degenerate her brother had become.

Nodoka deals with the pressure of being Mai

It’s probably a consequence of my identifying more with Mai than Nodoka, but I would have liked to see more of Mai’s side of things. We’re constantly told throughout this arc that Mai constantly deals with heavy expectations, so it would have been a nice counterpart to Nodoka’s inferiority complex. Part of me wonders if the show purposely hides that aspect to mirror the way Mai hides it herself. Just a thought…

Nodoka faces off with her mother as Mai

You know, I think it would be cool if Nodoka was purposely trying to keep Mai away from her mother because she wanted to protect Mai in some way. Sure, Mai as Nodoka has a positive moment with Nodoka’s mother later in the show, but Nodoka knows her mother to be overbearing. When I saw this scene, I saw it as Nodoka not wanting Mai to share her pain.

Nodoka shocked to see her mother congratulate Mai

I can understand how devastating this scene must have been to Nodoka, but I thought it was an excellent reality check. Mai earns the single feature and the praise from Nodoka’s mother as Nodoka, meaning the achievement has everything to do with Mai’s behavior and not the fact that she’s Mai.

Mai talks about her early years

Again, Mai’s story comes off as being the more interesting one. I really liked the idea that she was able to deal with the pressure and isolation largely because of the support of Nodoka, a familiar face in the crowd (even if she technically didn’t know Nodoka that well).

Also, this is a random side comment, but did anyone else think that the scene where the two sisters switch back was a bit strange? That snap sound was jarring, and it just kind of happened.

Mai gets busted

The troubles never end.

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 9: Sibling rivalry

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Sakuta having trouble finding Mai

While having Mai swap bodies with her sister, Nodoka, because of Nodoka’s inferiority complex isn’t really anything new, but I liked the subtle touches this episode added to it. Rather than leave the situation with a simple statement that Mai is more talented than Nodoka, the episode seemed to go out of its way to show the fundamental difference between the two girls. It made the episode a lot of fun to watch.

Nodoka disturbed by the relationship between Mai and Sakuta

I think the best part about the body switch is how expressive Nodoka is as Mai. It’s a hilarious side of “Mai” to see.

Mai explains her past with Nodoka

The episode does a great job of initially portraying Nodoka with the kind of reverence and admiration towards Mai you might expect from a typical little sister. Then, it flips the script by revealing that she actually resents Mai to a degree. Based on the conversation with Kunimi’s girlfriend, I’m assuming the story ends with Nodoka accepting that she truly loves Mai despite her resentment, but we’ll see.

Nodoka confronts Mai

As the child of Asian parents, I can sympathize with Nodoka’s frustration at being compared with someone better. But at the end of the day, I’m the eldest child, so I tend to relate more to Mai and the work she goes through. Having to set an example can be equally frustrating.

Mai meets up with Sakuta

My favorite part of the episode was actually watching Mai in Nodoka’s body, even if the story is centered on Nodoka. Throughout the episode, we see small scenes that show how much more effort Mai puts into whatever she’s doing. What does Nodoka do first in Mai’s body? She goes to the beach with Sakuta. On the other hand, we see Mai practicing her singing in a karaoke room, and here we see her running to increase her stamina. Unlike Nodoka, Mai takes the initiative to improve.

Mai warns Sakuta not to look at the secret cabinet

Well, we all know where this is going.

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 8: Dealing with trolls

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Experimenting with food

This week’s episode was a solid conclusion for Rio’s story, which turned out to be more interesting than I expected. There are some obvious references to the concept of the typical online double identity, which I can certainly relate to. I did kind of get the sense that this episode rushed a bit to get to its ending, since the stalker thing felt like it was skipped over a lot. That being said, the interactions between Rio, Kunimi, and Sakuta were really good, so it worked out.

Rio explains her split personality

If Rio’s story was a simple case of her online persona coming to life, I think that would have been a fairly ordinary story. I personally liked the idea that her own disgust with how she had to act online to get attention caused her to split. I can’t say I relate to that kind of thinking, but it’s a nice explanation for her condition.

Mai explains that her agency doesn't want her to have a boyfriend

The whole thing about Mai not being able to have a boyfriend is a frustrating development, but I liked watching her talk it over with Sakuta. These two have an almost unbelievably healthy relationship.

Rio wishes to delete her account after receiving messages from a stalker

I know that the stalker thing is creepy, but I really liked that development. It’s why I was a bit sad that it didn’t go too far. There was a sense that the Online Rio felt guilty about allowing her online presence to spill over into her normal life and affect the Normal Rio. That kind of separation between online and real world is interesting to see.

Kunimi comforts Rio

Kunimi’s such a good friend. These scenes make me wonder why he sticks with his current girlfriend. I guess we don’t see enough of her.

Rio worries about her other self

Similar to the earlier scene, I do think Online Rio’s concern for the other Rio is nice to see. I think it subtly plays into the idea that anonymity online acts as a defense mechanism. It explains why she tends to be more confident.

The two Rios become one

I liked the idea of the Online Rio being the “fake”, but I guess the point behind this scene was more that both Rios were real. Maybe the reaction to this ending depends on how you view your online persona. I tend to see my online self as a complete separate existence, so maybe I just inherently see it as fake. It’s an interesting thought.

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 7: Seeing double

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Shouko talks about the horizon

It always feels like there’s a lot happening in these episodes, which is kind of amazing. I’m intrigued by the idea that this arc might actually be about Rio, rather than the mysterious Shouko. There’s still plenty of time left in the series, so maybe Shouko’s just getting introduced while Rio’s story gets handled.

Sakuta retorts when Shouko asks about his behavior

It’s nice to see that Sakuta hasn’t changed much.

Sakuta opens the blinds on a new day

The return of the date banners is curious. It suggests that time will once again be a focus in the current story, but it doesn’t really fit with Rio’s doppleganger concept. I wonder if it has to do more with Shouko, who seems to be lost out of time. My working theory was that Sakuta met her future self, so this could be a factor in her story.

Sakuta chatting with his girlfriend

Weekly reminder that these two are the best couple.

Rio admits that she has a double

Rio’s story feels weirdly out of place in this series. The idea of the doppleganger seems more like a legend, while the other two arcs tried to tie themselves to more concrete ideas.

Rio ponders the potential scientific reasons behind her predicament

As always, this series must be great fun for physicists.

Mai and Sakuta in bed together

It’s happening!

Sakuta talking with the second Rio

I’m actually pretty interested in this doppleganger scenario. I kind of think it would be cool if this version of Rio was the real one, and she just happens to be trying to make herself more attractive for Kunimi. The last scene in the episode seems to suggest differently, though. I really hope there’s more to her!

Mai wants to discuss something important with Sakuta

Well, this sounds ominous. Since Sakuta’s interrupted by Kunimi’s girlfriend showing him the pictures of Rio, I’m reasonably certain that this is a red herring. It’s not like Mai’s manager would force her to break things off, right?

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 6: Back with more quantum physics

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pondering the situation at the window seat

While I personally think that this arc gets weird in its resolution, this series is still incredibly enjoyable to watch. I thought the scene about quantum entanglement was silly (I don’t need to be a quantum physicist to know that much), but I absolutely respect the show’s attempt to bring the story back full circle to Sakuta’s first encounter with Tomoe. The rest of the resolution also felt a bit rushed with all of the montage scenes, but I guess we’ve seen it all before.

sakuta becoming a bride

I’m assuming this is a jab at the trope of the girl who wants to become a bride. I’m okay with that.

mai returns with the bunny suit

The bunny suit is back? The title must remain relevant!

the loops start again

I suppose it was inevitable that the time loops would return. To be fair, it was a lot better than I had imagined it in my head. They only went to half of Endless Eight, right?

pondering whether the girl is lying while grilling squid

I really liked this development. I thought it was going to lead to a whole thing where Sakuta tries to catch Tomoe in her lie by watching for her to do something inconsistent with the loop. That’s sort of what happens, but it was way subtler than I was expecting.

love is hard to change

This scene was pretty cool. I like the fact that Sakuta’s not so dense that he lets things drag on. This guy’s good at making his feelings clear, isn’t he?

mai kisses sakuta

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of how the epilogue plays out. Having the whole arc be a simulation in the end makes sense from a logical standpoint, but there’s something odd about wrapping things up so neatly. This kiss scene was great, though.

everything plays out the same

I’m not sure I buy that everything just works out the same way in the end. I guess the repetition could start up again if the jock refused to accept Tomoe’s rejection, forcing her to once again ask for Sakuta’s help. But that almost makes it seem like she doesn’t change enough despite her simulation. She even tells Sakuta that everyone would hate her for the rejection, but everything still plays out the same. I don’t get how that works.

meeting a new girl in the rain through an abandoned kitten

Wait…this is the girl that helped Sakuta in the beginning, right? Isn’t she the girl he’s been trying to find this whole time? I guess she doesn’t remember him. That’s awkward. Also, this series really wasted no time bringing in the next girl.

Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 5: That went well. Time for it go wrong?

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This episode was fun to watch, but it really makes me wonder. I was glad to see that Sakuta and Mai’s conversation went how I had hoped it would go. No need to dwell too much, and we even got some bonus progress with Kaede. To be honest, the episode seemed to be juggling a lot more side character stories while it was focusing on Tomoe. It’s not a bad thing, but I can see it being hard to keep up if it gets too crazy. I’m very curious to see how things turn out next week, since the episode seemed to end on a dark cloud despite a fairly positive resolution.

It was nice to see Kaede warming up to Mai. It makes me wonder if Kaede’s story will be an amalgamation of interacting with all of the characters Sakuta inevitably saves, helping her regain her lost confidence. That could be cool?

I like this small scene with Sakuta. The earlier conversation with Mai sets up the idea that he’s not fully comfortable with living a lie to help Tomoe, so we see him giving himself some peace of mind. That being said, something about this scene bothers me. Maybe plot convenience is what it is, but I get the feeling that it’s too convenient for the guy to be such a jerk.

I guess this is a larger discussion about the “fear of missing out” thing. To be honest, I don’t really relate to it, since I don’t have that urge to stay part of the conversation (my general lack of social media preference is probably evidence of that).

Hey, no one told me Futaba and Kunimi were part of this story! I can’t complain about flustered Futaba, though.

You see, this scene just bothers me. I’m sure I’m overthinking, but I see this scene and my only thought is that there’s no way Tomoe is the real demon.

Well, I totally expected Sakuta to just get beaten up, but that was pretty impressive.

After seeing this scene, I’m a little apprehensive about what might happen in the next episode. The arc still hasn’t been resolved, which means that some form of drama awaits us. This episode spent a lot of time focusing on the fact that Sakuta can face the world as long as the people important to him truly need him. It makes me wonder if that support system will crumble next week.

Tomoe’s expression in this final scene really looks like jealousy to me, so I’m getting worried that she might do something to rip Mai away from Sakuta. I might have an issue with that, depending on how it plays out. There’s been a looming threat of a massive time reset throughout this arc, and it could end poorly.