Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: “Puberty syndrome – Abnormal experiences rumored on the internet to be caused by sensitivity and instability during adolescence. This year, Sakuta Azusagawa, a second-year student at a high school near Enoshima, meets several girls that are experiencing this “puberty syndrome.” For instance, he meets a wild bunny girl in the library. She turns out to be an actress on hiatus, Mai Sakurajima, who is also his senior at the school. For some reason, no one else can see this enchanting girl. How did she become invisible…? (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Rascal seems to be broken up into 3 Episode Arcs, likely adapting one Light Novel each. The basic through line is the same: Sakuta meets a girl with Puberty Syndrome, and must help her overcome her emotional instability in order to ‘save them.’ By Episode 6 we’ve only had two scenarios to compare, though the rest of season seems poised to play out similarly thanks to hints from the opening credits animation. Because Sakuta is always helping girls overcome these issues Rascal has an inherent harem feel to it, especially seeing as our second girl, Koga Tomoe, ends up developing a romantic interest in him. The series however manages to avoid delving too far into that cliche by keeping Sakuta solely interested in Mai Sakurajima, the titular Bunny Girl Senpai and the first girl he saves. It actually feels fresh to see a main character who isn’t so easily swayed by other women, and instead tries to keep things platonic between him and the other girls struggling with this supernatural phenomenon.
Linny: Rascal does indeed do a good job of avoiding playing out like a cliche harem, even though it starts with a lot of red flag tropes; such as Sakuta’s younger sister who seems a bit too attached to her brother. We’ve all watched enough anime to know what that often leads to. Thankfully, the show never ever makes that closeness go further than acceptable and except for the first episode where Sakuta wakes up to find his sister asleep in his bed with him, the interactions between them after that have been near completely chaste. Sakuta is also very respectful towards all the girls and there’s never an ‘accidentally fell into her crotch/breasts’ moment that’s often so popular in harem or just anime in general. Moving beyond that, Rascal does a nice job of revealing the ‘problems’ each girl is facing, making them fun to explore. This concept of girls with rather unique and supernatural abilities is played out in a very restrained, slice of life manner which gives the show a rather unique tone. However the cure for their problems or further complications starts to be broadcasted very clearly and early on, especially in the case of the second girl, Koga which hampers the appeal of the story, causing it to feel a bit too predictable.
Tom: The plot can definitely feel predictable at times, particularly the second arc, but I think what keeps everything interesting is the execution. Namely dialogue and character interaction are the true highlights to the series. The way Sakuta gets quippy with the girls, and the way their personalities bounce off each other helps to keep a fairly predictable story engaging. If anything it makes Rascal more a drama than a romance series, frequently exploring Sakuta’s reaction to his situation, or his interactions with the girl of the arc as she opens up to him.
Linny: Some viewers might find Rascal’s attempts to reference famous scientific concepts and theories, such as Schrodinger’s Cat and Laplace’s Demon, a tad annoying. It may even remind them of other not so great anime that attempted to be deep in the same way, only to come off as try hard.Thankfully, Rascal doesn’t make them a major part of its story, moving past these name drops quickly and focusing more on Sakuta’s everyday interactions with the girls, which are some of the best parts. Rascal also seems in no hurry to explain the logic/reason behind supernatural incidents its characters have all been facing and while we find out what life event triggered the girls to experience them, we have no idea exactly what is causing them and we may not find out anytime soon. The show’s narrative seems more concerned with the everyday and chemistry between Sakuta and the girls.
Tom: Rascal isn’t stellar. In fact there’s a few ‘thought provoking’ teen drama anime that it’s perhaps not distancing itself enough from, and can at times feel like another to add to the pile. But Sakuta is an endearing lead, and so far both featured girls, Mai and Koga, are explored well enough to feel like truly interesting female leads. Rascal is really more a character piece than anything else. If it can keep that up through two more arcs in the back half of the season, Rascal will remain as one of the Fall’s stronger titles.
Linny: Rascal was a surprise for me this season. Based off its title and the promo image featuring a girl in a ‘playboy’ style bunny suit, I was fully expecting some sleazy, cliche harem. But Rascal is anything but that. It neatly avoids harem tropes and treats all its female characters with respect, giving them fleshed out personalities, making them feel like well rounded and understandable characters. Sakuta himself makes for a very likeable lead, one who may often have playful retorts and one liners but is always there to try his best for the girls who need his help. It’s not perfect but it does enough to make itself feel like a wholesome and worthwhile watch for anyone seeking a story that blends supernatural with slice of life.