Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo Review
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, by J.C. Staff, is one of the anime of the Fall 2012 lineup – and a great one at that. Easily mistaken as another generic harem comedy anime, it actually speaks of inspiring tales of success and failures of the characters as they strive to achieve their dreams.
Sakurasou follows main character, Kanda Sorata, a second year student of Suiko. Due to breaking the school dorms regulation and keeping a stray cat, he was forced to transfer from the ordinary school dorms to the Sakura dormitory (aka Sakurasou), where the most oddest and wackiest group of students live. Although a bunch of weirdos however, all of them possess incredible talents; he met Jin, a scriptwriter, Ryuunosuke, a programmer, to even the more otherworldly talented people like Misaki who run an original anime and becomes a big hit and later on, and Mashiro, a world-renowned artist who decided to learn drawing manga out of the blue. Last but not least, Sorata’s long childhood friend, Nanami, an aspiring voice actress, also joined the dorms later on. Being surrounded with dozens of talents and inspirations everywhere, Sorata was influenced, and thus, begun to re-evaluate himself and started trying to grasp his own dreams.
Sakurasou reminds me of Bakuman, in more aspect then one. Difference however, is that Bakuman, being a shounen, focuses more on the process of the chasing of dreams, with the characters retrying, retrying and retrying no matter how much they failed. For Sakurasou, it is more about the philosophy of dreams; and how these dreams, aspirations and inspirations effect a person and his interactions with other people. It is more character-focus.
Being a character-driven story, character developments are carried out exceptionally well. At the base, most of the characters can easily be fitted into certain archetypes, and can be pretty bland especially at first glance. However, the anime did a really good job in exploring all the main characters in more depth. Shiina is an airhead; simple act of taking care of herself is out of her reach as she had sacrificed her whole life in art; her lack of emotions and her ignorance are justifiable, so she isn’t just an airhead for show, and this side of her changes as the show progresses too. Misaki also, isn’t just a comic relief character either: she also has her depressing moments, especially when her romance doesn’t go well. These two are just a few minor examples of how the characters in Sakurasou are more deep and detailed written then one initially thought.
Talents and hard work was also a theme heavily explored in the anime, as the otherworldly talents of the students of Sakurasou, seems almost too dazzling for the more “normal” people like Sorata and Nanami who need more hard work, in hope to attain the same level of result. Sorata’s constant change in his perspective on his dormmates, and especially on Mashiro, can be frustrating to watch at times, but such frustration perfectly reflects the bumpy road of dreams Sorata was undertaking. Likewise, the other characters underwent similarly significant changes along the show too, and those changes are most obviously shown in their romance relationships.
Romance transitions feel smooth, and like before, it was also interesting how their dreams and ambitions seem to effect their romance relationships. The most prominent one is Sorata and Mashiro’s case. Sorata’s dreams and commitments forbade him from regarding Mashiro – perhaps the main source of Sorata’s inspiration and motivation – as a love interest. Likewise, Mashiro’s ignorance and lack of knowledge towards everything, including love, added fuel to fire in an awkward relationship between the two. In one side, Sorata is endlessly, relentlessly trying to keep up with Mashiro’s out-of-this-world talents and in another side, Mashiro didn’t know what to do with Sorata’s constant frustration. Aside from all this mess, even comes Nanami’s feelings towards Sorata, chaotically turning it into a love triangle.
The other prominent couple in the anime is Jin and Misaki, and in this case, theirs is also a reflection of one’s dreams. In their case however, their romance in my opinion actually had the best conclusion then the rest: Jin’s passionate ambition, actually turning their romance relationship into something positive, despite having a lot ups-and-downs to get there in the process.
The visuals are more then satisfactory. Colors are vibrant and at times, seem to make use of different hues in different atmospheres, especially during scenes where lighting is present – leading to incredibly bright and vivid backgrounds and immersive visual qualities. At that end, colorful art is definitely one of Sakurasou’s strong points visual-wise – a splash of colorful colors befitting the bumpy journey of dreams the characters are facing. Animations-wise, there are some noticeable stills at certain point of the anime, but doesn’t really effect the anime’s beautiful visuals in any significant way.
The background music however, doesn’t seem to be that much appealing in contrast. They are not worst off the mark of cause, but can be pretty forgettable. There are some noteworthy soothing tracks during the more calm moments, however, a major portion of the tracks tend to focus on cute and flufiness, which can be awkward when hearing them as standalone, though they do fit the current respective atmospheres. However, they are some good tracks aforementioned, my favorite one of them had to be “Sengoku Chihiro (29 years and 27 months)”, an oddly mature song as compared to the other tracks, though befitting the song name.. and the character.
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is definitely an anime with a pleasant surprise. It is indeed harem, and it is indeed ecchi, yes, but how serious it took itself during the dramatic parts is refreshing. Dreams, aspirations, inspirations; all of them sparks off incredible similarity with Bakuman. However, Bakuman is more of positivity and in contrast, Sakurasou is more of negativity, and the struggles against that negativity – and those “struggles” in my opinion is the greatest part of the show. However, the ending may be a bit weak; not much conclusion is achieved as compared to, aforementioned, the romance between Jin and Misaki. The ending’s atmosphere does sparks off a possible sequel however, since the light novel itself is far from finished.
At that end, Sakurasou may be a comedy harem and ecchi, but when looked past that facade, Sakurasou is an astonishing great anime that tells the struggles of certain individuals in chasing their dreams, and also possibly, romance. J.C. Staff may be more famous with their works on Shakugan no Shana or Zero no Tsukaima, but Sakurasou is definitely one of their better ones too.