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.
One of the things I found interesting about this show is that for me very often the main character, Sorata, came across in a bad way, particularly how he often treated Mashiro badly. Yes, I understand why he acted that way, it was a major part of his character and his character development. It just made it rough to get through the middle part of the series.
Nanami’s character also left an impression on me because she always came across as the odd person out in a collection of odd people, and in the end I was actually happy she didn’t hook up with Sorata because I felt she could do better than him ;)
The more serious parts are frustrating to watch indeed, especially in the change in how Sorata treated Mashiro – but I find that frustration to be a sort of a charm to the series. Without that, and the anime only retained the generic harem comedy atmosphere from the early episodes, it won’t be the Sakurasou it is now. She is more of an outsider, to the point that I kinda pity her. All the main characters pretty much had established canon pairings, all except for her.
I liked the show, but it had a quite negative tendency after all. The series wasn’t that well received in Japan, I’ve heard and I have a little theory regarding that. When people watch anime,they want to be entertained and escape their everyday sorrows for a few minutes. But Sakurasou did something else with the ongoing fails of the “normal” ones Nanami and Sorata, they reminded the viewers of their own struggles and problems with career and education.
The talented ones have success and the others can try until they die, this might be true,but no motivating message from an anime XD
Aside from the strong focus of career in a creative job, there were more interesting things about this show like character interactions. Ok, Sorata is a mean sore loser, but the rest of the characters were nice. Nanami was my favorite in the end, shortly behind was Misaka, such a funny, energetic girl ;D
Indeed, especially on the later parts. It wasn’t? I was sure it’s going to be, what with the success of the light novel and all. If that’s the case, the possibility of a second season is doubtful D: It’s all a matter of feeling a sense of relation to the characters, or an escapism. Although there were signs of escapism at first, the anime was clearly going for the former :D
Still hard to say at the moment though ;p perhaps they will have success somewhere along the line, or perhaps they never will. Hard to say with the light novel still ongoing.
Character interactions were also great indeed, I like Sorata and Mashiro’s first impressions with each other xD Not the part where they met outside, the part where Sorata first enters her room.. xD I don’t know why but the only feeling I had for Nanami is pity D: I like Ryuunosuke though, badass computer geek, kinda weird the favorite character coming out from a show like this ended turning into a guy – a trap. But Nanami, Mashiro and Misaki are awesome too xD
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I thought the highlights of the show were the lovely art and animation as well as the light-hearted atmosphere that I thought was pretty well done in the first half. Didn’t really enjoy the 2nd half though, it was plagued with too much unnecessary melodrama that failed to get me emotionally invested into the show. I’d still say it’s one of JC Staff’s better shows though. Nice review!
The first half was more about introduction, building up and development of the plot and characters, so it does come off as more light-hearted, however, crucially relevant to the plot. It would seem even weirder if they didn’t go further with those plot elements and just remained there but that’s just me. And indeed :D
I just finished watching this anime, and just like you said, I didn’t think much of it because on first glance it just looks like a silly rom com, and while this is true in a way there really is so much more to it all. I really liked the character development and the major characters really did grow a lot through the story, especially Mashiro. The serious moments of the story really hit me and I was surprised how engaged I was with both the tragic, heartbreaking failures and the touching, beautiful moments. In particular I loved the graduation scene from the second to last episode. Wasn’t quite sure what I’d think of it but having finished it this really was quite the enjoyable anime and I really loved it in the end.
Indeed, I believe my first impression when I watched the first episode was that I was impressed and even immersed into their school – a school that teaches skills you need to work in an anime-related occupation: producing, directing, manga, scriptwriting, voice acting, what’s not to like about such an awesome school? They did grow a lot as characters, despite the bumpy, and frustrating journey throughout. Those scenes really does hit home, especially at some of the character’s countless failures. Indeed, and I sure hope there’s a second season or something, the LN’s still going strong.
Yeah that definitely surprised me, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an anime about characters going to school for otaku culture-related careers so I thought that was really neat. I think the closest thing to that I’ve heard of is Bakuman, but I haven’t actually even seen that so I wouldn’t really know. But yeah, there was lots of character development, and sometimes the characters frustrated me but in the end it all worked out for the better. Lots of strong feels from this anime and I really hope they make a second season. If they don’t, I hope at least that someone will translate the rest of the light novels, I heard that Sakurasou is ending soon (if it hasn’t already ended).
It’s an unique school for sure, I think it’s a high school, judging from the character’s ages, but the school is more akin to an art college then a normal school. Bakuman is slightly different, they don’t go to school to learn otaku-related skills (in their case, drawing manga), but they do it while attending school at the same time. To them, school is actually a waste of time, lol, as any time they had, they would rather put them into their manga. Not sure about that, but I think the LN still had a lot of material.
It’s pretty interesting how they included something like that, really helped distinguish Sakurasou from other school rom coms and such. And I see, that makes sense, doesn’t seem quite like Sakurasou in that regard. A school dedicated to just manga doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense in what seems to be a pretty realistic story I suppose. How good is Bakuman anyway? I’m planning to read the manga sometime soon since a friend wanted me to give it a try.
Sorry for the extremely late reply (like 2 years!), I had a knack for missing comments out of nowhere, and finding it again in the future after “re-stalking” my old posts, lol. Anyway, not sure if you had read/watched Bakuman by now, but it’s a very nice series, and very insightful about the shounen manga industry too. I really recommend it if you haven’t get to it.