What’s the show? Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai, Episode 5.
So how’s this episode? I feel like (slightly) a fool for ever doubting this show! Episode 5 is a glorious and triumphant return to form for Fall’s best and most surprising anime!
Again with the ‘snappy, movie poster review’ quotes, huh? Anyway, glad to hear the show is back up to the standards you expect from it. What happens in the episode that makes it so good? You put me on the spot–I have made it abundantly clear this show is difficult to talk about, have I not? But I’ll try, so one of the ~niggling~ issues that I was worried about what cast a pall over this series–that of Mai being neglected is somewhat unfounded. She’s still here, she’s still Sakuta’s best girl, she’s still present in his life, it’s just he needs to help out a different girl by pretending to date her. And for the most part Mai is okay with it, but she’s just the right amount of not-okay with it too that makes this situation all the more realistic.
Uh-oh, so stormy clouds on the horizon–proverbially speaking? Probably, but we’ll get to that later. What needs to be said is that Tomoe–the girl he’s helping out in this arc–is amazing. She’s no Mai, but she’s different enough and interesting enough that she doesn’t need to be, she’s special in her own way. She’s also a mirror, held up to our technologically advanced society, where teenagers are so paranoid about not liking the right things, or following the correct social queues that her life has become swallowed by the pursuit of what is perceived to be normalcy. But to the detached observer looking on, seems like an alien world devoid of individuality and free-thought. Tomoe makes for as just a tragic character as Mai, just in a completely different way.
So what are her problems anyway? You mentioned last week that she was the cause of some ‘Groundhog Day-esque’ repeating phenomena? That was only the impetus to get Sakuta ~involved~ in her story, her troubles are significantly less “supernatural”–at least for the moment–than Mai’s were in her arc. The boy who’s keen on her, the one she doesn’t want to date despite his hounding, is, for the lack of a better descriptor: a douche lord. He’s a cheater, he’s sexist and he’s a bully. At one stage in the episode he begins to spread a rumour that Tomoe is a slut who sleeps with any guy and the way Sakuta deals with the whole situation is pretty damn flawless.
What’s he do? Well the bully boy (sorry I forgot his name) antagonises Sakuta on the platform, making some crude remarks about Tomoe’s fabricated promiscuity. And of course, Sakuta being the rascal that he is retorts with a snicker, which expectantly riles the bully to physical violence. Sakuta plays dirty though, and kicks him in the shins then kicks him in the face, giving him a verbal dressing down for being “uncool” before defiantly exclaiming that he’s a virgin and then runs off with Tomoe in hand.
And it works?! Seems too, at least as far as dethroning the bully from his high-horse and restoring Tomoe’s good name. I love the fact that rather than drag Tomoe into the discourse by trying to defend her virginity (which is no-one’s business by the way) he takes it on himself by declaring himself a virgin. It’s a small touch but it goes to show that Sakuta’s thinking many steps ahead. But that’s not even the best part of the episode!
Oh and what’s that then? It’s not any one thing… it’s never been any one thing. Sure the grand triumphant gestures are powerful scenes that draw attention to themselves but it’s all the ~little~ things in between that enrich the overall experience. Simple things like Mai bringing over a cute outfit for Kaede–Sakuta’s little sister–to try on. Or things as subtle as helping a nerdy classmate at the beach find the phone strap she’s lost–and therefore learning that this nerdy girl too worries about her status in class, of that being underneath the likes of Tomoe who travels in more popular circles. Everything this show does feels substantial even if it’s otherwise ordinary and that’s kind of like life–it’s the minutiae that makes up the everyday but it’s that very same minutiae that represents the rich tapestry of existence.
And you say you have trouble talking about this show… I know right? Turns out, all I have to do to find something to say is stop worrying about the “big picture” as I often do with my reviews and just focus on the little important details and then I have no shortage of things to praise. This show is simply fantastic.
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