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An Anime Review: The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
The story of the high schoolers, all strange in their own way, who come together and experience adventures, while being involved in at least one love triangle, is nothing new in anime. Rather, it is a cliche. So perhaps «The Pet Girl of Sakurasou» would seem boring to those who are fed up with this set up, but I feel that this is one of the best executions I have seen.
Our story begins at Sakurasou, a dorm where the troublesome students of the local high school lives. We have Misaki, an extremely outgoing girl obsessed with making anime, Jin, a playboy, and Akasaka, a shut in and expert programmer. And then, of course, there is the main character, Sorata, who hates all the strangeness and wishes to move. He is a regular high-schooler and a very typical protagonist, always ready to defend what is right, always in shock at the weirdness around him, and in many swept away by the other characters into strange adventures. As he appears in the beginning, he seems like the main character which has been the focus in hundreds of other shows before it, but that is about to change.
A New Tenant
Status quo is challenged as a new addition is made to the dysfunctional family in the form of a girl called Mashiro. Mashiro is something of a genius painter who is now trying to write manga, but is completely unable to take care of herself, and of course it falls to Sorata to take care of her, which he does begrudgingly. In the beginning she seems robotic and uncaring, but she warms up to Sorata and starts becoming interested in fitting in and doing things herself, although in a very childlike way. Mashiro never seems like she understands the world.
Sorata actually wants to move out of Sakurasou, and the only things stopping him are his cats, which are not allowed in the regular dorms. So he tries to find a home for them, but has no luck. He also complains about being bored. In most romantic animes, we focus more on the people around the main character than our lead, and the lead's flaws is usually related to being too kind, to be willing to sacrifice himself for others without question, or to his inability to understand the feelings of those around him. Yet, just a few episodes in, we actually see our main character evolve.
Sorata realizes that his boredom and depression does not come from Sakurasou, nor from his eccentric roommates, but from his own lack of focus in life. Everyone else is trying to become the best in their field, but Sorata does not have any clear goals, nothing to work towards. Angry at himself and disappointed, Sorata vows to change, and he does. He finds something he wants to do and sets out to accomplish his goal, in his case designing a video game.
Work and Failure
An interesting aspect of “The Pet Girl of Sakurasou” is its relative sense of ruthlessness. It is not very heartbreaking compared to dark movies you might have seen, but the anime is at times very realistic about how difficult it can be to make it in professions like television or video games. Several times the characters fail, something only made sadder by the fact that their friends succeed.
The struggles between these two groups are a big part of the relationships, but luckily no villain appears. No one blames the others or looks down on their friends, not even when things are at their most difficult. But the various ways this plays in throughout the anime is great, and makes for some of the most emotional scenes. If there is one thing which separates “The Pet Girl of Sakurasou” from average anime, it is this thread. This anime is about something, and it explores its theme beautifully.
Love and Animation
As for the romance, there are several couples. The older teens Misaki and Jin have their rocky relationship through the series, with Jin constantly pushing Misaki because he feels inferior to her. Theirs is an interesting romance. Akasaka has a sort-of girlfriend, but their relationship is not given much time. That does not seem to be necessary either.
Our main character Sorata gets two love interests, of course. Mashiro and a latecomer to Sakurasou, Nanami. Nanami is a classmate of Sorata, and a budding voice actress against her parents wishes. She borders on tsundere, but her good qualities, like her sense of responsibility, and her drive towards her goals even uphill makes her very likable.
A love triangle starts, but without too much unnecessary drama. There is a little bit of fighting between the girls, but it is very light-hearted and comedic. Personally I must admit I always found getting into a relationship with Mashiro slightly creepy. She just acts too much like a child, and it constantly felt like I was watching a teenager and a five year-old. But that is rather minor. And they are funny together, there is no denying that.
Sorata also gets some unwanted attention from his sister, but she is suddenly removed towards the end. I am not sure what happened to her.
The animation is great. There is so much color, it is so bright and wonderful. I love it. And with all of that going for it, “The Pet Girl of Sakurasou” manages to be one of the best high school romance animes out there. With good characters, refreshing ideas and a plot and animation far beyond average, this anime does not reinvent the genre in any way, it just does it really well. Definitely one I would recommend.
© 2014 Nidag the Goat