Anime Review: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (The Pet Girl of Sakurasou)
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is a 24 episode anime based on the light novel of the same name. It has very high quality animation and generally has a very nice visual representation. Besides the fact that it looks good, it has a very strong story line and is willing to go beyond the expected in anime. There will be many times where the outcome of a situation is not nearly what you would expect and the results of many situations tend to have more realism to them than anime typically does.
The storyline follows Sorata Kanda who was recently sent to live in Sakurasou which is the dorm for "problem children". The reason for him being sent there is that he had found an abandon kitten and decided to take care of it. Pets are not allowed inside the dorms and after refusing to send it back into the streets he was forced to move into Sakurasou instead.
Each of the dorm residents has quirky personality qualities, including the teacher who runs the place. First there is Misaki who is a hyperactive girl who never stops talking. However, she is incredibly gifted in animation and has successfully had her anime made for prime time. She tends to be the catalyst for group activities and is constantly trying to make others happy.
Jin is a script writer and womanizer as well as an incredibly cunning individual. He tends to be the person Sorata seeks for advice and is generally looked up to by his peers.
Ryūnosuke is a computer genius that develops software for various companies and pretty much has it made. He is incredibly solitary and rarely leaves his room. He doesn't even attend class unless he has to.
Having to live with this eclectic group of people who constantly bother him, Sorata is determined to find homes for all the cats he has picked up to be able to move out of Sakurasou.
One day Sorata is asked by Chihiro-Sensai to pick up her cousin who will begin to start living in Sakurasou for the remainder of the year. When he arrives at the station he is shocked to see a blonde beauty who he soon realizes is the cousin he was asked to pick up.
Shiina, the cousin, asks him what color he wishes he was in which Sorata replies with "Opal". After bringing her back to Sakurasou, he soon realizes something isn't quite right with Shiina. She is completely helpless with taking care of herself to the point where she can't even dress herself properly.
It then comes down to Sorata to take care of her every single day, which he resents at first but then becomes used to it. After several days of this, he finds out that Shiina may be helpless in most aspects of life but is still an incredibly gifted person when it comes to art. Shiina turns out to be a world famous painter who had just recently switched to pursuing a career in drawing manga.
With that initial story set up, this series turns into a real slice of life. Besides the crazy antics of Misaki, this series is very much grounded in reality. The characters all have goals and some will reach them while others won't. Nothing is ever the fairy tale ending and there are many ups and downs as you progress through the episodes.
As with all high school anime, there is the element of love. Sorata is really taken with Shiina (or so it seems) but later on another strong female presence comes in, Nanami. Nanami was friends with Sorata prior to his entrance into Sakurasou and it is obvious that she likes him from the very beginning. Eventually she comes to live in Sakurasou as well and is constantly around Sorata. The two get along great and it appears that Sorata really has feelings for both characters.
Unlike a lot of other love triangles, where the one the protagonist ends up with is entirely obvious, this one keeps you guessing at certain points. He doesn't interact with either girl on a superficial level and you can really feel the deep connections he has with both characters.
What is really interesting is the aspect that Shiina brings to the anime. Despite her being pretty helpless when it comes to most every day functions, she is always successful at what she does through her sheer talent and dedication. This is something that Sorata constantly struggles with.
He switches from love to hate and admiration to jealousy towards Shiina as she succeeds and he fails. It gets to the point where some times you just want to slap Sorata for being so jealous. Shiina never knows how to react because she never understands and really never could, at least that is how Sorata sees it.
This can get annoying at some points yet at same time it adds a very human element to the series which I feel it needs to be commended for.
If you couldn't already tell, I really like this anime. It is well worth the watch and it has been licensed for a release by Sentai FIlmworks but there is no official American release date as far as I can tell. However, you can probably just find the Japanese version out there somewhere, I know I did.
Again, this was based on the light novel, and in my experience, every anime based on a light novel has been good. It is a nice trend besides the fact that you'll never get the true ending! From what I have researched, it appears that the anime goes up to about volume 10 of the novel series. If you are interested in reading the light novels (which will probably never ever be released in English) Baka-Tsuki is doing a fan translation and they are up to volume 4 out of 12, 12 being the final volume of the series.