Come with me and you’ll see a world of pure imagination! K is the name, movies are my game but today we have a special treat. Hope you like the décor, I’m really proud of that eye-popping thumbnail. However, if you came to be naughty children, you’ll get NOTHING! YOU LOSE, GOOD DAY SIR! Introducing the everlasting click bait! You’re stuck with a serious post looking into the thematic exploration and vast development of the characters. Pretty fitting for this show if you ask me. If you came her to drool over the pretty girls. You can still do that but not as much as you may have anticipated.
This is sort of a different post format that I rarely use. The last time I used it was for Clannad and Clannad After Story. Fitting enough, a show remarkably similar in a lot of ways. Both are essentially romance heavy, character driven anthology series. I enjoy both of these series but putting one over the other is honestly Apples and Oranges to me. So now I’m going to go way too in-depth explaining my thoughts between the two.
Bunny Girl VS Clannad
This show is most comparable to Clannad, a show I very much appreciate. I have a hard time favoring one over the other. Now this is going to sound wild. I know the major complaint people have, but I’d argue the Bunny Girl is more consistent. I know the common gripe is to say that Bunny Girl is front loaded. “It fails to live up the hype of the first 4 episodes”. That’s a little exaggerated but in spite of that, doesn’t stop it from being consistent.
Bunny Girl is very even in tone and presentation. It mixes drama with moments of levity well and it’s visually gorgeous almost every scene. That’s why I feel that it is kind of laid-back Clannad. On the other hand, Clannad is more cartoon-ish, occasionally stylized, features very melodramatic soundtrack is overall is more exaggerated.
Overall Clannad is sort of an uneven affair. Some story threads don’t just mesh with each other. Some seeming too tame (Tomoyo, Fujibayashi sisters, sunoharas) or too unbelievable (Nagisa, Kotomi, Yukine). In no way do I think Clannad is bad, and I ultimately admire the whole package. If anyone said they loved Clannad and then proceeded to say, “yeah, my favorite episode is Search for Fake Love. The one where they trick Sunohara into dating Nagisa’s mom”. You’d look at them like they’re an alien from a distant planet.
Clannad is a show of phenomenal highlights and captivating moments. A masterclass at presenting emotionally charge moments and orchestrating them to be as emotionally draining as possible. The cinematography, the writing, the music always seems to come together and present something insanely memorable and poignant. Not dismissing great aspects sprinkled without. Such as Fuko in After Story has a mundane episode that is actual subtlety tragic and it’s a very clever in that. Clannad has flaws, but the last 5 minutes of “The Ends of the Earth” (episode 18 AS) is a Top 100 scene in anime all-time. That’s not an opinion, I’m just going to call it straight facts. Come at me with 100 better scenes in the comments if you disagree.
That’s why it’s tough to compare it with Bunny Girl. Bunny Girl doesn’t have the peaks and valley’s that Clannad does. Bunny Girl has some great moments, I like the big gesture scene. That said, it never really all comes together to the same extent. On paper I give the edge to Bunny Girl. I’m in love with it conceptually. Both for the idea of using these supernatural occurrences to represent the trials and traumas of adolescents. As well as the execution of just how imaginative and clever these manifestations of insecurities are. It’s much more consistent in terms of theme and concept. Especially its use of magical elements which in Clannad seemed scarce, intrusive, and convenient.
Mai Sakurajima Arc
This is why it took me so long to transcribe my thoughts on Bunny Girl Senpai. I don’t know if it’s feasibly possible for me to talk about it without coming across as “drinking the Kool-Aid”. This arc centers around the titular character and is the epitome of what this show is.
For reference at how I typically judge characters you can look no further than my KyoAni Girls Tier List. While it is subject to opinion my highest rated characters seemed to fall into two criteria. Either are quintessential representation of the creativity of the show and all the positive aspects of it (Mugi or Dekamori); or they had phenomenal character arcs. Ones great dramatic weight and felt special with the depth they were explored (Mirai or Shouko). Within that line of thinking, Mai falls into both classifications and is an easy S-tier for me.
First, the relationship between her and Sakuta is just exquisite. For a number of reasons, the charm of their relationship is a truly special rarity. Seeing two characters who are almost virtually the same is sort of a unique dynamic. The chemistry is just palpable. Their relationship is just really authentic. It grows in a way that feels organic and not too heavily influenced by plot contrivances or the demands of the story. Mai and Sakuta have just such enjoyable dialogue that every scene they’re together it’s gold.
The prospect of an English dub for this show interests me. I think it could enhance my viewing experience in many ways. A lot of the dialogue revolves around a sharp wit and sarcasm to it. Heavily dependent on its delivery, it would be amplified if I weren’t readying the punchlines. Or at least immersing myself in the delivery more. However, Kaito Ishikawa (Sakuta) and Asami Seto (Mai) play the roles amazingly. Their delivery of lines being very understated and nonchalant matches the visuals well. Most of the time I don’t have a problem with dubs. Yet this one is so dependent on the characters having that laid-back personality. Wouldn’t surprise me if an anime dub actor used to the expressive delivery just soiling it.
Bunny Girl Senpai is an exercise in impressions and our ability to understand things. Media isn’t consumed in a vacuum; you had a precognitive impression of this show before you even watched a second of it. The implications of “Bunny Girl” lead you to make some assumptions based on the series. Maybe I got you to do the same thing with this post’s thumbnail. Misleading you into thinking I’d be a little more cheeky or devilish in my discussion.
I find the meta analysis of Bunny Girl’s marketing to be something compelling onto it’s own. Consider how many people would be interested if I told you the director of RahXephon in collaboration with on of the writers from Steins;Gate is doing a romance show with fantasy elements? Someone interested in that might equally sneer at the name, Bunny Girl Senpai.
Why this arc is particularly satisfying is that it props up the strength of the show and its main characters. Bunny Girl Senpai examines the state of adolescence through a philosophical, epistemological, and sometimes even existential lens. Bunny Girl unravels the daily drama of these characters in a way that heightens existence through fiction, while staying grounded in genuine emotions
Mai’s conflict is that she’s vanishing from the collective conscious of the world. However, that conflict is rooted in her desire for that to be so. The pressures of fame and responsibility put her in high demand, convincing her the need to escape it somehow. This creates the strong foundation for their relationship moving forward. Both of them possess the ability to understand one another resulting in strengthening them as a person. Mai’s existence is secured by honest interest in her well being. Mai validates Sakuta for what he truly is seeing past the rumors. They reach this conclusion through delightfully witted banter, a sense of impeding doom, and transition from mutual fascination to mutual compassion.
Continued in Part 2…