Posted on 29 March 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo



Teenaged romance shows are a dime a dozen, so it has to take something special for a series to catch my interest. For that, the past Autumn Season was a source of gold. Kamisama Hajimemashita was awesome, Sukitte Ii na Yo was a surprise hit, and Sakurasou also seemed like the series to bring new life in the shounen romance genre. It kinda did, but if you want to stay with that impression, then don’t watch the second half.

Sakurasou really managed to set itself apart with its execution. From the outside it looked like an average romantic comedy, but when you started watching it became clear to me how good the chemistry between the characters was. The banter had a lot of comedic gold in it, and it was full of energy. Scenes were well set-up, and there were a number of really sharp characters in this series, whose lines pierced through all pretense. That made this series a roller-coaster of emotions that was actually really well balanced.

The level of writing really was good there, and consistently so. I can only recall one bad episode, which randomly introduced incest for no reason whatsoever). You’d expect this level of writing to get better as the series goes on and gets more chance to build up, but somewhere along the way it just loses its spark. Especially the final third just misses the energy and wit that made this series so addictive at the start.

The early parts of this series are about hard work versus talent, and working hard towards your dreams, and coming of age. The show ends with a love triangle and a silly subplot about a bunch of dorms being closed down. It totally lacks any kind of impact, and the series ends with a melodramatic ending that is too scared to really resolve anything. The only good parts about the final third is where the creators focus on the themes that made the first half so good, but there are unfortunately too few moments to really salvage the series.

It’s a shame, really. I really endorse series evolving and changing. Doing the same thing over and over gets boring. But if you want to change your attention, you have to make sure that you have something interesting and logical to follow up with. Sakurasou didn’t and just got bogged down in its genre conventions that unfortunately spoiled what could have been such a good shounen romance.
One-Sentence Review: If you are interested in Sakurasou, my tip is to watch until episode 16, and let your imagination fill in the climax, because if you do you’ll get a really rewarding and witty romance series, instead of having to sit through the downer climax that follows…
Suggestions:
Kaze no Shoujo Emily
True Tears
Yumekui Merry

Posted on with categories: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

Okay, I’m going to combine these three episodes into one entry in order to wrap up Sakurasou. My impression of them is that Mari Okada overshot herself a bit here. Her strength has always been in the way she used melodrama, but the actual climax of this series… yeah.

So the idea of the final three episodes was simple: episode 22 resolved the romantic subplots, episode 23 handled the subplot about Sakurasou about to close and episode 24 was then the epilogue. The best was episode 22. Sure, it was incredibly predictable and had it coming for the entire series, but it was charming enough. I enjoyed that. Been there, done that, but charming.

Episode 23… dear god, what a bawl-fest. I mean, I can enjoy a good cry and all, but that was just too much. It’s in character for Misaki to just hijack something as important as the graduation ceremony. It’s not in character for everyone and his dog to be so emotionally attached to that speech. I mean, that was just total melodrama.

In the past, Mari Okada’s endings have always stood to me as endings that managed to deliver high emotions really well. They were overdramatic, but they were well built up, were believable, and had some variation: they weren’t a bawl-fest from start to finish and had quiet, funny or other moments that broke up the mood. That was like, “Whine whine whine Sakurasou is awesome, whine whine whine I love you all”. There is such a thing as too much love here…

Episode 24, I liked it at the beginning. Until it revealed its true colours as an ending that couldn’t pull through with the decisions it made. The sister didn’t enter the school? Hah! She actually lied to Sorata about her student number. Jin and Misaki go away in order to live their own lives? Hah, they just marry and conveniently start to live next to Sakurasou. What was all of the build-up for? What was all the growth for? I really dislike those kinds of half-assed endings.

So yeah, if I knew what I know today, I would have blogged Kamisama Hajimemashita and Sukitte Ii na Yo for the past autumn season’s Romance shows. But unfortunately, this was something that I just could never have seen coming. Sakurasou lured me in with its 24 episodes, plus its really strong start. It just did not make good use of its second half at all.
Rating: 3/8 (Mediocre)

Posted on 10 March 2013 with categories: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

Whoa. This episode hit me hard.

Before watching these two episodes, I had lost a bit of my motivation to keep up with Sakurasou because it seemed to head into the predictable finale direction: love triangle angst with forced drama for Sakurasou closing down. It all sounded so “been there, done that”, and seemed so far away from what made this series so good. And then… Aoyama failed her auditions.

Damn, these two episodes had some bleak themes: with hard work and guts alone you ain’t gonna make it, because there will be enough people who also have that. Just because you put in all of your effort, doesn’t automatically mean you’ll succeed, and both Sorata and Aoyama found this out the hard way. With such an inspirational series, I did not expect this direction, but I also really liked how the creators used Shiina here: All the while, she had been inspiring everyone, and yet here it becomes clear why she pushes everyone away: again her art was the thing that got noticed. And she did land the job incredibly easily. Life is just unfair that way.

The one thing I’m a bit iffy about is the plot with Sakurasou closing down and all, but even there this series makes very good points: so what if it’s closed down? You can always find other housing. The main problem underlying here is that people are trying to foce Shiina to give up her ambitions.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 24 February 2013 with categories: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

Here is where you can see that the source material really has some problems: it’s revealed that the finale of the series will focus on Sakurasou shutting down. The big problem with that: it’s cliched as hell. I know it will lead to character development and all, but it’s just so standard. We’ve seen this and been there. It’s now up to the writers and animators to really make it stand out like what this series has always done. Did this episode provide a good start?

Um…. this episode had me very, very confused. It was just like the first episode… but without Shiina. Ryuunosuke made an appearance, even though he didn’t do that in the first episode. The weirdest thing is that this was a flashback in which nobody seemed to find it strange that things were suddenly incorrect.

This episode: it was a recap of the first episode, and yet it wasn’t. What the hell?
Rating: $#@!?/8 (Wut?)

Posted on 21 February 2013 with categories: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

Let’s talk a bit about the issue of Cheese. Mari Okada, I find her to be a fantastic and prolific writer, but she does have a weakness: the cheese. Drama that is just a bit too overblown. She has had a number of tricks to hide this, though. Her best series combine lots of drama with a lot of great twists that just keep the story changing.

The twist in this episode was Jin proposing to Misaki. That was great. I loved how the creators used the teachers to add a bit of humour there. The build-up to it though was a bit disappointing, and had a bit too much cheese. It’s here where the drama between Jin and Misaki was dragged out a bit too long, when suddenly an entire episode focused on it. The episode just was not witty enough to keep up with it, and it really showed that the two of them are not main character material: they have a nice story but they can’t keep you busy like Sorata and Shiina can when they’re together. The two of them meanwhile were busy with what felt like recycling some of their chemistry in this episode.

Also, Jin. You’re in an anime, so I know that you’ll end up happily ever after and all. But I don’t think your tactic would have worked in real life…

After this we’ll probably also get an episode around Jun. That’s one I’m looking forward to. But please, for god’s sake: do something about Ayoama and that sister. This episode was really building them up to go down the predictable, dull and overused path. Just… do something with it. I am fearing that those will lead to a pretty disappointing conclusion here…
Rating: 4/8 (Enjoyable)

Posted on 9 February 2013 with categories: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

Putting the sister aside, my biggest complaint about this series so far was Aoyama’s part in the love traingle. I had hoped that as time went on, she’d move on… but no. In fact, this episode shot down my single hope at her falling in love with someone else, when at valentine’s day, she was in trouble, and called Sorata. The guy who had a crush on her… acted as a stepping stone.

And don’t get me wrong, I really like that guy. I forgot his name already, but his dedication for Aoyama is admirable. Which is why it’s all the worse that he’s such a simple character with no chance in hell to go anywhere, the same way in which Aoyama is doomed to be Shiina’s second choice. That in its own would be good, but this show doesn’t do anything with it. Instead this show just continue to develop Aoyama as if she is a valid romantic interest for the sake of drama.

The rest of the episode was delightful as usual, though. There was this nice bit of development between Rita and Ryuunosuke. It is beyond me how she manages to gather the money to travel back and forth between England and Japan for such a long time, but I really liked the gesture. Ryuunosuke’s reaction at the end of the episode also was priceless. Shiina got her moment as well, despite how it took so long thanks to Aoyama. She indeed is miles beyond Sorata and he can easily forget that. That is one point that this episode made that I really liked.
Rating: 4.5/8 (Good)

Posted on 3 February 2013 with categories: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

The sister… she has returned. Thanfully, thankfully her role seems to change. This was the first time in which she really abandoned her role of “cheap siscon” and instead just as a normal sister who gets to encourage her brother. Thank you for finally going there, Sakurasou. Having a sister like that is fine. Just cut the romantic hints and you would have had a good character from the start.

Beyond that, Shina was hilarious again, Misaki was hilarious as the bullfrog, and Sorata’s presentation was well done: he didn’t exactly make it, but he got his foot inbetween the door. It’s indeed unrealistic to believe that things just go right, right from one presentation. Still, he was given a chance. And I thin kthat with Shiina’s talent as an artist, he might actually get there.

Beyond that, this episode was just lots of slice of life. In fact, when the episode ended I was surprised that was already over, considering how little had happened. And then I thought back and realized that a lot had actually happened, it was just nearly all small scenes that were meent to build characters. Perhaps not the best that this series has shown so far, but still really good.

Oh yeah, valentine’s day is coming…
Rating: 5/8 (Great)16

Posted on 25 January 2013 with categories: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

Aagh! The sister has returned!

She still sucks for being in love with her brother, but nevertheless I liked this episode a lot. We got introduced to Sorata’s hometown and to his parents, which does explain why he felt at home at Sakurasou so much, since his parents are completely weird. I laughed a lot at their antics in this episode, and especially Sorata’s father rocks.

Furthermore, this episode actually did try to make up for the horrible decision that this series made for allowing the sister to fall in love with her brother: what I had been fearing was that she too would end up in the same school as Sorata so that she’d be even more prevalent in this series, but in this episode it became clear that she probably won’t make the entrance exams. This really helped to put things into perspective, and also hinted that she will move on.

Especially in contrast with the rest of this episode, which focused on doing what you love to do for the one you love. Especially in the case of Misaki and Shiina, but the entire main cast has this. It again was full of little details, for example Misaki as she kept playing with the cat when she was down. That was actually really adorable. I also like this surprising relationship between Jin and the student council president. I did not expect that guy to get so much attention in this series, but the two of them work really well together. Now do the same thing with that one guy who has a crush on Nanami.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 18 January 2013 with categories: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

Whoa! The writing in this episode was even better than usual. It was to the point that the episode felt like it took much longer than the usual twenty minutes, so much did the creators manage to put into it, and the creators managed to significantly develop three major relationships at the same time.

The thing with this episode was not necessarily the characters hooking up: all of it had it coming from miles ago. It’s just… the characters just kept talking. And talking. About their feelings, about the feelings of others, about what to do, what they’re struggling with, and it was all in great detail. It’s probably something personal (in real life I’m also very occupied with these kinds of issues at the moment), but it really hit home, and it was quite thought-provoking for me. This all was with great voice-acting so I really loved this episode.

What I do hope for the next couple of episodes, is that Nanami will find her own guy, instead of sticking with Sorata. At this point she has to notice that it’s not going to work for her. I know that the love triangle will make for some easier drama, but it’s so much more interesting if she also manages to find someone for her own. Her role has been second choice for the enire series, only saved by her good characterization, but this episode really showed that she has an excellent character, who really feels a bit wasted in her current role.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 12 January 2013 with categories: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

Hell yeah! Three Mari Okada series in one season again! And not only that, they’re all in their second halves. This will be awesome! Even though two of them are adaptations, she really is able to get the best out of the source material.

And this episode reminded me why I originally liked Sakurasou so much: the chemistry just amazing. This episode again made me laugh so much at the banter between the different cast members, but in particular Sorata and Shiina were wonderful in this episode. Sorata is also picking up on Shiina’s sharpness here. And I love how the creators tried to make up for the sister debacle: completely ignoring her and turning it into a hilarious joke for this episode. It’s a good start.

But something other happened: not just the chemistry was really sharp, the drama as well. Rita and Ryuunosuke keep developing, even though Rita is gone now. Shiina is now in love, and you can really notice it: she really wants to be with Sorata as much as possible, and keeps hanging around him. Sorata meanwhile said something really interesting here: he prefers the old Shiina more. I actually really like that way in which that subplot is going: Sorata wondering whether or not Shiina is heading into the right direction. Shiina’s development is really great, and yet it’s one of the characters who is fighting it. Aoyama meanwhile still has a dodgy part in this: I had hoped that she would move on, but instead we seem to be heading for a love triangle. Not sure whether I like that.

And then there is Misaki. Forceful is a word to use for her here, but unfortunately I do have to say that I can learn a thing or two from how she was acting in this episode. Here is one girl who really made up her mind on something.

One word on the new OP and ED by the way: they’re both pretty good. I just have one criticism for the ED: it doesn’t really work when the characters aren’t really synched to the music.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

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