‘Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai’ as a title is misleading, a click-bait I would say. On the surface, it might seem like your typical harem — filled with cute anime girls wanting to date the male protagonist, and it would not be wrong to assume that. But diving deeper, ‘Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai’ is actually a multi-layered show, depicting a myriad of common high school students’ struggles.
The anime starts off with the main male protagonist — Azusagawa Sakuta, a second-year high school student — and his sister — Azusagawa Kaede, with Kaede being cyberbullied, and through Puberty Syndrome — a supernatural phenomenon, caused by instability and sensitivity, the psychological impact have manifested itself through physical cuts and injuries on her body causing her to lose all of her memories. And a 3-talon-like scar also formed on Sakuta’s body. Many of such occurrence started manifesting around the Sakuta, and he tries to confront them.
The characters were interesting as well, each of them have amazing personalities — lovable and funny. Mai’s teasing, Sakuta’s flirtiness, Futaba explaining Puberty Syndrome with physics. The characters were wholesome and really well written — their pasts were realistic and explain how each of them come to be, psychological wise.
What makes this anime particularly amazing is how each of the character’s Puberty Syndrome symbolize a struggle that all of us can relate to. It shows how the past and your personality can affect you in the future, and how we can overcome it. The dialogue between the cast is also funny and interesting, taking any opportunity it can to try and be flirty about it, making us feel more personally involved.
Sakurajima Mai, Overcoming Being Left Alone:
In the first arc, Sakurajima Mai was coerced and lied to by her mom. As a TV-star, and a minor, her mom, as her agent, signed a contract without her consent, essentially forcing her to take a photoshoot in swimsuit. This incident made her feel resentful towards her mom, and she stopped working in the industry altogether. To escape from the industry, she went to school, and in school, she was rather quiet — not wanting to be a part of anything. And soon after, people started to forget about her the Puberty Syndrome will cause Mai to disappear, and Sakuta tries to fight against her disappearance.
Overcoming Unrequited Love:
In the second arc Koga Tomoe was confessed to, by popular basketball player in school, Yousuke Maesawa. One of Tomoe’s friend had a crush on Yousuke, and as Tomoe is needy, and feel the need to please others, she is afraid that her friends would abandon her; thus Tomoe tries to avoid the confession and Puberty Syndrome cause a time-loop whenever Tomoe would be dissatisfied with the outcome. Through circumstances, Tomoe asked Sakuta to be his boyfriend until the start of summer break so that she can then avoid Yousuke. But she fell in love. When it was time for them to stop dating, Tomoe’s unhappiness cause time keeps looping and Sakuta has to find a way to stop the loop.
Overcoming Cognitive Dissonance:
Futaba Rio, one of Sakuta’s best friend, helped him along the way to solve Sakurajima’s and Tomoe’s, and later others’, Puberty Syndrome. However, in the third arc, Futaba Rio also experienced Puberty Syndrome. Her desire to be noticed and loved by others had created a doppelganger — one that would post lewd pictures online, and the original Futaba was not happy with it. She had to come to terms with her other self, to realize which part of her personality she wants to carry on forward in life, and Sakuta acted as a mediator.
Toyohama Nadoka, Overcoming Being Compared To:
Toyohama Nadoka is Mai’s half sister. They have different mothers, and Nadoka, being the younger one, was constantly being compared to his older sister — Mai. This has made Nadoka bitter and resentful, hating her mother for constantly projecting her insecurity onto Nadoka, always forcing her to be better than Mai. The Puberty Syndrome has swap Nadoka’s and Mai’s body, each being in their sister body, and they would then experience how it feels being in the other’s shoe. Sakuta, again, in the 4th arc, acted as a mediator between the two sisters.
Azusagawa Kaede, Overcoming Anxiety:
Azusagawa Kaede, young sister of Sakuta, was cyberbullied. Puberty Syndrome has caused all of the hurt she felt, manifested onto her body — cuts and wounds appearing. She loses her memory completely and had to start her life anew, not knowing anyone, including her own brother. She struggles with anxiety, a phone notification would cause her trauma(as she was cyberbullied through phone), and she is afraid to meet the outside world. She had to take little steps to overcome her trauma, and Sakuta was by her side, slowly and carefully overcome this fear.