Home is where the heart is
Here I was getting all excited about uploading the 1st review for Sakurasou and two people beat me to it... that's what I get for waiting a day (bastards, *cough*). Anyway, Sakurasou is in my view one of the truer rom coms I've seen in quite a while. By which I mean, it emphasized both the com AND the rom elements. You'll notice I've reversed the order to point out the rom component. Let's face it, most things nowadays that people call rom coms are really just bad VN adaptations (harems) and ech coms. This is why I feel it necessary to emphasize Sakurasou as a rather true rom com. And the only reason why I use the modifier rather is because the last 6 eps or so of the series are a little more SoL than rom com. So not quite a Toradora level rom com, but if you ask me the first thing Sakurasou reminds me of it would absolutely be Toradora. I do mean this to be very high praise and it's well deserved. While Sakurasou doesn't quite stick to the main coupling as strongly as Toradora, at its best it really is at that level. The emotional moments in this series, are really emotional. These moments hit home hard and become instantly memorable. But let me reel things in a bit here so I don't start going crazy with spoilers. In the broadest sense there are two very significant elements to this series, one being the romances (plural) and the other being the camaraderie of the dormmates of Sakurasou (see title). I have to admit when they kept pulling the Sakurasou card down the stretch I was concerned if the romance element would fizzle out. But thankfully this was not the case. I don't know if maybe I'm biased as a fan of SoLs, but the whole Sakurasou community vibe down the stretch really appealed to me. How could it not after Misaki's dramatic speech? I was practically in tears not even halfway through. As I said, this is a moment series and there are several that stand out. And what allows this to be a moment series are the fantastic cast of characters. And the only place to start with the characters is Mashiro. If you were to go on my prof and check out my Lists page, you would see that I have Mashiro in the top 5 of my top 10 fav female characters ever. And I assure you, this is a very difficult list to break into at all. What makes Mashiro's character really spectacular is her range of personalities. On the surface she's a lost tabula rasa type but as her character evolves we see a certain world-wiseness out of her and most impressively we come to know this delicate emotional side to her that really pushes her character over the top. Mashiro's emotional moments for me were truly unforgettable. I swear I can almost relive these moments in my head to the letter. To play on one of her memorable quotes, Mashiro don’t get out of my head! One final note before I proceed further, I think Mashiro's seiyuu (who you may recognize as Inori from GC) deserves tremendous credit for her performance. Moving along, as we all know a great pairing requires strong characters on both ends. And while by no means the equal of Mashiro, Sorata does a great job as the male lead in Sakurasou. Once again, something that really impressed me about Sorata was his range. He’s your average joe type and while having to deal with all the chaos at Sakurasou he transforms into an extremely caring and loyal personality with the tendency to have very strong emotional reactions. Some of Sorata’s more emotional moments are made really heavy by all the burdens and misfortunes that befall him. You can’t help but feel bad for the guy and you keep wanting him to succeed. The other character that I’m required to make note of here is Nanami. She’s the default childhood friend character that’s always secretly liked Sorata. Only one thing, she’s actually not a terrible character! Nanami actually adds some really nice plot depth and some more great emotional moments in this very emotional series. And this is a great compliment, the worry you always have with these childhood friend types is whether they’ll detract from the main pairing. But Nanami doesn’t do that at all, in fact she even supports Sorata and Mashiro’s budding relationship. Also I love when Nanami gets flustered and goes into that slang dialect. So thumbs up on Nanami as a strong supporting character. I won’t get exhaustive with the other characters, I’ll just mention the side pairings (I did say there was more than one romance). The Misaki x Jin pairing is so cute and adds significantly to the depth and likability of the series. Then there’s the hilariously mismatched Akasaka x Rita pairing which is all in good fun. Though Akasaka is kind of an ass through the majority of the series. But I digress. I won’t go into the story since you can just read the plot description. Let’s see, the music’s not too great but it doesn’t detract from the series. Animation is good but nothing particularly amazing. So yeah, general mention of the ending. Most of the time when you hear people say “I hope there’s a 2nd season” it’s just baseless fanboy talk. But the last ep of Sakurasou certainly seemed like a setup for a 2nd season or some other form of significant additional content. That’s not to say the ending’s bad or that it’s not definitive, but I think there’s more to come from this series (eventually). And I know, it is a rarity in a 24 ep series but in way it’s a further compliment to the series that you want to see more. Oh, can’t forget the obligatory rage dump. FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING CAT! lol. Anyway, overall Sakurasou I think is a special series and a great watch. It's not a true elite series as it doesn't bring that level of consistency with each and every ep. And the shying away from the rom content towards the end does detract some. Frankly my personal enjoyment of this series outweighs the rating I'll give because the best moments are at such a high level. And so putting my critic's hat on, I still give Sakurasou a very respectable 8 out of 10. I've been contending a bit with the lack of completeness, but the quality of the character interactions way overshadow any of that talk. Absolute watch for those of you who like roms and fun-but-emotional SoLs like me.
"Completely underrated, from what seams to be a simple situation comedy, turns into a well constructed drama about deep issues that torment us not only as teenagers but adults as well. A good laugh is guaranteed with the bonus of being something more then that, smart, intelligent and well delivered. Must see" -Macedos39 from aniDB.net
I couldn't put this in any better words myself, so i thought i would put that quote in here.
This has to be my favorite anime of all time, you get attatched to each character as the show goes on. The multiple couples in it really keeps the show alive and making you want more. I can't wait for a second season.
I really had no intention to watch another type of show such as this one but since most current anime are crap and a guy insisted, I just said OH WHAT THE HELL, MORE EXCUSES TO WRITE A REVIEW AND BASH THE ANIME INDUSTRY. So here I am watching this show called The Pet Girl of Sakurasou which is supposed to have some sort of good drama besides being fan service.
... One minute after the pilot episode begins I am already eye-rolling. We get the usual hentai-premise, a typical boring dork surrounded by hot girls who are all over him for NO FAKIN’ REASON and he is constantly not doing anything with them because it is not a hentai but a comedy. AHAHAHA-oh wait; that is not funny at all. Because all ecchi shows are exactly like that for the past 30 years and this one sure as hell doesn’t attempt to be original in the slightest.
Let’s start with what most of you will think right away. “Hey it’s a J.C. Staff show; time to fap to badly adapted softporn by some light novel.” Because that is the only thing they are ever doing and if any of you think they are anything more than that, I pity you. The production values are as always mediocre all across the board, from the done-to-death character achetypes, the cloned-into-infinity school grounds, to the jerky animation, the lazily-written songs, and the loose voice acting. There is no way to score the looks of this show with more than the base score.
I wish I could describe the story to you but I can’t. No matter what I write you will easily confuse it with at least a dozen other shows which so happen to have THE EXACT SAME STORY. So I might as well make a checklist of all the stuff you get to find in here FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME.
- A completely average, typical, boring everyday high school male who loves to be obnoxious and to make an ass of himself on every chance he gets
- No sex despite all characters being hentai archetypes but nonetheless various excuses to masturbate while watching them not doing it
- A school that is somehow able to violate every rule and law in the world without being nuked from orbit
- A set of characters who you would normally only encounter in Arkham asylum
- Complete lack of common sense
- Pandering of all sorts for losers, NEETs, gamers, bored to death high schoolers
So anyways, the plot is about a guy in a problematic school full of horny pussies. He gets to stroke them but never to bang them. And I don’t mean the cats! One day the obligatory mysterious transfer student arrives and he needs to take care of her. And by take care of her I mean to do all things one would expect from deviant porn yet never really doing it with her because this is a comedy. AHAHA-not funny. No, really, that girl is completely autistic and you can do anything you want with her without giving a damn. But he doesn’t because for some reason being obnoxious and a loser overwrites your teenage urges. EVEN SHINJI MASTURBATES TO ASUKA!
Aha, but wait, now we are getting to the part where many say the show is very good at. You see that autistic girl is very talented in art and makes the completely average dork protagonist to look like dirt. Not that he already wasn’t with that obnoxious personality of his. So the plot is basically a genius having to rely on a commoner for all the trivial stuff; and by plot I mean the fan service and by trivial stuff all the erotic fetishes one can only dream of. Because this show couldn’t work if it was a serious take on the gap between the gifted and the everyday people; it had to be a J.C. Staff show.
Now in all honesty it depends on how you get to see the whole thing. If you perceive it as drama and romance with fan service and comedy then of course it is going to suck monkey balls since there is a ton of the later aspects. But if you lower your bar ssssssoooooo low to the point you somehow believe that any softporn goofball comedy is a masterpiece if it gently scratches a serious topic, then OMG THE ANIME OF THE MILLENNIA IS RIGHT HERE! THIS IS BETTER THAN SWORD ART ONLINE AND AS WE ALL KNOW SWORD ART ONLINE IS A MASTERPIECE!
For me? Well I can only place it a bit above a typical run of the mill ecchi comedy, which in turn is a bit above sea urchins and fruit flies.
Now I know many who loved the themes of the story. It is rather easy to identify with a guy who doesn’t excel at anything and be envious of a girl which was born to be better than you when it comes to important things. It is also cute to see how even the elite can be in need of the nobodies for the everyday things they take so granted to the point they can even perceive or handle. At the same time the show is not exactly doing much with the theme since it is as I said to the most part an ecchi comedy than romance or a social drama. Sorata is so obnoxious and scared of sex that I would hate him no matter how smart he was. And Shiina is basically an emotionless puppet that is ok to sleep with everyone just to get ideas for a shoujo manga; I couldn’t imagine her as nothing more than one of those huge anime pillows.
And then it’s the whole romance aspect of the show. If one can call it that. Beats me how exactly the main two characters fell in love with each other in two episodes if all I ever saw them doing is random ecchi stuff. And I never get it how all the chicks with issues always run to cry on the lap of the most boring and obnoxious male they can find, magically falling in love with him. There is literally a guy who has seduced every MILF there is right next to them; a jigolo of comfort and even does it for free. Why don’t they run to him for support; he obviously knows more about girls problems than the loser protagonist. Self insert character bullshit like this totally put me of.
Down to it the anime is not complete garbage but it is far from a great one. If there is one show J.C. Stuff did right, that would be Toradora. There weren’t such BS there, the romance felt more plausible, the fan service was very toned down. Pet Girl leaves comedy and turns to drama in the second half but it is sort of hard to like the change in the mood. Wouldn’t it be far better if it was a drama all along? And would it kill them to have sex instead of this done to death ecchi jokes? Those things are exactly what would make this anime to be great instead of just another comedy which tries a bit to be good. Not completely garbage as almost anything J.C. Stuff ever made, enjoyable for the casual romcom fans, but not exceptional.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (generic)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 2/4 (typical)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 2/2 (simple but solid)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 5/10
Historical Value 1/3 (OMG a JC show that doesn’t suck)
Rewatchability 2/3 (high if you like its silly style)
Memorability 2/4 (good when it is serious, bad when it isn’t)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 0/1 (looks typical)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (feels generic to the most part)
Characters 2/4 (they are ok; could be great without the comedy and fan service)
Sakurasou is an average show. It starts like a typical fan service/romantic comedy. It has typical characters. It has typical character designs. It has a typical, boring, wimpy main character.
For about the first six episodes, I expected almost nothing out of the show. Then they tried to make it unique, by having the main character do something with himself, rather than just living life, attending school, and walking into scene after scene of fan service (he still did, but at least they tried to make the story a little different from other anime in the same genre). The first half of the show was basic, and set the stage for the second half, where things became a little more serious. Unfortunately, the overall light atmosphere that the first half established conflicted with the serious, depressing mood of the last 8 episodes. A lot of the first half felt unnecessary, while the second half was difficult to take seriously. The biggest issues with story I see are:
1) Mashiro's existence. (I will talk more about this ridiculous character later.)
2) The love conflict between two of the supporting characters was drawn out much too long, and some of the reasoning didn't even make sense.
3) Sorata's development. (Again, I will talk more about him later.)
4) Some unrealistic plot developments.
The second half of the series is why people started saying this is the best romance ever. I won't spoil anything, but it centers around the saying "life isn't fair." This would have been fine, if I could take the story seriously.
Nothing stood out in terms of animation throughout the who series. Character designs were typical, the opening wasn't special, and the ending was lazy.
The opening was generic and I don't think I ever listened to the whole ending. Voice acting wasn't bad for a couple of the characters, but for others (like Mashiro), hardly any effort was required.
Mashiro: A character I do not like. How anybody could be raised without knowing how to dress oneself is beyond me. Should there be such a person, that person would never be sent to live on her own in a dorm. Finally, even if such a person was sent to live in a dorm, a male student would not be in charge of taking care of her. In all three points, Mashiro is unrealistic. While I can understand the appeal of characters than need to be taken care of, Sakurasou takes it too far (just like Elfen Lied).
Every other supporting character, except Aoyama, the third point in the love triangle, is unrealistic in some way or another.
The main character, Sorata, is a boring person, who changes over time...from a dork to a wimp. Had he risen up from his pathetic nature to become a stronger person, I wouldn't have minded. However, the conclusion to the show just didn't show me that he had overcome his inner conflict and moved on.
This is much more worthwhile than watching a visual novel adaptation. That's about as positive as I can get. It's not one of the best romances ever, like some say, and I honestly didn't enjoy it that much. I do give it credit for going a little deeper than some other romantic comedies, but there are plenty of other things I'd rather have spent my time watching. There are likely many people out there who enjoy or would enjoy this anime, but if you're looking for something deep, realistic, and relatable, this isn't it.
Think of the most talented and crazy people you have ever met, and then think of them as high school students, and this will give you a form of the characters you will find at Sakura Hall. The Pet Girl of Sakurasou might not seem like much on the surface, but dive deeper and you'll quickly realise that you're watching a brilliant slice of life which ticks all the boxes and more for what a good slice of life/comedy should be.
The show firstly introduces us to Sorata Kanda, a seemingly everyday guy who doesn't really belong in the Sakura Hall but has ended up there because of rescuing stray cats and being kicked out of the schools normal dorms. To begin with the guys one goal is to escape from the crazy-ness that is Sakura Hall, but as time progresses he comes to regard the place as home and the other members of the place as his friends. The other residents of Sakura Hall include Nanami Aoyama who is training to become a voice actress against her parents wishes. We have Misaki Kamiigusa who is very talented in making anime and has become somewhat famous for it already. Misaki's childhood friend Jin Mitaka also lives at Sakura Hall and writes the scripts for Misaki's anime, although he doesn't always have confidence in his abilities. We also have Ryunosuke Akasaka who is very smart when it comes to computers and very rarely leaves his room, but lastly and by no means least we have Mashiro Shiina who is a world famous artist who has come to Japan in order to learn how to draw manga. Our plot throws Sorata and Mashiro together quite quickly because while Mashiro is a brilliant artist, she doesn't really have much common sense when it comes to the real world, leaving Sorata on "Mashiro duty" and looking after her during her time at Sakura Hall. To begin with our story is quite lighthearted and the first few episodes spend a lot of time on the comedy while also doing some decent character development with the students at Sakura Hall, however it's by far the later episodes of this show which really shine. Once you've gotten to know all this characters, and as the series gives us a deeper look at them all, you realise there is far more to this characters than what first meets the eye, and in time the show evolves into a really strong slice of life which is teaching you what it means to grow up, and to have goals, and to be around people who are far more talented than yourself and don't even realise how different they are. The series does a really great job of dealing with all these emotions and so much more, because of course at this point in the review I've neglected mentioning that Sorata and Mashiro have feelings for one another which grow and are developed slowly, but greatly, over the time we spend with the show.
While it's true that of the 24 episodes in the series, not all add a lot to the story itself while others do a lot to develop the characters, but even so there isn't a signal episode of The Pet Girl of Sakurasou which won't leave you with a smile on your face, or have you laugh out loud at some point during the episode, because that's what the show does and always manages to do with its solid cast of loveable characters. The cast grow and mature and learn a lot during the time we spend watching them, and by the end you can see a great deal of difference in every signal one of them, and feel proud to have gotten to watch them grow and watch all the crazy things these kids got up to. The first three episodes of the series, however, don't do the show justice and you really do need to get through four or five before you realise how special the series is; they aren't bad episodes by any means, they just don't feel as though they have as much depth as the episodes which come after, and once you watch the episodes which have more depth you realise how truly great this series is, how great these characters are, and how much you really feel for them. At heart The Pet Girl of Sakurasou deals with issues we've all gone through at some point which makes it really, really easy to be able to relate to these characters and understand what they'd going through, which is likely what gives the thing such emotion and such a powerful hold over the viewer. Even if you can't relate to what the cast go through, even just watching the relationship between Sorata and Mashiro grow is very pleasing because the series doesn't rush it, it takes it slowly and leaves it feeling right and leaving the viewer happy in the knowledge that this is how things should go, they shouldn't rush into anything and it portrays real-life better because generally a relationship and two people having feelings for one another developers slowly over time, which is how the show deals with it.
As far as the animation goes the series always looks very pretty and well done, and it isn't scared to put more effort in when needed. There is a certain scene about seven episodes in of fireworks and the kids running back to Sakura Hall with them in the background, which is very pleasing on the eye. Character designs are all quite unique too and it's hard not to love these characters one way or another. Overall the series is handled extremely well in terms of animation.
To consider the soundtrack for a moment; that too is handled very well and goes from being quite light and crazy to quite mature and more emotional as the series progresses and the tone of it matures and grows. Again, alike the animation, the soundtrack is handled very well and is always pleasing on the ears. The series also has two really great opening songs along with the first ending being amazingly catchy, the second ending lets things down a bit, but not too much to be a bother.
Overall The Pet Girl of Sakurasou is a brilliant series about growing up and finding your way in life. It's certainly one of my favourite shows now and rightly so, because everything it does is handled really well, and we have a loveable and crazy cast of characters. As long as you get through the first three to four episodes you'll struggle not to fall in love with it and I'd highly recommend the show to every anime fan.