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.
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