Director: Atsuko Ishizuka
Writer (of original light novel): Hajime Kamoshida
Animation Studios: J.C.Staff
Version Watched: Subbed
Sometimes you don’t want anything special from an anime. Sometimes you want exactly what’s on the box and nothing more. When you’re in that kind of mood then finding just such a series can be incredibly cathartic and that’s exactly the experience I had with Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. The series promises comedy, emotion and a good-old fun time, which is exactly what it delivers.
Kanda Sorata is a pretty normal guy, so why the hell has he been assigned to Sakurasou (Sakura Dormitory), home of Sui High’s “problem” students? Keeping cats in the regular dorms doesn’t really bring him to the level of hyper-energized genius animators, their womanizing childhood friends, apathetic supervisory teachers and shut-in hacking wizards that never leave their rooms or attend classes, does it? Regardless of desert, he’s there to stay and now he has to look after a second new arrival. Shiina Mashiro may be a prodigious artist but she can’t take care of herself at all, to the degree of being unable to properly dress herself each morning. Amid heart-pounding, soul-lifting successes and hope-crushing, tear-jerking defeats, Kanda will find himself learning to cope with Sakurasou’s “problems” while at the same time realizing that the year he spends with them is what life is really all about.
Slice of life? Check. Comedy? Check. Emotion? Check.
And that’s about it, folks. While I certainly laughed a number of times and nearly cried once or twice, I didn’t feel that the series accomplished anything overly special during its 24 episodes. The odd thing about Sakurasou is that it doesn’t end up where you might expect. From the first few episodes I predicted a story strongly centred on Shiina, with some major character development taking up centre stage. If that’s something you’re interested in, however, you won’t find it here. Shiina is just one character among many who share Sakurasou’s spotlight which, although it’s not necessarily a bad thing, means that the series never really breaks out of the stereotypical slice of life mould.
The series as a whole is still entertaining though, featuring themes that you may not have encountered before in anime which I suppose do a fair job of keeping things fresh. It’s unfortunate, however, that there are times the anime seems to push its themes so hard that the quality of writing and believability of its characters suffer. There were multiple instances where character actions really didn’t match up with the image of them I had been building in my mind. Aside from those few times, though, the characters were interesting and a lot of fun to watch. I’m not sure I would say that I cared about everyone by the end of the show but that wouldn’t stop me from jumping at the chance to spend more time with them if such an opportunity arose.
Visually, Sakurasou is really very nice on the eyes. The animation is fluid and I haven’t got any complaints about the quality of the art at any point in the show. As with its plot, the series is technically solid without breaking into new territory. Though I can’t recall the BGM particularly well, I really enjoyed most of Sakurasou’s opening and ending sequences, especially because their visuals change as the story progresses.
Summary – I picked up Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo because I wanted something light-hearted and funny, and because I’d seen a number of recommendations from other bloggers. What I ended up with was a very solid anime that made me laugh and had a number of quality emotional moments but didn’t do much to stand out amongst the masses of slice of life shows already out there. Having said that, you could do much worse than Sakurasou and I would most definitely be willing to watch a second season.
Score: 8/10 – Good