Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai ?
For maybe the first time in Bunny Girl Senpai, the snark factor has been minimized in an effort to resolve Nodoka's arc in a suitable fashion, giving us the best episode of the series to date. So does that mean the snarkiness of Sakuta (and to a lesser extent Mai) is getting in the way of the series achieving its full potential?
I would say no for one major reason; Sakuta has also shown repeatedly that for all of his snark and flippancy, he truly does care. What he's done for Kaede so far goes above and beyond brotherly duty, and he does it all while maintaining a morally proper distance. By the end of this episode, he's officially helped four girls through their major hang-ups. He's been through the Puberty Syndrome mess himself and with Kaede, so he can empathize with each of these girls. His diligence in trying to win over Mai as his girlfriend makes for another credible motive, and in Nodoka's case, solving her problem benefits him; after all, he can't fool around while the girls have swapped bodies.
Sakuta also shows in this episode that he can turn off the snark when it won't help matters, as Nodoka's reactions to his behavior indicate that she takes things too seriously. Besides, her central issue – a crisis of confidence mixed with sibling jealousy – requires more straightforward support than gentle ribbing, so that's what he delivers. However, what truly made his effort work was that he wasn't working alone. Although Mai keeps her distance most of the time, she plays an indispensable role in resolving the matter. Thanks to her involvement, she and Sakuta are able to convince Nodoka to be her own person, rather than try to follow in her sister's footsteps, without being patronizing or treacly.
This gives us a number of neat little moments. Mai's seamless recovery when her fellow idol trips during the performance was well-handled; it flows by without skipping a beat instead of drawing attention to itself, perhaps because the continuity was more the point than the mistake. Handled equally well were the natural progression of the performance, Nodoka's reaction to it, and her later behavior on the beach. The swap back and revelation that they were still in their own bodies but just changed appearances were also interesting twists. The business with Sakuta meeting his father, who had been absent without explanation, not only fills in a crucial background gap but also suggests that Sakuta's attitude may be a way of maintaining his stability in a difficult situation. And Kaede finally appearing in her school uniform will doubtless have ramifications over the remaining three episodes, as the story shifts to focus on her. As for the mini-cliffhanger in the epilogue, we all knew that something like that was coming, right? The irony that they were photographed together in the semblance of a date when they actually weren't (and it wasn't even Mai) is perfect.
The technical effort was also stronger this week. I applaud animating the idol performance without resorting to CG, and the body language differences when the two girls were in their alternate appearances remained convincing. Overall, this episode won't stun anyone with its quality, but it's about as strong as you could hope for as an arc conclusion.
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