Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai ?
Memory loss is an overused gimmick in anime, even there are cases where it has been employed quite effectively. Most commonly, amnesia is used either as an easy way to inject a sense of mystery into a character's background or to obfuscate the truth of critical backstory events, but that's not the case here. Instead, Kaede's memory loss is a psychological reaction to stressors – in this case bullying – which in this case goes a step farther than merely forgetting what caused her pain. She's created a whole new identity to protect herself, and what we've actually been witnessing all along is dissociative identity disorder; the Kaede we see is not the “real” Kaede at all.
This actually explains a lot about her behavior throughout the series and slickly justifies some of her personality quirks that could easily have been passed off as typical otaku-pandering tropes. (That's not to say that they aren't still otaku-pandering tropes, but at least there's an attempted justification behind them.) Referring to herself in third person suddenly takes on a new meaning, and her Big Brother Complex comes off slightly less skeevy. Her words about how she can't stay afraid also take on additional meaning, perhaps implying that she's subconsciously preparing herself for the return of her original personality.
How ongoing efforts to overcome her social anxieties are handled with more thought and less sensationalism than usual, to the point that most of this episode passes without any assistance from the soundtrack. This was a wise production decision, as it isn't needed for these scenes to have their impact. The care and detail in her speech patterns and body language shifting when her original personality returns at the end of the episode is also handled skillfully; we don't need Sakuta to tell us that she's changed. I'm honestly not sure how this whole part of the story could be handled better.
Kaede's effort to break out of her shell is the centerpiece of the episode, but a few other important details also pop up. Sakuta's penchant for going around helping girls now gets an explanation; he was inspired to move his life in that direction by his chance meeting with Shoko back when he was in middle school. How they came into their current living situation also gets fleshed out more, which I was glad to see since this detail too often gets overlooked in scenarios where high school students are living alone. Sakuta's brief scene with his father is also a nice touch, and at least a little of the always-welcome Sakuta-Mai banter still lingers.
In last episode's review, I wondered what more the story could achieve, but it appears that I underestimated this production's capabilities. If the series delivers a finale that matches what it's been accomplishing recently, then the series will be a legit contender for one of the season's best by me.
Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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