Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Pet Girl of Sakurasou Review


I know that I said the exact same thing when I wrote my short review of Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom a little while ago, but I think that The Pet Girl of Sakurasou has very quickly usurped it to claim the title of the most underrated and underappreciated anime I've ever watched. At least Phantom I had heard of in passing a handful of times due to Gen Urobuchi's attachment, whereas Pet Girl I hadn't even heard of until I saw it in a Rightstuf sale. Considering the full 24 episode show was available for just $7, I honestly wasn't expecting much. The cover looked cute, so I thought it might be good for the cheap price for a few laughs if nothing else. What I really wasn't expecting, however, was to find the best romantic comedy anime since Toradora.

Honestly, it's rather hard to know even where to begin describing just how much I completely fell in love with this show. Every aspect of this show is just genuinely brilliant. I suppose the best place to being would be what is at the very core of the show, and that is it's characters. I think Pet Girl does something very impressive with it's small cast of characters in that it manages to straddle the line of making the majority of the characters characters seem quite abnormal and weird whilst also making them incredibly down to Earth and relatable. Pet Girl is about a group of high school students who live in Sakura Halls, a dorm for all the problem kids at the school, from the hyperactive genius Misaki Kamiigusa to Shiina Mashiro, an extremely talented artist who knows nothing but how to draw, including dressing herself. It really is a testament to how well written these characters are when there are characters such as Misaki and Mashiro which are incredibly unrelatable on a surface level but give them such realistic emotions that many people will be able to identify with. As well as being very relatable on an emotional level, these characters are also just very well written in general, with all of the main cast of characters having massive amounts of depth that also adds to just how real they all feel.

As well as having fantastic characters, the actual romance part of Pet Girl is also incredibly well done. The main romantic conflict here is between the protagonist, average high school student Sorata Kanda, the aforementioned Mashiro and Sorata's long time friend Aoyama Nanami. Now, in most romance shows such as this one, people will flock to pick a favourite who they want to win the lead's heart, a "best girl", I'm like this myself on most occasions, but Pet Girl defied this due to the sheer likability of both of the girls. I desperately wanted both girls to get to love Sorata, even though I knew that couldn't happen, which really left me feeling bittersweet by series end, something that no romance anime has made me feel up to this point. The other romance plot is that between the manic Misaki and her childhood friend and long time crush Jin Mitaka, a renown ladies man and playboy. This relationship is much more of an emotional rollercoaster having incredible highs as well as crushing lows and is probably the most complicated relationship in the show, and is really well executed, packing some huge emotional punches. Whilst it is about romance at it's heart, I find Pet Girl is also a great show about friendship. It spends a fair bit of time just developing the platonic relationships between the characters in their day to day lives, and this is highlighted in one of the most perfect scenes I've seen in any anime, which shows just how much love that all the residents of Sakura Halls have for each other and genuinely brought a tear to my eye.

On top of all the relationships, another subject that is broached to great effect is that of ambition. Every character in the show has an aim; something they're working towards and seeing their trials and tribulations in their various fields such as voice acting, game design and animation is certainly one of the most interesting aspects of the show. Unlike most typical anime, we actually see that life doesn't always go your way. Throughout Pet Girl, we see characters fail at their goals and get let down, not because they didn't work hard, quite the opposite in fact, but because sometimes, life's just like that. We don't always win. This is just yet another element that makes this anime totally stand out and feel unique, and makes for some incredible, if very sad, drama.

What initially caught my eye about The Pet Girl of Sakurasou and made me buy it in the first place was its art. Animated by J.C Staff, the studio behind, coincidentally enough, Toradora, the Raildex franchise, Azumanga Daioh and DanMachi, just to name a few, Pet Girl's animation is just simply wonderful. It has a ton of energy to it and uses plenty of bright, vibrant colours that really keep your attention and make it just a ton of fun to watch. I'd also be remiss for not mentioning Masahiro Fuji's incredible character design, which are some of the cutest looking out of any show I've watched.

If you have a modicum of interest in the romance genre, I urge you to check this show out. It's just brilliant from start to finish and I genuinely struggle to pick a single fault with it. More people deserve to know about this show because it is just utterly brilliant.

9/10

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