Okay, I really need a good explanation for this, because I feel like I’m treading into a crocodile-infested swamp going into this subject. I’ve been reading a lot of reviews and posts exclaiming how great The Pet Girl of Sakurasou is. I wasn’t sold on the first episode because it came off like a Love Hina-wannabe, but people have told me that the first episode was just a decoy and that the real meat of the story only rears its head in the second episode. Considering I did love the creative animation that JC Staff was supplying for the show, I thought I might give it a chance.
Well, I watched more than half of the series. It was pure crap.
Sakurasou is one of those LN adaptations that uses the medium of take an interesting idea and mix it with a few LN clichés to appeal to the mainstream. In this case, the issues of “talent” and how it can be used, abused, etc. “Wait a minute” I asked when I realized this. Isn’t this basically Hyouka all over again? Well yes. But I love Hyouka enough to put it in my top 30 anime of all time, so comparisons to it would be unfair. Besides, Hyouka was slow for a few episodes, so I should give Sakurasou the same treatment, right? Um…no.
First off, that awful comedy that I saw in the first episode? Not only did it not go away, but it ended up getting worse over time. They’re a bunch of Love Hina rip-offs that are executed poorly because they don’t seem to get what a punchline is. For example, that 13th episode had the loud girl, Misaki, come down in a sexy Santa suit for no real reason other than to annoy the main character, Sorata, and basically yell out loud that she wanted to come in. What’s supposed to be funny about this? That she’s wearing a Santa suit? And that’s excluding all the times Sorata sees the main girl, Mashiro, naked because she has trisomy 21. Again, what’s the punchline of those scenes? Why are they supposed to be funny? What made the jokes work in Love Hina is that Keitaro was an absolute loser and the girls give him a hard time for it because of how much they hated him. In this anime? The characters are a bunch of fucking lunatics whose craziness feels tacked on for the sake of being tacked on. There’s no weight, rhyme, or reason for why they’re crazy, so when they dish out the jokes, I feel like I’m watching somebody trying too hard.
I’m not kidding when I say that watching any time this show attempts comedy is like watching those awful American Pie movies. Seriously American Pie, learn why “There’s Something About Mary” was funny.
Of course, people have been saying that the drama was the main draw as well as how the issue of talent is used, so I just took the comedy as a distraction to get into the meat of the thing. Thing is, that sucks too.
One of the reasons is that the transition between comedy and drama is flat out terrible. The characters are crazy for starters, so when the show suddenly wants us to take them seriously, it comes off as jarring and I’m left wondering why I should. There’s a difference between developing a character beyond his/her stereotype and just tacking a backstory to them, especially when they just revert back shortly afterwards. It’s the equivalent of watching the second half of Chuunibyou, only the main girl in that at least had some emotional weight and foreshadowing tied to her craziness. Not the case with this anime. If you want me to take these characters seriously, quit trying to shove their flesh into my face. You’re not Ken Akamatsu. You don’t have the ability to do that stuff properly.
But that’s not the main problem I have with the drama, as the transition isn’t exactly Kokoro Connect-level bad. The main reason is that the drama is ridiculously overblown to stupid degrees. I can’t think of one episode aside from 1 and 7 (the most awful episodes of the series ironically) that didn’t try to cram in some unsubtle melodrama. I recall three episodes in the first half alone where it fucking rained whilst people yelled their feelings in some of the most pathetic attempts at gaining sympathy I’ve ever seen in my entire life. By the third time it happened, I was bursting out laughing, especially since all of those rain scenes were solved by clichéd emotional speeches that would make Fat Albert puke up large chunks of raccoon meat. And that’s discounting the other non-rain scenes where they just play sad music, have the characters go through lazily written teenage angst, and call it drama. The fact that the messages had to be blurted out loud in some of the most overblown dialogue I’ve ever seen was just the icing on the cake. Are we sure Sakurasou isn’t the Key anime adapted by JC Staff instead of Little Busters? Whilst I know most of you don’t like that show, I barely recall even a quarter of the first half of the show doing bullshit drama.
And the saddest thing is that when the drama occurs, the characters stop being characters and instead become abstract voice boxes. That’d be fine if they were meant to be like that, but the show takes itself too seriously for that excuse to fly. It doesn’t even have the magical realism excuse that Da Capo has that might have excused the drama if it wasn’t for Da Capo’s other problems. What I’m left with is a joyless cast of angsty characters that aren’t in the least bit funny, and thus my sympathy for them is limited.
Oh, and the issue of talent? In addition to my complaints regarding how the overblown dialogue ruins my ability to care, the show brings up the issues, but doesn’t offer a real good solution to them, instead going for typical LN schlock. I guess you could argue that the message is “life sucks, you’re going to fail even when you have everything, and all that jazz”, but the show’s insistence on giving everyone a happy ending and hitting the reset button after every arc kind of ruins that.
I’ll give Sakurasou this. Jin is an alright character. Ryuunosuke is meh. The opening and endings are fun. Other than that, my experience watching Sakurasou was nothing short of boredom, moaning, and laughing when I shouldn’t be. I should have realized I wasn’t going to like Sakurasou though given that it’s Mari Okada who was doing the writing for this thing. Never liked her other stuff (Simoun, Toradora, Hanasaku Iroha), so I should have quit while I was ahead.
So to all you Sakurasou fans, I have to ask you guys a few months from now. Does this show get any better? Does it magically improve, unlike most LN adaptations that just degrade with each arc? Is there anyone who couldn’t stand the first half, but found the second half endearing? I’m already half way through the thing and if I picked it back up, I’d only have eleven episodes left. Watching them won’t erase the past 13 episodes, but eleven ain’t that bad to get through. I dig the animation after all. It’s done by an ex-Madhouse guy. Shame it had to be wasted on another crap LN adaptation that keeps on hitting the reset button with each volume and doesn’t have the brains to say anything worthwhile.
- I guess Kevo was on to something when he called me his worst enemy (can’t find the exact tweet).
- To be fair, this experience wasn’t quite as bad as 5 Cm Per Second or the Garden of Sinners movies.