Blu-Ray Review: Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai – The Complete Series

The unusual story found within Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai does not feature any bunnies but it does provide some supernatural and psychological themed romance and today we will explore what viewers can find in MVM Entertainment’s upcoming Blu-Ray release of the series.

Synopsis:

Join Sakuta Azusagawa as he unravels a curious psychophysiological phenomenon known as the “puberty syndrome” and the young women afflicted by this strange condition.

With its fascinating approach on the complexities of growing up in the modern age, the series has been widely praised for its authenticity and sense of humor while tackling social issues such as cyberbullying, dealing with the pressure to fit in, and falling victim to false rumors.

Meet the charming ladies of Fujisawa City, Kaede Azusagawa, Tomoe Koga, Rio Futaba, Nodoka Toyohama, Shoko Makinohara, and the iconic bunny girl senpai, Mai Sakurajima.

Our View:

Based on the light novel of the same name, and animated by CloverWorks, comes a rather unique psychological and supernatural themed romance story that puts more focus onto the varying situations that the protagonist has to overcome rather than his dwindling high school lifestyle. An odd relationship developed through unimaginable means delivers a refreshingly new type of experience that ends on a rather adrupt high note; but fortunately for us a conclusion can be found in either the original source material – which is still being produced and localised into English – or through the feature length film Rascal Does not Dream of a Dreaming Girl.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is a thirteen episode anime series that focus on Sakuta Azusagawa who, after encountering a girl walking around a library in a sexy bunny costume, finds himself entangled into the strange workings of Puberty Syndrome. Ironically this isn’t the stories starting point but is instead the ‘trigger point’ for the events that follow and it sees Sakuta attempt to uncover the mysteries that lie ahead. In this case the thirteen episodes of Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai are split into two or three episode arcs with each story arc focusing on a newly introduced character.

The opening elements of this series start by introducing Sakuta to Mai Sakurajima, an older student at his school and something of a child celebrity, who finds that her existence is being erased. Upon consulting with his friends, namely the science club member Rio Futaba, he learns of the Puberty Syndrome that adolescence experience while growing up. To put it in simple terms mysterious “supernatural” elements combined with past “physiological” trauma causes an onslaught of strange scenarios.

The first of which is saving Mai’s existence from being erased; a feat which is achieved by declaring his love to her in front of the entire school. It’s a bold move and its one that sees everyone’s eyes draw their attention to both him and Mai; who in turn have rarely been looked at due to the social status of school life.

With one crazy situation being handled the series quickly shifts into the next story arc, all the while maintaining the close friendship (if you can call it that) between Mai and Sakuta. This second story arc introduces Tomoe Koga and her hetic social life at school. This“puberty syndrome” effect is the ability to rewind time to a moment where things were clam and the ‘trigger’ for this repeated scenario is one which sees an older student ask Tomoe out in a rather demanding way.

The difficulty here is not only Tomoe’s well-being and interests but the fact that whichever option she chooses she will end up being ridiculed by the people she has come to befriend at school and her social status within them would be reduced to nothing.

It’s an interesting story line, more so than Mai’s own disappearance of existence, as it highlights the difficulty of being popular and notable within school as well as keeping up with all of the current trends. In order to resolve this ‘time-looping’ issue Sakuta and Tomoe enter a ‘fake relationship’ which naturally causes disruption with Sakuta and Mai’s own relationship – which is also just as comical to watch as the fake relationship between Sakuta and Tomoe. Regardless the story unfolds and everything returns to normal; well normal for everyone but Tomoe and Sakuta that is who now have a close friendship with one another.

The third story arc reintroduces Rio Futaba and her story is one of a doppelganger whereby her own emotions have split into two separate people. As such one Rio is posting lewd pictures online and engaging with those outside of the normal crowd, while the real Rio is stuck hiding away in the shadows. Trauma plays an important role within this particular story, as well as being true to ones self, and yet again Sakuta and Mai work together in order to resolve the Puberty Syndrome that has caused an abnormal situation once again.

Moving away from doppelgangers, and further spoilers, we find the fourth story arc introduce viewers to Mai’s half sister Nodoka Toyohama and her own puberty symdrome issues. In this particular story we learn that Nodoka’s obsession with her older sister Mai has caused her to ‘physically’ appear like her, while Mai ends up looking like Nodoka. It’s your typical ‘freaky Friday’ story line but somehow it is done differently with how their predicament came to be.

In this instance Nodoka has always wanted to be ‘as good’ as her sister and to be respected by their mother and as her Idol career begins to kick start she wants that attention even more. To break this ‘freaky Friday’ type of situation Mai and Sakuta attempt to show that Mai has her own troubles and respects her sister just as much as she does. Once again a familiar type of story; but presented in an exceptionally unique way; but even more so than that it further explores the troubles that Mai has had to go through during her younger days.

The sixth, and final, story arc within Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is a story that focuses on the younger sister of Sakuta Azusagawa, which is Kaede Azusagawa, and it is a story arc that the entire series has been foreshadowing for some time. Several years before the events of the previous stories Kaede found herself bullied at school via social media and through this traumatic experience her body was injured through mysterious cuts and bruises.

The physical and emotional trauma caused by the situation also saw Kaede refuse to go to school and eventually her mental capacity broke down and she lost all of her memories. It’s a rather emotional story for a character that, until this point, has been nothing but a background character with a energetic personality; but it also explains her obsession with her older brother and the shyness of those new to her.

The harsh reality of the situation, and Kaede being unwilling to open up to anyone but her brother, saw Sakuta and Kaede forced to live alone in a small apartment and since then they have been abiding by themselves to return to things as normal; but no such solution had been found. Now, years later, with Sakuta and Mai – and their new group of friends – they attempt to overcome their biggest obstacle. The disappearances of Kaede’s memories; but even this brings a few difficulties for Sakuta.

Shortly after Kaede lost her memories Sakuta experienced his own inexpiable traumatic event that saw claw marks appear on his chest and in turn he became hospitalised. It also became a big rumour at the school, which plays nicely into the series first story arc with Mai; but in order to recover he found hope within a mysterious girl known as Shoko Makinohara.

Shoko Makinohara was Sakuta’s first crush and since then he has attempted to find her but to no such avail – however when Kaede’s memories return not only does Shoko but so does the wound from within Sakuta’s chest. Sadly we won’t have an answer for Shoko within this series, as that is most likely explained within the feature-length-film or the original light novel, but the ending of this story arc is wrapped up nicely while leaving itself open for even more unique situations.

The title Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai offers no clue as to what the series may contain and potentially hints at a rather ‘lewd’ setting about a bunny girl. Instead it is explores supernatural and physiological issues that can be present during adolescence.

Naturally some of these experiences are far-fetched and unbelievable, but the stories they bring with them and the emotional challenges that characters have to go through are life-like situations and feel oddly reminiscent. The difficulties of standing out, finding one’s self and overcoming bullies is a challenge that we all must face during our school life and these elements are presented in a rather unusual manner that offers something different to your typical slice of life story line.

Extras:

As per usual MVM Entertainment are using disc masters authored by Madman Entertainment in Australia, so the menu presentation and bonus features are consistent with the set previously released in Australia by Madman. Now this certainly is not a bad thing; but it does mean we receive the simplistic “Episode” menu interface and a small selection of bonus features.

In this particular release of Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, which features Japanese audio with English subtitles only, we receive textless opening and ending animations for the series as well as trailers for other Madman published titles. In short it is a bare bones release with an underwhelming selection of content; which is a shame as promotional material for the series does exist and can be seen on Aniplex’s YouTube channel.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50, BD 25
Region: B
Running Time: 2:55:12 (Disc 1), 2:30:10 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: LPCM 2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is a thirteen episode anime series based upon the light novel of the same name that follows Sakuta Azusagawa as he helps other people that are suffering from puberty syndrome. This initially begins with Mai Sakurajima, who is seen parading around in a sexy bunny costume, in hopes of having someone acknowledge her existence and it soon spirals into multiple-story arcs that focus on different characters with underlining issues caused by supernatural, psychological or emotional trauma through adolescence. Each story is different and unique; but they do follow the same pattern of discovery, team work and solution; but regardless each story arc complements each other to help further refine and develop the characters related to the series.

A slice of life, romantic comedy, is not what this series is; but it attempts to be one as while each story arc acts as its own independent story line experiences gained, and relationships developed, are carried on to the next story arc to further refine the world the characters inhabit. The relationship of Sakuta and Mai being a prime example; as what started out as a way of acknowledging Mai’s existence, and returning her to the spotlight, sees them entangled in a complicated romantic relationship that is flushed out and explored as the episodes carry on; especially when Mai’s fame brings her boyfriend to the spotlight. Their relationship is also the focal point of keeping the overall story moving while solving the mysteries surrounding those who are experiencing troubles with puberty syndrome.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is a refreshingly different type of series that offers a bit of slice of life with the paranormal to create something uniquely entertaining that sees you watching to the end. The small roster of characters, the slowly ever-developing plot, the artistically detailed animation and the compelling but quiet soundtrack that creates the perfect atmosphere all complement each other well to deliver this surreal series that could be about romance, or could be about the supernatural. In hindsight it could be your choice on what you want this series to be; but there is no denying that despite its odd title it really is a great series.

From a product release standpoint then MVM Entertainment are following the same production pattern as other Aniplex related releases and as such it is a simplistic release, with a single menu interface with Episodes individually listed, as well as a small selection of bonus features. If you’ve had Eromanga Sensei, Record of Grancrest War or Fate/Apocrypha then you’ll be familiar with how this set is presented. It is simplistic and straightforward; but this is how it is. Audio and Subtitle presentations (of which is simply Japanese with English subtitles) remain consistent but it does have Aniplex’s trend of moving subtitles from the bottom to the top of the screen for no real reason. Yet again another consistent issue (that’s not really an issue) found within Aniplex related releases that carries over into the UK products.

Overall Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is a satisfyingly entertaining series that fills the void of a romantic-comedy with supernatural elements; but regardless of the genres, and its characters, the story it is trying to tell is exceptional with the only disappointment being the rather lacklustre ending that leaves you wanting more. That more can be found within the light novel and feature-length-films; so at least it exists in some form.

From a product basis then it is business as usual with a simplistic menu interface, a small selection of bonus features, but a well rounded quality release from and audio and subtitle perspective. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is another ‘standard’ release from MVM Entertainment, even if it is receiving a Collector’s Edition variation, for a rather exceptional and satisfying series that is well worth adding to your collection.

Score: review-stars-4

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai – The Complete Series will be available on Blu-Ray, and in Collector’s Edition format, from the 18th May 2020 within the UK via MVM Entertainment.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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