**This review has a section (highlighted by tags) that contains spoilers.
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is a rom-com slice of life anime, so it’s a good watch by default, right? Well, not quite. This genre has a shtick for being oversaturated, particularly with many poor productions. Why should you watch Sakurasou in particular, over the many other rom-com slice of life's? Well, read on to find out.
Sakurasou does one thing especially well that makes it stand out among its competitors, and that is its character dynamics. That is an aspect of it that is simply fantastic. As such, this review contains a fairly lengthy discussion
of the plot, which I will highlight with spoiler tags.
The main characters of Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo are Kanda Sorata, Kamiigusa Misaki, Shiina Mashiro, Aoyama Nanami and Mitaka Jin. Already, Sakurasou can be seen as a highly unique anime. With 5 characters that are all equally important to the story, the audience gets five times the character development than most rom-coms. However, the story technically follows the adventures of Kanda Sorata, who has been banished to Sakurasou (“Sakura Hall”) due to the regular school dorms not allowing the keeping of cats. As he cares deeply for his cats, Kanda ends up biting the bullet and chooses to live at Sakurasou. There at Sakurasou, he lives with other would-be delinquents. And so, the relationships between the five characters at Sakurasou would serve as the backbone of this anime’s story.
Presumably, this should already be heaven for any rom-com slice of life lover; after all, there are five main characters and 24 episodes. The real thing that does it for Sakurasou, however, is the romance aspect of the anime. And by “doing it”, I mean doing a disservice. The romance in this anime is quite horrid, honestly. This is especially hard for me to say as I thoroughly enjoyed literally every single aspect of Sakurasou, except for its romance.
I’m going to be discussing the story in mild detail, so if you don’t want to be spoiled at all, skip to the [endspoiler] tag.
My first problem is Misaki’s relationship with Jin. Due to the nature of the anime and the nature of Misaki’s personality itself, her quest for love was simply a joke; I never really took it seriously. Whenever she cried after her numerous failures, I did not feel sympathy for her, nor did I feel emotional as a viewer. Misaki’s love struggles never really had any weight to them, and they even got resolved fairly quickly (as if to further undermine them).
The other problem: Aoyama and Kanda’s relationship. Oh boy. This relationship single-handedly “ruined” Sakurasou for me (not really ruined, but it basically kicked my pairing hopes in the nutsack). I personally rooted for Aoyama and Kanda to get together throughout the series, but man was THAT wishful thinking. Before watching this series, I read many posts touting Sakurasou as being “the bad kind of predictable”. And I certainly see why now. Right from the first episode, you could already see Shiina x Kanda being established. Them getting all touchy-feely so early on, the sexual innuendos, the peeping moments… it was all meant to be from the very beginning. So why then, did the writers decide to create a second relationship branch in Aoyama x Kanda? It makes zero sense to me, and Sakurasou’s execution of the pairing itself made just about the same amount of sense. The entire time, Kanda is as blunt as a block while Aoyama is as pitiful as a bug. It was just painful for me to watch Aoyama each time she tried to confess to Kanda. Her constant failures were just really disgusting, and especially so since I’m one of the viewers who prefer Aoyama over Shiina. Not by much, because I do love Shiina as a character, but some preference nonetheless. Aoyama’s unrealized love was truly cringe-worthy; two especially disgusting moments were when she confesses her love, only to play it off as “good acting”, and when she gave a half-ass confession to Kanda after her audition. Seriously, it’s like the producers were purposely getting my hopes up simply to laugh at me afterwards. Two times, we were supposed to get Aoyama to finally confess to Kanda, and for Kanda to (more than likely) go out with her or reject her. But, we get the worse-case scenario; Aoyama’s love is never realized! As I have said before, the chemistry between Aoyama and Kanda really pissed me off not only due to how poorly it was coordinated but also by how unnecessary it was. The producers did NOT need to include a second girl for Kanda; this isn’t a harem anime. Shiina would have been good enough, and the story could have simply focused on Kanda x Shiina being realized. However, just as this anime put the final nail in the coffin when it came to pissing me off with Aoyama x Kanda, episode 23 came about: the graduation episode. And boy, let me tell you. This was one of the greatest episodes in anime history; I’m just going to say it now. The emotion displayed in this episode by all the characters (students, school staff members, Sakurasou residents included) was simply unreal. This scene does not necessarily make you want to cry. However, you can sense the genuineness within each characters’ sadness, their speeches, and their feelings for each other. Instead of being a giant cheesefest, the producers of Sakurasou actually managed to make the graduation episode an honest-to-goodness emotional episode. And I felt it. However, I found myself asking: "Why wasn't this the final episode?"
The last episode (24) made it seem as if there was still plenty more for Sakurasou to cover. It introduced two new characters, and it was the start of a new year; everything was fresh. We were going to see Kanda and Shiina being isolated from the other main characters for the first time, and maybe even having their relationship furthered. We even got a glimpse of the two new members of Sakurasou, and they are not bad characters in the slightest. All in all, the producers had quite a lot of quality material to work with if they wanted to create another season. So why didn’t they? After I finished watching all 24 episodes of Sakurasou, I was left wanting more. The series didn’t really “end” at all; why start a new chapter if you're just going to cut it off right away? The ending makes no sense to me. You could say that this is a sign that the producers are thinking of a second season, but there hasn’t really been any news yet. It’s just wishful thinking as of now.
In every other department, however, Sakurasou excels.
Story [9/10]: Probably the most important aspect of an anime, Sakurasou has an exceptional story. While its romance is admittedly weak, as previously discussed, it doesn’t take much away from the story. There were quite a lot of aspects of Sakurasou that I had a critique for, and yet I found myself excitedly watching every episode regardless. I constantly wanted to find out what would happen next, and I was definitely held in suspense during many moments throughout the anime. The moments of drama, in particular, gave Sakurasou such great depth.
Art [10/10]: One of the absolute KILLER aspects of Sakurasou! The art implements a fairly unique style, using mainly warm and bright colors. Most animes have art that uses colors and shades from a generic palette, which causes them to look to look very similar to each other; Sakurasou strays away from this. All of the characters are drawn nicely, along with all of the minute details in the animations being perfectly executed. However, if there was one thing to really set Sakurasou apart, it’s the art used to portray Shiina Mashiro’s artistic virtuosity. As the viewer, I was able to completely comprehend the extent of Shiina’s skill due to Sakurasou’s magnificent art. Not to mention, whoever drew Shiina’s drawings was quite talented themselves.
Sound [10/10]: The only proof I need to verify the greatness of Sakurasou’s soundtrack is the fact that its OPs/EDs are among my top-played songs on my iPod. Initially, I wasn’t really feeling the first opening; it sounded somewhat generic. However, after listening to it multiple times by virtue of watching the anime, I fell in love with it. The openings completely portray the mood of the entire anime (and the openings very cleverly display the fantastic art style, too). The second ending in particular went very nicely with the characters dynamics at that point in the story.
Character [10/10]: Sakurasou’s characters truly give it that extra dimension. For a rom-com, all five main characters are surprisingly deep. Throughout the story, we get to learn of all of their backgrounds. What makes them so amazing is the fact that despite vastly contrasting upbringings, all of the Sakurasou residents are accepting of each other. There is never any sense of dislike or resentment among them, and they are all genuine friends. That chemistry between them is what makes them so special to watch.
I thought long and hard about my final rating. Admittedly, there are quite a few problems with Sakurasou, such as its romance. However, for an anime that has left such a huge impact on me, Sakurasou deserves nothing less than a perfect score. Along with other viewers, I have been left wanting more. Few other animes have managed to make me feel this way. And while I was watching it, Sakurasou provided countless laughs and a fair share of quality drama. Never was I bored at any moment while watching the series. The greatest thing about Sakurasou, however, is the fact that it manages to meet and then exceed the standard expectations of a romantic comedy slice-of-life anime; it truly is a fantastic production. Rarely can anyone recommend an anime of this genre as a must-watch for anime enthusiasts of all kinds, but that is exactly what I’m doing with Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo.
* Your list is public by default.
Synonyms: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
English: The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
German: The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
Spanish: The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
French: The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 9, 2012 to Mar 26, 2013
Premiered: Fall 2012
Broadcast: Tuesdays at 00:30 (JST)
Producers: Frontier Works, Genco, Media Factory, Animax, Mainichi Broadcasting System, ASCII Media Works, Sony Music Communications
Licensors: Sentai Filmworks
Source: Light novel
Duration: 23 min. per ep.
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
Score: 8.101 (scored by 663235663,235 users)
1 indicates a weighted score.
2 based on the top anime page. Please note that 'Not yet aired' and 'R18+' titles are excluded.