「ねこ・しろ・ましろ」 (Neko. Shiro. Mashiro)
“Cat. White. Mashiro”

Take it slow, don’t rush, establish the characters, establish the mood – that’s how I imagine the production team approached this first episode of Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, and I must say, I am pleased. Every step of the way, from the first sight of cherry blossoms fluttering on the screen to the final roll of credits at the end, served to continually reinforce the mood of a soft, warm, and sweet romantic comedy. There just might be something special going on here.

First of all, the visuals. I don’t usually focus on animation all that much, being more interested in the story and characters myself, yet when the visuals so deftly enhance the story as they did here, mention need to be made. The art is soft and full of gentle light, which fed back on those same feelings I was getting from the story to give the entire experience an innocent, youthful feel. Sure, perhaps they were cheating by using cherry blossoms, but you can’t deny the effect – a transient beauty, gentle and yet frail, just like the carefree days of youth they are portraying. That marriage of art and story, joining together and amplifying to enrich the experience…well done.

Character-wise, I knew I was going to like most of the characters going into this (thank you, fall preview research). Each of Sakurasou’s inhabitants is completely bonkers, and that makes for a great time. Probably my favorite is still the ultra-genki senpai Kamiigusa Misaki (Takamori Natsumi), whose easy-going, lives-at-her-own-pace attitude just makes me smile (and her flowing seamlessly from tempting our protagonist to throwing out silly jokes didn’t hurt either). The others are great too. Fail-sensei (Sengoku Chihiro, Toyoguchi Megumi), Ladykiller-kun (Mitaka Jin, Sakurai Takahiro), and even Hikikomori-san (Akasaka Ryuunosuke) via his automated email responder Maid-chan (Horie Yui) each got a laugh and a smile, and usually multiple. I’m not seeing a weak one among them, as each contributes to the hilarity in their own unique way.

Then there’s our main character Kanda Sorata (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu). I’m impressed with him as well. He was established as a nice guy from the get-go, but the great part is that they showed this rather than just telling us. That’s why when Aoyama Nanami (Nakatsu Mariko) accidentally said he was a nice guy (oops!), I was already prepared to agree, and likewise when the shopkeepers were being so nice to him. To be honest, I was prepared to call Shiina Mashiro (Kayano Ai) my least favorite character of the bunch, but there’s something about actually hearing her that made her quirks (and the hilarity they provided) work better than in print. Comedic timing, perhaps? Either way, she may still be my least favorite, but not because I don’t like her. The others just had a stronger showing so far. Key word so far.

Speaking of Mashiro, let’s talk about the one thing that is probably keeping a number of people from watching this show – the title. “The Pet Girl of Sakurasou?” That sounds unbelievably offensive! And you’re not wrong that it sounds that way…but hold on. Please trust me when I say that despite my love of good fanservice, I’m actually a staunch feminist. Yes, guys are allowed to say that! (Though that image is probably hurting my case.) The title is unfortunate in that it seems to imply that Mashiro is being treated as less than human, but she’s not. Strip away the title and what you have is a character looking after an eccentric genius. Hell, gender-swap Mashiro and Sorata and this wouldn’t even be anything close to original. A girl cooking and cleaning for an eccentric guy? Seen it! An unfortunate name, but that’s all it is.

As usual I’m yakking too long, so let’s wrap this up. My final wall ‘o text is on the theme of this initial episode (and perhaps going forward), at least as I saw it. A normal boy surrounded by eccentric geniuses…normally that would just make Sorata the audience insert, right? Well it looks like there’s more going on here. He was a normal boy, bored with his everyday life…and then he picked up a white cat, and suddenly his life became anything but boring. I think Sorata has a bit of an inferiority complex thanks to the brilliant people surrounding him, but I’m not so sure he’s as normal as he thinks. Sometimes the only thing it takes to break away from the crowd is one little step, just one thing that others may have not done. And did you notice how he went from the stereotypical main character window seat to one front and center? That’s practically unheard of! Perhaps there’s more here than meets the eye. I look forward to seeing more good things from you, Sorata-kun.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Soft, warm, sunny, & sweet – those are the feelings I’m getting from #Sakurasou. Great visuals, great chars, a good MC…a great 1st ep!

Random thoughts:

  • Another thing I like about this show is that there’s no harem, at least not yet. As of now there’s only one girl who for sure likes Sorata (seriously dude, it’s obvious…wake up!), but there’s definitely potential for more later on. Good, says I. I like a nice harem, but I prefer the guy show that he deserves it first. Sorata has already done enough to deserve one girl’s affection, so let’s see where he goes from here.
  • My initial impressions of the seiyuu are mixed, but pretty good over all. The seiyuus for both Sorata and Mashiro work their roles really well, as do those for Ladykiller-kun and Fail-sensei, but I’m not as sure about the seiyuu for Misaki-sempai and Aoyama. And yes, that means the seiyuu voicing the character who wants to be a seiyuu is the seiyuu one I’m not sure is that great of a seiyuu. Seiyuuception! Irony? …no, not at all, but it is amusing! Plus, Hocchan playing a genki, mildly threatening electronic meido solves all problems, banzai!
  • First 29 years and 15 months, then testicles, then squirt, then making him take responsibility? Yeah, I’m going to like this sensei. Now if only she worked a beer tap with her breasts…
  • One other thing I enjoy about the art is that it actually looks quite good on its own, and in that distinctive J.C. Staff romcom way (ala Toradora). Compared to this season’s Little Busters, Sakurasou is no better or worse, but I think I like the visuals here more because they feel…familiar, perhaps, or maybe just right. This feels like a more natural style for J.C. Staff, and perhaps a more natural story, because it’s resonating with me better than the first episode of Little Busters. That’s probably the last time I’ll compare those two shows, by the way – they’re really too different to allow it past a few episodes from now – but since they’re both J.C. Staff productions, I felt compelled. Watch both!
  • If nothing else, at least Hikari loves you, man.
  • Just the shirt? This is why I can’t hate Mashiro. Glorious!
  • The ED was quite good, but what I enjoyed the most was that it started playing over the last ~30 seconds of the episode. I love it when shows do that, because it smoothly transitions us into the ED while carrying the feelings of the episode forward just a little longer. I’m getting Toradora flashbacks again. LOVE it!
  • The art, the style, the solid romcom vibes…this show really does remind me of Toradora. Is that a death-wish, comparing it to my second favorite romcom of all time? Hopefully not. Hopefully it can stand under the weight, and maybe even lift off and fly. I can’t wait to find out.

Full-length images: 07, 22, 41, 43.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「DAYS of DASH」 by 鈴木このみ (Suzuki Konomi)

Preview

73 Comments

  1. Definitely an interesting and well paced episode. At this point I can’t say if I like Mashiro as a character because it seems as if she’s one of those quiet and “do-nothing” types. Of course, it’s still too early to tell so I hope that J.C. Staff will take her and develop her into someone which may be more profound than we think. An enjoyable episode with some nice fan-service though 🙂

    1. Indeed, the biggest challenge for this show is in Mashiro’s character development. Her totally-useless-at-life schtick will be fun for a while, but I’m not sure I can take 24 episodes of that alone. But if they do her character development right…well, we’ll see!

      Stilts
      1. If anything, and if done right, this is the show’s biggest appeal. What guy doesn’t
        want a girl they can teach to be their companion? Her only (apparent) asset is her
        expressive ability as an artist, which is 200% all girl. How many boys out there
        that you know wouldn’t want to dress their girl beginning with her skin? Considering
        the length of the series, this could rapidly turn into all cliché or become a very sweet
        comedy/love story.

        Too many good shows this fall makes it difficult to decide what to watch – but it’s not a
        complaint on my part… 🙂

        mac65
      2. Eh, not me. I like my ladies self-sufficient and strong. Really, I need to not think about what I would do in Sorata’s position, because it totally breaks the spell – I may have very well picked up the first cat and ended up in Sakurasou, but when Useless-chan showed up you can damn well bet that I wouldn’t end up being the only one dealing with her. I’m just not nearly as nice of a guy as Sorata.

        Of course, that’s probably why he has a cute japanese schoolgirl in love with him and I don’t. Hmmm…

        Stilts
      3. Ah… You make the common (western’r) mistake of equating meekness
        with weakness. It takes a very, very strong girl to place that kind of
        trust in a/her man. But to be fair, I may have oversimplified my case.

        There’s something about Anime that tickles the core of human truths.
        Not all, but enough series’ have this pattern not to be coincidence.
        Their appeal is much more than fansub – it’s like a couple of guys
        discussing things over a couple of beers. Acknowledgements and shared
        experiences that you would never find in any textbook; old-husband’s
        tales and that sort of thing. These are the things, just below the surface
        of our understanding, whether we’re aware of them or admit to them, that
        Anime uses to help deliver its story.

        Just my 2¢.

        mac65
      4. That’s true of all (good) storytelling, and it’s a wonderful thing.

        Ohandalso, I’m not sure that I was confusing meekness with weakness, but I am a westerner, so I shall leave the matter alone. For now, I’ve got some more anime to watch!

        Stilts
      5. The whole putting trust thing its a bit off, I think. Because that’s not the case here.

        Dressing someone from skin… That’s just not meek anymore. That close to the level of an invalid. Such relationship is just too imbalanced.

        Salbazier
  2. Isn’t Sorata sort of descending into Crazy Cat Dude-dom? Sure, it started with one… but he mentioned six (and JC Staff even showed them all even if there isn’t a screenshot).

    Jean
  3. “Take it slow, don’t rush, establish the characters, establish the mood…”

    Right off the bat that’s one of the advantage this show has over most romcom adaptation in recent times; because its 2 cours instead of just 1, they could afford to take things easy and not rush.

    Chaos2Frozen
    1. Very true! Though I’m traditionally averse to covering 2-cour shows (I like to change things up every season), I became more excited about this show when I found out it was 2-cour. That many episodes aren’t always needed (see my #1 romcom of all time, Ano Natsu de Matteru), but when there’s more focus on the com than the rom – not to mention at least one character who is going to need some lengthy character development – then the extra time becomes vital.

      Stilts
  4. some impressions
    -That teacher…
    -I love cats, even though can’t keep one where I’m living now. My dad is keeping four of them in his house in the woods, and they never fail to entertain me when I’m visiting.
    -TL;DR another romcom I will try out

    ewok40k
      1. It may be blasphemy to say so, but I think Sakurasou is even crazier than Hinata House, at least in terms of setup and sheer character specs. Taken alone, each of the Love Hina characters aren’t actually that strange at the beginning (except for Su), it’s just how they react to things and the general way Akamatsu builds his worlds that made it so nuts. Then they started to really grow into it…and yeah, soon it was bonkers 😀

        But from sheer setup, Sakurasou is ahead of Hinata House. The real trick is in execution…I remember Hinata House fondly to this day because the antics that took place there were executed flawlessly time after time (at least in the manga). Hopefully J.C. Staff can show us a little of that here.

        Stilts
  5. haha 29yrs 15mo = passed level 30. I think I’ma start replacing people’s ages with levels now.

    Next thing I write in a birthday card: “You’re only a level 18. You need more experience.”

    And I agree with Jean. Sorata is turning into a cat hoarder. I’m starting to think that someone is purposely placing stray cats in his way so that he’ll have no choice but to stay at the dorm.

    Watt
  6. I really don’t get these Japanese anime kids. What’s with always backing away screaming whenever they see a woman’s (almost) bare ass? You pansies! You make me sick!!!

    Give them a good grab already, they’re practically bagging for it!! (I know, I know, let’s not get confused in real life situations, sexual harassment is a serious crime, one that will put you in a jail and put a permanent stigma on your profile as a sex offender. There, now back off, then. 99% of these anime situations are when the fairer genders CLEARLY want it and are in a blatant seducing mode. The only decent thing is to meet them a half way instead of screaming your lungs out as if you just saw a Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in the box!!!!).

    deathtogenericshows
    1. To be fair, in this situation Mashiro does not obviously want it. Sure, I admit that I wouldn’t scream in such a situation, but after an appropriate eyeful to understand the situation I would still avert my eyes to be polite whilst I inquire why the hell she’s naked…and then quickly get exasperated as I realize how functionally useless she is.

      Probably by the end of it all most of us would be acting exactly like Sorata…extremely exasperated, lol!

      Stilts
      1. Male charachters screaming at the first sign of a bit of female skin, or even running away, that’s some weird reaction that I think most of us can’t relate to, and turns out to be really annoying to see. Not that going full pervert mode is anyway better, and that’s just the other common reaction you get from male characters. Admit it, a proper composed behaviour is far less common (although there are indeed characters that “do it right”).

        I wonder if it’s a matter of different culture here, I can’t figure out where this recurring element (extreme reaction) comes from.

        As for me, I think that that behavior is just a bad touch on some otherwise really good characters like Sorata, so if someone wants to clarify the matter, he/she is welcome.

        Voyager
      2. My preferred course of action – stay cool and offer her some cloth to cover…
        Well, pretty much that’s what Sorata has done after initial shock.
        OTOH there is clear and present seduction by his sempai, and I would not refuse. This is not acceptable!
        I might suggest that screaming is rather reaction not to the nakedness, but to LACK of female screaming followed by blast of improvised missiles or fist/kick to the hapless male…

        ewok40k
      3. Maybe not extremely so, but there’s a chance I would somewhat lose my cool as well, if a naked girl suddenly pop out from under a desk. The element of surprise play a factor here. Add comedic exaggeration and that’s how you got the commonly seen extreme reaction to nakedness.

        Salbazier
      4. Salbazier, good point. But it’s a bit anoying when the guy screams like he just saw something horrible. I think suprice is fine, embaresment too, it’s just horror that seems a bit out of place.

        znail
  7. Godou meets Inori.

    Matsuoka Yoshitsugu’s voice and enthusiasm is perfect for tsukkomi roles like this. He should do this more often.
    And that anime girl Misaki sounded like Asumi Kana but it wasn’t her. Weird.
    I’ll be rooting for that Nanami girl but she’ll probably lose to Mashiro. Speaking of which, she’s pretty clueless. Is there really a person like that? Oh well.
    Enjoyed this very much and I’ll be sticking with it.

    The backgrounds on that meeting with Mashiro was pretty vibrant, though a little too bright.
    If it is 2-cour, every show that JC is doing this season is 2-cour then, provided LB! is also 2-cour. That’s kinda ambitious. Let’s see them pull this off.

  8. To be honest I only look at anime like this for “certain material” to appear later.This applies to all romcoms, moe moe bs, and other crap that tends to take up entire seasons of anime.

    There is very few anime that I actually like.Could this one be any different? Only time will tell.

    Magoiichi
  9. Yes, this show does remind a lot of the feel good factor I felt when I first watched Toradora. While people may deride JC Staff for many things, one thing they cannot be derided for is doing good romance. Okada Mari of HanaIro and AnoHana fame in charge of the script also helps keep the confidence for this show high.

    While Kayano Ai is the female lead, her appearance in this first episode is too brief for any judgement on her performance. OTOH Matsuoka Yoshitsugu (Sorata) and Takamori Natsumi (Misaki) really stand out here, with Matsuoka demonstrating his ability to do both comedic and serious roles (Sword Art Online), and Takamori showing her versatility ever since hitting it big with Another earlier this year.

    http://img2.sankakustatic.com/wp-content/gallery/misc-ero-xv/sakura-sou-no-pet-na-kanojo-1-057.gif
    This is just too adorable.

    Kinny Riddle
  10. I really don’t get why Sorata made such a big fuss over being able to recognize Mashiro from her childhood picture. I don’t know, but to me, it looked like she kept the same cute face.

    Backspace
    1. Mainly just the fact that Fail-sensei sent him to meet someone he’d never met before with a picture that was several years old. He had no trouble, but that was pretty irresponsible of her…which is pretty par for the course if you ask me, lol 😀

      Stilts
  11. For some reason, this anime reminds me of a great series also produced by J.C. Staff, Honey & Clover. They both take place in an art school/university, protagonist lives in a shabby dorm and together with his roommates, they do fun things together. Only difference would be the art and the fan-service.

    Hibiki-kun
    1. I loved H&C. It had some great moments in it, but it was more bittersweet than this feels so far. Even the minor characters had great bittersweet love stories. Poor Miwako, she could never make Yamazaki look bad, no matter how awful the shirt she bought for him. (Poor Yamazaki, he delighted in her “presents” because he was in love with a woman who carried on like an old man.)

      Mashiro does remind me a bit of Hagu in the cluelessness dept., but at least she’s not afraid of men. (Or at least not our protagonist.) But they’re both dysfunctional in their own ways, huh?

      Ah crap. Now I want to watch H&C again.

      s_w
  12. I definitely underrated this show when I first read about it in the Fall preview! I knew I wanted to watch it but I didn’t know how well done it would actually turn out! I totally got the Toradora vibe when watching this show and that was a good sign for me (as it’s one of my absolute favorite romcoms as well ^^). I like that they took the first episode slow and didn’t just say “here’s a character and here’s their personality”. Seeing is believing lol. Looking forward to more episodes!

    Kira526
    1. I wish I had pumped it up some more in the preview myself. So far the anime is executing a lot better than the source material I used to preview it (the manga, not the original light novels). Hopefully more people will come around!

      Stilts
  13. gotta admit, really glad you’re blogging this, Stilts. love the whole feel to the show, and the quirkiness of the characters are pretty great. The production values do seem really high for a show done by J.C Staff though, but I’m not complaining.

    imperfectblue
    1. Domo, domo ^^ And believe it or not, but J.C. Staff is actually a pretty good studio from time-to-time. Their main problem is that they’re big, and sometimes run into a big company’s problem of keeping quality high when they’re trying to do too many things (in their case, pumping out 5+ shows a season).

      Still, as is the case with people every anime studio has its strong points, and romcoms are J.C. Staff’s biggest one, especially the ones they can dust with that J.C. Staff romcom flavour.

      Stilts
  14. Funny how people can throw the generic label on a show after 1 episode. Give it time, and if it hurts your everything, just don’t watch and comment, it really isn’t that hard you know.

    Crook
    1. People are free to comment as they like, though I do agree that I wish people would hold off on the generic label a bit. Though, I know that I’ve slapped that on things after one episode myself, so no one is perfect : )

      Stilts
  15. I am really digging this show. Looking forward to how it goes. Also Stilts the whole ending during the last part of the show is kind of a J.C. Staff thing (Toradora, Ano Natsu, Nodame Cantabile from off the top of my head) and I love it. And out of all the RC writers I am glad you are doing this show.

    TigerXDragon
  16. Awsome episode, this show looks really promising!. By the way Stilts I don´t why Toradora! is your number 2, to me is my etermal number 1 romantic comedy, let´s see if this story can give it a little competition.

    haseo0408
    1. It was until this year. Then Ano Natsu de Matteru dethroned it. Sure, that’s more rom than com, but damn if it wasn’t beautiful. Love it.

      And yes, let’s see if this one can give them both a run for their money. Nothing would make me happier.

      Stilts
  17. Compare this to ToraDora all you want, I’m in that game with skin.

    This show looks like a bloody moving beautiful watercolor painting. Every single scene held my attention, the transitions were quick, but not rushed, and every character had just enough time to establish themselves.

    Chu2Koi> Monster-kun > This show > Girl und Panzers are my picks for best of season just on first episode basis.

    skylion
  18. Between Hayate, Sakurasou no Pet no Kanojo, Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai and Jormungand 2: Perfect Order I’m very happy with this season of anime so far, now if only I could get another OVA series by Masaki Kajishima.

    rezakon
  19. This is definitely of my to-follow shows this season. The premise of lodging house full of colorful characters brings me back to Mahoraba Heartful Days (Never saw Love Hina or Maison Ikkoku). For a minute I thought it was Asumi Kana voicing Misaki-san. Mashiro is really so pretty. I haven’t been mesmerized with a beauty since Touwa Erio.

    Zhinvu
  20. “Anata wa naiiro ni naritai?”
    “Ima wa tamamushiiro”
    “Atashi wa tabun Shiro”

    The most Important part of this episode.
    It’s not just Mashiro’s change but Sorata’s that I look forward to too.

    While one wants to be every colour, the other want to be none.

    Will Mashiro be dyed whit Sorata’s colours or will Sorata be bleached by Mashiro’s white?

    Loking forward to.

    P.S “I’m actually a staunch feminist. Yes, guys are allowed to say that!”
    Me too, the only Harem I realy like is Seitokai no Ichizon
    While all others range from slightly irritating to greatly offensive

    Yuu
  21. Just started watching this. Great first episode, thumbs up for some decent pacing, nice art, and some wacky characters.
    Extra geek points for Sorata using the music from Afterburner as an alarm tone, and playing what looked like a doujin version of Raystorm on console. :d

    IcarusFW

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