OP: 「君のせい」 (Kimi no Sei) by The Peggies
「先輩はバニーガール」 (Senpai wa Bunny Girl)
“My Senpai Is a Bunny Girl “
The first episode of Seishun Buta Yarou is an effective hook in providing just enough details to understand where the series is going, yet make the desire to see what happens next insatiable. Sakuta and Mai work well with one another as our two leads while the abnormalities present in their universe with the influence that “Puberty Syndrome” has on its cast are intriguing and offer a mysterious, enigmatic atmosphere to the anime.
The story’s origin as a light novel are made apparent quickly with Sakuta’s narration diving into meaningful musings from the comfort that comes from boredom to the exhausting atmosphere that comes from everyone having their eyes on you. For Sakuta, this is because he was tied to an incident where three students were hospitalized, but despite being one of those students, he received a brunt of the blame. Sakuta himself is relatively sympathetic as his narration never gets into the realm of obnoxiousness and he empathizes quickly with Mai as someone who is also fed up with the attention she’s gathered. He falls under some of the leading man tropes with a lingering fascination on a mysterious loner girl named Shoko and having a little sister Kaede that dotes on him, but it’s defined clearly that he has his own reasons and motivations for being his own person to the point where he doesn’t have a reason to have a back-and-forth with Kamisato when she doesn’t want him anywhere near her boyfriend out of fear of getting lumped into Sakuta’s ostracization.
While Sakuta does espouse his musings to reflect on the state of being that is tied into his and Mai’s struggles, he also exists as our passenger through the Puberty Syndrome rumor. At this point in time, it’s only theoretical for the average person and the scientifically astute Futaba denies its existence as anything beyond a rumor, but it is something that Sakuta and other high schoolers are attributing to abnormal incidents that happen during adolescence. Sakuta has his own deeply personal connection with the Puberty Syndrome as Kaede had been affected by an affliction when the bullying she received from her classmates resulted in her getting cuts and bruises from thin air. As soon as she shut herself off from social media and attending classes, her symptoms started to stop. Similarly, Sakuta received a deep scar at random from the syndrome after the incident that left him and others hospitalized, and put a quick stop to it after throwing away his smartphone.
The latest person afflicted by the syndrome in Sakuta’s life is Sakurajima Mai, a former child star who recently retired to attend high school. However, at some point in this transition, there are periods of time where she is unseen by anyone else but Sakuta, reflecting on both her desire to be left alone after years in the limelight gave her unwanted attention from the public and the malicious rumors that are spread about her on the internet. By the halfway point, it’s established that the purpose of dressing up as a bunny girl was to put her exposure to the test as no one would just ignore her if she put on something as scandalous as a bunny outfit. Much like that one ringtone that reaches an octave that adult ears are unable to hear, Puberty Syndrome seems to have a hold on the students of Minegahara High School and beyond as Sakuta comes to the general understanding of the rumors being brought to life through the anomalies in their relationship with technology.
The writing is on-point in fleshing out its lore, but it also gives depth to its leading cast as well. Mai and Sakuta particularly have great chemistry with how they are able to reach an understanding about how one another feels, but also have back-and-forth moments that are cheeky and amusing. Sakuta has respect for Mai and how she feels about both the fame and the syndrome, but is also quick enough with responses like expressing enthusiasm in getting stepped on or showing a little too much pleasure in getting his scars touched. Similarly, Mai understands and respects Sakuta for taking her seriously, but won’t hesitate to painfully pinch these scars or call him out directly for acting too fond of her. The end of the episode leaves off on a crossroads of sorts as Sakuta made a less favorable impression on her after mentioning the expression on her face when she saw a movie poster, yet the syndrome forces her hand in having to depend on Sakuta to help her out along the way while she finds a way to navigate or at least control her ability to disappear.
Seishun Buta Yarou is a fascinating anime that lives up to its hype as a school life series that explores the abnormalities that surround Sakuta and Mai as they look for answers and learn about each other in the process. While the artwork isn’t too expressive, it has similarities to the beginning of Bakemonogatari with its focuses on Araragi’s bond with Senjougahara and how he handles the apparitions that haunt the cast. The Puberty Syndrome may have been presented as an abstract concept that only has vague ties to adolescence, technology, and the unseen, but it has shown a lot of intrigue in how it operates, who else is afflicted, and how Sakuta and Mai will be able to solve their dilemmas within their personal lives and their struggles with the syndrome. The first episode left a positive first impression with the machinations it presents to the audience, but it’ll be fascinating to see where the series takes its concept from here.