Pet Girl of Sakurasou
Sorata is attending art school but has a few problems. A cat took a liking to him, and he didn't have the heart to turn it away. No cats allowed in regular dormitories, so he gets deported to Sakura Hall: den of weirdos. Sorata is determined to leave, until the latest occupant arrives. Mashiro is a beautiful, quiet girl gifted with artistic genius. It also happens she can't even do basic things like comb her hair or dress herself. As Sorata is the only person even close to responsible, he ends up with "Mashiro duty" and is henceforth responsible for... well her survival.
Sorata starts to discover many things about himself. And for a guy who can't say no to cats, a girl like Mashiro is starting to grow on him.
Curiosity got the better of me, wondering if the "pet girl" was like a cat or something. With low expectations I figured maybe it wouldn't suck. In the battle between Archen vs Pet Girl; I lost before the first episode finished and I had to admit that: yes it's funny, cute.. and the story is pretty good. It doesn't maintain this quality throughout, but mostly gets it right.
Pet Girl of Sakurasou doesn't do anything new, but gets a lot of mileage from what it has. For example Mashiro has a gift for saying things in a way that (as Sorata says) "causes the most confusion possible" highlighted by her dead pan delivery making it hard to know what she means. Add Nanami, who over reacts and gets the wrong idea about nearly everything; and you've got a great comedy formula. There is no single trait that makes this exceptional. Instead it's the way Pet Girl of Sakurasou fits everything together in just the right way that gets great results. Pretty much all the characters work this way.
When the show is light and upbeat it does a great job, but gets flaky with drama. When characters cry, it pours like a full blast faucet. The story is generally good, but the show tries a little too with drama. Yet every time I thought this anime would finally plunge off of a melodrama cliff, it somehow came out fine. My biggest concern lay with the love triangle between Sorata, Nanami and Mashiro. Then I realized it isn't so much about the cliche indecisive guy. It's about Mashiro experiencing new emotions she's never had to cope with before. This kind of romance might feel a little tired in anime, but it provides a real purpose in this show.
I didn't expect the underlying theme would have something worthwhile to say, but it really resonated with me. At times a person can feel good about themselves and say "hey, I'm pretty good at this". But for most (mortal) people, sooner or later we hit the wall of our own limitations. What if our best isn't good enough? This anime explores this kind of failure in many situations. Some also deal with the contrast between their own failure and others who achieve great success due to natural talent. Pet Girl of Sakurasou outwardly appears like another brainless romance comedy, so having a bit of depth is a nice treat.
It's not perfect though. The show is charming and fun in the beginning, but starts to lose that luster as things go on. In later episodes it tries to evoke emotion and a sense of nostalgia but feels too melancholy. It picks up well enough in the end though.
Even if not consistently awesome, it's still pretty solid. With a never ending stream of anime romance / comedies it's easy to overlook this one, but Pet Girl of Sakurasou deserves a chance provided you're not worn out on this kind of show.
Mashiro: I will have to use "plan C" on her.
Sorata: No annihilation!
Guy: I don't know what's going on but you can do it! Youth is for exploding!
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