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Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Is Inherently Different From The Monogatari Series

This post was written after episode 8 of Bunny Girl Senpai and can include spoiler up until that point. Spoilers for the Monogatari series will cover some characters arcs in Bakemonogatari, so I recommend previous knowledge from there.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is a currently airing show that draws clear inspirations from the Monogatari series by NisioisN. The novel started publishing in 2014, several years after Bakemonogatari was aired on television in 2009. Bakemonogatari and the continuation of the series have garnered multiple anime adaptations and been received well by critics and the masses alike. Being one of the best selling anime Blu-rays, there’s no doubt that the author of Bunny Girl Senai would’ve heard, and probably even read the novel or seen the anime himself. Considering the writing style of the series, I would say that the parallels are clear and shouldn’t be overlooked as superficial, however, I still firmly believe that the differences are just as important to look at. Having seen multiple people comparing them, I want to take a different look the similarities, emphasizing the inherent differences which make me enjoy the Monogatari series more than I am enjoying Bunny Girl Senpai.

As I don’t know if you’ve got any experience with either of these series, it should first of all be made clear why they are similar and why I enjoy them both. On a superficial level, they both contain the main character solving the problems of girls that are possessed by some supernatural phenomenon that encapsulates the psychological struggles the girls deal with every day. If you believe you’ve got a firm grasp on both series, you can skip the next three paragraphs, however, I still urge you to read it if you’ve got the time.

In the case of the Monogatari series, these are called oddities and are basically youkai that troubles the characters in different ways. Senjougahara loses her weight because she was carrying a burden that was taken off of her shoulders by a crab youkai. Hanekawa was got split personalities, which literally changed her from herself into a cat person. This happens because she was acting too much like a perfect human being, despite having it horrible in her own home, which causes a lot of stress on her. The Nekohanekawa version of herself went out to destroy the stress-inducing factors for her, however, in the process, causing more stress on her. Bunny Girl Senpai is similar to this in superficial ways, which is what will become the meat of this post after I explain a few more points.

The other clear similarity, which is also the biggest reason why I compared it to the Monogatari series in the first place, is the snappy and witty dialogue. The Monogatari series is a dialogue driven series, with episode long conversations that have a lot of information that isn’t necessarily relevant to the plot, however, all build on the characters. They improve the vision that it’s all written as if the main character is telling this story, and it creates a feeling that these characters actually know each other, or don’t, depending on their relations. The dialogues can be quick, they can be slow, however, they often have an interesting sense of push and pull in a conversation. They go from one character pushing the conversation forward to the other, sometimes leaving the other part dumfounded. However, at other times it also lets the parties of the conversation share a common direction, forward. (I would love to share some examples, however, YouTube is a bitch and I can’t find any)

This is the biggest similarity to both of these two shows, as we get a lot of these push-and-pull and common-direction conversations in Bunny Girl Senpai as well. In the first episode of Bunny Girl Senpai, most of the conversations between Sakuta and Mai are of these two types. Snarky comments often get brought up by one character. In most other anime, one of those would in most cases lead to the other character getting flustered or respond without thinking, however, that’s not the case for either of these series. When one character brings up a snarky comment, the other responds in a like-minded way. This can lead to one out of several outcomes. The character that originally brought up the snarky comment gets flustered, subverting our expectations. The snarky comment leading into a chain of snarky comments, that eventually breaks, again, subverting our expectations. Or it could end up with a character deciding to not care about it and keep the conversation going as if it didn’t happen, once again, subverting our expectations. In my experience, these types of conversations are much more grounded in real conversations I have with my friends and require a lot better character-writing to pull off.

These are all similarities between the two series, however, as I mentioned in the intro, while I still believe they share a lot in common, they are inherently different beyond the surface level. And this is also the part of Bunny Girl Senpai that I like the least, which make me prefer the Monogatari series.

Here’s the relevant character profiles for Bunny Girl Senpai for the next part:

Sakuta Azusagawa
Kaede Azusagawa
Tomoe Koga
Mai Sakurajima

The arcs I previously mentioned from the Monogatari series, the one about Senjougahara and Nekohanekawa, including all the others, aren’t really properly resolved. What do I mean? Well, yes, Araragi does remove the oddity, however, in the process he both – quite literally and figuratively – take on their weights as well as not actually solving the inherent problem. Senjougahara got her weight back, however, she still has to carry the weight of her emotional traumas from her past. Hanekawa’s cat form was suppressed by Shinobu biting her and sucking out the oddity, however, it didn’t remove the cause, it just removed the result. Not just that, but Araragi also takes on their problems as he truly cares for them, which adds more weight that he has to carry as well. In the end, they have to learn to live with their problems and not try to ignore them. The characters all stay together as friends, as none of these characters have been “cured” of their problems.

Bunny Girl Senpai, while being similar in most cases, doesn’t really get this right and loses a lot of depth as a result of it. In the case of Mai, she’s been a public figure for a big chunk of her life, however, in recent times, she’s been keeping to herself and getting away from the screen, which eventually made her disappear from the world. The underlying problem here isn’t that she wanted to get away from the screen, however, she wants to be seen for who she truly is, not just the surface level, public image of her. When Sakuta finally figures this out and confess his love for the true her, she the fades back into the views of the public, as her root cause has been cured. She is now being seen by someone for who she truly is, thus removing her “puberty syndrome.”

The second arc about the girl, Tomoe Koga, all happens because of the incredible skill she’s got for predicting what will happen. However, her prediction skill is inherently flawed, as her predictions are still biased from her emotions. This eventually leads to her realizing that she actually loves the main character, Sakuta, and when she finally decides to confess her feelings and accept that he won’t feel the same, it is all reversed and she realizes that she’s living a lie, pretending to be someone she’s not. Her problems are solved, even if she still has an unrequited love for Sakuta. She is, therefore, so far, pushed aside from the story, becoming irrelevant.

The most interesting character so far is, to me, most certainly the little sister. In a medium filled with little sister characters that stick to a formula, and, in a lot of cases, is there just to titillate a forbidden fruit (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), this little sister stands out for being the most interesting character in the show, to me, so far. How come she’s so interesting? Well, she, just like Shinobu, is a mysterious character. Something has happened to her before, and while we do get an explanation of what it is, we haven’t experienced it. She might be less mysterious than Shinobu and have a more prominent role, however, the reality is that we don’t know the circumstances properly. She’s there, still a broken character. The puberty syndrome’s symptoms might be gone, however, she still lives alone with her brother, doesn’t have any friends and is terrified of any sounds that remind her of the bullying. This is currently the best part of the show and the type of character arc that reminds me the most of the Monogatari series so far.

While I’m saying all this, almost as if it’s criticism, I don’t think that’s what you should think of this. All I’m saying is that, for these reasons, I prefer the Monogatari series’ writing over what we’ve currently seen of Bunny Girl Senpai. The Monogatari series create a scenario that can support a lot of future installations into the series, however, that’s something Bunny Girl Senpai isn’t doing as well. Yes, they can keep adding new characters, but at some point, it might become too monotonous. At what point will we get bored of seeing more and more characters having this problem and the main character fixing them? Well, they still have more elements left that it can explore in depth, but I feel like there’s less sustainability in this series compared to the Monogatari series. We’ll have to see how it develops, but these are my thoughts on it so far.

2 thoughts on “Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Is Inherently Different From The Monogatari Series

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  1. I didn’t finish Monogatari yet, so my understanding is limited. But I basically agree with the 2 main points you make about Bunny Girls sustainability beyond the 13 episode and 1 movie run that is planned, and that Bunny Girls’ arcs get relatively final closure to them. Though admittedly, I find the dialogue between them all to be written enjoyable enough that I could watch a few episodes of them just doing stuff together without narrative stakes attached. I imagine I’m few and far between with that opinion, given how the series set itself up as a drama.

    But I have a criticism with how you characterize Mai and Tomoe and the way they resolve their problem with the help of Sakuta.

    The thematic through line of the series so far is honesty. His relentless honesty is what sets Sakuta apart from all of his peers in the high school, it is what pulls Mai and Tomoe towards him, it is what convinces Mai that he will stay with her during the Tomoe lie. And I speculate it is likely the most important thing Sakuta learned of Shouko Makinohara back when she helped him overcome his encounter with Adolescence Syndrome.

    It is Mais calling to be an actress and performer. She always loved doing it, up until the feud between her and her mother, because of the lingerie/bikini gig, broke out. She distanced herself from acting because it was the best way to get away from her exploitative mother. But as a result she slowly faded from celebrity relevance, forsaking her true actress self, together with her reclusive behavior among high school peers that incites the Adolescence Syndrome. Yes, by Sakuta and Mai confessing her love honestly for all people to see they save Mai for the time being, but it is Mai’s effort to be honest to herself (remember Sakuta calling her out on wanting to act, but lying to herself about it), and follow her calling as an actress apart from her mothers agency that she fixes her Adolescence Syndrome, by going back into the spotlight, in a sustainable way.

    For Tomoe the inciting factor for her Adolescence Syndrome is lying about the reason she does not want to date the jerk in the stairway, opting to lie about it for a whole month together with Sakuta to save face. The Adolescence Syndrome appeared to be solved through that month but lying again to Sakuta and herself about her feelings set them back again. The key to solving the issue again was honesty. And to keep the Syndrome away in sustainable fashion means for her to uphold that ideal for honesty in the future.(edited)

    So while I agree that with the way the show presents the arcs, they seem resolved for good, the characters still need to put up the effort to keep up honesty in the future. The show just does not choose to make a big deal out of it by showing the continued struggle.

    Also, Tomoes predictive ability is impeccable. So much so that the one mistake she makes by turning around and blushing at Sakuta during the summer break address, breaking her established behavior, is the reason Sakuta is sure that Tomoe lies to him.

    I think what you describe as her predictions are still biased from her emotions. Is the fact that both her and Sakuta are able to deviate from her predictions during the loop, so that with every repeat loop her feelings towards Sakuta grow, while his steadfast honesty keeps him anchored towards Mai, ultimately dooming her to dig herself further into the lies she keeps up until the jig is up (slipping up during summer break address) and Sakuta calls her out. Am I wrong on this?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is definitely a great way to put it. I had forgotten certain events, so my accuracy was kinda limited in during those parts, but still not wrong. However, this does further emphasize my point that the show can’t really sustain itself for much longer, as the root cause is always solved.


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