Seemingly regarded as one of the most anticipated anime of the fall season, “Sakurasou” has been released – bringing all the female underwear emphasis, senseless physical exposure, and fanfare expected of it.
A typical good guy pushover takes the role of protagonist, and the series initiates as he’s banished to the “Sakurasou” dormitories – an environment where “problem children”, and apparently incompetent protagonists, are designated. It is there where Sorata, along with a band of other school misfits, are introduced to Shiina Mashiro – a girl with quite a reputation in place for not wearing any pantsu. And from there, the story implies that it’ll be more generally based around highschool students from a specific school – a definitely fascinating premise we’ve never heard of before.
Setting aside characters and whatnot, there is one aspect noticed upon the opening second of the series – the level of brightness is akin to the burning shimmer of a thousand suns. The center of our solar system seems to shine in even the smallest of crevices – perhaps utilized as a means of excusing the lack of detail in certain areas by washing them out through brightness.
As the episode plays out, one will come to conclude they may require sunglasses to see this series through. While the brightness disrupts the art of some characters – distracting enough as it is, it is also much like staring at a light bulb.
Brightness aside, the artwork looks as if having received much attention put towards it – and this isn’t in reference to the many sure to be indulging in the nopan artwork of our heroine. Many of the establishing shots employed to acquaint the viewers with elements of the series are stunning – such as the first unveiling of the Sakurasou, or a downtown shot in the afternoon. It’s fairly evident to anyone that this series’ tale isn’t anything fresh, to the point even, it would feel redundant to say much else of it – yet the setting is, at least, admittedly fitting of the plot.
The series also uses a rather unique color palette – much of the animation utilizes very little primary colors, instead opting for a more pastel feel. The hues appear to have a slight burnt orange overlay to them – perhaps having suffered under the continuous glare of sun. Every instance of blue is constant as well – the precise tone of blue utilized within this series fills not only the sky, but most of the hallways of the school, the locker room, and even finds its way onto the uniforms themselves.
Nightfall calls for a heavy use of bloom whilst a wash of bronze fills the atmosphere – giving a very sleepy feeling, alongside a warm and comforting mood.
The use of complementing colors, blue and orange to be exact, are apparent in the character designs – certainly making for a commendable aesthetic. And the studio elects to use exclusive dyes to each of the character’s eyes – a variation of orange, yellow, or gold, keeping towards this warm region of the spectrum, whilst ensuring the uniforms and seifukus of our cast are a striking, and heavily beaming blue. It is simple science on why the character’s and environment appear as excellent as they do.
As with all anime series, cherry blossom petals litter the outdoor segments – and while it does heighten the intensity of certain situations, it seems more as if a last ditch effort to add flare to the setting. However, in the introduction of one of the characters, the individual petals landing on clothing is a great attention to detail – and certainly noteworthy when taking all the little things into consideration.
While the animation is not as fluid or eye-catching as other slice of life anime series this season, such as the mess which is “Chuunibyo“, there are certain instances where the studio must be praised. Facial expressions are full of detail, being highly distinguishable and unique between different characters – a rarity when it comes to modern series of this type. When the setting shifts to late afternoon, the animators do superbly in slowing down the pace, and building a vibe, not only through use of color, but in atmosphere as well.
For example, we’re introduced to our heroine under a first person visual perspective, with use of shaky cam effects, alongside loss of focus for added impact – a true defining moment showing JC Staff isn’t totally a ragtag studio.
In a nutshell, Sakurasou No Pet Kanojo surrounds an art institute with many talented members – some of the members, however, have various eccentricities which resulted in their exile to the netherworld of “Sakurasou”. Context clues imply this bunch intend to create an animation themselves – an interesting goal if nothing else, although our protagonist seemingly has a separate wish. He feels that being the sole sane individual within the dormitory, it is surely his mission to escape back into the other, supposedly non-problematic, realm of society.
At this point, the leading male meets the heroine – and cue everything you already know about trite romance.
The pacing of the anime is a bit quick, yet it doesn’t feel rushed – and another strange albeit admirable facet is how the series makes the major players of the anime all very obvious from the start. Each meaningful character is introduced through a series of “character cards” that go along with them appearing on the set – with information getting as precise, and irrelevant for that matter, as measurements of their physical proportion.
The entourage introduced this episode are essentially the basic add-ons of any series – a “nice guy” protagonist who happens to be friends with a busty and exuberant bishoujo that boasts her physique ero-suggestively every other second, living alongside a stacked, scantily dressed man-eating teacher. And besides the fact that our protagonist is staler than cookies that fell behind the counter, he’s also of the feminine, self-gratified type of character – with his main entrance being that of a celebrity as it involves the usual round of females fawning over him.
Lastly, there comes the main heroine, Shiina Mashiro – adored by otaku for her childlike demeanor and undeniable beauty. She is more so an item than a character – all manner of undergarments and upper body spotlight comes from her. She’s made out to be deficient in the brain, with speech short and limited – and while indeed a genius in the arts, her mental capacity is that of a small child. Her characteristics of having an unreal talent for art and design with a lack of common sense is a condition similar to that of autism.
Now it would be fine if the series were more sincere in efforts to show a master of the arts female with a slow cognition being taken care of by a semi-respectable male protagonist – yet it’s not, skin or intimacies litter the screen in such abundance, the series feels as if purposefully having exchanged the heroine’s mental capabilities in favor of an excuse to flaunt her figure for all relevant merchandise and sales purposes.
Yet ultimately, despite obvious harem properties and a ho-hum cast, Sakurasou proves to be a little, just tiny bit, more than an average slice of life love story. Further episodes will shed more light on the direction this anime is headed – but as of now, it seems to be better than glaring at the wall if nothing else.