Sakurasou no Pet no Kanoujou – 05

[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 05 [AEB8723A].mkv_snapshot_00.33_[2012.11.07_09.59.58] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 05 [AEB8723A].mkv_snapshot_06.45_[2012.11.07_10.05.18] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 05 [AEB8723A].mkv_snapshot_15.59_[2012.11.07_10.14.49]

The inevitable triangle seems finally to be upon us, and so far I’m not in love with where it seems to be taking Sakurasou.

I’ve had the nagging feeling for a while that Sakurasou was a series torn between two impulses – one, to be a somewhat radical and certainly unusual mix of different genres and styles, with a penchant for the major surprise.  And two, that it was basically a formula teen romantic comedy with above-average execution.  My opinion on which side was winning has tended to waver as the tone of the series has shifted, and the argument seemed to be playing out on-screen.  I like the show either way, but my personal preference would certainly be that Sakurasou’s true nature is the mold-breaker – but my gut feeling was that it when it came right down to it, the show was pulling its punches a little bit.

This episode, for what it’s worth, might not be proof that the conventional gene is dominant but for one week certainly points Sakurasou in that direction.  It was easily the most formulaic episode so far, and a lot of that is laid at the doorstep of Aoyama.  She represents the third point of the love triangle that seems destined to emerge as a dominant – and quite formulaic in itself – theme, but not only that, she’s a rather formulaic character herself.  She’s the male lead’s “bro” – the brash and outgoing pal who longs for more, and seethes as the new romantic interest turns his head.  On top of that she has a violent streak and plays the tsundere role to the hilt.

Given that we’ve seen all those things a thousand times before and none of them are especially favorites of mine, it’s not a huge surprise that I wasn’t overly keen on the direction Aoyama’s shift into a starring role took Sakurasou this week.  While the premise for her moving into Sakurasou itself is perfectly logical and relatable – she needs to make it on her own because her parents disapprove of her ambitions and Sakurasou is a cheap place to live – the show feels more tired and played-out when she’s heavily involved.  Misunderstanding comedy where the female friend gets the wrong idea, the guy getting punched in the nose for being nice, panty innuendo – it’s all pretty old-hat at this point, and even when it’s done well (the exploding watermelon gag and random voices were quite clever)  it’s hard to do that sort of thing and make it really interesting.  And for me, there wasn’t much happening this week that was really interesting – apart, perhaps, from Shiina’s somewhat more assertive role in staking her territory, which represents a potentially fruitful direction for her character to go.  If Aoyama’s presence in Sakurasou has a net positive impact, that’s where it lies so far.

One thing that really stood out from last week’s 4th episode is how much of an air of finality it had, considering it was only the fourth episode of a two-cour series.  What that made obvious was that whatever kind of series Sakurasou is, we really hadn’t seen it yet – those four episodes were just the prologue, the setup.  Would it be a conventional three-cornered teen romance, a bildungsroman about Sorata’s quest for a purpose, an ensemble series à la Mahoraba (a truly original show)?  The answer to that is going to determine everything in terms of what kind of staying power the show has, because being really good at doing the conventional can’t take you as far as truly having something to say. There’s a lot of potential here still – Misaki and Jin’s dysfunctional relationship, the mysterious hikikomori Akasaka and his influence on Sorata, and Shiina herself.  She remains largely a cipher at this point so she too is a question whose answer will be critical to the success of Sakurasou.  I still have hopes for this show’s upside and I don’t see any reason to think it won’t at least be entertaining, but I’m withholding judgment because right now, the early returns just aren’t conclusive.

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  1. x

    There's one thing that's been bothering me about Sakurasou: the non-stop dialogue/monologue.
    It's kinda exhausting because the are few "silent" or "just BGM" seconds.

  2. T

    If you want to see another LN adaptation that followed your philosophy of cutting down on Monologues, you can look no further than SAO. Had these animes chopped those monologues down, these animes would have been much weakened.

  3. T

    hmm, to me both this and Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun are highly formula teen romantic comedy shows that are very enjoyable and well-executed; in other words, these two are from the same mold albeit slightly different styles. It all depends on which style one prefers and then one can always argue why the show he/she likes better is arguably different and better based on his/her bias. To pretend the one is all mighty groundbreaking show with no faults while the other is just another cliché show is a bit misguided.

    You see, it's much easier to pick defects on shows you like a little less for whatever reasons while much harder to do for the show you like a little more. Well, that's a subjective opinion for ya. Again my personal view is that Sakurasou is neither inferior nor superior to Tonari as a show in terms of production value and etc. It's the same mold and your personal favoritism on the style and use of tropes/cliché device will determine why one is just about perfect while the other falls short.

  4. A

    And yet Misaki is my favorite female in the cast.

    I think if it ends up a triangle he will choose Shiina and Ayoama will end up freindzoned by the end of the series.

  5. A

    You're awfully negative about shows these days. All I tend to see you do is complaining about things. Which is a pity since I used to really enjoy your posts. Well you're still entitled to your opinion of course.

  6. e

    This seems a bit unfair frankly. Which shows exactly?
    I'm not even watching Sakurasou atm (I'm waiting for it to end ad see how it develops via blog posts before diving in), but all I see it's his usual approach of weighing pros and cons and pointing both out. And if you've red his blog you know Okada's writing can be a mixed bag for him – honestly, I think he has a point ^_^" – . I can't see being cautious as being a problem or zomg!complain! . He still likes this show very much. And it's not like he hasn't adjusted his expectation and opinion before about a show according to how it developed episode by episode either.
    So… do you mind being more specific? I'm really curious now.

  7. By my reckoning from the timeline, the last 8 episodic posts I made were almost universally positive about the episode in question.

  8. A

    I think in general anime viewers have become hyper critical over the years. Many of the shows that air today and for the most part are decent series would have been instant classics 10-15 years ago. The computer age has created a generation of nit pickers.

    I too think GE is too critical of shows but I chalk it up to him not liking a series as much as I like that series. There are other series he loves that I can't stand. So it goes both ways.

  9. I

    Aoyama seems like Erica-Chan all grown up. Not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all.

    Still my favourite JC show this season.

    Jokes were hilarious this week, even if the story wasn't.

    I think it's good to have a formulaic episode as after all the unpredictable stuff it makes the rest of the series less predictable as we think it would be formulaic but if it isn't it could be hugely interesting.

  10. J

    Really nice piece of writing, I haven't watched one episode of this yet I was hooked. Getting to the point is what I like; you discard the anime tropes and characters and see what their actions truly do for the story's benefit – or demise, whichever the case.

    On another note, the options in the 'select profile' tab when commenting seem…different.

  11. Nothing I changed on my side…

  12. J

    You're right; it was my browser's fault…

  13. J

    I would certainly hope that Aoyama’s "introduction" will play into the theme of "hardworking commoner vs genius" instead of let it become the usual tiring trope of a love triangle.

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