The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
Rating: 5 of 5
At the end of episode 2, Sorata discovered that Mashiro is not the person he thought she was. He had seen her manga drawings and recognized her talent, but he also recognized that her work was inherently flawed in terms of story and considered her someone striving to be a manga artist but with no major accomplishments and no common sense. When he discovered how wrong he was, it was a bit of a shock, because Mashiro is not only an unaccomplished manga artist, she is also a world renowned master painter who has had her work exhibited in many of the finest galleries in the world.
Finding out that the girl he looked at as an incompetent, but talented person who was only marginally capable of functioning at school without his help is actually a famous, extremely talented, and highly respected artist whose work has been considered groundbreaking was a big shock. He was already harboring a major inferiority complex about the other residents of Sakura Hall, but this pushed it to another level. It seems that a major reason why he wants to move out of Sakura Hall and back to the regular dorms is this sense that he doesn’t belong there. Yes, the dorm is generally for people who don’t function well in a regular dorm, but it seems that the reality of the situation is that the residents are really problem children because of their brilliance, not because of behavior or attitude problems.
To avoid spoilers, I will not go into specifics about what makes this episode the best of the season thus far. Suffice it to say that the emotional roller-coaster ride of this episode is a thing of beauty! Sorata, and to a certain extent Jin, the screen-writer/playboy, both are suffering from similar issues: the feeling that they don’t belong or are unable to be an equal to those around them, or to a specific person in Jin’s case. This causes them to behave in ways that seem to be contrary to their interests. There is loads of character development, including an indication that Sorata may have more than “protective” or “caretaker” feelings for Mashiro, though he doesn’t seem to have acknowledged them entirely. The relationship between Jin and Misaki, the anime creator, is also explored, with their issues coming into focus for much of the episode. In the end, Sorata learns a great deal about Mashiro and that he really didn’t understand her at all. The question of whether he understands himself appears to be one of the primary plot points to be explored in the coming episodes.
The show uses a great deal of bawdy humor, classic misunderstandings, and fan service to spice it up, but its heart seems to be in the right place. There is surprising depth to the characters and their relationships, as well as a fairly strong philosophical bent to the storytelling style. I look forward to seeing where the show leads us as we get to know the residents of Sakurasou over the next season of anime.