This is one of the odder school romance anime shows I have seen, mainly because the main thrust of it doesn’t make any real sense, but, being a comedy, I guess it’s not supposed to make sense, as we have to make the story work, more or less.
“The Pet Girl of Sakurasou” (“Sakura-sō no Petto na Kanojo”) tells the story, initially, of Sorata Kanda (that stiff guy three in from the right). He attends Suimei University of the Arts (often shortened as Suiko), but he is a ‘problem’ child. He is a problem as he took in an abandoned cat, in the hopes of finding a new owner for it. Well, that didn’t happen, and pets aren’t allowed in the dorms, so he was ‘transferred’ out (read that as ‘hit the bricks, bozo’), as he wouldn’t surrender the cat, and into the Sakura Dorm. In this world, it’s like a one-way bus ticket to Cleveland: you go in, you never come back out to the normal world. I hope you enjoy seeing Lake Erie catch on fire. (Well, actually it was the Cuyahoga River, in June of 1969).
Now, these people in the dorm (and it doesn’t house that many; only about six. In a school this size, there are only six problem students? Really?) are all very creative and highly intelligent, just a tad on the addled side. Thrown into this mix is Mashiro Shiina (to Sorata’s right). She is so addled that she cannot even dress herself in the morning and needs a handler to help her. OK, who gets the job of being her handler? Who haven’t I called on in a while? That right! Sorata gets this dubious job. Feed her, dress her, get her to class, bring her home, help her pass her tests, etc., etc., etc.
He later learns that she is a painting prodigy, who stormed the art world at a young age, but now, she wants to make manga. The show details their life together and with the other residents of the dorm, who should get a proper introduction. From left to right:
Chihiro Sengoku, dorm mother (for lack of a better term). Chihiro is lazy and only cares about drinking alcohol and trying to date men. She is Mashiro’s cousin.
Rita Ainsworth. She was Mashiro’s handler when they were both in England. Also a good painter, she is totally outclassed by Mashiro.
Ryūnosuke Akasaka. That is a he and a hikikomori to the point where he normally contacts everyone through Maid, his AI program. He makes his real appearance later on in the show.
Nanami Aoyama. She moves into Sakura and has struggled for two years to be a voice actress.
Misaki Kamiigusa. She is so committed to her anime work that others aspects of school fall by the wayside, thus her arrival at the dorms.
Jin Mitaka. A childhood friend of Misaki, he becomes a playboy as he feels he is not good enough for her.
We see these interactions between all parties involved over the course of a school year.
This is a good First Anime candidate, if you want to get people interested in anime, despite the early fan service. (Have you EVER met a girl who didn’t know how to dress herself?) and we learn a lot more about the relationship between Jin and Misaki. We also see Sorata’s struggles to leave Sakura and go back into the real dorms, but everyone here sabotages themselves, as they are not really sure what it is they fully want and/or how to obtain it.
Still, it was an intriguing series, even with the kind of fake crisis that was pasted on near the end to create tension where it wasn’t genuinely called for, but that’s how romantic comedies run, eh? Yes, it does get a bit frustrating in the early run, until the characters settle down and get to the task of balancing their school life with their future lives. They do come together for the school festival and there is a sub story of Sorata trying to be a video game designer, so we do see the struggles and the failures. At one stretch, it seems everyone bares their souls, showcasing their fears on things, but, as it is a romantic comedy, it all works out.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Those girls are sure pretty)
Plot 7 (Gets sketchy at points)
Pacing 8 (Shuttles between low comedy and high drama)
Effectiveness 7 (Telegraphs some of its intentions)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler’, but doesn’t really end)
Fan Service 5 (A similar show would be “Maburaho”)
Overall 7 (A bit too locked in)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. How do I put this on?