What They Say:
Banished from normal housing for the crime of adopting stray cats, Sorata Kanda’s life has gone to the dogs and he’s been impounded in Sakura Hall, a notorious den of troublemakers, geniuses and weirdos. And since he has a penchant for taking in small, cute but sometimes not completely loveable creatures, he’s been tasked with keeping fellow resident Mashiro Shiina, an acclaimed but highly dysfunctional and unfocused artist, from forgetting to eat, brush her hair or wear clothes. Then there are the other residents of Sakura Hall, all of whom have their own unique quirks and challenging relationships. Attentions stray, passions play and sanity frays in the housebreaking complete collection of The Pet Girl of Sakurasou!
While this collection may only be available in Japanese with subtitles, this format is all that is needed to enjoy the series. Gentle musical accompaniments, the calming breeze blowing sakura petals, random school room chatter and soft whispers of Mashiro’s childlike voice are intermixed with the screaming of Sorata as he tries to deal with another of Misaki’s crazy ideas within Sakura Hall to produce a wonderful Dolby Digital 2.0 experience. This soundtrack has been optimised for this set to resonate the tranquility of the school versus the lunacy of their daily lives. The separation of these two environments makes the collision of the two worlds all the more shocking as these students try to cope with their studies and how they will ultimately determine their futures.
Although this anime may be characterised as a simple slice of life series set in the halls of a high school and dorms, the settings themselves are not restricted by the atmosphere. The delightful range of colours used in the show reflect the primary question Mashiro keeps asking Sorata: What colour do you want to be? The beautiful pinks of the sakura blossoms as they float throughout represent the frailty of life, the wonderfully depicted sunsets with shafts of light shining through the window, the somber and confining halls of Sakurasou – all of these emotional triggers constantly change the moods of each scene. However, each scene itself becomes a character within the show, balancing the students as they try to grapple with their daily struggles in trying to handle rapidly changing events within each of their lives. The use of these hues only makes the characters’ decisions all the more important as the series progresses.
Sentai Filmworks has beautifully graced the front case with a personable portrait of the gang from Sakurasou. With the continuing theme of sakura blossoms fluttering in the breeze onto the case, the same colour scheme from those flowers – a warm pink, is used to accentuate the packing of the set. This palette also accents the title, while stands out on the white disks as they are used to indicate the episode numbers in a colourful paintbrush swipe. The whole theme of innocence and fleeting changes are even depicted on the external decorations to drive the idea of the series home.
While Sentai may have used the same sakura blossom pink from the case to tie things together, the menus of the collection are very basic. The usage of various characters to decorate each foreground image then the background is shaded over with the overused pink gets monotonous after the first few disks; although you can play all of the episodes separately and access the Extras section from the base menu, that is it. Though they did differentiate the cursor by shaping it like the familiar flower, the use of green makes it look like a leaf instead of that symbol of innocence. Therefore, it sticks out instead of blending into the menu and ruins the whole effect.
Sentai Filmworks added an unusual bonus to this collection by way of footage from the Japanese Premier Event in which the seiyū threw a show for the fans. While this is not unheard of to promote an anime, this promotion occurred while the episodes was still being broadcast in Japan; thus, we were able to hear insights from the actors while they themselves are becoming more familiar with the characters during the recording sessions. It is nice to see their reactions as they perform strange skits crafted around situations from the show. However, the format is unexpected for Western viewers; the closest comparison would be a panel at a comic book convention, but instead of answering questions from the crowd, the seiyū worked off a script with two of the actors acting as hosts to lead the others into the various games they used to get an open interaction between each other.
The rest of the bonuses on the set are pretty standard consisting of Japanese commercials for the series and the CDs, extended previews of upcoming episodes and textless opening & closing animations for the series. It is strange that no additional trailers for current or future Sentai properties were included in the Extras – perhaps they forgot them or didn’t have enough space with all of the show related materials.
Sorata Kanda is a non assuming second year at Suimei University of the Arts, but due to his abnormal love for cats and propensity to pick up any stray, he now finds himself on the verge of being evicted from the dormitories. Now due to his stubbornness not abandon any feline, he is left with but two options: leave school or go live in Sakurasou. However, the latter has raised numerous rumours around campus is that this place is filled with a variety of eccentric oddballs … and that is putting it mildly. Those who go there are thought of as the best of the school, but their personalities are unusual to say the least. And so, not wanting to give up on his furry friends, he finds himself at the doorstep of this strange house, where his scholastic adventures into insanity begin.
Soon after arriving, the Hall’s supervisor Chihiro Sengoku notices his willingness for taking care of small adorable creatures and volunteers his services for their newest arrival, her cousin Mashiro Shiina. This girl may be a genius artist and promising mangaka, but her social niceties are a bit lacking; if can’t dress herself, clean up her room, won’t wear clothes unless told to and sleeps under her desk, how can she function without someone on Mashiro Duty? In other words, Kanda will now have to tend to her basic needs so she can concentrate on meeting deadlines her books. If this girl is normal considering the other occupants of Sakurasou, then he has it easy. However, nothing is as it seems in this madhouse, for each inhabitant is crazier than the previous one.
There is a hyperactive anime artist named Misaki Kamiigusa who’s wacky antics belittle her ability to create highly successful shows which have secured her future financially. Jin Mitaka, her childhood friend and scriptwriter, who strangely has time after school to womanise with multiple older women. The reclusive genius programmer Ryūnosuke Akasaka who’s only contact with the outside world is via his amazing A.I. Maid-chan, but even this little helper is curt in the extreme. And of course, we can’t forget the one who is supposed to be managing this asylum, Chihiro-san; but, her main concerns outside of teaching her art class are drinking and trying to find a date for the weekend. Just what kind of hope is our insecure cat lover supposed to have if he has to put up with these inmates on a daily basis? Or will he have to find a strait jacket in his size to fit in with this maladjusted group of students? Oh … the joys of school life – is there anything better?
While this anime may seem like your average high school based show, the deeper meaning of the normal student versus the geniuses strikes home immediately after the first episode. When Sorata is assigned to be Mashiro’s guide, he is struck by how innocent she is to the world, and yet her overwhelming skill has managed to propel her to heights not attained by adults who have studied and painted for decades. At the same time, when he gets to know the other tenants of Sakurasou, he then sees how the very atmosphere of the hall is bursting with people with extraordinary abilities. However, just as the other pupils of Suimei are not affected by the success of these uber children, he too brushes it off until he tries to follow his dream of becoming a game designer. It is then when he realises that it takes more than drive to succeed, it takes talent; no matter how hard he may try, he cannot win unless he has what has eluded him.
The story as a whole revolves around how he begins to grow as a person by helping his fellow students reach their own goals. By doing so, he sees that even those who have ability do not always succeed, they too must strive for their own dreams since not everything is handed to them without hard work. His optimistic personality begins to spread upon his charge, but at the same time, when he does fail, those negative feelings lash out as his expectations of his future are in question. The interaction of his attitude with Mashiro is what makes this series something unpredictable since most anime handle this type of guilt with a self-doubting monologue. This time, the protagonist has a living sounding board who responds the best she knows – by holding everything in; unlike most people who would burst out, she does not know how to express herself aside from in her artwork. When she is content, she flourishes, when she is sullen, she sulks. Her expressions almost remind us Sorata’s beloved cats by the similar moods and at the same time, how he treats her by tending to her every need. However, her contentment is what he seeks and will go to any length to please her, while at the same time striving to catch up to her success. A engaging love story between two completely different people, but one which we all hope will happen, no matter how long it may take.
The Pet Girl Of Sakurasou may seem like an unlikely romance, but the characters are what make it a likable series which latches onto you like a lost kitten. As you look into those sad eyes, you cannot but help to fall for the cuteness and take responsibility for raising the helpless thing, until it latches its claws into your hand if you pet it the wrong way. But if you persevere and treat it with a loving heart, it will blossom into an endearing companion which will respond with contentment no matter what hardships you may bring into its world. Just don’t forget to feed it its favourite treats or it may find a surprise in your room the next time you fall asleep! Sweet dreams Mashiro!
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Promos, CD & TV Spots; Extended Previews; Japanese Premier Event; Clean Opening Animation; Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: A+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 14th, 2015
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Animorphic Widescreen
Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony BDPS3200 Blu-ray player