Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
Sakuta discovers a previously unknown side of Futaba when he’s shown a social media account she uses to post compromising pictures in exchange for recognition and praise. Sakuta tries to understand Futaba’s motivations, and she shares that her early development led her to be particularly aware of of her body. It made her feel “filthy”, but at the same time, a part of her liked the attention that it drew. These two halves of herself continued to be at odds until she finally manifested into two physical bodies.
Realizing the source of her puberty syndrome, Sakuta realized that the resolution would come down to making the two halves of Futaba come to terms with one another. He spends some time with the Futaba that manages the social media account, and suggests that she shut it down for her own safety and peace of mind. She’s reluctant at first, but after an anonymous follower recognizes her school uniform and blackmails her, she agrees that turning off the account is probably for the best.
Futaba takes Sakuta back to her place, and that evening she explains how both he and Kunimi complicated her feelings about her body. Obviously she had feeling for Kunimi, that much has already been suggested in previous episodes, but they also reflect on how their own relationship is a bit more complicated than a simple friendship. Sakuta wants to demonstrate how reliable a friend Kunimi is, and so he calls him saying that Futaba is “in a pinch”. Kunimi rushes over on his bike, and realizing how much both of these men care for her, the “social media” Futaba is moved to tears. The trio share a sentimental evening on the beach, lighting firecrackers and having a great time. They promise to all go and watch the fireworks together the following week, taking a selfie that Futaba sets as her new background screen.
Sakuta goes back to the other Futaba and presents her with “social media” Futaba’s phone, explaining that she deleted the account. Having pulled an all nighter, he proceeds to go and pass out while Futaba sees the phone background and runs away to the school to sulk in the classroom by herself. After waking up and not knowing where she went, Sakuta goes to “social media” Futaba and is directed to the school, where he confronts the other Futaba and tells her to join them to watch the fireworks as well. Unfortunately, having pedaled through a fierce rainstorm on his bike, Sakuta collapses from exhaustion shortly afterwards, awakening in the hospital with Mai at his side. The two share a round of typical banter before he goes to the lobby to finish his conversation with Futaba. She agrees to go see the fireworks, but Sakuta says that he shouldn’t be the one she tells. Gesturing to the nearby phones, Futaba calls herself and says that she wants to see the fireworks with everyone. In an instant, she disappears, and the two halves are reunited again.
The episode ends with the trio watching the fireworks, and Futaba seemingly confessing her feelings to Kunimi. She knows that he can’t do anything about it, but appears to be at peace with that. With that, Futaba’s arc comes to an end.
Amidst the Futaba fiasco, Sakura was informed by Mai that the two are not allowed to date, according to her manager. While he’s understandably bummed, he also wants to support her return to show business. Summer comes and goes, and as the break comes to an end, Sakuta is looking forward to seeing Mai more regularly. Unfortunately for him, when he approaches her on the street, she has no idea who he is!
A mysterious blonde girl walks up and declares that she is, in fact, Mai Sakurajima. Mai explains that she and her younger half-sister, an up and coming idol named Nodoka Toyohama, have inadvertently switched bodies as a result of puberty syndrome.
The two make some formal plans to cover for each other’s work schedule while Sakuta gets some insight on their strained relationship: Mai had always commanded more attention and fame in their younger years, and when Nodoka failed to perform at the same level, it resulted in her mother scolding her harshly – she wanted to raise a star equal to Mai in an effort to get back at her ex-husband.
In time, Nodoka grew to hate her sister, and the fame that seemed to come so easily for her. This combination of anger and jealousy is expected to be the reason behind the unexpected swap.
The siblings play each other’s respective roles for a while – Mai learning the song and dance routines for Sweet Bullet while Nodoka does photo shoots, interviews, and prepares for a commercial shoot.
It appears that Nodoka is picking up Mai’s schedule, but the weight of her older sister’s fame comes down on her while shooting for the commercial. She begins to panic, hyperventilating and collapsing as the team cancels the shoot entirely.
Sakuta goes to Mai and tells her how Nodoka panicked at the shoot – while Mai is too stubborn to have a conversation with her sister personally, she gives Sakuta a key to her place so that he can go and be with her in the aftermath. Before he leaves, she tells him not to open a specific cabinet in the Japanese-style room. So, being the rascal that he is, that’s one of the first things he sets out to do!
Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai continues to knock it out of the park with its integration of the supernatural & otherworldly with the very real struggles of adolescence.
The conclusion of Futaba’s arc was emotionally impactful, even if the final solution was a bit anti-climactic. What I really like in the most recent episodes is how they’ve recognized a pattern when it comes to puberty syndrome, and so now the storytelling has shifted slightly to focus more on the characters digging into the root cause of the problem and having real conversations around how to resolve them, Rather than wasting time with the characters scratching their heads, befuddled at the mysteries of “puberty syndrome”.
This structure is definitely at work in episode 9, as Futaba and Sakuta quickly realize that the swap is the result of Nodoka’s lingering jealousy of her older sister.
Sakuta is getting more overt with his lewd comments in recent episodes, not that anyone’s complaining (well, except for the subjects of his debauchery):
Yet, in true Sakuta fashion, he punctures his seemingly simplistic desires with insightful commentary and genuine concern for those he cares about. It’s a fine line to walk, but Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Senpai delivers, which is what has helped to make Sakuta one of the most beloved male characters of the season.
The animation continues to impress, with nuanced expressions that help to elevate the more emotional scenes. Episode 9 is particularly entertaining due to Mai’s possessed body demonstrating faces that we’re not used to seeing from the calm and collected senpai.
Rascal is likely going to end up as my favorite show this season, though Goblin Slayer and That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime are definitely strong contenders. With superb writing, direction, pacing, and phenomenal characters, it’s definitely leaving a mark on the anime fandom.
I’m thrilled to see what secrets lie in the cabinet next week, if any!