Continuing on from the previous season, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo follows the lives of a special group of high school liberal arts students and the pursuit of their dreams. Most aspects of what make this show memorable are ones that give a slight twist to conventional high school anime. Instead of an average high school, Suimei is dedicated to the liberal arts. The focused disciplines and dorm setting feel more like college than high school. Sakurasou also regularly pits talent against hard work, though the two often overlap. I don’t usually see this addressed in anime with younger characters, though the argument is one that crosses all ages. An even more discussion-worthy detail is the anime’s seeming promotion of careers over personal relationships. Again, I don’t usually see this in high school shows other than the usual dedication to studying. Watching relationships fall apart because of a job or passion seems like an experience more likely to be portrayed in some josei drama. Cast with high school boys and girls, set in a high school environment, and teeming with juvenile emotions, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is, for all intents and purposes, an anime by adults for adults in the adult world.
Hard work versus talent is a topic brought up often in anime and other mediums, and the two are not always at odds. However, in Sakurasou, opposition is exactly the name of the game; characters are set against one another all in the name of talent. The show pairs up the cast all too conveniently: Mashiro and Sorata, Misaki and Jin, Akasaka and Rita. The only odd one is Nanami, who adds a point to the “hardworking” faction. While the pairing seems decided for the latter two “couples,” the Mashiro-Sorata-Nanami circle looks to be the battle ground for whether talent or hard work will win, and they are appropriately the focal point of the show. Sorata must choose between the two girls (because, obviously, no choice is not an option) and between chasing and walking hand-in-hand. Mashiro is the epitome of talent, although she also puts in more effort and passion than anyone else. But as Sorata points out, their endeavors reap entirely different levels of rewards. Whereas she is hailed as a genius, he struggles to get the bare minimum of recognition. Nanami steps up as a girl who gives her all in everything she does–and she does a lot. Juggling school with multiple part-time jobs and contributing to the housework in Sakura Hall, Nanami still has hopes for succeeding as a voice actress. Like Sorata, she faces failure and denial and still continues to work and hope. If he chooses Nanami, he can walk at her side. Choosing Mashiro means constantly battling his feelings of inferiority.
Sorata’s dilemma ties in directly to another argument of careers over personal relationships and competition as a seed of separation. I’ve already personally seen and even experienced relationships that have fallen apart due to 1) differing views on work, and 2) unhealthy competition. Jin and Misaki have been a migraine of a head ache throughout the anime. I simply could not understand Jin’s refusal to accept Misaki’s feelings despite reciprocating them. It wasn’t until further elaboration of his dissatisfaction with his own writing skills compared to her vivid and imaginative creations did I comprehend his actions. Like Sorata, Jin was constantly running behind Misaki and trying to catch up to her animations with his scripts–but the differences in quality were too noticeable. While I may not agree with his decision to ignore her feelings for so long, I still admire him for striving to equal her and for not letting physical intimacies cloud his judgement.
Unlike Jin, it appears that Sorata is indeed allowing his insecurities over his own capabilities to block him from becoming closer with Mashiro. He has not only prioritized work over their friendship, but has turned it into a competition. I usually find competition to be an excellent means to self improvement and camaraderie, but it becomes unhealthy when instead of elevating everyone’s skills, it turns into one trying to bring down the other. That’s not competition; that’s just fighting. I couldn’t help but feel disgusted with Sorata’s complete lack of tact with refusing Mashiro’s attempts to comfort him. His attitude was ugly and unbecoming of both a competitor and supposed friend.
From a personality point of view, I prefer Nanami’s earnest struggle and want her to succeed in both career and love. Yet I can’t help but cheer for the notion of love overcoming differences in abilities and social ranking, and wish to see Sorata’s game turned into reality so he can get over being second fiddle to Mashiro. Come hither, oh ending as climatic as Nyanpollon and emotionally touching as Jin and Misaki’s promise!
Or maybe everyone’s dreams should be shattered, since that’s what being an adult is all about.