Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is a romantic-comedy anime about finding one’s self-worth and the struggle it takes to accomplish what one wants. The main character, Sorata Kanda, is sent to Sakurasou, a run-down dormitory, after being kicked out of the regular dorms for housing cats. At first, he wants to leave Sakurasou, seeing himself as the only normal person in the building, but slowly changes his mind after Mashiro Shiina arrives. Shiina, not knowing how to take care of herself, is dependent on Kanda’s support. Through taking care of Shiina, Kanda finds a reason to stay at Sakurasou and to peruse the goal of making a game, even if he has no natural talents or skills related to game making.
The anime revolves around Sakurasou, a dormitory where ‘problem children’ are sent to. Kanda originally wanted to leave because of the reputation it has. The students that reside in Sakurasou are all eccentric in their own way, from the level of talent they have to the way they live.
Being the main hub of most of the activity in the anime, Sakurasou is where all of the main characters live. At the beginning of the anime, Kanda, Misaki Kamiigusa (a very energetic girl who’s very good at drawing), Jin Mitaka (a ‘playboy’ who writes scripts to Misaki’s anime(s)), and Ryuunosuke Akasaka (a shut-in who’s a programming expert) are housed at Sakurasou. Shiina arrives in the first episode, and Nanami Aoyama (Kanda’s friend and aspiring voice actor) moves in later. These six are the only ones that live in Sakurasou (besides Chihiro-sensei, the dorm teacher of Sakurasou).
Being a romantic-comedy themed anime, the relationships that form in-between the main characters are the main draw to the show. From the get-go, Misaki’s love for Jin is shown, although Jin deliberately ignores her confessions. Kanda and Shiina also form a close relationship, mainly due to Kanda being the only one that is willing to perform ‘Mashiro Duty’, or take care of her every need. The pairings in the show can be convoluted and frustrating at times, but not to the degree to which it takes away from the show; it just shows the character’s flawed process of thought.
More than a rom-com, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is also about the concept of ‘hard work’ against ‘natural talent’. This is mainly shown through Kanda and Shiina. While Shiina is a prodigy in the art world and is naturally good at painting and drawing, Kanda has to bust his ass making a game proposal just to have a chance of getting it to pass the first round of a game creation contest. Even if she doesn’t recognize it, Shiina is miles ahead of Kanda when it comes to raw talent. The main reason why I like this anime is because of how it shows this dilemma. Kanda is frustrated that Shiina can have the natural talent to excel at anything related to the art world, while he has no talent and has to get her help just to increase his chances of winning the competition. Does Kanda give up and wallow in his misery, or does he get more self-determined and motivated to work even harder next time?
Kanda isn’t the only character that has to deal with failure; Nanami also has to take two years of demanding voice acting classes just to get a chance to become one, which she has to take along with having multiple part-time jobs. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo shows the struggles of average people like Kanda and Nanami, who have to give 110% to try to accomplish their dreams, while in comparison to Shiina, who is an artistic genius that’s already at the top of the art world.
While I’m giving Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo a high score, the anime was just average for the first third of its run. If you can get past that, then you’ll enjoy the other two-thirds, which are where it gets great.
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is one of the better ‘rom-com’ anime, more than likely because there’s way more to it than the main character’s prospects of love. The concepts of natural talent and hard work are as prevalent as the rom-com elements in the anime. Sakurasou as a space for all of the main characters to interact and chase the dreams is also vital to the story. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo isn’t only good because it pulls off ‘rom-com’ decently, but also because it shows actual dilemmas relatable to real life, without falling into clichés (most of the time). Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is definitely worth a watch.