Oh ha ha. Very funny, Bunny Girl Senpai. Mai gets more screentime and it’s while she and her half-sister, Nodoka (Maaya Uchida), have swapped bodies so we’re technically not watching Mai but Nodoka. And yes, I know this means Mai is in Nodoka’s body and still very much present but damn it, it’s not the same! Quit toying with me!
I’ll let it slide though. Truth be told, this arc, like the ones before it, is off to a solid start.
From the get go, I really enjoy everyone’s reactions to the situation. Out of the three, Nodoka is the only one actually taken aback. Sakuta and Mai just treat it as par for the course. Sure, an anime edition of Freaky Friday is something new to them, at this point, they must be used to life being weird to them. Especially Sakuta. Nine episodes in and he looks so tired of this shit. Hang in there, pal.
Also fun to watch are Asami Seto and Maaya Uchida, Mai and Nodoka’s voice actors respectively, playing each other’s character. Seto particularly goes a great job differentiating the Mai she traditional voices and the Mai now inhabited by Nodoka’s soul. There’s a more of a flustered temper evoked with the latter, reflecting her inexperience with showbiz as well as Sakuta’s perverted fantasies. The same could be said about Uchida’s performance. It’s a bit harder to gauge since, technically speaking, she’s actually only played Nodoka for about a half a minute. Still, it’s kind of surreal hearing another actress capture Mai’s personality as well as her chemistry with Sakuta.
It perhaps goes without saying with Bunny Girl Senpai but thematically, the scenario presented here is very on point. As Mai’s younger sister and an upstart celebrity, Nodoka both looks up to Mai and resents her. She acknowledges and admires Mai’s talents but because Mai is so good at what she does, that has only made the climb through showbiz so much harder. The fact that these girls have different mothers complicates things further, essentially putting them in a family-driven proxy war. The anger doesn’t seem terribly one-sided though. Right when Nodoka admits to Mai her frustrations, Mai retorts that she figured as much and also admits that she also looks at her with some disdain. All things considered, making these two switch bodies has the potential to remedy these ill feelings. By living each other’s lives, they might be able to understand one another and see how hard they’re working in their respective professions.
Of course, that is easier said than done. How Mai and Nodoka deal with the situation varies. Even though Mai isn’t trained to be an idol, judging from various scenes, she seems to have adjusted to the field pretty well. I’m sure all that dance and singing practice was taxing but by the end of the episode, she looks like a pro. Nodoka, however, is a different story. At first, she seemed to be doing okay overtime, the cracks begin to show. Gradually, she sees the high standards Mai deals with on a regular basis and this ultimately culminates in her hyperventilating during a commercial shoot.
I can think of two lessons that Nodoka could learn from here. The first and somewhat aforementioned is understanding that Mai has also been working hard and has had it rough too. The second is that perhaps she needs to consider being more like herself. I think Sakuta has a point in that she’s trying too hard to replicate Mai’s mannerisms. At one point, you see her checking herself on her phone to make sure she’s smiling exactly like her sister. This ends up fueling her panic attack during the commercial shoot and in hindsight, it would’ve been more authentic and less stress inducing if she just smiled the way she normally does. It makes me wonder if deep down, Nodoka actually wants to be Mai. She might resent her and even hate her but it wouldn’t surprise me if she wish she’d rather be her seemingly “superior” sister to feel better about herself. In any case, she’s already learning about what being Mai is like the hard way so she’ll learn something at some point.
- Okay, I think Kaede is in desperate need of an imouto intervention. She has now added two cats to her list of rivals. Get to her arc ASAP.
- Yay, Futaba kept her ponytail…what? Don’t judge me.
- Any new scene with Tomoe is always appreciated. I wish she was more prominent though.
- Kamisato actually being marginally civil and helpful to Sakuta? That’s a first.
- Yep, still teasing what the big deal is with Shouko. Damn you, Bunny Girl Senpai.
ED: “Fukashigi no Carte” by Nodoka Toyohama (CV: Maaya Uchida)
Here’s the Nodoka version…or wait is that actually Mai? I’m so confused right now.
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For all of my Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode Reviews, check out the show’s archive page!
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