Coming-of-age anime is always so weird, in hindsight. Not in, like, a bad way. But in how they portray teenage issues and growing up through the use of fantastical metaphors. It’s certainly a different take but one that often ends up being refreshing. It’s why a show like Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Senpai works, with its near-death experiences standing in for the horrors of puberty. But ever since the launch of the sequel movie in 2019, newer fans were left wondering: Did the disappearance of Mai Sakurajima means she died?
Welcome to Character Analysis – a segment where we take characters from across manga, anime, and light novels and break down any rumors or theories floating around about them on the internet. We analyze their character from every angle, leaving no stone unturned. And hey if that helps some poor lost soul just entering a fandom? All the better!
For a show that starts with a chick in a bunny girl costume, Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Senpai is a pretty nuanced take on how isolating being a teenager can be. With its frightening Adolescence Syndrome, which is a fantastical manifestation of growing up, it explores themes of expectations, pressure, and how all of that could make you feel like you’re disappearing amidst the crowd. Literally, in the case of Mai Sakurajima.
And then came the movie, Rascal Does Not Dream of A Dreaming Girl, throwing fans for a loop with its high stakes involving time travel. Especially after the disappearing act Mai pulled in the anime, her character is always rife with decisions that veer into self-sabotage. There were rumors that the movie would include a huge tragedy happening to one of the characters. So, why did we almost lose our beloved Bunny Senpai again? Let’s discuss!
Mai Sakurajima: Crushed By The Weight Of Her Success?
Again, the way Mai is first introduced to us, she is this elusive mirage. I mean, a hot girl in a bunny suit just casually hanging out in the public library and yet, no one notices her? No wonder Sakuta is so confused when he’s the only one who can see her.
But there was a method to her madness – or at least a somewhat logical reasoning. She had been disappearing for a while now and she was experimenting to see whether anyone would notice her outside of the many televisions and magazine covers she graced. Because, oh yeah, she’s a pretty prominent model and actress who is on a hiatus.
Mai Sakurajima is a complex character. She reached the peak of popularity at a very young age. That kind of attention messes up someone who is still in the process of growing up, which is why Mai’s Adolescence Syndrome involved her flickering and ceasing to exist. It echoes her desire to be forgotten by the general public, to withdraw from the public eye.
Sakuta Azusagawa: The One That Changes It All!
Of course, what puts a damper on her whole self-sabotage routine is finding someone that acknowledges her. When she asks Sakuta Azusagawa to forget her in the library, when they meet again in school, he is nothing but kind to her, even going so far as to threaten a boy for sneaking pictures of Mai.
He actively takes an interest in her, even when she pushes away all his efforts. He’s the one who deduces that Mai’s hiatus came from a rift between her and her mother. And it’s Sakuta who makes her realize that her mother’s actions should not have any bearing on her dreams.
Sakuta relates to Mai because of his own experiences with Adolescence Syndrome and of his sister, Kaede. But as the two become friends, Mai starts to see that there is more to life than the suffocating cycle she’s trapped herself in. That she doesn’t need to suffer her burdens alone, because Sakuta is someone she can depend on. After she disappears into the void for good, it is his brave love confession that brings her back to existence.
Did Mai Die In Rascal Does Not Dream of A Dreaming Girl
The movie is a direct sequel to the anime series. By then, Mai and Sakuta had been dating for a while. But when Sakuta’s first love, Shoko Makinohara, enters the scene, things get confusing. Not because of a love triangle, no that would be too simple.
There are two Shokos – future Shoko informs him that she came back to the past to prevent Sakuta from sacrificing himself to save Present Shoko. But knowing this, Mai tips the scale. In a tragic car accident, she pushes Sakuta aside and sacrifices herself instead.
Losing Mai is too much for Sakuta, and then the remainder of the movie is spent trying to rewrite history in a way where all three have a chance of survival. So yes, technically, Mai does die in the movie. But at least it isn’t permanent!