Mirai. Shorai. The future lies in the vision of the present. It is what lies before us. The future has in store the possibilities, whether those are the consequences of the present, the scenarios that people hope, the dilemmas that people avoid, or the events that may befall to the fates of those people – whether wanted or unwanted. The possibilities that the future may or may not reveal are so numerous and uncertain that they spell worry and anxiety. Humans overcome that anxiousness and worries through their innate adventurous spirit which find exhilaration in that uncertainty. After all, that uncertainty is what makes life far from boring as humans keep wondering what tomorrow has in store.
If fate has to spoil that tomorrow by taking the uncertainty out of it, will it benefit the people fate has revealed to? If that tomorrow is against our wishes, can we still muster the courage to face it and see it through? The rift gives rise to doubt and eventually regrets, where we would be looking back to the past, relieving the memories, and dreaming of the possibility of going back to the past where we get to choose the future that we want, especially if it is with the people that we cherish.
The future on which the anxiety threads upon casts a reflection juxtaposed by Makinohara Shoko (CV: Minase Inori) threading along the shore as the title card “Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl” flashes upon the screen, reminiscent of the series which the movie followed, “Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai”, which was a hit on Summer 2018.
The series, more commonly known as Bunny Girl Senpai, was a well-written character drama series which featured the main protagonist Azusagawa Sakuta (CV: Ishikawa Kaito) helping various people deal with their personal issues that manifested into the supernatural – known as adolescence syndrome – which upped the stakes in resolving them. The series also featured engaging dialogues and a cast full of girls that can be regarded as the best girl in their own regards, each packed with sucker punch twists as the personal issues of each one of them were resolved.
As the title Bunny Girl Senpai suggested, the series opened up with Sakuta encountering Sakurajima Mai (CV: Seto Asami) donning her bunny girl costume in her attempt to reassert her existence before the world that was forgetting her since her break from show business. Her existence was ultimately restored after Sakuta’s feelings for her reasserted her existence as he confessed publicly to her in school.
With them becoming lovers, they then encountered people being riddled with their own issues with their adolescence syndromes. They encountered Koga Tomoe (CV: Touyama Nao) whose indecisiveness and cowardice towards the future prevented that future from being unfolded as the present looped over and over only until Sakuta ultimately persuaded her to face her futile love towards Sakuta.
Indecisiveness stemmed from the conflict within oneself. For Futaba Rio (CV: Tanezaki Atsumi) however, the conflict within herself resulted into split in her personality and outlook which resulted into having a separate co-existing version of herself. Through Sakuta and Mai’s help, Futaba was able to reconcile her two separate selves by her unrequited love towards Sakuta’s best friend.
Reconciliation was also an issue for Mai as the longing for reconciliation from her younger half-sister, Toyohama Nodoka (CV: Uchida Maaya), resulted into them switching their bodies. They returned to their own bodies as the misunderstanding of rivalry was cleared resulting into their reconciliation.
For Sakuta, reconciliation meant reintroducing his younger sister, Azusagawa Kaede (CV: Kubo Yurika), who was a victim of bullying, back to society even though it was on the expense of split personality of Kaede which Sakuta has grown to love. And in that grief and sorrow over the loss and the return of his younger sister as seemingly represented by the scars that appeared in his chest, Sakuta’s first love was then blossomed with his encounter with the adult Shoko.
Makinohara Shoko, whose adolescence syndrome apparently was having both her younger and older versions coexisting at the same time, was the dreaming girl that Sakuta would be dreaming of in this movie sequel.
Rascal Does Not Dream of A Dreaming Girl.
Three years ago. In the middle of the multitude of fourth-graders being excited to write what they thought their future would look like, Makinohara Shoko was finding herself a hard time writing what’s in store for her in the future, with watery eyes indicating bleakness that was foreseen ahead.
Present time. December 7. The sixth-grader Shoko has just finished doing her rounds of visiting Sakuta’s place after managing to put her adopted cat Hayate into a bath. Being grown fond to Hayate, Shoko wondered whether her parents would no longer be objecting having Hayate at her place anymore as she would be sure that her parents would want her to have a consolation for the sadness that awaited her in the future.
The cryptic hints from the younger Shoko had Sakuta and Mai, who were preparing for the hotpot, wondering about what it was. The uncertainty of that looming future came knocking on Sakuta’s door. The older Shoko barged in to join Sakuta and Mai – who was throwing daggers with her glare and threatening daggers with the knife that was held by a jealous lover in the sight of her guy’s first love – in the hotpot dinner that they were having.
Letting go of the knife and holding on to her inquiry, Mai, once and for all, had Shoko spill out, not the hotpot that they’re having, but the truth that older Shoko was the same Makinohara Shoko who was, at the present time, indeed the middle-schooler who was frequenting at the hospital. Similar with Futaba’s split earlier in the series, the older Shoko had nowhere to go except into staying at Sakuta’s place. Shoko’s brazen love confession to Sakuta compelled Mai to stay also at Sakuta’s place to keep guard for any more inappropriate advances.
The previous night’s revelation and the next morning’s quarrel between Mai and Shoko over who should be giving the morning kiss had Sakuta feeling down at his shift that day, much to the annoyance to his co-worker Koga. He further grew confused and uneasy when he encountered the younger Shoko at the hospital the following day when he accompanied Kaede, passing the feels train from Kaede’s arc to Shoko’s arc.
Younger Shoko confessed about her worsening medical condition. Knowing the bleak future that awaited her if she could not manage to find a heart for the pending heart surgery, out of her love to her parents, she was seeking the words arigatou (Thank you.), ganbare(You can do it./Do your best), and daisuki (I love you) that would her soul which was longing for a future that was seemingly non-existent.
December 10. Such longing for a future has manifested into the older Shoko, who became the Schrödinger’s Cat according to Futaba whom Sakuta has consulted on. Together, they went to Shoko’s hospital war to look upon the Schrödinger’s Cat phenomenon while also finding for the chances of success of Shoko getting a heart donor. The box containing the future was not yet opened, with both possibilities of Shoko’s surviving the ordeal or not existing at the same time. Sakuta and Futaba were presented with the younger Shoko in pain while also presented with her survey form being filled up by the older Shoko with the future which she had envisioned.
December 12. Younger Shoko dreamed of the future most of the items written in the survey form. Wanting to become a high schooler, she became the Shoko that Sakuta met two years ago. Wanting to have a first love experience, her high schooler self from two years ago fell in love to Sakuta who also regarded her as his first love during the time that he was consoled for the pain in Kaede.
Having realized her first love in Sakuta, she wished for Sakuta to bring her to a date to see the lights of Enoshima at Christmas Eve. Shoko seemingly made her last wish as she crutched her heart in pain.
December 13. Sakuta – on a date with the older Shoko whose age was that of college student, as written as her penultimate wish – was wondering on how the subsequent ultimate wish would ever come to fruition. The answer came in the form of a bridal fair that were offering trial weddings.
For Shoko, forcing Sakuta for a trial wedding could be unfair to him, but Sakuta insisted so that he could catch glimpse of the life trials that surrounded Shoko and her future. The glimpse of it was found on Shoko’s chest which laid bare a scar that indicated the she had her heart transplant after all. The similarity of her scar to Sakuta’s revealed that the identity of Shoko’s heart was that of Sakuta’s.
Even the older Shoko could not accept that future that brought her life, which was granted in the expense of Sakuta’s who would be meeting his demise on the incoming Christmas Eve as he went with Shoko to Enoshima.
A crossroad was drawn for Sakuta into choosing whether he would be with Mai to see the jellyfish at the Aquarium or with Shoko to see the Enoshima lights, parallel to that of Shoko’s where there was a Shoko who wanted to live on and grow up and there was also a Shoko whose guilt over the expense of her living made her rebuke her growth.
The younger Shoko seemed to be latter as her growing negativity had her pleading Sakuta to stop visiting, yet the younger Shoko also showed hints of being the former as she wailed in desperation, asking why she – who only wished to live a normal life – had to be the one who was sick. Despite her attempts to push him away, Sakuta comforted her with pats on the head and a promise of visiting her everyday so that she won’t be feeling that she was alone in her ordeal.
Fate, however, begged to differ, as Shoko’s condition worsened with her growing pain leading her to the operating room. The same pain befell on Sakuta as the mysterious re-opening of the wounds in his chest led him into fainting on the hallway, reminding him of the flashbacks when his mysterious wounds first opened.
It all dawned to him with Shoko’s first appearance and her promises of healing and the reality that was him dying on the 24th on a traffic accident that he encountered on the way of meeting Shoko.
It was a future that Sakuta had to choose if he were to save Shoko. However, Mai, who fetched him at the hospital, begged to differ as she pleaded to look forward for their Valentines, their graduate, and their college days…into choosing a future with her.
The weight of both choices began to wear down on Sakuta. Even the stoic Futaba – who supposed another theory – broke down in tears as she begged Sakuta to choose to live. Mai – who had Nodoka to fetch Sakuta – broke down as well as she attempted to drag him away just like Sakuta did in the series, away to escape his supposed fate, even though she would be earning his hate. Sakuta retorted that he could never hate the person he loved so much as he broke down eventually to Shoko – who welcomed him back to his place – wailing that he never wanted Mai to cry. Apologizing, Shoko broke down as well.
With the weight of the future on him, Sakuta pledged that he would bring it all with him…all of those memories and those burden as the fated day approached.
December 24. The fated day came as the older Shoko and Sakuta exchanged presumably their last itterashai and ittekimasu. He also extended his last regards for the younger Shoko who’s in grave condition at the hospital with her sobbing mother who’s already expecting the worst. He was about to choose between Mai, who’s expecting him not only at the Aquarium but also on spending the holidays and the rest of their days together, and Shoko who’s waiting not only to be saved but also to spend her last moments with him seeing the Enoshima lights.
Already on his way into meeting Mai, Sakuta contemplated about Shoko’s lack of persuasion only to realize what’s not right, as he exclaimed: Shoko was expecting him to choose Mai all along.
Heavy snows brought unexpected turn of events as one vehicle lost control. With the car skidding towards Sakuta, he just froze, ready to accept his fate. However, there were people who were not accepting Sakuta’s fate, such as Mai who shoved Sakuta towards safety. The out-of-control car in turn slammed into Mai leading to her untimely death.
The whole nation mourned along with Mai’s mother in her wake as the news of Sakurajima Mai’s sudden death was all over the news. With the scoop of the news also gaining knowledge of Sakuta being present at the site of the accident, Nodoka, out of her love towards her sister and in tears, blamed Sakuta whose mind was all over the place. Futaba, on the other hand, found relief into finding that Sakuta was alright.
With the news gaining traction into knowing Sakuta’s place, Futaba pleaded Sakuta to escape the chase by leaving his place at the moment. Sakuta, on the other hand, was rather seeking a greater escape, from the reality that Mai’s forever gone. With Mai only now existing in his memories, Sakuta walked listlessly along the beach as he pleaded for help which came in the form of the older Shoko who revealed that she has received Sakurajima Mai’s heart.
Sakuta was confused, as probably most of the viewers, on why the older Shoko made it past Christmas Eve. Her existence only indicated that Shoko’s future was saved. The older Shoko only returned to save Sakuta by telling him that the key into saving Mai was going into the past.
Needing a bed to accomplish the feat, the two went to the infirmary as Shoko revealed to Sakuta that it was actually his indecision and cowardice into choosing between her future and his future that brought the adolescence syndrome which resulted into two Shoko’s. Having made up his mind, Sakuta apologized for initially rejecting the future and for ultimately choosing Mai over Shoko whom he was sorry of for he could no longer do anything for Shoko who in tears has drugged Sakuta into his sleep.
Letting go of his senses as well as his common sense, Sakuta drifted off to sleep full of desire into choosing the future with her.
December 24. Finding that he traveled 4 days back in time, Sakuta woke up in the infirmary. However, just like Mai back then, his existence was seemingly erased. He then recalled Shoko’s final instruction into looking for someone who would find him in order for him to co-exist with the Sakuta of that time. He was like the Schrödinger’s Cat without the Schrödinger. He tried his chances with the person who proposed the metaphor in the first place, Futaba, to no avail.
Already desperate into finding someone who would find him, Sakuta then bumped into Koga whom he was previously dragged along in her previous adolescence syndrome, thus his existence was restored. He then had Koga contact his other self, which he found stubborn as ever.
Shifting his plans into convincing Mai instead, Sakuta had Nodoka lead him to Mai’s whereabouts. His reunion with Mai brought him into tears as he held her close, treating her and the fact that she’s living as his greatest Christmas presents.
Mai was eventually persuaded into not coming to the fateful place, and Sakuta became the bunny boy as he went to meet Shoko who waiting at the lights of Enoshima. As they shared their last moments together and as they bade their last goodbyes, Sakuta pledged that he would be taking everything, the weight of Shoko’s future, her memories, and her love.
They parted ways at the fateful pedestrian crossing as the Bunny Boy Sakuta ran into saving the present Sakuta. The box containing Schrodinger’s cat was finally opened with the two Sakuta’s becoming one.
With what transpired in the other timeline becoming dreams to those involved, Sakuta’s gang welcomed the Christmas Day. Futaba was relieved to have Sakuta back, not only physically but also mentally as he remarked that it was not her entire body that was ballooning as she was undergoing a diet regime. The one really ballooning according to Sakuta, Koga, was informed that the two Sakuta’s had merged. Nodoka was also relieved as she clung tightly to her older sister Mai who was brought souvenirs by Kaede.
The relief of the present however was at the expense of Shoko’s, whose report card was found to be clear of any handwriting. As she woke up from her comatose, the young Shoko regained the memories of the older Shoko as she dreamed the entirety of the time that she was the older Shoko. She has been dreaming all the while and, in those dreams, just like in Sakuta’s travel to the past, it was Sakuta who found her in those dreams. Therefore, she grew aware of Sakuta’s pain, and hence just like Sakuta, as she drifted off to her final sleep, she was determined to take everything with her, with the accomplished report card – that she filled up herself – revealing what she wanted to be: the person who will give and receive the words arigatou, ganbare, and daisuki.
Her sleep brought her back to when she was a fourth-grader. With smiles, she raised her report card happy that she had accomplished it.
Back to the present, Mai and Sakuta, proving to be still fated together as they walked along the beach, recollected their hazy memories of what happened in the previous three years. Sakuta has managed to regain all of those memories at the sight of Shoko, all well now, playing happily in the beach. Having found her once again, Sakuta tearily called out for Shoko. As the memories also flowed back to Shoko, with tears flowing out of Shoko’s eyes, Shoko joyfully called back.
Despite the difficulty of straightening out the confusion in distinguishing between the Shoko’s adolescence syndrome and Sakuta’s adolescence syndrome, the answer to the mystery behind Shoko and Sakuta’s intertwined fates managed to deliver the sucker punch that upped the feels brought by the previous Kaede arc. I honestly lost hold of my tears when it came to the moment that Mai was tearily telling Sakuta into choosing the future with her.
As I drift off to sleep after watching “Rascal Does Not Dream of A Dreaming Girl”, I also hope to wake up to that specific point in the past where I can still choose my future with her.