Aniplus Asia held two fan screenings of Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl on August 17th and August 18th at Golden Village Cinemas, with ticket buyers receiving exclusive movie merchandise. A third fan screening was held on August 24th due to the overwhelming response from Rascal fans in Singapore, and was sold out by August 18th. The movie’s massive popularity led to another general screening in Singapore on August 31st.
Prior to the first two screenings, Anime Trending partnered with Aniplus Asia to host a ticket giveaway for fans in Singapore. The post reached more than 100,000 views, showing the popularity of the Rascal series there. Anime Trending was fortunate to have been invited to the screening on August 18th.
It is highly recommended to have watched the Rascal anime or at least have some knowledge of its events before watching the movie, as it is a sequel. Some portions may end up being confusing if you don’t. While I couldn’t catch the anime last Fall, I had some knowledge of how the show’s “Puberty Syndrome” functioned, as well as the basic outline of the key characters.
Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl starts off with a happy scene of our male protagonist, Sakuta Azusagawa, with his girlfriend, Mai Sakurajima, on a day in December. All seems well until Sakuta’s first love, Shoko Makinohara, shows up, and she decides to move into Sakuta’s home. This causes tension between Mai and Shoko at first, as they both express their love for Sakuta, but eventually Mai reluctantly agrees to allow Shoko to stay over at Sakuta’s home.
Sakuta and Mai soon realize there are two versions of Shoko Makinohara; the younger, sickly middle-school version, and the healthy, college-aged version. The younger version of Shoko is receiving treatment at the hospital, while the college-aged version was the one that moved into Sakuta’s home. This makes Mai sympathize with Shoko, as the former once suffered from Puberty Syndrome herself, but it soon becomes a race of time to find out the root cause of Shoko’s Puberty Syndrome. The race takes Sakuta on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as Christmas draws near, but more importantly, it asks Sakuta to make a choice: who is more important to him?
The movie maintains the series’ art style and quality, which adds to the Rascal nostalgia and gives a sense of visual continuity. The fact that Shoko’s story encompasses two volumes of the light novel series and her importance justifies the decision to adapt her arc into a movie, even if the visual improvements are barely perceptible. It doesn’t negatively impact the movie however. Judging from the positive reactions of fellow movie watchers after the movie, it certainly did not disappoint. Without giving away too much, Shoko’s story brought the Rascal series full circle, and the movie itself had a satisfactory ending.
As a character, Shoko was admirable. While she knew she would ultimately be the “loser” in the entire situation, she kept her upbeat smile and her cheerful yet calm demeanor while trying to make the best out of her time. Both Shoko and Mai were incredibly protective of Sakuta in their own way, to the point they were willing to give up everything to ensure Sakuta had a happy life with someone by his side. In turn, Sakuta was just as concerned and protective over the two girls; one is his girlfriend, and the other motivated him into entering high school. He too was willing to give up everything in order to protect them and ensure they were safe. It felt almost like a glimpse of what actual true love would be, where both parties truly want to see each other happy. That was powerful enough for me to almost shed a tear in the cinema.
What impressed me was how the girls from the Rascal series played an important role in the movie. Rio Futaba went to great lengths for Sakuta, doing enormous amounts of research and constantly trying to piece together clues,despite saying she wanted no part of what was going on. Mai never gave up on Sakuta, and instead tried to support him throughout the whole process, even if it meant a massive personal loss on her end. It was heartwarming to see each character trying to do their best for someone they cared about.
Ultimately, Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl is an anime movie I would recommend to others. It is the sort of nuanced movie that leaves you with a calm satisfaction after watching it. Just as how the Enoshima Sea Candle shines in the night, the movie ends on a brighter note, and I am glad that Singaporean fans got to see Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl in the cinema.