The Disappearance of Mai Sakurajima

It’s time to take a step back in this series of character analyses from Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yuma wo Minai, also known as Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, with Mai Sakurajima.

To be honest, I should have written about Mai first in this series, but I wasn’t sure of the direction I was going to take with these posts when I started. Anyways, now is as good a time as any, I’ll end up covering all of the main characters at some point regardless.

My most recent analysis, Nodoka Toyohama, can be found here:
Nodoka Toyohama

Sakurajima Mai is the front girl for the anime, as well as the first instance of puberty syndrome that we come across. When we first meet Mai, she is a former child actress who is attending high school, on hiatus from her acting career for an indefinite period of time.

sakurajima mai 2.jpg

Mai makes appearances in every episode of the anime, from start to finish, but her character arc takes place from episodes 1 – 3. Afterwards, she takes on a more supporting role, making consistent appearances as Sakuta’s girlfriend. Mai is a very mature character, able to handle most situations with a calm attitude. Despite this, Mai still has some issues that need sorting out, which will be covered here!

A Bunny Girl in the Wild

We first meet Mai in the wild, otherwise known as the library. Sakuta is browsing some books when he notices a girl walking around the library in a bunny girl outfit – walking right up to people and somehow avoiding their notice. Eventually, she notices that Sakuta can see her, and proceeds to leave.

Sakuta mentions that she is Sakurajima Mai, a senior from his highschool – causing Mai to stop and converse with Sakuta for a moment. We also learn that she is famous.

“Here’s a warning: forget what you saw here.
And stay far, far away from me.”
– Sakurajima Mai

Is it just me, or are these words always a call for help when spoken in an anime?

sakurajima mai bunny girl.jpg

Digging for Info

The next day, Sakuta is still wondering what had happened the day prior in the library. He asks Kunimi if he can see Mai, and we find out Kunimi can indeed see her. We also find out that Mai is a celebrity who is on hiatus.

Sakuta mentions that he never sees Mai with anyone at school, that she’s always alone.

After school, or the next day (not sure which), Sakuta continues his conversation with Kunimi about Mai. We find out that Mai missed a lot of school in her first year due to her work – she had announced her hiatus upon graduating middle school, but she still had some obligations to fill, causing her to miss a lot of school until after summer break of her first year.

School Society

We’ve learn that Mai has no friends and doesn’t associate with anyone at school because of two things:

  1. She’s a celebrity, and other students don’t want to stick out or get any unwanted attention by interacting with her.
  2. She missed a lot of school in her first year.

Mai’s lack of a social life at school is something important to remember moving forward.

The Train

Sakuta gets in the way of someone trying to take a picture of Mai waiting for the train. Mai thanks him despite wishing that he would just mind his own business (or so she says). Her manager calls her phone, but Mai doesn’t answer, saying she knows what her manager wants. Although not stated, it’s fairly clear that Mai’s manager wants her to return to acting.

The two get on the train and their conversation continues. We find out that Mai was curious about Sakuta and looked him up, finding out about the rumours surrounding him. Sakuta mentions that it’s pointless to go against the flow of society, using this as the reason for why he never bothered to dispel the rumours about him. Mai then looks up at an advertisement on the train, and then looks down with a solemn look on her face.

Disappearance

The conversation then turns to Mai, and why she was wearing that bunny girl outfit at the library. Mai talks about how she became a star, and that the public attention was always on her.

“At some point, I started wishing I could go to a world where nobody knew me.”
– Sakurajima Mai

sakurajima mai magazines.jpg

We find out that, on the first day of Golden Week, Mai went to the aquarium alone. It was there that she first noticed some people were unable to see her. She also went to a cafe, where the staff didn’t notice her, but noticed someone else when they walked in (the door had a bell on it though, so I guess the staff never noticed it ring when she walked in? “Must have been the wind”, I guess.).

When she went home, people were able to notice her again. And so she has been going around dressed as a bunny girl to see if people can see her or not in different locations. We then see Mai’s puberty syndrome in action when she tried to buy a cream bun at the train station, but the lady working there doesn’t notice her – Sakuta ends up buying the cream bun for Mai.

Mai Recap

Here’s what we know about Mai so far:

  • Mai has no friends.
  • Mai is on hiatus from her acting career.
  • Mai misses showbiz, based off her long face on the train. Her manager likely wants her to end her hiatus, based off the phone call.
  • Mai used to wish that people wouldn’t recognize her, because of her fame.
  • Starting on the first day of Golden Week, certain people have been unable to see Mai – to the degree that it’s as if she didn’t exist.
  • The number of people that can’t see Mai has been increasing – we know this thanks to the cream bun vendor, who must have been able to see Mai recently, as Mai didn’t expect to be invisible to her.

Aside from why Mai went on hiatus, we have almost all of the details we need to figure out what is going on here. This is also where Sakuta is at with what he knows. Which is why, when Sakuta takes Mai to his apartment to prove to her that puberty syndrome is real, he tells her to go back into showbiz, because he already knows that doing so would prevent her from disappearing.

Searching for Answers

Sakuta then spends the next day trying to figure out why Mai went on hiatus. He searches online, asks Kunimi, and finally asks a reporter who is trying to get a scoop on him about puberty syndrome.

Observation Theory

The next day, Sakuta chats with Futaba about Mai. After much resistance, Futaba poses the observation theory – that all things and states only exist when they are observed. If something is not being observed, it ceases to exist.

Of course, we already know all about observation theory and some of it’s different applications because I jumped the gun and have already written about Koga, Futaba, and Nodoka on this blog.

Observation theory is the building block of all puberty syndromes in this anime. Mai’s case is actually the most simple of them all, because her puberty syndrome is solely based off of observation theory, while future puberty syndromes increase in complexity, using a combination of observation theory and other theories.

Although, what we end up with in many future episodes is the other side of the coin, where observing something causes it to exist, as opposed to not observing something causes it to no longer exist like in Mai’s case.

The Reason

The next night Sakuta goes shopping with Mai, as she can’t buy anything when people can’t see her. On the way home, he presses her about her hiatus. He mentions that her photo collection from three years ago was the cause.

“You’d refused to post in swimsuits, but your manager – your mom – agreed to it in the contract anyway. That caused a huge rift between you two, and you went on hiatus to get one up over your mom.”
– Sakuta

Mai breaks down and tells Sakuta how her mom had betrayed her, and the difficult decision she had to make while still in middle school. Another case of bad parenting in the anime, another mother trying to control her daughter without any regard for her daughter’s desires.

sakurajima mai.jpg

Mai decides to return to showbiz after this conversation with Sakuta, realizing that she shouldn’t squander her own dreams over some differences she has with her mother.

The Meeting

Skipping ahead, Sakuta and Mai are at the beach. Mai has arranged to meet her mother there, to tell her that she is ending her hiatus and signing with a different agency. We then find out that Mai’s own mother can’t see her. Sakuta gets angry at her, and then she leaves.

It’s a little hard to believe that Mai’s own mother would forget about her – you’d think that her memories would be extremely jumbled. But I suppose that’s just the power of observation theory in the anime!

mai surprised.jpg

The Flow

Once again I’ll be skipping ahead. We find out that only the students at school still remember Mai, but after a sleepless night, only Futaba and Sakuta remember her. Futaba poses that going to sleep is what causes people to forget.

She also mentions that school may have been the cause for Mai’s disappearance. By not being observed at school, Futaba suggests that Mai is acting as a catalyst that is causing the outside world to also not observe her. Essentially taking the conditions at school and amplifying them out into the rest of the world.

With this piece of information, it becomes clear that the school society status quo is the problem. Which means, the solution is also clear – disrupt it.

Sakuta must have also realized this, but just a little too late. Considering his fatigue, it’s impressive that he’d managed to figure it out.

Goodbye

Sakuta does his absolute best to stay awake, and manages to for several days, but eventually Mai puts some pills in his drink in order to get him to sleep.

“You’ve done more than enough. You can rest now. I’ve always been alone anyways. I’ll be fine. It won’t bother me one bit if you forget about me.
But still, thanks for everything. And, I’m sorry.
Good night Sakuta. And goodbye.”
– Sakurajima Mai

sakurajima mai tears.jpg

With tears in her eyes, Mai has made the decision to be forgotten.

Disrupting the Flow

The next day, Sakuta has forgotten about Mai. But then, during his exams, he manages to remember her. Knowing what he has to do, he runs outside, and proceeds to disrupt the flow. The very same flow that he had previously said was pointless to fight against.

Sakuta proclaims his love for Mai, over and over, until he has the school’s attention. By disrupting the flow like this, people become able to observe Mai once again. Why? Because someone proclaimed his love for her, making her an indirect object of attention – someone to gossip about. Plus, Sakuta is pretty infamous himself around school.

sakuta confession 2.jpg

How Did Sakuta Remember?

This is a genuine question – how did Sakuta remember Mai, when her own mother forgot about her? It’s not explicitly stated, so there are many possible answers. For example, maybe it was just Sakuta’s love for Mai that allowed him to remember.

That said, here is my theory: Quantum entanglement. Sakuta was able to remember Mai because he was / is actually entangled with her on the quantum level. There are a few reasons I believe this.

  1. While Mai disappeared from everyone’s memory and vision, she still existed. We know this because in episode 4, Mai mentions that she had kissed Sakuta in hopes that it would cause him to remember her. How can she still walk around and do things like this if she doesn’t exist at all? Remember that according to the observation theory, Mai shouldn’t exist if she’s not being observed.
  2. Mai’s own mother wasn’t able to remember her. Yes, she doesn’t seem like she really cares much about Mai, but you’d have to assume she still loves her daughter, even if they have their differences. This makes me think that love isn’t the reason.
  3. Sakuta ends up entangled with other characters, so why not Mai also?

Basically, because Mai is entangled with Sakuta, she never ceases to exist. Maybe this entanglement is in the form of memories, and this is why Sakuta is able to dig them up. Either way, I think this is why Sakuta was able to remember her at all, where no one else could, including her own mother. Sakuta does tend to get entangled with others easily enough.

It’s just a theory, but I think it makes the most sense. The question “how did Sakuta remember Mai?” is one that bothered me, because things don’t seem to add up at first glance. Mai shouldn’t exist, so it shouldn’t be possible for Sakuta, let alone anyone else, to dig up memories of her. This theory serves as an answer to that question.

sakuta and mai.jpg

Sakurajima Mai’s Lesson

Right off the bat, I may as well go ahead and say that Mai’s mother is partly to blame, and so is her father. While Mai was the one who decided to go on hiatus, I can’t help but feel that living alone away from her parents contributed to Mai’s disappearance. While the anime makes it clear that school is at the root of Mai’s disappearance, I still feel like being semi-abandoned by her parents couldn’t have helped. I don’t really know about her father, as he remarried a different woman, but it’s clear her mother isn’t a very good mother, trying to use Mai for her own personal gain instead of doing what’s best for her daughter.

Regardless, Mai’s lesson is pretty simple. Don’t be afraid to open up to others about your problems. As a result of the dispute with her mother, Mai left the acting industry. She ended up spending several years alone and unsure of herself. She had no one to talk to. And so, after only a few days Sakuta managed to convince her end her hiatus. All it took was a few days of interaction with Sakuta to realize it. She just needed some encouragement to make that step and go back to acting. A friendly push.

While school was at the core of her puberty syndrome, in reality Mai’s inability to make a decision regarding her career is what caused her to disappear. By not making that decision, and accepting the status quo of being alone, she had accepted stagnation in her life, and allowed herself to be forgotten. I believe that this is why she started to disappear in her final year of highschool, and not earlier. She couldn’t put it off for much longer.

Making decisions isn’t always easy, and having others to talk to about your issues can really help. I do think Mai made the right decision in distancing herself from her mother, and it’s clear that her mother never learned her lesson, even after several years. Regardless, Mai was simply alone for too long. In the end, we all need human interaction at some point or another – it’s just too important to go without.

Sakurajima Mai bunnygirl

That’s another character analysis done, I hope you enjoyed it. I really should have written about Mai first, as her case is a building block in many ways for the other characters and their puberty syndromes. But either way, coming back and writing about Mai later on helped me to write about some things in more detail, and answer the question of how Sakuta remembered Mai – something I may not have been able to answer if I had written about Mai first. My understanding of the “science” in the anime has improved.

This means there are two more characters to go, Kaede and Sakuta Azusagawa, both of which will make for great posts. Kaede’s analysis will likely require two posts, while Sakuta I should be able to keep at one – but stay tuned, Sakuta’s post is going to be a real eye-opener. A great finale to these analysis posts!

Until next time,
Thanks for reading!


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