Kaede Azusagawa, The Panda (Pt. 1)

We’ve made it to the second-to-last character analysis from Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yuma wo Minai, also known as Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai. For this analysis we will be taking a look at Kaede Azusagawa. Just like with Koga and Futaba, this will be a two part analysis due to the length.

My most recent analysis, Mai Sakurajima, can be found here:
Mai Sakurajima

Kaede Azusagawa is the little sister of Sakuta Azusagawa, and arguably the first out of all the main characters in the anime to develop puberty syndrome. Kaede can always be found at the Azusagawa apartment, where she lives with Sakuta, away from their parents.

Just like a few other characters, Kaede Azusagawa appears in every episode of the anime, start to finish. Kaede is best recognized as the cute little sister of Sakuta who is always home wearing her panda pajamas. While her character arc takes place in episodes 11 & 12, we learn a great deal about her throughout the anime, allowing us to really know her by the time we get to her character arc.

As a result, I’ll be posting some of the earlier Kaede moments that I think are important to remember, moments that build-up to Kaede’s eventual struggle.

Puberty Syndrome

As I mentioned earlier, Kaede is arguably the first character in the anime to have developed puberty syndrome. And, one of the first things we learn about Kaede is her puberty syndrome, which occurred two years prior to the events of the anime.

In episode 1, Sakuta brings Mai to his place in order to prove to her that puberty syndrome is real. In addition to showing her his scars, he also shows Mai a picture of Kaede, and tells the story of what happened two years ago:

“Because she left a message on read, or something, she got on the bad side of the most popular girl in class and was bashed on the community message board. And one day…”
– Sakuta

One day, Kaede came home from school depressed. And then, visible cuts and bruises began to form and appear all over her body. Sakuta shows a photograph of Kaede from when the incident took place.

Introduction

Not only do we find out about Kaede’s puberty syndrome right away, but we also get an idea of how Kaede interacts with others through her introduction to Mai.

Kaede opens the door to Sakuta’s room to find Mai there with Sakuta. She manages to speak to Sakuta with no trouble at all, in front of Mai. But when Mai introduces herself to Kaede, and Kaede is forced to speak directly to Mai, she immediately changes. She looks down towards the floor, and her hands move down in front of her, forming a nervous pose. And when she speaks, she is so quiet that Sakuta has to move closer in order to relay her introduction to Mai.

It’s cute how Kaede introduces the cat, Nasuno, to Mai as well.

rascal does not dream of bunny girl senpai nervous kaede

Foreshadowing

We first get a case of foreshadowing from Sakuta when he is talking to Mai about Kaede, after she runs away. Mai asks Sakuta why Kaede doesn’t know who she is, to which Sakuta responds that she doesn’t watch very much TV, and that she stays away from the internet.

Now we know that Sakuta is lying just a little bit here, or you could say he is hiding the truth, as the real reason for Kaede not recognizing Mai is something else. We also see Kaede watching TV quite often in future episodes, so while she may not watch that much, we do know that she does watch it. As for the internet, well I’d imagine she does stay away from that for the most part.

Regardless, if you pay attention to Kaede in future episodes, you will see that she does actually watch TV.

Building Confidence – Mai

In episode 5, Mai stops by the Sakuta residence to tell Sakuta that she will be going away for a shoot. She also brings an outfit that she wore on a recent shoot, and says it’s for Kaede. Mai figures that wearing a cute outfit might help her become more confident and want to go outside.

Sakuta catches Kaede eavesdropping and gives her the outfit to wear. Kaede looks super cute in the outfit, but what’s really important here is the progress Kaede has made with Mai, someone who isn’t Sakuta. Kaede not only lets Mai get close and help her with the outfit, but she also looks Mai in the eyes for the first time.

kaede4.jpg

This has to be one of the first times that Kaede has interacted with someone other than Sakuta to this degree, and it’s the first step towards getting Kaede to overcome her puberty syndrome.

Building Confidence – Shouko & Futaba

We see Kaede once again placed in a position where she has to interact with others – this time Makinohara Shouko and Futaba Rio. Due to Sakuta taking in Hayate, the cat, Shouko visits the Azusagawa residence frequently in order to play with him, as her parents haven’t yet approved of letting her adopt Hayate. Futaba ends up staying over for several days because of her whole doppelganger situation.

What we see is Kaede interacting with both of them on many occasions as a result. My favourite is a scene in episode 7 where Kaede is at the table studying with Shouko and Futaba. Seeing as she’s missed a few years of school, I wonder what exactly she is learning. Maybe she is just writing in her journal? It looks like a workbook though. Either way, it’s a big step for Kaede.

In this same scene we also see Kaede panic a little when Mai’s phone rings. Understandable, considering that it was messaging on her phone that triggered her puberty syndrome. This must also be why Sakuta threw his phone away, as it probably made Kaede uncomfortable.

Deciding to Change

In episode 10, after watching movies with Nodoka at Mai’s apartment, Sakuta arrives home to find Kaede’s head popping out of a room, embarrassed. 

kaede-hide

Sakuta asks her if she was playing some sort of new game, to which Kaede responds that she’s not just goofing off all the time.

After Sakuta promises not to laugh, Kaede steps out wearing her middle school uniform. Sakuta’s eyes widen in shock.

“I think it’s about time! About time to put in some effort!”
– Kaede

“Just don’t try too hard, okay?”
– Sakuta

“You keep bringing home girl after girl lately, so I feel like I need to get my act together.”
– Kaede

As you can see, being exposed to other girls has caused Kaede to feel like she needs to pull herself up. Part of it I would say is through the confidence she’s gained by interacting with them, but part of it I would also say is shame, as Kaede sees these other girls coming and going while she’s just at home all the time. Kaede probably wishes she could be more like them, in many ways.

Either way, I think that all of the new faces have helped Kaede to get the motivation to make it this far and start thinking about fixing her situation.

Kaede Quest

And this brings us to the first episode of Kaede’s arc – Kaede Quest. Now you see just how much Kaede we actually get prior to her actual arc, and what I mentioned were only the scenes pertaining to her puberty syndrome!

Sakuta arrives home late after being out with Mai and someone I’ll get to later. While he is changing, Kaede enters his room and reveals an important announcement – Kaede’s goals for the year.

Essentially it’s a list of tasks that Kaede wishes to accomplish, starting with small tasks and building up to Kaede going back to school. Here is a list of what we see:

  • Go outside with Onii-chan
  • Go on a walk with Onii-chan
  • Frolic at the beach with Onii-chan
  • Take the train with Onii-chan
  • Buy pudding with Onii-chan
  • Go on a date with Onii-chan
  • Answer a call from someone other than Onii-chan
  • Go see pandas with Onii-chan
  • Go to school

Something that you will notice with Sakuta is that while he is happy for Kaede, whenever she shows that she is willing to take steps to help herself, he discourages her. Not in a bad way, but in a concerned way – you can tell that Sakuta is very wary of Kaede doing too much. Honestly, Sakuta is wary of Kaede doing anything at all, given the trauma associated with what happened (for both Kaede and himself).

And so when he sees the list Sakuta encourages Kaede to include smaller tasks, and come up with motivating reasons to accomplish the tasks in the first place. He suggests going to see pandas, for example, which Kaede promptly adds to her list.

First Quest Complete

That same night, Shouko calls during dinner. Kaede visibly panics once again, and Sakuta answers it. After dinner, Kaede asks Sakuta if she can answer the phone next time Shouko calls. Mai asks why, and Kaede shows Mai her list of goals for the year.

As an explanation, Kaede says that the reason she made the list is because Sakuta will never be able to get married, calling herself a “package deal”. Sakuta says that Mai would be fine with it – once again downplaying / discouraging Kaede. It’s nice of him to be concerned, but it’s clear that Kaede can’t rely on Sakuta forever. Or at least, she probably shouldn’t.

And so, Mai asks Kaede if she wants to practice answering the phone.

Even though Kaede knows that Mai is going to call, she still panics and her eyes widen when Mai actually calls.

Kaede manages to successfully answer the phone, but the victory came at a price. Immediately after answering the phone, she develops a fever. Not only this, but later on when Kaede is in bed sleeping, Sakuta goes in to check up on her – and he notices a bruise on her neck.

It’s clear that even the simplest of tasks have a large impact on Kaede.

Sakuta’s worries have been affirmed – even the smallest of steps take a serious toll on Kaede. And Sakuta would understand this better than anyone.

Kaede’s Puberty Syndrome

Now is a good time to go over what we know about Kaede and her puberty syndrome. What we know is that she develops cuts, bruises, and she can even get sick from it. These symptoms appear when Kaede makes any attempt to socialize or interact with society – so things like answering the phone, or even stepping outside cause Kaede to become afflicted with injury.

Unfortunately, we don’t get a “scientific” explanation this time around from Futaba.
We’re on our own for this one.

What I can say is that the injuries are subconsciously self-inflicted. Almost like a subconscious punishment. Or perhaps subconscious self-defense mechanism is a better way to put it, as that’s what I believe is the reasoning behind it.

Essentially, Kaede’s subconscious decided “enough is enough” and took matter into it’s own hands, by utilizing any means necessary to prevent Kaede from going back to school, in order to protect her.

The mental trauma that Kaede endured after being ridiculed and cast out by her apparent friends at school must have reached a point where her body began to react to it by developing injuries. It might sound crazy, but it really isn’t when you think about it. Just think of Kaede’s affliction like an extreme form of allergies. A lot of the time, allergies don’t seem to make any sense either. Something that seems harmless somehow can causes the body to overreact and often cause more harm than the allergenic substance would have in the first place.

I don’t know about bruises, but I do know that there are conditions out there that can cause the body to break out in open sores as a result of stress. I’m sure that a fever can be developed the same way, with the body choosing the wrong reaction and causing someone’s temperature to rise when it isn’t necessary. That said, the “how” doesn’t matter as much as the “why” though, and I’m certain the “why” is because it’s a self-defense mechanism from mental trauma.

Anyways, consider this the “Futaba” part of the post, as this is my attempt to explain the “why” of Kaede’s puberty syndrome. Something to keep in mind as we move forward.


That’s it for part 1 of Kaede Azusagawa.
You can find part 2 here.

Until next time,
Thanks for reading!


Other Analyses:

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Kaede Azusagawa, The Panda (Pt. 1)

    • Kaede’s case is probably one of the few where the little sister trope makes sense, seeing as she doesn’t know ANYONE else but Sakuta, living in that apartment for 2 years.

      Like

      • It does make sense both in the reality of the show, but also in how it seems to be an (unintentional) jab at the trope itself. It’s actually quite brilliant when you think about it.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Kaede is so interesting; I like that there’s so much more substance to her character than what one typically associates with anime little sisters. Her anxieties manifesting as physical injuries was an inspired decision by the author, I think. I mean we’ve all heard the “sticks and stones” rhyme, but that’s frankly a lie – words can and do hurt terribly, and those cuts and bruises reinforce how much she’s still suffering from the trauma of what her so-called friends did to her even two years later.

    I think the other thing that helps for Kaede is the fact that Mai and Futaba are both genuinely good people who treat her with care and compassion, and not like she’s a freak or a troublemaker (I presume Shoko is the same, but we don’t know her as well as the other two yet). Developing positive relationships with people like that can only be good for her recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah. I do think the sticks and stones rhyme has good intentions though. It helped me develop the right mindset as a child, at least. Unlike physical violence, words won’t hurt you if you don’t let them.. But losing her friends and all of that, I can understand why Kaede felt so hurt.

      Add to that that this is Japan, a collective society where “fitting in” is extremely important. So important that even fully grown adults would rather commit suicide instead of just quitting a job that brings them misery because they know society would shun them for quitting. It’s a common theme in the anime, “going with the flow vs. going against the flow”.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Bunny Girl Senpai’s Kaede Azusagawa: The Unintentional Imouto Meta-Commentary – Shallow Dives in Anime

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s