Well, the Rascal Does Not Dream of Dreaming Girl / Seishun Buta Yarou wa Yumemiru Shoujo no Yume wo Minai movie is out, and it seems that many have watched it before me judging by the number of people stumbling upon my “The Makinohara Shouko Question.” post, in search of some answers!
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 7 months since I wrote that.
My movie predicting magnum opus!
And while the predictions are over, there’s still a LOT to unpack with this movie. Which means it’s time to dive back into the world of Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai one last time. I’ve got Kimi no Sei by the peggies playing on repeat, so here we go.
The Makinohara Shouko Answer!
Needless to say, this post will contain spoilers!
Images will be unrelated to the actual text, I’m just putting them in here in sequential order of what happened in the movie.
Makinohara Shouko x3
First off, let’s summarize of Shouko’s puberty syndrome.
There are three Makinohara Shoukos. There is the “present” elementary school Shouko, there is the middle school Shouko, and then there is the college Shouko. Meaning there are two future Shoukos, and one present Shouko.
How could this be?
“Rather than coming from the future, it might be better to say that she had reached it…
When I went to see her last, Shouko-chan was unusually vocal about her worries. She wished her body would stop growing altogether…
There’s a Shouko who wants to grow up, and one who rejected it.
That split may be the cause of her puberty syndrome…
The one who rejected growing up desperately tried to stop time for herself.
As a result, the world slowed down in her eyes, as though everything were in slow motion. If it were observed from this world, where we and the Shouko-chan who wants to grow up are, what do you think would happen?”
– Futaba Rio
Makes sense enough, given the world we are talking about and all the other “science” we’ve seen! One Shouko desperately wants to stop time for herself, fearing death. Another Shouko desperately wants to grow up, and live her life. And so, both of these things happen, because Shouko had split into two, just like Futaba had.
But then, why are there three Shoukos?
Because this only accounts for two.
I have a theory for that as well, two theories actually, that explain this.
First is that Shouko had not only split into two, with one slowing time and the other living on, but that she had actually split into three, with one slowing time, one living on, and one stopping time completely. And this all occurred in that exact moment when Shouko was faced with an assignment about her future in the 4th grade of elementary school. Basically, her inability to decide, and the extreme conflict within her, caused not just one option to occur, but all of them:
- “I want to grow up and experience an adult life.”
- “I don’t want to grow up, I wish I never had this illness and could live a proper childhood.”
- “I can’t decide at all. This is a choice I cannot make.”
If you consider these three “answers” to the assignment, they could each have resulted in a different Shouko, explaining our three Shoukos.
My other theory is that Futaba’s theory only applies to the middle school and college Shouko. The middle school Shouko being the one that lived on, and the college Shouko being the one that slowed it down. However, something else happened prior to their split.
Just like Koga was able to “live” through the future using her “Laplace’s Demon” ability, Shouko was able to “live”. Only instead of a few weeks, Shouko was able to forecast much farther into her life. After she received the assignment, she developed “Laplace’s Demon” herself, and time essentially stopped for her – she continued living on, only what she was actually living was a forecasted reality. Just like Koga was able to see future events, Shouko was able to live and see future events.
And then, in addition to “Laplace’s Demon”, Shouko’s forecasted self somewhere down the line developed another puberty syndrome, causing her to split into two forecasted Shoukos, with one of them slowing down time. Resulting in the middle school and college Shoukos that we know, and three Shoukos. Although in this case, one real, two forecasted.
After everything was said and done, and the two future Shoukos re-joined together, forming the original forecasted Shouko, and was able to convict herself and accept reality, accept her future. Just like how Koga needed to convict herself to move forward in order to break “Laplace’s Demon”, Shouko also had to – although this means that took Shouko years and years to find that conviction.
However, the one question that the second theory leaves me with is: if they didn’t split on that day in 4th grade, when in her life did the forecasted Shouko split into two? It would have to have been prior to when Sakuta met Shouko-san for the first time, because by that time Shouko-san was in high school. And we simply don’t know of any other incidents that could have caused that split in Shouko’s life.
The other question I’d have is: if Shouko was forecasting her life, how come she never repeated it or any aspects of it, instead only moving forward? That was a key feature of Laplace’s Demon: being able to retry over and over. Perhaps it never happened because Shouko never actually died.
Of the two theories, I think the first makes more sense, because it simply leaves less questions. Plus, if Shouko is able to slow time relative to herself, the logic could extend to her stopping it completely by speeding time around her up SO much that she was able to remain in 4th grade despite so many years going by for her other selves.
A few points I’ll bring up here: Shouko is able to slow time relative to herself, causing her to reach the future earlier than everyone else. But she still experiences everything on her own, in her own reality. Which means that by slowing time relative to herself, she is still entering an alternate timeline.
In this sense, there are three timelines. One for each Shouko. And we learn that through dreams, Shouko is able to access the other timelines of herself. I suppose, because she exists in all three timelines at the same time, even if the three timelines are not in sync, in regards to date. Same way Sakuta was able to access his alternate timeline, because he too had reached the future before another part of himself had.
What’s interesting about all of this is that there are three Shoukos, each seemingly complete. But this also means that time itself is relative to each Shouko. For example, for the longest time we thought there were only two Shoukos – middle school and college. And so, college Shouko was thought of as “future Shouko”, and middle school Shouko as “present Shouko”. Because we thought of time relative to middle school Shouko. However, in reality, one could think of time relative to college Shouko, which would make middle school Shouko “past Shouko”.
But this relativity is why Shouko was able to go all the way back to elementary school. She saw elementary school Shouko, who she knew existed because of the changing assignment, as the present Shouko instead of the past Shouko.
That said, the interesting thing is that because elementary school Shouko was changing the assignment, she was more than a memory, she was affecting the future itself. Which could mean that relativity in the end meant nothing, and that she truly was just the present Shouko all along. This is what the movie seems to insinuate in the end.
Shouko & Sakuta
Another interesting point is in regards to Sakuta’s scars. We learn that Sakuta’s scars are not the product of his own puberty syndrome, but the product of two copies of his heart existing in the same timeline. This is something that seems a bit confusing to me.
First off, just existing in the same timeline shouldn’t be enough, because Shouko herself exists in the same timeline twice, as did Futaba, and even Sakuta. So we’d have to assume it’s contact, right?
And Sakuta never met Shouko-san until after his scars opened up. Meaning that Shouko-san would have had to come in contact with him prior. His scars originally opened up after Kaede lost her personality, but we don’t know of a time where he ran into Shouko-san around then. If there was a scene of Shouko-san walking by Sakuta or something, I missed it, but I don’t think there was.
Which makes this whole scars deal a little odd.
My theory to reconcile this is that perhaps Sakuta’s body was somehow reacting to the presence of his future heart, and by extension, future body. Perhaps those scars were the product of that car accident, and the surgery. His body itself was remembering the future, or trying to re-join with his future self, causing the scars. Something like this at least, it’s all I can really think of right now.
What’s interesting about this though is that it means the opposite of what I had predicted – it wasn’t Sakuta’s trauma that caused the scars to open and then for him to summon Shouko-san, but the other way around. Shouko-san was purposely visiting Sakuta during times of mental trauma, causing his scars to then open up. Because Sakuta is in the same timeline as Shouko-chan, Shouko-san is able to visit him freely through dreams. And if Shouko-san never re-joins with Shouko-chan, it seems she just goes back to her original timeline once the dream is up.
Because of Sakuta’s heart being in both himself and Shouko-san, he is always able to observe her. Just like Koga was the only one who could observe Sakuta, because they are entangled together, Sakuta and Shouko-san are entangled. And once observed, Shouko-san can enter the timeline and interact with others aside from just Sakuta.
What this all means is that Shouko-san either knew precisely when Sakuta would be going through mental trauma, or she was watching over him all along. Sakuta was the boy who befriended her, who adopted a cat for her, who visited her every day in the hospital, who taught her kindness… When Shouko found out that she had received HIS heart, and that he was dead, perhaps she went back to Sakuta’s timeline and stayed there the whole time, observing Sakuta.
I mean, isn’t it odd that Shouko-san figured out how to visit the past?
How exactly would she have known the precise moments to go back and visit Sakuta?
She must have really desired to go back and see Sakuta. And because the Shouko-chan timeline existed, with her unconscious desire she was able to go back into that timeline, where her younger form existed. And there she was able to watch over Sakuta. Since she was never observed by anyone but Sakuta, she lived as a ghost for two years.
That is, until Dec 8, when Shouko-san shows up at Sakuta’s doorstep in order to initiate a plan to save him at the cost of Shouko-chan’s life. Because she was observed by not only Sakuta, but Mai and Kaede as well, she became a part of the world. Before that moment, she had only ever been observed by Sakuta.
Some dialogue from Shouko-san tells us that her plan was to save Sakuta all along, from two years prior when Sakuta had first met her on the beach:
“Whenever I’m with you, my heart skips a beat.”
“Stop it, my wounds will reopen.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll heal for sure.
The wounds in your heart, and the wounds on your chest…
I’ll heal them for you.
All of this means that there indeed was a time loop, as I had originally predicted. It goes something like this:
- Sakuta meets Shouko-san, learns kindness.
- Sakuta meets Shouko-chan via abandoned cat.
- Shouko-san arrives on Dec 8 to try and save Sakuta.
- Sakuta visits Shouko-chan in hospital and teaches her kindness.
- Despite Shouko-san’s efforts, Sakuta chooses to die on Dec 24.
- Shouko-chan receives Sakuta’s heart.
- Shouko-chan desires to go back and repay Sakuta for having saved her.
- Shouko-chan becomes Shouko-san, goes back to the prior timeline.
And so on. I could include more details, but you get the gist. You can start from anywhere, and it will loop infinitely. Or so it would seem.
But the thing is, it actually only loops once.
We’ve already established that there are only three timelines, not infinite.
First is college Shouko’s timeline, second is middle school Shouko’s timeline, and third is elementary school Shouko’s timeline.
Which means that very likely in the first timeline, college Shouko’s timeline, despite all of the trauma, Sakuta was able to bounce back on his own, meet Shouko-chan, befriend her, and be an inspiration to her. And on his own, he filled out the heart donation card, and he went to meet up with Mai. This Sakuta probably wouldn’t have planned on saving Shouko, because he had no way to. Which means the first accident, where he was hit, was truly that, an accident.
The Shouko that was saved by Sakuta in the first timeline then went back and watched over Sakuta in the second timeline. And that’s where the events of the anime and movie play out.
And then finally, Shouko ends up rejoining with herself in the second timeline, and goes back to the third timeline. Which is the one where she was an elementary schooler. With her newfound knowledge, she never met Sakuta, and was somehow able to change her own fate. We see Sakuta still meet Mai and go through everything he went through, only without Shouko’s influence.
The Sakuta we see in the first timeline is very similar to the one that we see in the third timeline, where he never met Shouko-san. The only difference is that in the third timeline he also never met Shouko-chan, until a little later after she had been saved.
It also means that those words of kindness, those three phrases, the mindset of living life trying to always be a kinder person, that all came from Sakuta originally. The first Sakuta, from the first timeline.
The Fourth Timeline
Ok, I lied. There are actually four timelines.
And that is because, Sakuta himself, creates another timeline.
The second timeline, Shouko-chan’s, splits into two on Dec 14. The day Sakuta realizes that the one who saves Shouko-chan was him. That was the day that he split into two.
Interestingly, prior to Dec 14, we experience every single day. But after Dec 14, we skip days. We jump from Dec 14 to Dec 18, then to Dec 21, then to Dec 24. Then we jump one last time from Dec 25 to Dec 28, the day of Sakurajima Mai’s funeral. I believe this is to symbolize that the Sakuta we are following at the time was experiencing time faster than his other self.
And in that fourth timeline, where Mai dies, Sakuta meets a different Shouko-san. A Shouko-san that received her heart from Mai, and not Sakuta.
This was an area of confusion for me, because what this implies is that not just the future, but also the past changed in this timeline. I suppose when Sakuta split, and one part went into the fourth timeline, he was also going into an alternate reality.
If you think about it though, each timeline IS an alternate reality, so I guess it really isn’t that big of a deal for Shouko-san to have received Mai’s heart in that timeline.
One question I was asked, and it is a great question, is how come Shouko-san was able to appear before Sakuta on Dec 28, when she was supposed to disappear on Dec 25, the day of her heart surgery, and the day her puberty syndrome was cured?
My answer to that is, because her puberty syndrome wasn’t cured on the day of her surgery. If it was, then how come Shouko-san was able to go back at all? When Shouko-san told Sakuta that she’d disappear on Dec 25th, she did so to try and guilt him into visiting her on the Benten Bridge, far away from the aquarium and site of the accident. She figured that if she told him she was going to disappear forever, that he might be inclined to visit her on that fateful night. Her entire plan was to prevent Sakuta from being hit by that car.
And Shouko-san herself wasn’t even at the bridge. She was at the site of the accident, watching and waiting to see if Sakuta would be hit or not. Because it wasn’t about meeting Sakuta for a date on Christmas Eve, it was about saving his life, and confirming this for herself.
The bottom line is, had Sakuta been saved, Shouko-chan would have died. We see this in the second timeline, where Sakuta rejoins with himself, after having saved himself. Shouko also rejoins with herself in this timeline. And while I suppose it isn’t explicitly mentioned, I believe she died in that timeline.
To Sum It All Up…
When Shouko was in 4th grade, she received an assignment relating to her future. But when she thought about her future, she became immensely conflicted, developing puberty syndrome.
This puberty syndrome caused her to split, with one Shouko moving through time faster, one at seemingly regular pace, and one slower or completely stopped. As a result, there are three Shoukos – elementary school, middle school, and college. And also as a result, there are three timelines, one for each Shouko.
The events of the movie take place during the middle school Shouko’s timeline, with college Shouko visiting from her own timeline and influencing events to try and save Sakuta. This causes Sakuta himself to split and experience a fourth timeline, before revisiting the middle school Shouko’s timeline to save himself. As a result, middle school Shouko never receives a heart transplant. College Shouko then rejoins with middle school Shouko. With all of this new information, Shouko realizes that a third Shouko stil exists back in elementary school – because of the assignment.
Shouko then goes back to the elementary school Shouko’s timeline, and proceeds to live life from there, knowing all that she knows, in order to somehow save herself as well as keep Sakuta out of her troubles. And she somehow manages to do this.
However, because of the bonds that they had shared, when Sakuta sees Shouko on the beach with her parents, he calls out her name, and they are reunited.
Hopefully that answers most of the questions surrounding Rascal Does Not Dream of Dreaming Girl. The movie itself was really something else, and opened up a whole new can of worms. I’m happy that I was able to predict as much as I had, in regards to the time travel loop, a connection between Sakuta and Shouko, Shouko-chan’s illness…
While I was wrong about Sakuta having puberty syndrome, and his scars actually being the result of Shouko, I think I was still pretty close!
If anyone has any further questions regarding the movie, I’d love to hear them because I love thinking about these things also. Whether I can think of an answer or not, it’s always interesting to dive into the “why” and “how” questions behind media like this.
Perhaps there’s something I’ve overlooked, or an incorrect assumption… feel free to let me know. I did write this all pretty much immediately after watching the movie, although I went through it a second time as I wrote this.
That just about does it for me, and this post has gone on long enough!
So until next time,
Thanks for reading!