In the world of Seishun Buta Yaro, Mai is a celebrity. Or rather, she was a celebrity. Ever since she went on hiatus and wished that she could go to a world where nobody recognized her, more and more people are failing to acknowledge her existence. No, they don’t just ignore her. To some people, she literally does not exist. This strange phenomenon is also worsening with each passing day. It’s bad enough that she cannot even buy food in order to feed herself. Well, that means she can just steal whatever she needs to survive, right? But ah, that would be immoral. In any case, the girl has gotten so desperate that she has even resorted to prancing around a library in a sexy bunny suit in order to get people’s attention, but as you might expect, this doesn’t work. She hasn’t completely disappeared from the world, though. At the moment, Sakuta, the main character, can still see and interact with her. So can his best friend Yuma. Mai’s manager is also desperately trying to reach her. A couple at the train station even wanted to take a picture of her before Sakuta stepped in the way. Considering how bothered Mai is about the phenomenon, she may have wanted them to take that picture lest they eventually forget her as well. This seems to suggest that if things keep going like this, then the whole world may very well forget that Mai ever once existed. At least, that’s what the opening scene seems to imply. The main character has a diary about his experiences with Mai in case he ever forgets her, but if he forgets her, could her name literally disappear from the pages?
Sakuta thinks that Mai is suffering from a phenomenon known as “Adolescene Syndrome.” By itself, the term isn’t terribly descriptive. The anime tells us, however, that the syndrome encompasses “abnormal experiences during adolescence due to sensitivity and instability.” Uh… huh. That still isn’t very enlightening. I guess the only way to truly understand what we’re dealing with is to see these “abnormal experiences” with our own eyes. We’ve already seen how certain subsections of the world no longer seems to acknowledge that Mai exist. She can literally bump into them, thereby causing their bodies to recoil and yet they will have no reaction. How can that be? This is practically supernatural at this point. Well, we don’t have to go very far to see another example of this enigmatic “Adolescence Syndrome.” Sakuta’s sister Kaede apparently used to suffer from it. When she was being bullied online, mysterious cuts and bruises just magically appeared on her body. Yeah, right out of thin air. Yo, this is some magical bullshit. This is like dealing with poltergeists or whatever.
At this point, I may as well throw any speculation at the wall and see what sticks. For example, maybe these kids have latent psychic potential, and they’re inadvertently lashing out against themselves for whatever reason. Mai thinks she wants to disappear, so she literally disappears. She may think she wants people to know acknowledge her, but something is acting as a barrier. They want to acknowledge her as celebrity Mai, not civilian Mai. As for Kaede, maybe she internalized the online bullying that were coming her way, and this physically manifested as actual, literal injuries. It’s not uncommon for bullying victims to end up hating themselves. Hell, it’s almost expected. Fittingly enough, the syndrome only subsided when the girl started staying away from the internet.
Even Sakuta isn’t immune to all this weird stuff. To prove that he believes her story, the guy reveals to Mai that he has three huge scars on his chest. Back in middle school, he ended up in the hospital and he has no clue why. He claims he just woke up one day all bloodied from (I imagine) three gashes on his chest. And yet, everyone around him would rather spread weird rumors instead of just accepting that they don’t have all the facts. As a result, people see Sakuta as some sort of dangerous delinquent. They think he sent three classmates to the hospital rather than being a victim of bizarre circumstances. Similarly, rather than accepting that Mai took a hiatus from her acting career for innocent reasons, the internet is instead full of salacious rumors. So I don’t know, but it seems like several things are at play here. Maybe the individual does have some indirect control over what’s happening to them, but at the same time, the public believes what it wants to believe and there’s no hope in correcting them without also conforming to their prejudices. For instance, Sakuta thinks Mai might be able to solve her problem by just re-entering show business. You can assume that she’d be well-known again if her face is plastered on ads across the city, right? But the girl has her reasons for leaving. It just seems like the public can’t accept reasonable explanations, and I wonder if this has some magical effect on why she’s practically invisible to much of society.
At face value, this show seems kinda silly — almost stupid, even. Really? You’re invisible just because you thought you wanted to be invisible? But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in hearing the author out. The guy who wrote this (the same guy who was responsible for Just Because! and The Pet Girl of Sakurasou) certainly has some sort of message to convey. Whether his message is worth watching this entire series from start to finish is the big question. Still, I rather enjoy Sakuta’s deadpan personality and smartass humor. As for Mai, it’s a little too early for me to make any judgments about her personality. As for the rest of the cast, I just hope it doesn’t pander too much. I cringed when Kaede clung to her brother. I hope this doesn’t turn into a pseudo-harem where the main character is surrounded by nothing but cute girls and one token male best friend (though it does seem to be headed in that direction). Last but not least, the dialogue is kinda iffy at times. Take these lines, for instance: “A rumor is kind of like the atmosphere, isn’t it? Since lately, the atmosphere is something you need to read. That ‘atmosphere’ that labels you as a bad person if you can’t read it. And the people creating that atmosphere don’t have a sense of participation, so it’s foolish to try and fight against the atmosphere.” Like sure, I get the gist of what he’s trying to say, but that’s such an awkward string of words. I don’t know if the subs are being too literal here or perhaps Sakuta’s words are honestly just that oddly phrased. But speaking of words, I’ve written enough for this first episode. I’ll just say that I’ll probably stick with this show from start to finish.