I’ve been watching back through Bunny Girl Senpai and just re-finished Tomoe Koga’s arc. I’d forgotten how good it was. Both in the way it played out but I’d really forgotten the way it ended! I gasped when the endgame started and couldn’t help the big smile on my face as the show kept pilling on more and more happiness.

For the last three episodes, Sakuta has been acting as Tomoe’s boyfriend so as to help her avoid being asked out by a guy who her friend has a crush on. Being asked out would not only hurt her friend, it would disrupt Tomoe’s own precarious spot in her class’ social groupings. Almost everything she’s done over her first year in high school has been to fit in. She is constantly on her phone keeping up with her friends in their chat group. She changed her look and manner of speech when she moved to the big city for high school. And now she’s taken on a fake boyfriend in Sakuta. Her goal was to hang out with him for a few weeks and then have a public breakup so they could both go their separate ways. No entanglements. No complications. But her heart didn’t see it that way.

She developed a crush on Sakuta despite her sincere wishes for them to part ways and remain friends. This leads to the arc’s second time loop. Sakuta and Tomoe loop through their final date together four or five times before he finally gets her to be honest with herself and admit her true feelings. It’s a great little scene on its own, with Tomoe recounting the ways things should go. They’ll make a show of breaking up. She’ll help him get with his real girlfriend. And she and Sakuta will become best friends who can laugh about how fun this silly fake dating scheme was at the time. Except Tomoe isn’t laughing. Each time the day ends her heart longs for Sakuta a little more. And each morning she wakes up at the beginning of the same day, secretly hopeful that he is falling a little more for her just as each time she loops she falls just a little more for him. The time loop ends for real when Sakuta forces her to confront her true feelings. With tears running down her face Tomoe makes a heartfelt declaration of love to Sakuta which he gently turns down. Love hurts but is necessary.

And then we’re back to the same shot of Sakuta’s apartment building with the trees in the foreground that we’ve seen these past four or five final date loops. As a viewer am thinking: “Ok, show. I see what you are doing. You’re making me think the loop didn’t end, but you’ll cut to a clock or calendar or something and confirm that, yes, Tomoe’s tearful admission really did let she and Sakuta move on to tomorrow.”

Except that’s not what happens.

Instead of cutting inside to the anticipated clock or calendar, we cut to the newscast of the soccer tournament results that marked the repetition of Sakuta and Tomoe’s first time loop! The one that was happening some three weeks before! Instead of moving forward into the long awaited tomorrow, the show takes Sakuta almost a month back into the past! But for the cutest, most wholesome reasons!

It turns out that everything that Sakuta had experienced over the last three weeks was all a part of Tomoe’s “laplace’s demon” simulation of the future. Now, Sakuta gets to live through the three week period a second time knowing most everything that will happen. He again gains Tomoe as a coworker at his job. He again helps her friend find her phone charm. He again gets to see his sister’s eyes sparkle as she accepts her gifted new outfit. He again gets to study with Mai dressed in her bunny girl outfit. And this time aces his midterms instead of failing them because he’s already seen the questions. And, of course, most critically, he uses his knowledge of Mai’s responses to earn himself official boyfriend status and even a kiss from Mai.

What could have just been a perfectly great cathartic resolution to Sakuta and Tomoe’s story arc instead turned into three weeks of good luck granted to Sakuta for all his selflessness and hard work! All handed to me, the viewer, through one of the best double fake outs I can remember.

Well done, show. Well done! It’s this kind of amazing writing and execution that makes Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai a sparking diamond in the rough.