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Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata – 02 »« Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata – 00

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata – 01

「間違いだらけのプロローグ」 (Machigaidarake no Purorōgu)
“And Error-Ridden Prologue”

I figured that only introducing Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata based only on its 00 special would be a bit misleading. 00 is still an introduction episode in its own right, but 01 plays it straight, and doesn’t require as much reading between the lines. Thus I get to intro this show twice. Woohoo.

On watching episode 01, it’s easy to understand why Saekano chose to start with a 00 special. The initial impression one gets from this episode is that it is incredibly generic, with us starting with a rather textbook boy-meets-girl scenario before parading past some familiar character archetypes. But because we watched the 00 special beforehand (and if you haven’t, you should), we aalready know that there is a bit more here than initially meets the eye, and the generic-ness is largely an intentional device. It was an interesting exercise, comparing what episode 00 hinted Saekano is and what it turns out to be in episode 01. There is, in fact, little information in episode 01 that we didn’t already know from episode 00; it’s simply presented from a different angle.

Also because of episode 00, we already know that Tomoya eventually manages to put together his coterie, so whether he succeeds there is not really the source of tension for now. Instead, we get more time to examine his motivations. Tomoya’s character is familiar to me (especially when he got complete serious business about blogging anime; why did that scene hurt me?). Right now, indie games are pretty hot, and my Steam library stands testament to that. Plenty of people wish to make them. That’s the natural progression of hobbyist, to dream of ascending from consumer to creator. But making a game, let alone a good game, is hard, and it’s natural to wonder whether Tomoya’s head is too far in the clouds. He has very little going for him other than his raving otaku passion. For many shows, that would be enough for a protagonist, but since Saekano enjoys its deconstruction Tomoya’s psyche suffers more critique than his archetype usually receives. And, really, Tomoya’s motivations are a bit improper. I usually don’t think escapism is necessarily a bad thing, but Tomoya has reality entirely confused. He’s in love, but he’s in love with an idea, not a person. There are some strange priorities at work if you’re so fixated on a chance encounter with some girl and yet have no impressions of it other than wanting a game about it.

Perhaps that’s just the Megumi factor though; she’s not even in focus for half of her screen-time. If I wasn’t aware of the premise of Saekano (again, with much help from episode 00), I would have easily mistaken her for one of those mass-produced background characters like Tomoya’s Friend A, the finite exposition automaton. Yet, she still manages to be an interesting character, standing out against the certified ‘moé heroines‘ simply by being plain. I think it’s a play on expectations; we’ve become so accustomed to fiction tropes that it’s hard to subconsciously accept that the purported female lead could be so featureless. There must be more. She beats the rest of the harem purely on a curious flavour of mystique, even if in reality there may really be no iceberg beneath the surface.

Perhaps I should stop referring to the ‘harem’, and Saekano as a harem show, because there really is no competition between haremettes. Just look at that final scene. They’ve lost before they’ve even begun.

 

Full-length images: 01, 03, 09, 15, 27, 35.

January 16, 2015 at 7:30 am
42 comments »
  • January 16, 2015 at 7:49 amAly

    I just want to point out that Kato was sitting next to Tomoya during the entrance ceremony.

    • January 16, 2015 at 8:22 amOwaranai

      Nice observation there. Such a tease though, since it’s a 50-50 thing as the entire episode teases the viewer about her face.

    • January 16, 2015 at 9:14 ambelatkuro

      Pic related. You can easily miss her.

      • January 16, 2015 at 9:25 amKushieda

        Wow, I totally missed that!

      • January 16, 2015 at 11:23 amMike

        Kato’s stealth mode is always on

      • January 17, 2015 at 10:29 amTripleSRank

        Oh wow, I didn’t catch that. Haha.

        Thanks to you two for pointing that out. That is pretty funny.

      • January 20, 2015 at 8:40 amLion

        She’s the phantom sixth man

  • January 16, 2015 at 7:56 amHugeJackedman

    Beautiful animation, deconstruction of the harem genre, and a (not so) subtle criticism of otaku culture… Saekano has a lot more substance than I was expecting. This is promising.

  • January 16, 2015 at 8:10 amKirigiri

    Best Random Quote I heard from Mr. Ethical(Tomoya): “3D girls are way too much trouble”.
    Woot Woot 2D is the best //slapped

  • January 16, 2015 at 8:12 amOwaranai

    I fell in love with the show at the start. Might have been the artwork since I’m a sucker for good visuals, but the art comes off as being…elegant as compared to this season’s various harem shows. It might also be the fact that this one seems entirely slice of life and perfectly normal that in sweet irony (like Kato) makes it stand out.

    There’s nothing too explosive about the real pilot episode here, but I couldn’t find that much wrong with it either aside from the common archetypes. Thing is, it feels like the execution of those archetypes went pretty well for Eriri and Utaha with their twin-tail tsundere and kuudere + poison-tongued personas. It actually feels a little ‘in the face’ displaying those archetypes, but fortunately despite the known archetypes they actually don’t come off as generic.

    Despite his apparent flaws and lack of positive characteristics, I find Tomoya to be an interesting MC because of the possible drama (the hints from Eriri and Utaha’s words means they had interesting pasts with him) and character development coming from him and the girls. That would, of course, hopefully stop the cynic from criticising the show for having girls who ‘fall in love with the protagonist for no good reason like a typical harem show’, depending on what happened.

    I might be sounding over-optimistic here considering it’s the first episode, but having an extremely flawed character at the start very so often means he can only get better, and I’m not looking at what might seem to be a simple plot premise, but the processes each character goes through to change and the hijinks that come along the way, seeing as comedy is probably another big part of the show.

    As mentioned by you Passerby, Kato stands out in a way none of us probably expect, and that was refreshing in a sense – a plain girl often overlooked in contrast to all the MCs that stand out for various reasons. (and yes, I’ve threw caution to the wind and picked up volume 1 :p )

    In conclusion? Can’t find much wrong about the pilot episode, but to balance it out I can’t find anything explosive that happened in the episode that would cause even the most cynical viewer to turn his head. It DOES look really good though, and feels highly promising thus far.

    And lastly…
    http://randomc.net/image/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata%20-%2001%20-%2023.jpg

    http://randomc.net/image/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata%20-%2001%20-%2025.jpg

    http://randomc.net/image/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata%20-%2001%20-%2026.jpg

    Playing the favorite girl card already. :p

    • January 16, 2015 at 9:02 amcelebrinen

      One week late, you’ll have to get in line behind me and a few others. We called it last week.

    • January 16, 2015 at 1:50 pmPasserby

      To be clear: please prioritise food over LN purchases. This isn’t my fault.

  • January 16, 2015 at 8:20 ams_w

    Anything set in a high school in Japan can be labelled “Generic” by now. It’s a pretty overdone setting. Hell, just about any anime that’s out this season could arguably be labelled Generic from the right perspective.

    But I like where this series is going. Yeah, they’re doing a lot of tried and true stuff, but it’s entertaining. (And that’s all it needs to be for me. Entertaining.)

    Also, it points to the struggle to create anything knowing that “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Every season we see the fruits of that struggle realized, don’t we?

    Love the use of colored lines for the line art, too. Overall, the art is very pretty.

    Thursdays are kinda slow for me this season, so I’m all in.

    • January 16, 2015 at 9:07 amcelebrinen

      It would be hard to make an anime set in a high school that was ground-breaking and unique. So long as Tomoya doesn’t fall into the cockpit of a giant robot and save Megumi from aliens attacking Tokyo I don’t mind. Utaha is the reason I’m watching.

  • January 16, 2015 at 8:22 amewok40k

    anime blogging is SERIOUS BUSINESS!
    3d girls are too much trouble! I can’t believe he attracted already 2 of those, and is blind to it…
    gosh the vicious chemistry between Eriri and Utaha! look at them exchanging verbal stabs…
    …and heroine so bland she has to mention “hat event” to be recognized… even I for a minute or so
    thought she’s just an unnamed extra

  • January 16, 2015 at 8:51 amBreedo

    After seeing this episode I can say this reminds me of the episode 00 introductions use in Haganai. It made me want to see how the hell the group formed to get to that point and how it all fit together. This on the other hand gave us a look at three outgoing over the top personalities with one quiet one. Making the quiet one stand out in that manner. So I’m pretty excited to see what motivated Megumi to tangle herself up in that. Also in how the others found themselves interested enough to participate in Tomoya’s dream.

  • January 16, 2015 at 9:24 ambelatkuro

    http://randomc.net/image/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2004.jpg
    Amagi volume 1, Date a Live volume 11 and a very much hidden HSDxD volume 6. Same imprint that Saekano is published in, Fujimi Fantasia Bunko. Not sure what that one on the right side is.

    http://randomc.net/image/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2035.jpg
    I like the short hair version as well. It’ll be a while before we get the ponytail version.
    Both are fine with me.

    • January 18, 2015 at 10:38 ampahlavi5312

      He also has an OreImo poster on the wall, Date A Live volumes 2-10 and High School DxD volumes 1,5 and 6 at the shelf. He also had Leafa, Undine Asuna, Silica, SAO Asuna, Menma, Akane, Zange and Hoshimiya Kate figs and more I cannot identify. I assume all of this are works of A-1 Pictures?

  • January 16, 2015 at 9:56 amNoZaku

    Looks incredibly generic.

  • January 16, 2015 at 12:02 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

    So much Utaha-senpai (and her stocking legs)! <3

    Now just need to wait for Michiru and more deadpan Megumi talk.

  • January 16, 2015 at 1:23 pmnyanlol

    i can appreciate a deconstruction, but if kato really turns out to be a totally featureless character, i will be extremely displeased. normal girls are fine. the normal girl winning is something we don’t see often enough. but normal =/= boring. That’s what worries me. that the deconstruction will hamper character development

    • January 16, 2015 at 1:53 pmPasserby

      I’m sure she will have a story—everybody has a story—but it will tickle me if her personal circumstances turn out to be completely mundane. That would feel… appropriate.

    • January 16, 2015 at 2:09 pmDene323

      I just started reading the LN right now. Without spoiling much, I’d say Kato is definitely not featureless. She is just… more 3D as oppose to falling under any definite 2D label. As far as I can tell she is genuinely a perceptive, emotionally intelligent and good-natured girl. Her calm, easy-going and self-assured personality contrasts sharply with other characters in the series and often gives her the clear edge in a romantic shipping war.

  • January 16, 2015 at 2:26 pmK.Alm

    As a guy who once made a very crappy amateur VN about a guy who makes an amateur VN after a similar “life-changing” encounter, I am extremely amused by this anime. Will follow.

  • January 16, 2015 at 3:14 pmRed HeartGold ZX

    Kato Megumi is like the female form of Kuroko Tetsuya. And I totally like her.
    http://randomc.net/image/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2035.jpg

    I like these interactions between her and the MC, so typical yet… awesome. Lol. Reminds me of how Keima from TWGOK ended up with Show Spoiler ▼

    • January 18, 2015 at 10:41 amAnonymous

      Oh yeah, the similarity is really there. Although I myself does not accept the ending as canon. It did not fit for me.

  • January 16, 2015 at 3:42 pmshensu3

    When it comes to anime, I happen to like the plain girls like her more.

    • January 16, 2015 at 3:49 pmtrunk monkey

      me too. and i like her in the short hair cut better

  • January 16, 2015 at 3:50 pmBubba

    Let’s ruin the puns shall we?
    Books Show Spoiler ▼

    Figures Show Spoiler ▼

    All that eye candy!!!

  • January 16, 2015 at 4:29 pmricz

    A decent 1st episode(and I never watch episode 0 XP )

    Gonna continue watching this one since it looks good <3

  • January 16, 2015 at 4:34 pmBear

    Well, we know both of the girls he tried to recruit have a history with him and it seems as if he rejected them romantically some time in the past. Doesn’t seem like either have forgiven him and are still romantically interested in him.

  • January 16, 2015 at 5:41 pmFlareKnight

    Well I think the OP, summary, and existence of the show gives away that the MC will get his group assembled ;).

    But honestly, episode 1 was really average and kind of forgettable. Based on it there really isn’t any hook right now for the show. Just a MC using persistence and emotional blackmail to try and guilt these girls into working on his spur of the moment and generic project. The guy really isn’t likable. Just seems really selfish from first impressions.

    Will give it some more episodes, but right now there really wasn’t anything interesting about this episode.

  • January 16, 2015 at 6:17 pmAndré

    This was 100% cliche… But I still loved it.

  • January 16, 2015 at 7:01 pmCroos

  • January 17, 2015 at 10:09 pmdark

    nice otaku tsundere =D now i have some hopes for this show

  • January 19, 2015 at 8:52 amMakise Kuristina

    http://randomc.net/image/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2019.jpg

    This is how I imagine it to be if the pony tail girl in my class decides to use her hair as a weapon

  • January 19, 2015 at 10:53 amPLAIN GIRL BEST GIRL

    PLAIN GIRL BEST GIRL

  • January 22, 2015 at 4:24 pmRyan Ashfyre

    …Ugh.

    I know we’re only two episodes in here, but Tomoya is just pissing me off in a way that makes me want to drop this series just to spite whatever twit came up with his character. I want to take that blockhead, smash his face into a chalkboard and toss him out of a window, if only to satiate the frustration that spikes every moment I have to look at his bland, unappealing face.

    *deep breath*

    Now, to be fair, I did genuinely like the first episode. We had an established premise that was easy to understand, charming harem antics that didn’t take forever and a day to develop, and likeable characters that, while generic cookie cutter types, are more than just tolerable.

    …But then all that potential was just thrown out the window in favor of a cute little time skip back to the beginning, in spite of the fact that we know where everything’s going to end up anyways.

    Sound familiar? Yes, I’m looking at you, Tokyo ESP, and we all know where that little ‘gem’ ended up, don’t we?

    Yes, Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata does has potential. Deconstructions centered around concepts, particularly popular ones like harems, more often than not are, if and when they’re executed correctly. One need look no further than the splendor of Madoka Magica, a deconstruction of the magical girl genre, as a prime example.

    Regrettably however, it seems like Saenai has opted out of its own potential, instead pursuing a very specific demographic via its bland, unappealing male lead in Tomoya with the added spice of an uncommon approach (consistently insulting and deconstruction of its own concept) to boost itself beyond what would otherwise be an eminently forgettable, generic series.

    Ultimately, it’s the characters that either lead a series to success or failure and Tomoya just kills it. Honestly and truly, he is not fun or interesting in the slightest. Hell, at least make him look cool, rather than some bland nerd design with glasses. Is that so much to ask?

    And as if all that weren’t enough, then we have…

    http://randomc.net/image/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata%20-%2001%20-%2035.jpg

    our “main heroine” Kato, a character who, while I don’t have against her personally as I do with Tomoya, is about as forgettable as any I’ve ever seen; which, apparently, is the point, hence the translated title of “How to raise a boring girlfriend”.

    What is this I don’t even…

    Look, I can understand – and even respect to a certain degree – Saenai’s preemptive attack on itself in an attempt to garner attention, but a boring character is a boring character is a boring character.

    You can dress up a pet rock to be the prettiest, most fabulous pet rock in all of existence. Underneath it all, it’s still just going to be a rock.

    There is no incentive for anyone to be invested in watching this girl develop. None. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

    You know what would’ve made this series worth keeping up with? If they’d taken a page out of Gen “The Urobutcher” Urobuchi’s book and thrown some honest to goodness despair into the lives of these otherwise plain, cookie cutter characters. Give me something to look forward to, to be uncertain about. Have something happen that just completely turns all their lives upside down and threatens everything they’ve ever known and worked towards.

    I honestly wish Saenai could’ve done something like that. As it is though, it’s just putting me to sleep.

  • February 18, 2015 at 5:19 amTopboy

    Intro scene remind me of my first love, Ayukawa Madoka.