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.