Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata – 08
「当て馬トラウマ回想モード」 (Ateuma Torauma Kaisō Mōdo)
“A Wingman’s Traumatic Recollection Mode”
As expected, we’re currently invested in Eriri’s character arc, and with it more focus on the actual business of amateur production. Specifically, this is the episode of the summer Comiket, which is just a taste of the battleground that Tomoya and his friends will be fighting in. The production of the game is put on halt for the moment to explain the context in which its being made—by which nerds, and for which nerds.
I can’t imagine what kind of people Eriri’s parents are, so willing to help their daughter sell amateur pornography on their days off. No, I approve—very supportive bunch, surely. I do wonder, though, how they fit in with the crowd at Comiket, and whether they’re one of ‘those people’. Tomoya’s niche is almost as a very different culture, and from the point of view of an objective outsider, it’s a strange, strange world inside that convention hall. It’s always fascinating, from an anthropological standpoint, how these little social hierarchies have arranged themselves and the unique customs used to navigate them. Watching Tomoya in his natural habitat also shines one of the more positive lights on him so far. Tomoya is, in essence, a rather simple person. Unlike Iori, who had a plan to use his circle to promote his sister’s work in the future, Tomoya is grabbed by the impulse to promote Izumi immediately. His is, as I mentioned last week, the pure passion. He simply read something which moved him, and felt the need to share that feeling with the world. It’s the same drive, you may recall, with which he got into Utaha’s novels. Actually, more on that later, because Tomoya’s pure passion, though noble in spirit, also brings him into conflict with Eriri.
Because if Japanese surnames go first and English surnames go last then… Sawamura Eriri Spencer?
Interesting piece of psychology on Eriri this week. Observe the gamer who has that one favourite dating sim, still feels the urge to replay it, still picks her favourite bachelor, and still cries at the same places. What does this say about Eriri? I believe it says everything about Eriri.
Another elucidating fact about Eririri: young Eriri, still with her baby teeth, still has that protruding canine. Biology is incredible.
So, Eriri is a sentimentalist. That alone, I suspect, has defined much of the relationship between her and Tomoya over the years. The problem is that Tomoya is not really that same kind of guy. It’s interesting to contrast Eriri’s story with that of Utaha’s back in episode 06. For Utaha, Tomoya was some boy she hardly knew who suddenly appeared with great passion for her work. For Eriri, Tomoya is someone whom she’s known for a long time, but he shows hardly any passion for her work. And both of them are looking for essentially the same thing: a more of a personal touch from Tomoya. But Tomoya is not really a ‘people person’, in many senses of the phrase. He is very keen on creations, without enough regard for the feelings of the creators. There was a time, it seems, when he thought that Eriri drawing stuff was cool, but that fire seems to have burnt out long ago. It’s a metaphor for why the childhood friend loses so much in these harem races—over the years, the relationship just sort of normalises. The friend zone is cruel and oppressive. And sadly, it’s likely that in a few years Tomoya would be used to Izumi’s work being of distinguished quality, and no longer feel they need his outspoken support. That may be true, but that coldness can hurt people.
‘Get your mitts off my man’
In the end, though, it still comes back around to Megumi, our main heroine. Notice how, even though right now it’s Eriri’s arc, she’s still here. As Tomoya’s foil (and really, in a way, as everybody’s foil), Megumi is required to offer some insight into the inner workings of our protagonist. She has a very honest understanding of what Tomoya really is. While the other girls have their own expectations for Tomoya, Megumi does not really. ‘I know because I have no faith in him at all,’ she says, on predicting Tomoya’s actions. In dealing with someone like Tomoya, a measure of cynicism is required.
Such subtle insight helps Megumi retain, for me, the position of the most interesting character on the show. And I’m still not sure what kind of cards she’s still holding. Notice how she has so naturally assimilated herself into the group, quietly making dinner at Tomoya’s house off-screen. And how much of her jealous girlfriend routine was an act, and how much was genuine? At this point, I’m really not quite sure. She’s Tomoya’s ‘main heroine’. What does that mean? That’s a very good question.
So this week, Megumi upstaged Eriri a bit, but I like to think of it more of getting her involved in the drama. There’s sure to be more of that next episode. Maybe we’ll even get more flashbacks—I’ll welcome more of those, if only because I found the crayon backgrounds very neat (even if they came at the cost of people deforming in far shots). We’ll probably get back to making that game at some point, but at the moment I find learning more about our characters a more important part of the overall narrative than the actual plot. Hey, they’re good characters. It’s a compliment.
(Yes, there was no Utaha at all this episode. Try to breathe slowly and count to ten, people.)