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Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata ♭ – 00, 01 »« Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata – 10

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata – 11 & 12 (END)

「伏線回収準備よし & 波乱と激動の日常エンド」 (Fukusen Kaishū Junbi Yoshi & Haran to Gekidō no Nichijō Endo)
“Ready to Start Resolving the Subplots & The Ups and Downs at the End of Each Day”

For the purposes of our discussion I’m going to treat episodes 11 & 12 (aired together over one hour) as one thing, since Michiru’s arc resolves neatly into the end of the anime as a whole. I’m only going to go over it briefly, because I want to get to the final impressions.

First order of business is: Performing Sorairo Days! Has it really been seven years since Gurren Lagann? Eight years? Way to make me feel my age, Saekano. It was certainly a pleasant surprise; I was certainly expecting one last shout out in an anime that has not been shy about referencing other shows, but for them to go that far back (and more importantly, to a song I instantly recognised) tickled my nerd bones. It seems I’m totally an otaku too, and that Tomoya was right; it doesn’t matter who is performing it, otaku will rock out to it regardless.

I’d like to say that Michiru has finally gotten over her antipathy for otaku, but that’s not really the case. Michiru, like Utaha, wanted Tomoya to leave his world and enter hers, but finds out that they actually overlap. Rather than learning to understand a ‘different culture’, like Megumi does, Michiru instead discovers that she was one of ‘them’ all along. What bombshell are you going to drop next, Tomoya? ‘Hey, Michiru, the Easter Bunny isn’t real and you’re adopted’. Michiru actually took the revelation about her otaku indoctrination and her alleged ‘best friends‘ selling her out a lot better than I expected, to be sure (though if she couldn’t tell what an event called ‘Anilight‘ at an establishment decorated like this is, then caveat emptor). I guess we didn’t really have time for the concert to bomb and work up more drama, so with a bit of Standard Protagonist Encouragement (and perhaps the power of love), the concert goes without a hitch. It was no Live a Live, sure, but it did send off Michiru’s arc with a bang, and she deserves it after waiting so long to be introduced.

The lesson, I guess, is that otaku are just people. Michiru makes the mistake of folding all of otaku-dom into a single archetype when they are all, like her Tomo, individuals in their own right. This ties into one of the big themes of Saekano: archetypes, like the tsundere childhood friend, the aloof senpai, or the free-spirited cousin, are all just wrappers around what is essentially still a human being. The humble anime writer is free to focus on their specific ‘attributes’, but at the end of the day they still need to do the hard work and give them real characterisation and explore their personal circumstances. Indeed, Saekano never rejects these archetypes—in fact, it thoroughly embraces them—but always makes sure there is something more. In Michiru’s case, she may have had the least time to show that, but under her casual demeanor her subtleties—her shared dream with her friends, her personal insecurities—do shine out.

Final impression

I freely admit it: I enjoy clever shows, and by ‘clever shows’ I mean anime that do something interesting with itself, especially in ways that challenge audience preconceptions. Saenai Heroine no Sodateka is ‘clever’ in that it is multi-layered. It purports to be a standard harem comedy—and it totally is—but also manages to sneak in something more, so that it’s never just harem comedy. It plays so many tropes entirely straight, making use of the otaku male lead, the archetypal haremettes, the sexualised fanservice, and all the one-size-fits-all utensils of the writer’s toolbox, but is always aware of how it’s using them. It was very keen on commenting on itself, but never to the extent of being fully deconstructive, and parodied without descending into outright satire. In a way, Saekano is having its cake and eating it too, using all the harem comedy devices to appeal to that audience, but also offering something for watchers like me, who have already watched a few too many of those and need a different angle. And for the most part, it worked! That’s not always guaranteed with shows as secretly arrogant as Saekano.

A lot of Saekano‘s success in this is owed to being subtle, not in that it’s particularly understated, but because it usually has something going on underneath the surface. This is embodied in Megumi, who is a subtle character by design. She does not adhere to an immediately obvious archetype, does not have any exaggerated emotional cues, and does not narrate her internal monologue at the drop of a hat. She is ‘flat’, because she is written first and foremost as if she was real person, and real people, before you get to know them, are all flat. Yet she still manages to play the part of the ‘heroine’ extremely effectively, not by becoming more sparkly, but by sticking to her strengths. Look at the simple chemistry she has with Tomoya. Observe her easy confidence. Call her innuendo-ed lectures a form of passive-aggression if you want, but there’s no denying that she knows how to push Tomoya’s buttons. Utaha knows: Michiru may have made some strong attacks, but Megumi is by far the greatest threat.

Megumi gets her character development just like all the other girls, but she gets it while riding along other character arcs and helping Tomoya. And it culminates in this final set of episode, which sees Megumi more proactive than she has ever been. She started as an entirely passive actor, but now on her own volition learns how to script. Yet she still remains true to her character, content to only nudge Tomoya, excercising her influence from the rearSaenai Heroine no SodatekataHow to Train a Boring Girl to Be an Heroine - is not, as Tomoya thought, about transforming a flat character into something dramatic, but about discovering how the flat character can be a perfectly fine heroine in her own right. On such a note, Saekano ends appropriately (but not without one last show of disrespect for itself). Blessing Software may only have finished one route, but it’s without doubt the most important one. Call her Meguri, Ruri, or Megumi, it doesn’t matter. She’s been the heroine from the very beginning.

 

Full-length images: 10, 14, 20, 32, 43, 55, 64, 70.

End Card

March 27, 2015 at 11:54 am
43 comments »
  • March 27, 2015 at 12:16 pmPtolemaios00

    • March 27, 2015 at 4:28 pmselpheed

      This scene was perfect! She put her thoughts on the game and force Tomoya watching .. I thought megumi was “innocent” but she proved to be the most “dangerous”

    • March 27, 2015 at 5:56 pmMgMaster

      Ep 11 probably had the best Kato moments.

    • March 27, 2015 at 11:49 pmMakise Kuristina

      • March 28, 2015 at 10:13 amReikakou

        Oh dear god. I thought I’m the only one who got Yuno vibes from her in a good way. Not that yandare but the clever wolf in a sheep’s clothing.

    • March 28, 2015 at 6:11 amTassadar

      I actually stood up and started clapping at this scene.

    • March 28, 2015 at 8:51 amPtolemaios00

      http://strawpoll.me/3978531

      I’m just gonna leave this here.

  • March 27, 2015 at 12:47 pmSamu

    Megumi was always the best girl. The others never had a chance.

    • March 27, 2015 at 7:11 pmDualash

      Especially with her stealth-mode XD (ironically when I use it naturally I always get shoved around by accident);Kato didn’t speak out as much as the other heroines but whenever she did, she showed she deserved to be the main heroine whenever she commented or helped out in the circle.

  • March 27, 2015 at 12:56 pmkaydee

    Megumi is the perfect heroine

  • March 27, 2015 at 1:11 pmDorian

    I thought two things about Megumi stood out:

    1) She knows Utaha is her biggest competition, as she complains about her. Yet it also was in a way that if I recall last night correctly, sets it up as she doesn’t expect Utaha to actually put up any real fight. As long as she plays her cards right.

    2) Her not replying to Eriri about the game. That honestly was the fun one in which she is not doing it because she wants to make a great game. She’s doing it because she wants Tomo. That and the above just seals it.

    She’s literally the show’s Chestmaster. She waited in the background to view the “field” so to speak. Spending time bidding to see the flaws and characteristics of the others. Once she did, and as the show has gone on, she’s made bolder and bolder moves that place her as the one to get Tomo while undercutting everyone.

    Her true personality has also been cracking out more and more. She’s a devious and loveable minx. I really hope there’s a second season. I’d honestly tune in just because of her.

    • March 27, 2015 at 3:14 pmsonicsenryaku

      Those are some very interesting thoughts. I personally dont think Megumi finds Utaha an actual threat more than she finds her personality to be a bit overbearing (hence that comment she made when she walked away). And overall, id say megumi is just more aware and intelligent rather than devious (she’s not being underhanded). She wants to help with the game because she knows how important it is to Tomoya, whether he actually wants to be with her romantically or not (sort of how we as people do things for others just because we care about how much they care about their passion even if it has nothing to do with us). Megumi is a chess master indeed, but i feel that has to do with how aware she is of the battlefield and the intents of those around her. What makes the game interesting is the fact that the players know how good megumi is.

      • March 27, 2015 at 7:52 pmPasserby

        Isn’t it great how Megumi’s character leaves room for interpretation? That’s a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.

        (On my part, I consider that in the poker game that is Saekano, Megumi has a read on everybody, Michiru is holding the nuts, Utaha always calls, and Eriri has a losing hand and shows it.)

  • March 27, 2015 at 2:06 pmAoyu

    Come to think of it, it took 6 months for Eriri and Kato to become friends. I guess they never had much to relate to until now.

  • March 27, 2015 at 2:07 pmGoXDS

    damn I’m going to miss this show so much. gotta love Utaha but Kato was very (VERY) strong these last 2 episodes especially. no more weekly Saekano…I’m not gonna survive

  • March 27, 2015 at 2:16 pmKabble

    This was absolutely hilarious.
    Great ending.
    Utaha just nonchalantly naming kamasutra techniques had me hollering with laughter.
    Eriri smacking Tomoya on the head at the end? Hilarious as hell.
    Just an awesome show, sincerely praying for a second season.
    I’m glad I’ve finally found a character like Megumi. After watching as much anime as I have…I find myself longing to see how the ‘average’ individual would fair in the anime world. Majority of my personality overlaps with Megumi’s, she’s got plain and proper emotional responses to things. Not melodramatic stuff like the usual in anime. It’s nice to see that.

  • March 27, 2015 at 4:15 pmSaburau

    It was a very good show. And it screams the 2nd season.

    If actually there is the 2nd season we’ve got 3 more volumes and extra one named “girls side” to cover so 3 episodes for a volume of the novel, which is exactly the way how they covered the novel in this season, would work perfectly.
    Now it’s obvious they always have had a plan for the 2nd season. Whether or not their plan pans out, that’s another matter and remained to be seen.
    I would absolutely love to watch the 2nd season. “The flat girl” Kato is flat out cute.

    By the way that live house actually exists in the real world.
    Mogura Akihabara
    As totally expected as a live house in Akihabara, the epicenter of the Japanese otaku culture, it’s an otaku only live house and they always have anime or game music stuff there.

    • March 27, 2015 at 7:28 pmPasserby

      Ah, thanks for that trivia. I didn’t know much about it, and evidently Michiru didn’t either.

      • March 27, 2015 at 10:33 pmSaburau

        And the made cafe Eriri escaped into does exist, too.
        Cure Maid Cafe
        And they had some collaboration menu with Saekano in February, their home page says.
        Saekano Cafe
        It looks like Eriri ordered one named Sawamura Spencer Eriri.

        The color is more like Tomoya’s but you can tell because a grape is in it.

  • March 27, 2015 at 4:45 pmJuan

    Episode 11

    Well I thought 2 things coming into this episode 1) That this would be the final ep of the season and 2) That it would focus on the final member of the Harem. Turns out I was wrong on both counts. It turns out we have at least 1 more episode to go and Megumi pretty much stole the show and showed why she is in fact the main heroine.

    Honestly I like watching Utaha interact with Aki a lot more. It’s full of laughs and overall so much more interesting. That said though, I really have to give it to Megumi this episode. From knowing just what Aki needed to her throw backs to past episodes things just felt right.

    Episode 12

    This honestly was somewhat of a let down for me. Especially after watching Episode 11 just a day ago this one came off as a bit rushed with them trying to wind up and condense what is basically about 2 or 3 episodes of content into 1 episode. Honestly, it might actually have been better if they ended with Megumi’s grand performance in the last ep.

  • March 27, 2015 at 5:25 pmtrunkmonkey

    Its over?? NOOOOOOO

  • March 27, 2015 at 7:44 pmnhelraios

    Truly a blessing.

    • March 27, 2015 at 7:57 pmPasserby

      You know what else is a blessing? A collection of unicorns.

      …I don’t know why I said that. I’m in a silly mood.

  • March 27, 2015 at 8:34 pmHochmeister

    After these episodes, I’m firmly convinced Megumi is a secret mastermind behind everything. And I’m totally OK with that!

  • March 27, 2015 at 9:33 pmanon

    Great episodes.
    After the episode 12 i was wishing that i will see a second season confirmation after the credits but oh well…

    The part that i was intrigued about about was what utaha said to megumi when she was going to pick up megumi from the maid cafe. about how Sawamura will turn megumi’s life into a “living hell” (translation courtesy of a horrible organization).

    At first i just chuckled thinking more of it as a joke, but at the last part of the episode it when eriri called megumi by her name for the first time she remembered what utaha said about getting too friendly with her.

    It gives me the impresion that megumi and eriri will be last ones standing at the end

    • March 27, 2015 at 9:35 pmanon

      *when megumi was going to pick up eriri from the maid cafe

    • March 27, 2015 at 10:26 pmPasserby

      The way I interpreted those scenes, and I could well be wrong, is that Utaha recognises Megumi as the biggest threat, but Eriri has not. So Eriri right now sees Megumi primarily as a friend; when she becomes the enemy then it may get awkward.

  • March 27, 2015 at 10:24 pmMuffle

    As posted weeks ago, http://randomc.net/2015/02/06/saenai-heroine-no-sodatekata-04/comment-page-1/#comment-1703494

    Megumi Kato planned everything too well, as she only thinks of Utaha as the only threat from winning Tomoya’s heart.

  • March 27, 2015 at 11:53 pmMakise Kuristina

    I still say that Kato is a very dangerous character. She can cause the other girls to self destruct by not doing anything

  • March 28, 2015 at 1:08 amHalfDemonInuyasha

  • March 28, 2015 at 10:38 ams_w

    Megumi was the perfect heroine because she was the only one who was a normal person being… normal.

    Despite some “Plot by deus-ex-machina” moments, it was entertaining. I’ll have to check out the LNs sometime. (Ah crap! They got me!)

  • March 28, 2015 at 1:30 pmKeima

    With her being deredere to Kato, now I can finally say that this series heroines are all best girl. Megumi, Michiru, Utaha and Eriri are all adorable.

  • March 28, 2015 at 6:29 pmLeilai

    So what does every one think about Tomoya? I honestly don’t know if he’s aware of all the girls’ crushes on him or not. He’s aware enough that he apologizes if he inadvertently gets too close to someone. But, a couple of episodes ago, he honestly didn’t think that Michiru’s friends would ever go for someone like him in a goukon and he was honestly surprised when Michiru hinted that the girls were just in the circle because of their interest in him.

    He definitely seems to prefer Kato to all the other girls though. He was definitely jealous when he saw Kato with her cousin. He was really flustered at the idea of a date with her. I think that may be the reason why Kato seems to be less jealous than the other girls because she’s confident enough of Tomoya’s interest in her. Unlike the other girls, since she doesn’t make obvious moves on Tomoya, she’s never been rejected by Tomoya. When she does her passive aggressive moves on him, he’s clearly flustered. But I don’t know if he even realizes it though. He couldn’t even explain why Kato was so important to the circle.

    • March 28, 2015 at 8:35 pmPasserby

      At some point, Tomoya will need to separate the Megumi in his head, who is his ‘main heroine’, with the real Megumi, who is a person. Right now Tomoya is still a rather confused young man on all fronts.

  • March 29, 2015 at 12:08 amNitro

    Practically fanboyed when i saw that they managed to put MOGRA in the anime, of all places. It is practically the holy grail of otaku music lover culture. What I’d give to attend one of its J-core evenings…

  • March 29, 2015 at 8:42 amdark

    kato was plain from start to the end
    i dont like utaha at first but she got better
    mitchi = pure fanservice
    well i don´t like eriri act but she still my best girl,and she look better without twintails

  • March 29, 2015 at 2:04 pmjust fun

    The last three episodes were unfortunately pretty disappointing for me. The interaction of Megumi and Tomoya was fine, but apart from that I missed the main point of the anime – playing out a harem show while making fun of the genre at the same time. This theme was spread out in a pretty non-subtle way in the first episode 00 and continued during the rest of the show in a nice play with the usual style and tropes of the genre. But this was totally dropped in the last quarter of the show for excessive fanservice and some repetitive jokes about Eririn’s lost character role.

    The jokes and the stupidity of the show were hillarious for most of the time. But the ending took the usual premises way to serious and was just some plot surprise about Michiru’s friends and the x-th performance of some cute girls’ band. No jokes about this trope, no surprise with the usual routine. Wasted potential.

    • March 29, 2015 at 7:23 pmPasserby

      To note: Both Utaha’s and Eriri’s character arcs were also played straight, even if taken a bit further than usual. I don’t think Saekano ever wanted to sacrifice its core story for the sake of parody. If it makes you feel better, the twist in Michiru’s arc can be the ‘you were otaku all along!’ angle.

      The thing is, Michiru’s arc is also, in large part, Megumi’s story as well. If you weren’t receptive to that then you may miss out on a lot.

      • March 30, 2015 at 3:13 amjust fun

        The early morning scenes between Megumi and Tomoya calling each other and meeting in the cafe were of a new quality in their relationship, but I would not call them “Megumi’s story” – she had a marking presence in all arcs and was subtly shown as an important character to the group as well as to the main character.
        I did not mind Saekano playing out the usual female character routes and usual tropes – the show made pretty much clear in episode 00 that it is a harem show with everything that belongs to it. But at the same time it was poking fun at the genre in a great way without being a parody – and these great jokes were missing in the last quarter and instead we got repetive fanservice.
        BTW: Thanks for covering the show, I would have missed it if not for your weekly articles.

      • March 30, 2015 at 9:01 amPasserby

        I suppose how much the last arc worked for you, humour included, is going to be subjective. I would contend though, that Megumi is very much a driving force in that arc. She’s the one who put the idea that Michiru has been writing anime-pop into Tomoya’s head, and the one who drags the other two girls to Michiru’s concert. That’s awfully active for Megumi.

  • March 29, 2015 at 10:07 pmsupercanon

    Why did Tomoya’s hair becomes white for some time?

    • March 29, 2015 at 10:53 pmPasserby

      Comedy. It’s a gag based on the belief that shock and stress makes your hair turn white.

  • August 20, 2015 at 4:57 amJust Passing By

    If Tomoya were to date Megumi, would her personality remains as the “flat girl” or the “main heroine”? I wonder.