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Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata ♭ – 11 (END) »« Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata ♭ – 09

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata ♭ – 10

「そして竜虎は神に挑まん」 (Soshite Ryuuko wa Kami ni Idoman)
“And the Rivals Will Challenge God”

Usually, in the penultimate episode of an anime, I expect the show to pull back a bit an give a holistic look at the narrative in preparation for the grand finale. What Saekano does for most of this episode, though, is drill even deeper, giving Utaha and Eriri some private time to sort out their personal issues by themselves. And now that I’ve watched it, I’m glad they did it. A lot of anime, and light novel adaptations in particular, tend to end up being very ‘protagonist-centric’. It’s an understandable why this happens, because the protagonist is the protagonist, after all, and especially with a first-person narrator the perspective is rather fixed. But the protagonist-centricity means we sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture, and the rest of the cast feel less fleshed when they’re always a part of the protagonist’s orbit. Remember episode 04 of the first season? When Tomoya got irrationally upset that Megumi was going shopping with her cousin, that she she dared to have his life that didn’t revolve around him? Remember how bad that looked? It’s a similar sort of critique.

So it is refreshing to see, in this harem comedy, two of the secondary cast just having some time to themselves. They talk to each other, not just to the protagonist. And they talk about things other than the protagonist. They talk about their own feelings about their own issues and what they themselves are doing about. Sure, it’s still related to the protagonist, and still consequential to the main narrative, but it’s Eriri and Utaha’s own story, and the fact that they get time to tell it gives them the sort of depth a lot of secondary characters may not enjoy. It’s a big part of what makes characters feel human, that they have their own lives and their own stories instead of just being accessories of the central plot.

The other interesting thing that comes out of this episode is that Eriri basically answers the dramatic question of this arc herself (with judicious prodding by Utaha, of course). Not input from the protagonist, no last, tearful bid to make her stay. Could you imagine Saekano doing that if it actually was a dating sim? No, that would be completely unacceptable. It’s strange that I’m trying to make this independence sound so thrilling when it really should be the storytelling norm but, yeah, Eriri just sits down, paints much too fast, and has her epiphany all by herself. Everything we’ve talked about in previous episodes, about her weak ego, about her need for drive, about her ability to draw being tied to winning Tomoya’s approval, Eriri realises herself. It’s also what ultimately brings Eriri and Utaha together, because Eriri’s story is, too, a tragedy. Of course she wants to be Tomoya’s ‘number one’. Of course she wnats Tomoya to be nice to her, to cherish her, to just accept her regardless of whatever. But in such circumstances, she can’t draw. And if she can’t draw, on what basis can she say she’s ‘won’ anything? What choice does she have? She has to leave Cherry Blessing.

No, I think we can safely say that they’re not coming back. The decision has been made. They’re gone. But it doesn’t mean that one side’s philosophy has been vindicated, or that the other’s has been crushed. Tomoya’s not ‘wrong’ for wanting to just make a game with his friends. He freely admitted, when he drafted the proposal, that it wouldn’t have been a ‘great’ game, but it would have been a good game, and everyone would have been happy with the achievement. On the other hand, Akane may get results, but hers should not be the only path. She’s simply a shark; if she stops moving forward, she will die. We should appreciate her ability as a ruthless predator, but great whites swim alone. Even Iori quits rouge en rouge. And hey, maybe he and his sister will join Cherry Blessing instead. As long as Tomoya continues making games, he’ll have a chance to make one with Eriri and Utaha again.

I say all that, but I still feel a bit melancholic after this episode. In a good way, but still. Hopefully, Megumi will make it all better in our finale. Doesn’t she always?

June 16, 2017 at 7:24 am
41 comments »
  • June 16, 2017 at 7:56 amAex

    Well, even though it was more-or-less always going this way, I can’t say I’m thrilled that Megumi basically wins by default. Let’s hope next episode gives her the fireworks-esque finale she deserves at this point.

    Oh, and some closure for Tomoya while they’re at it.

    • June 16, 2017 at 8:59 pmPasserby

      But really, Megumi ‘won’ a long time ago. It’s more a matter of when the prize will realise that.

    • June 16, 2017 at 11:15 pmsonicsenryaku

      Yea im with passerby on this one. Then again if “by default” you mean that it was obvious that she was the main girl right out the gate then you would be correct…but then again that’s probably part of the show’s meta. Of course, i know you’re referring to the fact that it seems that utaha and eriri are just walking out of the competition, leaving megumi the only person possible to win the prize. But again, Megumi had always won; she had won since the series started; everything else was just a build-up to this point

      • June 17, 2017 at 5:57 amAex

        @Passerby and sonicsenryaku

        Right, that is what I meant, but I just think that the journey here deserved more than everyone but the main girl basically just saying “kbye” and walking off without another word. I wasn’t expecting a fight, just something to not reduce the end pair to “well, it just happened this way” at the last minute. Because yes, despite the sexy interruptions they’ve been OTP for a long while and the show should’ve kept that feeling going instead of sizzling out regarding the two that started this whole thing.

        IDK, maybe everything isn’t as done as it seems and Tomoya will surprise me.

      • June 17, 2017 at 7:13 pmPasserby

        @Aex
        Megumi didn’t win because it just happened this way. Surely, Megumi earned her victory. And both Utaha and Eriri both had their big moments when they realised they couldn’t win—Eriri in this episode and Utaha at the end of her own arc, when Tomoya wouldn’t choose Ruri. If anything, their decision to join the Fields Chronicle project is not about their ‘loss’. They have their own lives and their own aspirations and their own careers beyond, though not completely divorced from, the sphere of the protagonist. They’re people, they move forward.

      • June 17, 2017 at 8:22 pmKaleRylan

        While you have a point, you’re also sort of side-stepping a fact of storytelling; they’re not people. They’re characters. In real life, sometimes stuff just happens for no reason. It happens ‘by default.’ In a story, if not done well, that isn’t satisfying at all. In life, that’s just life, because it doesn’t exist to satisfy us. In stories, that depends on how its handled.

        I’m not taking a side, just pointing out that giving secondary characters their own objectives can be good writing, or it can make the story lack a cohesive conclusion.

      • June 17, 2017 at 9:28 pmPasserby

        @KaleRylan
        I’m not sure if you’re overestimating or underestimating people, but I think we should definitely treat characters as people. Even Saekano is not so meta as to go down the ‘they are all just puppets on a stage, their play is meaningless, there is nothing to life but absurdity’ route. Sure, in life plenty of things happen that we cannot explain, but people always do things for a reason. Sure, they may be stupid reason, or reasons we ourselves do not understand, but reasons nonetheless. That’s why we empathise with characters, because they’re human and they do human things. Megumi’s ‘victory’, such as it were, may have been determined long ago, but it is the product of human actions and reactions. It isn’t arbitrary.

      • June 18, 2017 at 6:38 amAex

        @Passerby

        That’s exactly the thing. Megumi 100% earned everything, she’s been the winner since ep2 of last season, but it just feels like this stupid poaching arc cheapened it. Utaha is one thing, she had her moment, it still felt bad but maybe she was already gone. But Eriri… I don’t see the growth in her that everyone else apparently does. It didn’t feel like she moved on, just ran away and switched from latching herself from Tomoya to Akane. I wanted to see her really get over him, to see there was more out there, not jump ship because she’s a masochist and needs to be pissed off to draw.

        It’s like when someone is winning a competition hands-down but instead of going to the end the opponent drops out with an excuse. You know who really won, you know the other side just ran away, but it’s never as satisfying as if they’d just bowed out gracefully. For me Akane’s brow-beating and the girls falling for it took a lot of the grace out of Megumi’s victory. The girls had matured enough, they didn’t need someone else to force them out the door.

      • June 18, 2017 at 11:48 amPasserby

        @Aex
        We read the characters differently, I suppose. For one, I certainly don’t see it as Eriri leaving because she needs to be pissed off to draw. I talk about it in the post as well, but I think that this is the episode where Eriri realises she can’t win, caught as she is in a sort of Catch-22. Eriri obviously doesn’t like strict deadlines, or exacting demands, or harsh rules. She would rather Tomoya be nice to her, and care about her, and go easy on her, and indeed she enjoyed that plenty for a while. But she realises that just means Tomoya wasn’t asking for her best, and for her ‘victory’ was always predicated on being Tomoya’s ‘number one’. Tomoya the loving childhood friend and Tomoya the demanding producer are incompatible. And so she leaves.

    • June 17, 2017 at 10:44 amBear

      I’m not so sure she’s won. Tomoya may just reject her implied confession because he’s only interested in his 2D fantasy about her and not in the 3D RL one. He’s blatantly ignored or been too dense to realize how the other girls felt about him so why would he treat Megumi any differently.

      • June 17, 2017 at 12:28 pmAex

        That’s why I said I’m not happy it’s turned into a win-by-default, since even if they aren’t official by the end of the series, barring an outright and scathing rejection on Tomoya’s part she’s the only girl left standing. We can only assume that with no more competition she’ll rope him at some point unless something happens before the credits roll.

  • June 16, 2017 at 8:37 amMarty

    Eriri’s comments about Tomoya not giving her the drive to draw better and go beyond her limits made it seem like some hardcore NTR-hentai storyline. I had to chuckle for a moment.

  • June 16, 2017 at 8:41 amaprub

    • June 16, 2017 at 8:53 amseltzermx

      As much as I love Kayo, Utaha will always be the best ero girl.

    • June 16, 2017 at 5:47 pmSouma

      Just…a little…bit..more.., agh! Damn I can’t see!

  • June 16, 2017 at 9:53 amAnonymous

    I think the psychology playing here is a fear of being proven.
    By doing something to prove yourself, you prove either your competency or uselessness. Doing nothing means no risk of being useless so ppl tend to be procrastinated. Here, after being insulted by Akane, Eriri realized her lackluster then she did not have to worry about the disadvantage of knowing her incompetency anymore. There is only one thing to do:confront her profession head-on and no turning back. Ofc, insults are bad, but necessary evil at the certain time in your profession if you want to break your own limitation. Kudos to the author for understanding the “stump” here

    • June 16, 2017 at 8:52 pmPasserby

      I’m sure that’s part of it, but it’s interesting to recall that just a while ago Eriri was desperate to be proven, back when she was working for Cherry Blessing and produced the last pictures for the final route of their game. After that she think she’s ‘done it’ and that she can never draw like that ever again. But Akane would demand hat quality of her all the time.

      • June 17, 2017 at 7:38 amAnonymous

        If you recall S1, Tomoya said to her face her work was inferior to Iori’s sister.
        I believe this is the main reason why she wanted to be proved with the final route of the game.
        When Eriri asked Tomoya after her work was done “Am I better than her now”, it was pretty obvious Tomoya’s “unintentional” insult (though it was actually frank comments) drove her to break through her limit to prove herself.
        In the first place, it was not praise after work that drove her to do her best but psychology that I already explained. What motivated her either time were insults/disapproval not the praises. Different ppl has different approach though, and negativity seems to work in Eriri’s case.

      • June 17, 2017 at 6:54 pmPasserby

        @Anonymous
        I think there’s a difference between being motivated by the insult and taking action because of the insult. Eriri’s motivation is clear. We’ve seen her childhood, we’ve seen her sentimental nature, and we’ve heard her talk about retaking her place as Tomoya’s ‘number one’. It’s not that Tomoya ever says she’s not as good as Izumi. It’s that he didn’t show as much passion for Eriri’s work as he did for the upstart. When she was drawing for Cherry Blessing, she would have Tomoya expect the best of her, because that’s what being number one is about. Afterwards she thinks she’s won yada yada, but Akane’s insult was a wake up call. Eriri hadn’t won at all. If Tomoya would expect the best from her, and if she could not produce it, then she’s not the number one of anything.

    • June 17, 2017 at 6:37 amAex

      There are also plenty of people who feed on compliments and praise to improve cause they want more. Can’t say I love how how everyone’s acting like badgering is the only way to get results when it all depends on the person. Positive or negative. Feels kinda cheap that both Eriri and Utaha go for the negative when I personally think it’d made more sense if Eriri at least thrived on the positive. But since Tomoya can only do positive intentionally then of course they’d go for negative for the sake of drama…

  • June 16, 2017 at 4:09 pmGoukaRyuu

    I saw an interesting thought on Reddit and I have to agree. For the most part neither Tomoya or Akane or very good producers. Akane is a professional and it is a real job, yes, and she is also very good at lighting a fire under the butts of creative types, but she also eats up and spits out talent and is relentless, making enemies where ever she goes. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Tomoya. He makes friends and enjoys working with them. He’s laid back when it is needed but he will choose friendship over the deadline every time. Some one in the middle, able to be laid back when needed and a friend outside work but motivating and working relentlessly towards that deadline when needed would be the perfect producer. Tomoya was causing both their talents to stand still. While Akane isn’t a great producer either, she at least provides the motivation these two young talents need.

    • June 16, 2017 at 4:44 pmMaou

      Well more or less akane was someone alike Steve jobs, her personality is bad…but people have to admit she have a great vision, technical skill and the passion

      • June 16, 2017 at 8:48 pmPasserby

        I would agree. One may not like Job’s personality, or his methods, or his products, but one can’t deny Apple’s success.

  • June 16, 2017 at 8:31 pmMockman

    Well, I’m crushed. Pulverized even. A broken man. Katou cut her hair.

    I know she’s Japanese, but doesn’t she know that the song goes, “I almost cut my hair.” Katou-san is no longer the sneaky, long-haired witch. With an occasional ponytail. I’m crushed.

    http://randomc.net/image/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata%20-%2000%20-%2034.jpg

    • June 16, 2017 at 8:32 pmMockman

      • June 17, 2017 at 12:41 amBakapooru

        That’s the pic on my lock screen!

    • June 16, 2017 at 8:46 pmPasserby

      Around the circle goes, though. Megumi will reach the ponytail stage again one day. I believe.

      • June 16, 2017 at 9:10 pmMockman

        Alas, probably not this season however. And with the future so uncertain, she may get there only in my dreams. But having said that, I quite enjoy that she’s willing to change her hairstyle. It’s too rare in anime as far as I’m concerned, and makes the show more fun. To steal Kyon’s great line though, she looked so good it was criminal.

  • June 16, 2017 at 9:13 pmVelvet_Scarlantina

    • June 17, 2017 at 1:55 amPasserby

      Nah, I don’t think so. Megumi’s been trying to make Tomoya a better person this entire time. I think she’ll only accept Tomoya taking initiative himself.

    • June 17, 2017 at 9:29 amqwert

      I’m thinking less love confession and more a reminder of how all of this got started.

      As much as Tomoya enjoys working with Utaha and Eriri he didn’t start all of this because of them. He had a dream, inspiration gleamed on the day he looked up and saw Kato standing on that hilltop and I think what Kato is trying to do here is remind him that even if he loses his writer and artist he still has that dream.

  • June 16, 2017 at 9:17 pmVelvet_Scarlantina

    And this is by far the best resolution for our maidens that were not chosen by Tomoya

  • June 16, 2017 at 10:09 pmmetronome

    So basically, this episode shows you an example that the harder someone go at you, the greater the success you will achieve in the future? Nice, now parents will be able to justify beating their children to pulp for getting less than 90% in their school tests and exams by showing their children this episode….

    Can’t say I will wholeheartedly agree on this matter.

    • June 17, 2017 at 1:52 amPasserby

      Hmm, I don’t recall Saekano ever advocating child pulping. Extremism remains extreme.

  • June 16, 2017 at 11:08 pmaprub

    To tell you the truth I’m a little disappointed on the decision of Utaha and Eriri. It breaks my heart. But I’m willing to see on how the story will proceed, character development of Utaha, Eriri, Kato and Aki-kun.

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • June 17, 2017 at 12:46 amBakapooru

    Does anyone else here think Megumi is NOT asking Tomoya on a date? Instead, she’s just trying to cheer him up by acting out a typical harem scene? Isn’t her outfit the same one in season one where she played the part of a typical moe girl? I think we’re going to get an inconclusive ending like Hyouka.

    • June 17, 2017 at 1:53 amPasserby

      it’s Megumi, so it’s more or less implicit that there’s more to it than face value.

    • June 17, 2017 at 2:05 amSaburau

      There is always double, or even triple meaning in regards of Megumi. She is the main heroine of the story, the main heroine of the game AND the main heroine for Tomoya. Aside from the story aspect because of its “meta” nature, being the heroine of their game and being the “waifu” of Tomoya are basically inseparable, even for herself.

    • June 18, 2017 at 3:24 amDorali

      Entirely likely and in character for her to use this as an opportunity to cheer him up and keep him going. I don’t think she would have asked him out romantically out of the blue like that. As the others have said, Megumi always has her reasons and she never acts forwardly without a secondary motive.

      The outfit isn’t the same one from the moe girl act in season 1, but is the outfit she wore when Tomoya first saw her on the hill. Curiously, she isn’t using the frilly “heroine” outfit Eriri designed for her after that.

  • June 18, 2017 at 9:50 amLeBlah

    I thought, given its quirky nature and meta aspect, the main girl wouldn’t win. But alas, I misread the show. That’s on me.

    Not every author can be as bold as a certain mangaka and have main girl lose.

  • June 19, 2017 at 9:45 amKiritsugu

    This episode gave me a “La La Land” vibe, the idea that, at least for Eriri, you may sometimes need to leave love behind if you want to move closer to your dreams of being an artist/creator. That’s Eriri greatest tragedy, the conclusion that for her to be what Tomoya wants her to be, she needs to leave him.

    Knowing that this is far from ending – according to my knowledge the anime covered up to vol 7, and there are at least 12 volumes – this feels just like a reshuffle, this ark is done, characters grew, so let’s move ahead to the second ark with some different circumstances.

    Anyone’s in on the plans for a third anime season, or should I pick the light novels in order to get some conclusion?

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