OP Sequence

OP: 「君色シグナル」 (Kimiiro Signal) by 春奈るな (Haruna Luna)

「愛と青春のサービス回」 (Ai to Seishun no Sābisu Kai)
“Fan-Service of Love and Youth”

From the get go, Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Saekano) seeks to define itself. It starts with a critique of shallow harem anime that are rife with fan-service to bait viewers. Delivered by Saekano‘s own haremettes. While they’re lounging naked in a bathing scene.

Yeah, I see what they did there.

It’s refreshing to see an anime be so entirely blasé about what it is doing and how it is doing it. Saekano even takes a jab at its own exposition, which is quite the relevant topic considering how many light novels and anime are in such a hurry to develop its world with huge infodumps. To Saekano‘s credit, once it stopped prodding at the fourth wall it managed to deliver its exposition rather organically. Starting from the middle as episode 00 was definitely the way to go, as Saekano has decided that its characters are the most important component and have decided to establish them first, without needing to worry about settings and conceits for now. Thus the plot temporarily jumps to a point where all of that are out of the way and the characters are free to just interact with each other, and by that interaction show off their quirks. Sawamura Eriri Spencer (Oonishi Saori) values style. Kasumigaoka Utaha (Kayano Ai) is her foil and values substance. Hyoudou Michiru (Yahagi Sayuri) doesn’t care. And Aki Tomoya (Matsuoka Yotshitsugu) is the kind of nerd that can’t stand people being wrong about anime on the internet in the onsen. Together, they fight crime! Or make games. Same thing.

The last character is actually supposed to be the titular heroine, Katou Megumi (Yasuno Kasuno), but it’s easy to miss her. Unlike the rest of the female cast who are generally being hyperactive while gunning for Tomoya’s pants, Megumi is an entirely passive player. She only comments, never acts. She only responds, never initiates. By most measures she’s a completely extraneous character in most scenes. Yet, because the rest of the haremettes are so, er, aggressive, Megumi’s passiveness stands out against them. That’s the other clever thing about starting in the middle; by having the entire cast already here and bouncing off each other, we get to see immediately the big picture of the show instead of having to wait for it come together piece by piece. And, curiously enough, even though Megumi makes no effort to pursue the harem lead, she still manages to produce some quiet chemistry with Tomoya in the final scene. Maybe Saekano is trying to say something about itself? I believe that Saekano is always trying to say something about itself, but we’ll have to wait to see exactly what.

Looking ahead… to episode 01

While not exactly the most brilliant episode 00 I’ve ever seen (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu is hard to dethrone), Saekano still sported one of the smarter anime introductions in recent memory. In an industry that tends to operate on very tried and safe formulae, it’s amusing to see an anime point them out and just sort of giggle at them. I don’t think Saekano is going to be fully deconstructive; one of the side effects of over-deconstruction, and postmodernism in general, is that it naturally precludes a meaningful narrative. I think Saekano still wants one of those, even if there weren’t many signs of it this episode. I’m actually mostly fine with a fan-service romp for the introductory episode, if only because they were so conscious about how they were using it. Since they were mainly just establishing exposition, it worked fine to simply distract viewers and hold their attention. I discussed the same technique in Tsukimonogatari, and it is one of the more overt tools for keeping viewers in their seats long enough for you to feed them bits of information in the background.

It’s interesting that Saekano chose to start with a 00 fan-service special, and an onsen episode at that. For most anime series, the onsen episode is the crowning jewel of fan-service, the Everest peak of bared flesh and teased titillation. Saekano chooses to play that trump first, which makes me think that fan-service isn’t the most powerful card it has in its hand. I suspect that Eriri Spencer has already reached through the fourth wall and revealed the progression of Saekano in the opening scene—it will an unassuming harem comedy that eventually builds into something meaningful. Not that Saekano has quite the looks of the beautiful, god-tier anime she describes—you’ll notice all the CGI, for example—but I think that Saekano is far too self-aware to let comments like that casually slip by. There’s certainly a level of wit here that I expect to be played with more. I’ll intro some other shows before I decide whether I want to cover Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata full time, but it’s certainly captured my interest and is at the moment a strong contender.


Full-length images: 13, 17, 30, 35, 36, ED 06.


ED Sequence

ED: 「カラフル。」 (Colourful.) by 沢井美空 (Sawai Miku)


  1. You are going to receive so much hate in the blogosphere for this review 🙂

    (And just for the record, I fully agree with everything you wrote)

    For the viewer candidates: The normal episodes will definitely have much fewer fanservice. This is a lighthearted harem-romcom about some exceptionally talented high schoolers in their respective fields of expertise, who cooperate to create a dating game. This is no WA2 heavy drama, this is something lighthearted and fun. So, I recommend to adjust the expectations.

    I liked the start and will certainly stay on board.

  2. The original author Maruto Fumiaki is the latest big name hentai game writer who defected to anime industry, possibly the last big fish. He had a few game titles which got anime versions previously, but he himself was never involved in the production. He had always been outside looking in.
    Now that he takes charge of this show as the main script writer, I can say this show is going to be very interesting one, never boring. He is pretty good.

  3. That traumatic childhood friend is always lost in harem anime trope made me sympathize with Eriri a lot… usually in harem anime these type of girl remain unaware till the last moment but it seems she’s self conscious about the fact… T.T

  4. Megumi kinda reminds me of Akari in Yuru Yuri by the fact that she lacks presence and by the fact that the doujin’s goal is to make her look like a main heroine. Anyways good episode set aside the fanservice, the way they break the 4th wall is too funny especially the irony on the hot spring scene. Nice animation and the OP is good (well what do I expect it’s Haruna Luna).Series picked up.
    Random thoughts:
    The way they serve fanservice just for a table tennis match oh please.
    I dunno but I preferred the long hair Megumi than the short haired one given the fact that this was 6 months after the episode one timeline. Anyways Team Megumi here

  5. Man, really thought that blonde childhood friend was the main female lead.
    I don’t usually root for the main female lead (aka the favorite) ; I 95% of the time root for the underdog, but Megumi, the main female lead (who didn’t even seem like one for the first 20 minutes of the anime) just kinda grew on me, as she was just unique as a character and is completely different from the other 3 girls

    1. And that’s one of the funny things and jokes about it from what I see. The other 3 girls are so outstanding. Yet Megumi is considered so bland. But because they are grouped together, all of them stand out and that includes Megumi.

      Besides, I love her retorts. She does it so easily with a straight face and also very blunt. Go Megumi!

      Anyways, I’m an Utaha fan (but Eriri is really close). I just love teasing characters.

  6. It’s like they’re saying “Here’s the Onsen, here’s the fan service. We know what anime usually tries to do in a show. We’ll get back to basics next week”. I look forward to seeing how they got to this point.

  7. This show was pretty fun, to be honest. I liked how it doesn’t take itself that seriously (given at the digs at itself), the characters are pretty lively and the story’s got at least some potential. I’m also in the mood for a more normal harem-type-show, not something super-ecchi like Testament and whatnot (not that this didn’t have fanservice, lots of it, in fact, but it feels more tasteful somehow). The Monogatari similarities appealed to me as well – could always have more of that.

    So yeah, definite three-episode rule for this one. Let’s see what you’ve got up your sleeve, Saekano.

  8. If this episode turned out to be a scene from the VN that the main character is writing it’d be one of the greatest, most trolltastic opening episodes ever that could lead into a fantastic story about a VN author who had built up a fantastic mental image of the girls he used as inspiration for his story coming to terms with their real, normal personalities. As it is, it falls into an uncanny valley of lampooning cliche VN tropes while shamelessly using them at the same time. It’s too soon to tell if I’ll stick with this to the end, but it definitely has my attention.

    Looks like Michiru from Grisaia’s been reincarnated too.

    1. Looks like Michiru from Grisaia’s been reincarnated too.

      Going with how almost all the characters have the visible reddish eyelids ala Grisaia, it could even be in the same universe.

      *I know its just an artstyle, though it is the 2nd series I’ve come across with those red eyelids.

  9. See now, personally my favorite thing about Passerby’s favorite review is that, not once, did he put in the word noitaminA. Really feels like he gave the show a fair shot on it’s own merits instead of, “Mah precious noitaminA iz ruined!” I get where they’re coming from but, quite frankly, it’s pretty annoying. The fact that they’re deviating from the usual 11 episode format for this is probably going to piss those one’s off even more as well.

    Not that Saekano has quite the looks of the beautiful, god-tier anime she describes

    The anime might not, but the novels. Oh God, that novel art. Let’s just say that the Amazon Japan vol. 1 review section was a hilarious read for me because of all the people complaining that it was too hard to read and subsequent pointing out that these people bought it based on the art. Some shows have pointed out this fact that a lot of LN’s are sold simply because the art is good (usually the content is decent at best though) and it was great to see a similar situation for (kind of) the opposite reason.

    After reading the Koisuru Metronome manga, I kind of got the feeling, and this episode pretty much confirmed it, that Utaha is pretty much Maruto’s mouthpiece when it comes to writing. I’m not really sure if the story from Koisuru Metronome is adapted from the novels or an AU version (Eriri’s manga Egoisitic Lily was apart of the continuity, albeit slightly altered) but for the most part her challenges in it seem to reflect what Maruto probably went through when writing this. I don’t think anyone wants to be spoiled so I’ll just refrain from doing so until I know whether it will be shown or not. Much better to here it straight from the show itself than from some random guy on the internet.

    All in all, one of the things that stuck out to me is that Maruto seems like he’s having fun writing this and I’ve enjoyed majority of what I’ve seen so I’m in it for the long run.

    1. Well the book art is by Misaki Kurehito who is very, very good.
      The characters of last season’s Ushinawareta mirai wo motomete was also by Kurehito and they kind of botched it up. I’m glad they did a great job on Saenai.

      1. Yes, I believe I made a comment about this in the Fall season preview for Ushinawareta. I pretty much went in cause I wanted to see his/her (I think I heard it was a guy but that name’s pretty feminine) art adapted.

        I can honestly say though that I’d prefer the method Saekano used. Ushinawareta was close to Kurehito Misaki’s art, but only in the design aspect.

        If they aren’t going to go all the way with it, I’d honestly rather they not bother.

  10. Personally I’m getting tired of it seeming like every show is trying to become the next Monogatari and be all “witty” and “meta” with it’s lampshading on the harem genre. I will not be surprised if this turns into another one of those talky anime that tries to substitute actual character development and interesting scene direction with weird visuals, fanservice, and dialogue by otaku for otaku.

    John Hunt
    1. Aren’t we being a bit hyperbolic? Here on RandomC we’ve written about a good 10 shows for this season and, really, the only show that tries to be the next Monogatari is Tsukimonogatari. What a surprise.

      A show can try to be clever and still have ‘character development’ and ‘interesting scene direction’. Arguably, this entire first episode of Saekano was character development. There’s no need to be so pessimistic before even episode 01.

  11. i watched this and upon hearing tomo’s voice it was like…. O.O Kirito?! tomo looks just like kirito, even has the same voice .. only difference between the two is glasses.

  12. I can see why some people wouldn’t like this, but as someone who isn’t a fan of ecchi-harem anime, I really liked this ecchi-harem (or so it seems at first glance). I have a feeling the fanservice will be turned down after this prologue (I hope) but like Passerby, Saekano has captured my interest. Really looking forward to the next ep.

  13. I think the first episode’s gonna be a hit-and-miss for some viewers, but I personally enjoyed the blatant, in-the-face fanservice and interactions between the character.

    Should be safe to say that I won’t be taking this too seriously. Funnily enough, Utaha’s method of exposition was actually used for the first episode here. We didn’t get the info-dump method of character introductions like how Tomoya was doing and were simply shown who the characters are and how their personalities feel like, which is personally one of my favorite ways to read about or write an introduction – not giving readers or viewers the fish, but telling them its there and they need to fish it themselves.

    I usually pick up LNs before the anime adaptations come out and I’d admit not being terribly interested in the story for some reason, but the characters seem interesting enough with a different kind of story setup, so I’ll probably stick with this for a bit.

    Oh, and thanks for covering this Passerby. 🙂

      1. Okay, I lied. I was interested, then spatial and financial constraints told me otherwise. :p

        I suppose I can give a shot eventually since they aren’t that expensive anyway.

  14. Correct me if I’m I wrong, but I take it this is a character introduction episode?

    The comments here say “Bakemonogatari” and “weird visuals”, but I don’t see anything like that in the screenshots. I take it this isn’t Ef level weird in the art department then.

  15. My take is that the writer is a massive troll – intentionally surprising people with a fanservice-laden OVA-like premiere, which sets the bar of expectation incredibly low, but with just the right amount of self-awareness as a potential hook for the curious few. The pickier and harder-to-please crowd would disperse right after this premiere (they would be unlikely to buy the BDs to begin with given the subject matter), but the more mainstream crowd would likely stick around which arguably outnumbers the former. Then in the following episodes actually try to surprise the audience again with a half-decent story, while tuning the fanservice setting down a few notches inconspicuously (according to some LN readers, they over-drafted the fanservice credit line in this episode). I wouldn’t doubt Maruto’s writing ability if he tries, even if this is supposedly one of his lower rated stories.

    It’s almost like a Nigerian scam, where the email / letters were written atrociously, with the intention to weed out the more cautious type, and allow the easier preys to self-identify. Whether this strategy can convert to commercial success is debatable but I can totally see some thoughts put into trolling.

    For anyone either hoping for or wishing against a harem end, I encourage them to check out White Album 2, just don’t use that as a yardstick.

    1. It definitely feels like that Maruto is having a bit of fun with this one. He’s trying to have his cake and eat it too, trying to draw in two crowds at once. Saekano does the entire fan-service appeal this episode, but also more or less states, through its characters, what it is supposedly actually about. I don’t think Maruto is necessarily ‘trolling’, but he is winking pretty hard.

  16. The characters certainly have no qualms on nitpicking the little “irksome” things that are laden in contemporary anime series.

    In fact, I am looking forward to more self-deprecating jokes!



    One has S tendencies while the other has sharp deadpan comebacks…. Who to choose…

    Makise Kuristina
  17. I really loved how they animated the table tennis scenes, the physics and pace of the game was realistic for the most part. That showed great attention to detail and that gives me confidence in this series.

  18. Okay, gonna keep this simple, as if fitting for such shows:

    So basically, we’re in for fun times with otaku “Kirito-kun” & his harem. The fanservice seems pretty well-handled & the show seems to be self-aware at times, which is always a plus in my book. As with most of the harem,ecchi anime that do show some potential, the 1st episode was pretty fun and definitely deserving of at least a 3 ep rule. There’s always the risk of it getting boring & repetitive as it moves along tho’, but we’ll see.

    And oh yea, Utaha best girl.

    But more important, mr.Maruto Fumiaki. WHERE’S MY 2ND SEASON OF WHITE ALBUM 2? I’m starting to loose hope here.

  19. Megumi is the title character “Saenai Heroine” (“Boring” Heroine) here.

    It is precisely being unassuming that she is unburdened by the blatant character tropes of the other three girls (Utaha – the cool ojou-sama, Eriri – the chibi childhood friend, Michiru – the sporty cousin), that Megumi is able to calmly ooze confidence without even trying to. The harem war was over before it even started.

  20. Oh, goodie, a harem anime with a non-tsundere as the main heroine. I was afraid that tsundere-at-first-sight blondie would be the one to take the stage. Especially since this show reminds me of Nisekoi a lot.

    (Team Kato here; she reminds me of Onodera a bit…)

    Red HeartGold ZX

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