「フラグの立たない彼女」 (Furagu no tatanai kanojo)
“A Girlfriend Without a Raised Flag”

It’s entirely fitting that Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata starts by summarily dispatching the fourth wall. It just goes to show how much respect Saekano is going to have for that thing, even outside of Episode 00. I’m sure Saekano isn’t going to have many qualms about reaching through and waving at the audience whenever it feels like it.

Despite the opener, though, the rest of the episode is mostly played straight, perhaps because we’re still in the introductory phase. In particular, our titular heroine is in the spotlight (though still fading into the background and getting overshadowed) and receiving some development. Perhaps more importantly, she also gets some time to build chemistry with the male lead, which cements her role as Tomoya’s foil. This is probably for the purpose of flushing out all of Tomoya’s character flaws while we’re still at the second episode, and he sure does have a lot of those. The contrast between Megumi and Tomoya is palpable. Megumi speaks in tropes, but has a very grounded view of the world, while Tomoya does not want to describe the real world in tropes, but has a very unrealistic view of it. It’s why Tomoya still defines himself by his unappealing otaku archetype even with two very eligible females fighting over him, while Megumi maintains a more objective outlook.

Megumi’s role viz a viz the rest of the cast is why I would never actually call her ‘boring’, because within the context of the story she actually has many subtleties that make her interesting. For example, she actually resents being called things like ‘boring’ or ‘bland’, and really, what is wrong with being bland? The only reason Tomoya cares is because he still feels the urge to stereotype her. It’s so much easier to just exaggerate attributes instead of looking for a compelling personality. Megumi is, in a way, a writer’s challenge. She is of no overt archetype, nor does she suffer from any dramatic circumstances; she just is. While Tomoya may be trying hard to write Megumi into a role, but it is much harder, and perhaps more rewarding, to simply write a person.

Games as art

First, I think trying to make Megumi finish all of CLANNAD in one sitting is entirely unreasonable. It’s irresponsible. People will die. Second, nothing deflates a gaming experience like having a backseat driver. Tomoya’s like that one guy who just wouldn’t stop talking to the screen when you go to the movies. Getting someone to play that game you love is already a victory. The important followup is to then shut up.

You can’t just tell people what they’re suppose to feel; you have to let them walk into that experience themselves. More often, trying to force an emotion onto another, telling them that they’re suppose to be happy or supposed to be sad, just makes them contrary. In that way, storytelling is like setting a trap. The storyteller uses writing techniques to lay a series of bait that the audience follows towards an ultimate payoff, but must never let them see the breadcrumbs that lure them. Nobody wants to see the gears at work behind the curtains, just the effect.

And so our first important lesson for Tomoya is: actually work out what you’re going to be presenting to your players, not just get distracted by how cool your hypothetical product is going to be. He’s learning! Yay, character development! He’ll need to do a lot of that before the end. For now, I guess next week he needs to decide on a hook, and finally get his game project into gear. Stuff! They get done! Maybe. Well, Saekano is as much a slice-of-life as anything. Maybe nothing will happen and the plot remains flat. And that would probably be the point.


Full-length images: 23.


  1. If you’re going to start someone on VNs, CLANNAD really is the best choice. I don’t think it is actually possible to complete all the routes and After Story in a single night, though… there’s not enough hours and too many feels.

  2. https://randomc.net/image/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2021.jpg
    More LN advertisements. Seitokai no Ichizon in the bottom left. Middle shelf is Date a Live, Kuusen Madoushi Kouhousei no Kyoukan(which will get an anime next season) and HSDxD. Bottom has Amagi and the very long title that is Omae wo Otaku ni Shiteyaru kara, Ore wo Riajuu ni Shitekure!

    As much as I want to see these versions of Kato, the plain one we have now is irreplaceable. There’s something about her deadpan retorts that’s so endearing.

    Fun fact: the heroine in the game they were playing was voiced by Sakura Tange. The heroine also looks like Yokkyun from TWGOK, who is also voiced by the same seiyuu.

    1. And thus, the connections between this and TWGOK continue to appear.

      Man, it’s probably because I finished watching it recently, but I can’t stop seeing the similarities between the two. Although I’ll say I’m liking this a bit more.

  3. People are saying the show is boring so far and I’m literally cackling throughout the episode.
    I love how blatantly straightforward the show is so far cause the character dynamics are so incredibly opposite that it’s hilarious.
    Can’t wait till music girl is added into the mix

  4. https://randomc.net/image/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata/Saenai%20Heroine%20no%20Sodatekata%20-%2002%20-%20Large%2005.jpg
    LOL I was so attracted to the clumsy waitress in the background I could barely follow MC-heroine conversation…
    And the very active exchange of kicks under the table while mainataining polite but caustic exchange of verbal jabs above…
    Also heroine is either totally clueless or perfect judge of character – she stayed the night at the home of boy she just got to know (i dont count previous period of invisible classmate). Either she isn’t aware of risks involved or she is supremely able to read his character and KNOWS any 3d person is safe with him. And all this gets lampshaded immediately by characters themselves!
    Finaly, im calling BS on the MC himself. No guy no matter how much 2d-only otaku would have rejected both of those 2 beauties. I can understand if they rejected him, but they actually fight for him! Which is another thing that is so much out of otaku fantasy land…

    1. Unfortunately, he seems to have the same problem that I have. I know that these people are hitting on us, I’ll still get along and flirt at them or fire back. The problem is that I don’t actually accept that the person is hitting on me, or that they are interested. I’m terrified if I take that next step, I won’t know what to do. Which is exactly like this.

      Also, probably a trauma in there as well I’m betting.

  5. Soo… Kato actually lent out her hat to her cousin for a day? The girl on the slope that Tomoya saw turning out to actually be that cousin, rather than Kato is way too damn obvious, right?

    Tsugumi Henduluin
    1. White Album 2 that is. The author is a big fan of the original White Album which was written by one of the game company Leaf/Aquaplus’ employee. And he proposed to the company that he should write a new story for the WA2, inspired by the original

  6. I feel this show just gave the audience the middle finger xD
    “The greatest weapon a creator has is the short attention span of the audience” here’s an answer to people who always points out the cliche moment in an anime.

    Blahto Blahtoto
  7. One thing’s for sure – Saenai isn’t going around in circles to broadcast whatever messages they intend to.

    I’m actually kind of surprised at the reaction here so far. The entire process feels a little stagnant – not many parts in which the tension rises for particularly exciting scenes and such, but I still enjoyed it somehow. Maybe that’s because it’s a slice of life show, except it lacks the overt wackiness of similar vehicles like Sakurasou and Kawaisou, but several scenes there did bring out a few chuckles from me in public.

    Perhaps one thing is really with how interesting the two characters in focus this episode are. For all her blandness and lack of reaction, Kato caught my attention the most and I’m loving that irony. I’m also glad to see Tomoya learning something in the episode itself, though not quite sure how that will be manifested later on in the story, but it still looks promising that he might change and discover or re-discover something about himself.

    I’ve barely skimmed the LNs too, but it could be safe to say the anime isn’t exactly following the sequence of source material, and that itself is an intriguing thing to look forward to as to how they arranged the scenes and such to make it a coherent story. Couple of adaptations have done it successfully, and I hope Saenai does that well too.

  8. Man, Megumi is also growing to be one of my favourite characters this season. I love her deadpan snarkiness, and the way she basically reacts like your average cynical viewer would. I love how she’s not able to be placed in a typical category either – she speaks in soft tones, but isn’t emotionless, she’s snarky but not overly so, she’s cute but not overly moe and she manages to be normal and interesting but avoids being bland. She also plays off really well from the rest of our more outrageous nerd trio as well given that she’s in many ways their complete opposite.

    The show’s dialogue-heavy style also gives me Monogatari-flashbacks, which is always a good thing. It makes me laugh, I want to see how far the deconstruction of certain tropes goes (or at least, to see how much commentary it’s going to give) and it’s quite pleasant to look at. Yeah, this is a keeper as far as I’m concerned, and one of the few surprises this season so far.

  9. Kato is “star of the show” material if this episode’s anything to go by but this is an interesting take on things. What I mean is that Kato’s “best girl” status is the credit of the other characters as much as hers – perhaps even more, but we’ll see.


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