「予算と納期と新展開」 (Yosan to Nōki to Shin Tenkai)
“Budget, Deadline, and New Development”
Development of Tomoya’s dream game finally starts this episode, but at least half of it can be considered a character episode for Kasumigaoka Utaha, pen name Kasumi Utako. We already know that she’s a published author, but behind the glamour of her genius creative talent is still a mortal who has to deal with corporate publishers and lose sleep because of writer’s block. She’s also the kind of writer who has nothing but disdain for the unwashed masses she writes for, which is not all too surprising considering her personality. More surprising is that the novels she writes are of the incredibly sappy romance variety, though perhaps not actually that surprising considering her persistent plays for Tomoya’s attention. In the end, Utaha just wants love, though she’s perhaps more aggressive in its pursuit than the star-crossed heroines of her novels.
So there’s plenty of Utaha-senpai for everyone this week—from crying Utaha to sleeping Utaha to blushing Utaha—and we learn a bit more about her background with Tomoya (but not why she calls him Ethics-kun) and establish some motivation for her to join the coterie. I do wonder how much she actually believes in the project, or whether she’s just looking for leverage with Tomoya. She’s even willing to throw her own money at it; she understands well what fuels the creative machine. That said, if Tomoya really is the king nerd that he’s supposed to be then he could probably crowd-source that funding. Or maybe that’s not a widespread practice in Japan. In any case, Tomoya remains the sole financier (which is how you retain creative control over your work; by retaining control of the purse-strings).
I know I should be glad that Tomoya has finally gotten his project off the ground, but I’m still not sure it’s entirely healthy for him. By the way he overreacts just to seeing Megumi with her cousin, it seems that he still has a very blurred view of reality. He still doesn’t see Megumi as a person so much as a character, and it was a bit painful watching him rave like a madman about Megumi having the gall to have a life that does not revolve around his. In a less self-aware anime I’d just put down Tomoya’s self-centred delusions as an off-note Quirky Character Trait, but for Saekano I think it’s deliberately poking at the sociopathic implications that the kind of dating sim Tomoya wants to make often contain. At least, Megumi calls Tomoya out on his mad ways. Yet she still manages to entertain his selfishness in her own way.
So, next week, Megumi and Tomoya go on totally-not-a-date. More interaction between the two is good, because that’s where Tomoya gets his character growth. And, of course, I want to see more of Megumi’s nuances. She called Utaha’s novels tearjerkers, which implies she’s capable of tears, right? Megumi, with an emotional range? That’s madness, too.