「すれ違いのデートイベント」 (Surechigai no Dētoibento)
“The Date Event of Crossing Paths”
This week we finally see the larval form of the galge that our protagonists intend to make, and it’s a doozy. The characters may be based on familiar faces, and the scenario starts with strange sense of deja vu, but the plot eventually pans out into something that could only have gestated in the diseased mind of Kasumigaoka Utaha, the world’s first typing chipmunk. I was expecting the cozy romance story to have a twist, if only because I didn’t trust Utaha to be able to resist sabotaging the Tomoya x Megumi ship by proxy, but the surprise reveal and the end result were so hilariously stupid that I couldn’t help but love it. This is what Air would have been like if Maeda Jun wrote it while incredibly hungover. This is how Saekano becomes Saikano. I’d watch it. Or read it. Whatever.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel about crazy apocalyptic melodrama), director Aki Tomoya is not entirely satisfied with the first draft, for ill-defined reasons. One piece of advice I can give (and am personally bad at following) about creating anything: you need to keep stepping over the bodies. No, I don’t mean that you need to keep murdering people, I mean that you need to keeping moving forward. Your original concept is not going to survive, and your first drafts are going to burn. You’ve got to accept the casualties in the creative process and maintain momentum. The alternative is eternal development hell, and no product but vaporware. I don’t really know what Tomoya’s looking for though, and I don’t think his crew does either. I’m not even sure that Tomoya himself, even now, has a clear what it is he wants to make.
Tomoya did seem to have a bit of an epiphany moment while on his ‘date’ with Megumi (a date which, surprisingly, the other girls reacted to relatively not horrifically). As is natural in Saekano, Megumi ultimately teaches Tomoya some lesson about something, but what Tomoya actually learns is still not entirely clear. Perhaps his camaraderie with Megumi ignited his team spirit. Perhaps the chemistry they built was inspirational. Perhaps he just wanted more Comiket (which, let’s be honest, is its own kind of war zone as well). Whatever it was, I am glad that the nominal first date between our main leads did not completely bomb, and that Tomoya was able to employ his otaku spirit positively. At its core, being a geek is not about 2D obsessions or awkward antisocial behaviour; it’s about taking certain things very seriously, even if that thing is optimising your shopping (shopping otaku: you heard it here first). What makes Megumi such a strong foil for Tomoya is that she’s not an otaku, because she doesn’t take anything seriously. However, that doesn’t mean she disrespects your passions either. Call her ‘flat’ if you wish, but I prefer to refer to her as ‘balanced’. And, sure, Eriri may be right in saying that everyone has a secret side to them, but that side could also be mundane as well. Megumi just has no capacity for drama, but being subtle is not a bad thing. And it’s not like she doesn’t try.
Looking ahead, looking back ~ past lives
There’s lots of little flashbacks this week (no, not these ones, though I do appreciate the juxtaposition), hinting more at some of our characters pasts and their history with Tomoya. It seems the focus will remain on Utaha for now, and perhaps we’ll soon learn the reason for her emphasis on Tomoya’s ethics. Or perhaps, in keeping with Utaha’s scripts, Earth is invaded by aliens or something, and Saekano does a genre back-flip. That may be a bit too recursive even for Saekano, though it would certainly amuse me. Maybe I’m too easily amused.
Full-length images: 15.