「二人の夜の選択肢」 (Futari no Yoru no Sentakushi)
“Deciding the Night for Two”
Another Utaha episode this week, and it’s inevitable that when Kasumi-sensei is involved things get at least two degrees raunchier. We haven’t actually had all that much overt fanservice since the 00 special, but we can always count on the good old shower scene to bare some flesh (no matter your orientation). Since this is a rather introspective episode I guess the staff decided that the audience wouldn’t make it through without sufficient distracting candy.
Even though Utaha is not the main heroine (and one can say that she’s already ‘lost’ the race), the atmosphere for the first half of the episode was still rather romantic. I think it’s the rain and the snow that does it; weather is atmospheric in more ways than one. The flashbacks were also fairly well blended in with the present, creating some nice parallels, and also creating some of the only opportunities for us to see Utaha so demure. Her love is ultimately an unrequited one, with Tomoya rejecting her on multiple levels. He’s obstinately unreceptive of her advances (though I guess when confronted by such frontal attacks the immediate reflex is to defend), but also refuses to read her final novel in advance, which is apparently the reason Utaha calls Tomoya, ‘Ethics-kun’.
On behalf of other aspiring writers out there, I disapprove of Tomoya here. Writers do need all the feedback they can get, and when they need you to be their first reader or something they are asking you to play an important role in their publication process. At the same time, I think that Utaha should have a bit more faith in her vision, and writing for just one person is also a bit unhealthy. I can also somewhat understand why Tomoya so ardently wanted to remain just a fan. It’s much peachier being a consumer than a creator. The consumer is free wait for the creator to deliver while also being able to hold expectations for how the creation should turn out. There is a certain kind of selfishness that is available to consumers that creators are not privy to. Which is, why, I think Tomoya didn’t wish to cross the line into Utaha’s world until now.
Tragedy vs Comedy
It’s easy to tell the difference between Tomoya’s philosophy and Utaha’s. Tomoya believes in happy endings, while Utaha is more bittersweet. Utaha’s draft for the game ultimately reflects her own story; all author invest a bit of themselves in anything they write. Utaha has, in a way, already resigned herself to defeat. It reminds me a bit of difference in the ways the East and the West traditionally dealt with star-crossed lovers in their stories. While in Eastern literature the lovers will more often return to their ‘destined’ paths in life, Western literature often has the lovers defy their fate, even in death—see Romeo and Juliet. Tomoya doesn’t really have a deep philosophical underpinning for his preference though—he just thinks happy endings are neater. Megumi has awoken in him an appreciation for the normal. Normal is happy, and normal is good. Stories should start and end with normality, with the bumps along the way the spice of the narrative.
True to form, in Saekano land we have Megumi showing up at the end to demonstrate how this works. The way she pouts is notable only because of how deadpan she is all the time. Don’t worry, I’m sure she’ll go back to being flat next week. That’s the formula, remember?
With this episode, Utaha’s backstory is more or less resolved. She’s the first of our protagonists to have received this treatment, and definitely came out looking a lot better out of it. The characters of Saekano started as very deliberate archetypes, but Utaha is a lot more three dimensional now that we’ve had a few episodes on what makes her tick (and, more importantly, what makes her vulnerable). While Saekano is centrally about turning a normal person (Megumi) into a character, it also evidently practices the more traditional art of turning a character into a person.
I’m hoping Eriri eventually gets that treatment too, as she still feels a tad generic (though we have had a few hints as to her own story). From the 00 special, though, we know that there is at least one more character to be introduced, so I don’t know how they’re going to juggle that. Saekano has been paced pretty well so far, so I’m fine with just letting it do its thing. Good episode this week. Continue as you are.