OP: 「ステラブリーズ」 (Stella Breeze) by 春奈るな (Haruna Luna)
「恋と純情のサービス回」 (Koi to Junjou no Service Kai)
“Fanservice of of Love and Pure Hearts”
「冴えない竜虎の相見えかた」 (Saenai Ryuuko Aimamiekata)
“The Way of Two Boring Rivals’ Encounter”
Aaaand we’re back! I tell you, I’ve missed this show. How long has it been? Really? More than two years? Wow. But even though it’s been two years since we said goodbye to Saekano, it’s like nothing has changed. This Spring 2017 season, one semitone lower for the sake of a silly pun, retains completely the spirit of the original, down to the 00 prologue episode. And it contains everything that will satisfy the two main demographics that will be watching Saekano. For those who want some self-awareness in their harem light-novel adaptations, we have meta-humour trashing season 1 (and promoting the patron of background artists everywhere, Detail Coffee). For everyone else: breasts! Saekano knows what you want (and so do I), and so per custom episode 00 is fansrvice saturation, just to get it out of the way before we get down to business.
You may recall, though, that the first season’s episode 00 was a flash-forward, set in the future to show how Tomoya’s gang will come together and show off character dynamics for the new viewers. This season’s 00 is set within continuity, and we’ve already seen Tomoya successfully put his group together. So while the form of this episode is very familiar, it’s function is not to just show the coterie whole, but also operational. This, I greatly appreciate, because most of the time Saekano is a comedy, and therefore its cast has to be possessed of some level of dysfunctional sociopathy. That’s what makes them funny. But we’re also trying to have a meaningful narrative here, so at some point the cast needs to take their meds and do their thing i.e. make the damn game. And when they do, I love seeing their professional pride come forth. Saekano obviously wants us to care about this project, so the characters—the actual active players in this affair—have to care too. So it’s good to see them putting in that effort that justifies our emotional investment.
In that vein, episode 01 is much the same as episode 00, expanding on the work dynamic of Blessing Software, albeit on a more personal level, specifically as it is between Utaha and Eriri. Again, there’s a bit of dysfunctional sociopathy in all of the cast, and they don’t really seem to get along—which is a good thing, because these harem comedies are always more interesting when the haremettes have teeth. But while friction in the cast is good for drama, too much friction is unworkable; if two characters simply loathe each other, they’ll just push each other away and not interact. So while Utaha and Eriri are opposites and on’t see eye to eye, there must always be some yin in that yang, something they can connect with in each other. I’m glad that Saekano wasted no time this season in getting the two together and nailing down what they admire in each other, as creators, and how their friction is not just, ‘We like the same guy, we must fight!’ but also a fundamental difference in philosophy.
How we might weigh either philosophy I’ll leave, for now, as an exercise for the reader (though there’s no doubt some bias here since Utaha is the author’s mouthpiece). The important thing is that there is some genuine depth in the relationships of these characters, and I’m looking forward to seeing Saekano expand on the rest of the cast as we go. A bit more than the average harem comedy: that’s the Saekano way.
TL;DR: Season 2 of Saekano starts with plenty of Utaha-senpai. That is, good episodes.
ED: 「桜色ダイアリー」 (Sakura-Iro Diary) by 妄想キャリブレーション (Moso Calibration)