「本気で本当な分岐点」 (Honki de Hontou na Bunki Ten)
“Turning Point of Earnest and Real”
One thing I really need to rant about this episode: eating while reading. Now, generally I’d be the last one to suggest cutting into your book time for such an inconsequential thing as etiquette—I spent an undue amount of time in my youth practicing flipping pages one-handed, after all—but when pizza is involved, we’re faced with a dilemma. Here’s the thing, Utaha-senpai: love ya, girl, but it can’t end well for you. You’re either mixing greasy food with your paperbacks, in which case you should both your books and insect infestations more. Or, you’re eating pizza with chopsticks, which is sacrilege. Mend your ways now, child, and your sins may yet be forgiven.
So that ate away at my OCD for 20 minutes. Otherwise, though, we see Saekano progressing rather quickly. It feels like it was only recently that Tomoya managed to put his team together and work on his game in earnest—that was basically what the entire first season was about, after all—but now the script is finished! Sure they’re still playing catchup schedule-wise, and no doubt they’ve got plenty of work and troubles to overcome yet, but it’s still all going a lot faster than I expected. Perhaps Megumi Software will actually be able to finish their game this season—not necessarily covering all its source novels, but just bring its story to a conclusion. We have the original author on hand for the anime script (and, I suspect, ribbing at the anime director through his mouthpiece, Utaha) so if they do something anime-original we can’t say that the author’s intentions are being trampled on.
With progression also comes some serious developments, it seems. Sure, they’re not enough to stop Saekano from indulging in its self-deprecating meta-humour or playful parodies, but it’s also hardly the pure comedy hijinks of, say, episode 00. To the point: Kasumigaoka Utaha strongarms Tomoya into going on a date with her, and she doesn’t do anything! This Utaha! Fanservice-senpai! Yet, no bold move. That’s incredible. Perhaps she, too, realises that we’re coming to our final stretch and everyone needs to put their game faces on. After all, she is the nominal senior of the group, and after her episode she’s mostly a fully developed character (and also, Maruto-sensei’s will made flesh). Got to give the rest a push, too.
And thus, an excuse to get Tomoya to shape up, for once. You may recall that he went into this game development project without a clear vision for what he wanted to make, mostly just faffing about and raving nonsensically. He was much more comfortable with being a consumer of media than a creator of it, content with watching stories play out without offering criticism and input. Outside of his otakudom, he’s weak-willed and indecisive, and his flaws dominate all aspects of his character: as a young man growing into adulthood, as the director of Blessing Software, and as the male lead in romantic comedy. Indeed, you’ll find that, in anime, many generic male-harem leads share Tomoya’s jelly spine and commitment issues, and what Saekano seems to be trying to do is is redeem his character archetype by first picking it apart, and then reconstructing it by forcing self-reflection and development upon him. In this case, it’s the heavy hand of Utaha-senpai that does it, forcing Tomoya to finally, definitively make a choice. What she couldn’t make him do for her novels, she will make him do for his game. As an adult, a director, and a harem lead, Tomoya has to take charge of his own actions.
Hopefully, this is not the final act of Kusami Utako-sensei. There is a definite sense, though, that she is stepping out of the picture for a while and will not return until some suitably dramatic point, allowing other characters to resolve their own issues. If you needed a strong indication that Saekano intends to wrap up this season, this is it.
Full-length images: ED 02.
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)