「締め切りが先か、覚醒が先か」 (Shimekiri ga Saki ka, Kakusei ga Saki ka)
“Deadline or Awakening”

I’m so glad we got this second season of Saekano. Sure, the first season ended at a good spot, every character got their time in the sun, and it was all-in-all a satisfying experience, but in hindsight it’s Saekano Flat that makes everything feel… complete. Just as the last story arc goes back to the relationship between Utaha, her writing and Tomoya and gives it all a sense of finality, so does this arc, I presume, intend to settle things with Eriri. After all, Eriri and Tomoya’s relationship still carries a lot of baggage, and while they managed to shout their grievances out of their system the last time they tangoed, they never actually resolved anything. If anything, all the pain of their past was just bottled up again, and now it’s time to uncork it and have a party.

What I love about Saekano Flat and these coda arcs we’re getting it that they make use of everything we learnt about these character in the first season and build upon them, and it feels very rewarding. We actually, almost unconsciously, know a lot about these people (and I don’t hesitate to call them actual, full-fledged ‘people’), and now it’s time for our investment into caring about them pay off. We know that Eriri is fundamentally a sentimentalist, the kind for strong emotional attachment, very prone to be coloured by nostalgia. And she’s a neat contrast to Utaha; while Utaha is forwards looking, wanting Tomoya to choose her and having that be the choice about her future, Eriri looks backwards. She’s the childhood friend, or rather was the childhood friend, and there’s an old glory there she wishes to recapture. The open question this episode is what is driving Eriri to devote so much of herself to Tomoya’s pet project, and when we factor in everything we know about Eriri, the answer is plain. It’s the same thing that drove her as a doujin artists: she used to be Tomoya’s ‘#1’, and wants him to acknowledge her as such again. The moment this game project became a competition, Eriri could not allow herself to lose. And she would have Tomoya demand from her nothing but the best.

Perhaps it’s not an entirely healthy obsession. Still, it’s in keeping with her character, and it makes sense. What makes less sense is Tomoya’s reaction. And here’s where Saekano not only builds on Eriri’s arc in the first season, but also all the development of the preceding arc (build higher!). Tomoya’s finally acknowledged his role as the director. He was able to tell Utaha that her script wasn’t good enough. He demanded better, and worked to get it. But why has he not been able to muster his perfectionism for Eriri? Why, for Eriri, does he only expect completion, not perfection? On one hand, it seems that Tomoya is perched on the horns of a dilemma, and needs to make a compromise between quality and deadlines. But on the other hand, as a fellow creator, as a leader, and as a friend, it seems he’s expected to push Eriri further, but he’s very hesitant to do so. Clearly, he’s been hurt before, sure—which is not a surprise, because Eriri and Tomoya’s relationship is one where they hurt each other constantly. But what exacly holds him back from extending his full faith to Eriri? Is it simply craven, or a protective mechanism?

I’m looking forward to see how the rest of the Eriri’s arc goes. The drama hooked me, and I was captured by Eriri’s self-destructive passion. But she’s apparently finished (in more ways than one?!) so where to from here? I’m on tenterhooks. Something to keep in the back of one’s mind, though, even as Eriri’s story continues. We know why Utaha write for Tomoya. We know why Eriri draws for Tomoya. Why does Megumi stick with him? As far as we know, she has no tumultuous past with Tomoya, and is entirely free of drama. What drives her to devote so much to the project? I get the feeling that may be one of the central questions we’re building up to yet.

Full-length images: 06.


    1. Curiously, Megumi is the only character in this show who changes hair styles. Well, okay, Eriri alternates between wearing hers loose and tied up, but she doesn’t come to school with a different arrangement, or grow it out, or cut it short. Only Megumi. I’m not entirely sure what to make of that, I just wanted to point it out.

      1. The answer is simple passerby; it’s the shows witty way (and one of the few times i really respect this shows writing) of illustrating that megumi was never this plain background character to begin with. She was set up as the boring girlfriend, and yet she’s the one who we see visible changing in appearance; she’s the one who slowly shows that she’s always been this captivating beauty that apparently no one noticed because she’s always been as stealthy as a ninja; she’s the one who’s agenda we dont truly understand, but we can see that there’s an element about her that stands out. We see the progression of time through her physical change as well as megumi’s growing confidence to make herself stand out and define herself as the strong willed person that she is. Ugh, this shows capable of some solid character writing and at times it lands pretty well but for me, that quality is then obstructed with other unnecessary shit that makes me have this love/hate relationship with this show like how characters are so in-ur face about how self-aware they are of what character trope they are playing, which becomes a problem sometimes because it makes the interactions in the show feel less authentic at times. Still, i think this season has been much better job of avoiding that flaw even if it does still rear its ugly head

      2. @sonicsenryaku
        I’ve personally never considered Saekano self-awareness to be a flaw at all. The thin fourth wall was fully advertised in the very first episode, and I consider it to be a core part of the Saekano experience. For example, Eriri is the ‘tsundere childhood friend’ through and through, and it’s good that Saekano is aware of how much of an archetype she is. It’s when Saekano reconstructs the archetype and goes beyond that it shows its true strength.

      3. @Passerby yea but i think a balance should be struck between how a piece of fiction flaunts it’s self-awareness and its character/narrative writing. It’s one thing to mine the self-aware nature of a story for deep characterization and trope subversion; but it’s another when that self-awareness dominates your story in the most generic and uninventive kind of way. I dont have a problem with Saekano because it’s self-aware; I have a problem with how unoriginal and exhausting its self-awareness/ self-referential nature is. It’s first ep was a grave sin on how to clue your audience on the self-aware nature of the show: it just goes out of its way to tell us how it knows what type of show it is, bashing the more insipid elements of its genre WHILE DOING EXACTLY WHAT IT IS MOCKING?? why?…because it’s cool i guess; i dont fucking know. More often than not, saekano tells us how self-aware it is rather than using its self-awareness to reveal things about its characters. This is where the love-hate relationship comes in because there are times when the writing is actually able to pull this off with layered subtext and dynamic presentation. Then there are times when the story is just flat-out pointing these things to us. The issue i have with saekano at times is the same issue i have with bad exposition in literature/media.

      4. Again, I see things differently. Every story is different, and different tools are employed to tell them. it’s simply that one of Saekano‘s is to reach through the fourth wall now and again. And I think one of the reasons it does this is because it doesn’t want to be too pretentious. Let’s be clear, Saekano is still very much a high-school harem comedy. It doesn’t parody or satirise the genre; it is built first and foremost on those tried conventions. It doesn’t advocate against making high-school harem comedies, or tsundere childhood friends, or whatever. Rather, Saekano is simply an exercise in characterisation, about how even with these familiar genres we can do more, and do better.

  1. Megumi is growing. Not just hair, but in so many ways really, especially personality wise.
    The reason she has grown this much is Tomoya, and this project. And I think that’s where her new found obsession with him and with his project came from.

      1. I just hope that Megumi doesn’t end up being one of those, we met once when we were just infants and somehow you forget it xD
        Well, given this show’s masterful capacities, I highly doubt it.
        IMO, she has either fallen for him or grown a maternal instinct.

  2. I like how Utaha is more punishing then flirting now after being rejected, she’s taking it pretty well. Not many writers know how to express a rejected heroine in such ways.

  3. A nice post Passerby.
    Amidst the flood of comments everywhere senselessly bashing Tomoya, your post brings a much more neutral perspective and is much closer to my instincts.
    I say instincts as I watch anime purely to relax and enjoy the story, but this episode almost made me think (that Utaha-senpai lecturing Tomoya part).

    1. Personally, I’ve never found that thinking about a good anime has ever detracted from my enjoyment of it. I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive, and the case is usually quite the opposite. If I wasn’t convinced that anime can both entertain and enrich our lives I wouldn’t be here blogging about them.

  4. Velvet Scarlantina

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