「リベンジまみれの新企画」 (Ribenji Mamire no Shin Kikaku)
“The New Plan of Revenge”
A two month time skip! Two whole months! And, funnily enough, it feels like things are back to how they used to be. Eriri and Utaha are back to their harem antics. Megumi is back to being camera-shy. But, of course, we’ve known these people for some time now, and we can tell how far they’ve come over the last 20 episodes, and how they’ve changed. With Cherry Blessing complete and shipping thousands of copies, it feels like the first great battle is finally over and Saekano ♭ finds time in its 7th episode to do what many anime never manage to get to in their entire run—get retrospective. In hindsight, I think this game development project, fraught though it was, ended up being a good experience for everybody involved. Utaha is looking to leaving for university with some sense of satisfaction. Eriri feels like she’s regained her place and can engage with her childhood friend again. And although Megumi fades back into the background, we now know to look for her and the little subtle gestures that show that she still cares.
What of Tomoya though? Can we say that he has grown? Or is it more of one step forward, two steps back?
I’ve mentioned before that Utaha looks forward, while Eriri looks backwards. Tomoya, though, is very much a creature of the present. Once again, his pure nerd spirit is both his strength and his weakness; while his friend, Iori has more appreciation of the big picture (and thus has become more of a businessman), Tomoya is always swept up in the passion of the moment. At the same time he wants to preserve the present, and is afraid of change. Being afraid of change also means that he doesn’t grow. Last week we were talking about how there must be more to Eriri’s story, and I think whatever that is will be the crux to Tomoya’s development. Even Utaha notices that Tomoya is strangely overprotective of Eriri, and it doesn’t seem to be doing anyone any good. I loathe to go out of my way to make predictions about anime, but I think it’s inevitable that Tomoya will have to hurt Eriri in some way before we’re done. Eriri thinks she’s reclaimed her spot as Tomoya’s ‘number one’, that she’s ‘won’. But if she’s won, what’s driving her art now? Not to sound dark and depressing, but is it that she now lacks that self-loathing that pushes Utaha and, to some extent, Tomoya, that she’s in a slump? Is it that one does not achieve art without pain?
And, of course, we the audience know that Eriri is not the heroine. She hasn’t really won. She is going to be hurt.
Back to Tomoya though, since he is supposed to be the protagonist. Again, he’s a creature of the present, but this episode he is forced to look both forwards and backwards. If he wants to preserve Blessing Software, we needs to think about its future. And if he’s to recapture what made his team great, he’ll need to appreciate each member’s importance. Sure, Kasumi Utako on the script and Kashiwagi Eri on the art may be big gets, but there’s a reason why Katou Megumi gets equal billing as producer. Tomoya may not have appreciated it at the time, but with just a bit of retrospection he would have realised what a big part Megumi played in both the project and his life, and how wrongheaded he was to push her away at the last moment.
I wonder: each member of rouge en rouge had apparently played through Cherry Blessing. Until now, had Tomoya?