「フラグを折らなかった彼女」 (Furagu o Ora Nakatta Kanojo)
“The Girl Who Didn’t Break the Flag”
‘Please give me a second chance to make you happy.’
I know Megumi was cranky about how thick Tomoya was this episode, but that’s really as close to a confession as any anime harem protagonist ever gets, so I think he should get points for trying, at least. And perhaps Megumi knows that too. The two were never actually ‘together’, but this is the part of the romantic comedy where, post-break-up, the protagonist has to make a huge romantic gesture to win back his female co-lead—or the part of the play where Marlon Brando yells for his Stella. And it works, because Megumi eventually takes her de facto husband back in from the cold, so no matter what Megumi says, I’d like to think it’s more than just her missing her time with Blessing Software. After all, at some point Tomoya’s got to do something right.
I’m glad the two are back together, partially because they have such great chemistry, but also because Tomoya really is nothing without Megumi. She actively makes him a better person. As I’m sure is obvious to all of you already, ‘How to Raise a Boring Heroine’ is not about deficiencies in the heroine at all, but in the ‘hero’. I mean, we can’t really keep calling Megumi ‘bland’, can we? Was this not an episode to remind us of her emotional range? Sure, it may seem out of character for Megumi, usually cool as tempered steel, to break into tears or lose her temper, but the fact that we can talk about breaking character means she has character in the first place. And so, when looking at those scenes, we don’t think, ‘Oh, she’s a crybaby character’ or, ‘Oh, she’s an angry character.’. Rather, after a season and a half of development, we can note, ‘Oh, that’s what it takes to make her cry.’ and ‘Oh, that’s what it takes to make her angry.’. It’s almost as if Saekano is training us to judge a character’s behaviour on a case by case basis to gradually build their personality, rather than lump all their actions under the banner of an archetype.
But you don’t need me to tell you that, because this is also the episode where Saekano explains explicitly what it’s been trying to do. With Utaha off-stage right now, it falls on Tomoya to be Maruto-sensei’s mouthpiece, and since Saekano is an anime about making a game about itself… well, the rest is obvious. It seems rather early for Saekano to be laying out its thesis, and indeed, this could well have been the final episode. The main duo get back together, they have a chat about the future and their ambitions, we get a holistic look at some themes in the story and what has been achieved, then drop the curtain. If this were one of those shorter adaptations, or just a promotion for the light novel as many adaptations have the misfortune of being today, this episode would have been a good place to cut off. Fortunately, this is Saekano, and one of the things I enjoy most about Maruto-sensei’s writing is that he remembers his loose ends and makes sure they’re utilised, so we can’t stop here. We noted, long ago, that Utaha had hijacked Tomoya’s pet project, and now Tomoya is finally going to correct that. And we noted, at the end of the first season, that Utaha warned Megumi about getting friendly with Eriri, and now she may well be the final boss. It’s comforting to know that those in charge of an anime one loves has put as much thought into it as we have.
So yeah, I would have actually been quite satisfied if the series ended right here. But Saekano seems to have higher ambitions, which is rather exciting. I dare say the episodes have been getting even better recently, so I look forward to what pinnacle may still be in store.