Thoughts on Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata

Put on-hold during my latest anime hiatus.

Anime is like a box of chocolates.

It’s exactly as advertised.

Here’s a fun thing: Saekano is a little different. Not by much, but it has some satirical undertones that give it a fresh breath of life among those within its genre. Don’t misunderstand; I said “a little” for a reason. This anime fluctuates in quality more than a hummingbird flaps its wings in mid-air.

It started out magnificently. The introductory episode was satisfactory, albeit not completely thought-provoking. It wasn’t until episode two that this anime became actually worth anything. Its humor is subtle and relies on anime and dating sim tropes. Better yet, it’s sarcastic, and I love me some sarcasm.

However, by the mid-point of the series, Saekano began to revert back into the cliches that it was satirizing beforehand. Obviously this isn’t rare, seeing as to make fun of the topic you’re covering, you must involve yourself with it to some degree. It just felt as though it were beginning to accept the idea of immersing itself into the cliches that plague the anime industry to pump up the enjoyment factor. The characters began acting more archetypal than normal. The situations became more and more unrealistically steamy. The show was losing the humor that I had come to adore. It was ready to simply revert into everything about anime that’s been done before. Over and over and over and over-

But it didn’t.

Saekano experienced something that is rare to find in modern anime: growth. The characters actually learned from their experiences. They were able to speak their minds without any immediate saving grace from the main character or the plot. By the end, the characters retained their face personalities, but they had developed into something more fruitful. That’s not to say they completely abandoned the tropes they once seemed to revel in. The main character’s cousin, at first, seemed like a fixture for skin, and boy did they take advantage of it. Even she was given some time to mature, however perhaps not as well as the other characters.

Wow, I’ve typed up this much without going through my typical structure of plot -> characters -> art -> sound (if any) -> conclusion. I’m impressed with myself.

Plot: cliche, but may have been its purpose to be.

Characters: Acted as though they were characters in a dating sim. Plot twist: the characters are trying to create the perfect dating sim. Isn’t that just hilarious?! They’re creating themselves! It’s almost like this is a cleverly designed parody or something!

Art: They experimented a bit. There were instances where the screen would shroud the characters in vivid hues of pink and blue and green, which would also highlight the character’s eyelashes(?). I think this may have been done to show their true “colors,” or perhaps give a clue as to their real feelings. (Which weren’t totally obvious anyway, right?) Other than this, it was fairly typical. The girls actually started to look alike the more they were introduced. That was something. The dramatic scenes remind me some of Toradora, with their hair suddenly becoming rope-like and stiff. That was also something.

Sound: I HAVE SOMETHING TO PUT HERE? On the final episode, they played a cover of the opening theme to Gurren Lagann. It was way more nostalgic than I thought it would be, and it was the first time I didn’t decide to skip over the musical scene in an anime. Congratulations, Saekano. You’ve helped me become deaf faster. I was also pulled in by the music of the anime’s most dramatic moments. Particularly with Eriri in episode nine. BUT IT DIDN’T MAKE ME LIKE IT ANY MORE. THAT’D BE DUMB.

It’s rare to see an anime come back from the dead. And by that, I mean raise my expectations, lower them into the dirt, and then raise them back up higher than when they once were. It was almost like watching a soap opera. A soap opera of criticism and expectations. I’d watch that. And I would definitely watch a second season of Saekano. The enjoyability for this title is tremendously high, even if objectively this title is simple pitter-patter. The sarcastic, satirical humor incorporated into the show is nice, but at the end of the day, it still felt like fan service. Both in terms of the amount of ass-shots and cliche situations present. Nevertheless, it’d be fantastic both as a starter anime and as a veteran watch, with the newbie enjoying the fan service and the veteran enjoying the underlying persecution of tropes.

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