Given that the next season of this anime is coming up soon, I decided to revisit Saekano and compare if it was as good as I remembered. Two years have past since Saenai Heroine no Sodateka aired and from that moment along I have been expecting a continuation of this story. There are a lot of good shows that never got another chance (Love Lab, Nozaki-kun, Mikakunin, etc.) and I was excited when the news hit about a second season. But after two years, will the show hold up? Let’s find it in this review of Saenai Heroine no Sodateka also known as Saekano.
About the show
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (冴えない彼女の育てかた), translated as How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend is an adaptation of a LN of the same name. Announced on March 2014, the show aired during the 2015 Winter season. The show consists of thirteen episodes, although the episode 0 can be considered as a mere introduction of the characters.
Tomoya Aki, a male high school teenager who works part-time to fund his otaku lifestyle (anime, dating sims, and related merchandise) encounters a beautiful girl one day during spring vacation. A month later, he finds out that the girl is his classmate, Megumi, who is hardly noticeable to her classmates. Hoping to create a visual novel computer game, he turns to school beauties Eriri Spencer Sawamura for designing the art, and Utaha Kasumigaoka for writing the game scenario. Tomoya then recruits Megumi to star as the “heroine” (the main character’s love interest) of his game, thus forming the development team “Blessing Software”, in which the three most renowned students in the school (Tomoya, Eriri, and Utaha) work on one of the least noticeable (Megumi).
When Saekano aired, the year before more than a dozen of harem shows aired, it was exhausting and while the thing that first attracted me to the show was the visuals, I was wary it was going to be another harem where the wimpy character surrounds himself with the same type of girls and we don’t a get definitive answer. And it was sort of like that, but I didn’t mind it at all. The difference between Saekano and other harem shows is that Saekano knows the type of cliches and tropes it’s using and take advantage of them and tries to elevate to another meaning inside the story. The character acknowledge and sometimes break the fourth wall to let us know the silliness of their acting and yet their performance surpass your expectations.
Surprisingly enough the character who steals the show is Megumi, the plain normal girl. She is our point of comparison to measure the amount of cliches and her deadpan delivery of lines makes everything scene better. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t grow as a character. She takes advantage of her stealth personality to get closer to Tomoya and establish a closer relationship. We see her more involved with all the characters and she is willing to play along with the otaku delusions of Tomoya, Eririn and Utaha. The running gag of her being unnoticeable could be seen as mean spirited but it’s just way to say her character has not been developed and when she gets noticed, those are the best parts of this show.
The harem elements are not bothersome because they go so far to overturn them, the show acquires its own tone. You won’t get angry at the MC for being indecisive because they are underlying reasons behind and girls' motivations are not shallow, they do care not only for the MC but also the group well being. Before reaching a romantic decision, achieving the dream to create the perfect date sim that will capture the hearts of the players becomes the main goal. This serves as a metaphor for the show itself, where it’s more important for our characters to flourish to their full potential and attract the audience before getting into fanservice and waifu wars. You can also say Saekano is a love letter for the creators behind all the works we enjoy.
Saekano is not flawless, although some of my criticism could be countered with this second season. It ends too quickly to the point it feels rushed. There are segments of the show that get dragged along way longer than they should, probably for tension purposes but they were not necessary. An example the introduction of a “villain” who has a backstory with our MC, but it doesn’t get anywhere so is time wasted that should have gone to a important plot line. Some of the jokes are overused and get old as the show goes, the biggest culprit being Eririn (tsundere), even if she has the most important character arc, we expect her to change a little and while she does, the “tsun tsun” side should have been toned down after that.
Even with those faults, Saekano is a remarkable show and before the second season start, I recommend watching it. Should not take long to binge watch and be prepared for the next adventures of this group. Anime is available everywhere.