Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata: Bless you, thy visual novel.

A review first posted on Deremoe in March 2015

Alongside Shirobako, this series airs on Fridays and is about Japan’s creative industry… sort of.

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (also Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend) is another A-1 Pictures creation with Yoshitsugu Matsuoka in it. The story is about one guy and his harem of people familiar with him which compose the independent game circle Blessing Software.

This contemporary rom-com tries to show the protagonist Aki Tomoya and his relationships with four people — light novel author Utaha Kasumigaoka, artist and childhood friend Eriri Spencer Sawamura, another friend and artist Izumi Hashima, cousin-slash-guitarist Michiru Hyodo and his “heroine” and inspiration Megumi Kato.

They were successful at showing Tomoya’s relationship with each of the latter while showing bits and pieces about the doujin (independent creation) industry as we know it.

The story went with the rom-com approach as it is the most appropriate way to show the facets of each member of the software circle.

The aim of the story is Aki’s dream of making a game that will shake the four corners of the Comic Market (Comiket), but most of the time it shows how supportive, albeit “boring” his inspiration is.

They were supposed to show how “boring” Kato is, but in the end, she was the most interesting of them all, having a personality so soft that I rarely see her angry (if she is, she’d be pouting).

If we stick to what the English translation of the title is, then they failed to show a “boring” girlfriend, and they failed showing how it is done. That’s not the problem though.

The problem with Saekano is that they tried to show a story that is estimated to last for 16 or 17 episodes but is then squeezed to 12 with an additional prologue OVA.

An additional two to three episodes could have fulfilled what the creators’ meant to say in the narrative, as the story is too short for thirteen episodes.

I am saying this because I was not satisfied with how short Izumi’s arc was shown (if it is to be treated as an arc). It felt to me like they showed two to three scenes with either Utaha or Eriri or Kato and still left unsatisfied. I was unable to see how Blessing Software dominates Comiket (if they were able to) as well.

One thing comes to my mind — is the purpose of this show about Blessing Software or it’s just all about Aki Tomoya’s harem?

I do relate to Aki’s activities as a blogger — connecting with people, agencies and stuff — and that gives a refreshing relief that someone somewhere out there depicts what I personally do as a liaison for a culture blog.

Let’s get back to Kato. Your “boring” girlfriend here has developed from being sorta-monotonous (that’s what I felt) to someone who is sensitive to others.

I am comparing here two episodes:

  1. the episode where she joins Aki to a “date” in a newly-opened mall, and
  2. the final episode, where she sorta acts as a mediator for Eriri and Utaha.

Was she sensitive to others in the first place? I don’t think so — the episode wherein she changes her hairstyle is a crucial description of her character development (as with girls changing hairstyles).

In terms of visual appearance, I have a reservation on how they interpret figures and Nendoroids — while it’s 3D graphics that are embedded in a 2D environment, there must be a better way possible (like drawing the figures by hand).

On a second thought, drawings tend to be scalable on screen, so rendering them on 3D is the best way possible.

My overall experience tends to be focused on how comical Aki is — I followed the series because of the voice cast in the first place. As expected, I am impressed with how the voicing went.

Our Founder thou art in Los Baños Anton (@ojouzuki) says that Matsuoka is not fit for the role, and I remember him commenting the name of Ryota Ohsaka in the conversation. Just one thing to note here — you won’t like Aki for not getting a hint.

To end this, I liked Saekano despite its shortcomings. The story is a bit different from the typical rom-coms, and I appreciate that.

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (C)2015 丸戸史明・深崎暮人・KADOKAWA 富士見書房/冴えない製作委員会