As pointed out in episode 9 of the first season, the Blessing part of Blessing Software is a pun on Kato‘s first name, Megumi (恵). To me at least, it’s a lot more than that…
Kato(u) Megumi truly is a blessing of the character!
Let’s delve into her character development as opposed to what the show’s been trying to force into our heads; the ‘boring heroine’.
A ‘clean slate’?
Kato Megumi right off the bat mirrors a character screaming ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with you‘ and it isn’t specifically directed at Otaku. This immediately sets off the first issue regarding the show’s setting; forcefully segregating normal people and Otaku, as if being Otaku is equivalent to being religious.
Onto the point of religions; similar to that, having an Otaku shoving his/her beliefs and interests on you is definitely unbearable.
Then there exists Otaku who keep their stuff to themselves, only to go all out and share them among the people they know.
Neither of them are bad people, really. They just co-exist and the result is the the anime community we have today:
– Strong voices when trash talking on genres. An obvious example is hating on mainstream shounen and/or moe because both are equally popular.
– Coming out of the ‘I watch hard ecchi/hentai on a daily basis’ closet. I applaud you people, consuming these like they are just normal, seasonal anime, really.
The show’s standard of normal people is glued onto Kato as you can see right from the second episode.
Appearance: It actually matters for her, the main heroine!
I’ll pretend that I haven’t read the light novel at all so this will only be information exclusive to the anime.
Kato has gone through some appearance change over the course of two seasons. I don’t think you can forget how she first appeared however.
Thanks to the clever combination of CGI, top notch voice acting and gratuitous camera angles, it’s one of those meetings that I’ll never forget!
As plain as she could be at the start, it doesn’t take a millionaire to see beauty in a person…
Later in the story she switched to a ponytail, which we people of the planet Earth know it’s designated to look cute rather than mature.
Leave it to the ladies to confirm whether changing hairstyle comes with a purpose or not. In Kato’s case, she bluntly said it and there is one hint that proved her answer to be false. I’ll let you think of the answer BEFORE I SPOIL IT.
In case you haven’t figured out, Episode 0 of the first season is actually the last episode in chronological order. There you will see Tomoya talking about Kato’s ponytail which has grown. In fact the growth is noticeable all the way from when she first had it done (episode 7) to the end of first season.
Nevertheless, the most interesting part about Kato is in her personality and character growth, especially from initial to current traits.
The show is not trying to be subtle, with all the flaws it still manages to get one point to me, and that is showing the change in normal person as she affiliates herself with a bunch of Otaku.
Originally, Kato positioned herself as, “a second-year high school girl with absolutely no agency who was brought into a game circle by the biggest Otaku in school.”
Note that she ‘positioned’ herself there, not even trying to view from another angle.
The story (Yes, there IS story in this rom-com) in this show is parallel with the in-show game making progress. As Kato got to learn about Otaku and their goodwill, she slowly felt as if it was home.
Same personality, changing traits.
We’re quick to put anything into categories to make our experience in entertainment consumption more convenient. In anime, most of the things to do with a character are tropes and 99% of all characters in anime have at least two or three overlapping tropes.
Kato, for all this time, is known for being the straight man. Yes. Almost every time she plays the deadpan straight man in this show. For a good few first episodes her jabs were usually from a normal person’s point of view.
Since trait description can get out of hand, anime fans are just as quick to place a female character into the ‘-dere‘ type. Kato, despite being 100% cute (dere), does not directly fit into any type however, not even deredere (the 200% cute type).
If I have to place her somewhere, she’d lean close towards an undere. She says a lot of ‘yeah’ (pronounced un in Japanese) and ‘aha’ but hardly leave it at that.
Despite being the title character, a running gag within the show is that Kato is invisible; she simply lacks any impact to the environment where there are lots of people (in this case other girls in the harem).
Easily put, Kato didn’t give a rat’s ass. This is pretty obvious right from the first time you saw her.
What were the contributions to the change?
A simple answer would be lives of the Otaku, otherwise in detail it’d be:
Many, MANY things actually. They didn’t all happen in one or two days and that’s the key to any kind of development. You’ll know about this first hand if you ever try to make a friend watch a lot of anime and expect them to actually like the medium. The truth is: it will only work half the time, no amount of essays will fortify your reasoning as to why they should be watching anime as much as you do.
You appreciate things with a big smile, that’s for damn sure.
Going back as far as episode 2 of the first season, her smile was somewhere between the ‘nice, awesome stuff’ and ‘you creepy little shit’. The voice acting (by the lovely Yasuno Kiyono) helps her character A LOT therefore only watching the show will do any justice.
No story gets dragged in this show, thankfully. Right into the next episode (3) you have Kato who willingly performed a mini play in an attempt to be a real heroine.
This of course didn’t ‘just happen’. It was Kato’s initiative!
Her smile is still with doubt but her gestures to Utaha and Eriri means appreciation…
It isn’t until the fourth episode when you really see her smiling in awe and excitement.
The Date and its impact
In episode 5 we are given a rather nice treatment that’s expected from any romantic (doesn’t have to be comedic) anime; the date!
It’s just your typical shopping mall date with your girl, nothing major for you 3D people. For Kato however, this is the one opportunity she gets to see Tomoya in a different light altogether.
Like most newly opening events; it’s full of people, queues of impatience and all!
Tomoya, like any great Otaku, goes Eureka mode and provides a plan in order for Kato to complete her shopping trip within hours.
Right here she’s realizing that there is really very little difference between normal people and Otaku; they are both human, they just have differing passion for their interests.
At this point we already know that Kato is a well mannered person. Earlier in episode 3 she showed her appreciation for her new friends. Her form of appreciation from this date is everything romantic.
And this is basically her ‘dere’ side kicked in.
Seriously digging the Otaku life, one step at a time…
Kato reassures to herself that ‘this is it, this is not so bad after all. The people are great; there are ups and downs but really, nothing about them will bring me down.’
Pretty much the next day she’s done with being the invisible girl, though obviously she doesn’t go from transparent to visible instantly.
The first thing she does is of course, like any girl would when she knows someone is looking at her:
There goes the first trait changed. If you’re only watching the second season of Saekano there’s actually a good chance you don’t know that Kato did not have a ponytail before.
The second change, we all see this one coming since this is about a boring heroine being put in Otaku environment.
She, more often than before, picks up Otaku references and jokes which slowly shifts her away from the deadpan trait. She still is mostly the straight man though.
I don’t know about you but for me, some of the cutest parts in Saekano really do involve Kato questioning anything she’s aware of being, well, questionable.
Yes. Kato really breaks it into the anime too!
Later on she gets to the point where she can nicely role-play her character, Ruri. Combining all of the Otaku-ness she absorbed with Kasumigaoka Utaha’s lonely wish, she manages to ditch the flat character and go yandere/deredere hybrid, even taking the lead forcing Tomoya to pretend to be Seiji for a night…
The things that remain (they were there the entire time and haven’t left)
Kato may have come off as shy at the very start, but she has one very strong personality that makes her unique to other girls in the seri- no, the entire Rom-Com genre.
She accepts everything as they are, in a positive manner.
Sometimes though she’d make weird faces because the things she’s accepting are all new to her.
Check out the part before ending credits of episode 9 where for once only, Kato was genuinely worried to the point she raised her voice!
And by ‘things’, I’m talking about everything from another person (making new friends), the trouble they bring and all of those Otaku tropes that make comedy in this anime, especially watching Utaha attempting to rape Tomoya countless times, with a smile.
I know rape jokes aren’t funny but right here in Saekano it’s literally implied that way; watch episode 2 to see that I’m not kidding.
Now you’d think that Mashiro from Sakurasou would contend for this spot. No. She has got that air-headed setting on her which makes her action of accepting things like it is all nothing.
The Other Thing
Kato is boring. Hell, have you been called out for being boring before?
Let me rephrase that actually, “have you ever feel bored?”
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you’re feeling bored?
That’s easy, you have no motivation!
Kato right off the bat is just that; absolutely no motivation. She just lives her life normally like anyone else, like you. If watching anime motivates you in any way then it’s pretty much the same to her, except that for her, she’s experiencing motivation ‘all new’.
If Kato is to exist in action anime, she’s literally on par with Shiba Tatsuya; she can do practically anything and nothing will actually stop her short!
Well, this isn’t action anime so Kato is not made to be almighty, but character and plot wise she’s pretty much the source of impact as soon as motivation kicks in.
Wear a Nike and JUST DO IT!
This anime being a romantic comedy!
A lot of romantic scenes in this anime were usually followed after by comedic relief. Most of the genuine ones were actually in poor taste. I’ll leave a full review later but let’s talk about how Kato copes up with this, if she does at all.
Kato is still a normal girl (remember that!), she’s definitely not immune to being in love. While the romance department significantly improves in the second season, first sign of Kato feeling any sort of romance at all starts right in episode 9 where she’s truly being appreciated by Tomoya for all of her efforts to cheer him up and providing a resolution to his conflict with Eriri.
Remember that from the start to this moment, episode 9, Kato has been the one appreciating things as she accepted them, excluding the date where it’s only normal to return favor (and oh God she was cute at doing it!).
Kato Megumi is definitely one of the few characters in anime that I have had the pleasure of following in developments. Best of all, she’s from your typical romantic comedy genre which hero(in)es can easily be slapped into archetypes and tropes!
It’s no secret to anybody, in episode 6 Tomoya shares the recipe for a character that is Kato:
‘If you make the character as flat (hint : season 2’s name) as possible, the player (in this case, you, the viewer) gets caught up when big changes come. All of a sudden, they’re cute.’
‘The moe sense that comes from the gap in her character’