Anime Review · Review

Saenai Heroine no Sodate-kata – My Opinionated View

I made it so clear about this one coming…

To be honest, it was Kato’s voice in the announcement that truly got me looking at this anime. My! I’ve heard many ‘cute’ anime girls but nothing sounded like her, hence why I gave it a shot.


 

Now, to the minor but vital details!

Type: TV Series
Genre(s): Harem, Romance and Comedy
Source of adaptation: Light Novel
The time it was aired: Winter 2015, Jan 16 to Mar 27
Studio responsible: A-1 Pictures


 

Lazy ass synopsis from MyAnimeList:

Tomoya Aki, an otaku, has been obsessed with collecting anime and light novels for years, attaching himself to various series with captivating stories and characters. Now, he wants to have a chance of providing the same experience for others by creating his own game, but unfortunately, Tomoya cannot do this task by himself.

He successfully recruits childhood friend Eriri Spencer Sawamura to illustrate and literary elitist Utaha Kasumigaoka to write the script for his visual novel, while he directs. Super-group now in hand, Tomoya only needs an inspiration to base his project on, and luckily meets the beautiful, docile Megumi Kato, who he then models his main character after.

Using what knowledge he has, Tomoya creates a new doujin circle with hopes to touch the hearts of those who play their game. What he does not realize, is that to invoke these emotions, the creators have had to experience the same feelings in their own lives.


Story and Plot

 

It’s a typical romantic comedy show with a huge twist; it all revolves around not just any anime ‘character’ but a bunch of Otaku! Yes! The characters that you can probably relate to the deepest level.

 

Surely a lot of you would have once in your life, wanted to create something grand but you knew full well that you could never do it alone. Same deal here with Aki Tomoya and his Dating SIM; huge ambitions!
It HAS to be a Dating SIM, no other choices and this is why:

The story of this anime progresses in parallel with the game’s (Dating SIM) progress. This season’s story progresses alongside the making of first route – Meguri, who is based on Kato Megumi.

Plots that go with the story can be described as eventful rather than episodic. Having each episode filled with events over the period of up to three days, it seems like a lot is going on. The thing is, it’s a comedy in a flesh; most of the episode is filled with the Otaku tuskkomi (the idiot and straight man jabs) while having about a third of the time slot dedicated to one extremely important event that drives the plot uphill. This leaves you the choice to either watch the show for memes or serious drama – I went for both.


Characters

 

 

Oh my, here we go with the archetypal characters…
We have:

  • A Kuudere/Yandere hybrid ‘cow tits-senpai’.
  • A blonde Tsundere ‘knockoff childhood friend’ (piss off, Chitoge!).
  • A ‘clingy (notice me) kouhai’ who miraculously appeared out of convenience (though those who watch second season will know how important she becomes).
  • A sexy ass cousin who also happens to be childhood friend.
  • A male rival/buddy (there NEEDS to be one or harem will wreck itself quickly)

Oh and who is that other girl, getting cut out of the frame a lot of times?

I really hope that you get my sarcasm! I actually know and have done an entire post dedicated to her. Check it out yo!

And with that, I’ll say that the show did not even try to break away from this huge trope of ‘female cast harem’. It’s actually less of a bad thing since the story of the show truly revolves around one person only, so you can shove a lot of crap in there and the story will still be worth following simply because of that one thing.


Art and Animation

 

I’m extrmely surprised that A-1 Pictures had actually put a decent budget into a mere Rom-Com, a harem ‘school’ anime at that!
Seriously, it was the biggest positive surprise of the winter 2015 season which was filled with the likes of top quality anime such as Death Parade, Assassination Classroom, Kuroko no Basuke, JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE!!! (lol) and 2015/16 ‘anime of the year awards winner’ Shirobako. This made Saekano even a bigger surprise than I initially thought, really.

Just so you know, this anime came out before Porter Robinson’s Shelter the music video. Having seen Saekano beforehand, I wasn’t one bit surprised that A-1 pulled some quality animation in Shelter.

I’d go as far as saying that the only anime from the same genre which pulled similar performance to Saekano (or very slightly better) would be J.C. Staff’s Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo.

This is for certain; when it is important, they’ll have the characters carefully detailed out to the highest pixels ever. For a dramatic romance-comedy anime, the most important parts are usually when they are serious – dramatic and romantic parts.

Except this one’s none of those; just cute!

 

Sometimes they pull a Shaft and go color contrast in some frames. I guess they’ve taken valuable lessons from Monogatari series.

 

The use of CG for background seems to become a common thing even for anime nowadays. A-1 wasn’t going to be left behind by the likes of Ufotable so here they are, experimenting CG with moving humans as seen in ‘the date’ of episode 5.

Check out this video from their official YouTube channel on what they do to their anime with CG.

 

Lastly there are those high-frame-rate scenes which look extremely smooth. You can probably say Sakuga and leave it at that. When those scenes happen I never take my eyes off the screen, they are just too captivating to not look at.

In fact, they are being used for the girls in the opening credit, giving them human like looks and feels.


Sounds

The opening song

Luna Haruna just broke through records with her ‘Overfly‘ recently and this will only be added to her line of awesome discography. It is a very happy and uplifting kind of song that adds to the comedy part of this anime.


 

The ending song

It was a random pick of chocolate in the box for me. It wasn’t representative of the entire story of the season but that was just how I felt.


 

Background Music

I think this is the most underrated talk about this anime. Like, my God! The background music were AMAZING for a mere harem romance comedy!

Take this one for example, what could have been better than a country music for the ‘cowboy’ position? NONE!

 

When it got serious, so did the music. That guitar single chord pick was actually scary and coincidentally it was always used during tense moments.

When it was not, there were variations of piano arrangements that got me into romantic and silly moods. And then there was this very specific piano music which was only used when Utaha went ‘creator’ mode.

I cannot praise it enough, really. The ones in charge of background music definitely did not limit the number of instruments used at all. This created quite a large variation of sounds and moods across the anime, splat in the back. If you’re rewatching this anime then I suggest you pay more attention to the BGM. You’ll be surprised how this anime easily makes Jun Maeda look like he ran out of talent for background music composition after his work on Tomoyo After visual novel. (His insert song composition is still top notch, however)


I’m not leaving the sound section of this anime without mentioning VOICE ACTING.

 

Comedy heavily relies on the tone of the characters and their reactions. Saekano has this ‘fake burden’ that is Kato Megumi (voiced by Kiyono Yasuno), whom mostly speaks in monotone throughout the season.

Don’t be fooled by that though, it is also her monotone speech plus the deadpan retort skill that spit fire at everyone else in and outside of the anime; she’s the legitimate example of low-key savagery.

Next up we have the ‘cowtits-senpai’ Kasumigaoka Utaha. The sadist-by-day-masochist by-night-Ice-Queen cannot be vocally produced by anyone else but the lovely Ai Kayano, who is now better known for her role as Darkness of KonoSuba. See where I am going with this?

Eriri’s voice is probably the least impact out of all the girls. Saori Oonishi has lots of decent characters under her belt, tsundere or not. Her role as Eriri however has me thinking that she really has added a 5 (average) to her portfolio.

Then comes one of those few voices that you can recognize anywhere, anytime.
Having Yoshitsugu Matsuoka voicing Aki Tomoya is most definitely a solid choice, not only because of the fact that he has voiced MC’s in other harems, but with a shit ton of titles under his belt, he is able to straight up reference/parody another anime and do a hella good job at that.

Matsuoka may have risen to fame with his role of Kirito from Sword Art Online, but trust me on this; his vocal talent has been embedded in every character that is not Kirito therefore you can wish that trash character to burn in hell, I’ll support you in doing so!

Oh and I have not forgot about the runaway model of a cousin! Hyoudou Michiru being the ‘support’ girl, gets the best from a ‘supporting’ voice actress Sayuri Yahagi.

I don’t think I have much to comment about her voice. She DID however do a cover for the opening theme of Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann. I think she did a GREAT job. Listen to her for yourself.


In case you missed it

 

It was totally intentional! A-1 Pictures showed great usage of a film technique that is the ‘camera’.

For those of you who haven’t read the light novel before the anime came out (which I have had), it’ll take second (or even more) time watching to figure out that Kato has been in the series all along and that her lines saying ‘Tomoya didn’t notice that I even exist’ wasn’t just for the present as of second episode.

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Note that ‘a year ago‘ in this scene refers to the timeline before this anime even begin.

 

It seemed that Tomoya DID NOT notice her ‘this year’ either…

That moment when your future wife sits next to you…

 

To a greater usage of the technique, the camera purposely cuts off Kato from the scene, never showing her in full until the fourth episode. I won’t post the same pictures again so scroll back up to the Characters section. 😛

More camera techniques for fan service…

Lots of gratuitous low shots and titty shots were thrown at any given moment of the anime. Again, they are intentional and at least to me, somehow they never feel irritating to watch. These shots actually, decently add comedy to the situation. There are also those times when Utaha’s booty says it all, just like how your best buddy winks at you without having to say anything. Yep. That kind of message; simple yet meaningful. Sexy shots of her simply replicates that feel.

Naturally, these shots are pretty much absent when the show gets seriously dramatic; more face shots and upper half to show pity and sorrow in the characters.

This one is for the fans (or just anyone who can fap)

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If you tell me this is not in any way genius I’ll have to outright disagree. Why would a single glasses lens show Kato’s underskirt?

Little real life trivia here; if your eyesight is fine then wearing a prescription glasses will give you slightly to extremely blurry sight.

This pair glasses however gives clear sight for us all, it’s the thighs of your future waifu, it’s simply legendary.


This show is VERY well aware of the fourth wall and the fact that it is a harem, dramatic, romantic comedy of the Otaku.

 

I think the subtitle above would suggest that Saekano is absolutely worth a shot if you’re in for memes. Anime fans tend to have low expectations when they see harem, comedy, romance and high school tag – worse if they are all put together. Thanks a f*ck lot, Nisekoi. You really specifically have shounen fans look down on this genre for good.

Anyway, let me get to the ones that still have my attention today.

Normally you’d hear girls scream HENTAI BAKA but we can agree; this is a different take.

 

Tomoya is also well aware of the fact that he’s repeating the ending of this anime twice in a row by taking Kato to his house in episode 3.

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At the same time, Kato is also aware that she’ll be there overnight, hence the need to ask for earlier leave.

 

This is quite an offer to a 2D girl lover

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Tomoya is an Otaku who loves 2D girls but he is going to have a 3D date? EW

 

Even Kato Megumi knows what’s up

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RIGHT?!

 

Let’s not forget Kasumigaoka Utaha who did not have screen time in episode 8

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That feel when a girl thanks you for teaching the pleasures of being, well, a girl…

Even Kato is trying to creep away, haha! But all of that joke just to…

 

Getting rejected? Tomoya asks the anime to roll the ending credits…

Sometimes called the outro, hence he’s saying RIGHT OUT!

 

My God, if this is enough to convince you that Saekano is in any way funny then please do yourself a favor and go watch it.

On top of breaking the fourth wall and poking fun at itself (and every other harem rom-com anime in existence), comes…


Parodies, references and SAVAGERY!

 

It’s ever so amazing when you can shove LOTS of these in a short span of minutes and have them actually be the driving force of attention. Unlike Gintama which does a lot of these but most of the time they were just thrown in. Saekano uses parody and other anime references as a mean to mock the characters outright.

There are way too many references in this anime so obviously I won’t be posting them all here or else there will be absolutely no need for you to watch the anime, which deserves to be known for having more than just these.

This one isn’t any of those but just like Kato Megumi‘s pun in her name, the fact that Kasumigaoka Utaha calls Tomoya (倫也) ‘Rinri-kun (倫理君)’ or ‘Mr. Ethical‘ shows another witty use of pun. It’s one of those Kanji swaps trope in Japanese. Notice that the first Kanji in both names is the same but having changes in the following letters alters the meaning completely. The reason as to why she calls him that has been explained in anime so I won’t leave it here.

They played the one visual novel that is notorious for bringing true tears from the players in real life.

In second episode Tomoya brings Kato to his house to play ‘Dear Memories and its sequel’. If you’re a die hard fan of harem rom-com then this one should come as an instant reference.

Tomoya to Kato: “If you feel anything after you’ve played this game – you’re part of my circle.”

Luckily, I still have the completed game (50 hours of tears!) on my PC so here it is:

This technically means that I’m part of Tomoya’s circle because holy f*ck, I cried like a little shit!

 

No. I WAS NOT watching Saekano.


 

Time for the savage life.

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Utaha may be talking about the heroine Meguri in-game but remember when I said that the anime’s story progresses in parallel with the visual novel they are making? She’s subtly referring to Kato. Utaha knows all too well that she’s no match against Kato in the relationship race; Kato IS ALWAYS one step ahead.

 

Last but not even near the least…
Remember when I said that Kato is an example of low-key savagery earlier?
She has always been that way, it’s just that most are very subtle to the point that just learning about them can change your view on this anime partly and/or entirely.

See how Kato is purposely looking at Eriri (and you) while blurting out what Tomoya is dying to hide.

 


 

Technically, this anime could really have ended on the second episode

 

Except that Saekano did break away from your usual romance trope with the help of Otaku premise. What could have really settle the end for most anime of the same genre, flew above past the heads of the characters like it’s nothing.

I don’t think you would not feel anything if 1. You’re being invited to a cafe alone with a dude, 2. He tells you that you’re cute and 3. He says that you’re supposed to become his ‘main heroine’.

And all Tomoya needs to keep the story going is a simple ‘No‘.

This usually happens with Kato to further contrast her from other heroines who all have specific archetypes.


What Saekano has done for April’s Fool day this year:

 

Saekano Live Action?!
A Live Adaptation?! And with Kato’s VA actually playing as… Kato?!

 

Saenai Heroine no Sodate-kata, brought to you by the animation story writer of White Album 2, takes up on probably the most hated genre of anime and uses it as a skin to cover up what is truly a meaningful story about newfound friendship and familiarizing with a different culture. The show is self conscious and takes jabs at itself to create grand tsukkomi, even knowing value of its comedy. This anime really adds to the line of shows that scream at you to ‘not judge the book by its cover’.

 

What do you mean, there’s a second season?!

 

I’ll be doing recaps on each episode for Saenai Heroine no Sodate-kata  ( for flat).

 

See you there! ^_^

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4 thoughts on “Saenai Heroine no Sodate-kata – My Opinionated View

  1. I happen to be currently watching this show right now and so far, it’s pretty interesting. I just heard that this show is basically has a “waifu war” between the fanbase so I was a bit curious lol. Other than that, I believe that it’s not a bad storyline for a harem anime and all the characters are pretty unique.
    Also, the reference to the Clannad VN mentioned in this post was amusing, of course they would reference that amazing story.
    I enjoyed reading your review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! For the second season I’ll be doing episode by episode ‘looking into’ because the show has got to the point of serious improvement.
      In other words there is just too much to put into a single season preview for Saekano Flat!

      And for the record, I’m closely following your 30 day challenge. ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

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