Once again, I was hung on the cliff for a week. I loathe you, Takahiro Kawakoshi! (He’s the third episode director)
Again with the pre-opening-credit fan service we all need. I admit it; I did not expect it to turn out like this but I was thankful it did. It could have been a serious situation but then some changes have kept my mood from going tense.
Katou Megumi has no more f*cks to give…
This is where I think that I can fill the missing gap with some light novel materials.
First of all, Katou shouldn’t have even been in this scene as she had a talk with Utaha the day before. Well, it wasn’t really a talk; it was more of Katou apologizing non-stop to Utaha in advance. Utaha figured out that Katou knew exactly what Tomoya’s answer would be but she’d interfered in a personal matter between creators (Tomoya and herself), the result was an irritated Utaha. She then once again remarked about how Katou….
Therefore, having Katou in this scene makes a solid choice in creating a fake climax and ultimately ending with a running gag that is known to anyone who has been faithfully watching Saekano from the start. I’m absolutely astounded by how much work goes though in making a decent fan service scene that lasts less than a minute, right from the source material altering to mood manipulation with background music.
This anime really is a service for the fans.
Proving her flaws
Back in class 3-C, Tomoya elaborates on how Utaha’s script is leaning towards a writing for novels instead of a writing for games. Visual novels only need a few lines for the players to read – music, character voice and CG (art) do the much needed magic.
In other words, Kasumigaoka Utaha’s script is too long and will get in the way of a visual novel experience.
I’ll use CLANNAD visual novel for an example of how it should be done.
But that isn’t what Utaha wants to know which means Tomoya has added in another issue on top of what she really cares about – Meguri or Ruri.
It is about this time Tomoya’s own philosophy rings back at him, full volume. Games are a team effort and trusting the script entirely to Utaha will be chaotic. The rivalry moment with Iori was worth it, indeed.
Your move. Tomoya.
For once (finally!), our main character leaves his dense ass behind and confronts Utaha straight up. He keeps his mindset on track, unwilling to be swayed by Utaha’s subtle wish of him picking one of the routes as being superior. Tomoya angrily repeats that the script just won’t work. Utaha sees an angry Tomoya, instantly recalls the past when he refused to read her final volume of Koisuru Metronome. In her eyes, Tomoya looks the same like he was back then.
Later in the day, the pair wait to board the train to Tomoya’s house. Tomoya takes the opportunity to assure Utaha that it is indeed his fault as the director, for not noticing sooner and that he’ll be the one to fix it despite Utaha’s disapproval. Throughout the scene we have sad piano background music that adds to the sorrow Utaha is feeling, shown by different camera angles of her.
The camera doesn’t leave Utaha until Tomoya once again declares that he is the ‘director’.
Not all girls gossip
On the other side of the show’s curtain, Katou receives a message from Tomoya, acknowledging that Utaha’s mental state is temporarily devastated. Pretty much instantly after that she calls Eriri, who asks how of Tomoya. Tsunderes are such wimps, can’t even talk to the person in business…
Eriri gets let in on the gist of the situation (that a rewrite is in order) but there’s a catch…
I have not forget about Katou’s savage counter. #1
The catch is that Eriri no longer reacts to her knowledge about Utaha being alone with Tomoya, in his bedroom at that. She’s actually using her head for once to think logically that nothing lewd can happen since Tomoya is busy rewriting a script, Utaha on the other hand must be feeling down the drain. She also hints that on the other hand, she can’t be worrying about other people since there will be ‘lots of work’ to do, to the point that she will not be able to attend Miss Toyogasaki Pageant contest.
The part where she sighs and mushes her drawing does me wonders. It is not uncommon in anime but it needs to be mentioned. By phasing the screen to complete black, we’re left to imagine the kind of face Eriri made when her very hands did the mushing job. To her, that drawing was a failure. She just experienced failure. The sound effect was also extra loud and judging by the number of drawings she’d attempted (which were all mushed up and thrown to the floor), this very instance of failure added up to her temper.
Episode 5 will be out in less than 3 hours anyway so I’ll do a very minor spoiler – this is indeed Eriri’s flag being raised. R.I.P. SS Kinpatsu Twintails!
Mending her flaws
Next very early morning Utaha wakes up to find Tomoya fall asleep from exhaustion.
Your move. Utaha.
Naturally, and this is why we should also love Kasumigaoka Utaha – her caring side is always there. Instead of raping Tomoya out of his sleep (like a certain someone in the previous episode), she has come to a resolution.
Later in the morning Tomoya regains consciousness and freaks out in fear of what if Utaha has raped him.
It seems like Utaha is mature enough to not be emotionally down over a rejection for long. She offers to help him with his writing then assumes the writer mode, not that Tomoya wanted to decline anyway. In fact he can’t as Utaha has done the work while he was sleeping soundly.
Getting carried away, Utaha’s novelist mode triggers Tomoya (not in a bad way) again. Tomoya reminds her that a visual novel can do more than mere paperback novels.
To which Utaha herself claims is out of her expertise, thus handing the scripting job for this very route to Tomoya. In truth Utaha just can’t see herself happily ever after with the protagonist Seiji (Tomoya) since Ruri (Utaha’s personality) tries to rid of other heroines, namely Meguri (Katou). At this point almost all of what Utaha says are direct referrals to reality, using Cherry Blessing as a guise.
Acknowledging Tomoya’s unbeatable determination, Utaha reminds him that he is not just a mere director but also a creator there he doesn’t have to worry about stealing her job. It just seems to me that Utaha sometimes forget the pledges she makes to people. It goes all the way back to the first season’s hotel scene when she welcomed Tomoya to the creator’s world. I don’t blame her though, she is a busy person after all. But since she gets tied down here and there, there still hasn’t been any real development for her at this point.
Actually, scratch that. Kasumigaoka Utaha DOES NOT need any drastic development – she has always been perfect right from the first time we met her. It’s just the case of getting to know strangers and then become closer to them. Her ‘Ice Queen’ exterior is the only thing that keeps her perfect self from Tomoya and you people who want her as your waifu.
Realizing again that Tomoya successfully avoided her question, Utaha, while bathing, takes it all in with sorrow.
She tells Tomoya that Ruri has no right to be happy because of her nature (Utaha’s). Tomoya happily replies that he’s satisfied with a harem, having Meguri (Katou) and Ruri (Utaha) fighting over the protagonist (himself), becoming adorably jealous, making everyone laugh in exasperation. Okay I think the fourth wall breaks here.
The third route minus the artwork is finished and Utaha plays it. She finally accepts the fact that she really won’t be ‘the one’ and that even if not in reality, her happy future is right within Cherry Blessing’s third route – something neither she or Tomoya can create on their own. It is their completely original script.
And hence formed the ultimate pen name.
An intermission shows Eriri’s disdain as she reads the mail containing information regarding Cherry Blessing visual novel. I’m just going to point out that from this point on, the anime dramatizes everything from the original source and it does so gracefully. So here I am again, singing praises on how much work has been put in the bonfire dance scene alone, plus Katou’s confrontation with Utaha on the rooftop – they managed to have the dramatic and comedic parts balancing flat impact wise.
Though seeing the picture will tell you something, filling in with an alternate story doesn’t hurt too.
It’s not Kasumi Utako?!
And that’s why Eriri is not impressed. She’s just being one upped by Utaha like she has always been. Right, so a little to elaborate here:
The name seems obvious enough, it has Tomoya’s surname and Utaha’s pen name combined. Yes. This is an ultimate pen name used to signify that the work credits both of them. In a sense, at least for now, Eriri has come back to her tsundere self and reacts the same way we’d expect every time Utaha advances onto Tomoya. The difference between the source material and the anime is that Eriri is alone in the anime whereas Utaha is there to mock her in the light novel.
A confession in many ways
Utaha meets up with Katou and lets the latter know that her business is over for now therefore she will continue to work on her other novel. Katou takes the chance to once and for all confirm that…
Having her identity and true intention found out, Utaha feels absolutely, romantically defeated. If there is going to be any drastic character development for Utaha in this show, I think this is it. Having Utaha fully realizing the cold hard truth, realizing that her efforts are futile no matter what she does finally has her come to honesty. If you’ve been closely catching up with all of the interactions between Kasumigaoka Utaha and Katou Megumi then you’ll know that this is probably the first time Utaha no longer visions Katou as a threat to her feelings.
Utaha admits it to be the case and go on to honestly describe herself as an ‘inexperienced and anti-social writer who has no other choice but to draw inspiration from somewhere close’. (No, seriously. Don’t we all?)
“A dour, vindictive and awful woman,”
“…by our protagonist.”
Utaha isn’t about to let it all go in vain as she figures out a way to let her feelings reach Tomoya. There is no better opportunity than this. She asks of Katou to carry out one last favor from the bottom of her heart.
Your move. Katou.
I’m making a reference to the song of the same name by ONE OK ROCK – check it out because it’s legitimately awesome! Now onto the relevant part…
Just when Tomoya is about to be mentally consumed by what he calls an unfamiliar territory of ‘norms’, a silent scream attempts to catch him. When it finally does, it becomes a clear voice. Tomoya turns his head in response to the ‘brother call’,
What he sees is merely a reality; he sees the end path of his fantasy.
A yandere, who is visually based on Katou but with Utaha’s personality. Confused by the graceful appearance of a heroine, Tomoya’s muscle memory work to the full extent.
She is not Katou right now.
Still struggling to comprehend what in the world is going on, Tomoya goes with the firm choice that it is in fact Katou role playing Ruri. But…
Because right now I’m Ruri, Sayuka and also…
The efforts in trying to comprehend are in vain as he now sees four facsimiles of the girl. In front of him standing, closing in distance are alternating images of:
Katou and Ruri
Katou and Sayuka
Katou and Meguri
Meguri and Ruri
Behind the back lines are Eriri, who lied about not coming to school, and Utaha who watches Katou fulfill her wish, emotionless.
It’s time to get technical! Going back all the way to the first season’s hotel scene again. This is the moment Tomoya’s and Utaha’s lines about character (Katou’s, duh) development comes to fruition
“If you make the character as ‘flat’ as possible, the player gets caught up when big changes come. All of a sudden, they’re cute.”
“(It is) the moe sense that comes from the gap in her character.”
Let’s be serious here – this is probably one of the most emotion-provoking scenes in anime for this season. Everything is down to perfection from the background music cut into Katou’s appearance, the romantic piano music (I’m definitely buying the OST, my god!), the use of CGI and let’s not forget sakuga. They saved it for the best.
Now it’s also time to once again talk about what I mean when I’ve said that the anime dramatizes source material.
I’m honestly, extremely satisfied with the anime. Remember that Fumiaki Maruto, the novel’s author, is going hands-on to write a script for the anime series. This ultimately creates an anime that tells a decent story while delivering what the author really wants his fans to see, to hear and to feel. The last person I’ve heard about doing this kind of thing was back in the anime Re:Zero and still couldn’t do as neat. Hopefully you get where I’m going with this.
The difference between the author of Re:Zero and Fumiaki Maruto is that, Maruto KNOWS anime. He has done the exact same job with White Album 2 and wishes to do something different for Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata – his very own, proud work of fiction. A lot of efforts were put into story alterations, picking pieces and putting them in a timeline where nothing feels out of place. This is what we got.
I can only write so much about something that is good. So thank you, Fumiaki Maruto-sensei. I hope that you keep up the splendid work.
Okay. Forget about her savage counter. Up until this very moment, Katou has had only 4 minutes of screen time in this episode (before opening credits, phone call with Eriri and on the rooftop with Utaha) and here she is, stealing the show once again.
Comedy is here to stay!
Just as I thought, this anime is trying really hard to preserve the comedy aspect as most of them are now fitted right into the serious, dramatic moments.
After being told to work on the third route on his own, Utaha later offers her help on the proofreading. Tomoya asked her if it’s okay to mix his probably-going-to-be-shitty work with her masterpiece…
Utaha, you never fail to highlight the comedy!
NO. Don’t ask me about this because I’m really well aware and apparently so does the episode director. See, having a director who’s up to date with memes really does take comedy to the next level.
The second picture is pretty much a homage to Tomoya who swore to….
Utaha faces a problem – she can’t think when she’s sleepy (who can anyway?). She goes ahead to sleep while Tomoya gets on with his job like a gender-less sob. His second nature soon reminds him that ‘you should sleep with a blanket or else you’ll catch a cold (it really is a thing in anime)’. He grabs it and heads over to Utaha; that’s when his gender screams a hard one, and so does Tomoya himself.
Don’t feel sad for Kasumigaoka Utaha because she accepted defeat and carried on with her real self
“I won’t lose…”
“I won’t lose to anyone….”
Looking forward to the next episode
The next episode will most likely be dedicated to Sawamura Spencer Eriri, judging by how much she appears in the preview and trash talks about how much love a certain ‘black-haired woman’ has got in the last episode.
Until then, see you really soon in the next episode of ‘Looking into’! ^_^