Just as I suspected, last episode was a dedication to Kasumigaoka Utaha; this episode is dedicated to Sawamura Spencer Eriri and is covering a part of sixth volume.
Throughout the entire episode, Utaha clearly shows no exterior sign of romantic interest towards Tomoya, this means the fourth episode settled nearly everything. Her comedic self remains and is the main thing that splits the drama and comedy parts in this episode.
Once again, splendid work on altering the source material can be seen right here at the start. Katou’s confession scene shouldn’t even happen because at that time apparently seeing Utaha raping Tomoya is more important, not to mention it keeps up the gag.
Additionally, both Michiru and Izumi, who should have been somewhere in here, got scrapped out completely in this episode’s story. (ouch)
Here we got to see it in action, while keeping everything else true – stuff like Tomoya still being physically harassed by Utaha on top of being inducted into the ‘Terrible Protagonist Hall of Fame’. For me at least, that’s an honor.
This entire scene is pretty much anime exclusive fourth wall breaking.
Though, Eriri doesn’t seem to be enjoying the show as much. I can see why though. This episode’s direction isn’t on point compared to the previous. It has two very important parts of the source material story cut out completely to save time which results in a quick and dark drama, ultimately future tragedy. I’ll give details near the end as to what they are.
It is obvious now that Katou has developed into a character that can really stand in the front row. She has just been confessed to, after all. Her positive nature and willingness to cooperate, when mix with motivation Katou slowly and gracefully leans more toward a main heroine we all (especially I!) wish her to be.
Utaha doesn’t seem to agree however. Here she is spouting ‘give me credit where it’s due!’ in class. Tomoya thinks not just outside the box but rather out of this world. He really believes that Katou is in his possession and that he can do exactly what he wants with his heroine.
I want to have whatever you’re smoking, Tomoya!
Utaha cuts straight to the chase and demands reason(s) as to why Katou turned down the poor guy. Her answer catches the rest of the circle off guard. This part is also an altered source material. Thank God I don’t have to see a yandere Utaha going hard on Katou.
Katou goes on to tell the others about how she’ll be losing time for the circle had she started dating, to which Utaha uses as an opportunity to bash on Eriri for her tardy work progress. Eriri then also finds the opportunity to pass the flame onto Tomoya who she faults for adding a third route to the game on the spot. It’s basically a ‘hot potato‘ game in the classroom. You really have done it this time haven’t you, Utaha?
She’s not letting it slide at all, pointing out that even so Eriri would still be behind the schedule. Eriri runs out of excuse (was there one to begin with?) and laments on how she can’t picture the right visuals for the main heroine which causes Katou to apologize out of nowhere. Katou really is more than a two faced person, no?
On a serious note, Katou just proves to us that she’s going to be ‘bros before hoes’ this time around, even turning down a confession. Woah!
Oh my God, I think it is at this point Utaha strongly reminds me of her Ice Queen attitude – speaks cold, hard truth. No holds barred whatsoever. Like, I’m fine with drama and all that jazz but when it comes to bitch fights – I lose it. I’m not even going to retype what she says because reading her lines will piss me off, haha! What I’ll leave on here though is what almost happened.
A bitch fight.
As I’d expect, Utaha doesn’t stop biting at all. She keeps putting money on Eriri not finishing her job which naturally has Tomoya defend Eriri. Ah~ Every time Eriri calls Tomoya with ‘that tone’, it’s truly the reason we love tsundere.
Being complimented by her boi, Eriri makes a promise that she’ll finish her work no matter what.
Departure to childhood
On Saturday morning Tomoya meddles around with his own business in his room until he gets the honk from outside. That’s it, really. However I can appreciate another homage to the past.
How he approaches the window to look outside and even his reaction mirrors Eriri back in the first season’s third episode. Down to the details, even the GUEH!
Eriri lets Tomoya know that she’ll be over to her summer house (in the winter?!) in Nasu Highlands (Kogen). Tomoya finds out that her intention isn’t a positive one since she mentions of coming back the weekend after which is the deadline for the game’s development. She again promises Tomoya that she’ll finish her work on time and asks Tomoya to trust her on this. Though, Tomoya knows what happens when he trusts Eriri too much. The past reminds him of that much.
Eriri for the third time, promises that it will be okay ‘this time’ – she’ll lock herself in the villa until she finishes her work. This means she’ll have to skip school. Oooooh rebel!
Tomoya repeats Utaha’s question to Eriri, asking her why exactly she is on time. Now that they are alone Eriri is able to open up her tsundere heart and tells Tomoya that she has a lot on the line, namely the challenge she accepted from Izumi.
“So (just) wait for me.”
That line causes Tomoya to recall his childhood memory of her saying the exact same thing. At this point the music gets creepy too, all the reason to think it’s definitely not going to end well.
At the circle’s favorite cafe, Utaha goes monotone (something unique to Katou) on how Eriri is definitely a goner which feeds into Tomoya’s anxiety. Additionally, Katou becomes worried.
Utaha, being much more experienced in failures than the other two, lets them in on the fact that’s just how things are in the beginning and that certain patterns emerge with creators who run away. Take note.
First stage: Their language becomes rougher
Second stage: They begin to blame themselves
Third stage: Their replies become more infrequent
Fourth stage: “FML. I don’t want to live/do this anymore.”
Fifth stage: You’ll be unable to reach them entirely
The sixth stage is a joke so I’ll leave it at that – it’s exactly what Saekano needs at this dark time, including the lousy maid of the cafe who got my attention right at the very start of this anime.
Utaha reminds the two that they must take note immediately shall any sign of emergence occurs. This is where Tomoya absolutely f*cks up. YOU HAVE ONE JOB.
Tomoya and Katou take their usual trip home when the latter asks of Eriri’s time of return. She then propose that they go see Eriri at her summer house on Saturday. Tomoya takes it the wrong way and questions Katou’s Otaku awareness, that is to take a single male to spend the night with two females. Katou doesn’t see any issues with the idea since Episode 0 happened. Tomoya declines, reason being that he also has his own deadline to deal with which activates Katou’s ‘bros before hoes’ magic card once again. She lets Tomoya know that she’ll be free in the weekend and (freaking) let her know if he needs her. Like, seriously. This much is obvious – Katou really cares about the circle and what they do. She’s giving it her all, including the remark…
Tomoya chats with Eriri on Skype to check on her progress. To his surprise, Eriri has only finished a single page of illustration. Eriri gets a little infuriated and Tomoya mistakes it for her tsundere character. She does however give him the warning…
At school on the next day Utaha straight up bashes him for not taking note on Eriri’s change in pattern and warns him that Eriri will definitely move up to stage two by the end of the day. She then goes on to lecture Tomoya about her failing experience and how they are (extremely!) relevant to Eriri’s current status – artists are the most at risk when they are trying to challenge something new.
The rest is just Utaha regretting about writing a school harem novel and that she should have just stuck with young romance. It’s a direct mockery to the Saekano anime itself.
Confrontation with the Queen
Tomoya makes up all the excuses to mentally relieve himself for having to believe in Eriri. This causes Utaha to immediately rips the comfort out of Tomoya’s head and pours it all in – it is not that he trusts Eriri but rather, he’s not expecting anything from her. The music gets excessively loud and depressing from here on. It’s not like I didn’t see it coming; it’s just too much to take in, especially from the Ice Queen herself.
Development in a different direction? I say yes.
No time is wasted in this anime. Just as Utaha predicted, Eriri cuts to the chase, admitting that she’s really not familiar with Tomoya’s script – she can’t picture anything out of it. The mood in this scene is worrisome and an amazingly sad piano BGM proves just that.
The self-blame game is in order.
It was really a short call. Tomoya breaks the fourth wall with extreme depression.
While asleep, Tomoya recalls to the childhood memory again where Eriri apologized for not keeping her promise while concurrently conjuring a nightmare, where future Eriri also apologizes. God damn it. This scene is more horrifying than some actual horror stuff out there.
Katou, for the last time, uses the bros before hoes magic card and sincerely asks of Tomoya to really let her know if something comes up.
It doesn’t end there. She’s putting her caring side in the front line three times in a row in a single episode. That speaks volume.
Katou’s last question to Tomoya however makes him recall to the childhood past once more.
Right. It’s the cue for ‘what’s missing!’
Frankly speaking, this is where the mistake is made in removing probably the most important part about Katou. No, seriously. It may look like a wall of text to you but trust me – this is a make or break for Katou’s character.
What should have happened (shouldn’t have been removed, rather) in this scene was this event:
Tomoya asks Katou why she became close friends with Eriri (they didn’t get along in the beginning), she says it was during that time at Rokutenba Mall (Episode 6 of first season). Katou says that the real Eriri is someone who will never betray the person she’s opened up to, and asks Tomoya to believe in Eriri regardless of the past. Tomoya says that Eriri is still deceiving those around her by hiding her Otaku side. Katou tells him that Eriri’s cover will likely be blown soon because of her friendship with Katou, who is seen as Tomoya’s “subordinate”. Tomoya says that everything will be fine as long as Eriri denies the rumors, but Katou informs him that Eriri has never tried to defuse any of the rumors and won’t say anything when asked about her relationship with Tomoya. She believes that Tomoya and Eriri will be able to get over the past and truly mend their relationship.
I shall repeat – Katou REALLY cares about the circle and everyone in it. She’s at the point of trusting herself to them, Tomoya included. I think I’ve left enough hints here as to why this is important.
Tomoya chooses to f*ck up by not telling Katou that currently something is wrong with Eriri which breaks her trusting heart. And Katou, being a very caring person, will not look good when she feels betrayed. I’ll be that dickhead and give you a spoiler that the biggest change ever will happen to Katou in episode 7 and 8.
Tomoya waits eagerly for Eriri to call, the wait lasted until exactly at midnight of Saturday when Eriri calls him and brings him the worst kind of news he’s able to imagine:
Eriri is raising all of the possible bad flags.
It was actually sad and spontaneous to the point that I got shivers and cried a little while typing the line above. I happened to be watching that very scene on my second screen while thinking on what to put here. I’m just leaving my feelings here so when I come back I can remind myself how emotionally powerful the anime Saekano Flat was.
She’s ‘challenging herself to a new method of drawing’. Utaha’s line on how artists are the most at risk when they are trying to challenge something new vigorously shakes Tomoya’s emotion and leaves him unable to register Eriri’s train of thoughts. All he can do is to beg of her to stop. His efforts are in vain when, for the last time, Eriri tells him that, “I can do it as long as you believe in me.”
While it is somewhat depressing, we actually get to hear potentials of Katou, who voices a yandere and a tsundere heroine. Oh and that scream!
I don’t think I need to mention anything about background music anymore – Saekano NAILS it, every time. In fact it is the music and Matsuoka Yoshitsugu‘s voice acting that drives my emotion into crying. Tomoya looked and felt extremely worried and devastated at the same time. If you try to put yourself in Tomoya’s shoes for that moment alone you’d probably want to cry because of a grand realization – you’ve just made two choices that would drastically affect the future of Blessing Software, its members and more importantly, yourself.
Hang me on the cliff again and make sure I die this time!
I know you want people to come back and watch the show but man, you’re going to far!
Another case of a missing character and an important message that comes with her
This happened just before Eriri came to give Tomoya the heads up about leaving to Nasu Highlands.
Tomoya’s cousin Michiru, who is in charge of the game soundtrack, plays a new ending song she has just composed before the group at Tomoya’s house. Tomoya is moved to tears by the song and decides to include it in the game, despite the tremendous work involved in changing the game data. He lies to Michiru and says one or two songs won’t be a big deal. Michiru asks Tomoya if finishing developing the game will really make everyone happy. Tomoya gives her a positive answer but Michiru tells him that their group can easily collapse due to some trivial things. Tomoya says that like Michiru has told him before, he will keep the circle running no matter what. He will watch over everything they have done together. He thinks to himself that after all this time, he can’t go back to being a consumer Otaku who just watches anime and plays games. Utaha will be graduating soon, and she will definitely be very busy with her own life. It doesn’t have to every day or forever, it will be fine if they could get together once in a while like a class reunion or a rock band that reunites after decades. Michiru says Katou also seems to think the same way as Tomoya. She tells him that their circle has come this far all thanks to Katou and then cryptically says that Katou is their strongest ally but also their biggest enemy.
Notice that the comedy in this episode, minus Katou ripping off Tomoya, is practically nearly nonexistent.
A note regarding Tomoya and his dense as f*ck mental state – in the previous episode he managed to remember that games are a team effort and that leaving all the script work to Utaha would have been chaotic, which it was. I know that by also not trusting Eriri on her art work will cause friendship/relationship issues but man, take a bow. Eriri may be a childhood friend and holds a special place in his heart and all but his decision to let her struggle in the wilderness was a grave mistake, just like Utaha said herself. The thing is, she did tell him that she was struggling. In the end I guess it’s simply a trust issue. It’s too late now though – not only that he had f*cked with Katou’s heart while she spent the weekend on her own, not knowing that grave danger was under her nose the entire time. He’s caused Eriri trouble too.
Looking forward to the next episode
Ah. I see the Winter Comiket scene…
That means Katou is a goner… she has a good reason to, though.
I can only say this much or else it’s a real spoiler, but if you want to know what happens feel free to head over to the spoiler category and check it out. I’ll be removing part of it soon since it is only two weeks away from happening in anime.
At least now I’m up to date with the review…
See you next week while I have one week to rest from this sadness (and write about something else happy). 😦