Woah! I swear it is pure coincidence that the episode title and my review title both contain the word ‘Rivals’ – that was the most recurring theme in my head as I watched it.
As I’ve said in my short review, this episode still somewhat took on the original storyline, added anime original contents and then full on accelerated the sailing speed of Tomoya x Katou ship. I really don’t know of what Fumiaki-sensei’s plan is for the last episode, honestly.
What we got now is some further exploration into a few internal factors that drove Eriri into her path of choice, all the while discovering that Utaha has been understating herself for quite a while, too.
Let us just forget about the whole timeline thing – this episode is throwing back and forward really hard. It will take a couple of watches to figure out where each plot is in relation to the previous episode.
That’s right, this episode is pretty much tightly tied with the previous one. You can basically call it The Betrayal Arc.
Lastly, this is pretty much an explanation/contemplation episode where I shouldn’t be writing a lot about since the characters do all of the work with their reasoning. I was hoping to write less for this episode than I did for the previous. Thank God, it’s going to be the case for me~
After getting mentally wrecked by Kousaka Akane, the duo leave for a breather just outside, not too far from Akane’s headquarters. Here I get to see Eriri’s character on full display.
She initially rejects the idea of working with such an egotistical producer that is Akane.
She lists her worries that will come to life in near future has she not actually take any action against them.
Bingo. Eriri admits for the hundredth time that she’s in a slump, really using it as an excuse to stop Utaha from saying anything at all.
You guessed it – the Ice Queen isn’t the one person to easily be sympathetic. She chooses the wrong person to seek sympathy from.
“That is about the only issue I agree with Kousaka Akane on.”
Kasumigaoka Utaha debunks Eriri’s display of character in reverse order, starting from her being a slump as a mere excuse. The former follows up by outright telling her that she has only been listing the reasons as to why she can’t draw and that she has not taken any action or made any decisions regarding what she wants to really do or what she wants to have happened.
“…whether you want to continue as an artist, or…”
She cuts Utaha off at this point. I would, too, because the Ice Queen Utaha really is no chill when it comes down to beneficial truth. Though, seriously – where was this Utaha in the last few episodes? Instead of talking it out with Tomoya just like how she’s doing it with Eriri right now, she goes for the apologetic betrayal route! Ugh.
A little info: this scene actually takes place before her betraying Tomoya, hence all the more salty I am.
Finally, the last part of Eriri’s facade, her pride, gets the shatter from Utaha’s roundabout encouragement.
Notice that Eriri is sweating. She has really been holding in her excitement, in hopes of not actually having to show Utaha her rotten self (Yes, rotten – that’s nearly everyone’s reaction to the things they find to be epic to their tastes. Take Fujoshi for example).
She held it all in, until now.
Look, we all know why we love Tsundere girls. The excited Eriri here shows us just that.
So Akane’s taunt has worked on Eriri in a rather positive way. She actually doesn’t care that much for Akane despite Utaha calling out the name, but rather she is taking an extreme interest in being a part of Fields Chronicle XIII, a major game that came out and got popular before she was born. Now I can actually be on the same page as Eriri – I’d be dead ass happy too if I’d been allowed to work on remasters of my favorite NES games.
It is then Eriri’s head really clicks in after her rotten head carries her words ahead of herself.
She realizes that Akane has not mention anything along the lines of Utaha’s importance in the project.
As Akane has said herself, she created her proposal with Eriri’s participation in mind while she considered Utaha to be a potentially useful baggage, or what Utaha herself calls an afterthought.
At least in this very moment, that’s what of Utaha is known within the gaming community.
She’s a noob compared to Eriri. And noobs will need to ‘get good’.
In the show’s context, Eriri had asked Utaha on her thoughts about the way Akane treats her as an extra to the former’s participation.
Oh boy, here we go.
Kasumigaoka Utaha lets out her inner jealousy in pretty much about the same way noobs in competitive games do.
With anger and false claims.
“Eh f*ck you c*nt! I’m not tilted ya f*cking moron! You ain’t (hitting) shit. Can’t even kill their healers and you call yourself a Master player?! Why the f*ck am I in Gold, seeing noobs like you?!”
Sorry, that ain’t her line but I’m sure you see the similarities.
“I’m angry. I’m obviously angry! Being treated like some extra to an amateur illustrator! How could that not bother me when I’m the professional?”
What truly separates Utaha the good noob and the horrible, tiled noobs is the fact that she accepts the reality. She acknowledges the fact that she is inferior to Eriri at this stage. But most important of all, she’s willing to improve herself. This is basically the queue for a rivalry moment in which I fully expected. I’m glad Saekano doesn’t overlook simple things.
“So prepare yourself.”
And with that, she reaffirms that Eriri is solely the deciding factor on whether she gets in to the project or not. Eriri’s reaction is oddly cute and all but there is one thing she has to say to Utaha, only to have the latter walk away in an attempt to create the beginning moment of a happy rivalry.
Alma mater – the more reason she needs to keep up
Utaha reaffirms that she’ll not slack behind with her novel job as she gets the start on Fields Chronicle XIII.
The fact that Machida asks Utaha about what she’ll do about Blessing Software pretty much hints that the scene happened before episode 9. The former also asks of what Utaha should do if Tomoya is really to block her path.
“I am a professional.”
Spot something for me.
Yaaas. Utaha is full of shit on this part. She lost herself over Tomoya then called Eriri out on losing herself over Tomoya. It’s actually good of Machida to remind her that emotions got the best out of her not too long ago.
Taking the truth like a bullet, Utaha isn’t willing to stay for more. Before she is able to leave, Machida interrupts and asks of Akane.
More background story reveals that Machida and Akane were in the manga club together in the university.
She’s quick to compliment Akane on her methods to success whereas Utaha is just as quick to throw the insults. It is until she lets Utaha know that Akane is just simply moved by her passion for the craft – she’s not doing it for fame or money.
“In order to keep up with her, or rather fight alongside her, you’ll either need talent, mental stability or a combination of both.”
Utaha’s confidence isn’t wavering a lot but as she thinks deeper, she can only see Eriri in her slump.
Slump no more!
Eriri calls to wake Utaha up on her free day. While she initially isn’t happy about it, she gets a reminder of the fact that it is 3 p.m..
Now, I know that Utaha sleeps pretty much anytime that she can at school (including the opening ceremony in the very first episode), seeing her getting up so late in the afternoon is a first. Haha!
Over in Eriri’s personal art room at Toyogasagi Academy, she welcomes Utaha to see that she’s no longer in a slump. Utaha’s reaction can be viewed in two different ways.
One is that Utaha acts quite like a mother whose child just completed their homework. Oh dear, shout out to many mothers of the generation X!
The other and the real one is that Utaha’s excitement comes from the fact that throughout the entire time, it is her task to get Eriri out of her slump.
Eriri somehow manages to get out of it on her own at a cost of her romantic feelings, her loved one.
Wow. Thanks for the flashback of their quarrel. Now something really clicks for me as well.
How far she has come alongside Tomoya…
“You’ve come this far. You’re faster and more consistent!”
“Then become amazing next!”
It’s unfortunate for both of them but, she’s going to become amazing without Tomoya.
Then we get to the flashback of Episode 4 but with Akane’s taunting words this time.
Now this is going to sound freakish of me but consider the fact that…
Eriri is probably a true masochist.
She does say that, “Tomoya won’t force me to draw either.”
Not only that she cannot draw when she’s beside Tomoya, but because he won’t force her on top of that? I’m not going to state anything here so decide for yourself.
Lastly on this scene, THEY DID IT! They actually used Sakuga on Eriri’s emotion turnover. I know this is something Kyoto Animation does in every one of their drama series so I’m really happy someone else is picking up the pace. Right from her cute “Utaha” (see, the same old reason I can’t help but like Tsundere – they are just freaking cute), smiling to laughter in which turns into a breakdown upon realizing that Tomoya’s push has got her so far, only to be able to get pushed further by someone she doesn’t morally align with.
Rivals – An enemy of my enemy is my friend
Still at school, Eriri lets Utaha in on more of her past with Tomoya, especially on how she had once betrayed him. To her surprise, Utaha already knows that much. Also the fact that it will be Eriri’s second betrayal to Tomoya. Utaha, however…
Someone please make a compilation of every single time Eriri calls out ‘Kasumigaoka Utaha’ – the result may actually shock you.
For this moment at the very least, her callout is with a sad tone. Eriri is prepared for the worst to come once Tomoya finds out about their move. Utaha is still being all motherly, willing to be the ears to Eriri’s problems in the future. What she doesn’t realize is that she still has problems of her own, the one that Eriri wishes to solve way earlier but she walked away on it.
“Don’t let Kousaka Akane look down on you, Kasumi Utako. You’re a professional too, aren’t you?”
“She made one mistake. She underestimated your talent, your determination and just how bad you are at giving up.”
“Not understanding how amazing Kasumi Utako is means Kousaka Akane isn’t special at all!”
So the roles got reversed in a matter of few minutes. Eriri indeed has the encouragement factor that gets underrepresented most of the time. She resorts to this move when she’s emotionally stable and clear of any potential guilt. Pretty understandable, actually. A Tsundere acts mostly according to emotion, after all.
Come on, if you managed to read this far then I’m sure you should realize that Eriri is a Tsundere well made.
Rivals – A friend of my enemy is also my enemy
In an intermission, Iori gets his own spotlight in his confrontation with the great producer Akane. He comments on how directly approaching the duo with her bold, merciless methods will not work out as well as she plans and that she should have gone to talk to Tomoya first.
Akane has her focus on the things/people she needs and will disregard everything else in the way.
Iori remarks that he has heard that line before. I don’t even think it’s a spoiler because it has already happened. Tomoya in the very first episode of this show spewed that very line to both Utaha and Eriri in his plead for them to join Blessing Software. Ah how nostalgic.
Iori then comments on how Akane’s methods are the biggest reason she gathers many enemies in her path to success, to which she admits that she’s the ‘go hard or go home’ type of person. Iori then admits that he’s not quite ready to follow Akane’s path just yet and would like to still be able to laugh with others at work. Akane, being extremely experienced in the field of production, mercilessly corrects Iori’s thought as an intention of leaving Rogue en Rogue.
Unlike Eriri and Utaha, Iori shows us the correct way of leaving a circle.
And now, let the hate resume for the duo. Lol!
Akane’s experience is then put to the show in a form of wise words from her to Iori.
“As long as you’re trying to make it in this world, there’s no easy path. You have to claw your way up, making enemies along the way.”
DAMN TRUTH. It has been spoken, really. You cannot please everybody once you’re at the very top. Think about top game companies or even more relevant, anime studios! I’m going to point out that Kyoto Animation exists as the most successful anime studio in Japan but for any haters out there, you can actually tell that most of what KyoAni produces are short of action. The studio outright avoids shounen battle titles as it has a very large fanbase and therefore is impossible to please everybody. What they do instead is pick the most hailed genre of entertainment in the country and adapt/create anime within that very genre. We know they are predominantly drama and slice of life with some addition of comedy, romance and fantasy.
Okay, enough about them. Back on the topic.
Iori claims that he’ll still be the co-boss in his future, to which Akane wonders if such a person who’s willing to cooperate with him exists.
And that’s a hint number one.
Revival – From Zero
Tomoya meets Iori in the same cafe that they had their Valentine’s encounter.
Wait. Is she excited or disgusted this time?
Iori intends to apologize while admitting that it was because of him Akane even got the chance to discover Eriri and Utaha. Tomoya however barges in with a reason that’s probably valid for half of us watching the show. To be honest, I can go and talk about it again just like my continuation of episode 9 Looking Into. Tomoya’s reason being that “it’s an incredible opportunity for the duo” will most likely be agreed on by those who have a career and/or are working on a job.
“How could I hold it against them?”
Tomoya goes on to say that the fact Akane discovered the duo at all means that he’s a great producer. Oh man, how half assed can he actually be? Self complimenting while shaking vigorously like a vibrator.
Iori lets Tomoya know that he and his little sister Izumi have left Rogue en Rogue and that it is not done in order to atone for his misdeeds towards Tomoya’s loss.
“Something we can’t do in our current team (Rogue en Rogue).”
Tomoya asks Iori of a favor to take care of Izumi because no way in hell will he let her talents go to waste, to which Iori confidently replies that he’s already found the best place where Izumi can exhibit her talents. And that folks, is a hint number two.
“So you should continue with your doujin team, too.”
“Don’t quit game developing, don’t quit creating. You can’t give up on chasing your dreams.”
A hint number three.
Revival – A fateful encounter to a fateful restart
Tomoya walks home, taking the hill route.
The cherry blossoms are blooming.
Completely different from last year, the flowers are blooming.
…No, the cherry blossoms are the same.
It’s just that everything else is different.
He realizes that it has indeed been a very year long journey of welcoming times from the writer/illustrator duo. He’s definitely missing something from the year long experience and that very thing he’s missing appears.
Erm. For goodness’s sake – please stop stealing the show in a few minutes, Megumi!
Megumi asks him out on a date?
Yeah. Something doesn’t feel quite right with this part. I’ve mentioned before in my short review that the second ‘date’ event doesn’t actually happen until midway of Volume 8. It really looks like the second season will end on the last note of the seventh volume. It’s a massive plot skip if this is really the kind of alteration Fumiaki-sensei is going for.
Otherwise I think there’s another possibility…
The date can be completely anime original (it kind of already is since Megumi is never the one to ask Tomoya out on a date) and acts as an event to stabilize Tomoya’s emotional downfall. This is actually something Megumi is best known for – being there for her friends. So with this in mind I’m actually, extremely excited to see how the finale will go down.
Please let it be diabetes just like Episode 8!
Tomoya is actually a crybaby
So in the light novel, instead of him balls up seeing Megumi’s approach to ask him out on a date, this is how it goes…
“It’s been a while. We meet…again. What a coincidence, ahaha…”
“I’m glad you still recognize me…Tomoya Aki-kun.”
“Come to think of it, we haven’t seen each other for almost a month now right?”
Why a short bob…?
“Ummm, actually I just went to your place and saw your mother. She said you haven’t gone out for a while.”
That’s why a short bob…
“But she said you’d be back before dinner.”
That short bob is…
“She did say that I could wait for you inside…”
“But it’s already spring, and there’s cherry blossom…”
Spinning the hat on her finger, Megumi slowly walks downhill.
The white one piece dress she’s wearing and the hair style, they feel so nostalgic no matter which one I look at.
No. That’s exactly what she’s aiming for.
“That’s why, I was waiting for you here…the whole time.”
And so, before me stands the ‘Megumi from a year ago’.
Like that time, with an unbelievably cute expression on her face, she smiles.
“Sorry for not contacting you.”
“I needed some time to sort myself out.”
“That’s why…I’m sorry for not being by your side when you were going through tough times.”
“No…I should be the one saying sorry.”
I’m really sorry.
I know how worried Katou must be. I know how sad she must be.
Because I had just found out how much she loved our circle.
That’s why it wouldn’t be surprising at all if she’s all depressed.
But she’s not.
She has returned to her usual self again.
The opportunity again comes from I asking Katou for help.
That’s why I must make proper decisions for the future.
Make decisions like a representative should.
“I…I will continue the circle.”
“Even if Michiru left too…well knowing her, it’s hard to say when things are like this.”
“Still…I want to make games!”
I will follow my dream.
Selfishly dragging in Katou again.
Never leave…no, never exclude her.
Arrogantly, forcefully, wholeheartedly…follow the dream that’s no lesser than the one from last year.
“That’s why, Megumi Katou…please be my main heroine once more!”
“Make me…the main heroine who’s envied by everyone again okay?”
…Together with the best partner.
“Ah, haha, ha…”
“Ueeh, uu, gu…uwaaaaa…”
“Uwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, ahhhhhhh!”
Unable to hold back his tears any longer, Tomoya breaks down in front of Megumi.
Cute, right? Tomoya practically lets out his weakness whereas Megumi lends him her strength. In other words it’s a working combination!
I’ll be making a continuation of this post. I can’t put it here because it ain’t a ‘review’.