Enthralled by pure professionalism and disciplined presentations from a large coalition, I set my sight on eventually boarding a trip to the Otaku heaven where everyone can freely share their knowledge and opinions to the world filled with ruthless judgments. These people are known as warriors for a reason. Though, they are of no ordinary kind; they are Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect! And I say that it is about time I ready myself to be a groundbreaking part of the army!
I humbly extend my warm greetings—from a newcomer—to all of OWLS veterans and gratuitously, the readers of this post.
Having seen quality posts from other members beforehand, I feel as if I need to bring in my A Game for my debut post; first impressions are important after all!
It is currently January 2018 and the topic of the month is Revival:
“A new year implies ‘new beginnings.’ Yet, rather than discussing the ‘new,’ we will be discussing the ‘revival.’ Revival has multiple definitions, but the meaning we will be focusing on is the improvement, development, or refinement of something. Our posts will be about characters that undergo a positive or negative transformation and what we can learn from them.”
I am only at the beginning but I think that I might have already dug myself a huge hole by specifically choosing to write about Eriri in the topic of revival. This is also my second post ever which is written from my smartphone; talking about bringing in my A Game, hah!
The reason for this instance is because I am currently on a work-related trip, away from home for a few days. I’m sure that anybody who has “been there done that” would know — no matter where you are in the world, you will always have some free time to do the things you love shall there be no true hardships in tow.
Before I take you through Eriri’s illustrious journey to her revival, allow me to brief you in on how Saenai Heroine no Sodate-kata is in more ways “serviced” beyond a harem, romantic comedy show.
The show’s story in its first season is by all means generic and is also asking to be overlooked.
Aki Tomoya, 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 Sawamura Spencer Eriri to illustrate and literary elitist Kasumigaoka Utaha 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 Katou Megumi, who he then models his main character after.
For many of us who did exactly that, we were then given thirteen episodes of fun but questionable fan service and probably one of the now more popular waifu wars in anime history. It was not until a quarter of the way into Saekano ♭ when the characters took over to become the show’s main driving force to the story. The fan service and comedy were at all times enjoyable but unlike the first season, Saekano ♭ did not ask anyone to overlook its story—even more importantly—its heroines, especially Sawamura Spencer Eriri.
Not that her “theme” song is forgettable and all…
This is a bold warning!
I actually wanted this post to come out better than my character analysis for Katou Megumi, so this means I’m pumping in spoilers even beyond the anime, all the way to the finale volume.
Eriri is Tomoya’s Japanese-British childhood friend. Popular, intelligent, and elegant. She is a well known figurehead among her peers. A naturally gifted artist who holds accolades under her name from a young age. But behind closed doors, her maniac side is shown and the Tsundere side takes form.
She reluctantly joins in Tomoya’s efforts even though he “wastes her time with such a retarded project.”
She then voluntarily stayed in hopes to win a prize which is worth everything to her: Tomoya’s heart/love.
Eriri from there on had always been romantically conflicted, unable to really comprehend on what is more important to her at any given time — personal fame and money (better described as accolades) or being together with her childhood friend and eventually her first crush.
Talents barely keep up on their own; they are usually molded into people who will either find the right niche to nurture them or let them lay dormant inside. To find a niche for one’s specific talent takes effort which leads to the whole philosophy around “effort usually yield results more than pure talent can.”
It is revealed in her arc that Eriri illustrates ecchi material to take “revenge” on those who had separated her from Tomoya back in her primary school days.
Hint-filled statements like this need to have complements and true to their nature — Tomoya has also provided his own version:
From his point of view, he is convinced that Eriri, whom pretty much everybody rained praises to both her looks and talents (minus drawing because that was at all times a secret), could not stand being looked down for having hanged out with him — the “nerd”.
This is truly the first and the most important instance of her inability to comprehend on whether she would rather voluntarily keep up her image or just leave the world for a boy. Remember that they were kids at the time and money was the least of Eriri’s concern.
Her decision to separate with Tomoya would later create unforgettable memory for the both of them. That “memory” was slightly joked about by Tomoya right in the very first episode and it only got heavier from there on as any wise person knows that all wounds are capable of being reopened.
At least for the first year Eriri had been fine with “wasting time” with Tomoya; she would be happy to draw for as long as she got to be by his side. Let us look into the actual content she had produced because it is the head topic for this post — where she fell from grace.
Her Feelings Through Illustrations
It was slowly suggested throughout the series that Eriri’s drawing ability is something which is heavily affected by her own feelings. In the story of Saekano, Eriri’s emotions are literally bridged to Tomoya so however we see her (up to S2E09) would suggest us to also look at whatever Tomoya has done beforehand and not afterwards. This is what being emotionally invested looks like; no matter how relevant Tomoya’s activities are to her, Eriri would claim his actions responsible for her constantly changing emotion states. This is pure selfishness trait most prevalent in tsundere characters which is probably why Saekano ended the way it did (go read the last volume if you want).
First Fall and Quick Recovery
There had never been a time when Eriri could rest; she’d been working herself to the ground only to have her potential caged by Tomoya. At one point however, Tomoya did raise the bar by using a risky method of negative encouragement when the time was right. It happened that Eriri had a rival (Hashima Izumi) in the right moment, to which Tomoya:
Putting many things aside, Eriri set on proving Tomoya wrong by creating illustrations that would make Tomoya regret saying anything along the lines of her being inferior to anyone else. Triggering someone with serious talent can produce surprising results; just do not overdo it. At least that was what Tomoya had in his mind after his quarrel with Eriri.
Her second year with Blessing Software (Tomoya’s circle) would be the much less anticipated moment of when her artist side became heavily tainted. Eriri had considered Tomoya’s potential as a director and it turned out everyone were aware that the latter was not doing much; in fact he could not do much simply due to how overwhelmingly talented Eriri is in comparison to the person in charge. It was equivalent to driving a supercar without any real experience beforehand — we all know how well it would go.
Unlike the incident in her childhood time however, there came another person who would forever change everything about the members of Blessing Software: Katou Megumi.
(Discarding the anime version) Eriri had some of the worst impressions for Megumi at the beginning due to her jealousy — the fact that the latter was able to get on Tomoya’s good side much sooner than she could ever have with any other boys. Eriri’s feelings (or lack of) towards Megumi is part of what made her “fine” during her first year with Blessing Software as the latter had almost no impact to the circle; Megumi could not scratch Eriri’s reputation or emotions, allowing Eriri to resort to dirty tactics such as…
Came second year and change all around. Eriri eventually came to accept Megumi’s blandness and how she is practically nonexistent within the creator’s world, in other words talentless. But that former part of Megumi is exactly what she lacks since her personalities are all laid out on the mat (in case you do not remember, a Tsundere). It is also these qualities (or lack of) in Megumi which Tomoya wants most in a girlfriend; he only wants a great life companion and not someone who would soon become the mountain to his hills.
Slowly realizing that she is losing her romantic crush Tomoya to Megumi’s undying charms, Eriri struggled in her own mind for days, weeks and months long. She had been feeling nothing but contempt in drawing CG’s of Meguri and Seiji for the game. Not forgetting that Meguri and eventually Ruri are models entirely based on Megumi Katou, the more Eriri became aware of Megumi’s exponential increase in impact to the circle, the less she was able to concentrate. It did not really help with the fact that they have been close friends—first name basis—for a while then.
Second Fall but No Recovery
Eriri’s second (massive) slump started as early as the third episode of the second season in the anime. This time around there were hints everywhere, such as how she was not able to meet deadlines or happily participate in circle activities as opposed to the timeline in first season, where Eriri had been spotted to be working in Tomoya’s house more often than anyone else, Tomoya included.
After many more subtle hints within the plot, both Eriri and Utaha were on the verge of accepting reality; a fact that Tomoya would not replace Megumi or anything that heavily ties to her with anything else, which included the game’s script with Meguri being the true main heroine and her design being 90% identical to Megumi.
Eriri, who had been absent from circle activities for nearly an entire week, finally showed up despite having let everyone else know that she would not. It was at that moment when she bit the dust and forced herself to draw a scene in which she—had all this time—wished that the girl in the picture should have been anyone/anything to do with her instead.
For me at the very least, I get heavily, emotionally drained when I am forced to do things that I clearly do not wish to see done by my own hands. Eriri probably was in that very spot for a moment when she felt some internal conflicts. She loves Megumi as her best friend but on the other hand she wanted nothing more than Tomoya’s genuine love. Eriri definitely knew it all too well by then — whether she ended up becoming Megumi’s best friend or Tomoya’s girlfriend, there would be a heavy price to pay. But she’d kept everything to herself while she quietly fell into a slump.
Second season Episode 5 is entirely dedicated to Eriri and her struggle while still in slump. It was mostly thanks to Tomoya’s inability to act accordingly and cooperatively with other members of the circle, Eriri had been left to “create” all on her own. It is a common knowledge among creators that we find inspirations and/or triggers from somewhere.
I mean, look! This post would not exist without Eriri…
She on the other hand was allowed (by Tomoya) to walk on the worst route possible for an artist as suggested by no other than another creator, Utaha.
Having pushed herself to the very limit one more time, Eriri let out the last of her artistic ability before having fell into her biggest slump yet.
Third Fall and Big but Emotionally Torn Recovery.
Eriri had no creator’s fire left in her, unable to envision any kind of art for a few months, resting behind her excuse of, “the game is completed.”
And once again, Tomoya was in no ways helpful on the matter; spoiled the hell out of her to the point that Utaha lashed him with harshest of vocabularies from her personal, light novel author’s dictionary.
It all came back to her inability to comprehend things but this time however, she got in a real bind with both her legs and arms pulled left and right. Due to wild success of Blessing Software’s game Cherry Blessing, a game in which she contributed her sweat and tears (CG visuals) to, the now-in-highschool Eriri considered her potential income should she keep on working in the career of CG artist for visual novels and games in general. And once again she’d also considered Tomoya’s potential in the long run, except this time it all became clear that Eriri’s potential not only overwhelmed Tomoya but surprisingly the entire circle; she is one hell of a ferocious beast locked in a cage, sleeping. Nobody around was able to motivate her, pushing her to make use of her talents and break her limit.
Like a diamond in the rough, someone had to snatch that opportunity. Luckily for Eriri and unfortunately for Blessing Software, talent scouts are alive and kicking well.
For the fans of Saekano: I hope you now realized that it was not Kousaka Akane who’d first triggered Eriri in such a way – Tomoya was able to do it for the first but not the second time around because it would reset their relationship state to back when they were not truly on good terms. Tomoya was well aware and afraid that Eriri would be able to reach new heights—beyond his directing capability. True to his nightmare, it was exactly what Eriri had done in the later month; she (along with Utaha) had left Blessing Software to experience a whole new (skill) limiter — Kousaka Akane.
Her departure from Blessing Software was without a doubt entirely for personal reasons, one of which really had to do with Tomoya and how she still could not let him go from her maiden heart. Her friendship with Megumi had also got much better while the triangle romance situation had got worse; it would definitely result in someone being emotionally hurt. Eriri decided that she would not be the one who gets hurt and severed her friendship with Megumi in hopes of at least becoming a competitor, naturally making the love triangle much worse than it had already been.
Though, all of it were sacrificed for Eriri to better herself as an artist, one that will make both Tomoya and Megumi bow in respect since the two chose to stick together.
Getting into beyond-anime spoiler territory now:
After getting triggered into massive motivation by Kousaka Akane, Eriri’s artist side went to and back from hell, turning her into someone else completely who worked without nonsense bindings such as romantic feelings. On the project she worked with Akane, which was Field’s Chronicle XIII, Eriri came out and released visuals for the promotional video which shocked pretty much everyone in Blessing Software, not only because of how she obviously got better at doing it but also how she’d started using her wits in her art. She’d put her feelings aside to focus on what really matter — her job.
Her illustrations were no longer just papers with pictures; each one of her works were all interconnected to a certain level.
More shaken by the circle was Megumi, who called out to Tomoya. He realized the difference in her voice: it contained both her loneliness and sorrow of being left behind by her best friend, along with her irritation of not being understood by that best friend of hers.
Upon confessing his love for Megumi, Tomoya was made to thoroughly contemplate about the two other heroines. When it came to Eriri:
The feelings that I harbor toward Eriri… are something that even I can’t completely understand.
Even if she is a lot better than myself, I will always think that she is not good enough in my eyes.
Even if I wish for her to be better than anyone else, I always wanted her to stay under me.
Filled with worry as she fell into a slump, I found comfort in the fact that she stagnated.
As she escaped her shell and improved herself, I could only swallow my impatience at the sight of being left behind.
…I fell in love with someone for the first time since I’m born, and hated someone for the first time since I’m born.
Tomoya’s inferiority complex could have resulted in one of the worst possible future for Eriri had she chose to forever stay in Blessing Software and try her luck with the former. But because she chose to break free from her own doubts and other people’s expectations, Eriri did the emotionally-impossible for your typical Tsundere!
She may have fell down more than once but each and every time she got up, they all feel different. Getting up might have been hard on her own which was why outsider encouragement should be appreciated, no matter positive or negative.
Tomoya’s and Eriri’s self-reflections can be read in their final heart-to-heart, Volume 13 Chapter 4.
Sawamura Spencer Eriri made it out alive through all of the mess. Her artistic side might have died a few times—next to the person she loved most—and got revived just as many, but her normal self had been alive and well enough to know that she had made mistakes. And her method in solving each and every one of them was to do so with her different self, as if she made a comeback, taking revenge on them as she became more powerful. What both you and I can get out of her story is:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Not only that Eriri was able to come back from her shortcomings; she improved herself further albeit with dear sacrifices.
Boy! I kinda anticipated that the result would come out like this when it comes to writing a post about Saekano, but a year of self-improvement have surely made me what I am today. My better self should in theory, make my blog what it is today as well!
I clearly am following Eriri in her footsteps.
Though, I think that Auricchi over at Manga Toritsukareru Koto is a few steps ahead of me on the same path. Please do check out her OWLS post as she precedes me in the tour. Oh and also do tell her to stop nominating me for every blog award she gets.
I would like to once again, thank the OWLS Team and Irina for making it all possible for me to make such a satisfying debut. If it was not for Irina nudging them, I would not be here until the next month or so.
The pressure for me is now OFF!
For Rai (over at Rai’s Anime Blog) however, who is pretty much next up on the tour, I cannot promise you anything except that her post—proceeding mine in the tour—will be just as great if not better.
Thank you for reading!
SHOKA OUT! See you next month in OWLS, hopefully!