Post Reply Saekano: How to Raise a Boring GIrlfriend
Polysyllabic Support Lead
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Posted 3/11/15
by Koda89



How would you react to finding out that a beautiful girl you came across one day is actually the most boring, nondescript girl in your class? For mega-otaku Tomoya Aki, his reaction is to make a visual novel based around his classmate Megumi Kato, the girl he had his fateful encounter with. To this end Tomoya recruits his childhood friend Eriri Spencer Sawamura to do the art for his game and Utaha Kasumigaoka, a senior student at his school, to do the writing. The one major problem is that Megumi lacks the knowledge of virtually every aspect of otaku culture, chief among them being the various character tropes. Thus it is up to Tomoya to mold Megumi into being the ideal visual novel heroine.

From the moment Saekano starts, it becomes abundantly clear that the series not only drips with meta humor, but also plays straight many of the genre conventions it makes fun of. This is a show that knows exactly what it is and revels in it. The series readily shows just how self-aware it is when Utaha interrupts Tomoya's pointlessly long opening inner monologue with the following juicy line.



And that's just the tip of the iceberg. But things really get going when the other characters start to try shaping Megumi into the kind of heroine they need for the game, such as Eriri needing to see Megumi make various facial expressions common in otaku media so she can draw them for the game. Try as Eriri might Megumi is mostly stonefaced during this because she doesn't know how to make those kind of expressions. In effect Megumi is, oddly enough, the show stealer because of how normal she behaves especially when surrounded by people who are not only steeped in otaku media and culture, but are practically living examples of the various character tropes they are trying to turn her into. Eriri, for example, is the perfect embodiment of the standard tsundere childhood friend. Megumi really is the kind of character typically destined to be at best a background extra in an anime or manga or what have you.

As such it is rather refreshing to see her thrust into the spotlight. Even more refreshing, though, is seeing a "normal" character who isn't immediately turned off by an obsessive otaku. Megumi willingly goes along with Tomoya's schtick, and slowly starts managing to hold her own in some areas. Such as playing visual novels, which she can eventually handle without Tomoya's almost Navi-like pestering on how to properly play.



Of course Saekano is a harem romance series, so Megumi isn't the only girl with focus on them. Utaha and Eriri get plenty of focus themselves and it is made perfectly clear they both also have a thing for Tomoya for various reasons. But I think a harem series can sometimes live and die by the strength of its main character. Thankfully, Saekano is one of the harem series where the women in the harem can easily save the show, because I honestly don't like Tomoya. He was funny and endearing at first, when he seemed like a slightly obsessive fan of anime, manga, light novels, and video games who collects figures and writes reviews for a blog (hey that sounds familiar...) but eventually he goes from a "slightly obsessive" otaku to full on over the top cartoony caricature of otaku, and thus went from a character I could relate to to a character that I find annoying and contemptible.



Still, even with Tomoya losing favor with me, I can still greatly enjoy each episode in Saekano thanks to the main trio of girls, the humor, and the dichotomy created by throwing a "normal" person into the world of otaku. And for nothing else, if you are looking for a harem series from the Winter 2015 season to watch, you will absolutely not find one better than Saekano. To see if Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend is you kind of show, please be sure to check it out on Crunchyroll, if only to see the amazing episode 0!
jyarbz 
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Posted 3/18/15 , edited 3/18/15
This review was a great representation of the series, concise and well-written while hitting all the main points that make it stand out from other anime in it's genre. I absolutely love the meta-humor and I'm a sucker for shows that are self-aware in that sense. It really brings out a freshness in the tried and true anime tropes we've all seen a thousand times. Some of the later episodes (episode 7 i think?) where the author, through Utaha and Tomoya's conversation, draws parallels between Utaha and the protagonists in her novel... the dialogue was just fantastic. I've been recommending the series to any experienced anime watchers looking for an ongoing show to pick up as it's one of the brighter spots in a relatively uninspired season.

Thanks for the write-up!
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Posted 3/18/15 , edited 3/18/15
Interesting premise but the series holds itself back so not to outright mock the people who would buy it, which is a shame.

Much of the comedy is also very basic acknowledging of tropes while not doing anything interesting with em.

I do hope the series goes for Yuri end with male MC being friend zoned by all the girls, that would redeem it a bit.
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Posted 3/18/15

maxgale wrote:

Interesting premise but the series holds itself back so not to outright mock the people who would buy it, which is a shame.

Much of the comedy is also very basic acknowledging of tropes while not doing anything interesting with em.

I do hope the series goes for Yuri end with male MC being friend zoned by all the girls, that would redeem it a bit.


I have to second that ending. I haven't seen the series yet but a yuri threesome would always be better.
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