(Warning, spoiler for Saekano episode 9)
In consideration that the second season is premiering this spring, I decided to catch up on the entirety of Saekano season 1, the light novel adaptation by the much regarded Fumiaki Maruto. Before this, all I’ve been doing was joining the bandwagon about how frustrating Saekano self-referencing routine is which…….I admit not exactly a “good” behavior to take for a series that I haven’t even watched.
Soooo, episodes later, I came out enjoying Saekano. The girls are pretty, the meta element aren’t as cringe-worthy as I thought it would be, and Maruto is still a really good writer that can write witty clever banter. I do admit that the fact that the characters strictly adhere to basic anime stereotype does more harm than good to the show. It really limits their characterization and the emotional space of the characters, so ultimately it’s just shooting yourself in the foot. Maruto basically just write a well-written cliche.
Now, you could argue that the characters embodying those stereotypes is a way of portraying the way otaku engage with their media i.e. mimicking their favorite characters. After all, in social conversation, there’s certain degree of “performance” we do in front of people that we converse with (this is slightly emphasized by the fact that the heroines are acting out their stereotype only when in front of Tomoya). So while I find the execution to be a miss, I could see this was (probably) done out of well-meaning intention.
If that was the case in Saekano, it really makes what happened on episode 9 truly satisfying.
Soooo quick recap, Tomoya and Eriri was having a bit of a squable with the fact that she’s jealous over Tomoya’s passion toward Izumi’s work that she never saw when Tomoya was reading Eriri’s own work. On Utaha’s suggestion, Tomoya decided to raise Eriri’s “flag” by the way of more or less opening up her heart and apologize to her.
Unfortunately, confronting Eriri in their old elementary school also ended up causing Tomoya’s own old memory to resurface, causing him to refuse to apologize to Eriri for the hurt that she had done to him. What follows was shouting confession of each others feeling during their childhood time, where it’s revealed that Eriri was also hurting in her own way for abandoning Tomoya, and finally ending with Eriri declaring to become a better artist for Tomoya (while also touching on that fearful artistic struggle when you thought that you’ve hit the ceiling).
Prior to that confrontation, Tomoya and Eriri’s banter, while well written, more or less fall in line with the typical “tsundere-protagonist” routine. So watching those two stop “performing” their stereotype and just simply be honest human being with each of their respective baggage and feelings is really satisfying to see. It also a really good demonstration of Maruto’s knack for intertwining artistic struggle with romance and passion as a medium for two people connecting with one another. While I’ve only heard that the latter half of Saekano will be more “dramatic”, I’m wishing that it would feature more honest moment between two people like that. That’s all I’m asking from the show really.
- Another plus point for Saekano: I found Maruto’s portrayal of otaku community quite fascinating. It’s interesting to see how fandom have their own social structures, prominent figures, and things like that.
- Also plus point: Kato……I think she’s pretty self-explanatory.