(Nitsuj): Hello and welcome to Project Nitsuj. It’s the 21st of February and you know what that means?
(Isis): It’s my birthday!
(Nitsuj): That’s right, today we’re celebrating the birthday of Isis my loyal AI assistant and as a birthday gift I’m allowing her to pick the anime we’ll be reviewing this week.
(Isis): And since I’m a nice person, you get to join me.
(Nitsuj): So, what anime will we be reviewing this week Isis?
(Isis): We’re going to review something I’ve been wanting to review for a while now, Saekano. Also known Saenai Hiroin no Sodatekata or How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend when translated, Saekano was one of my favorite animes from 2015 and 2017.
(Nitsuj): Based off the popular light novel under the same name and written by Fumiaki Maruto in 2012 and ending in 2017, Saekano is a series that kind of falls under that same category of animes that don’t look interesting at first but when you sit down and start to watch it you get really invested into the story and characters. The whole series revolves around an otaku who follows his dream and decides to make a visual novel with the help of his friends. In 2015 the big anime studio A-1 Pictures (Magi and SAO) turn the series into an anime. Due to time constraints I didn’t get a chance to watch it and after seeing how much Isis loved it I can’t help but feel some level of regret for missing a good anime.
(Isis): That’s why today we’ll be reviewing the first season of Saekano. Let the birthday review start. This is Saekano.
Opening and Ending Theme
(Isis): The opening is “Kimiiro Signal” by Luna Haruna. I’m in the neutral zone with this opening. The melody is good as are the lyrics but the singer just doesn’t really connect with me. I don’t know, it just feels like she’s just singing the song and that’s it. She’s not adding any emotion whatsoever throughout the song and just comes across as her not really caring.
The ending is Colorful” by Miku Sawai. Now this is a song I can honestly say I enjoyed. The whole song just warms your heart as you listen to it. It’s easy to get lost in the song and just imagine yourself somewhere else as you listen to it. This was definitely one of my favorite endings from 2015 just for how good the song makes you feel.
(Nitsuj): The anime starts off with our main character Tomoya voiced by the ever popular Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Kirito from SAO. You know a lot of people complain about him being in everything but what are you gonna do, he’s a great VA and always does good in his roles). He’s your typical otaku/blogger who enjoys watching anime, reading light novels, playing videogames, and writing blogs about them (man this guy sounds like me a little). We see that he works 3 part-time jobs in order to support his dream of one day owning his own game company and creating videogames that he has written (Isis: If those stories are yaoi he has my support). One morning while out on his paper route (Paper Boy: Japanese Edition) he finds himself in a scenario you would see out of a SIM game and within that instant comes up with an idea for a videogame. Knowing he can’t do this alone he goes to ask his two friends (or associates) for help. The first is Eriri voiced by Saori Ōnishi (Aiz from Danmachi), the childhood friend of Tomoya (meaning she has a crush on him) who by day is the ace of the art club but by night she’s secretly the illustrator and leader of her own adult-themed doujin circle (ooh~ she like a the dirty stuff. (Isis): Actually a lot of doujins are written and illustrated by females). The other is Utaha voiced by Ai Kayano (Shiro from No Game No Life), Tomoya and Eriri’s senpai in school (can I assume she also has a crush on Tomoya? (Isis): You can assume correctly) who by day is considered the school idol for her beauty and intelligence but at night she’s the author of her own light novel which has been published and has sold over 500,000 copies (man the more I learn about these guys the more I want to hangout with them. I think we would get along). They each reject his scenario saying that it lacks depth and is basically a rip-off from other games that have done the same thing (Isis: Well it’s true, how many games/animes have we had that start off with a boy returning an item a girl lost on a windy spring day or a scenario having these elements? It’s like looking at the dumb father in sitcoms, you’re all lesser copies of Homer Simpson). It also doesn’t help that he doesn’t remember what the girl he helped looked like indicating that he’s not taking this seriously as he would like others to believe (he remembers the scenario but he doesn’t remember what the girl looked like? Priorities man! I know you’re only interested in 2D girls and I can respect that but for a guy who likes both 2D and 3D I need to know what my target looks like). Taking their words to heart he begs them to meet him in the AV room after school where he’ll hand a new version of his scenario to them (Isis: It better have more yaoi options that’s for sure). On his way to the room he runs into our third heroine Megumi voiced by Kiyono Yasuno, a girl so ordinary that she doesn’t stand out at all but at the same time is the girl who Tomoya helped out in the scenario he wrote (what an amazing twist of fate).
In episode 2 Tomoya forgets about his meeting with Eriri and Utaha and instead goes to a coffee shop with Megumi (ditching two girls for one girl. Don’t know whether he’s brave or just plain stupid. (Isis): It’s remarkable how these two words coincide with each other). Tomoya quickly notices that she’s cute but he also notices that she lacks presence (no doubt she’s related to Kuroko from Kuroko’s Basketball). In fact, her whole character lacks presence and she knows this even going as far as calling herself boring (and she’s proud of it) since she has no traits that make her stick out in society (Isis: If she was a character in a game she be an NPC character who you would never talk to and just ignore). Eriri and Utaha show up where they read Tomoya’s new scenario and still don’t like it as it doesn’t convey what he wants us to feel or see. But despite this setback he still refuses to give up and decides to teach Megumi what he wants her to do. So the next day he invites her over to his house which she agrees to do (the guy has openly admitted he’s into 2D girls and even if he was interested in her I seriously doubt he have the guts to try anything) and has her play a SIM game to get a feel of what he’s trying to create. She beats the game enjoying the experience but still unable to understand the appeal of what Tomoya is trying to create (Isis: The ideas of the creator are never understood by the masses). Tomoya forces her to stay for the night and play the game’s sequel which she agrees to do (nothing better going on in her life). She manages to beat the game the next morning and in her sleep deprived state agrees to join Tomoya’s circle and be the model for his game (scene here: https://youtu.be/1soEmvID3gA).
(Isis): Now that Tomoya has added Megumi to his circle (new character got) he turns his attention on getting Eriri and Utaha to join in episode 3 as well by writing up his story where he has until the end of Golden week to convince them to join his circle (Nitsuj: Why? (Isis): Because the plot demands it). He has to do it alone since Megumi is on a family trip and on the first day he spends most of it reading manga (something he and you share in common. (Nitsuj): Hey I don’t procrastinate on my blogs. I just take a small break when I’m writing them. (Isis): Really? Than how do you explain taking 5 hours to write about 3 episodes of RWBY? (Nitsuj): I tend to get caught up in my own thoughts). He does receive a visit from Eriri and Utaha who offer him words of encouragement as well as try to talk him out of it but he refuses to give up. A few more days go by and he still has nothing for his story and only has one day left to show results. Just when he’s about to give up, Megumi shows up in her heroine get-up mastering the art of moe and cute outfits thanks to Eriri and Utaha who offered her some advice and helped plan out this whole scenario (anything for the guy they like. Scene here: https://youtu.be/IdHcYD-397c). This encourages him to keep on going and he returns home with Megumi to write the story where Eriri and Utaha declare that they’re going to be a part of the project whether or not Tomoya finishes by the deadline or not (Nitsuj: See folks? That’s the charm and power of being the MC).
Things start to get rolling for Tomoya in episode 4. It starts off with Megumi finishing up Utaha’s light novel and really enjoying it. We then find out that Utaha is working on a new series and Tomoya is interviewing her about it much to her displeasure (Nitsuj: Your lips say no but your eyes say. . .no as well). During the interview we find out that when the series got started it didn’t get that much attention or praise (you can blame that on the sales department. (Nitsuj): Yeah salesmen are very skeptical when it comes to newcomers). But that all changed when Tomoya stepped in. He talked about the series on his blog and thanks to it the series took off and became popular (Nitsuj: No wonder Utaha likes the guy. He made her a star. (Isis): Well if the game flops he should definitely consider a career in marketing/sales). After the interview Utaha says she’ll join Tomoya’s circle and later on Eriri joins the circle as well (everything’s coming up Tomoya). Tomoya lays out the production schedule saying that the release will be during the winter Comiket (a real doujin event in Japan that takes place in the summer and winter and showcases the work of young doujin artists whether it be mangas or videogames. (Nitsuj): And over the years major companies have also used the comiket to showcase their works as well. In the past there used be a spring comiket but with spring and summer being back to back nobody could finish their work on time so the spring comiket got abolished). Anyway, with the circle complete their next problem is money to finance their project and Tomoya says he’ll handle it while Utaha and Eriri focus on their parts. Their goal is 1 million yen so Tomoya takes up a number of part-time jobs where on one of these jobs he sees Megumi with a guy (Nitsuj: Oh hell no! Do you know how big a sin this is Megumi? You, are the heroine of the series. You are to remain pure and untouched by the opposite sex in order for us the fans to appreciate your beauty and character. Get your shit together Megumi). Megumi tells Tomoya that it was just her cousin (Nitsuj: Oh sure, it starts off as cousins. But the next thing you know you’re waking up naked in a hotel room with a bottle of tequila, a cowboy hat, and a whip in your ass all while your cousin who’s blindfolded, tied up in rope, and has a vibrator up his ass spoons you and the last 12 hours of your life are blank. (Isis): O0O . . .I’ve asked this before but what the hell is wrong with you? (Nitsuj): I’m an anime reviewer. It’s what I do. How do you not get this after all these years?) but Tomoya wants her to stay away from him which is impossible because they’re going shopping this weekend (Nitsuj: Nooooooooo~! *Isis takes out her pistol and shoots Nitsuj in the head knocking him out* (Isis): You’re starting to annoy me). So in order to preserve the purity of his heroine Tomoya says he’ll take her to the mall saying it won’t be a date with him and she agrees to it (this girl is way too easy-going).
Episode 5 starts off with Eriri trying to get facial expressions out of Megumi but because she has no character you have a better chance of getting remorse out of Trump than seeing that girl make a proper 2D expression. Since they get nowhere Megumi decides to go off and study and Tomoya takes this chance to ask Eriri advice on dating (which surprisingly is good) and Utaha shows her yandere side by writing a very dark story on the thought of Tomoya going out with Megumi (scene here: https://youtu.be/OcgwhZoY30M, this is nothing. You should see Seras’s stories. Nightmares). Despite this short episode of yandereness, Utaha does manage to finish writing the plot for the game (it has everything. Past lives, monsters, love, and the slight undertone that incest equals wincest) and everyone likes it but Tomoya wants the game to have more of a conclusion which in turn upsets Eriri who wants to finish this part of development as soon as possible (Rome wasn’t built in a day missy. We aren’t creating a game, we’re creating a dream). The weekend comes and it’s time for Tomoya and Megumi’s date at the mall where Tomoya is very uncomfortable interacting with regular people (Nitsuj: That guy is the embodiment of every otaku out there). He decides to treat this shopping experience like going to a convention and plans out their schedule so they’ll be able to go to every store and get in and out without dealing with the mob of normies. Thanks to this they hit all the stores Megumi wanted to go to and go to the last store which is a glasses store where Megumi plans to buy him a new pair as a way to thank him for accompany her (Nitsuj: The seeds of love are being planted). This act gives Tomoya inspiration and leaves their date prematurely to speak with Utaha (Nitsuj: Definitely an idiot).
Episode 6 focuses on Utaha and Tomoya. It starts with a flashback into how the two met each other (and became intertwined with one another). They met at Utaha’s book signing event where she became impressed with his knowledge and passion for her novel. The two soon started meeting where Utaha started to develop feelings for Tomoya and found him to be such a wealth of knowledge that she wanted to show him the final volume of her novel before anyone else and asks his opinion of it (wow, she was willing to change her story all together just to please Tomoya. (Nitsuj): This does raise the ethical question of what’s right for a story’s end. The creator telling their ending or telling the ending of what the fans want?). Tomoya turns down the offer because he didn’t like how she was only interested in his feedback and not the feedback of her fans and this caused a bit of a ripple in their friendship. We return to present day where Tomoya is trying to get a hold of Utaha but she won’t answer her phone because she’s mad at him (Nitsuj: What did he do?) so he has to go out and find her while she’s out working. It begins to rain and he manages to find her at a hotel with her manager who knew that he would show up and booked a twin bedroom for the two (she approves of this relationship). After taking baths Tomoya tells her he wants to create a different ending for the game. At first, Utaha is upset by this but explains that he wants to keep her original ending in and create a new route, one that ends with the characters facing their past but deciding not to go out and have a somewhat platonic relationship that has a chance to become something romantic (Nitsuj: Hmm~, that sounds nice. Sometimes it’s best to be in a platonic relationship, flirt with each other, and see where it leads). They get to work on the new route where we get this suggestive moment and manage to complete the new route that night. The next morning Utaha heads out for work acknowledging Tomoya as a creator and she gives him a picture of the two of them sleeping in the same bed together to commemorate their first night together (scene here: https://youtu.be/XRzVeJhAea8, #funnight).
Since we got a Utaha episode last time it only makes sense to have an Eriri episode in episode 7. Eriri’s deadline for her circle’s doujin for the summer comiket is fast approaching and she needs Tomoya’s help in order to create it. They do roleplaying acting the part of lovers from a videogame and it seems to help Eriri in the end. After this it’s officially summer break and it starts with Tomoya complaining about Megumi’s new hairstyle (Nitsuj: Stop trying to ruin our heroine). We then get to meet Izumi a childhood friend of Tomoya who’s 2 years younger than him and got her into the otaku culture after buying her a game for her birthday. She’s now a proud member of this circle called Fancy Wave and will be at the summer comiket as well to display her work for the masses and hopes to see Tomoya there as well. Later on, as Tomoya and Eriri walk home they run into Iori an old friend of Tomoya. He was a popular guy who was also a fan of anime (a hot guy being a fan of anime is pretty rare in Japan) and once Tomoya discovered this the two became friends with some girls reading too much into their relationship (Nitsuj: I’m pretty sure you’re one of them. You’re already fantasizing about it right now aren’t you Isis? (Isis): I can neither confirm nor deny this). However, their friendship fell apart when Tomoya discovered that instead of wanting to help spread the joy of the otaku culture he instead warmed up to big name circles and creators to make himself look important and it worked (a lot). Iori presents himself as the representative for the popular doujin circle Rouge en rouge and just like Tomoya they’re also working on developing a game and want to hire Eriri to be their illustrator (Nitsuj: Yeah, I don’t see that happening).
(Nitsuj): Episode 8 starts off with Eriri and Tomoya working on her manuscript in his room where Megumi shows up to play a game recommended by Izumi and shows that she’s grown more accustomed to the otaku culture (good~ it’s proof that she’s starting to understand her role as a heroine). Eriri also tells Tomoya that she’s not going to join Rouge en rouge and will join his circle dedicating her time to finishing his game once comiket is done. The next day Tomoya goes to comiket with Megumi and goes to help out Izumi where Tomoya is so impressed with her work that he concocts a plan to help out Izumi’s circle by showing one of the pages on a big poster to gain attention (that’s actually a very good idea). This plan works and they sell through all 100 of their copies (which is impressive for a small circle) and even Eriri is impressed with Izumi’s work but at same time pissed and jealous because Tomoya has never reacted to her drawings the same way he reacted to Izumi’s drawings (Isis: Someone’s jealous) and she runs away crying after Tomoya can’t give her a straight answer on who he thinks is better.
Episodes 9-12 and OVA
Episode 9 starts off with the ship sailing hard for Utaha (scene here: https://youtu.be/Cz_zELEvYns, with the way the animators focus on the legs of the females, I’m starting to think they have a leg fetish). So after that dose of fanservice Tomoya tells Utaha what happened between him and Eriri last episode and she actually sides with Eriri (Isis: The world is ending) saying that Tomoya was in the wrong (for what, praising the work of his junior he thought did a good job? What level of bullshit is this? (Isis): Well think of it this way, if I asked you who was cuter me or Holo from Spice and Wolf who would you choose? (Nitsuj): You obviously, because I’m not stupid, but this is different. This situation is like you asking me to compare the drawings of Kentarou Miura and Oda Eiichiro and ask me who’s is better. I would choose Kentarou, his drawings have more detail put into them that they feel real. Now that’s not to say Oda’s drawings are bad, they’re great too. Eriri is just being a major bitch here because Tomoya praised the work of someone else. He knows Eriri draws good stuff and probably doesn’t feel the need to tell her this because in his mind she should already know because they’re so close to each other). They come up with a plan to patch things up between Tomoya and Eriri by having him re-enact a scene from Eriri’s favorite game. They create a costume for him to wear and at night as Eriri gets ready to go a party hosted by her dad, Tomoya shows up outside her window (embarrassed as all hell) and takes her on a journey of nostalgia back to their old elementary school. It’s here that things really get interesting as we dive into the past of these two otakus. Eriri calls Tomoya a traitor and this just causes him to go off on her because in his eyes if anybody’s a traitor it’s her. When they were kids Tomoya was already an otaku and was open about it. Eriri was also somewhat of an otaku and was the one who introduced dating SIM games to him. The two developed a friendship and openly talked about otaku stuff all the time until some boys who were jealous of their relationship started calling them an otaku couple and made fun of them for it. Eriri was embarrassed by this so much she soon cut her ties with Tomoya and hid the fact that she was in otaku from everyone in order to make friends leaving Tomoya alone (Isis: Wow, she is a traitor. You were right Nitsuj. (Nitsuj): Thank you! I finally win one). Eriri tries to play the victim role but it doesn’t work because no matter how you look at this Tomoya was betrayed by her. Tomoya valued his relationship with Eriri as this was the first time he was able to talk to someone else about something he really loved and despite making an enemy out of every boy in class he didn’t care what they thought because he had Eriri. Eriri stabbed Tomoya in the back just to keep up appearances and this actually traumatized him to the point that it took him years just to talk to people normally again (I’m sorry but whatever’s got Eriri pissed off is total BS compared to what she put Tomoya through). The two continue to argue with each other demanding an apology from the other (Isis: Oh will you two just kiss already) where Tomoya just comes out and admits that he thinks Izumi’s drawings are better than Eriri’s saying talent and history don’t mean nothing to him. Her skills are good but they’re not great and that’s what he wants to see. They finally stop arguing and even though the two don’t apologize to each other (because they are both stubborn idiots) Eriri vows to become Tomoya’s number one artist and he carries her back to her mansion. The next day the circle gets back to work and they finally decide on a name, Blessing Software (Isis: Which roughly translates into Megumi Software in Japan).
Episode 10 starts off with a bath scene where we focus on the legs of our new heroine (definitely a leg fetish in the animation team) and Tomoya giving a good reaction to seeing someone unannounced in his house and using his bath without his knowledge. This new girl is Michiru voiced by Sayuri Yahagi (Haruna from To Love-Ru), Tomoya’s cousin and an all-around girl who’s good at just about everything but loses interest in things quite easily. She’s the leader of an all-girl band at her school and came to crash at Tomoya’s place after getting into a fight with her dad. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t be so bad but when your cousin has quite the sexy body and she likes to tease you, suddenly incest sounds like wincest and you wanna win. The next day the other girls find out about Michiru and demand answers from Tomoya about their relationship with each other. It turns out the two cousins were born on the same day, around the same time, and in the same hospital (what the hell are the odds of that happening? (Isis): Slim) which means she’s practically the ideal childhood friend. Tomoya returns home where we see Michiru is making herself at home by getting rid of his collection and figurines (I would kill her except that would mean sending some poor soul to jury duty). As you can tell Michiru doesn’t care about the whole otaku culture and even tries to get Tomoya to leave it behind. While he’s in the bath wondering what to do about the music for his game (Isis: Yeah I was wondering about that) he hears Michiru play on her guitar and it moves him so much that he actually envisions the scenarios playing out in front of him and asks Michiru to make the music for his game in nothing but a towel that of course falls to the ground (scene here: https://youtu.be/n-EYqI8x5mA. (Isis): Well, look what popped out. (Nitsuj): Oh shit, you can see it? *Isis gives Nitsuj a puzzled look* Oh~ you’re referring to the anime).
Episodes 11 starts with Tomoya introducing the group to Michiru where she hasn’t agreed to do music for the game yet (oh you’ll do it. Don’t think that just because your sexy I’m not afraid to have Isis here go Yandere Stimulator on you. Scene here: https://youtu.be/uxXxwhX73ok) because she’s not interested in the otaku culture. She doesn’t hate it she just doesn’t really see a point in it (something a lot of people say when they first watch anime). Tomoya continues trying to persuade Michiru to do the music (https://youtu.be/ZXsQAXx_ao0) but she refuses each time and tries to convince him to instead be the manager for her band saying his circle is out of whack (Isis: And thirsty. So thirsty). This actually gets to Tomoya a little but Megumi assures him everyone is taking this seriously just like him. For example, Megumi has been secretly getting lessons from Eriri and Utaha on programming in order to help out in whatever way she can (she also uses this as a way to get back at Tomoya for telling her not to spend time with her cousin when he himself is only inches away from incest). After the credits we see Tomoya agrees to become Michiru’s band manager and even sets up a gig for her and her band for next month.
In the final episode we meet Michiru’s band Icy Tail (there is nothing icy about them). As they get ready for the concert Megumi, Utaha, and Eriri show up to wish them luck but when they go to check up on them the first thing they see is Michiru on top of Tomoya in a sexy outfit bumping and grinding her lower region on his lower region (scene here: https://youtu.be/pTe-h-oW8Cw. Can I, please? (Isis): . . .alright, play the song *Nitsuj hits a button and all of a sudden “Bump and Grind” by R. Kelly begins to play*). Tomoya reveals to Michiru that the members of her band are all otakus who convinced her that the songs they were playing were the latest rock songs but in truth they were all rock covers of anime openings (that is hilarious). Because of this exposure to anime music, unbeknownst to her, her own music has developed an anime-like melody to it that not even Tomoya could pick up until he heard her song a few times. Tomoya than presents her with a deal to be Michiru’s band manager in exchange for her and the others providing music for his game. She agrees to the terms and goes out on stage where she sings Sorairo Days from Gurren Lagann (this is the quickest way to win over an otaku crowd at a concert. Scene here: https://youtu.be/fvnTYwgzCok. Yeah~! Sing Colors of the Heart next). The next song they sing is Michiru’s original song Cherish You and it’s really good (song here: https://youtu.be/h8utx4ZDSps). After her portion of the concert she seals the deal with Tomoya and agrees to write the music for his game. After this there’s not much else to talk about. We get to see a small bit of their game (which I’m not gonna lie looks good. I normally don’t play dating SIM games but if I saw this in the store I would definitely pick it up). At the end of the episode they manage to finish a playthrough of the first route where there were no problems which leaves only one more route to go (Isis: Because somebody wasn’t satisfied with one route).
(Isis): There is an OVA for this series and it takes place in the fall where the group has gone out location scouting for the game (Nitsuj: This is where the series earns its ecchi tag). We start off with a hotsprings scene of the girls and from there continue on with the ecchiness. Utaha drags Tomoya to a secluded place where she forces him to act out a romantic scene with her only to have it get interrupted by Eriri. Tomoya than gets dragged away by Michiru who suplexes him into the lake (nice form) where they wind up in an awkward (Nitsuj: and enviable) position only to have it get interrupted by Megumi who tells them they’re checking in to their inn where they got the bath scene we saw at the beginning of the episode. After the baths they play table tennis and then call it a night where the girls accidently get drunk and kidnap Tomoya in what I believe is their attempt at forcing themselves on him. He eventually gets saved by Megumi and they go for a walk where they express their hopes to each other. Tomoya hopes the game succeeds and the circle can continue to have fun while Megumi hopes the circle doesn’t crash and burn (funny she should mention that).
And that does it for the first half of Saekano. Tune in next week when we take a look at season 2.
(Nitsuj): You’re coming back next week?
(Isis): Remember how you promise to do a review with me during last summer’s fiasco? I’m using that voucher for next week.
(Nitsuj): I see. So today was your birthday review and next week is the apology review. Well played.
(Isis): Thank you, I learned from the best.
(Nitsuj): That you did. Well guys thanks for reading and we’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj.
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