Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

5 November 2015: I'm not sure if Saekano succeeds because of its source material or in spite of it

Nice hat.

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend) is an anime adaptation of an ongoing series of light novels about a group of high school kids developing a visual novel game for Comiket. It's a harem comedy and relies heavily on tropes and common character archetypes. Tomoya is an unapologetic otaku clad in birth-control glasses. His tsundere childhood friend is hopelessly in love with him, but naturally he's completely oblivious. Since she is in a harem comedy, Eriri has plenty of competition from more aerodynamic rivals who offer Potato-kun the green light early and often. Really, the only reason the "YES" embroidery on his bedroom pillow isn't completely worn down is due to the preservative powers of the Otaku Virtues. The damn shit's better than Woolite.

Eriri in the show looks a little different than her anime figure.

On its face, at least, Saekano (not to be confused with Saikano) is top-to-bottom, back-to-front, light novel bullshit. And yet, there's a certain quality which I can't quite identify found in the show that keeps it from becoming easily forgettable garbage. Saekano is a noitaminA show, so is it likely the source material is better than typical light novel fare? Or did the anime's staff do a really good job polishing a turd? The shows in the noitaminA block are hardly guaranteed to be of high quality, but they at least passed some level of scrutiny at some point.

It's sort of unrealistic she'd still be wearing her hairband.

Saekano employs regular meta nods and winks. It also peers past the fourth wall periodically. It does these things successfully, but the show teeters precariously while doing so. In fact, the show is constantly on the verge of disaster but manages to avoid calamity each time. There's a block of melodrama in the second half which could easily have derailed the show for me, but these instead turned out to be the episodes I enjoyed best. In contrast, the melodrama in Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai ruined any interest I might have retained in that show. Why was I okay with people screaming at each other in Saekano but not in Anohana? Did Saekano execute its scenes much more deftly, or did I just happen to be in the right sort of mood at the time, making me receptive towards it?

Michiru and Tomoya
It sure took Tomoya a long time to notice his bedroom had changed.

It's possible I may be giving Saekano an overgenerous pass. Objectively speaking, I can think of a lot of reasons not to like the show. Nevertheless, even Potato-kun's adherence to the Otaku Virtues doesn't ruin the show for me. In fact, the late-season introduction of Tomoya's sex bomb cousin who moves in with him for extremely contrived reasons (it's not a spoiler because she's in the OP and ED, okay) turned out to have a good payoff despite raising numerous odious flags the entire way through. It's also possible I was more receptive to the show because I watched it leisurely instead of following it week-to-week. (I was already watching a lot of other shows during winter 2015.) In any case, it's good enough that I'm glad to hear it's getting a second season, at least according to some announcement back in May. I don't think there's been an update since.

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