The start of a new year is a rough period for pop culture in general. Nevertheless, anime as a whole suffers the worst of the brunt because – barring the occasional film release – the output from that field is updated only once every three months and thus if something sucks in January, chances are it’s going to suck the next month and even worse the month after that. And that still remains true in regards to Winter Anime 2014, which admittedly is in the pre-Death Parade stage so I’m not ready to write it off just yet, because Christ, it’s like most of the premieres that have been coming out aren’t even trying to create an interesting hook. Hell, I doubt they even know what the definition is.
But with all that said, you’d be hard-pressed to find a worse and more agonizingly painful hook to a show than Saenai Heroine, A-1 Picture’s newest contribution to the noitamina timeslot which goes out of its way to provide further proof that not only are they an incompetent studio run by lobotomized monkeys, but that Japan as a whole has been looking at the section of pop culture that Joss Whedon has popularized and going “gotta get me some of that”. Or to put it in more simpler terms, “the first episode wasn’t very good”.
It should be noted before I begin talking about this thing that if you look up Saenai Heroine on Crunchyroll at the time of this writing, you’ll notice that the number of the episode currently out is “0”, which makes the name for the episode’s MAL thread kinda hilarious. That’s because this episode is a prologue – or to be more accurate, a flash-forward of what’s to come because it occurs after all the characters are introduced. Oh, did I say characters? I meant “agonizingly boring cardboard cutouts whose sole existence is to spout ‘witty insights about the anime industry and pop culture that quite frankly make me want to dial Whedon’s number just so he can save me”. It’s like watching Eroge! H mo Game mo Kaihatsu Zanmai except without the pleasure of watching a girl wearing a gimp suit whilst (censored because you don’t want to know).
Not helping at all is the fact that airs on the same day as PA Works’ own show regarding the same subject matter. I can only fear the “probably fatal” tonal backlash caused by watching this atrocity within the same timespan, because whilst I have problems with telling me basic facts about the animation industry like you’re an even unfunnier version of the first season of Parks and Rec, there should be a law against dishing out criticisms that I’m already aware of whilst you’re indulging in the very thing you’re criticizing. Not only does every single joke consist of doing a bad fanservice cliche and pointing out you’re doing said cliche, but the entire plot revolves around that joke to the point that it’s impossible to ignore.
The main male character is a loser male nerd that exists solely to do the things male anime nerds whilst saying “look at him doing nerd things”. The female characters are the same in regards to harem stereotypes complete with a voyeuristic unseen cameraman perving on their naked bodies in the hot spring whilst they talk about how awful harem shows are. Funny how these bad anime cliches made it into this bad anime, and yet for all your self-aware nature, you don’t seem to be aware of what’s happening in your own show, isn’t it, Saenai Heroine. Let me guess, Sunset Overdrive was the writer’s favorite game of the year?
And before people point out that it’s supposed to be a parody of bad fanservice-y light novel adaptations and such, let me point you to the existence of Epic Movie as a prime example that just because you’re taking the piss out of something doesn’t mean you can’t do it poorly. From what I’ve been told, parodies are supposed to be clever. They’re supposed to highlight it subject matter in a way you didn’t realize before. And for good measure, parodies are supposed to be funny.
Being purposefully bad in order to tribute/criticize a genre, as well as to personally get me to laugh, only works if you’re self-referential whilst toeing the line in regards to being completely serious, and Saenai Heroine won’t even give me a chance to believe that theory. Not only does it refuse to take itself seriously, it blatantly stated that fact out before the first minute was up and shockingly continue to increase said blatancy as it was going on, which is kind of impressive in a way. Combine that with the fact that the animation is lifelessly flat to the point that it’s boring to look at, and you’d have better luck trying to convince me that Fractale was post-modern. It wasn’t, because what it was taking seriously was unimaginative as hell, but it’s a start.
I didn’t finish Saenai Heroine: Episode 0 because in addition to being insulting, aggressively dull, and consistent in finding a way to increase those traits with every single frame, the anime decided to pull that old “rape is funny as long as it’s female on male” trope and have the main dude narrate the entire premise despite the fact that the visuals and actual events had very little to do with the monologue at the same time a little into the second half after a game of ping pong that was so lifeless it made me want to watch, well, Ping Pong again. I’m sorry, but if you’re not even going to present your terrible show properly then what exactly am I watching you for? Oh, you’re going to insult me for it now, Saenai Heroine? I’m ashamed enough to even be watching you in the first place!
I did skip ahead to the ending to see how the prologue would end, and it was basically the final straw in declaring this piece of trash one of the most worthless anime I’ve seen in my life. Without giving anything way, let’s just say that of all the things it plays straight with an honest face, it has to be that bullshit “we’re all friends in the end” ending. So basically, the show couldn’t even fully commit to its shameless ways. What good is it then?
And thank you for that jab against me, Saenai Heroine. Allow me to counter with this: “GO TO HELL AND GET GANGBANGED BY SATAN’S PUBIC HAIRS!”