Saekano: How To Raise A Boring Girlfriend Review — Geek Girls Crave Geek Cock

Hey if Bobduh can change his mind, so can I, okay?

I’ve never really been an A-1 Pictures fan, but it’s like they used up all their goodwill with the people who do consider themselves a part of that fanbase after making Your Lie In April, because 2015 has been a bad bad BAD year for them. So bad in fact that prior to my decision to watch this, I have yet finish any of their output, and half of them have already been forgotten by the mainstream crowd as of this writing. From an Aldnoah Zero second half that failed to live up to the promise of its predecessor to some Spring anime that I already forgotten the names of to this, I think it’s safe to say that “A-1” and “quality” will be antonyms for at least the remainder of this year and most likely many more to come. At least until they learn about a little business practice I’d like to call quality control.

But let’s not bash on A-1’s retarded “let’s release five anime a season and hope that one of them will strike gold” policies and focus on the actual anime, shall we? Some of you may recall that I didn’t give the main series much of a chance during the season it aired because that prologue that supposedly takes place just before the first season’s (and there will be a sequel apparently) conclusion had some of the worst usage of smug, fan-wanking meta-dialogue this side of Vampire Diaries, which might have been tolerable if the entire plot of said prologue didn’t revolve around the dialogue entirely. However, a bunch of people assured me since that said prologue was a poor representation of the show and that the actual series was a genuinely heart-warming tale of friendship and anime fandom with no more irritating meta-dialogue giving me an aneurism. Although it turned out that there was a miscommunication regarding the latter (and the former too for that matter).

“No more meta-dialogue, Mr. Flawfinder?” they said after I downloaded the thing. “Oh I’m sorry. I thought you said LOTS more meta-dialogue!” Oh and just so you know, you can’t prove anything, so don’t even try calling the cops on me regarding some recent hospitalizations of known anime fans.

Saekano’s premise is basically a non-pornographic version of Eroge H Game wa Blablabla, in that it focuses on a group of four girls and one guy trying to make a quality visual novel/porn game without the women drawing art in their underwear 24/7 or practicing the sex moves they want to implement whilst wearing a gimp suit and rope. It also shares similarities in that it takes place in some shitty fantasy world where despite the characters being fully aware of these terrible tropes, it doesn’t stop their entire characterizations being defined by said tropes right up to indulging in them willingly in order to get the right amount of detail into the final product. I mean a half-British blonde highschool girl who is considered an idol by many and yet happens to be a very popular underground doujin artist and childhood friends with the main lead? You’d see less overstuffed details in a song lyric written by Train.

Our main hero is Tomoya Aki, a stereotypical nerd and popular anime blogger who has a very similar name to Tomoya Okazaki from Clannad, looks like a polished version of Yamazaki from Welcome to the NHK, will also probably be voiced by Greg Ayres in the dub for this too, and is – to put it lightly – a massive fuck. He gets motivated to follow his dreams upon seeing a girl named Megumi Kato on a hill like in his visual novels, but once he finds out that she’s in the same class as him, he ropes her into being his model for the project on the condition that she act exactly like the quiet pure maiden he imagined her to be before he actually got to know her – except she has to play video games like he does. What’s that noise you ask? Why yes, that is the sexism train going over the speed limit. Why do you ask?

Since he’s an untalented cock who talks big on dreams without actually putting much effort into realizing them himself, he needs someone to do the job of actually making the visual novel for him. Luckily, he happens to know two beautiful girls who have secret lives as a well-renowned ero artist and a best-selling light novel author and convinces them to join because they secretly crave untalented cock for breakfast. Fucking hell, this sexism train is nearly breaking the speed of light isn’t it? You can talk about him being the director all you want, but the only directing he ever really does is make the girls sacrifice their personal lives to satisfy his own. Which is true to life, but I’m pretty sure Stanley Kubrick’s desire for perfection didn’t involve him getting humped by his own cousin.

As part of the show’s insistence that being ironic equals being satire, the entire structure of Saekano is pretty reminiscent of your standard visual novel adaptation beats. The first few episodes are dedicated to introducing the girls and setting things up. The next few are spent on giving the girls individual focus and explaining why Tomoya is important to them whilst setting up their roles in events to come. The final few episodes introduces a completely new girl and sets up her role in all this…actually, it never really goes past the setup phase. Fuck all actually happens in this anime aside from establishing things, which isn’t a story at all. It’s a power point presentation with a poor sense of humor, not helped by the fact that the show desperately wants to ride on Monogatari’s coattails with so many of the animation tricks being blatant rip-offs of Shaft’s cost-cutting techniques whilst spouting dialogue that isn’t the least bit as clever as it thinks it is, nor does it progress things in any significant way.

Not that the show doesn’t have moments of actual deliverance. They’re just few and botched really badly to boot. There’s one dramatic shout-fest between Tomoya and Eriri three-quarters of the way through the show regarding their badly damaged friendship back in their elementary days due to the former’s refusal to stand down as an anime geek and the latter having outside pride to maintain. Good of you to know I was getting bored Saekano, but this was like inter-splicing the climax of Pride and Prejudice into Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill – and it doesn’t help that the only thing resulting from said drama was more “Jesus make it stop” setup.

Oh and do you want to know how much time is spent on actually making the goddamn visual novel? We never even get to see the tools they use. They just show results at convenient times, the most egregious being the final few minutes that try desperately to have some kind of closure to the whole mess by suddenly revealing the characters created one route without so much as a montage of them doing it. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the equivalent of putting the celebration party in Return of the Jedi right after the final climax of The Empire Strikes Back.

But where Saekano fails the most for me is that there’s no urgency to anything going on. The show loves to indulge Tomoya’s constant rants regarding his dreams, but it never really gives me a reason regarding why I’m supposed to care about ’em. To bring up Welcome to the NHK again, remember how the main thrust of that show was also about the leads wanting to make a visual novel because it turns out you can make money from it and Satou kinda needed it because he was a NEET that was in danger of being evicted? Aside from just being a huge anime geek since elementary school, Tomoya doesn’t have any real reason for why this dream is important to life, let alone seem to have any personal problems related to it.

It never conflicts with his school stuff, he doesn’t seem to be suffering any money problems, and the show barely focuses on its romantic aspects to begin with, so saying “it’s so he can be with the main heroine” doesn’t hold water even if you do try to utilize that weak excuse. And since the girls still get to live their secret lives consequence-free by helping him in their spare time, they aren’t really sacrificing anything to help him either apart from the safeties on that sexism train, which stops just short of going so fast that it breaks into another dimension at this point in the review. As far as actual thrust goes, it has about as much conflict and tension as a gang leader forcing you at gunpoint to play Monopoly with him because his family is on vacation. And said gun is a Super Soaker with no water in it.

Struggling to see the point of its existence beyond fan wank, I read the surprisingly large number of positive reviews for clarification and they didn’t help one jot. A bunch of fans like the character dynamics, which is fine if you do, but you cannot base an entire show on interactions alone unless it’s really really funny ala Seinfeld. And I didn’t laugh once watching this, unless you count that time when I broke down after realizing the show was going to conclude on the personal problems of a girl that was thrown in at the last minute with little connection to the overarching story. Some people praise its relatability, but not only do I not see how I can possibly relate to these pricks, it’s also completely contradictory to these same people praising that it’s a meta-commentary on harem situations. Is it true to life or is it a satire of fictional life, guys? You can’t be both.

And if it’s meant to be a satirical parody that raises questions regarding the otaku lifestyle, the foregrounds and backgrounds of visual novels, and why these harem anime are everywhere, then why is it so unchallenging to the mind and creatively bankrupt, like a high-concept sci-fi premise by way of a self-indulgent Disney writer? Combine those problems with garbage animation and zero plot progression that focuses too much on the build-up at the expense of payoff, and Saekano ends up being nothing more than an irritating pile of gimmicks that leaves you with an empty feeling inside, poorly drawn females trying to arouse you, and a crappy cover of the Gurren Lagann opening that made me go from being indifferent to the song to absolutely hating it.

PS: So we’re just not going to rank the hentai on MAL huh? Fine with me.

PPS: I rewatched Episode 0 after finishing the series to see if the context provided would make it more bearable. It did not.

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