Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata

October 25, 2015

Everybody has big dreams in life. Sometimes it might be too big that you might not be able to achieve it all by yourself. How are you going to make this happen then? Recruit a few people who share the same dream? That is one way. So as in the case of Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata. Our main character is a complete otaku. His dream is to create the world’s best dating simulation game ever. But he can’t do it himself. He needs to gather a group of people who can do the story, scenes and character designs. More importantly, he needs a heroine that would leave an impression in the hearts of everyone. An iconic heroine that will be remembered for generations to come. Well, the easy part is finding one (or accidentally stumbling into one in his case), but the hard part as he found out that for the rest of her character and behaviour, she is completely different than what even a basic heroine should be. And is that why he needs to guide and raise her up from a boring heroine to a respectable heroine? Well, there are no guide books for that as far I can see. Oh, did I mention the rest of his circle members are girls…

Episode 0
This serves as a prologue of the series and what to expect from it. Sort of. The opener already sees our usual girls giving us hotspring fanservice as they ‘debate’ about their perceptions of anime. And our lucky guy, Tomoya Aki is eavesdropping partly because he is a pervert but more disheartening to him is that the girls are discussing anime stuffs without him around. Yup, that’s his biggest concern. As narrated by him, Tomoya is a big otaku and his dream is to create the perfect dating simulation ever. Therefore he and his harem circle are taking this trip to scout locations for the game. We are also ‘introduced’ to his harem circle that includes Utaha Kasumigaoka the scenario writer, Eriri Spencer Sawamura the illustrator, Michiru Hyoudou in charge of music and finally Megumi Katou who is the face and role of the heroine in Tomoya’s game. While taking scenic pictures, Eriri relates her ‘trauma’ as Tomoya’s childhood friend only to see him being ‘snatched away by another woman’. That sums up this tsundere’s position. Then there is this steamy seduction scene by Utaha on Tomoya with an excuse to let him have an idea of the scenario. Is she acting? Is she for real? We won’t know since Eriri comes rushing in to stop their indecency but only to tumble down. And while the girls are arguing, they didn’t realize Tomoya has been snatched by Michiru. She brings him to the lake, a spot she wanted so much to show him. Playful and cheeky as she is, she flirts around with him, splashing water, pushing him into it, on top of him… Only to be interrupted when Megumi makes a sound. She was watching all along but perhaps enjoying it too much to say anything.

After that ping pong game, they retire to their rooms. Before Tomoya could work on his materials, he is kidnapped! The next thing he knows, he is tied up in the girls’ room as they start seducing him. Tomoya could guess they have gotten drunk from the whiskey chocolates. Something points to Megumi because she is the only one still in her usual calm demeanour and as though she didn’t put in ‘enough effort’ to prevent it. Maybe she gets her kicks by watching this folly despite her facial expression doesn’t show it a single bit. I don’t know how it leads to this but Utaha gets the right to ‘rape’ Tomoya. In the end, we won’t know what happened but it sounded like Megumi ‘rescued’ him. I suppose it is time for Megumi to have some decent screen time alone with Tomoya. He is talking about her negative attitude which consigns her to a background character. However he still feels she is more than just plain as she is their game’s heroine. Since she has no clue on how to act like a heroine, he explains what is typically expected of one. Yeah, whatever. She’ll try her best. Tomoya notices her hair has grown longer. It has been 6 months since they’ve met (or rather as she puts it, noticed her existence) and this is what happens when you spend most of your time with an otaku. But they can’t give up now since their game is almost finished. They hope to release it at Winter Comiket. She also hopes their circle won’t crash and burn… Is she trying to jinx it?

Episode 1
On a spring day morning, Tomoya describes it as the beginning of his destiny when he spots a girl in white dress and her white hat blown away by the breeze. Such epic life changing scene he will never forget. It is the start of a new school term and Tomoya who is trying to be the super otaku is ‘busy’ with his otaku stuffs rather than being interested in who is in whose class. You know he is one when he prefers 2D girls instead of listening to his friend rant about the beauty and elegance of Eriri. But Tomoya skips the opening entrance ceremony just to go speak to Eriri and catches her in the act taking out a limited edition anime from her locker. Anyway, Tomoya wants her to join his circle as an illustrator because she is a very good one. Unknown to many, she is the author of a hit erotic manga under the pen name Eri Kashiwagi. She takes a look at his project proposal and doesn’t hesitate to criticize this piece of trash! To the max! Because he cannot express what he imagines, the big reason why he needs her. She continues to shoot him down about his dreams but he remains passionate about it. He tries to remind her of their childhood promise that he would come hire her when he becomes the president of the game company but she’s not very amused remembering that (twintail lashing abuse?). She doesn’t want any more to do with this so he pleads for another chance to hear him out after school at the AV room. But she notes it is too late for him to be saying that.

When Tomoya finally joins the opening ceremony, Utaha has been called up to stage to receive her award as top of her grade. Again he hears his friend waxing lyrical about Utaha’s beauty that could only be rivalled by Eriri. Why bother telling this to Tomoya when he isn’t interested in 3D? But you know, after the ceremony, Tomoya goes to see Utaha at the rooftop. Silent treatment? After treating her to lunch, he gives her review his project proposal. Without holding back, she fires all the harsh criticisms on this piece of trash. She doesn’t want to be involved with him as she is busy but Tomoya knows about Utaha’s other identity. Aside from being the smartest student in school, she is also the writer of a bestselling series under the pen name of Utako Kasumi. He pleads for another chance to listen to him and to wait for him at the AV room after school. But she can’t understand of all times, why now. So this guy works hard to complete his proposal and as he is about to go to the AV room, Megumi passes by him and thanks him for picking up her hat during spring break. Tomoya didn’t really care too much about it since he is in a hurry. But then it hit him. Oh sh*t! Isn’t that his destiny girl?! Wait! Come back! Meanwhile, Eriri thought she could make her dramatic entrance as a tsundere but to her dismay Utaha is the one waiting in the room. We can tell both hates each other’s guts the way they insult each other with Utaha being more subtle in her sarcasm but Eriri and her emotions blowing up like fireworks. Anyhow, it looks like Utaha is the better one in this ‘conversation’. The standoff continues… When Tomoya finally catches up to Megumi, he didn’t even realize she was in the same class with him. Since last year! Meanwhile, the waiting ladies realize they have been stood up when a certain otaku didn’t show up…

Episode 2
Tomoya is talking to Megumi at the diner. He never noticed her but now that he does, he really finds her cute and all the physical qualities that a heroine needs to have. However she notes that she has a lack of presence, that is why people do not notice her unlike Tomoya who is considered a celebrity in school because of the otaku activities her organized. He doesn’t even know that? Tomoya becomes passionate in arguing that Megumi is not as plain as she think she is. He wants her to bring all that heroine qualities out. Since when is she already in his circle? Ah well, he sounds so determined, might as well consider her in. Because Eriri and Utaha are spotted outside the window with those cold stabbing stares, the tension is further tense with them joining at the table. I mean, this guy got the guts to stand them up and date another girl? Tomoya wastes no time in introducing everyone in his circle. Since when did they join? Eriri and Utaha are still at odds with each other, having that feet battle underneath the table. The girls try to convince Tomoya to give up his dream but he has decided. He will rewrite it as many times to get their approval. And for that moment the duo thought he has decided no which of them he would choose? See their disappointed reaction. Little do they realize that Megumi is gone. She is queuing at the drinks counter. Wow. She definitely lacks presence, eh?

So to train her to be the perfect heroine, Tomoya calls Megumi to meet. She doesn’t remember the street where she lost her hat as the first place they met simply because it wasn’t. It was last year’s opening ceremony. Oh, he can’t remember that, can’t he? Megumi is in Tomoya’s otaku room but she doesn’t display the kind of reaction he expected her as a heroine. Why so mad, bro? The best way to learn about a heroine is to play a dating game. As usual, Megumi is pretty clueless about everything and I don’t know how frustrated Tomoya feels. Hey, cut her some slack. She is an amateur, isn’t she? So they play the best dating game from start to finish. Megumi does have good comments on it as Tomoya departs more cliché advices. But does she understand it all? You guessed it. It took him to remember Eriri’s words to realize that he was the one who didn’t understand everything. What? I don’t understand what’s going on. Megumi thought she could leave for the night but wait! There’s more. The game has a sequel and true ending. Don’t tell me they’re going to play it through? Well, his parents are out of town for an overnight trip and tomorrow has no school. Oh sh*t… For the sake of his, uhm, their dream, stay for the night! You don’t know how ambiguous that sounds. I’m sure that he assuring he only likes 2D girls doesn’t sound that assuring. But when she agrees to stay, he panics that she should be suspicious and not to be so carefree. So what does he wants?! This guy is worse than a woman! The game finally ends in the morning. Megumi is so deprived of sleep that she would do anything just to get some. Even if it means joining his circle. So can she sleep now?

Episode 3
Seems Tomoya hasn’t even started on his proposal. Trouble getting ideas? I’m sure he is calling Megumi for another sleepover session but she can’t. She’s away for a family trip at Hokkaido. By the time she gets back, that’ll be his deadline. So Tomoya tries to make a resolution not to get distracted by his otaku stuffs to start his work. Well, maybe just one manga before he begins… And he wasted half a day on it… Before he knows it, Eriri is already at his place working on her porn manga. Her dad is holding a garden party and she doesn’t want to be around to show her face to the guests. So his place is the ideal place to work on her erotic manga? Anyway she wants him to give up seeing he sounded like giving excuses not to complete his game. To their surprise, Utaha is at his doorstep so I guess Eriri has to go into hiding and hide all her stuffs. Utaha enters his very clean room and starts teasing him with a little flirt. She also thinks he should give up at this rate but goes on ranting and getting worked up about deadlines and bad comments that put down her work. Tomoya’s conviction manages to convince her that he will come up with a satisfying proposal that will guarantee to make her agree to join his circle. She advises him that if he is serious in that, he should involve all members otherwise he won’t put out a quality product no matter how hard he tries or keep himself motivated. Oh, one more thing. He should have also tried hiding the bicycle. I guess she already knows… So how long is Eriri going to hide in the closet? That night, Tomoya calls Megumi to not worry about him. He’ll do something about himself. She asks what was it about her that appealed to him. Well, everything with her was fun. Was there any room for improvement? If she could be a little more overbearing. And so the next day he starts getting serious on his project. Each time he hits a dead end (which is very soon always), he takes a break doing something else. Before he knows it, he wasted another day! Nothing started! Blank sheet! The thought of giving up seems tempting than ever.

He returns to that hill he first saw Megumi and thought would get inspiration. Nothing. He is about to cry when he sees a white cap floating down. It’s Megumi! I guess he was so pitiful that she threw it for him. Her acting is a little different as she wonders if this is the ideal heroine he wanted. Is this the way he wanted her to act, speak and fall in love? Seems Megumi came back a few days ago after telling her parents she needed to help meet a deadline. She didn’t meet up with him because she didn’t think she would be useful contributing anything. But she wasn’t doing nothing during that time. She got the help of Eriri and Utaha. Eriri designed her dress while Utaha became the strict director teaching her how to act. She might not know what kind of game he is doing but she understands he is very serious about it so hang in there and make her into a heroine that everyone will envy of. Now that he is motivated, he brings her back to his place where they’ll begin their work till tomorrow 7am!!! Hope there would be enough time to get to school. Utaha and Eriri are watching them from afar. They note Tomoya has not started yet. Because Eriri is being contradicting herself by not caring about him and yet helping him, Utaha warns her to fix that attitude of hers or she’ll regret it later. Though Eriri can’t believe she’ll be in the same circle with her, on the contrary Utaha looks forward to working with her. And so when Tomoya hands over his proposal for the girls to read, it is as bad as ever! And he poured his heart and soul into it… Megumi isn’t saying anything because she is sleeping… Lack of sleep or boring?

Episode 4
Megumi read the entire manga volume Tomoya lent her. She is impressed she didn’t think it would be this good. Yeah, he lets her keep it. Utaha is not impressed that her editor hired Tomoya to interview her for her new upcoming series. Well, no ordinary interviewer is going to get anything out from a shy, uncooperative and foul tempered lady. So she thought somehow whom she is familiar with would do the trick. 30 seconds into the interview, she’s already dozing off… I’m not sure if Tomoya is asking boring questions. Anyway the interview didn’t go anywhere even with all those energy drinks. It doesn’t help when the editor even reveals shady details of how they do things behind the scenes. Finally he asks the last question of what she hopes to accomplish with her next series. In addition to the pretty good answer, a very good news for Tomoya because she agrees to join his circle and his project! He couldn’t be much happier. Eriri is preparing herself and comes into the meeting in her typical tsundere fashion but déjà vu strikes as Utaha tells her to cut that tsundere crap and join them already. So they’re here to discuss the development schedule. But the girls dismiss it being unrealistic as they will have to devote 100% of their time to it. So they try to outdo each other by rewriting the schedule and they end up drawing on each other’s face.

With their task determined, what shall Tomoya be? He could be the errand boy who buys them snacks or he can take over character designs, plot development or something else. Buying snacks has never been the easiest job for the director, eh? But Utaha brings up the next problem: Fundraising. You know how expensive it can get when it comes to printing and publishing, right? Yeah, Tomoya didn’t know. Feeling defeated already? Before Utaha can fully seduce him, Eriri separates them (and whips him with her twintail combo). And before another war can start, he just tells them to concentrate on what they do best. Agreed. So what will Megumi do then? Nobody noticed her the entire time, eh? And so Tomoya works hard and wears many hats to raise that million yen target! But to his shock he sees Megumi bringing a hot guy to the restaurant he works at! Keiichi is actually her cousin. This really bothers Tomoya. A lot. Since when did Tomoya become her father and after that long lecture about what it takes to be a standout heroine that moves the hearts of others, he wants her never to see him again???!!! At least until after the game is completed. Is he unreasonable? Is he obnoxious? Is he stupid? Yes to all! And it’s all over when she says she is meeting him this weekend at the mall. It’s like the end of the world for him. That’s like a date, right? At least to him. If that is how it’s going to be, he wants to be the one who accompanies her to the mall then. Hmm… Okay. She’ll just tell Keiichi it is off. Now… Tomoya suddenly has doubts. Doesn’t this look like a date? Shouldn’t she think more about it? I tell you, this guy is worse than a woman!

Episode 5
Eriri is having a hard time trying to sketch a decent heroine out of Megumi. She’s just not into that 2D thingy. On the other hand, it may look like Utaha is having writer’s block when she’s typing nonsense. But could it be a ploy to get Tomoya to feed her? But Eriri ‘broke’ her pencil so errand boy has to get new ones. Eriri is already tired trying to cast Megumi and she doesn’t need a shock to hear Tomoya asking her if she has gone out on a date before! No, he is not asking her out. So he is hypothetically getting her advice on what to do till she realizes he is going on a date with Megumi. So shock that Utaha suddenly starts writing a yandere route! Tomoya sounds like the victim… Utaha is done with her scenario as Tomoya narrates it. It goes something like this. A chance meeting of a guy and a girl at the hill slope. Pretty familiar, right? Coincidentally they are classmates. Slowly they pursue a relationship with each other. Then she starts acting strange. She remembers something about their past lives. They were not only siblings but were lovers too. Now they go off to fight… Monsters?! Despite Tomoya liking this awesome development, he feels something is missing. So for 3 days he has been cracking his head on it so Eriri tells him off his uselessness is hindering the progress of everything. If he has something better, then write it himself. Utaha warns her there are things she should not say and what she said did not help a bit. Since Tomoya isn’t giving any answer, Utaha notes that it is happening again. Megumi thinks to call off tomorrows date at the mall and postpone it to another time but Tomoya won’t run away and try it out. But he is at the brink of defeat after seeing so many people lining up to get in. Just tiring, eh? He can’t take it anymore but when Megumi misinterprets about the otaku and Comiket, this gives Tomoya an idea to consider the crowd as his fellow otakus. Then he has Megumi lay out all the stores she wants to visit. He devises his plan on how to visit them all like as though this is a Comiket convention. Such a pro. Thanks to that, she manages to get everything she wants for the day. Although she is grateful, Tomoya can’t accompany her home because there is somewhere he needs to go now. Utaha is seen waiting.

Episode 6
It’s time for Utaha to get her own episode. Utaha fans scream with joy! Utaha’s manager is teasing her that she is thinking about Tomoya although she denies this. Oh, just stop being stubborn and go after him already! We see some flashbacks of Utaha recognizing Tomoya at a book signing ceremony because he was ranting away and waxing lyrical about her characters. She used to call him out for opinions of her characters. I think she just enjoyed him talking instead of listening to what his passionate ranting is all about. I don’t think she fell asleep because it was boring. Then there was one time she wanted him to read her manuscript for her final volume so that she could make the necessary changes but he refuses because he will not take responsibility for her work. He wants her to decide on the ending and doesn’t want it to become an ending that reflects his opinions. She was desperate but he still would not because he is her fan. It shocked her. It has been 6 months then. Tomoya wonders if she would forgive him. After countless near misses, Tomoya finally meets up with Utaha while taking shelter from the rain. Since it is late and the last train has already departed, her manager sets them up to stay in the same room at a nearby hotel! After shower… She getting flirty… Then Tomoya’s passion blows up. He wants her to make him a man. No, a creator! She feels disappointed for this false lead up. For the rest of the night, he discusses about his ‘date’ with Megumi which is to gather materials but I’m sure any girl wouldn’t like to hear about a guy talking a lot about another girl. Then they talk about the plot which he thinks needs to focus more on the heroine’s current life and happiness instead of her past life. She thinks of cutting off the past life plot but he wants it included since it has its charm. Utaha turns into a yandere as she starts typing the revised plot. Like as though she’s hinting that he chose a plain character other than her to be his main heroine. Is it not right for an author to feel love and not go all out for a fan? Tomoya won’t fall for this since she is speaking as herself and not in character. Next morning, Utaha leaves early to continue her work with her manager. She is saying very ambiguous lines about their very passionate time last night (albeit it was just rewriting the plot). She leaves satisfied and thanking him for drawing out her determination, etc. And then we hear him scream because Utaha took a selfie of them in bed on the morning after!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Meanwhile Eriri happened to bump Megumi at the mall and is sketching her. Seems there is a subtle implication that she is not happy with that date. Eriri sketches a sulking expression of Megumi in which she denies ever putting on that face. Hey, didn’t she just do that?

Episode 7
Time for Eriri’s turn to have the spotlight? She calls Tomoya to her home, blaming him for pushing back the schedule, blah, blah, blah. So take responsibility! Is there a meaning behind this? Long story short, she wants him to help act out as a main character for her ero work. So they flip flop between acting and real stuff so you wonder if it’s just a ploy from Eriri to flirt with him. I don’t think so. Tsunderes aren’t like that… Don’t worry. They won’t be having sex unlike the character in her story. On the last day at school, Tomoya is fuming at Megumi. Why? She has changed her hairstyle! Imagine the shock she will bring to viewers! Well, only he noticed, right? So as he is lecturing her about overall characters (a certain tsundere and sharp tongue girl is out), he speaks greatly of having a little sister/junior character that always looks up to you in admiration. Well, it is about to turn true now because Izumi Hashima claims she has found him and hugs him! OMG! Shamelessly in front of his harem? OMFG. Seems she is his old childhood friend and 2 years his junior who moved away (Utaha seems to love teasing Eriri about her having a more middle school girl body than Izumi). Izumi praises Tomoya for everything he has done for her. Especially about teaching her about the pleasures of being girl! Alarm bells ringing! Wait a minute. If this happened when they were younger… Hold your horses! It’s not like that. Then Izumi hands him a letter. Big red alert! Actually it is an invitation ticket to her doujin circle at summer Comiket. This is her way of repaying him. If he had never shown her that game, Little Rhapsody he gave her as a gift, she wouldn’t be here today living a happy otaku life. Oh, I see there was another fine girl he corrupted. As she leaves, she tells Tomoya that her brother, Iori would be glad to see him again.

Well, that happens soon after. However Tomoya and Eriri ignore this handsome dude (he waited here for more than half an hour!) and continue arguing about the game gift Tomoya gave to Izumi. So when they cannot ignore him no more, the guys start their petty argument (WTF is this Nagoya food they’re talking about?). Tomoya remembers severing ties with him. Long ago they once agreed to rise up to the otaku world together. Their dynamic friendship back then sent all those fujoshi girls crazy. However Tomoya soon discovered his goals were completely different than his. Iori didn’t become an otaku to spread its joys. What he did was trying to get close to popular works and creators to make himself look important. Tomoya believes he should rise up from the bottom instead of just feeding on creators. Uhm, shouldn’t Tomoya do that himself too? Iori then hands him his name card. To their surprise, he is under Akane Kousaka’s Rouge En Rouge circle. This is a very famous superstar circle. Thanks to Iori’s ways, he has now risen this high and the circle cannot turn him down for he has helped them out with many things. Eriri won’t accept him but he informs his circle is interested in her. As he knows Tomoya is making a game with these famous girls, is he trying to stir something in the otaku world? So happen they too are making a game and are looking for an illustrator. Looks like it is a contest now. Does Eriri deserve to be on Tomoya’s side or will she shine further with them?

Episode 8
Megumi is here to discuss character designs, etc. But it seems Tomoya and Eriri are busy in completing the latter’s work before summer Comiket which starts tomorrow. Eriri thinks they’re fine since she will only be there on the third and final day. So Megumi passes time by playing Little Rhapsody. Tomoya is happy she has grown this much as an otaku. Shouldn’t he get back to helping Eriri? However since Eriri also likes this game, she can’t help get distracted in watching Megumi play. She manages to complete it without a drop in quality so Tomoya asks her about Iori’s offer. It is tempting and success is guaranteed. But what about her future? Is she going to keep drawing as a hobby? As Eriri plays Little Rhapsody, she assures him that she is part of his circle for now and won’t be taking on any guest artist jobs till winter Comiket. Tomoya and Megumi visit and help Izumi set up her booth on the first day of Comiket. Izumi is so happy to see he came that she hugs him. With tears! And she got the guts to call Megumi his girlfriend. Does she know the implication? When Tomoya looks at her work and finds out she has only been drawing for a year, he is impressed and takes a sample to go do something about it. He returns after copying an enlarged page and sticking it on a sign to attract people as a massive poster. But Izumi is embarrassed he chose that page because it wasn’t finished in time so it is a rushed job. Megumi agrees with Tomoya because she has read her work and she found it interesting all the way that it made her hard to catch her breath. A guy shows up and surprisingly buys it although her work isn’t aimed for guys. Then a long line of girls queue up to buy them till it is sold out. Izumi becomes emotional thanking everyone for supporting her. At the end of the day, Tomoya catches up with Eriri whom he realizes disguised herself to come buy Izumi’s works. She doesn’t seem happy. She asks him for his opinion on Izumi’s work. It’s totally awesome. Yeah. He was so hyped to help sell them too. That’s when she snapped back that he never reacted like that to her works. He never felt anything at all. He never went all out to help sell her works. Tomoya argues that they are both different and in different leagues. So does this mean Eriri’s works are better than Izumi’s? If so, why won’t he help to sell them? Her works sell fine without his help. That’s not even an answer. Eriri runs away crying, leaving Tomoya at the intersection. Cliché scene?

Episode 9
Suddenly Tomoya wakes up with Utaha lying next to him in bed! Is this some sort of revenge for not getting any screen time last episode? Eventually Tomoya reveals what happened with Eriri so Utaha thinks it is his fault for waxing lyrical the works of another girl in front of her. Tomoya believes he could not stay quiet when someone’s works stands out. Though it might not dent her reputation overall, but it sure dent her heart. This might jeopardize their circle as she might be too traumatized to even work. So Eriri doesn’t even get out of bed to go for the Comiket. She’s just lazing around in her bed. On the other hand, Utaha is lying around on Tomoya’s bed, smelling his blanket… Don’t worry. He is away at Comiket. He sees Iori and needs his help to drag Eriri back into his circle. That night as Eriri’s parents are holding a house party, it is part of Utaha’s plan to have Tomoya dress up as a prince to whisk Eriri away from her balcony. This scene resembles very closely to one in Little Rhapsody and will evoke that nostalgia factor. Away, the reconciliation isn’t going to be easy because it is Tomoya who is the one getting upset and wanting her to apologize for betraying him first. There is a short flashback of their days in elementary school 8 years ago. Eriri introduced Little Rhapsody to him and he got hooked to the otaku world. However she had to ‘abandon’ him to make new friends. That might look petty to Eriri but to him this was a big deal. It meant a lot to him. He had to make enemies out of every guy just to protect what they had. He won’t forgive her for the bad treatment. Eriri won’t apologize, instead she brings up that recent incident of praising another author’s work in front of her. She worked so hard and yet he praised Izumi. He admits Izumi’s work is much better than her. Eriri starts crying that she put in so much effort and that this is the limit of her talent. She put on a mask outside and worked hard at home to get back at those who broke them up. She wants to go back to how it was. He tells her to do it. He doesn’t know how but just do it. It’s her work. And so she finally decides to do it and make her be his number one. Next day, Eriri has completed the illustration of the circle’s banner. Looks very close to Megumi and she’s not pretty happy about it (because the illustration has her wear nothing!). Tomoya puts the finishing touches by calling their circle Blessing Software. Utaha points out that roughly translates to Megumi’s Software. Oh dear. Tempers are going to flare again… Lastly, Iori hands Izumi a drawing from Eriri for her. She is very happy about it although she didn’t know Eriri was at her stand. Iori starts laughing since the drawing also contains a note that Eriri won’t lose to her.

Episode 10
Tomoya and the girls are making progress with the game. It is getting late so he is going to take a bath and sleep. To his surprise, Michiru is using the place like her own home. Finally! After 3/4 of the series of no-show, finally she pops up! Tomoya screams not because she came out of the bath, but rather she didn’t have the typical girly screaming reaction she should have when she sees a semi-naked guy. Seems she had an argument with her family and ran away from home. She tells him about the new band she formed but he isn’t convinced since she never stayed for more than 6 months. Michiru is pretty bold and physical in flirting with him. You wonder if his neck is going to be okay with that kind of submission move. Next day as he tries to work on the scripting, Utaha and Eriri are more interested in flirting and getting his attention. Then they discover the other girl… Oh dear. Tomoya is tied up and interrogated. Who the heck is this Michiru girl? Tomoya explains she is his cousin who happened to be born on the same day and same hospital as him. Utaha becomes a smooth operation in creating a scenario the closeness of their relationship. The kind of childhood friend relationship that trumps all over others and make it look like cheap knock offs. Eriri can’t handle the heat and already passes out. Tomoya returns home only to see Michiru making herself at home. Yeah, she’s really turning his room into his. Throwing away all his otaku stuffs and replacing it with her music. She tries to convince him to leave the otaku life and will introduce real girls to him to hang out. Thankfully (or not), his otaku passion is strong and he won’t be so easily converted. Imagine, a girl who have family problems telling a guy in his own home to be concerned about his future. Despite warning Michiru not to plug her electric guitar to the amp, she does so after he has gone to take a bath. At first he is going to chew her out but after a while, the music isn’t that bad. In fact, it perfectly fits the scenes of his story. He wants her to join his circle. His towel then came off. Is that some sort of threat or intimidation? She isn’t, by the way.

Episode 11
Michiru is introduced to the rest. I wonder how Eriri is going to handle this. I don’t think she can’t. Especially seeing Michiru getting physical with Tomoya like as though it’s that norm. Of course Michiru has never agreed to write music for his game. She claims she has her hands full writing songs for her band. Utaha reminds Tomoya not to force her to join or she’ll be unhappy. Funny, wasn’t Utaha the same at first? Because Michiru looks down on otaku, Utaha retorts all that about the otaku world and how their works of entertainment make them nobles. When Michiru starts bringing up the past that she was always better than him in everything, there were times he was a reliable guy. Eriri seems to be interested in hearing ancient history. I don’t know how Tomoya can get out of this one with both girls suffocating him. Later when all the girls have gone home, Tomoya expresses he really needs Michiru but she is still not convinced. Somehow her band is on the verge of breaking up thanks to her so she has no time to help him out. Tomoya takes it that she has not received her father’s blessings yet. She reveals he will approve of it if they get a manager. Tomoya will help find one for her but Michiru says it is him. Well, they’re not going to have a complete stranger as their manager, right? So now it is his turn to claim being busy with his circle. What experience has he got as a band manager? Michiru tells him that his circle is broken and that he is the only one who is genuinely interested in making the game. The other girls seem to hang around for other reasons… However it is different in her case. Everyone in her band is seriously trying to make their dream come true.

Tomoya’s friend thinks he is spending more time with Megumi recently and Tomoya is happy to note that she has grown as a heroine since other guys are starting to take notice of her. Megumi is at Eriri’s home helping to work on the game’s scripting. She has her own ideas and views for certain scenes that make it work better. Early next morning, Tomoya calls her. Seems he is in a dilemma. He asks her if the circle is not working so she invites him out for breakfast. She shows him the scripting she has been working to help him out. Surprised? Megumi views herself as no talent like the rest but she wants to help out whenever she can because she really wants to finish this game. Just as Tomoya’s faith in completing the game and making her the heroine that everyone can envy renewed, he sees on the scripting demo something about Megumi hinting about his cousin when he was opposed to her own cousin. Remember that incident? Yeah… Immediately he prostrates himself to apologize. Tomoya then lets her hear Michiru’s music that he secretly recorded. Sounds good. This has Megumi ask if Michiru has really nothing to do with the otaku culture. Michiru gets a pleasant surprise when Tomoya agrees to become her band manager. There is a live gig for her band to perform. Apparently a band pulled out last minute and he managed to slot theirs in. He already contacted her band members to commit. All that is left is for her to say okay. Instantly she hugs him and starts apologizing for being selfish, sorry his dream might collapse, blah, blah, blah. Typical female character when the guy gets you what you want?

Episode 12
Tomoya is talking to Michiru’s Icy Tail band. They will be going out first since they have no past credentials. Time to do this thing. Meanwhile, Tomoya’s circle girls are supposed to attend to but Eriri has run away to a maid café. Megumi and Utaha are forced to drag her out. Utaha can’t believe Megumi and Eriri got close together while at the same time poking fun insulting Eriri’s trauma about losing her position as Tomoya’s oldest childhood friend. I wonder if Megumi is tired in rebuking the infighting. Finally when they arrive at the backstage, they see this very ‘horror’ scene. Michiru despite angry at Tomoya for the cat maid outfit that the band is supposed to go out and perform in, she is in a cowgirl position and that ambiguous humping just makes your imagination go wild. Tomoya reveals the biggest secret. Michiru thought she was singing pop songs but in actual fact all of them are anime songs. That is why the songs she writes are so anime-like. Apparently her bandmates are somewhat otaku themselves and have made a deal with Tomoya that with him managing them as an anime cover band, they will allow her to work for his Blessing Software. It is a win-win situation for everyone. She can quit if she wants but is she going to betray her friends? Even if she is not an otaku, he believes she will become a fine one someday. Icy Tail head off to stage and the crowd goes wild when they begin their gig. It ends with Michiru playing an original song she wrote. When Michiru says I love you to Tomoya, Utaha and Eriri beat him up. He had to explain she was saying Icy Tail (as in “Aishiteru yo!”). At the backstage, Tomoya continues his smooth operator talk with Michiru. Her dream has come true. Now it’s her turn to make his. Those otaku out there cheering for her today, they will soon be moved to tears when she writes music for his game. Michiru agrees to join him and decides to make it formal with a pact. It looks like she’s going to kiss him but in fact she gets back at him by doing a submission move. We see the circle working hard to complete the game as well as a glimpse of part of the game’s ending. Everyone is glad that they have completed it. Well, at least one route. Now to start again for the other routes. Eriri starts right away, Utaha takes a quick nap and Michiru going to cheer them up with her song. Everything is working so fine. Well, 2 months to go to Winter Comiket. Tomoya is going to make some narrative that their fight has just begun but Eriri smacks him so as not to jinx it.

How To Satisfy A Perverted Otaku
If I have to be honest, I am having a hard time determining if this series is interesting or, erm, boring. Maybe it is somewhat both. The interesting parts see how a nobody and high school kid Tomoya trying to create an ideal game with all the obstacles he is facing as well as managing the fickle relationship between his female members. But other than that, the drama of it all can be a bit draggy as I sometimes find it hard myself to keep focus for the duration of the episode. Personally, I have no idea about the direction or what they are planning about when discussing in making the game because it seems I only sit up whenever there is some sort of cat fight happening between Utaha and Eriri since with the former’s acid tongue and sarcasm, it is always fun to hear what comes out of her mouth and the reaction the tsundere puts on. I’m not saying that this is a bad anime overall but maybe I just got my priorities wrong. I thought I would see them making the game (like what you see in Bakuman or even Shirobako) and even though this is what their circle goal is all about, they do it behind the scenes and it is more of Tomoya trying to make his circle work despite everything looks like it is going to fall apart any moment. Good thing it didn’t, right? Could it be the power of (one-sided secret crush) love?

The clashing and contrasting characters in the circle make them interesting despite you can see certain clichés in them like a certain tsundere (why must they always be twintail blondes?) and sharp tongue yandere. The biggest irony is that the 2 of the biggest names in the otaku world are working for a complete nobody. It becomes obvious that they are willing to bring themselves down to his level thanks to the shared past and feelings for him. The show does have its pace to bring out Utaha and Eriri’s past with Tomoya and how they are somewhat connected to him, the reason they are going this far to help him make his ideal game. At the same time, Megumi is not going to be the running joke of the series whereby nobody notices her so it is not going to be the case for her character development to be ignored. Instead, we see her taking an interest and learning more about the otaku culture. Although that ‘boring’ nature of hers depends very much on the views and perception of others. Boring at first in the eyes of Tomoya because of his set stereotypes of what a heroine should be. But I think Megumi could be the ‘coolest’ character of them all in the entire series since she rarely burst into any fits of emotion. Even so, they look so emotionless. Even when she makes come back lines. Quite funny when she rebukes. Quite the irony. I know her sleepy voice makes her like a dreamy girl but I think it gives her character. Overall, the character development is satisfactory but not quite enough since you can’t do justice to them all with just a dozen or so episodes.

Tomoya looks like another typical and ordinary otaku character with big dreams. Yeah, what another irony considering Megumi is supposed to be the most ‘normal’ one. His passion in the otaku life is genuine. Sometimes I feel he just needs to have better communication skills to tell the girls what he want especially to Megumi who is a noob in the otaku world. With the girls having different sets of personalities, Tomoya feels like the punching bag for the big two and to a point plays the role of retorting them when they put words in his mouth or twisting the meaning of the entire thing. And sometimes I feel he is worse than a woman because based on my observations especially with Megumi, he expects something like this or that and when she agrees to it, he starts having second thoughts whether it is a good thing or not for her to agree so easily with it. So what does he really want anyway?

So I suppose with the characters interacting with each other in such a way, this is where mainly the funny parts of the series are. Yeah well, at least they aren’t that boring despite the cliché personalities. And I suppose they try to make it a little interesting because sometimes the characters do speak in a way that breaks the fourth wall. Like as though they are addressing to us viewers who are watching them. Some of them are cleverly played out.

Another one of the biggest ironies for this series is the romance part. I said irony because Tomoya who has proclaimed he only loves 2D girls (although he did say he does not hate 3D girls) to be working with real girls in the flesh. If that is the case, could it be that he only sees his colleagues as nothing as that? Perhaps. But I don’t think it is the same case for the girls. We all know very well that he is the reason why they are staying in his circle that may or may not be successful. So there’s the irony of beautiful and successful girls in their own right having feelings for a 2D lover guy. Unrequited love? Utaha and Eriri look like the front runners in this game but Michiru is threatening to usurp all that thanks to her bold physical moves. And she like only made her appearance so late in the series proper.

You thought Utaha was pretty bold in her up close flirting with Tomoya? Well, it was till Michiru smashed all that and took it to a whole new level. Don’t forget about Megumi. She might look like the one with the least potential but you know what they say about still waters running deep. I may be reading too much but I take it as a sign that she wants to help him and finish this game as an indication that she harbours some feelings for him. She might be the one who usurp it all because you know, Tomoya views her as his heroine. I don’t know what happened to Izumi but I thought the more the merrier with a cliché character playing the little sister trope (since she does appear along with the other girls in the ending credits animation). Well it seems childhood friend seems to be an important ‘ingredient’ in whatever romance factor the girls are pinning on. In that case, everybody would have lost out to Michiru flat, right?

There are also a few fanservice scenes but they are considered light and the ‘heaviest’ one would be in episode 0 itself (and possibly almost every scene that involve Michiru on Tomoya). With Utaha’s sexy seduction and after-bath scene, a scene with Eriri only in her lingerie and Michiru whose skimpy dressing like as though she is getting ready for a porn shoot and her extreme physical skinship on Tomoya might make it too tantalizing for us to handle. Even all that is pales in comparison to even call this an ecchi themed anime. Okay, maybe you can call it ecchi as long as we get more than 2 scenes of boobs and pantsu shots. Also, there are some anime trivia to spot but mostly they are the posters, mangas and figurines in Tomoya’s room like OreImo, Date A Live and Sword Art Online respectively among the many others. For the rest that are seen elsewhere like during the Comiket, I am not sure if they are real, made up or actual doujin work.

Although the art and drawing are rather okay being your standard Japanese anime style like you see these days, I can’t help notice if it is going to be a trend. Like in Grisaia No Kajitsu, I noticed that there is a red strip of line on the top outline of the girls’ eyes. I am not sure about the guys but I noticed that in some scenes, Tomoya also have this feature albeit it is very faint compared to the girls. Then there are certain scenes in which the colouring and the hue just become, how should I put it, single hue. For example, sometimes the scene will be in just tones and shades or red. Sometimes purple. Sometimes blue. Like as though they ran out of other colours for that scene and just dumped all that single colour just for the sake to get that scene coloured. This does not happen very often but enough to make you notice and wonder if there is some sort of implication or anything. Or it could be just to mess with your head and amount to nothing much. Oddly, there are also a few scenes using CG. But those scenes are also rare although it tries to blend in with the 2D hand drawing, it still stands out.

Voice acting is pretty okay. Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Tomoya somehow I feel is going to be stereotyped in playing such characters. Whether it is Aito from Mangaka-san To Assistant-san To or Sora from No Game No Life. Kiyono Yasuno (Koneko in Hamatora) playing Megumi might sound like she has the easiest job since her character sounds like she is devoid of emotions and just put on that single monotonous voice. But to speak like that for the entire duration of the series is not easy and can be tiring. Believe me, I tried doing that for a few minutes and it was already hard on me despite I myself am a boring person ;p. The rest of the other casts include Ai Kayano as Utaha (Inori in Guilty Crown), Saori Oonishi as Eriri (La Folia in Strike The Blood), Sayuri Yahagi as Michiru (Haruna in To Love-Ru), Chinatsu Akasaki as Izumi (Yasuna in Kill Me Baby) and Tatsuya Kakihara as Iori (Natsu in Fairy Tail). The opening and ending themes sound generic anime pop. Sounds okay but doesn’t appeal to me. Kimiiro Signal by Luna Haruna is the opener while Colorful by Miku Sawai serves as the ending theme. There are also a handful of insert songs that are sung by the heroines in the series but I didn’t find them appealing either.

Till the second season arrives (oh yes, there is definitely going to be a second season to satisfy us otaku perverts who love to see the eternal rivalry and cat fight between the tsundere and yandere as well as the deadpan rebuke from the most normal girl ever in the history of anime, not forgetting an extremely physical budding musician), I guess we’ll have to be satisfied this season to see how a guy manages his girls. Oh wait. Did it even come close to that? How do I describe this anime in a nutshell? It’s like a management sim but it doesn’t feel like it. It’s like your harem anime but it’s not. It’s like your romantic comedy anime but it really isn’t. It’s almost like your fanservice shots but not enough to classify so. Mainly everything feels mild and not serious enough to warrant to anything substantial but sufficient to keep your attention till the end. At least there are lots of positive comments about this show (I bet they are mostly either Utaha or Megumi camp).

So you think running a country or even a big multi-national conglomerate is a big tough headache job? Try managing a small group of only girls all of which whom have some sort of secret crush or admiration for you. It is like a dream come true for us otaku guys to have so many beauty and brains clamouring for us but at the same time a big hell of a mess when all hell breaks loose. Besides, don’t they have such management classes anywhere? Yeah, they don’t. You don’t try and manage girls as a guy! Never! Oh, how do you satisfy a perverted otaku anyway? Simple. Just give him lots of ero stuffs. What? You expecting something more complicated than that? I assure you, it is not that complicated to please a pervert even if he has the strangest fetish in the world. Really.

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