It happened so long ago that I almost forgot that Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata Flat had come out as the sequel. Oh heck, it was only 2 years ago. I must be really that busy watching as much anime as I can, huh? But now that the sequel has come and gone, I guess it is my obligation to see if Tomoya and his harem will get to not just finish the game but obtain positive results as well. Oh heck, who am I kidding. I’m just here to see the cat fight between the yandere and the tsundere. And perhaps the world’s most normal girl.

Episode 0
Just like in the previous season, your shameless fanservice episode with Tomoya and the girls in a private pool party! Babes in bikinis! Wohoo! It all started when Eriri wanted to sketch a picture of Megumi in a bikini as part of the game’s illustration. She would agree to that with a condition that everyone else also does the same. So even if Megumi did wear the swimsuit, she isn’t going to bend her bodies in erotic poses to suit Eriri’s perverted needs. Then we have Michiru and Eriri arguing who has better childhood memories with Tomoya. Eriri is shocked when Izumi turns up in a swimsuit. Looks like Megumi invited her. The more the merrier. Isn’t she their rival? Whatever. Izumi ‘knocks out’ Tomoya when she jumps to hug him. During the blame game confusion, Utaha looks like she is trying to take advantage by kissing him. I don’t think CPR starts like that. In the end, everyone retires to their room and Utaha has took the liberty to book Izumi a room. As the girls gather to decide either to have fun or finish their work, they realize Utaha isn’t around. Because they share rooms, they thought Utaha would be bunking with the other. Oh no… They should’ve known better… Sneaky Utaha in her sexy night dress is trying to flirt with Tomoya over a drink. I think Tomoya knows where this is going and tries to chicken out but Utaha hints she has spent lots for all this so he better play along. Tomoya is literally saved by the bell. His handphone ring, that is. The girls call Tomoya knowing Utaha has turned off her handphone. Game over, Utaha. Eventually they all join up at the karaoke box as Michiru demonstrates her new songs for the game’s scenes. Tomoya and Megumi sneak out and talk about hoping for the best for their game. Izumi is motivated seeing the other girls work so hard so she lets them know she is looking forward to their game at winter Comiket. She hands an autographed self-portrait to Eriri.

Episode 1
Eriri and Utaha continue to clash and argue like always. This prompts a flashback of how they met a year ago. It all started when Eriri confronted Utaha after realizing she has been spending a lot of time closely with Tomoya. So it all boils down to if the other likes him. Eriri believes Tomoya is only close to her because he likes the novel Metronome of Love so they’re just like friends who like the same book. Until Utaha reveals herself as the author of that book. More frustration for Eriri the more research she does on her. And yeah, Utaha continues to hang out with Tomoya. Similarly, Utaha also finds out more about Eriri but via Tomoya. Tomoya might have said something she didn’t like. This makes her barge her way through the private room of an art club Eriri is in to find some more clues about her. The next day, Utaha summons Eriri about what she found. She now knows Eriri is part of a doujin circle, Egoistic-Lily and most of her work are 18+. Eriri somehow sees this as a threat and starts predicting a hentai rape scene upon herself? Utaha isn’t hiding the fact she is a light novel author. Just that nobody asked. But Eriri is different. She tried to hide hers because of her experience of being discriminated as an otaku since young. She was also betrayed by her only comrade then. So guess who is the guy who understood her and is able to talk freely about the things she loves? Utaha views her motivation to draw is for revenge. That kind of work won’t make people happy. Likewise, Eriri comments Utaha’s writings look down on others and doesn’t move them because of empathy. What she does is just manipulate feelings. That means there is no motivation and she is a heartless author to begin with. Utaha replies whether their work is for revenge or calculation, the one who is moved first loses. In present time, looks like both have ‘settled’ whatever differences and ready to move on. It’s so tiring… Tomoya announces an illustration with their signatures to promote their game at winter Comiket. They are reluctant at first but when Megumi wants one too, they get motivated to make a few copies for themselves.

Episode 2
Utaha has finally finished her scenario and Tomoya must now date her this weekend as promised. And Eriri dragged Megumi along so they could spy on them. Eriri you looking so suspicious… Tomoya is forced to accompany Utaha reading at a bookstore, carries all the books she has to buy and wait patiently as she catches up on more reading. Not sure if Eriri’s tailing got distracted because she read the synopsis of a movie that continues from the TV series that had ended and became so moved about it. Tomoya is worried after hearing Utaha might not be around next year. Well, she is considering going to a faraway college. However she hints there is also one nearby. It’s not like she wants to live independently but doesn’t mind it either. She is in a dilemma picking which. Hint, hint. So you’re going to let Tomoya decide? I thought it is pretty clear cut… As Tomoya sees her off at the train station, he tells her he wants her to go to the nearer college. At least they can still make games together. But if she doesn’t want to make games with him anymore, that is a different story. Even so, he doesn’t want to be the one to rule out the possibility. Seeing his genuine reaction, she decides to give him a chance. She hands him the latest scenario she rewrote which is completely different than the one for the game. So he has to read it and decide which version is better. For their future possibility. Eriri is worried if Tomoya ever came home last night. Well, Megumi has a key to his place… They see him emotionally crying after reading Utaha’s new scenario. Instead of the hero ending up with his current day lover, suddenly a total switch to his sister from the past. I don’t play such games so I don’t see the emotional value it has… Eriri is not impressed. Not only this means new scenes to illustrate (like starting from scratch), this would also change the interpretation they have of everything they’ve been making. This makes the previous heroine nothing more but a window dressing heroine since their story and route will be totally different than the one they have been promoting. Tomoya wants to hold a meeting to discuss which scenario to be included but Eriri believes this is for him and the scenario writer to decide. And she’s not here. They join Megumi in playing a demo doujin game which is supposed to be released at this winter Comiket. They find the genre similar to theirs and more surprisingly it is from their rival circle, Rouge En Rouge.

Episode 3
There is some dramatic tense showdown between Tomoya, Eriri, Iori and Izumi. Till Megumi drops in to thank Izumi for joining this ‘meeting’. Tomoya isn’t happy that Rouge En Rouge is basically ripping off their game. Iori reminds him that they challenged each other and despite Rouge En Rouge is a bigger and more famous circle, there are still ways Blessing Software can win. What irks Tomoya the most is how he dragged Izumi into this. However Izumi says she is doing this so she can challenge Eriri directly as they are both illustrators. Indeed, Izumi has advanced a lot in just a few months. Then it descends into a girly fight… Tomoya is confident he has Utaha as their scenario writer but is surprised when Iori is even more confident that this is the part he will never lose out. Megumi is at Tomoya’s place to help make their game playable by the end of the week. However they hardly make any progress and she feels a bit down. As they take a rest, Tomoya gets a rude awakening when Michiru wrestles him. She has this misconception they were sleeping together! Sleepyhead Megumi explained in an ambiguous way that they were already doing it here since last night (the programming, that is). Tomoya is relieved that Michiru can help out. How? She can only play the guitar. He calls the rest of her Icy Tail band members. They realized they have been duped into helping Tomoya with his game. He ‘threatens’ to help out or as their manager he will quit! But why them? He knows that each of them has got some ‘experience’ in computing (except Michiru). In order words, he wants them to pull an all-nighter doing computing odd jobs. Well, I guess one of them is forced to forgo her date for this… Yeah, whatever boyfriend problems they have is not of his concern! Hidoi! But does he have enough computers? Megumi is on her way to borrow more laptops from Eriri. Don’t worry about sleeping over at Tomoya’s place. Lots of girls have been sleeping here too… So ambiguous… The game is done eventually and Tomoya realizes something. He confronts Utaha to tell her of his decision. Which scenario will he choose? Neither. It needs another take. This is a crappy game.

Episode 4
I think Megumi figured out something wrong and goes to see Tomoya. However he is in the midst of being beaten up by Utaha. Come back later. So Tomoya and Utaha are arguing loudly on what is wrong with the scenarios that they’re scaring the maids away. When he claims this is not the game he wanted to make, it broke her heart. Oh, she’s crying… When everything calms down, he talks to her about fixing it. If she won’t do it, he’ll do it. He is the director after all. With Tomoya pitching in to write, of course he isn’t going to get everything right at first go as Utaha checks his work and there are lots of mistakes including typos. Tomoya needs a game that doesn’t follow the conventional rules. Because Utaha is a novelist, her scenarios end up making the game look like a novel. In the end, Tomoya suggests a third route where everyone will be happy (the other routes seem to sacrifice happiness of others). Utaha disagrees as it is not her literally style. While it might be rude for a creator to say this to a director, it won’t be if a fellow creator says it to another creator. So I take it, Tomoya for the time being is as of the same position as her. Tomoya is so focused and working hard on his scenario that he doesn’t realize how sexy Utaha in her undies as she sleeps on his bed… Until he tries to cover her with a blanket. The scenario is done and Tomoya apologizes to her for breaking her characters and all. She believes they have lived instead of died. She is happy they had fun writing their own original scenario. Tomoya moved to tears? With this, Utaha has finished her part in the game and will no longer be involved. Megumi points out a character in the game is similar in one in Metronome of Love. Utaha admits in a way they are and the way she describes the source she based them on seems to sound a lot like herself. Yeah, who else? Something about her being lonely and she would like the main character to choose just this once. During the bonfire dance, Megumi’s acting of the main character is impressive enough that Tomoya sees her in that form.

Episode 5
Everyone is spying on Megumi being confessed. Tomoya must be relieved to see her rejecting him, right? The reason being, the deadline is near and there are lots of things left to do for the game. Aww, how considerate. However Utaha is hinting the blame on Eriri since she is behind schedule. It seems Eriri is obsessing about quality and hence not getting her anyway. It doesn’t add up she spent so much time improving but not producing the results. Though, Eriri deflects the blame back that they added a new route and hence additional work. Later Eriri tells Tomoya that she will be holing up in a villa to complete her work. This means skipping school. She’ll make it before the deadline. Just trust her. So when he tells the rest about this, Utaha is warning him about the signs that could signal she would be dropping her work and running away. Although it starts off on a promising note, it doesn’t take long before Eriri starts showing those signs. I’m sure Utaha is going to lecture him on I-told-you-so. With Tomoya continuing to believe Eriri and that she won’t run away, Utaha reminds him that is not faith. Has she nowhere to go further as creator? She can’t change her art style or make any progress. When faced with something to overcome it, she will back off without trying. It gives Tomoya the dilemma if he wants Eriri to finish her job by the deadline or improve as a creator. Then more of the signs start to show. She talks harsher, submits less and less works, blames herself, replying much later and the final straw came when she says she has found a new way to do her art. She is going to draw the backgrounds and characters separately. This means she is changing her art style at this point. Tomoya is in shock if she can do it. As long as he expects it, she can do it. In the end, she manages to finish it all but she sounds like she used up her entire life force for it and ‘dies’. So dramatic…

Episode 6
Eriri has fallen sick. Tomoya is in a hurry to head there so he calls Iori for help. He is so kind to give him a personal car ride. Iori gives his opinion about Tomoya’s position of leaving his home since he is on a tight deadline. Tomoya will not allow that burden to fall on other members. Iori sees it as him wanting to keep Eriri all to himself. When they arrive, awesome illustrations on the floor. Eriri on the floor. She is put to bed and Iori gives him the necessary contacts should he need further help. Next morning, Eriri is better. She is glad he likes her illustrations. They were her best. She thinks the game is completed since he is here. When she finds out it isn’t, she becomes mad and starts crying like it is the end of the world. It meant her efforts were in vain. At this point he could only choose either Eriri or the deadline but she thought he would have chosen both. She feels better when he says her artwork is better than Izumi’s. She is glad he has become her number one. But not in terms of his harem, that is. Tomoya apologizes for not being able to meet the deadline but Eriri also does the same for obsessing over quality. That fault of hers is because of her pride. At Comiket, the gang is busier than ever. Because they had so much free time, Tomoya added more content which in turn made them busy. Eriri did apologize to all the other girls but Utaha thought she acted arrogant and bragged after that. However Megumi refuses to blame anybody as everyone did their best. Later Eriri apologizes to Izumi for all the mean things she said because she was scared of her, especially how much she grew as an artist. She has to admit her loss here or else she cannot move on. Izumi looks forward to their next challenge. Blessing Software has become a hot topic ever since they released their trial game and it took only 30 minutes for it all to be sold out! There is an after party after that but Megumi goes home straight. Tomoya thinks she is mad because they didn’t have a complete version at Comiket. However that is not the reason. He never told her about Eriri’s case and the deadline. She told him she was free and would be able to help. Yet he never said anything. She thought she chose the same thing as him but yet he took all the burden on himself. Although he did the right thing, she can’t forgive him. Tomoya notes Megumi wasn’t sad. It was a new emotion he has never seen that hurt so much.

Episode 7
The game is popular enough that they see a rise in orders for it. Tomoya thinks of having a thank you illustration art. Eriri is already working on it. A rare sight of Utaha walking with Tomoya to school that it dumbfounds everyone else. This is her last chance to walk with him since she is graduation. Cue to get very close to him. Also expected, Eriri coming in to cut in and blame Tomoya for going ahead and wasted her effort of coming to his house and walk together. Also cue for the ladies to start b*tch insulting each other causing everybody to witness this shameful drama. However Megumi still ignores Tomoya despite he tries his best to talk about the circle’s next meeting. The cut is deep. Easily misinterpreted, Iori is giving Tomoya Valentine chocolates?! Fujoshi fans rejoice?! Actually it is from Izumi and she couldn’t give it to him since she is busy taking exams. Iori and his circle has played his game and noticed the vast improvements. However Iori can tell he went to write on the last scenario since he recognized his style which never changed from some infamous copy he wrote 3 years ago. He still has that copy… Tomoya wants it back! Iori advises him not to lose his circle and not let go of Utaha and Eriri. Tomoya calls Megumi but she blatantly doesn’t answer. After Eriri gives her chocolates, she learns Tomoya and Megumi still haven’t made up. She wants to blame herself but Tomoya won’t let her. He talks about getting started for their next project but she wants to hold it off a little since she worked hard. Tomoya congratulates Utaha in releasing her new novel. Then she teases him as usual with sexually ambiguous words like signing on his body and gives him her chocolates since they are at a relationship point where they spent many nights together. Writing scenarios, right? Utaha mentions she won’t be coming to school anymore since she has to write the second volume and prepare for university. So will she participate in his next project? She asks who is going to do the art then. Because Eriri hasn’t drawn a single picture the entire year. She doesn’t consider that art she completed after the deadline as it. If possible, he wants Eriri to work with him again and create a game that surpasses Cherry Blessing. Tomoya finally texts Megumi about his plans for the next meeting. She’s still pondering about it. Tomoya replays his game and notes how well it is done. He realizes Megumi has been putting a lot of effort into it. Not just the game but other minor productions as well. I don’t want to jump the gun but does it mean that she was interested in more than just the game? He starts crying and can only apologize.

Episode 8
Tomoya finally catches Megumi to talk. She can’t run now. It looks like a rape scene since he locks the door and his hands approaching her. Turns out he just wanted to print some stuffs. Megumi was pretty scared at that point. He shows her his proposal for their next game project. So he is assuming she will join? She didn’t feel like she was really participating in the last one. He rants about how he will make it so but all she sees is just him making a game based on his delusions. Plus, he plans to make this game with this minimal staff. Is he going to do everything? That’s why he roped her in as the assistant. Again. Oh, she doesn’t want to do something this troublesome again. He pleads to help take care of this circle so she asks has she told Eriri about making her the heroine again. Not yet. The way he explains makes Megumi give out that killer eyes because it’s like saying he is doing this thinking she is in love with him. He blames this on playing too much galge. Maybe that’s why all galge are twisted in this sense since otakus don’t have real 3D relationship. When Tomoya thanks her for all the hard work and apologizes for it, Megumi cannot contain her emotions and starts crying. The more he says sorry, the more she sheds? There has got to be a limit because it’s making her mad now how cheap his sorrys are. She just wished as friends there would be no secrets or decisions without discussion among them. They talk about Eriri who is still in a slump. Megumi wonders why he doesn’t find another illustrator as good as her to join. Back at his home, he explains the kind of game he wants to make. No more all that sci-fi, supernatural and cliché stuffs. Just a normal high school game. As he rants about heroine being humans, once again Megumi has to show her mad side and lecture him. As she is a heroine herself, she too is human. She is mad because they have been close enough and yet he doesn’t understand how she feels. I mean, with his next game title as How To Raise A Boring Heroine, it is trying to say her character is dead. Megumi still has issues with his insensitivity but they have other issues to deal with. Like Utaha who has graduated and the possibility she won’t work for him again. Not to mention Eriri’s slump. No use talking too much deep into the night. Just sleep on it for now.

Episode 9
Tomoya goes to congratulate Utaha on her graduation. Then he lets her read his proposal of his next game which everyone wants to participate. After reading, she gives it high marks despite how cliché it is and lacking originality. When Tomoya says he hasn’t asked Eriri yet, this makes Utaha worry. She wonders how to tell it to her. Hence she cannot continue with her. Tomoya is shocked and desperate as she explains his work isn’t something to die for. Then there’s this reasoning of how he failed as a producer because he doesn’t crack the whip and push his employees to the brink to bring out their best abilities. Wouldn’t that be like workplace abuse? Then she shows him a proposal she got for an epic RPG game, Fields Chronicle. It is by the legendary Akane. At this point Utaha is already shaking as Tomoya goes through the proposal. Apparently it is not Akane who is scouting her but Eriri. Utaha could only apologize. Flashback a month ago, Utaha and Eriri talked and various issues. The latter is still in a slump and hasn’t been able to produce such quality art since then. Utaha is told by her editor that their company will have staffs working under Fields Chronicle for the story. Her editor believes Utaha still has unlimited talent and believes she shouldn’t be hand over to Akane yet. Later Utaha and Eriri are invited to meet with Akane herself. She lets them read her proposal and wants them to decide if they will be on board or not. When they ask what they’re supposed to die, she tells them straight they are to die for this game. Devote themselves to nothing but it for a year. Akane has played their recent game and noticed Eriri’s out. Because she noted Utaha was the only one who could keep up with her deadline, hence Utaha’s role is to draw out Eriri’s mental and technical skills. She does think highly of Utaha’s skill but if Eriri isn’t joining, there is no point having Utaha. When Eriri complains she is in a slump, Akane blows her top. She tells her to stop insulting artists. She made an amazing piece of work once and is now in a slump? She is nowhere near her peak! She isn’t in a slump. She is just a crappy artist! Her skills aren’t there yet. Akane then gives her look at the art she drew. Eriri is in shock seeing Akane could copy her unique art style.

Episode 10
Eriri is annoyed that Utaha is supportive of Akane’s plan. However Utaha points out that Eriri has not decided on anything and merely complained why she can’t. She has not decided on what to do in the future, what to become. So when Eriri starts praising the positive side of all this, now it is Utaha’s turn to let loose some steam as she rants how annoyed it is for a doujin artist to get this job compared to a professional novelist. She hopes Eriri could accept this project so she can fight her head on. Iori goes to talk to Akane about what happened. Seems he is seeking her permission to quit her circle. Utaha’s editor must be trying to joke around about Tomoya trying to cling on to Utaha after she graduates. Utaha asserts she won’t get feelings in the way as she is a professional. Oh really? Next afternoon, Eriri breaks Utaha’s slumber by calling to meet her. It seems she has her groove back after she kept drawing all night. As her sketches are back home, there is a faster way to show it to her. She’ll sketch it for her right now. Beautiful enough for Utaha to be in awed. Eriri then starts laughing since she has recognized her. But it’s just hysteria since now she starts crying her heart out. She is sad this is the art Tomoya wanted. He supported her but she couldn’t produce the results. But Akane mocked and laughed at her, she managed to pull through because she didn’t want to lose. She can’t draw with Tomoya and Tomoya can’t make her draw. She won’t progress if she stays in his circle. She can’t become his amazing illustrator. After calming down, Eriri notes Tomoya will hate her for this second betrayal. Utaha believes so but at least this time she has an accomplice. They vow they will both defeat Akane. Iori speaks to Tomoya and he feels bad he lost 2 of his circle members. Tomoya looks on the positive side that they could develop further. But he doesn’t look happy? Iori also announces that because of Akane’s new recruits, he and Izumi quit Rouge En Rouge. But his main reason is because there is something new he would like to try. Izumi has found a place where she could put her skills to the best use. He advises Tomoya not to stop pursuing his dream. So a forlorn Tomoya walks home. Before him is Megumi. She wants them to go out on a date. If this isn’t trolling, I guess this day isn’t that bad after all.

Episode 11
Tomoya doesn’t want Megumi to blame Utaha and Eriri. He dragged them into this and they have no reason to stay in a small circle in the first place. They should be aiming for bigger opportunities. So they’re back at the mall where they first dated. Could it be Megumi still kept a grudge how he stood her up the last time? Well, he has to accompany her this time. He buys her a hat as present for the glasses she gave the last time. On the way back, she asks if his heroine story is like what he wanted. That suffocating and exciting feeling when he had fallen in love with a real girl. Tomoya realizes this is her way of telling him she won’t give up. Even if Utaha and Eriri aren’t here, Blessing Software will still be around as long he is here. Tomoya agrees and wants her to become her main heroine again. She adds a heroine that everyone would envy. Tomoya becomes hysteric. He laughs at first before crying his heart out. Tomoya makes a surprise appearance when he sees off Utaha and Eriri at the train station. He wishes them all the best and is excited to see Fields Chronicle to become a god tier under them. Megumi might not be here but she can talk via handphone. With both sides giving each other motivation, Eriri steps up and hopes to take Tomoya’s glasses as a token. Then she really wants to kiss him but Utaha usurps her and kisses Tomoya instead!!! So while nobody cares about Eriri screaming in the background, Utaha boldly flirts with him until her twintail smacking breaks them up. They realize they have missed the train. At the start of the new school term, Tomoya is wearing Eriri’s glasses. Megumi is trying real hard to not laugh. Maybe not. So he decides to not wear them. They are surprised to see Izumi enrolling in this school. Tomoya realizes this is what Iori had meant. Eriri and Utaha are ‘stalking’ from afar as Michiru points out the outsiders cannot go back now that they left. Michiru wants to nonchalantly go to Tomoya but the duo restrain her like she’s some criminal. Being so noisy, I guess Tomoya already spotted them.

How To Treat Your Harem Well
Just like my sentiments from the first season, I can’t seem to determine if this sequel is boring, just like in its title. That is why I was wondering if I should make a pun with the sequel’s title of Flat. You know, as in boring and dreary. Or maybe it refers to Tomoya’s subsequent plan falling flat. But they used the musical note flat… Lower pitch? Sounds like… Lover b*tch? Wait. What did I just say?! Or maybe the symbol looks like a side boob and some of the girls are busty and some are flat… Oops! Don’t stray too far thinking irrelevant things.

There is a lot of high stakes drama in this sequel with things going up a notch. Fans may be able to appreciate all the drama and deep character development in the sequel but for a simpleton like me, it is hard for me to grasp in detail the deeper aspects of what is going on. I do have the basic gist of what is going on but not something on a profound level.

With time running out, Tomoya has to play relationship manager as well as trying to complete his ideal game in his maiden attempt. This sets up a few episodes to be given focus to his girls and the problems they have to currently deal with. Like Utaha who has her graduation looming and the possibility of going to a faraway college. Then there is Eriri who suddenly gets into a slump and it gets a bit more complicated since she is trying to be a perfectionist for herself and ultimately Tomoya. Lastly there is Megumi who also have her own drama because she felt disappointed Tomoya didn’t trust her completely despite they have done so many things together. Though these problems are somewhat solved, they aren’t the optimum solutions that Tomoya would hope. However they aren’t so much so to be considered bad endings. Utaha and Eriri might not be around for Tomoya’s next project but it’s not like they’re gone forever. At least you can count that they will be somewhat around and close in proximity.

The banter between Utaha and Eriri is still amusing to watch due to their contrasting characters. They really are frenemies and the strangest of bedfellows united and conflicting at the same time because of their connection to a certain guy. Utaha being the novelist certainly has a way with words while Eriri being the typical cliché of a blonde twintail tsundere always fails to keep her emotion in check and falls for Utaha’s bait. Not to mention Utaha still has got her touch in making her flirting with Tomoya sounding so scandalous that it worries the guy so much. Then there is the deadpan and brutally straight-in-your-face comebacks by Megumi. Sometimes it’s like as though she is born lacking emotions. Even when she was mad at Tomoya, she wasn’t looking like your typical angry girl. It’s just weird. Also it’s good because imagine if Megumi becomes full blown emotional, that will be just too shocking. Yeah, like the time she actually cried. Emotion holder full. Time to unload some. Or maybe she is just a master of suppressing her feelings to catch everyone off guard one day… She might not show any emotions but that does not mean she is completely emotionless.

Sometimes I feel that this sequel has forgotten about Michiru since she lacks screen time. Not to say that she has a lot of it in the last season but I feel she has even lesser appearances in this season. It’s like the first prologue episode was her most prominent episode. No joke but I feel that the breaking of the fourth wall in the final scene that she was ‘missing’ for the latter half of the series makes fun of this. And then the one with her Icy Tail members helping out with computing odd jobs, they went ‘missing’ after that as the series starts focusing on the deeper issues of Tomoya’s other girls. Like as though there were no issues in the music department in the first place. Maybe not assuming Michiru is a very talented songwriter. Shouldn’t she be scouted already by some famous talent agency instead of continue to be managed by Tomoya? This means no sexy time with Michiru as I remember her as the girl who loves to wrestle Tomoya so as to give us viewers sexy fanservice shots of her submission moves. I guess you can’t date and marry your cousin anyway.

Hence it isn’t a perfect or ideal path or perhaps route to an ending that Tomoya wants. Both of his greatest allies of the most important elements of a game have gone over to a better rival. He tried his best the first time round to keep his team together and at least from the sales of their first game, it was encouraging. However it wasn’t enough to keep them around for the second game after the trouble they went through for the first one. Things change. Maybe he could get others for replacement but at this point it is best you have people you are familiar with to work with. So with Utaha and Eriri jumping ship, maybe it is all part of a bigger scheme to surprise their lover boy that they will destroy the enemy within before coming back to him. Assuming he hasn’t gone steady with Megumi at that point… Or Izumi, considering she is now enrolled in his school.

He might almost look like a cliché male protagonist otaku with beautiful girls around him but at least we see him grow as a game creator and director and facing his problems head on instead of running away. The choices he had to make have its pros and cons and I believe he chose the best outcome in the long run. Like when Eriri was depressed and in a slump, it was either her or the game’s deadline. He can’t have both. He chose. Like I said, not the most ideal of results but at least it isn’t totally a bad ending. After all, he keeps his relationship with his female team members professionally and doesn’t see them one bit as his love interests-cum-harem. At least, not that I can see he has any from his perspective.

Love it or hate it, this sequel as well as the overall series has both its ups and downs. Very deep and heavy character development between the main characters but some feel a bit of a let-down (Michiru is one thing but Megumi to a point too feels underutilized this season). The art and animation are still good and the lack of fanservice may be a good or bad thing depending on your stance on it. It might not be as much as the first season since Utaha didn’t try as much to be funny with her ambiguous seductions on Tomoya. To top it off, the bittersweet climax and ending may not be the kind of conclusion that viewers might be hoping for. But you know, it is somewhat like reality and real life itself. Better to try and fail than never starting or do anything. It might be a painful road with suffering and distress but for sure it will make you stronger and push ahead even further. When you have experienced all the best and worst in life, returning to normal doesn’t look like a bad thing. A boring heroine maybe, but she is still a heroine nonetheless.

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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