Saenai Kanojo no Sodate-kata, more commonly referred to as Saekano, is an anime that is based of the light novel written by well known author Maruto Fumiaki who is responsible for Classroom Crisis and White Album 2.
Saekano follows the endeavors of the otaku, Aki Tomoya as he attempts to fulfill his childhood dream of creating his own dating simulation game. Having been inspired by a chance encounter with a girl on a hill, he attempts to form a team that will help him accomplish his dream and complete the game that he desires to create. In his attempt to create his doujin circle, he manages to recruit his childhood friend Eriri Spencer Sawamura, a skilled artist, closet tsundere, and childhood friend as well as Utaha Kasumigaoka, author of the hit novel Koisuru Metronome or The Metronome in Love who writes under the pseudonym of Utako Kasumi. Following their recruitment, Aki then manages to convince the heroine of the game, Megumi Kato to join the small team as they create the scenario for their game-to-be.
Saekano’s focus is towards its characters and the tropes that are associated with the anime industry. The series is quite meta in the sense that the anime follows an otaku and other characters that are invested in the industry that the show’s audience is also invested in. We see for instance that Aki Tomoya is interested and deeply invested in anime, light novels, and visual novels. His character is constantly seen reacting to different games and novels and attempting to get others to get into his interests. Even his dream to create a game is related to his interests and hobbies. In a way, his character becomes relatable simply because of his shared interest with the audience.
Eriri Spencer Sawamura is another character who fits a staple anime trope. She puts on two masks during the show hiding her true personality when around others. One of her masks is related to her character background. Having been teased and bullied at a younger age due to her interest in anime and visual novels, she puts up a front in school, acting as if she holds no interest in anything remotely related to those forms of media. It is also this backstory that gives her much needed level of depth, allowing for her character development. Her other mask is that of the classic tsundere archetype that she embodies. While it is clear from the beginning that Eriri sees the protagonist, Aki Tomoya with some level of affection, she never fails to downplay it and attempt to hide verbally. In classic tsundere style, she harbors some anger at Aki when he gives more praise to a doujin other than her own.
Utaha Kasumigaoka fits the image of the cold beauty. With the common trait of this trope being quick wit and sharp words, it’s no surprise that her backstory is that of an author of a bestselling novel. Her character portrays an interesting relationship with the protagonist, that of the consumer and producer. Interestingly enough, her backstory tackles an issue that is important to the anime industry of today. Her issues look into how far a creator should go to please her fans.
The irony of these two characters and the humor of the series revolves around the fact that the characters tend to say negative things about the very tropes that they themselves fit into to. The series comes of as being hyperaware of the flaws in characterization of anime characters today while still utilizing these archetypes. While I personally enjoy the irony of it, I can see how this kind of humor might come of as looking hypocritical in a sense thus throwing viewers off.
The shows greatest plus lies in Megumi Kato who manages to define herself as a character that fits no anime trope. Again the series is quite aware of her characterization with the protagonist repeatedly pointing out that she has no personality and seems like an incomplete character. It’s exactly this quality of not fitting the mold that makes Megumi such a lovable character. Her role of heroine of the doujin circle’s game complements her role as the heroine of the series, highlighting her value. Megumi Kato’s unique character adds to her charm and truly makes her the heroine of the series.
While not for everyone, Saekano is an easy watch that offers a distinct character in Megumi Kato. It’s a series that would probably be best enjoyed by an audience with a high level of exposure to anime rather than casual viewers.