The 10th episode of Saekano’s second season is quite an important one for the series. It manages to do many things for Saekano that results in a better impression of the series than I had hoped. The episode reflects a lot of realism and presents a lot of character growth in a short amount of time.
While Utaha does play a role in this episode, the focus is really more on Eriri Spencer Sawamura and the big decision that she has to make. To begin with, we are introduced to a new character, Akane. Akane is depicted as one who is overtly passionate about her work. She is a well known character who is established in the industry, solidfying her status one whose work never fails to sell. In short, Akane is at the top of the creative world in Saekano.
The previous episode, the 9th of the second season of Saekano, ends with Akane pitching an idea to both Eriri and Utaha. The pitch itself is special simply because it was made by Akane specifically with Eriri in mind. The proposal is designed for Eriri and is catered to bringing out her skill. This in itself sets it apart from the proposal made by Tomoya earlier on in a previous episode. The quality of information and the process was clearly more developed in Akane’s professional proposal. Coupled with the fact that it is professional in terms of quality, the project is to create an anniversary game for a well known and loved franchise in the world of Saekano. The sheer renown of developing an established franchise under a well known personality is a tempting offer.
The timing of this proposal is also a key element in not only the story but also for Eriri as a character. The proposal from Akane comes during a time when Eriri is experiencing problems drawing. In the first half of the second season, Eriri produces her best work yet making the final scenes of Cherry Blessing in her villa which leads to her getting sick. After recovering, she experiences artist’s block resulting in her inability to draw. Having produced art work of such high caliber, Eriri was finding it difficult to draw new material that met that standard. Despite Tomoya’s attempts to be supportive, she still could not produce new art. It is during this rut that Akane’s proposal comes. The value of its timing however does not lie in the fact that the proposal is for a well known franchise but rather in the fact that it comes from Akane who is an artist herself. As the episode progresses, it becomes clear that Akane understands what it means to be in the industry and it also becomes apparent that she is capable is pushing Eriri beyond her limits. With the timing of the proposal coinciding with her long artist’s block, the path to take becomes clear because the project becomes a clear opportunity to be pushed to work.
The difficulty in Eriri’s choice lies in the necessity to choose between two different personas, two aspects of herself. On one side, there is the value of loyalty and friendship. Her choice to stick with Tomoya, Kato, and the rest of the group means that she would have to give up the opportunity to work with the top tier personalities in her industry. It would mean that she would be working under the supervision of someone who cannot push her to draw and develop her skills. On the other side of the coin, she can choose to pursue her passion and improve her skill with Akane. On this side there is a clear chance to grow as an artist and as a professional. With this however, is clear betrayal as she would have to leave her current group and her closest friends to work on a different game. The conflict that she experiences becomes apparent in one of the most touching scenes of the series where we see Eriri cry in Utaha’s arms as the former expresses her pain from her decision to “betray Tomoya a second time.”
We see in her choice, a very real dilemma that really highlights one of the biggest difficulties in life. Particularly in the industry of art where practice and development of your talent is of such high importance, Eriri’s choice in this episode becomes all the more difficult. I think that the way it is presented here makes this episode the gem of not just the second season but of the entirety of Saekano as a series so far.