Saekano -How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend- Review

e1saekanohowtoraiseaboringgirlfriendhdr

Anime is filled with tropes and archetypes that often make the most die-hard fans a bit jaded.  While Saekano does include these tropes, it’s often at the blunt end of a joke.  One could see it as a comical view of the otaku culture, while others may view it as an excuse to cover the basics.

e1saekanohowtoraiseaboringgirlfriend05Synopsis
Tomoya Aki is a super otaku, often shunning life for the beauty and passion he has for his anime lifestyle.  Going so far as to push away beautiful girls in favor for his many 2D rendered wives (waifu).  However, one day while out and about, he encounters a beautiful girl that catches his interest.

Inspired and unstoppable, Tomoya becomes dead set on recreating that fateful scene in a visual novel that he will direct.  He enlists the help of his childhood friend and doujinshi artist Eriri to design the art and also enlists his friend and famous novelist Utaha to write the game scenario.

While in the act, Tomoya would later stumble upon the very girl he met on that faithful day.  Except Megumi, the very same girl, is actually extremely plain and normal.  Leading Tomoya to shape and mold her into the “perfect heroine.”

Story
I have to admit that Saekano did not impress me at first glance.  From episode 0, I was overwhelmed by a slew of tropes and regurgitated harem elements.  However one element captured me and didn’t let go.  Megumi, the trump card in this entire piece.

While the tropes never really ever let up, it was how they incorporated Megumi and a sense of trope shattering that created an interesting bit of chemistry for the series.  The childhood friend Eriri with her violent and loud nature, the seductive and jealous Utaha constantly seeking attention, and then the otaku clueless and calm Megumi who often puts everyone’s actions into question.  Or rather she shoots them down for how confusing they are.

That said, while I fell in love with Megumi’s character and constantly became angered by Tomoya’s attempt to change her, the chemistry turned from comical to a bit lousy about mid way through the series.  Unfortunately, the joke about Eriri being a bad childhood friend or Utaha’s seductive nature got old and beat to death.  It was at this point that I found the writing to just not have very much staying power.

That’s not to say the series was bad, it just couldn’t hold my love and admiration for very long.  What I thought would be a classic, later turned into a disappointment.

Negativity aside, I did find quite a bit of the choices made in the series to throw some of the typical out the window.  Seeing a typical “forgive me, lets move on” scene turn into something else was shocking and refreshing.  So while it does beat some jokes to death and pokes fun at tropes, it still manages to have a few surprising cards under its sleeve.

It’s also important to note that this series does seem to take a lot of hints from the Monogatari series.  Often dragging out and overanalyzing dialog that some may struggle to keep up with.  Despite this, it doesn’t get as bad as the Monogatari series in that it is still decently easy to follow in the end.

Animation
Maybe not so surprising is the animation style that also takes many of its notes from that present in the usual SHAFT style.  Although, produced by A-1 Pictures, the similarities can’t be denied.  Even still, I won’t claim that’s a bad thing.

While I found the random color palette shifts to be somewhat distracting and unnecessary, alternatively I seen their use of random camera shifts to be more pleasing than what would be found in similar style anime.  Instead of looking at random objects during long dialog exchanges, the viewers instead get a shifting perspective of the characters.  Even if excessively provocative, it’s an enjoyable sight.

Things remain in motion, characters shift constantly, and I was never bored while watching them just exchange verbal jabs.

Verdict
Even though the series tapered off into the realm of repetitive jokes and gags half way through the show, Saekano remained an enjoyable series from beginning to end.  Only becoming dull a few times.  Overall it was a comical and enjoyable comedy harem that rarely took itself seriously.

My biggest issue with the series was its lack of conclusion and any real goal being met.  I would have also liked to see Megumi’s character explored a bit more as I found her to be the most lovable and interesting of the bunch (and she is technically the “heroine”).  That said, if you’re looking for some comical and interesting take on the otaku realm, Saekano is an interesting option for you.

Interested in watching Saekano? As of this review, it is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.com.

Good

REVIEW VERDICT:
Good

Goods:

  • Good chemistry
  • Many good laughs
  • Good visual style and animation
  • Enjoyable characters

Bads:

  • Jokes are often beaten to death
  • Loses steam mid-way through
  • Lacking any conclusion
Share on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.