Saekano -How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend-

Saekano -How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend-

IMG_1550.PNGOne day, otaku high school student Tomoya Aki has a fateful encounter with a girl – he sees her amidst the cherry blossom trees wearing a white dress and beret. This meeting inspired Tomoya to design his own dating simulation computer game, with the heroine being modelled after this mesmerising girl.

In order to make this dream come true, he must persuade a few eccentric school friends to help him – including art club ace Eriri Spencer Sawamura and the school’s top student Utaha Kasumigeoka. After being very excited to have these valuable girls on his development team, he then makes the discovery that his mysterious muse is none other than his boring classmate Megumi Kato. Shocked but not dissuades, Tomoya is determined to give Megumi a make-over within his game and craft her into the perfect girlfriend.

Based on the light novel series written by Maruto Fumiaki and Misaki Kurehito, Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend, is written by Fumiaki and directed by Kamei Kanta.

IMG_1551.PNGSaekano is  similar to Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun and Shirobako in the way that its focus involves young people working on developing something related in the anime industry, but it does stand on its own. The characters, even at this early stage, are developed and interesting and really grab my attention. It is clear that Eriri and Utaha are not just representatives of the standard harem archetypes and really have some substance to them. The two of them have an interesting dynamic and clearly can’t work together naturally – leaving Tomoya to be the eternal diplomatic protagonist. They are good at what they do, and Tomoya would clearly struggle (more so than he already is) without them there to keep him focused.

IMG_1514.PNGTomoya, on the other hand, is a little slow off the mark compared to his strong cast of female supporters. The anime is clearly trying to get across to the audience that he is more than just the standard personality-less male harem lead, but at the moment he is overshadowed by his more interesting co-workers. We see his personality developing most while he talks with Megumi. Though she is described as ‘boring’, she is rather dry and matter-of-fact in a way that works well with Tomoya’s fantatical otaku tendencies, and they are slowly fleshing out one another’s characteristics. Sadly, these moments vanish as soon as Eriri and Utaha are around – two big, amusing personalities that I am reluctant to have squashed.

I’ve noticed that a lot of detail is given to the backgrounds in this anime. The most notable of which is when we see shots of Tomoya’s bedroom. There is some very specific anime-related paraphernalia: posters, manga, and even some Nendoroids (references to both Date A Live and Sword Art Online). There are also some impressive artistic shots of this room that gives it a three-dimensional feel of a true otaku paradise. The practice of rendering certain scenes with different-coloured outlining has a subtle emphasis here, particularly the romanticised shots in the early stages featuring Megumi. Sadly, the artistry does seem to drop off a bit at times for the foreground art, with certain scenes feeling a little static in places.

IMG_1510.PNGAs the usual harem recipe goes, there’s going to be more ingredients added in the form of more girls. I’m hoping that they can continue the dynamic they have here, adjusting accordingly without affecting the pace. With just the three girls now, things are already amusingly complex and interesting, so I am left wondering if these characters can keep up their depth and development when more harem archetypes are added to the mix.

I am intrigued by this title, I have to say. It looks and feels like a typical harem anime, but I can’t help but feel that there’s something more at work here. I’m looking forward to future episodes so that I can test my theory, as a harem anime with a little more to offer in character and plot is a refreshing premise and definitely something I could really get into.