Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend (Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata) finally released its finale through a film format called Fine. Premiered in 2019, it only reached the market outside japan in 2020, taking it about as long as Your Name (Kimi no na wa) in terms of the gap between domestic and overseas releases. Whether or not the title meant anything deeper than it already was, i.e., the transition from Season 2’s Flat to lớn this film’s Fine, it was definitely billed as the ending for the anime series which began in 2015. But that was not the only change over time. From A-1 Pictures (Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, SAO Alicization, Erased) handling the series, CloverWorks (Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, The Promised Neverland) took over the production of this film. It was not the first time different studios worked on the same franchise. Ace Attorney (2016), for instance, also had A-1 Pictures and CloverWorks handle its first & second seasons, respectively. Yet somehow, the Saekano movie had been enjoying higher ratings than either of the preceding two Saekano seasons. Was it a satisfying ending, or as the title suggests, a boring finale? Warning: Spoilers ahead!


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First things first. It was quite unfortunate for the film to seem lớn lack the capacity to be standalone. The audience might require at least some knowledge of how the past two seasons went if one was to lớn truly enjoy how fine the movie was. The story took off from the completion of the first game under Blessing Software, and we see the protagonist, aspiring game creator Tomoya Aki, working on their second Comiket launch. Without a background on why Tomoya began working on trò chơi projects anyway, it would likely be missed that it was essentially for his love interest, the “boring girlfriend” Megumi Kato (megumi in Japanese meant favor, benefit, or blessing). At this point, however, neither were quite vocal of their feelings for each other. Nonetheless, things were going just fine for the two. That is, until Tomoya encountered a slump, a writer’s block if you will. Apparently, he had no choice but to consult with his erstwhile project partner, the more talented senpai Utaha Kasumigaoka.

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Tomoya, however, found Utaha và his childhood friend Eriri Sawamura being in a dire spot as well. Their director Akane Kosaka collapsed due khổng lồ a stroke and the new, not khổng lồ mention bigger, company they work for appeared uninterested khổng lồ pursue their game project called Field Chronicles. A good friend that he was, he agreed to lớn help them as temporary director. This triggered a nerve in Megumi, who decided lớn take over Tomoya’s project while ignoring his messages. If anything, this was a revelation of another side of Megumi not exactly developed in the series. The flow of the plot, although possibly pleasing for those who were nostalgic about the return of their favorite Saekano characters, seemed lớn stretch unnecessarily long. It somehow repeated the tropes & traits it was trying khổng lồ expose in the words of its very own characters, such as Utaha’s conscious observation that they were brought lớn the movie mainly to lớn raise a potential conflict in an otherwise steady relationship, that of Tomoya and Megumi. Even what Akane remarked on Tomoya’s main story for the game somehow spoke of how the film developed. Everybody may want to lớn be showered with blessings, but could too much favor be counterproductive just as well? While there had been commendations about how it went, the film might have been more of a blessing if the plot had been executed better.


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As if not learning from his past writing sessions with Utaha, the movie portrayed Tomoya as wanting to lớn write a narrative that would best suit the palate of otaku like himself. Or even those not closely like himself. The attempted relational conflict might have not worked too well, but the exposition of the industry’s hardships were quite spot on. A writer may write his heart out, and it may seem like a masterpiece for its creator, but if nobody bothered to lớn read or appreciate them, he would be unable to make a living. As they say, the market wants what it wants. Tomoya seemed to lớn have been put in a similar situation. In trying to delight the fans, however, he forgot the reason why he was writing và creating the game in the first place. He patterned the characters after real-life people, namely those around him, Megumi included. As a writer, Tomoya had lớn think beyond the players và realize how his characters would have a good ending. This not only for himself, but also for whom he created the trò chơi in the first place. When one would try to satisfy everyone, it might kết thúc up satisfying no one. Writing in a choose your own adventure format would be doubly hard because it meant creating more than one narrative, yet they all have to lớn follow the same chronology & flow. More so, whether writing one main story or many, it takes hours of hard work & creativity. As a student, Tomoya already had sleepless nights because of his work on trò chơi creation. The finale, however, saw Tomoya & his team succeeding somehow at least a decade later. At least, successful enough to afford Utaha & Eriri for what seemed lượt thích a reunion project.


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Then again, Utaha’s darker alternate plot, as exhibited in the epilogue, felt closer lớn reality than what it was portrayed to lớn be. The film left it to have some sort of comedic effect because it was a shocker that was never meant lớn happen. It was realistic enough, however, for Tomoya lớn at least worry for a while that Megumi would eventually leave him because of his dreams. If that meant anything, it somehow displayed how Utaha relished the possibility even after all those years. It also showed how Utaha appeared to have better memory than Megumi at the least. The fantasies aside, it might seem more of a fairytale for some independent writers & game makers out there who did not really make it big. Especially in nhật bản where indie games have not been growing as great as its counterparts elsewhere, initial enthusiasm would not be sufficient to lớn drive a gaming revolution large enough to support the indie community. Big gaming companies still dominate the scene, development and all, which somehow made Utaha’s và Eriri’s move more logical career-wise. There also remains a persistent culture where a more solid portfolio would be preferred than emerging ones. In addition, while not really expounded in the film, another consideration would be the balance between free and paid features of the game. Tomoya did somehow cảm biến on the topic, for instance when talking about removing and retaining characters, but success in revenue generation also determined how the future of the developer would take shape. Free-to-play would indeed be a preference for those who were not willing khổng lồ pay for progress, but there was no such thing as miễn phí lunch. The creators had to lớn eat, too.

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If there was an anime about otaku (Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku), then Saekano would be the anime about games these otaku tend lớn play. With a predictable main route, however, what started out as a romantic comedy became a flat out romance. As Saekano attempted khổng lồ create a distinction between reality and fantasy, it still did not reflect much of the former than the latter. Somehow, it was already where the train seemed lớn be headed as the previous seasons suggested, but still, the somewhat shallow attempt to lớn rekindle a rivalry which winner had been decided anyway did not help what was otherwise a film with good animation style. It might have been better if the other ladies actually had a chance, not merely regrets to contend with over time. This was a plot element other anime with “harem” themes also fail to capitalize. Or at least, it could have been executed in such a way that it would not require watching the anime series to lớn appreciate.


While there were many who were glad that it went fine, a plausible explanation for the favorable, if not blessed, ratings, the narrative probably flowed too well & too long khổng lồ a fault. At least for the first half, it may make one wonder if it was even Saekano or it was actually some other dramatic movie. There was nothing significantly new introduced, perhaps with the exception of Megumi’s “annoying heroine” traits (which were somehow not as annoying as they want people to believe), và it still left some questions unanswered for a supposed finale. However, since this was already labeled as the real ending, further speculation would only be moot & academic. Would a not-so-ordinary ending work better? It depends. Maybe if Saekano was mainly a game than an anime series, one would find out eventually by taking a different route altogether. After all, Saekano did have a visual novel game with Live 2 chiều software.

(All photos from the film courtesy of CloverWorks)


Historian. Public servant. Truyền thông media and campaign strategist. Novice reviewer. Featured by ARTE, GMA 7, TV 5, ABS-CBN 2, Net 25, UNTV 37, DZUP, DZRB, DWSM, DWRX.