Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata Ep. 1: So self-aware!!!

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Sex.

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Sex.

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Sex.

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Sex.

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Sex.

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Sex.

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If you ain’t here for the fanservice, get the fuck out of the club.

But now that we’ve got that out of our systems… some people are comparing this to Shirobako. I don’t really see it. They both do and accomplish different things. Yes, they’re both about creating something within the realm of anime fandom, but it’s also about the process. And Shirobako’s process is very earnest. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly dry and mundane, but it’s earnest nevertheless. On the other hand, Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata is meta in a very different way. It’s meta in that “I see what you did there” sort of way. But there’s a problem with the “I see what you did there” mentality: it’s only good for a few wry smiles every once in a while. And watching this episode, that’s pretty much all I got: “Oh hey, I see what they did there… heh…” But a “heh” isn’t good enough. Well, it’s good enough for a web comic. It’s good enough in small, sporadic doses. As a full-fledged series, though? Ah, y’see, I don’t know about that.

But where are my manners? I haven’t even properly introduced the anime yet! Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata is about Blessing Software, an amateur group of friends that intends to produce a visual novel good enough to make a splash at the next Comiket. Of course, the main character is a generic-looking anime protagonist. And of course, he’s surrounded by a bevy of incredibly hot girls. But get this: aside from the supposedly nondescript Megumi, these incredibly hot and incredibly pretty girls are all otakus. Yep. They’re really into anime, too. Everything is as by-the-books as possible! But that’s, like, intended! It’s so meta! Even the girls’ haircuts are meta! You got the obligatory hime cut, the obligatory twintailed girl, the one with the bob, and of course, the nondescript girl has a ponytail. It’s just meta! Unfortunately, I’m not a wide-eyed kid anymore. What do I mean by that? What does being a wide-eyed kid have to do with anything?

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What I mean is that being self-aware in and of itself is not enough. Being meta is not enough. Winking at the audience is not enough. By themselves, none of these things amount to anything more than a “heh.” It might be something to feel smug about, maybe. If you want to sit around in some dank corner of the internet, and smugly nod at similar-minded people who got the inside jokes and the meta references built into this anime, then maybe the show amounts to something for you. Maybe you can say that beneath all the rampant fanservice — which, by the way, is also totally intentional and meta! — the show is actually really smart, and what’s so genius about it is that the brainless masses will be impressed by the show simply because it has smooth animation and cute girls — which, by the way again, is totally what one of the characters even said at the start of the episode — but you’re above that. You see through it. You’re watching this Playboy for the articles.

At the end of the day, I’m looking for a statement. No matter what show it is, no matter what genre it is, no matter how meta it is… I’m looking for a show to express a particular viewpoint. And hopefully, that viewpoint is an interesting one. And now, we get to the crux of the issue: being meta is just that. You’re being meta. Now what? You’ve deconstructed the elements. Are you going to take those building blocks and make something out of them or what? Naturally, no one can judge Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata in just a single episode. Hell, it’s even episode zero. This post isn’t about judging Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata in just one week. In fact, I have no clue how the rest of the series will turn out. I’m writing all these words, however, just to counteract the idea that being self-aware means anything by itself. Being meta is not a thesis statement. It sounds like common sense, but sometimes, people lose the forest for the trees: you gotta actually say something to make a statement.

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From my vantage point, these meta jokes don’t say enough to form any coherent viewpoint out of them. Like I’ve said, they’re good for a wry smile every now and then, but… meh. Maybe future episodes will say something. I don’t know. I’ll stick around long enough to find out (maybe). But one self-aware episode doesn’t mean anything.

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7 thoughts on “Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata Ep. 1: So self-aware!!!”

  1. The way you described it at that start reminded me of that hentai/eroge where the girls ask a guy to help them make a game and then they fuck to get ideas.

  2. I kept expecting this to be an extended segment from the VN the main character was working on, pulling out a gotya! and then tearing down the VN stereotypes in the real world. Sadly it seems I put a wee bit too much faith in this show.

  3. When I watched this episode I kept thinking to myself, “Is this show using the shtick of being meta as a kind of self-defense?” The visuals and the fan service right now are fine, let’s see if they can keep that up.
    And I agree that simply stating meta things and presenting itself as being meta doesn’t really do much. In this case, to me at least, it really reveals its own vulnerability. Meh, since it’s the very start of the show, this might actually fold into itself and make something nice…

    … But I’m not holding my breath. It’s still a harem show after all, garbage-tier of genres. Regardless if it’s trying to be meta, the set-up is still undeniably generic. Unrealistically hot “gamer-girl” otaku chicks who do sweaty otaku work because it plays to the fantasizes of viewers? And oh yeah, a factory conveyor belt-level MC? Yeah, I’ve seen that exact set-up a couple of times already; how is this not just Comic Party?

    Look, if anyone wants to do a convincing fujoshi-centered VN or dojin circle, then basically draw off of Genshiken S2 which I believe will remain unsurpassed in terms of genuine charm. Don’t just randomly stuff in chicks that are idol material and think they’ll create an otaku-product like regular otaku do. That’s hilariously dumb. If the author had any intention of creating a work delving into something that specifically real-world, then he would’ve put more thought into this than not at all. Or maybe “Rail Wars!” happened again, and the studio basically told the writer to GTFO so they can cram as much tits and ass with filler segments.

    What we have here is just another fan service delivery medium with maybe a little more wit than your average harem show. There probably won’t be much past that. Our cast of sexy females are ready to show off their sexy parts for a couple of minutes per episode and do their character-specific tsun-tsuns and ara-aras.

    And an adaptation at that. When’s the last time one of them actually did something right? Who’s animating this?…
    A-1 Pictures? Huh, I guess prepare for the SAO treatment of blob-people and messed up proportions mid-to-late season.

    I’ll still be watching though because I want something to laugh at. Although I’m getting an urge to watch Genshiken again.

  4. That’s an interesting way to open a review. haha
    Can’t really add anything here. It’s like explaining 2 + 2 to people. It’s just an evident fact that there needs to be more to a story than its process. Like empty gesturing, without purpose or meaning, theme or development, a meta story that is meta for the sake of entertainment is hollow.

    Not everything has to have a deep message to convey but it does need to have substance. There’s tons of meta comedy anime, but the good ones do more than just act meta.

  5. Guys, don’t listen to those characters. They’re trying to make us braindead monkeys to be aware that harem anime aren’t actually good. We must stay stupid and give all of our cash for more girls, boobs, and fanservice!

  6. Meta jokes get old real fast unless they’re extremely funny and that requires great comedic writing and timing, not just a few snarky phrases. Will this show have anything else to offer? I don’t know, and I’m probably not going to stick with it to find out.

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