First Look: Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend

saekano

Alternative titles: Saenai Hiroin no Sodatekata
Light Novel Adaptation by A-1 Pictures
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Some students in a club make a visual novel.

Colons’ verdict: It can’t even be bad in original ways

Marlin, Iro and I watched this show together, so we all loaded up the video and paused it on the first frame before counting down so we could play it in sync. The first frame is a depiction of a fully nude woman facing away from the camera and pouring a bucket of hot water on herself. Before we even hit play, then, we had a pretty good idea of what we were in for.

Somehow, though, even the pre-opening hot springs scene managed to be worse than such a description might make you think. The harem members spend a while talking about how shitty anime is, then the show makes a joke by implying the nerdy protagonist is spying on their naked frolicking and then revealing that actually he’s just pissed that they’re talking about bad anime without him!

im scaredThere’s a thing that bad video games do where they have a boring section or a repeated bad mechanic or some grindy stuff, and an in-game character will point it out. “Ha-ha,” they jest, “there are so many enemies! I can’t believe this boring static turret sequence is taking so long,” and presumably, as the player, you’re supposed to be comforted that the NPC is suffering with you. Instead, though, what it does is make you consciously aware that the developers willfully left bad, boring gameplay in their game.

Saekano does exactly this with its character introductions. As I’m sure you’re not surprised, protag introduces the members of his harem while they’re on a train by dryly reading a list of the archetypes they fit into while the characters in question conveniently offer some token demonstration of a quality associated with that archetype. The hilarious twist is that he does it aloud on an otherwise empty train, so the characters he is introducing get to point out how lazy and tired an introduction that is.

greener

Throughout the episode, there are shots in which the primary outlines are shifted from black to some other colour for a few moments, and everything looks terrible for no reason whatsoever. It’s like they watched No Game No Life and thought, “Hey, these guys are on to something, using black and only black as an outline colour is boring!” but didn’t realise that to make that not look like garbage you have to pick a replacement colour that is dark enough to contrast at least a little with the fill colours, and you have to adjust the fill colours to complement your new outline colour. Instead, they just occasionally picked a new colour at random for a bit.

Later, they make the joke they made in the intro about protag not being sexually interested in any of the harem members six or seven more times, and then the episode ends.

This, from the block that brought us The Tatami Galaxy and Ping Pong.

Marlin’s verdict: Hot Garbage

I’m sure I would be incredibly horrified that this exists on principle, but the added fact that this is in the noitaminA block boggles the mind and brings me further down in a season that continues to find new lows to reach. Meta content must be done carefully. You can’t just use terrible narrative elements to say “look we’re doing them even though we don’t like them isn’t that funny?” It just comes off as lazy and showing absolute disrespect for your own audience. This is not even getting into the parts where stereotypical horrible harem antics are ramped up to eleven as every girl tries to rape the protagonist except for the titular boring girlfriend. Hot tip for any anime makers: when thinking up your english title, it’s possible “Boring” isn’t the best choice of words. Considering this is in medias res, it gives me even less reason to care about this show as it implies these characters are already supposed to be developed by this point. God help us all.

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