Batch two of my increasingly late first episode previews. Well, without further ado…
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata aka Saekano, or to use its pretty horrific official title, How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend (great job there guys) is a show I wasn’t particularly excited about pre-season, being yet another rom-com light novel adaptation that we’ve all come to love/hate. I had a glimmer of hope in my heart, mind you. It’s by the writer of one of the White Album visual novels that have been adapted into an anime. I haven’t watched any of them as they don’t really sound my thing, but from what I’ve been told they’re focused on drama, not panty shots. Mainly though, I’d heard the premise involved creating a dating game, & riding high on the shock surprise that was Shirobako last season, I started to internally hype up its potential. I guess there’s also it being run in the noitamina timeslot, but it’s not like that means much as a cast iron indicator of quality anymore.
Well let that be a lesson on how much I can still manage to trick myself. The main bulk of the episode was exactly what you’d expect from the romantic light-novel format, with a bunch of moe archetypes desperately trying to jump the disinterested/uncomfortable male lead’s bones, while managing to angle themselves in all sorts of improbable perv-cam poses in the process. Wonderful. The actual game creation focus I was holding a flame in my heart for is basically just a fig-leaf to make a bunch of meta references about the LN/VN tropes the show itself sincerely uses. It’s feels like bad video game humour to me, or to put it in a more universal setting, those Scary/Epic/Date (etc) films that think the reference is the joke. “Hey, you know how tsunderes get all flustered when someone points out their crush? So do we! Laugh at this”.
The show goes for a slightly more earnest attempt at drama near the end, by focusing on the real main love interest, ie the only character that isn’t immediately waved in front the screen like a piece of meat. Apparently she’s far more nuanced due to quietly residing in the background while the other haremettes flail about doing zany antics, but honestly she’s feels just as artificial as the rest. Her main traits seem to consist of being quiet (or boring, as the title puts it), but with acerbic and biting wit. She’s essentially the submissive archetype, but more attuned to otaku sardonic & self-depreciating sensibilities, with the show making the other girls as brain-dead & publicly obnoxious as possible to give her an extra push into the audiences
Well sorry Saekano, I’m not biting. Dropped.
I’m not really sure what to say about Koufuku Graffiti. I mean I watched & found it pleasant enough in a dull sort of way which means I’ll probably treat it as one of those vacant post-work programs to vegetate in front of, while allowing my brain to slowly unwind. Ultimately it’s just another one of those soothing, inoffensive moe shows that invariably come along, only with food porn. Think of slightly more risqué version of Hidemari Sketch (ha!) & you’ll be on the right track. Shaft is obviously using their experience animating the toothbrush scene in Nisemonogatari to make the mouth movements & general facial expressions during the eating scenes hyper sexualised. But there will be no sex in this show as it’s cute & moe. No penises allowed thank you very much, now get your mind of the gutter & focus on the innocent delight the girls display as they eat some delicious cake. Pervert.
Maria the Virgin Witch.
On the other end of the spectrum, here we have a show with an upfront & unapologetic attitude towards intimacy, yet doesn’t explicitly revel in its portrayal. If Yuri Bear Storm was a bit too much to handle you could always give this a whirl as another example of anime being sex-positive, although the jokes are a little on the nose & may be considered crude for some.
However, between all the sore jaw references, Maria clearly has some serious & damning things to say about the idiocy of war, & how if effects society, particularly when the populace is used by powerful, but corrupt groups. Using the real world setting of France in the Middle Ages, there’s some damning criticism aimed at the Roman Catholic Church, with some surprisingly blunt remarks made that seem out of place in anime; Maria’s accusations & description of the treatment Joan of Arc suffered through being the most pointed. It’s a pretty strange mixture of bawdy humour, magical powers & realistic portrayal of peasant life & battles & at this stage I’m not overly convinced of its execution, at least in this first episode which mostly exists to establish the premise. I certainly liked it, but at this stage the show’s chief message is taking precedent over any actual plot. Hopefully it builds to something concrete.