Anime Review: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend Series

So much for “boring”

 

English: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend [.flat]
Japanese: 冴えない彼女の育てかた [♭]
Season(s): Winter 2015, Spring 2017
Length: 1 ep. x 24 min. + 12 ep. x 24 min. + 1 ep. x 24 min. + 11 ep. x 24 min.
Studio: A-1 Pictures

What was once a prolific genre, harem anime has been on the endangered genre list in recent years. That is not to say that there is no future for harem shows; production committees nowadays would rather waste spend the money elsewhere. As the harem genre slowly declined, in its place another trend emerged: otaku shows (think Kaminomi, OreimoEromanga SenseiGamers!).

[Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead]

The Writing

Right out of the gate, How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend (Saekano) wastes no time in showing off its otaku street cred in the most meta way possible: breaking the fourth wall. They also aired a special onsen episode, itself set after first season, before they even aired the first season, likely as an inside joke to the fans that have read the novels.

Apparently it goes for light novel anime too

And that’s the best part of Saekano. As an otaku show, it’s loaded with references and commentary on the culture (and especially the series itself), even more so than Oreimo or Eromanga Sensei could muster.

No really; without these self-deprecating jokes, Saekano is as boring as a boring machine. In no uncertain terms, the jokes really do make Saekano work. Of course, not all jokes work, but they work enough times to not feel like a drag.

Ouch… but he did deserve it

Breaking that fourth wall again, even more self-deprecatingly

Appropriately, the plot of Saekano is about a group of friends/classmates forming a doujin circle to create their own game, a galge that rises above all other galge. While the process of making an indie game itself could be interesting, Saekano doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty technical details like Shirobako does with respect to anime production. No; the focus of Saekano is the jokes, and game making is but a necessary device to create more chances for those jokes.

Jokes… and harem antics. As a harem, Saekano did nail one aspect; all three lead heroines are likable in different ways. The namesake heroine, Katou Megumi, is typically stoic. But beneath her emotionless facade, she is very observant of the situation and often responds to our harem center, Aki Tomoya, with biting sarcasm.

Must be sizzling in there because he just got BURRRRRNNNNNNED

Oh and, she’s a tad yan. Which NEVER hurt any show. NEVER.

The other heroines are decent too. Sawamura Eiriri Spencer, the tsundere of the three, is loaded with tropes. As a tsundere, her character checks off quite a few boxes: rich, blonde, foreign (and therefore exotic), twin-tailed, as well as non-archetypal tropes such as being an osananajimi (childhood friend). And did I mention she’s an otaku and a bona fide porn-drawing doujin artist? See, she is LOADED. Except where it matters. And that’s a running joke in the show.

She’s admittedly cute no matter if she’s angry or being dere:

Quite a few fans would pay just to be attacked by twin-tails

As for Kasumigaoka Utaha, the third heroine and a genius [light novel] writer, boy, is she endowed with a bod. On top of owning an acerbic personality, she is also the ane/Cool Big Sis of the show.

Bold. BOLD!!!

Saekano, as all harem is wont to do, has a few other sub-main girls as well, but they are less developed than the three heroines and thus won’t be covered here. And no: he’s not going out with Utaha despite the kiss because a harem’s gotta have a harem ending after all…. sigh.

The Art Scroll Up for All the Moe

A-1 Pictures is a well-established studio, and it shows in Saekano. The character designs are top notch, and really help lift the show given the harem-y content. I’m also glad to see Misaki Kurehito’s art reproduced faithfully here, unlike what happened with In Search of the Lost Future.

The Sound

No complaints here. The OST works, but not memorable. All the voice actors/actresses are good, especially Yasuno Kiyono, the voice behind Katou Megumi. Her voice really brought out the yamato nadeshiko vibe in Megumi.

TL;DR

If you remotely like harem/good moe designs/otaku culture references, watch Saekano. Even if you don’t, still, give it a try. Saekano is written well enough to stand above the vast majority of harem anime; my only regret is that season two was a bit rushed and still did not end conclusively (and I don’t mean just picking a girl). Maybe the announced movie will address this.

 

Omake

Look at all those figures from A-1 shows

Ooooh Aki is a fan of Seitokai no Ichizon too

Is that the older Noel Kagamigawa from Memories Off – Innocent Fille-? Even though the VN was just announced in 2017 whereas this scene aired in 2015? Was A-1 leaking this VN in the show?!?!?!?

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