SaeKano b Episode 11 – One Step Forward

We’ve finally arrived at the penultimate episode of the season. Let’s take a closer look at what transpired in this season finale.

 

The Date

On the way to their date, Tomoya struggles to keep his composure as he tries to convince Megumi–and himself–that Utaha and Eriri leaving the circle was the best choice. He tells Megumi that she shouldn’t blame the two for what they did or feel hurt by their decision. Unfortunately, we learn that Megumi had already learned from Eriri what had transpired.

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To Eriri’s surprise, her actions affected more than Tomoya

Despite everything falling apart at the seams, Megumi is here to save the day. She drags Tomoya on HER whims and brings him to the shopping mall where they had their first date. While it may seem like she brought Tomoya out on this date to cheer him up, that wasn’t the sole reason. Megumi actually wanted to finish a complete date–since the last one ended with Tomoya running away from Megumi before they could leave the mall together; leaving Tomoya to repent for his previous failure.

This highlights a key part of Megumi’s character. She is a foil to Tomoya, through and through. Even throughout the date, she pulls Tomoya around at her own pace. It’s hard to argue that Megumi brings out genuine interactions with Tomoya. Just take a look at the scene in the clothing store where Megumi asks Tomoya to help her pick out clothes. He is clearly uncomfortable giving fashion advice–to a girl nonetheless–since he is first and foremost an avid otaku. Fashion is not his forte. Despite this fact, Megumi just decides to try the clothes on and force Tomoya to give his opinion on how they look on her. Had this been Utaha, Tomoya would have been sexually assaulted five times by now.

Another instance that highlights Megumi’s growth as a heroine comes when she offers her hand to Tomoya. Remembering how crowded and crazy the mall became on their first date, she offers her hand to Tomoya to lead her through their date with no hesitation whatsoever. This girl right here is a silent killer. There’s a reason girls like Utaha and Eriri shake in their boots when it comes to girls like Megumi–she can easily slip right into the hearts of men at will.

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Hide yo kids! Hide yo boyfriends! Megumi is holding hands with everybody out here!

Let’s take a look at the conversation that occurs during this specific scene. As Megumi offers her hand to Tomoya, he tells her not to trip. In response, she tells him that she won’t fall if he clears a path for her. Tomoya tells Megumi not to let go of him. She tells him she won’t as long as he holds onto her tightly. This is a very important conversation in the context of their relationship, as well as the events that have transpired with the betrayal of Utaha and Eriri.

Telling Megumi not to trip and fall, is like asking her not to give up or fall into despair. This is a hard time for the both of them. Two of their closest friends have left their circle to join their rivals. Megumi’s reply that she won’t fall as long as Tomoya clears a path for her shows Megumi’s dedication to follow Tomoya, wherever he takes them from here on out. It is up to Tomoya to lead. He needs to become a better director and producer and learn from his mistakes with Cherry Blessing.

Telling Megumi not to let him go is significant because Tomoya is showing a bit of his vulnerable side to her. He doesn’t want her to leave him like Utaha and Eriri did, but Megumi is here to stay, as long as Tomoya himself holds onto her tightly. This is the second time Tomoya has been reminded to keep those important to him close by. The first time was when Iori warned Tomoya about keeping Utaha and Eriri close and to not let them go. This time Megumi tells Tomoya that there’s nowhere she wants to be but with him, so long as he doesn’t let go of her. This is a bit of a redemption event for Tomoya. He still has his main heroine by his side, and now he knows the importance of not letting her go.

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Let’s take a quick look at the importance of music in this date scene in particular. We have the return of the BGM spoof of Lovely Day by Bill Withers. This song is very fitting for this date if you know the lyrics to the original.

Lovely Day by Bill Withers

When I wake up in the morning, love

And the sunlight hurts my eyes

And something without warning, love

Bears heavy on my mind

 

Then I look at you

And the world’s alright with me

Just one look at you

And I know it’s gonna be

A lovely day

A lovely day

 

When the day that lies ahead of me

Seems impossible to face

When someone else instead of me

Always seems to know the way

 

Then I look at you

And the world’s alright with me

Just one look at you

And I know it’s gonna be

A lovely day

A lovely day

 

When the day that lies ahead of me

Seems impossible to face

When someone else instead of me

Always seems to know the way

 

Then I look at you

And the world’s alright with me

Just one look at you

And I know it’s gonna be

A lovely day

A lovely day

In particular, the second verse of the song through the chorus perfectly fits Tomoya’s current situation.

When the day that lies ahead of me

Seems impossible to face

Tomoya is struggling to find a way to face his current situation with Blessing Software and the betrayal of Utaha and Eriri.

When someone else instead of me

Always seems to know the way

Luckily for Tomoya, Megumi knows exactly what to do to move forward. Her character has slowly but surely become a steadfast pillar of support that Tomoya can lean on when he is in a time of need. He learned this, when he realized exactly why Megumi had been mad at him at the end of Cherry Blessing‘s development.

Then I look at you

And the world’s alright with me

Just one look at you

And I know it’s gonna be

A lovely day

A lovely day

Megumi has become the ray of hope in Tomoya’s life. She is the one constant that keeps him moving forward. It’s hard to see their interactions and ignore the chemistry they have with one another. Let’s not forget that “just one look” at Megumi is all it took to inspire Tomoya to create a game with the best main heroine…twice.

Before the end of the date, Tomoya remembers how Megumi had bought him a pair of glasses as a gift on their first date. This inspires Tomoya to return the favor, not only for that first date, but for helping him get back onto his feet once again with this date. They go to a hat shop, and Tomoya buys Megumi a hat similar to the one she had worn the first time they met.

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This hat is very important because it brings us back to this theme of rebirth. This hat brings us back to the beginning, where it all started. Back to the focus of our main heroine, and making a game that showcases the human behind that character. A game that Tomoya wants to make. This is a rebirth for Blessing Software. From the ashes will rise a circle that doesn’t need to rely on the star power of Kasumi Utako, or Kashiwagi Eri. We even have Megumi back to her old short hairstyle. Cutting her hair is symbolic of cutting away the past and moving on towards the future, a new beginning. Not only for Tomoya and Megumi, but for Blessing Software.

The hat also symbolizes the growth of Megumi’s character as well. On the way back home from their date, walking up the hill where they first met, Tomoya asks Megumi if he should have bought her a different hat, since this one is similar to the hat she had before. Megumi tells him that the fact that it is similar and yet, different is the exact reason why she likes it so much. While the hat is mostly the same, there is also something different about it (Megumi’s evolution from a “flat” character, the change in the relationship between Tomoya and Megumi, the change in Blessing Software.) This leads us to the climax of the episode.

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Just like the hat, Megumi’s character is no longer the ‘flat’ heroine from the beginning of the series.

Hey Tomoya-kun.

Is the heroine for your new story something like this?

Is the dating event for your new story something like this?

Did you feel the nervous excitement like you would if you were falling in

love with a real girl?

Do you think it gave you a chance to write a good story about spending

time with your girlfriend and falling in love with her from the bottom of your

heart?

Highlighting these changes, we have the moment where Megumi and Tomoya finally call each other by first name. They have become very close through their experiences in creating Cherry Blessing, and now through their experience of Utaha and Eriri’s betrayal. Megumi brings us back to the focus of everything. The heroine. Once “flat”, but now vibrant and full of life due to the subtle changes you begin to notice. You begin to fall in love with that heroine, the human behind the character. This is exactly how Maruto Fumiaki wants you to feel about Megumi, and this is exactly what Tomoya wants the people playing his new game to feel when getting to know the heroine.

Megumi points out to Tomoya that despite things being different–with Utaha and Eriri being gone–there are also things that will stay the same. Blessing Software will still exist, as long as Tomoya and Megumi are here. There is still a great love story to be written about the main heroine. There is still a game to create; a message to get across.

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Music plays another big role in this specific moment. The insert song GLISTENING♭ sung by our main heroine’s VA Yasuno Kiyono plays in the background, ultimately taking over all of the sound at the emotional climax where Tomoya breaks down into tears, finally realizing that he needs to take a step forward and move on.

Let’s take a look at my (rough) translation of the first couple of lyrics of this insert song:

The footprints that climb this hill, step by step, will one day

highlight a roundabout, yet lovely story…

Tomoya needs to take his first step towards making his new game. There is still a story that he wants to tell. He can’t let the past keep holding him back and prevent him form evolving as a creator and as a protagonist.

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It’s time to take a step forward, Tomoya.

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Megumi herself is taking her first steps toward being a true main heroine. The lyrics of this insert song highlight her character. She is like the single, lone sakura petal. Plain and without any presence, until the spotlight is cast upon it. We now have the spotlight in our romance moving to Megumi, the main heroine.

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While you may not be ready to take that final step forward, your steps will trace a path to your love story, Megumi.

 

Taking a Step Forward

As I speculated in my last post, we will continue to see more of Utaha and Eriri in Tomoya’s life. Tomoya rushes to meet the two of them as they are about to board a train to Osaka and begin work on Fields Chronicle. (I may have accidentally called it Fairies’ Chronicle last time…must be that New Game!! hype getting to me)

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Utaha and Eriri need to take steps forward as well.

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While it is a tearful and bittersweet reunion, Tomoya needed to clear the air around the whole situation. There is no need for Utaha and Eriri to break ties with Tomoya and Megumi completely. True bonds stand the tests of time. This is one of those trials that they must endure as a group. If Tomoya and Megumi are willing to forgive Utaha and Eriri for their betrayal, Utaha and Eriri need to be less melodramatic and move forward themselves.

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Utaha does point out to Tomoya exactly why she is leaving the circle to him. So that she can see how far he can take his game without falling back on herself and Eriri to carry him through. This is reiterating what I discussed in my last post. Tomoya needs to refocus his vision and push himself to become a greater creative, and time away from two imposing creative personalities like Utaha and Eriri will help him learn to become great himself.

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This situation mirrors what Tomoya did for Utaha back when she was writing the last volume of Koisuru Metronome. Tomoya refused to read her first manuscript for the final volume, and it created a rift between the two that we see at the beginning of the first season (read the SaeKano: Koisuru Metronome manga to get more backstory on this). Consequently, this allowed Utaha to make her manuscript even better than even Tomoya could’ve imagine, because she didn’t rely upon the opinions of her biggest fan and pandering towards them. Now Utaha is doing the same for Tomoya, waiting for him to make a game that will completely exceed her expectations and garner her respect as a fellow creative.

Fortunately, we do get a bit of comedy back in this scene. After Eriri hears from Megumi that she’ll be waiting for her to return, and that Tomoya is expecting her to come back a a “god-tier illustrator”, she takes Tomoya’s glasses as a keepsake and goes in for the kiss. Unexpectedly* (see expectedly), Utaha beats her to the punch and lays a big, wet kiss on Tomoya.

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Wait for it…
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and…
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Did you expect anything else to happen?!
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I think your actions might be the ones considered ‘unethical’ here, Utaha.
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What a maiden-like reaction
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Again, with the misleading phrasing of words. Never change, Utaha. Never change.

 

The Future

It is the beginning of a new school year and the dawn of new club activities. We now have a “new” Blessing Software coming together. Michiru and her famously mentioned lack of screen time is back as the composer, and, as expected, Izumi is now attending Tomoya’s high school and ready to be Blessing Software‘s new illustrator. Unfortunately for Utaha and Eriri, they will have to take the backseat. They did leave the circle after all.

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As if we didn’t know that Izumi would be officially joining the circle.
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You’re in background roles for now, so I guess that means you’ll just be stalking in the background?

Peculiarly, we are left with a shot of Megumi mouthing something and the word “oshimai” comes on screen…which means “the end”.

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Goodbye, for now

 

Final Thoughts

This final episode, and second season in general has surpassed my expectations for the series. There is so much information being given to you, that you don’t realize it’s importance until it rears its head again later on and you have that “Aha!” moment. I never would have thought that so many conversations and references to both the first season and the spinoff manga (Egoistic Lily and Koisuru Metronome) would come back and play a larger role than expected. What may seem like a conversation about something trivial like how to make a “flat” character can come back and be the main theme for the main heroine of the series.

There have been so many instances where dialogue that seemed inconsequential previously, actually had meaning that came to light way later in the story. The decision to let Maruto Fumiaki have a lot of creative input into the anime’s production ended up being a very smart decision, since his purposeful writing was represented to a great extent throughout this whole series. I feel like watching the whole series again from the first episode of season one, just to see exactly what I missed, that became important later in the story.

Unfortunately, this season has come to a close, and while leaving us with “oshimai” doesn’t bode well for the hopes of a final season, I still have hopes that A-1 Pictures will do the right thing and give us more SaeKano in the future. I would love to see how they’ll surprise me with the adaptation of the final novels. If this series truly is done, anime-wise, I’ll have to pick up the last volumes of the light novel and find out what happens for myself. This story and set of characters have me hooked.

Overall Season Rating: 9/10

-Rolando

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