One summer day Tomoya found a hat blowing across the road. Looking up he caught sight of her amid the blowing cherry blossoms in a white sun dress standing at the top of a hill. It was an encounter which stirred his heart like never before. It was that moment he'd seen over and over in date sim games.
Tomoya is inspired to create a such a game; one to stir feelings like he felt at that encounter. As a rabid otaku, he's certainly well acquainted with the genre, and by luck he knows two girls who would be ideal members in a group creating such a game. By chance he finds the girl he met on the hill that day. In fact they're in the same class, he just never noticed her before because she's exceptionally... boring. Tomoya is sure Megumi is the key to inspiring his ideal game, but they'll have to fix the fact that she's nearly the opposite of a game heroine.
Saekano - How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend, is yet another harem anime, with nothing unexpected. It's an attractive package and done well enough to maybe be worth picking up (assuming you're fine with the genre). It a little takes patience to reach the better content. I dropped this anime 15 minutes into the first episode the first time I watched it, so believe me I know.
I was immediately turned off by the combination of lack luster concept (making a game) with stock harem girls, but the characters work well enough even if crippled by their lack of originality. Two girls provide (moderate) harem amusement in passively arguing over Tomoya - the otaku who's only interested in 2D girls. What I liked about Tomoya is his intentional distance from the girls, not because he's gutless or indecisive, but because he thinks 3D girls are too much trouble. The boring "project" girl Megumi is also noteworthy, but not for the reasons you might expect. She's spaced out and indifferent about most things, but amusingly blunt with her opinions. It's odd that she truly blends into the background, and for most of the anime you almost forget she's there. As things progress, she slowly emerges from the backdrop, with her personality taking an interesting twist in how her distant aloofness becomes a bit mischievous.
The other thing Saekano has going for it are character back stories. One girl is a writer, and Tomoya became a big fan. As the two got to know each other, the author / reader relationship lines become less defined. I loved this scenario which parallels a romance, like a love story in a love story. I'd expect a harem show to be a one hit wonder with such content, but Tomoya's childhood friend has a good story behind her too.
I don't want to make it sound like the story is awesome, it's "good" but only just so, which is substantially better than I expected. It tries to play off some harem aspects as silly coincidence when characters say "that only happens in anime". That could have been a clever one off joke, but used multiple times and is clearly just a lazy excuse to justify wallowing in the usual tropes (which it does well enough). The first episode being a frivolous hot springs fan service episode does it no favors, making it seem more vapid than it is (not by much though), so it's easy to get turned off without giving it a chance.
Saekano isn't the kind of anime which makes the effort to win you over. However if you're open minded, I think it has just enough to justify picking it up. Cute girls, fair story, and some quirky self referencing humor.
Tomoya: 3D girls are way too much trouble.
Eiri: There is no greater weapon in a creator's aresenal than cliche. Don't let critisizm lead you astray.
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