Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata began as a series of light novels by Maruto Fumiaki. It’s also had multiple manga and, in 2015, A-1 Pictures decided to do an anime version. It’s a harem comedy series, like Love Hina, OreImo, Sekirei and some of the other series I’ve been asked to review and really disliked. Will this be the first harem series I do a full review of that gets a decent score, or will that wait until someone asks me to look at Ranma ½? Let’s find out.
We open with our protagonist, Blandon, picking up a girl’s beret after it blows away. This inspires Blandon. You see, Blandon is an otaku who’s only interested in 2-d girls. As such, this scene straight out of a bad romantic comedy anime inspires him to begin work on a galge. He decides that his heroine will be the girl he saw on the hill that day. His writer will be a light novelist he knows and the artwork will be done by his childhood friend who draws pornographic doujinshi. By sheer coincidence they all happen to be attractive girls and interested in him in spite of his lack of redeeming personality traits and plain looks. Can Blandon convince the three Blandas to join him in making his galge?
Let’s start with the problems with the series. The biggest one is that it’s extremely clichéd. The series likes to lampshade this fact with dialogue that points out just how trite the plot points and characterisation they’re using are. Blandon even asks what’s wrong with clichés at one point, as if to challenge the audience to come up with something. Okay. I’ll play your little game, Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata.
So, what is wrong with clichés? Well, when you have something well written and clever with a unique style, nothing. In fact, it’s impossible to write without using some. There are clichés in Good Omens, Watchmen, Dune, Gail Simone’s Secret Six and every other brilliant work. The problem is when you have a lazy, derivative series that strings together clichés with no originality and without doing anything surprising with any of them. A series like this one, for instance. When that happens, you get a painfully dull series where every event is predictable. Every character is bland and there’s no reason to care about it. You get a series that’s aiming for mediocrity and nothing more.
The other issue I have with the series is the way the ending conflict gets resolved. It’s contrived, rushed and hackneyed. The series itself does lampshade this fact because Maruto seems to think that if you lampshade how trite or stupid your developments are that that somehow makes it better. It doesn’t. Not unless you actually have some subversion or some twist on the elements to make them unique. Neither of which is anywhere to be found in this series.
The cast in this isn’t bad. The biggest problem with them is that they’re bland. We’ve got the harsh senpai, the tsundere childhood friend, the dull protagonist and some other basic tropes that don’t involve any complexity. To the series credit, there’s only one character who’s actively annoying. In this case, it’s Blandon’s cousin, Blanda number five, who shows up towards the end and acts as the happy go lucky love interest type, constantly pressing herself against him in sexual ways. And to think, before that point I thought that this series might not have an incestuous love interest in the group.
The character designs in this are pretty standard. With most of them being so generic that they look like characters I’ve seen elsewhere. The series also does the same eye highlighting thing as Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry, resulting in the cast looking like they’re wearing thick eye-liner. I will give the series credit for having some strong background details and I do like the background effects they do for the childhood flashback scenes, making everything in the background look like a child’s painting and really illustrating that sense of nostalgia. The series has some problems with fan-service, featuring several scenes where one of the Blandas slowly puts her clothes on or where the focus goes to her bosom/bum while she’s in a state of undress. In one particularly egregious incident, one of them decides to go into full bad 90s superhero comic mode and contorts so that you can see both at once. Her poor, poor spine. I also really hate the colour filters in this series. There are a bunch of scenes where the visuals are all tinted red or blue or some other colour for no good reason and it looks terrible.
The voice acting is pretty mediocre. To be fair to the actors, the cast is so dull and under-developed that I doubt anyone could take their dialogue and give strong performances. The worst is Yasuno Kiyono who sounds like she just doesn’t care, but her character is also supposed to be boring, in a cast that’s entirely made up of boring characters. So, chances are pretty high that she was directed to sound like that. Then again, I haven’t heard her in anything else, except Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge which had horrendous acting. So, maybe she always sounds completely uninvested. The music is okay. Hyakkoku Hajime does just fine with it. It’s certainly not on par with his work on K-on, but it’s decent.
There isn’t any in this series. It would only detract from the completely boring and uninteresting dynamics between the various Blandas and Blandon.
In all fairness, Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata is not among the worst harem series I’ve ever reviewed. It’s a series that aims for mediocrity through embracing clichés and it comes close to succeeding at that. It’s boring, not even remotely compelling and just tedious. However, there are a few things that do bring it down. Primarily the ending and no, I don’t care that they lamp-shaded how bad it is, & the cousin character. Which aren’t enough to make the series bad, but they do weaken it. If you’re looking for a completely standard harem series, you might like it. If you want something with originality, I can’t recommend it. Overall, I give it a 4/10. Next week I’ll take a look at El Hazard: The Magnificent World.