Saturday, December 9, 2017

How To Raise A Boring Girlfriend Vol. #06 Manga Review

I saw the sea today. I'm not afraid anymore.

Creative Staff:
Original Story: Fumiaki Maruto
Art: Takeshi Moriki
Character Design: Kurehito Misaki
Translation: Kumar Sivasubramanian
Translation Consultant: Chitoku Teshima
Lettering: Phil Christie

What They Say:
Tomoya and Megumi have managed to complete the alpha version of their dating sim. However, playtesting has revealed an unpleasant truth: In spite of the talent and effort that went into it, their game is hot garbage! As producer, Tomoya needs to salvage the train wreck, but it's going to require bruising the egos of his staff...and neither Utaha nor Eriri takes criticism well! With the winter Comiket only a month away, can they keep it together long enough to make their deadline?

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
So after a much-needed break and a 1,200 mile relocation halfway across the country, I'm back in the game and ready to start reviewing again. What better way to break back into the swing of things than with a series that has, at least thus far, established itself as one of my favorite harems in the last several years. With most series, a break this long may diminish my interest or even my recollection of the series most-recent happenings, but with Saekano...well, that's never really an issue. Also, the end of its last anime season still rings true in my mind so that chance of forgetting is all but null as far as I'm concerned. Regardless of any patterns on my own behavior and my less than perfect memory, I'm guessing you want me to just start talking about the actual book now, right?

Jeez, okay. (Cracks knuckles).

Saekano's sixth volume kicks off the same way it always does- each member of Blessing Software is bending over backwards trying to produce Tomoya's dream game. After striking up a bet with Iori about who's game will be the best in show at Winter Comiket, Tomoya has attempted to force his team into overdrive. This, of course, only results in his shortcomings as a producer being pushed out into a more open space than ever before. With the deadline rapidly approaching, Tomoya can't seem to decide on...well, pretty much anything. But the biggest issue he has in this respect is the scenario itself. Not only does Kasumigaoka's script read like a literary novel and not a gal-game, the Ruri route she added into the mixture sends the series down two completely different paths that are equally alluring. So not only does Tomoya demand she redo everything, he demands a third route be added into the picture in which everyone lives happily ever after instead of just one of the girls.

Kasumigaoka scoffs at this idea at first, but is eventually enticed by Tomoya's boyish optimism and naivete. Together, they pull several [platonic] all-nighters and after overexerting and exhausting themselves [again, platonic], they're able to come up with a product that is...passable? This entire exchange is potentially my favorite glimpse into the Utaha route in all of Saekano. Not only is every element and attribute of her character highlighted almost-perfectly, her mannerisms and the way she communicates with Tomoya as a whole add an element of humanity and logic to her that none of the other girls of the series can capture. And while every one of them has one or two high-points throughout the duration of the franchise, this volume really serves to change the game for Utaha, putting her up on a pedestal that every other girl now has to jump through hoops to try and reach.

And with that comes the tsundere. With the story finally being complete, the pressure is now on Eriri to finish the remaining artwork which will, in turn, put the finishing touches on the game. Knowing full well what this means, she elects to retreat to her family's vacation home in the Nasu Highlands in order to better concentrate on the task at hand. Even though he hates the idea, Tomoya agrees and Eriri is off to some remote cabin in the middle of nowhere. Of course, complications arise once she's stricken with writer's block (And some poorly worded emails from our protagonist), leaving the entire group teetering on the edge of scepticism in terms of the game's completion. Things take yet another turn for the worse when Eriri breaks the news to Tomoya that she wants to change the art style as a whole. With only three days remaining until the game's deadline, even Tomoya begins to question whether or not she can rise to the task.

In Summary:
I'm sure I sound like a broken record, but Saekano proves once again that it's not your average harem. Filled with fourth-wall breaking, incredibly developed characters, Saekano rides the coattails of well-timed comedy and satire to levels unreached by most others. And with this volume containing what I imagine is the highest word count for the manga thus far (Trust me, this is more impressive than it sounds), there is no shortage in terms of content. Utaha shines brighter than ever before with a large chunk of the book dedicated to her, so any fans of our beloved senpai novelist are in for a treat if there ever was one. Also, we have officially crossed into long-hair Katou territory. Readers beware, you're in for a scare.

Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A+

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: June 20, 2017
MSRP: $12.99

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