Sunday, September 9, 2018

How To Raise A Boring Girlfriend Vol. #08 Manga Review (Series Finale)

That's the thing about creators...If we're not in a desperate showdown, we can't improve.

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:
With the fight for doujin supremacy over, Tomoya develops a new game proposal -- one that'll reunite the team and mend their relationships. But fame is a double-edged sword, and Blessing Software might not survive success. Can Tomoya, Megumi, Utaha, and Eriri choose between their dreams and their happiness? Find out in this final volume of How To Raise A Boring Girlfriend!

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Well, it's finally here. The eighth volume of Saekano has arrived, and with it has come one of the most bittersweet departures in all of romantic comedy. If you've followed my reviews (Or even my social media for that matter), it should be no surprise how avid of a fan I am when it comes to this series. Whether it be the countless connections I'm able to make with it on a personal and professional level, or simply just my affinity for the characters and their respective struggles, my journey through this franchise has been akin to staring into a mirror. Just, in this particular scenario, my reflection is accompanied by a plethora of traditional [yet well written] archetypical females staring back at me as well. That being said, all good things must eventually come to an end and, unfortunately, everything must end today.

When we last left off, Tomoya was going through a bit of a rough patch. Having his relationship with Katou all but severed, he wasn't exactly sure how he would reunite the circle. On top of the heroine being MIA, Utaha's graduation was just around the corner and Eriri's slump had been hitting harder than ever before. Even with all this in mind, though, Tomoya still manages to retain enough willpower to burn through a project proposal. The mindset propelling him to do so is simply that of, "If I make this the greatest proposal ever, everyone is sure to come back." Well, in some respects, he's right to think that. But the fact of the matter is that there may be something going on offscreen that readers aren't exactly aware of yet- but we'll get to that in a bit.

With Katou slowly fading from existence, the duo of Maruto and Moriki knew that now more than ever, she needed to shin to leave her mark on not only Tomoya but the series as a whole. So the first person our trusty protagonist attempts to patch things up with is the heroine herself. After realizing that it will be virtually impossible to dodge him forever, Katou succumbs to persistence and decides to meet with Tomoya one last time. But during this meeting, something amazing happens. For the first time in eight volumes, Katou shows everyone how she really feels. In what is inarguably the most pivotal and emotional moment thus far, she breaks down into a microphone and spills her guts over how painful and terrible Tomoya's actions have been. In return, he breaks down as well and spews a barrage of apologies at her that only work to amplify the intensity of the scene. Following its closure, Katou retains her sassy attitude for the rest of the day before asking that Tomoya forget everything. He obliges and, come the next morning, the Katou/Aki relationship has been restored, albeit only slightly.

The next course of action is re-recruiting Kasumigaoka. Despite having already experienced several fallouts with her, Tomoya is more determined than ever to not let that happen this time around. If Blessing Software is to ever be restored to its full potential, she is a necessary component. Desperate to bring her back, he shows off his new proposal to Utaha and, in a surprising turn of events, she actually likes it. And even though this may seem like good news, it's where we learn that the end is truly approaching -- and it's a lot closer than we thought it was.

You see, even though Kasumigaoka is taken aback by the new proposal, she's unable to join back up. But the reason for this has nothing to do with her graduation. The sad truth is that she's been scouted for a new project headed by one of the most renowned names in the industry, Akane Kousaka, and she simply was unable to reject an opportunity like that. The even worse part is that Utaha needs to break the news that Eriri, too, is involved. Realizing that half of Blessing Software has been poached from underneath him, Tomoya is understandably devastated. But the act of betrayal becomes less of that over time and, as summer passes, Utaha's words linger in the back of his mind and ultimately heal the wounds that they, themselves, have caused.

One of the very last things Kasumigaoka says to Tomoya winds up being what is potentially the most important bit of information in all of Saekano. She explains that the reason she and Eriri are departing isn't that they're unsatisfied with the work they've created, it's that they haven't pushed to their limit. All of those times where Tomoya was willing to work alongside them and extend deadlines were, in turn, not pushing the actual creators to become better. This is a lesson that myself and many others can entirely understand despite sounding borderline nonsensical. Sometimes, in order to create, you need to be forced into unrealistic situations. Sometimes its necessary to work yourself to the bone and go days without sleep because, at the end of the day, the end result makes everything worth it a thousand times over. So, as mentioned before, this is something that Tomoya doesn't understand at first but eventually comes to terms with. This is confirmed in the penultimate scene of the volume.

In a rather Shinkai-esque moment, Tomoya catches up with Eriri and Utaha right before they leave town to work on their new project. He informs them that he isn't mad and that he understands the choice they've made. But, directly after, he informs them that this is just going to make him work even harder to get them back. Both girls break down and thank him, leaving their respective relationships teetering on the edge of a cliff with a bit of hope for survival. At the end of the day, Blessing Software is going to live on with or without the two girls. Though the open-ended nature of this clearly hints at a future, the manga comes to a close just minutes later.

And, as much as I hate to say this, the series ended in the right place. I'm miserable knowing that these characters are ones I likely won't see again any time soon, but I get it. I've learned a lesson and I've leeched the inspiration Fumiaki Maruto set out to give each and every one of us. If you haven't started this series yet, do it now. It's impossible for you to leave empty-handed.

In Summary:
I've said it before and I'll say it again, How To Raise A Boring Girlfriend is one of the most well written and entertaining harems on the market. Volume eight is a satisfactory conclusion to a remarkable series that leaves a lasting impression on its readers through its flawless demonstration of relatable themes. Each of the main three heroines has a chance to shine one last time before the series closes out and reminds us, once again, just how hard it is to choose a best-girl when it comes to this franchise. At the end of the day, I can absolutely see myself revisiting this series -- which is something I don't often say when it comes to manga. For anyone interested in giving this a go, I highly implore you to do just that. In addition, there is a phenomenal and loyal animated series backing this up, so check that out as well if you're looking to save some time and money.

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

Series Grade: A

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: December 19, 2017
MSRP: $12.99

No comments:

Post a Comment