One thing that Saekano does an amazingly good job at is continuing to push the fun factor higher and higher for each ep and it executes this every week while not overdoing it either. That’s just one of the many reasons why it’s rapidly becoming one of my top favorites this winter season.
Here’s my review!
As ep 4 ended with Aki and Kato planning to go on a date, I was expecting this ep to go about differently than what happened, but I’m not saying what happened was bad at all. While we do get to the date part we’ve got some other stuff to get through before reaching that moment. The first bit of the ep (okay like the first 14 minutes if you wanna get technical about it) are spread across a couple days worth of club activities. Eriri and Kato are going over some facial expressions for the character in game. Kato honestly isn’t the most expressive person in the world, so Eriri gets pretty frustrated by the fact Kato can’t pull off the ‘usual manga looks’ easily. Utaha once again is winning my heart over as when Aki drops off some snacks for her, she gets him to feed her the Pocky but lets him know this not by telling him, but by typing it out for him on her laptop. So funny!
While we’ve seen Kato be much more lively in past eps, she’s overall not a person that really shows her emotions on her face like most people. Aki brings out the point that all her expressions are really noncommittal, making it hard to determine what exactly is going across her mind and harder for Eriri to draw the expression she needs. While Kato goes off to do some self study, Aki sits down to talk about a hypothetical situation with Eriri, one that gets yet another priceless reaction from Utaha.
Aki is of course talking about his weekend date with Kato, but he words it in terms of research for the game so it won’t look like he’s talking about a real date he’ll soon be going on. After Eriri calms down from her explosive reaction, they continue the hypothetical discussion of this date. Eriri actually gives some really practical and sound advice, but Aki feels this advice is slightly boring thinking that a date shouldn’t be something that simple, but deeper. Eriri makes it clear though that her advice is for if an otaku, possibly Aki, was on a date in the real world with a real girl.
Unintentionally Aki mentions Kato during this conversation and it doesn’t take long before Eriri pieces together that Aki and Kato are going on a date and her was just getting information out of Eriri. While Eriri is quite upset by this sudden turn of events, Utaha has the best reaction as she quickly descends into yandere mode and begins furiously typing away on her laptop all the while reading aloud what she’s typing. It’s not hard to get the point that Utaha is showing her jealous side here about Aki going on a date with another girl. This isn’t the first time Aki received some punishment from liking Kato too much, his shins paid the price before and now he’s being subjected to yandere Utaha’s abuse via what she’s typing.
I should also mention that in a very brief scene after this, we see Kato up on the roof playing a visual novel on her PS Vita and practicing the expressions that Eriri is looking for. Even though it’s a short scene I liked it because it shows us that while Kato doesn’t have the same mindset that the others have, she’s trying her best to study up on such things so she can better understand what Eriri wants from her in terms of expressions. There still is a part of me that likes Kato as she’s such a sweet girl, but unless something drastic happens I’m sticking with #TeamUtaha for the time being.
The next key scene happens the following day as Utaha presents her draft of the story for the game. She pulled yet another all-nighter to complete it and now wants the others to take a look at it. Before the reading of the draft there is a quick exchange of looks that hints at a previous moment between Aki and Utaha, something that Eriri picks up on and is quite annoyed with while Kato is left out of the loop and is very confused. The sequence of Aki reading aloud the draft is quite hilarious and I like how he also asks Kato to chime in during certain parts too.
The plot is… different than what I expected from what Utaha seems to be known for. The story she’s created has some twists and surprises, sibling love, a huge monster from the past and a huge fight to defeat this monster. While I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it either. True it had high points to it and the excitement factor was there, but it was too… hmm, average. Nothing too unexpected happened and it felt lackluster because of this as it was just another run of the mill story filled with the usual events that aren’t anything new. Much like Aki, it’s hard to put into exact words but it just didn’t feel like a plot that could work. So like I mentioned, Aki isn’t satisfied with the draft and while he can’t put a finger on it either, he doesn’t want to continue progress until the plot is set. Time passes and still the plot isn’t set in stone. Eriri is getting annoyed by this and mentions that “subjective feelings based criticism” won’t get them anywhere and that if he doesn’t like it that he can write it himself. Hmm…
What happens next is something I was waiting for since the last ep where it was only hinted at. We get some more detail on what happened in the past between Aki and Utaha. Utaha mentions that it’s happening again, that Aki won’t give her a straight answer to her proposed plot draft.
From what we’ve been given so far it’s looking like Utaha might have confessed her feelings to Aki but he didn’t have an answer for her. That’s what I’m taking away from this, seeing that Aki was the one who couldn’t give an answer so logically it must have been to something Utaha said. Upon further review, it possibly looks like Utaha might have approached Aki with a project proposal but he didn’t give her a right answer. I’m saying this because I didn’t notice the folder Utaha was holding (check the pic below) but after seeing that I’m reevaluating my theory based on that new piece of info. Whatever the case may be though, I hope next week touches on this some more.
We jump to a short while later as Aki is still in the AV Room, his thoughts lost in the harsh memories Utaha has forced back into his mind. Kato has picked up on the fact that Aki is feeling pretty down after what Utaha said, so she suggests they postpone their weekend date for another time. But even though what’s just happened, Aki wants to go ahead with the plan and go on the date with Kato. It’s also important to note Eriri eavesdropping on their conversation from the hallways, her reaction telling her feelings quite clearly.
I thought I’d be finished this review by now, but 1200 words later and I’ve only covered 14 minutes of this ep. Don’t worry, the back half of this (even though it’s not ‘half’ is pretty easy to cover). Aki and Kato go on the date, an uninterrupted date I must say, to the new mall. The masses of plebs aren’t a welcoming sight for Aki, especially all the couples, but he manages to pull through by putting his Comiket navigation plan to use here. The course Aki plots is extremely effective and they’re able to traverse the crowds and get to all the stores Kato wanted to visit. Aki’s use of the given information was stellar and it left me pretty impressed how well he utilized it to accomplish the task of escorting Kato around the crowded mall.
All in all their date goes quite swimmingly and like I mentioned, it was also uninterrupted as well. I was honestly expecting Eriri and/or Utaha to crash in at some point, seeing how that usually happens a lot in most anime, but once again things are done a bit differently this time and the other girls don’t interfere with the date. Kato even picks out some new glasses for Aki too which was a charming moment. But instead of ending on a happy note here, Aki comes out and says he won’t be able to walk home with her as there is something else that he must attend to. This “something” must be game related as we get a few quick clips of Aki’s thoughts on the game before we see a brief shot of Utaha standing outside at a train station, waiting. While Aki is most likely going to talk to her about the game, he also might be getting closer to sorting out his feelings for her and giving her a straight answer. But whatever the case may be, we’ll have to wait till next week before we find out!
Ugh, long review this week, sorry for putting you through all that. I’m not sure it was exactly following my new format of writing reviews, but like I’ve said before I’m always trying something new as I search for the style that works best. My final thoughts on this ep: like always it’s still one of my favorites this season, I’m loving it’s refreshing take on the heavily used (probably overused too) harem genre and it’s presenting the story in an enjoyable way that’s easy to follow and also quite humorous. All in all this anime has surprised me in lots of ways, all good too, and it’s pushed all the right buttons to deliver something that really stands out from the rest.
Alright then I’ll end it here as there isn’t anything else left to say. I welcome comments below, so if you’ve got something to say then by all means you’re free to comment. Up next I’ll have a look at Absolute Duo ep 6, where Lilith has challenged everyone to a fight. We should be in for an action packed ride! I hope you’ll be able to join me for that review. Until then, here’s a bonus pic to enjoy!
Special thanks to Joe for letting me use the gifs. Be sure to check out his look at ep 5 as well.
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