The long-awaited Megumi volume of Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata has finally arrived! After experiencing what I would call “Eriri route” and “Utaha route”, we’re back on track for the main course.
The earlier part of this volume is pretty ordinary, with a flat and lack-of-presence Megumi. The story started off from the usual shuraba scene after the completion of Michiru and Izumi’s heroine scenario without their involvement. We also have a glimpse of Iori and Eriri after that, with Utaha not getting any proper screentime. The feel of this first part is pretty reminiscent of volume 8’s first half.
The later part of the story starts exploring the main problem of the volume: Tomoya’s writer block while writing Meguri Kanou’s scenario. The scene that troubles him is the scene where Meguri finally falls in love with the protagonist. For Tomoya and for the game itself, this is the scenario that he cannot really afford to fuck up. As unlikely as it sounds, Tomoya consulted Akane Kousaka, the founder of rouge en rouge and the current employer of Eriri & Utaha. After talking with her and getting an advice (she’s basically telling him to “expose all the embarassing stuff inside his head” or so), Tomoya started working on the scenario with Megumi’s help.
From here, the story progressed like a vanilla rom-com development, with Tomoya and Megumi doing several lovey-dovey things that will probably make your heart flutter. One particular scene that really strikes me as genuinely saccharine is when Tomoya said “I kinda, want to see your face,” in the middle of their phone call—and so they are moving to Skype for a video call (you can see the illustration below). The part where Megumi does an ad-lib in front of the camera while lying on the floor simply kills.
The highlight of this volume would be Megumi’s lines to the protagonist:
It’s not like I want something like a confession.
I’m fine with a chance to fall in love, just a little.
I just want simple, casual words.
Words that can make one say,
“ah, so I could fall in love just like that…”
“What do you mean by this, Tomoya-senpai~!?”
“W-wait, what did you guys want!? Why are you bullying me? I don’t get it at all this time!”
“Why did you complete the scenario for the cousin heroine Michiru (tentative) without me knowing~!?”
“Why did you complete the kouhai heroine Izumi (tentative) scenario, just when I took my eyes off you a bit~!?”
“I’m getting all these complaints for finishing it on time!?”
V11 started with Michiru and Izumi getting mad at Tomoya for completing their respective scenario for the game without consulting to them. Michiru asked Tomoya why he’s not running around corners as usual, just like when he was writing Eriri and Utaha’s scenario (the furigana can be read as “a whole volume worth of screentime”). Izumi complained about the unfair treatment she is getting despite being “the one with the most contribution for the circle” and that the current members have less presence than the former members.
Michiru remarked that while it’s common for first generation band members to become legendary, there are also cases in which the second generation vocalist managed to help the band have a major debut. Izumi followed by throwing an eerily similar example to blessing software’s situation, and Tomoya asked them to stop.He tried explaining that he did it so as not to halt the development of the music and illustration, but Michiru didn’t seem to be pleased since there are still two months left. Izumi said she had hoped the heroines would have more conversations with the protagonist, to which Tomoya replied that he already wrote it with that in mind.
“…..Well, it’s Tomoya-kun’s fault to start writing it the way it was.”
Megumi’s voice pierced through the room like a 5.1 surround sound.
“To be honest, while “answering a girl’s problem with a game scenario” is very painful and embarrassing to the point that I don’t get it at all, it certainly feels that you’re giving some people special treatments. That’s why, when it’s someone else’s turn and they didn’t get treated the same way, it’s inevitable that they would think ‘Huh? So what am I to you?'”
“I’ve already admitted it, haven’t I!? Please stop it with the embarrassing commentary, Megumi!”
Tomoya then apologized to the two albeit in a not-so-sincere manner. Michiru and Izumi didn’t seem too satisfied with his apology but Megumi told them to let it slide since he seems to be feeling remorse in his own way.
“Well then, for the sake of this “great game”, we gotta work harder~”
“Indeed, we have the scenario data right here after all…”
“Look, at this “Izumi 04.txt”! This”feeling of longing while separated” is the real excitement of a childhood friend heroine!”
“Eh~, really? Isn’t it better to always be together and get along without ever being separated?”
“Michiru-san’s (tentative) scenario is shallow because of predictable developments like that~”
“On that note, if we’re talking about Izumi’s (tentative) scenario’s depth… This part about her staying in love with the protagonist for three years really added a depth to her route!”
“Eh~, it wouldn’t do if they aren’t separated for at least five years~”
“What’s up with that year gap!?”
And so, Michiru and Izumi started arguing about which route is better.
“Huh~, if we’re talking about vividness, look at this “Michiru 16.txt”. Certainly something you wouldn’t be able to see in a brat heroine’s route~”
“Precisely because they have been looking at each other as they grow up together since childhood, the moment that the protagonist suddenly realized she has become a “woman” is very real~”
“P-please don’t imagine something like that!”
“Look, look… This part where the heroine and the protagonist is going all lovey-dovey on the bed with their feet touching each other… ‘Hey, Tomo… Wanna do it?'”
“Uwaaaaah….! Stop quoting every single dialogue!”
“Uwaaaaah….! I didn’t even put that line in the dialogue, though~!?”
Michiru and Izumi continued debating while quoting moe phrases from their scenario.
“T-then… Look at this “Izumi 238.txt”! At the spot sale event, after getting immersed by her first time successfully selling out her stuff… I, I mean the heroine, got reeled in by Tomoya-senpai, I mean the protagonist, and on his bed… ‘Se-senpai… This is my first time, so…'”
“Uwaaaaah….! I didn’t even create that event, you know~!?”
…….Hm, as I expected, the way I created the game this time is wrong.
I shouldn’t have used a girl I know as a model for the heroine.
“Hey, Tomoya-kun, you just denied the very theme of this work, is that okay?”
“What did you hear just now, Megumi!?”
“The deadline for all the necessary materials is the end of September, see.”
“That’s really fast, as expected from a consumer game.”
“We’ll still barely make it for the release in the end of the year, though… So actually, I don’t really have time to go to school this month.”
“….Dropping out of college may still get you jobs in the industry, but isn’t dropping out of high school going too far?”
Tomoya is conversing with Eriri about their respective projects at school.
“Even so, the development timeframe is just too short… This is a big title, so the company should have at least provided 2-3 years worth of budget and manpower.”
“Well, your project leader (Akane Kousaka) seems to like rushing things…Doesn’t the work cycle fundamentally contradicts a consumer game’s long production time?”
“I shouldn’t have worked on “Force Chronicle”, then… Really, I could never understand what that woman’s thinking.”
Eriri is mostly venting about how Akane has been making her work to the bone.
“She’s been giving more meticulous demands lately… Not to mention, she’ll throw away anything that doesn’t satisfy her without mercy.”
“Well, caring about those meticulous parts is an important part of the development. The users will be very sensitive about those issues, right?”
“Even so, having to keep up with that level of detail for another month of thirty event CGs is asking too much from the illustrator.”
“Barely making it again, huh…”
“I’m proceeding according to the schedule! I also finished thirty illustrations last month, you know?”
“…O, oh, good job.”
“Even so, your director really sticks around, huh.”
“Well, she has always been like that… The problem now is that even the scenario writer starts getting involved more.”
“You mean Utaha-senpai?”
“When she did a drastic revision to the scenario, it’s suddenly a huge problem! Clients are holding their head, and even some talks about changing the writer has been brought up, but Akane Kousaka rejected all of them.”
“And after that, she’s been doing whatever she wants. Teasing, bullying, and making a fool out of me… Man… Who the hell got her back into shape!?”
“A, aha, ahaha…”
“You have written Utaha Kasumigaoka’s scenario too, right?”
“….Well, the person in question denied the whole thing, though.”
“Hm, huh, really…”
“…What, what are you getting at?”
“Hm, I guess when it comes to dense love comedy protagonists, the urge to kill surely builds up when you’re looking at them as an onlooker rather than as a part of it. So that’s why people really want to hit those characters that they can’t empathize with. I see, I’m learning something new today~”
“What did you even study in this exam period!?”
The next scene took place the day after that in the usual cafe where Megumi and Tomoya usually hangs out; they are meeting with Iori to talk about the scenario.
“Hm, huh, really…”
“Why is your response exactly the same as Eriri’s, Megumi!?”
“Ah~, actually, I have heard most of it from Eriri yesterday through the phone, so I’m not really that surprised.
Besides, I care even less about Utaha-senpai than Tomoya-kun, and like, I trust Tomoya-kun. That’s why, it’s not like I’ll start sobbing in front of people just because I’m worrying about that person.”
“No one remembers what happened last month (volume 10; chapter 6)!”
“Well, if Tomoya-kun’s worrying that much, Utaha-senpai should be fine.”
“But, she’s certainly mad about the scenario last time, and she doesn’t seem willing to forgive me…”
“Well, if you think so, how about keeping a distance for a bit? Not so sure about holding it back, anyway. Not going to say who, though.”
“Sorry, can you stop with those whispers that I can still properly hear?”
“Yo Tomoya-kun, Katou-san, keep you wai—”
“Anyway, we have to worry more about our circle than Utaha-senpai’s problem. I’d prefer to start working on the scripts as soon as possible, as well as checking all the currently available materials.”
“….Nah, what we need to worry about now is that you quickly brushed off Iori just now.”
“Hey Megumi, why are you always treating Iori like that…”
“Ah~, it must be just me being shy.”
“No, but, in my memory up until now, I’ve never remembered Megumi Katou being shy even once…”
“….Can you stop ignoring me too with the guise of defending me, Tomoya-kun?”
“Why not? You’re probably always in the top position everywhere else, so it’s fine to be in a low hierarchy for just one circle, right?”
“I’m aware that the me up until now has always been popular, but if I’m treated like this continuously, don’t blame me if I start piling up hate towards you guys, okay?”
“So, Iori, what’s up with you calling out to us on the start of the new term? If you had something important to discuss, you should have come to yesterday’s meeting and discuss it with everyone.”
“The thing is, I didn’t get any call about yesterday’s meeting. And just this morning, your girlfriend there simply sent me the proceedings and materials.”
“Eh~? I certainly remembered sending an invitation, though~ It’s weird, isn’t it~?”
“The schedule of the final scenario, huh?”
“Yep, Tomoya-kun. Up until yesterday, you have finished the scenarios of four characters. With this, only one route remained.”
“Main heroine, Meguri Kanou…”
“Yeah, the last fort.”
“…Err, are you talking about doing that today?”
“He just finished writing the previous route yesterday, you know? Tomoya-kun spent his summer holiday writing it without barely even sleeping; if he starts writing the next one right away, his body wouldn’t have any time to rest, right?”
Basically, Megumi and Iori started arguing about the writing process of the last scenario. Megumi insisted that Tomoya needed a break after writing the previous scenario, while Iori wanted Tomoya to start working on it right away as not to drag the schedule down further. Tomoya joked around that this is the second Holy Grail War between Megumi and Iori (a pun of “seisai” / “wife” and “seihai” / “holy grail”), with him acting as the mediator voiced by Jouji Nak*ta.
“I am expecting the Kanou Meguri scenario to be completed in November, at the very worst.”
“Wait, Iori, isn’t that still three months away from now?”
“Heh, so Tomoya-kun is confident enough to be able to finish Meguri route in a mere three months… That promised godly scenario that surpasses all the other routes…”
It took a while for Tomoya to remember the true abyss of “Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (tentative)”.
[It wouldn’t do if the main heroine is not definitely the best girl.]
“Putting together the plot into a scenario in three months is one thing, but in this case, you have to create something that can surpass that plot.”
“After all, the other routes also strayed from the plot and were further developed.”
“That’s why, it’s better to think that the advantage that the main heroine had from the plot is no longer there.”
“Create a masterpiece, Tomoya-kun…”
Tomoya finally realized that Iori didn’t simply want to rush the next scenario.
Neither did he wants to quickly decide on the schedule.
“The greatest plot that will surpass every single scenario up until now.”
What Iori wanted to do is to cast pressure on Tomoya.
In the greatest level possible.
“Can you do it?”
“Yeah, I will… But, I won’t do as you please.”
“The Meguri Kanou scenario… just like the original plan, will be completed on October.”
“Are you fine with saying something like that?”
“After all, taking more time to write the scenario doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be better, right?”
Tomoya and Iori ended their conversation by betting on whether Tomyoa will be able to finish the scenario in October or not and snickered in unison. Unable to contain his motivation to quickly write the main scenario, Tomoya sipped the remaining coffee in front of him…
The coffee he drank was so sweet, his whole body was trembling in convulsion.
Further investigations hinted that Megumi put the gum syrup, maple syrup, and six sugar sticks from the table inside the coffee.
Saturday, 8.30 AM.
“Tea check, coffee check, chocolate check, everything’s ready!”
Tomoya was just getting ready to write the main heroine scenario when Izumi suddenly rang the bell and started babbling. After falling asleep for four hours, Izumi said to Tomoya that she had seen a god (her way of saying she found inspiration for a godly illustration) and asked Tomoya to get out of the room for a while before she can show it to her.
After 15 minutes, Izumi finally showed the illustration to Tomoya. She admitted to Tomoya that she can’t draw the way Eriri draws, but she believed that this single illustration that she made is not losing to Eriri’s. That illustration turned out to be a humongous drawing of Eriri, or rather, the character based on Eriri from Tomoya’s current game. The illustration was described by Tomoya to portray the hesitation and the tenderness of her white skin—her feelings of shame, determination, and lack of joy; such combination of purity and perversion is all perfectly captured in that illustration.
“After all… No matter how many times I read the “Eriri 22″ scenario, it would definitely turn out like this, right?”
Event Number: Eriri 22
Type: Individual Event
Requirement: entering Eriri route
Summary: The first time with Eriri…
….This picture is the embodiment of that event (volume 9 page 201 onwards), huh.
“That scene’s dialogues are kinda, no, very lewd, you know.”
Tomoya thought to himself, Izumi has finally took another step forward. It can be said that Izumi’s illustration just now is already in dakimakura-leve of quality.
Izumi said the illustration still has a problem: it took her a whole week to finish it, so doing the rest of the illustrations may take months to complete. Tomoya then continued by saying they will need to re-think about the balance, but as he was going to start printing the CG list, the ink ran out because Izumi used it earlier. The next part is Tomoya and Izumi deciding which scene will require extra quality, with Izumi getting excited about her route’s beach scene and onsen scene. Time passed really fast as they were discussing and it’s already late night. Tomoya and Izumi talked about giving 100% percent for Meguri route’s climax scene and ended up doing another reorganization of the schedule until the last train time passed.
“Yes,. Kishotenketsu‘s ‘ten‘, as in twist. The turning point.”
“Oh, that part when the heroine dies from an accident, or when she dies from an illness, or for whatever reason…”
“…Why does the heroine have to die no matter what?”
Just one night after the scenario-reading, the voice of Megumi who has returned to being flat can be heard not from the PC, but through the smartphone speaker.
“But I guess it’s something like that; the part when the story reaches its climax.”
“Ah right, the Meguri route doesn’t really have any development like that right now…”
“Oh, let me get this straight; of course I really love the Meguri route up until now! Meguri’s very cute, after all!”
“….Ah, yes, yes.”
“It definitely is lacking any drama, though… It makes your heart flutter, but it doesn’t make you restless.”
“But, do the players of this game really want that, I wonder? Rather than getting separated with the heroine, wouldn’t it be better for the two of them to be… uh…”
“Well, there are also some people who prefer seeing lovey-dovey scenes between the two instead of engaging in stressful developments.”
“That’s certainly what I wanted to say, but can’t you put it in a better way?”
The scenario writing after the “Meguri 15” event has surpassed two digit numbers and is progressing with the pace of three events in one day.
“So, what do you think, Megumi?”
“Do you think we should add a complication after this? Or should we stick to the lovey-dovey portrayal until the end?”
Everyday, we are simulating various situations, coming up with dialogues, and sharing our thoughts.
“Ah, it’s okay to tell me what you think about it. I’ll be the one to decide in the end.”
“….You don’t really have to worry about it, really.”
That’s why, right now, I can understand Megumi’s feelings… No, saying that I understand all of her feelings would be a lie.
“Let’s see… for me…”
” For Megumi?”
“….I don’t really want a “twist”, I think.”
Even so, hearing her slightly shaking, barely holding it in and letting it out, made me understand.
“To begin with, the current scenario is so embarrassing that it’s pretty hard to stomach already; adding a complication would be…”
“Nah, the embarrassing situations will still continue! I still have around ten heart-fluttering events inside my head…”
“Geez… If it comes down to it, I’ll just have to pull through this work with just embarassment.”
“Well, anyway, I’ll think about the final part a little bit more. When I’m hooked on another idea, help me on the scenario-reading, okay?”
“Ah, about that.”
“What is it?”
“This scenario-reading… Can we take a break from it for a while?”
“Ah, sorry. I know we’re just getting into it for today too…”
“What happened? Don’t tell me you’re about to die from an accident, or from an illness, or for whatever reason?”
“I don’t have any sudden development like that. Definitely not.”
“That’s, uh… Lately, aren’t we getting too much into it…? Myself, and Tomoya-kun too.”
“…Is that a bad thing?”
“Ah, well… If it’s ‘only’ inside the game, there is no problem, I think.”
….I can clearly hear Megumi’s soft whisper.
And, in a way, even if not completely, I understand… or at least I want to.
After all, I also… or rather, it’s me who wants to embrace Megumi’s words and her feelings beneath those words.
That’s why, I…
“Alright, let’s take a break from scenario-reading for a while.”
“But, we’ll have a meeting to make up for it instead… This Saturday, 1 PM, let’s meet at Ikebukuro.”
I will aim for the opposite direction from the one Megumi wanted to take.
“Ah, it’s okay. I will definitely wait for just that day. I’m fine with just hanging out together.”
“Err, when I said I wanted to take a break from scenario-reading, I don’t really mean taking a break from the whole game-making—”
“Even I understand that, you know.”
“I understand, but I just can’t agree with it.”
But seriously, the current Megumi…
Of course I want to meet her in person, wouldn’t I?
“Now’s not a good time…”
I can hear that whisper of hers just now too.
That’s why, I chose the center of the city as the meeting place.
Right now, I can vaguely guess that she’ll probably reject me if I invited her to my room.
“But, it wouldn’t do if we don’t do it now.”
“Megumi, didn’t you realize that September 23 is this week?”
Yes, if you found a day as convenient as this, of course you wouldn’t let it come to pass.
It’s Megumi Katou’s 18th birthday.
“Even though you completely forgot it last year…”
“We’ll be having two-year worth of celebration, then! We’ll completely celebrate it this year!”
Yes, we’ll do it all-out.
After all, we are looking for the greatest cliche.
This will be the perfect event fit for the climax scene of Meguri route.
“Err… Can’t it wait for just a bit longer? Next month, maybe?”
“It wouldn’t do if we delay the birthday celebration that long!”
And also the perfect chance for other things.
“…It’s just, a date.”
Yes, no matter what, this is simply a date.
A good-for-nothing 2D otaku guys is now, gathering up his courage to escort an inconspicuous yet precious flower.
“Please, Megumi! Please, Megumi-san! I’m begging you, Megumi-sama!”
Even if all that I could deliver are words, I bowed my head with all my might.
Even if I can’t see her, I keep on imagining it over and over again.
That moment which didn’t last more than three seconds but felt longer than three years.
“Ah, whatever~, Tomoya-kun.”
Megumi subtly expressed her answer.
“I really don’t know anymore~”
“No, what do you mean?”
Certainly, I wouldn’t get it if I simply took her words literally.
“The day after tomorrow, right?”
“A, ah… eh?”
“Geez, what to do… I really can’t wait now…..”
But, I understood.
The fact that the resounding voice of her delicate words—that those beautiful, painful, and yet captivating emotion of hers has reached me.
“Can’t tomorrow and the weekend come sooner, I wonder?”
“It wouldn’t take long.”
“Where will we go? Where will you take me to, I wonder?”
“Rest assured. Just for this time, it won’t be the usual places.”
“Ah~, but I’m okay with going to that area, you know. I’ll feel more at ease, too.”
“Even if you’re fine with it, I won’t, just for this time!”
“You don’t really have to go out of your way for me, you know. It’s my birthday, after all.”
“It’s exactly because it’s your birthday that I’m going to specially treat you.”
“Ah, those words just now, shouldn’t we use it for the Meguri scenario?”
“Eh? What did I just say? Can we repeat it while I’m taking a note?”
“It’s your own words, so repeat it yourself.”
“The emotion won’t come out if I’m doing a solo act.”
“In the first place, can you even do an emotional performance, Tomoya-kun?”
“Please, Megumi… Right, starting from ‘ah, whatever~, Tomoya-kun.'”
“If you still remember that line, you shouldn’t be having any problems, right?”
For now, it seems I can relax after putting such an effort.
The current Megumi is not rigid nor flat; her way of speaking is brimming with the image of a girl.
No, she has been very girly for a while now.
But—or rather—because of that…
“Anyway, I’ll confirm it one more time! Saturday, 1 PM, Ikebukuro!”
“….I’ll definitely come.”
“Of course, it’s a promise.”
“I won’t forgive you if you are late, you know, Tomoya-kun?”
“Sorry, but that doesn’t sound like a joke coming from you, so please give me a break.”
“….Well, I can wait if it’s only one minute.”
“Isn’t that too short!?”
Even my voice is brimming with excitement right now….
I want to meet this girl, Megumi Katou, right now.
I want to meet her, talk to her, laugh together with her, touch her, and then….
But, that will have to wait until the day after tomorrow.
……I’ll just have to bear it until then.
Event Number: Meguri ??
Type: Individual Event
Requirement: Meguri Route completion
Summary: On Meguri’s 18th birthday, the two of them…
“Let’s see… for me…”
“….I don’t really want a “twist”, I think.”
The awaited day after tomorrow.
September 23, 12 AM.
Just a little while before the meeting time.
“…., …….!” (possibly Megumi’s voice, but could also be someone else’s)
“Eh? What? Sorry, I couldn’t hear you…” (Tomoya)
From that phone call which wasn’t too clear because of the noise.
“Wha—Wait for a second! Who did…”
The “twist” that she didn’t wish for…
…in that moment, has finally come.
I’m still recovering from Megumi’s cuteness and the desire to just roll on my bed, but it’s pretty hard.
Compared the previous volumes which was mainly serious in tone, this volume feels a lot more laid-back in comparison, and yet it delivers a far better experience than volume 9 and 10. We have seen Megumi’s ‘dark’ side for a while now, but it’s completely different here; this volume strongly re-establishes Megumi’s place as the main heroine along with providing us a look at her deredere side. This contrast in Megumi’s attitude is on an even higher degree than the one in volume 8.
No forced drama or conflict is present in this volume, as it focuses solely on developing Tomoya and Megumi’s relationship to a whole new level, and I think it’s really better that way. The two last volumes were not received all that well because both failed to deliver a meaningful impact for blessing software’s development, but volume 11 managed to even that out. I guess I’ll have to commend Fumiaki Maruto’s prowess in using subtle ways to show us Megumi’s feelings this time around. As of now, I’m more or less convinced that those feelings are real.
If I really have to choose one thing that bothers me, maybe it kinda feels that things went a bit too well. The part where she mentions that she doesn’t want to have “a twist as part of the story”* may hint for a sudden plot twist next volume. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed this volume, probably even more so than volume 8.
*: I’ll explain this in detail since someone asked me about this via Discord.
This part refers to the “ten” element of “kishotenketsu”, a four-part narrative structure prevalent in Japanese and Chinese narratives. Kishotenketsu is comprised of four elements:
- “Ki” / “起”: introduction of characters and important settings for the story.
- “Sho” / “承”: development of the story without any major change.
- “Ten” / “転”: twist/complication, the peak or climax of the story.
- “Ketsu” / “結”: conclusion of the story.
There is a heavy contrast between kishotenketsu and conventional Western narrative structure (namely the three-act structure centered around the setup, escalation, and resolution of a conflict). If you haven’t noticed, the usual “conflict” element of the Western narrative is not included as one of kishotenketsu’s parts. While this doesn’t mean that stories using the kishotenketsu structure will inevitably have no conflict, it is clear that conflict is neither an inherent element nor an obligatory requirement for a story using kishotenketsu as its basis. Also, twist/complication is not to be confused with conflict. An example of a famous work that used this narrative structure is Hayao Miyazaki’s classic, Kiki’s Delivery Service.
As to what is the interpretation of the line itself, I think what Megumi wants is to have a steadily developing relationship with Tomoya without a “twist” before the relationship reaches its “conclusion”. Feel free to tell me your take on this if you have a better interpretation.
Note: Purchases of this volume in certain stores will also give you a special 8-page side story booklet.