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…”
“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.
“…., …….!” (implied to be Megumi from the brackets)
“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.