There’s no denying that Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu is a fascinating show in many ways, but I’m not quite decided on it yet.
Satire is a tricky art, require not just wit and intelligence from the writer, but boldness, fearlessness and the balance of a funambulist. Tanaka Romero certainly has those things, but whether they’ll be brought to the table here when he’s not writing the episodes themselves is hard to say. With the game launching soon it seems very likely he’s providing direction for the anime, but who knows whether that’ll be enough to steer it through the minefield it’s determined to traverse.
By its very nature, Shoujo-tachi invites us to speculate on just how seriously to take its moments of tropism. Every member of the cast is a trope, they make comments about cliched events happening to them (in Kuroda’s case, even engineer them) as they attempt to cash in on cliches for success as bishoujo game designers. I often feel as if a show is trying to have its cake and eat it too when we see stuff like that, but I haven’t made up my mind whether I feel that way here.
Shoujo-tachi is fairly entertaining at least, which gives it a little more rope with which to hang itself. And educational, too – for example I had no idea that to finish a game was to “master up” (and to fail, master down), or about the actual difference in the amount of content between a low-price and full-price game, or that major studios were entering into “partner brand” partnerships with newbies. And while I knew of the trope of course, I’d never really thought about “yuri-homo” at the detailed level Atomu and Andou described it here.
Again, it’s kind of fascinating to see where Tanaka-sensei is going with this. It’s a riff on the mechanics of creating a VN when you’re starting out, and also clearly a look at the creative process itself. Why does one write fiction in the first place? Is it important to enjoy the process? One gets the sense that the young Tanaka sat around and spitballed these sorts of topics on the floor of a dorm room or ratbag Tokyo apartment many years (though not all that many) ago.
What’s ultimately going to tell the tale for Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu is how well Tanaka can strike the right balance in tone, and how much entertainment the show can provide along the way. I like most of the cast, and there are enough really funny moments like Bunta giving us an outstanding “Sheee!” to satisfy. I’m not trilled that Yuuka turned out to be the osananajimi in love with the MC after all – but maybe that, too, is a bit of satire? Not knowing where the edge of the stage is makes this an interesting show, but I do hope we start to find out sooner or later.