Saekano employs regular meta nods and winks. It also peers past the fourth wall periodically. It does these things successfully, but the show teeters precariously while doing so. In fact, the show is constantly on the verge of disaster but manages to avoid calamity each time.
Isn’t it a mistake to say Saekano employs regular meta nods and winks? Isn’t Saekano, on the whole, an exercise in the meta? When the story is wholly meaningful on its own but yet predicated on the meta, is it still meaningful without taking into account that how baked it is? I guess if you approach this story on different wavelengths, you can arrive at the same conclusion. But if, say, Seitokai no Ichizon was the story of a bunch of people talking both about and being harem otaku narratives while being a harem otaku narrative, is it even meaningful to say Seizon employs nods and winks about meta things? Like how Shirobako is an anime about making anime, would references in Shirobako about making anime (or better yet, reasons why anime are poorly made) worth talking about? I guess neither has to be the case. I suppose it is fair to say that it does such things, but at the same time saying it doesn’t really describe it, or mean very much.
Rather, maybe it is a measurement of how meta it is, I guess. How “yo dawg” is a meme about putting what you like into something you like. Like, visualizing it like a series of “o”s after a “y” in “yooooooooo dawg.” Versus “yo dawg.” Like as if the number of the repeating characters can mean something. There are those of us who read a blog post without really going into that level of a read, and some who do. Or even the same person who does and does not on a whim. I feel the worth of expression about meta regarding Saekano is about the depth, the how deep, that you can go within its inception. That’s the dimension in which Saekano, probably, earns its spot on noitaminA. Well, who am I kidding, given the main attraction of the show comes from its ludicrously well-executed fanservice moments, capping off some competent character narratives that shoots through the heart of a bunch of circus tricks befitting an otaku property getting a second season.
[Insert your imagined impression of me doing the ANIPLEX bumper.]
Maybe this is where Evirus and I agree: I think there’s a certain amount of class that our well-starched potato-kun of Saekano can impact the series. Ethics-kun or whatever she calls him. (And honestly you can’t get more starched than ethics, I’d think. If you want to meta some more in the meta, isn’t Saekano largely about ethics in journalism and video game development?) But maybe that’s it. That our doujinshi-making heroine draws ero and finds BL a little harder to deal with is suppose to do what in this context? Are we still talking about noitaminA? How does Saekano “manages to avoid calamity” mean something beyond the finer digestive elements of a modern consumerist “pig”? Who will go “buhii” when Megumi/Utaha/Eriri/Izumi/Michiru asks you to do so? I mean, it sounds like all the hand-wringing of these sad people who are forced to watch something good. At least the pretense is pretty thin for Evirus.
As you can see, Saekano is in the wheelhouse of my wheelhouse, yooooooooo. And I didn’t even mention the fact that this meta-anti-meta duplicity is the crux of Saekano’s success, in that by its meta-fantasy-fulfilment it also achieves per se fantasy fulfilment. How good (or ethical?!) that actually is remains an outstanding question, but I don’t think the popular discourse surrounding Saekano is going to drill through all those layers any time soon.