Megumi Kato: Saekano’s Little Helper

One Winter 2015 show that I finished but did not get a chance to review in the end-of-season reviews was The Megumi Kato Show. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s because it’s better known as either Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata, or its official English title Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend. In this show, after a fateful encounter with a girl, an otaku guy gets inspired to make a visual novel, and gets some otaku girls he has a history with to help him out. However, when he meets that same fateful girl again, it turns out she is Megumi Kato, a completely average girl who has no presence and is in many ways the complete opposite of a visual novel heroine. As such, the guy takes it upon himself to try to shape Megumi into a proper heroine.

It’s a fun show that also explores some of the conflicts serious otaku can encounter with creators and with the non-otaku world. However, what really allows the show to be as strong as it is, instead of collapsing under its own weight from trying too hard to be both a parody of otaku rom-coms and a serious story, is Megumi Kato. While she is supposedly a “boring” girl, I instead find her to be by far the most interesting character, and easily one of my favorite anime characters of the year. She has very normal reactions to all the craziness around her, avoids falling into obvious stereotypes, and serves as a bridge between the sillier parts of the show and the more down-to-earth parts. And in addition to all of that, she is just a great girl overall.

It’s especially interesting to see what role she plays in the visual novel-creating team. Compared to Tomoya’s as the director, Eriri as artist and Utaha as scenario writer, Megumi initially seems to be little more than a model to stand around and serve as the inspiration for the work where appropriate. Just like she has no presence among her classmates, she also has no presence in the team.

Put her with Akari from YuruYuri, Momoko from Saki, Kuroko from Kuroko's Basketball, and Kellam from Fire Emblem: Awakening for the ultimate stealth team.
Which makes for some funny moments when the others don’t notice her at their meetings.

However, as the story goes along and she starts to learn how visual novels work and the potential of the stories behind them, she decides to start helping out in more notable ways. In episode 11, she starts helping with the scripting of the visual novel, connecting Utaha’s written story, Eriri’s character art, and other elements of the software together. As she does not have any specialized talents, she decides to contribute to the project in whatever small ways she can. I love that about her; I too sometimes feel like I am not suited to the major jobs in any project I’m in, so I also look to help out in smaller ways. And I believe her spirit of helping where she can is not just a great trait of hers, but also something Christians can learn from.

To look at the significance of being a helper, we can go all the way back to the Creation story, when God made Adam and decided that something he created was, for once, not good as it was:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18, ESV)

God then started making various animals as candidates for Adam’s helper, but when none of them fit the bill, God instead created a new being, fashioned after Adam and made in equal standing with him, but also designed differently so as to fulfill the helper role ideally. This is, of course, how the first woman, Eve, came to life.

The creation of the first helper is a very important passage in the Bible for many reasons. For one thing, it is one of the clearest descriptions of femininity and women’s gender role in the Bible. Women were created specifically to excel in being “helpers”, in using their unique differences, particularly with men, to do together more than each could do individually. Even more importantly, though, this passage reveals one of the key elements to what it means to be “made in God’s image”, as mentioned in Genesis 1:26-27: the idea that, unlike any of the other animals of the earth, we can specifically come alongside each other as helpers to bring out the best of each other. And this is possible because we are similar to each other in our shared humanity, but also different in various ways that we complement each other.

Being helpers defines our humanity. As beings made in God’s image, as we help each other in various ways, we reflect both the three-in-one nature of the Trinity and the capacity and nature of God’s relationship with us. And while the “woman as helper” is meant to be a particularly strong illustration of the latter in the context of a marriage relationship, being helpers is something that applies to males as well as females, especially considering how as a church, Christians are described as being the bride of Christ: we are all called to be helpers of Christ. In God’s ultimate mission to bring His kingdom to Earth, He gives us different jobs we can do to help Him realize that mission. Keep in mind that strictly speaking, God does not need our help, but He still involves us as part of His plans because of His desire to have relationship with us. (And God Himself serves as our helper, too!)

So what exactly does it mean to be a helper? A great example comes in Acts 6, as the first church was growing:

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. (Acts 6: 1-5, ESV)

The twelve disciples wanted to devote their full time and energy into preaching, as that was their gifting, rather than having to learn Greek to be able to serve the Hellenist widows. As such, they appointed some Greek-speakers among their church to handle serving the people, freeing the twelve up to do what they do best. This is very much like how Megumi takes care of the scripting of her group’s visual novel, freeing the other members up to focus on their specialized roles. Also, like Megumi, most of these guys (except Stephen and Philip) have no presence in the Bible aside from this verse: when you are a helper, you are not doing it for attention or recognition, you are doing it because something needs to be done. Make no mistake, though: these helpers were just as important as the twelve disciples in God’s plan with the early church.

And if you get to sneak in a message about his unfairly being paranoid about being close to your cousin when he has a cousin he is close to, that's a nice bonus.
Being a helper is even more important when the person you are helping is in distress.

Whether you are using specific talents to fulfill an important specialized role, or you are simply taking care of the small but important tasks so those in specialized roles can focus on doing what they are good at, whenever you working with other people and covering for each other to accomplish together what you could not do alone, you are being a helper. And when you are being a helper, you are fulfilling the very essence of being made in the image of God. And if you feel you have no specialized talents to contribute, then I hope you can take inspiration from Megumi Kato and take joy in helping out wherever you can.

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