I agree with Yuuki combining Madoka and Sayaka's traits. Homura and Hitomi... I agree that she exhibits traits of both but I'm not necessarily sure that Hitomi is the actual inspiration for Togo's gentler side.
Here's how I see it after integrating your thoughts on Yuuki and further exploring some of my own ideas:
Spoiler for Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru:
Yuuki herself is essentially a merger of Madoka and Sayaka.
The relationships between Yuuki and Fuu and Yuuki and Karin are pretty clearly inspired by the relationships between Madoka/Sayaka and Mami and Madoka/Sayaka and Kyoko respectively.
The relationship between Yuuki and Togo is inspired by Madoka's relationships with Sayaka and Homura, although Togo's personality takes far more after Homura than Sayaka.
The relationship between Fuu and Itsuki is inspired by the relationship between Mami and Madoka and - here's a thought - Sayaka and Kyousuke. Which actually begs the question of whether Fuu's personality is somewhat inspired by Sayaka as well.
What I'm less sure on is how many of these similarities arise from conscious attempts to mimic Madoka and how many are cases of less conscious inspiration. The relatively natural feel to the story suggests to me that at least some of it is the latter.
Your take on the Yuuki Yuuna cast is interesting. Madoka = Yuuki + Itsuki is particularly inspired, because I can kind of see that working.
But my own take was...
Togo = Homura + Hitomi
Togo strikes me as a gentler and softer and more elegant Homura, but at the same time this means she's not quite as firm/resolute as Homura is. I think Hitomi's character would account for the differences.
Yuuki = Madoka + Sayaka
Fuu is probably inspired at least somewhat by Mami Tomoe.
I'll probably have more to say in reply to your latest VN to me later on today sometime.
Since Darth is doing it, so will I. In no particular order:
Zakuro (Otome Youkai Zakuro)
Ririchiyo (Inu x Boku SS)
Hitagi (Bakemonogatari - I think her inclusion in the list is warranted whether or not she 100% meets a given definition)
Whereas from Darth's list only Mai and movie version Sheryl would get my vote for favourite from their respective shows.
BTW, given that I'm a Kuroneko fan when it comes to OreImo, would it suprise you to know that Eriri is my favourite in Saenai Heroine?
Random Yuuki Yuuna related comment... I'm thinking YY's cast is actually a little more Madoka inspired than I originally gathered:
Homura + Sayaka = Togo
Madoka = Yuuki + Itsuki
So merge two characters and split one. The other three have fairly obvious counterparts.
Good to see, but I'm not surprised. Whatever one thinks of the final episode, Yuuki Yuuna was still a very well-made show with excellent visuals and a good soundtrack and a compelling, likeable cast.
I also actually see a bit of an overlap between the success of Madoka Magica, Love Live!, and Yuuki Yuuna. The character/costume designs for all three shows have a certain polish and distinct style to it. The Puella Magi outfits, all of the various Muse outfits, and the Hero outfits in Yuuki Yuuna - All of them look very cool and colorful to me. They're all nicely detailed, but generally not over-detailed. They all look nicely functional and sleek, but also vibrant and larger-than-life. I think this is something that can add a lot to character appeal, which in turn can make a show much more appealing to DVD/Blu-Ray buyers.
I also think that there's still a hunger out there for more adult-focused magical girl shows. There honestly hasn't been that much of that since Madoka Magica. Hopefully Yuuki Yuuna selling well might inspire other animation studios to try their hand at their own mature mahou shoujo show. And yeah, a Yuuki Yuuna sequel might be nice.
So in spite of all the hand wringing over the ending, it looks like Yuuki Yuuna is a late bloomer sales wise:
Volume 1 first week sales (mid-December): 4871
Volume 1 sales, most recent available data (mid-January): 10373
Volume 2 first week sales: 7664
Still feels like many people I know haven't heard of it let alone seen it, but it makes me feel optimistic about a sequel.
I sent this to Seihai's wall, and I thought you might be interested in reading it as well:
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata - Good start. Excellent direction. Very Monogatari series-esque to me. Will watch the 2nd episode later tonight or sometime tomorrow. I like the main females. One strikes me as a more likeable Hitagi, and another as a cross between Kanbaru and PMMM's Sayaka.
Idolmaster: Cinderella Girls - This is such a total 180 from the original Idolmaster, cast-size wise. I love that. I love how it focuses a lot on a couple of female characters, rather than a huge cast of 12 or so. The male producer also helps provide great comedy - He makes me think of Lurch from The Addams Family. On the whole, the first episode reminded me some of what I love about Love Live!, and that's a big positive.
Yuri Kuma Arashi - I'm a yuri fan, so I do like much of the yuri in this. But the first episode was a bit too bizarre for my liking. I don't mind metapors, but when the entire show feels like one big metaphor to me, that can be a bit of a put off to me. I'll probably give it at least another episode or two, though. If you like yuri *and* mind-trippy shows, this show is for you.
As for your last VM to me, I get what you're saying. One particular thing that stood out to me was the the first three or four scenes of the first episode, and the commentary they made about "how best to introduce the audience to a new show and its major characters". I liked how it seemed to take a clear stand there. I don't want an anime show to just beat itself up and/or the anime world in general, so I'm with you there. But I do like it when an anime show can be just a little bit self-critical on a minor point like this one, or even just take a clear stand on something that we anime fans debate about a lot.
Shirobako is a show that's doing an excellent job of hitting the right balance here, in my view. It presents the anime world in a largely positive light, but it will make the odd satirical critique here and there.
Oh, and yeah, the actor girl in Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata makes me think a bit of Nadeko, but also Hanekawa.
I think part of the reason it works for me is the criticism is gentle/humourous enough that the author is kind of admitting that he actually kind of likes these kinds of shows too. It's the writers who try and act like their work is superior just because it's self aware I can't stand.
Plus, I feel like the episode gently criticizes its audience as well - I can't help but read the way the show pokes fun at the protagonist for ignoring the girls and scenery for the most part as a way of saying "it's okay to take a break from being an otaku sometimes".
I remember Bakemonogatari more for its drama than its metahumour. Nisemonogatari is the opposite, I can see comparing Saenai Heroine with Nise even if it doesn't necessarily have all the visual gags Nise did.
As for the character comparisons:
-Utaha: Were it not for how utterly scathing her remarks can be, I would have said she's Kuroneko crossed with Hyouka's Irisu, but I guess the remarks do make me think Hitagi a bit. She's not as dramatic a character was in the early parts of Bakemonogatari though. The scenes where Hitagi tries to intimidate Araragi into silence in Bakemonogatari episode 1 are iconic for me.
-Michuru: Technically Kanbaru has a dark side under the genki, sporty girl exterior but I do see this comparison.
-Megumi: I'm guessing you're comparing her to Nadeko? She's need to be younger and more vulnerable for me to really see it.
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata's humor is definitely very meta. I myself was divided on it.
On the one hand, I found it slightly disconcerting just how thick the meta was being laid on in Episode 00. On the other hand, some of it was genuinely inspired and pointed. My experience is that anime too often uses this sort of humor to sound provocative and self-critical when really its pure self-congratulating, whereas in this case I could sense a sincere edge to the humor, causing it to rise to the level of actual satire. I definitely liked that.
On the whole, I felt that Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata was extremely Bakemonogatari-esque. I have the impression that you're a big Bake fan, so I'm a bit surprised that you never mentioned and/or saw such a similarity. Granted, Saenai's male lead seems much more like Love Hina!'s than he does Koyomi, but the female cast... 3 of the main 4 remind me vividly of one or more of the Bake female cast. The artist is the only exception.
By first episode, you mean episode 00 right? I've seen both episode 00 and episode 1. And I actually flipped through 00 again before writing this post.
Here's the things I noticed about episode 1:
1) Frequent lampshading of the show's own tropes
2) The main character essentially ignoring three talented beauties and focusing his attention on his game and a more mundane girl (the "boring girlfriend" in the title.
3) Small hints that the "mundane" girl has changed in the six months since meeting the MC.
I strongly suspect that one or both of 2 and 3 are important to the show's overall theme. I also think that the title ("How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend") is very intended to be tongue in cheek. I'm also somewhat optimistic the show is going to actually say something interesting using these themes by the end, especially as the writer previously penned White Album 2.
But the one thing that gives me some pause is how "meta" the jokes are. I didn't mind it a lot in episode 00, because having a bunch of gorgeous girls discuss anime at a hot spring strikes me as so over the top that I can't take it seriously. On the other hand, episode 01 is more serious in tone, and therefore the "the top two beauties in my school are secretly a talented write and a talented illustrator" thing bugged me a lot more there.
On the whole I'd say I'm going a bit wait and see on the show.
I am very, *very* curious to get your take on Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata.
If you've watched it already, or chose to watch it later, I'm sure you'll know why.
I just watched its first episode, and I have my own thoughts on it, but it's the sort of anime that you tend to be really good at picking apart and explaining, so I'm admittedly quite eager to hear your take on it.