The iDOLM@STER Review

This is review number one hundred and four. This anime is part of the Summer 2011 lineup. There’s not much left in the lineup and I’m really just finishing up ones in the bottom of the list. There are some season 2 of shows I haven’t reviewed though but I’ll do them after I saw their first season.

Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is The IdolM@ster which is a twenty five episode anime about thirteen girls and their rise to becoming popular idols. It’s adapted from a simulation game of the same name. It’s really popular but I hope the anime is good. Let’s read on.

Story

The anime is about the lives of thirteen girls trying to become popular idols. The road to the top is hard. It requires a lot of effort and dedication that most girls can’t handle. The road doesn’t need to be so treacherous though as long as you have your friends by your side during those hardships. The dream of becoming an idol is actually full of fun if you set your mind to it.

Taking the Pants Off

The Idolmaster is a popular simulation game where you play the role of a producer and you basically raise a girl to become an idol. You create her schedule and make sure she rises to the top. I’ve never played the game but it is pretty big. It was really just a matter of time before an anime version gets released. So I saw the anime over the weekend and I wasn’t impressed. There’s so much you could do with the concept of the game yet I feel like the anime played it safe. It’s missing some crucial elements that make a good anime and its sometime uses cliché a bit too much. I always say that cliché isn’t bad because it depends on how you use it. The Idolmaster pretty much relied on cliché and didn’t do anything worth watching. Oh boy, I’m just oozing with negativity on this show, huh. For all its cliché and weak elements though, there is a charm in this anime and I did grow to like it after a few episodes. This anime used the same formula K-on did and the result was pretty good.

K-on is a slice of life anime about a group of girls doing random things in their club. It has no physical story and the episodes just centers around the girls doing cute things. The Idolmaster is pretty much the same. I was actually a bit bummed that the anime had no actual story to present and almost every episode stands alone. You can watch the first episode then skip ten episodes and you wouldn’t miss anything crucial because there is no story in this anime. It just had a premise and the show pretty much revolves around that.

The premise of the show is about 13 girls trying to become popular idols and they rely on their producer to manage them. There is a progression in the anime because the girls do become popular idols later on in the anime. They start out as carefree girls playing around in the office to busy girls who have no time for anything and always running against the clock. It’s a pretty simple set up which is both good and bad in a way. It’s good because the anime is designed to be watched on a weekly basis. Since there’s nothing big going on and you just watch the girls slowly become popular then the show is easily to follow even if you’ve missed some episodes. Do not marathon this bastard because it easily becomes repetitive. It works great on a weekly basis and the simple set up is greatly appreciated. You don’t watch K-on to actually see the girls work their ass off in the club. No, you’re in it for the laid back approach and moe atmosphere. You’re getting the same in this anime. You’re not really in it to see the girls work their ass off to hone their talents to become an idol. You’re in it to see these girls act all cute and get a glimpse of life as an idol. I do appreciate the approach because you get a glimpse at the glamour of being an idol. If you’re a cheeky preteen girl then you’d probably be tempted by the inviting feel of the “idol life”. K-on made the light music club hip in Japan and this anime has the same effect when it comes to the idol life.

The anime’s set up is a bit bad though because it lacks realism. The world of an idol isn’t really all that cute and flowery, is it? The anime lacks a bit of drama I expected to see in the anime. It’s not like AKB0048 (as ridiculous as that anime is) where it presented some friendly rivalry among the girls, some older girls protecting their top spot so newer girls won’t take it, the presence of stalkers and haters, dreams being crushed and efforts often going to waste, hard work being paid off in spades and the sweet victory after crawling your way to the top. This anime really lacks them and it needed them to add a bit of drama and intrigue. It’s like the anime purposely denied all the realism so the idols can lounge around in an office and acting all cute yet they still gradually become popular. It’s a bit too ridiculous, don’t you think? The fact that AKB0048, with all the ridiculous mecha, had more realism to it than a laid back more plausible idol anime like this really says something to its actual value.

It would be nice to see some realism in the anime but it’s not really what the anime was aiming for. It’s more of a K-on like anime where the focus is being laid back and having a good time. It’s actually pretty good if you don’t expect much from it. As you progress to the anime, the charm of the anime really shines and it really grows on you.

The characters are the main selling point of the anime. The characters themselves aren’t that impressive because they’re really just a bunch of archetypes we’ve seen before but it makes the anime a lot more diverse. The anime has thirteen idols to focus on plus a male character. There’s a total of seventeen characters the anime presents and it was a big clusterf*ck at first because you don’t know really know who to focus on. The anime does straighten itself out and it was able to balance the large cast. Some of the episodes often focus on one girl and it’s really a great way to bring out their charm. It’s not hard to like the characters, even though they’re generic, because they are interesting in their own way. Despite having a large cast, all the characters have personalities unique to them and certain novelty that makes them unique. There’s an idol that is afraid of men, an idol who talks to animals, an idol who is the daughter of a wealthy family, an idol who looks like a guy and many more. There is a lot to work with, despite the cliché, so the anime doesn’t get boring.

I blame the large cast for the anime’s lack of potential story and cliché elements though. There are a lot of characters to juggle. The anime was too busy making sure every girl gets some screen time that a potential story never gets a chance to develop. The large cast also never gets a chance to be balanced. Some characters get their own episode but afterwards, they are pushed in the background and they eventually don’t get roles in the end. One character I was disappointed to see gone was the twins. They were very loud in the first half of the anime then they disappeared on the second half. I really question why they also choose a large cast. I think they wanted all the characters of the game to be in the anime. It didn’t really make the anime shine and it actually made it a bit mediocre.

There were some villains in the anime but they weren’t that good. I was actually glad to at least see some antagonist but they were more of a bully than an effective villain. One of the baddies in the anime is a chief of another idol group and it’s a bit pathetic to see a grown ass man pick on a bunch of 15 year old girls. I appreciate the effort of his douche bag attitude but it comes off as a bit childish. The anime didn’t really need an antagonist to begin with but they had one. It doesn’t work. K-on didn’t have a villain and it’s not really appealing to see one in the show.

The anime has three kinds of episodes. One is the where the girls gets their own spotlight and they face certain hurdles. Typical episodes includes the idol afraid of dudes facing her fears, the b*tchy idol realizing her faults or an idol facing her personal demons. The other kind of episodes is where the only guy in the anime gives pep talk to the girls. The girls are still spotlighted but Mr. Producer gets involved in the episode as well. The third kind of episode is the typical idol stuff like hosting a variety show, holding a concert or running all over the place because of their busy schedule. Since there is no actual plot that ties them together, the episodes often stand alone. There are some episodes that relate to each other but they mostly are non-episodic.  You can skip one episode and you can still follow the anime.

This anime is good and I appreciate the slice of life aspect of the idol life. I think it could’ve been better though. This anime is really just one of those anime you watch for simple fun with its laid back feel. It’s charming and cute so it’s a fun thing to watch.

Sight and Sound

The character design is really simple but there is a wide range to them. It has the typical moe type of character and there is some mature type as well. From flat chested to big breasted, the anime really made sure no character looks alike (except for the twins). The characters stand out a lot more when they wear different costumes or outfits like any typical idol. As you watch the anime, you’ll eventually love one or two of the characters.

The animation is pretty decent. When they go on stage, there really isn’t much to point out. The animation is good enough to enjoy the scenes. There is no stand out scenes though like an awesome routine during their concerts. All of them are pretty OK but none of them were excellent.

The soundtrack of the anime is probably the best part of the anime. I really love the fact that there is two songs sang at every episode. One for intermission and then another for the ED song. The songs are really great even though they often sound the same. The voice actresses really gave life to the song and it makes me want to get a copy of the soundtrack album. Each song really fits the characters that sing them so that’s also a nice touch.

There are a lot of ED songs and there are two OP songs. I’m not going to go at them individually. They are all great and they add strength to the impressive list of songs in the anime. The animation sequence is the OP is probably the best in the entire anime.

Overall Score

5/10 “It’s a nice Slice of Life look to a life of an idol and her rise to stardom.”

The anime is good but it could’ve been great. The main downside is the lack of an actual story to tie the anime together. I could live with its slice of life approach, its lack of realism and it’s cliché elements but I don’t think it should pass without a story for people to watch for. The characters did carry the show pretty impressively though.

Thoughts~

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s