Curtain Close for The iDOLM@STER

The iDOLM@STER ( アイドルマスター)

Based on the XBOX 360 game The iDOLM@STER 2, The iDOLM@STER follows 13 aspiring idols aiming to reach their goals

Genre: Comedy, Music, Slice-of-life

Status: Completed at 25 episodes

Co-directed by Takao Touko and Nishigori Atsushi. Produced by Aniplex and A-1 Pictures.

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First of all, we wish you a rather belated MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone as well as a HAPPY NEW YEAR! MW just turned one year old a few months back, and the stark difference in the amount of things going on in our life compare to back then is.. @_@

A year ago we had so much plans with how far we could take MW (or at least Chungky did, while I gave my pessimistic input) but now we’re simply too busy to execute it even when we have the platform to do so. Writing it down in solid form reminds me of the ending of The Idolmaster, actually. That said, this post does contain spoilers, but in general what I think is appealing about this anime isn’t it’s story as much as the characters themselves so go ahead and read on =D

After not writing anything up for so long, I’ve chosen to do a post for The Idolmaster as compared to something else like maybe Mawaru Penguindrum. When I thought about it, I did look forward to Mawaru Penguindrum a lot more and I did enjoy it a lot more, but since I know that there’s a much larger fan base for it, and time constraints are only gonna let me do a single post for now, I’ll leave it to the other fans to do it justice =D Most of all though, I’m hoping this review would encourage those people who were turned off by the whole ‘yet another harem’ label attached to The Idolmaster to see that it’s an anime about the idols rather the male protagonist – after all, it’s not exactly a dating sim.

I’ve mentioned before that I do like The Idolmaster for the breath of fresh air it brings into the harem genre. It isn’t easy to balance out all 13 characters, even with a 25 episode limit. I wouldn’t say that every girl received the same amount of spotlight as the others, but I could definitely see each girl having her own story – bring her own main character in her own right.

To illustrate my point, I’ll use some of the more prominent harem anime; To-LOVE-Ru, Negima and Love Hina. Each has a main female lead, and the odds were in her favour from the start. The other girls in the harem just seem to emphasize just how wanted the male lead is (the whole point of a harem, doh) and how much more special the female lead is compared to the others – it’s an aspect that I’ve never liked about the harem genre, although I can enjoy the rest of it. The sort of disregard for the other female characters, where the only side you see of them is of how much they want the dude makes them undistinguishable from the other female competition. Since the focus of the stories are on how much they want The Dude, any sort of personality they have gets eliminated. All you’d get is the superficial characteristics that sort them into the usual categories, e.g. the sports girl, the foreigner, the class rep, the childhood friend, etc. etc.

But with that horrible romance genre out of the way, The Idolmaster soothes the biggest issue I have with harems – the complete lack of personality in female characters. Sure there’s that tad bit of romance that slowly arises around the end, but by then there’s that character development that gives a rationale progress as to how the character feels about the dude. Sure, some guys out there might find that it’s a massive waste to be surrounded by 13 girls and not make a move on any of them; but at times like these, remember what happened to Itou Makoto from School Days. There shall be a higher probability of a yandere hidden amongst your harem the higher the amount of girls there are in it.

Of course, another reason why I might find these characters less shallow as compared to their clichéd counterparts could be because it’s one of those two-season anime rather than a single one (e.g. 25 episodes vs.12). However, the whole way the characters were structured to bring out the personalities of one another really does make a difference . To illustrate my point, there’s enough about each of the girls that I can give my own input about how I feel about them! If I sound a little obsessive about them and start treating them like they’re real people… well. Um. I do like this anime, y’know XD 

Amami Haruka

On the surface, she’s the usual clichéd character that isn’t all that fantastic but is the vital glue in holding the whole team together. Clumsy, cute, and always encouraging her friends, her character type would usually make me roll my eyes at what a perfect shoujo princess she is. But as the episodes progress, rather than turning into a character that everyone finds perfect, her position as being the central pillar by encouraging everyone and bringing the whole team together is shown through her actions rather than some random character mentioning it.

I really felt that she earned her way into being the main female lead for the anime. Being the character that takes into account everyone’s feelings rather than choosing to outshine everyone really helped emphasize the whole theme of everyone being their own idol. Towards the ending where her weaknesses are exposed, it’s done in a human sort of way rather than a perfect princess sort of way.

I don’t usually find these characters interesting. But with the way everything was done in The Idolmaster, Haruka is no longer just a ‘character-type’ to me, she earned her way to becoming a character that I actually admire and respect.

Kisaragi Chihaya

A teenager who just wants to sing, I first found it ridiculous as to why she couldn’t just be a singer instead of an idol. In fact, until it was her past was exposed, I never really understood what the deal was with The Girl Who Won’t Smile. Although there’s that clichéd moment where she becomes Ariel and can’t sing, instead of me getting the sort of ‘here we go again’ moments, I actually felt bad for her. Her whole character revolves around her obsession with singing, so much that that’s all I can think of when I think of her. Rather than it becoming some superficial excuse for a character, it really becomes her. It is her song that shapes her into the sort of person she is, and if she was even real I think she’s like it that way

Btw, I’ve used the anime video for this song because I simply feel that the starting acapella version is a lot more… touching =’D

Hoshii Miki

She started as the cool character, and ended as the all-round perfect idol. If it weren’t for the Miki-centric episodes where she shows how she actually works hard to stand where she does at the end, I’d probably completely hate her character type. A girl who doesn’t have to work hard to get what she wants in the end isn’t exactly popular in my books, but watching her using her talent as a way to boost her capabilities rather than just supporting her and flaunting her skills makes a huge difference to the amount of like and respect I have for her.

Although her drive to become the best does eventually cause her to disregard other important things; the opposite of Haruka. It’s nice to see in the end, however, that she can see herself turning into that kind of person if she had continued charging onward in that path and knew that she had to stop. I wouldn’t say she’s my favourite character or anything, but I do like her enthusiasm in the second half of the season (especially after the reality check). At the same time, I do admire and envy her – there’s her ridiculous talent, plus the fact that she can actually take a step backward from herself at times when people would usually be blinded. The role model she portrays is of someone who isn’t just gifted, but also a hard worker – she may be almost completely perfect, but that perfection isn’t something that she gained just by standing there looking pretty.

Hagiwara Yukiho

I’d have to say she’s my least favourite character, but it’s probably because of the way she always sounds so scared. I don’t really have the patience for people who can’t stand up for themselves, but towards the end I have to say I don’t mind her so much anymore. You can see the effort she’s putting in to make try and overcome her fear of all things not dangerous, and she really does deserve the credit for it. Plus, despite hating the way she speaks I really like her voice when she sings =D

Takatsuki Yayoi

At first when she mentions how she’s working to be an idol to earn some money for her family, all I could think of was of all the other part-time jobs she could do. I haven’t changed that mind set of mine, but whatever the case I do like Yayoi. Her cheerfulness is something that I always looked forward to in the episodes, and it really seems genuine rather than something than some sort of preset.

Akizuki Ritsuko

The spoiler hit the fan when I went ahead and wiki-ed The Idolmaster, so I knew from the start that THE MANAGER ISN’T JUST A MANAGER SHE WAS ALSO AN IDOL AND SHE’S GONNA BE SINGING AND DANCING ON YOUR SCREEN TOO.

I hate spoilers. But now I’m not the only victim of my carelessness. Hah.

Anyway, I can see Ritsuko as being a strict mother/bossy type. I like the aspect of her personality that still likes the business of being involved in idols, even when she herself isn’t into being an idol. I particularly like the hardworking aspect of her as a manager rather than when she’s an idol, as I feel like… I dunno. It just reflects her personality a lot better =D

Minase Iori

Your typical tsundere, I never really liked her at the beginning since she seemed like the typical rich kid who was used to getting her way. However, the amount of effort and work she put into being an idol, especially after being chosen as a member of Ryuuguu Komachi made me like her a bit more. Her character does grow on me, as you can see how important everyone is to her underneath her tsundere front.

Miura Azusa

I started liking Azusa a lot after the 5th episode where she had to do the photo shoot with Makoto and Miki. Not only was it my favourite episode, it was probably the most hilarious as well. Her carefree attitude and big sister vibe provides a nice calm to everything, and she provides a nice balance to the sort of hectic and rushing atmosphere everyone else has. The calm in the middle of the storm, Azusa is yet another character I look out for in the episodes.

Futami Ami & Futami Mami

The troublesome twins, if they existed in my real life I’d probably find them really annoying; but they don’t, so it’s really funny to watch them bounce around together and annoy everyone else. I was really happy to show that there was no jealousy and unnecessary drama between the two when only Ami was chosen for Ryuuguu Komachi. The usual story would somehow or rather feel obliged to have the sort of ‘I’m not as good as my sister’ drama sort of thing, but it was a really nice to see how supportive they always were of each other. It’s the best thing I like about this duo, and their hyperactivity always never fails to lighten the mood.

Shijou Takane

A character who speaks like someone from a different era, she stands out as the silver-haired idol. I never really took much notice of her, but I realized that she’s always there whenever another idol feels conflicted or is troubled. Always there to provide the necessary words of wisdom, she’s essential to the team in a different way from Haruka. Although she speaks like someone from a period drama or something, the fact that she’s really charming and friendly makes her character even more appealing. I never got to really hear her voice until her Takane-centric episode, and I have to say she has another of my more favourite voices. The song contrasts a lot with the sort of vibe I get from her, but it was enjoyable. At first I just thought she was an okay character, but her charm and her smiles really got to me; yet another character I really loved watching and looked forward to watching very week.

Plus she makes you think of ramen in ways you never had before lol

Kikuchi Makoto

A tomboy character who honestly doesn’t want to be a tomboy, it’s really embarrassingly hilarious when she tries dressing up in frilly stuff. She’s my usual favourite character type since they’re usually really cool, but the fact that’s always trying to be girly but failing makes her really cute actually. My favouritism for her probably tripled during the 5th episode with Azusa (that is really my favourite episode) since it was just really, really hilariously ridiculous and Makoto was really cool. I wouldn’t say she has a lot of development over time, but it was still really fun to watch her on screen.

Ganaha Hibiki

I’ve always liked her enthusiasm, and her ‘Haisai!’. I seriously love animals, so I’m always in for any character that has a connection with them. I mean sure, I felt really wtf with all the pets she has in her house (notwithstanding the crocodile feels more than just a little ridiculous, and I’ve kinda found hamsters in anime pretty annoying ever since I watched Hamtaro when I was like 12). Compared to the other characters you don’t seem much development, although you do see a lot of maturation during the Hibiki-centric episode. With her energy and enthusiasm, it was really enjoyable to watch her hype everyone else up all the time.

Otonashi Kotori

She isn’t one of the idols, but she is part of 765 Pro. She helps out in the office and is usually the one who ends up staying back with the president of the company. Always cheerful and smiling, I never thought much… and then heard her singing. It’s pretty nice so I’ll just slot it in here =D

And, of course…. Producer-san!

Although he starts initially as a really hopeless character and he stumbles a lot along the path, his unwavering belief in the girls and his desire to see them on stage as idols eventually turn him into a capable producer. He isn’t the sort of character where some random character goes ‘oh, he’s a good producer!’, it’s the type where you slowly realise he really is getting the girls where they are supposed to be. As compared to the usual harem route where he would be the target for female characters to flaunt their usual stereotypical traits, he instead seems to act as someone to emphasize the individuality of each and every one of the 12 idols. He does make mistakes, but he is ready to admit them and correct them as best as he can. As I said, there is the eventual dose of romance towards the end, but it’s done in such a way that you can actually notice a logical development for the emerging feelings, rather than some random smile that threw the girl off causing her to fall head over heels. Overall, I really like how he’s there for the girls whenever they can, to help pave their way to becoming the Top Idol.

So… yes. That’s it. I hope that even if you didn’t read all the way to the end of this more, the fact that it’s current more than 2500 words and counting would reflect how passionate I feel about giving this anime a go. I wouldn’t say that it scores a 5/5; in fact, I’d probably give it a 3.5/5 at most. Although the anime is very character-centric, the consequence is that there isn’t really much of a story overall. In any case, even if there was a story it’s a pretty much straightforward route (typical of a game structure). Still, it’s really worth the watch as it’s an anime about 12 girls aiming to be idols – and really, it’s about them and not the dude who produces them. That enough really makes it different from anything else I’ve watched.

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Filed under Anime Amped, Anime Rants, Anime Related, Featured, Reviews

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