Today I’d like to talk about an aspect of the anime episode that is almost always present, the ending sequences. These animation sequences (lasting about a minute and a half each) are often skipped by viewers and are easily forgotten. However, while it is easy to forget about these sequences, they do contribute (sometimes significantly) to the overall presentation of an anime episode. For good or for bad, there are times when the ending sequences stand out and I will be highlighting some of those instances in this post.
Like many others, I initially ignored The iDOLM@STER thinking that it would just be service for fans of the game by Namco. But now that I’ve seen it, I can say that not only can you watch it without any external knowledge of the franchise, but you can also just enjoy it immensely for what it is.
On the technical side of things, the iDOLM@STER is magnificent. A-1 Pictures clearly had a huge budget to work with, and they put it to good use. There was not many obvious moments of quality drop despite the large cast, and it is even more impressive when considering the sheer number of different outfits that were animated for the fourteen regular characters. The time when the animation really shines is, of course, during the dancing sequences. While it is unfortunate that there aren’t more of them, the ones present in the show are stunning. Of course, the concerts wouldn’t nearly be as good without there being music present, and The iDOLM@STER is literally overflowing with different J-Pop pieces (with some really good ones if you are into that kind of music). Every ED features a different piece sung by one of the girls and the episodes also usually feature a couple of insert songs that compliment the show very well. If you can’t stand J-pop though, stay away from this show because the music is a very big part of The iDOLM@STER franchise as a whole.
Despite its large cast, The iDOLM@STER does a respectable job of characterizing all of the girls and making sure they all get enough screen time. The girls are all likeable, and with a few exceptions, all are fairly well developed. The other character, that always seems to be forgotten among the throng of aspiring idols, is the producer who helps the girls all along the way. Though he stumbles a lot in the beginning, “Broducer” (as he has been nicknamed by the fans) eventually becomes a reliable, trustworthy character because of his genuine desire to see the girls succeed. Unity is a big theme for the show and this comes across very well from all the character interactions. Though they may fight occasionally, the girls and Producer-San are always there to help each other overcome the problems that they face making it light and heartwarming.
The show is structured so that each girl gets approximately one episode where they are the main focus (there are a few exceptions), and usually revolves around them overcoming some personal problem while the other episodes focus on the idols as a group. But while all these episodes are entertaining, some of them suffer from being too silly and lacking depth. Especially when compared to the last six episodes where the show introduces some serious drama and concludes it in a satisfying and heartfelt manner. Fortunately, while the earlier episodes do pale in comparison to the final two arcs, they are almost all enjoyable as a result of their excellent execution. The iDOLM@STER excels at presentation, and it owes much of its success to being able to take simple stories and make them into entertaining story arcs.
One thing that is important to keep in mind is that this show is lighthearted and not a realistic look at the talent industry. But while this show is not a look at reality, it is an idealized depiction of the Idol industry, and to an extent, an idealized look at life as well. Here, hard work is rewarded with success. Problems are overcome by kindness and optimism. In this ideal idustry, producers take care of their idols and aim to make them successful as well as happy. Friends take care of each other, offering a hand when someone stumbles. This sincere depiction of an idealized world is what makes The iDOLM@STER such a charming and inspirational show.
Of course, those looking for a serious show dealing with issues of the talent industry would do well to look elsewhere because this would merely disappoint. But if you can enjoy it for what it is, The iDOLM@STER is a sweet, enjoyable, and is absolutely is worth your time, especially if you are a fan of the slice-of-life genre.
Compared to the other girls, Haruka is a rather ordinary girl. Other then being clumsy, she is not immediately characterized by any simple traits such as Makoto’s tomboyish nature or Yukiho’s shyness. Despite this, Haruka stood out to me from the very first episode when she explained how she easily passes the time during the two hour commute every day to reach 765 Pro. In my post for the ACAA, I talked briefly about how the iDOLM@STER inspired me as a person. Though all of the girls contributed to this, it was really Amami Haruka’s kindness, continual optimism, and way of life that caused the iDOLM@STER to leave a lasting impression.
Haruka is one of the nicest characters I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. She is always the first to reach out to her friends when they are in need of help. She is first to praise, and always sees the best in people. Haruka was reaching out to Chihaya since the very beginning, and even when Chihaya harshly pushed her away, Haruka refused to let her friend be alone, resulting in a very close friendship between the two. For the majority of iDOLM@STER fans, episode twenty’s concert performance probably remains one of the most memorable moments. But were in not for Haruka quickly running to her friend’s aid when she stumbled, that scene would not have ended on such a happy note. Not to say that the other girls aren’t kind or caring, but Haruka just takes it to another level.
I can’t talk about Haruka without also mentioning her extreme optimism. Seriously, she is so cheerful that it took an entire episode of shit to get her to break down. But more importantly, Haruka’s acted as a powerful support for the group. Her incessant encouragement and cries of “let’s do our best” motivates the others and keeps the group together and moving forward. Such a cheerful character is not something I have seen since the likes of Mizunashi Akari from ARIA (a character that I like very much), and it is contagious in its own bizarre fashion. Maybe I’m the only one, but every time Haruka was supporting one of the other girls with words such as “Let’s do our best!” I felt like I was also being supported by her.
Last, I can’t forget about her simple, but inspirational lifestyle. Haruka approaches each day with a smile and aims to simply enjoy life and her time spent with the people she cares about. Perhaps such a lifestyle can only exist in an idealized world, but that is also what makes it so beautiful, because it is an ideal that we can chase after.
Though some may dislike Haruka for the reasons I have discussed here, I find it impossible to be cynical towards her. Haruka is a bundle of cheerfulness and optimism that has caused me to smile many a iDOLM@STER episodes. But more importantly, her kindness also inspired me to keep going. Not often is it that a character can reach out an affect me as a person, but when they do, they are something special, and Amami Haruka is one such character.
Alright! Almost done with this project, next time I take a look at the IDOLM@STER anime series as a whole and give it a final review, so stay tuned!
The iDOLM@STER is one of my favorite shows of the year, if not my number one. It is a really fantastic show and I would recommend it, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about in this post. I’ll save my review filled with glowing praise and adoration for another time. Here I want to talk about a what I think was an waste of potential and my least favorite episode of the entire show. Episode sixteen (aka Hibiki’s episode) was a weak episode and is a good example of wasted potential, but it is not the one I have in mind. No, the episode that disappointed me the most was episode nine, the one that focused on the Futami twins.
Don’t remember which one that was? Well maybe this will jog your memory!
Now, this wasn’t a terrible episode, but I feel that this episode missed a big opportunity for some serious drama. After Ami became a part of Ryuuguu Komachi, I wanted to see an episode about Mami. Having Miki get upset about not being picked for Ryuuguu Komachi made for a good story arc, but I had expected that Mami would be the first to take it hard given that her twin got picked for the special group that went on to become extremely popular. Mami really is a saint for not showing any signs of jealousy at all, but that didn’t stop me from feeling bad for her.
In the original iDOLM@STER game, Mami performed on stage under her sister’s name. In fact, people outside of 765 pro were not aware that Ami even had a sister, let alone one that substituted for her on occasion. Never getting recognized as her own person, Mami was forever trapped in Ami’s shadow. In the show, this obviously isn’t the case because Mami has distinguished herself from her sister with a different hairstyle and is recognized by fans as a different person. However, in a way, Mami is still the “lesser” of the twins because of Ami’s success in her idol group with Iori and Azusa.
One of the major themes in the iDOLM@STER is the pursuit of one’s dreams and this episode seemed like a great place for it to be explored. Each of the girls have their own reasons for becoming an idol and the Futami twins are no different. The episode highlighted the girls playful nature and bond with each other, but I didn’t really get to know them at all from this. What I really wanted from this episode was to get to know the two as individuals. I wanted to see how Mami felt about Ami going down a path she couldn’t be a part of. I wanted to learn about Mami’s personal dreams and passions. For that matter, I would’ve liked to learn about Ami’s as well.
The light-hearted, playful episode nine was fun, but was not too memorable because it was focused on the shenanigans and not the characters. And at the end of the day, the Futami twins remain two of the girls that I can connect with the least (Takane doesn’t really count because you aren’t supposed to be able to understand her).
Instead of focusing on the playful aspect of the Futami twins that is constantly seen throughout the series in their interactions with the other characters, I would have liked to see episode nine be about Ami and Mami, both as individuals and as the wonderful pair that I enjoyed watching.
Okay, for those who don’t know, the Ani Bloggers Choice Anime Awards is a Contest hosted by Kiddtic from Kidd’s Anime Blog. Basically, participating anime bloggers will pick their twelve favorite shows from the year and then name one show best of the year. Once all votes have been received, the results will be tallied and posted on Kiddtic’s blog. If you are an anime blogger and would like to participate or at least see what this all about then click this link and read the official rules. Just be aware that the deadline for participation is Dec. 16th. So if you plan on submitting your votes, it is advised to let Kiddtic know as soon as possible.
Before I go through my personal list I’d like to give a big “thank you” to Kiddtic for taking the time to organize this. It is a fantastic idea and I look forward to being able to do it every year that I stay an aniblogger.
I WAS NOT PREPARED! No seriously, I wasn’t ready for Urobuchi’s deconstruction of the Mahou Shoujo genre at all. Now, I probably didn’t get as much out of Madoka because I am not very familiar with the Mahou Shoujo genre as a whole. However, even without knowing the genre’s staples, Madoka went against almost every one of my expectations until I learned to expect the worst. I also have to give this show credit for granting me the opportunity to connect with another anime fan that I know in real life.
Honorable Mentions: Gosick, Wandering Son
A superb combination of comedy and drama, Steins;Gate was a thrilling story about the consequences of time travel. Though, Steins;Gate was a little slow in the beginning, this was overshadowed by its hilarious characters. To be honest, I would’ve been fine if the story never got serious, and it was just a comedy, but that is not to say that the main story was bad because it was, in fact, really good. Once the plot kicked in, the show became serious, and kept me on the edge of my seat. A brilliant show with a lot to offer, I would recommend Steins;Gate to any anime fan.
Honorable Mentions: Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo, Anohana
There is so much to love about The iDOLM@STER. It’s fun, cheerful, gorgeously animated, filled with a wide array of music, and most importantly, masterfully executed. Simple scenes, simple stories, all made many times more enjoyable by how it was presented and the clever combination of all the different elements.
Now, it has to be said that The iDOLM@STER is not a realistic look at the idol industry, but I think that is why I like it. The problems the girls face are usually simple (and sometimes childish), but how they overcome their problems is genuine, charming, and most of all, inspiring. The repeated exclamations of “Let’s do our best!” may annoy some people, but the girls enthusiasm, especially Haruka’s, has infused me with a similar determination. The iDOLM@STER is something special to me because it is one of the few shows that has been able to impact my life in such a way.
Honorable Mentions: Usagi Drop, Mawaru Penguindrum
It should come as no surprise that Fate/Zero would be my pick for the Fall. Aesthetically, this show has been incredible, with minimal drops in quality. The soundtrack, done by one of my personal favorite composers, Yuki Kajiura, has fit the mood perfectly. Though it has the makings of one, Fate/Zero is not your typical shonen fighting anime. Encounters are won through strategy and planning, and the characters are all multi-dimensional. Out of any show that I watched this year, I had the highest expectations for Fate/Zero, and it did not disappoint in the slightest. It has been epic, plain and simple.
Honorable Mentions: Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, UN-GO
Anime of the Year:
If this spot was for my personal favorite of the year, it would probably have been a choice between Fate/Zero and The iDOLM@STER. However, there are reasons for preventing me from choosing either one of those as what I think is the “best” of the year. Fate/Zero is good, very good in fact, but it is still in its early stages. We haven’t yet seen what it is truly capable of as it has felt like it has been holding off until it reaches the second cour. And until I see everything it has to offer, I can’t vote Fate/Zero as “best” of the year. As much as I love The iDOLM@STER, it isn’t perfect. It has its flaws and it doesn’t appeal to everyone (especially considering its happy and charming atmosphere).
So what would I choose as the “Anime of the Year?” It was a difficult choice between Usagi Drop and Steins;Gate, but ultimately Steins;Gate won me over. It has a very wide appeal and is an all-around solid show. Dramatic, suspenseful, hilarious, Steins;Gate has my vote for the best of 2011.