AKB0048 – 04

S-Stop, I can’t handle all these hnnngs.

Since everyone at Metanorn seems to be adopting or experimenting with new posting styles, I figured I’d give it a shot! Now, on to AKB0048~ When we last left off the central seven had passed their entrance test and earned the privilege of being new recruits. This week we meet two girls who also had that privilege … two years ago.

New (Old) Faces

A fabulous entrance, of course!

If you hadn’t noticed already from AKB’s promotional artwork or the OP/ED, two faces from the brightly colored cluster of idols have yet to make an appearance, Mimori Kishida (Samire Sato) and Kanata Shinonome (Haruka Ishida). They’re the last remaining fragments of the 75th generation of idols (the “Cursed Generation” as Tsubasa puts it), their team having all left on their own accord, and yet they continue to push on and chase their individual dreams. Despite their senior status in comparison to the fresh recruits, Mimori and Kanata are still fighting to become successors of the current AKB0048 idols.

Mimori is surprisingly endearing for an elegant senpai type character, of which I’m typically not a big fan of. Boasting what I find the prettiest voice so far, thanks to Samire Sato of course, and being the most level-headed of the group so far are just some of the qualities she’s shown. When compared to Kanata she lacks depth as far as background goes, but makes up for it with a strong devotion to her friends. I’ll talk more about Kanata later.

What makes them stand out so far is experience. Unlike the freshies, they’ve already endured two years worth of dance and song training, which is evident in their first performance of “The Lemon Season.” The performance itself was impressively similar to the actual real life performance, not only in appearance but in choreography. Neither flashy or over-the-top, the dance relied on hand movements and floaty footwork. (The subtlety is most likely the reason CG wasn’t needed.) The performance however lacked one important detail, ENERGY! Like the crowd I found myself lazily following along, not entirely involved or entertained. Sure, the two VA’s are incredibly talented and have two of my favorite singing voices so far, but let’s not forget, this  was meant for four people! If it hasn’t been shoved into our heads enough already, being an idol is about teamwork. To “shine” you have to rely on each other, and the reaction of the crowd when AKB0048 comes out on stage should say enough, Mimori and Kanata need a team.

A team that dances together, stays together! … Until Chieri chimes in.

Succeeding the Successors

A new plot element introduced in the story this week was the disposed “center” role, the position of an idol who took charge and led her friends towards stardom. Acchan, who you might remember from the premier, was the last of these centers before graduating and ever since then the role hasn’t been filled. Despite the sudden disappearance of the center, Yuuko still encourages the recruits to strive for it because she wants to bring it back. So who will end up taking it?

My bets are on Nagisa, because obviously she has the whole main character-thing going for her. Honestly, she’s never stood out too much me, though I do like her character especially for her relationship with her mom. Still, I could see some of the other new recruits being more … qualified. Chieri seems a bit self-absorbed so far, but clearly she has talent to back it up. (Dance-wise at least.) Mimori has that beautiful voice, but nobody seems to notice her. Kanata’s head isn’t in the right place, but she has the chops to go far, and her sister Sonata is bit too inexperienced. Yuuka, Orine, Linda, and Makoto all seem to be floating around without much impact so far, but they have plenty of time to show off their skills.

Will this be a story of Nagisa finding herself and learning to stand out? I’m going to say yes. So far Nagisa has played the role of the encourager, the friend, and the intermediate. She might not have the flashiest hair color or the most unique personality, but she’s a leader in disguise who knows the power of teamwork, but will have to realize her own potential before she can truly take on the role.

With a face like that Makoto is clearly the best choice for center.

Sisterhood of the Traveling … Idols

(´∀`)♡

Surprise, they’re sisters! (Wow, I really should have realized that sooner by the matching surnames …) No reunion ever seems to go as planned or as aspired in anime and AKB is no different. Some might look at Kanata’s reaction as cold, but I viewed it as more heartfelt than anything. Who in their right mind would want their cute little sister learning to fire high-tech guns and to fight against big, hulking mechs!? Clearly, not Kanata.

It’s an interesting dynamic that I wasn’t expecting, and though it seems the angsty part of their relationship won’t be stretched out any further than this episode, I’ll be looking forward to seeing how Sonata’s presence affects Kanata’s vengeful intentions as an idol. The sisters’ troubling past, which Sonata most likely wasn’t old enough to witness, has played a large part in Kanata’s actions up until this point. Seriously, becoming an idol so you could fight? That’s dedication, but is it the right mindset for someone in her position to have? Fighting the DES seems like a secondary motivation for AKB0048, with the main goal being liberation for the people through music.

Thankfully Mimori was able to revive Kanata’s love of music in one of my favorite scenes of the anime so far, which might divert her from making dangerous game-time decisions in the future, but the whole experience has done a good job of building the viewer’s hatred of the DES. With these introductions now over and the rigorous training having begun, it’s only a matter of time until we get to see the girls in a full on performance and I can’t wait!~

Scenery Porn at its Finest!

I never really noticed how gorgeous the artwork has been so far, and I wanted to take a moment to show it off. The show might not have an outstanding animation budget for the performances, if the CG sequences weren’t indication enough, but so far everything has just looked breathtakingly great, even in the quieter moments. Looking back now at Symphogear which had a very similar battle-idol premise and setting as far as structures go, I wonder if the show would have done better with outstanding artwork like this. Hm … too late!

It’s not just artwork either, I love the use of odd camera angles and distant shots (that surprisingly don’t cause a lack of detail in the character designs). I wish they’d put some of that creativity  into the performances though and drop the CG, which is still a bit off-putting.

Extra Observations:

  • A commenter here at Metanorn brought up an interesting point on twitter the other day (@Croos_) that Tsubasa, the producer-san, as I like to call her, has a diamond reflection in her hair rather than a heart. It’s probably just because she’s now running things so to speak, but it’s something I completely missed! ><
  • The fence in the last scene had words for railings, including “freedom”, “sympathy”, and “passion”. I thought that was a nice detail, especially for a beautiful scene like that.
  • Mayu Watanabe voices Chieri instead of the current Mayu Watanabe successor who is voiced by Yukari Tamaru. At first I was confused, but then I remembered that the girls take on a new name when they become full fledged members. That also made the scene from last week between the two characters a lot more interesting since I now fully expect Chieri to take on that name.
  • Orine has completely fallen into the background! She was one my favorites to watch, but I’m really hoping she gets a focus episode in the future.

Anyway, that’s all for this week! Hope you all enjoyed the weekend and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this week’s episode. A random questions for anyone who feels like answering, who is your favorite idol so far? Who do you think will take up the role of center in the end? Later!~

Sonata and I will miss you. T_T

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I enjoy watching anime, when I'm not burning toast or sleeping through college.
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19 Responses to “AKB0048 – 04”

  1. Sparky says:

    “who is your favorite idol so far? Who do you think will take up the role of center in the end? Later!~”

    I like Chieri. She might lack tact right now, but as the dance instructor mentioned, her personality makes for a good catalyst to push the group forward.

    As for center, with such a heavy focus on team-work, I’m entertaining the idea of a double-center formation with Nagisa and Chieri in that position (I think the OP hits something like this).

    On another note, I’m wondering if they have the captain position in the anime. I want to see some real team-work dynamic, and we need our freaking captain to make that work.

    • Joojoobees says:

      I’m wondering about the captain role as well. As things stand, I think Nagisa would make a good captain, and Chieri a good center.

    • Hawthorne says:

      Double center? Hm, I didn’t even think of that, but it would definitely be interesting! The two of them have a bit of tension going on, so it could be a good way to work through it.

      Is the captain position a part of the RL AKB? Because that sort of sounds the same as a center since both require some leadership. Right now Yuuko seems to fit that “captain” role pretty well in the current generation since there is no center. ^^

      • Sparky says:

        The real AKB has a center, 4 captains, and an overall leader (who isn’t the center!!):

        Center: the girl who wins the anual Senbatsu election (it’s a popularity contest). This girl takes the central position in the dance formation (hence why she’s called “center”). Yuko was center in 2010 and Acchan in 2011.

        Captain: There are 4 teams in AKB, and the leader of each team is its captain. The captain is chosen by the management, and she’s the group maintainer of the team, the one who looks out for all its members.

        Leader: AKB’s leader is Takamina. She’s the one who brings the whole group together. I could write a book about what makes Takamina such a great leader (and why she’s the only one who can pull it off).

        If you want to know more I recommend AKB’s “the show must go on” documentary.

  2. JPNIgor says:

    Ahhn… Guess is a little obvious. I’m pretty sure that in the end, Nagisa will be there in the center spot -.-’ I don’t like her, seriously. Ah, I love Sonata. Cute and determined *w* Ganbatte \o/

    I agree. Until read this post I didn’t notice how gorgeous the animation is. But I don’t like how the houses and their insides looks so old for an universe so… high-tech (?)

    … And that voice of the dancing instructor… Only I was terrified when he spoke with that manly-voice? o.o’ At least he (she?) don’t have a heart in his hair… Neither in his eyes… I guess.

    Note: I think that the pictures of the centers are scary.

    • Hawthorne says:

      Sonata really is adorable! I’m glad Kanata didn’t force her to go home. ><

      Good point! For a futuristic setting there is a dated type feel to the furniture and rooms. I think it’s pretty charming, but maybe not so fitting for the time period.

      I think that’s a guy … probably, the voice is a good indicator I think. I guess he doesn’t have hearts because he wasn’t fit to be a moe idol! Poor instructor dude. XD

      Every shot of Acchan is kind of scary imo. Her eyes are very intense.

      • BlackBriar says:

        I agree about the setting. It’s like a Guilty Crown/Index kind of city with old England style furniture.

        I think the instructor is a guy. He may have female-like clothing but there’s no trace of him looking like a girl.

        Has anybody noticed all the characters have heart-like symbols at the bottom part of their eyes?

      • JPNIgor says:

        I mean, every shots of the centers are pretty scary XD Now, I’m wondering… What happens with the old generation? They die? They leave the AKB and go living a nice and calm life? Or they leave the AKB to live a miserable life?

        BlackBriar, guess everybody noticed already XD The androgynous guy might not be a girl because of his/her VA and the lack of hearts everywhere… Poor old man who once tried to enter the AKB…

  3. Thomas says:

    Thank you for having noticed the artwork. I’m in charge of the background designs, especially all akibastar part. I also made a lot of designs for symphogear but the animators and background artist team wasn’t so good than this time.
    Thank you for blogging the show. I hope that you will enjoy the next episodes as much.
    Thomas Romain

    • Hawthorne says:

      Really? That’s impressive! Your team and you are doing an amazing job! Loving everything about the art style of the backgrounds.

  4. Ying says:

    I think Nagisa will be the center because she is sort of the MC. She is meh to me and I don’t really notice her though. My favorite idol so far has been Chieri. I like how level headed she is and how more realistic her viewpoint of the world is. Yet she still cares about the others in her own way

    What she said about everybody being rivals was correct after all + she was the only one who didn’t complain about the training.

    Can somebody tell me why everybody got mad at her when she said the thing about not wanting to take Kanata’s place? That confused me because I thought it was a nice thing that she didn’t want to upstage Kanata

    • Sparky says:

      Can somebody tell me why everybody got mad at her when she said the thing about not wanting to take Kanata’s place? That confused me because I thought it was a nice thing that she didn’t want to upstage Kanata

      They didn’t like the way she said it. She lacked tact and other girls are way too sensible, it seems. I personally don’t blame Chieri though, and I think what she did was a good push for Kanata.

      I’m liking Chieri the most too, btw. I like how serious she is about all this. You can tell AKB is really important to her, and I like that kind of passion (even if I’m not that interested in idols). She just needs to stop isolating herself from the group, since team-work is as important as skills and talent in order to succeed.

      • Ying says:

        Oh okay thanks ^^
        Yeah she needs to stop seeing the others as her rivals and instead learn to get along with them.

        I’m kind of afraid for the current idols though. Nobody gets a name unless the current idol that has it dies right? If this is true then that means all of the current idols are going to have to die so that Chieri and the others can gain their names

        • Hawthorne says:

          Is that true? o: Acchan “graduated” so I’m guessing that maybe at some point they just step down to allow new girls to shine. Death I’m assuming would be another cause for a newbie to step up too.

          I’m a bit confused by the whole name thing as well, because if the current AKB is so incredibly popular (and young), what would cause them to want to willingly step down all of a sudden for the new girls.

          • Ying says:

            I’m guessing that’s how it goes. I noticed earlier on that the last center (the scary purple haired one) was missing from the group. I assumed she died since somebody took her place + we don’t hear anything about what happened to her.

            This is just a theory though it makes sense.

  5. BlackBriar says:

    The understudies sure have a beautiful place to practice and it must have cost an arm and a leg. I’m liking this show more for more than just being about singing and dancing. There’s an actual story behind it.

    Good thing Mimori is such a good friend to Kanata by cheering her up. Kanata was letting her vegeance cloud the reason she wanted to sing and that was to father and others happy. Revenge is a natural feeling after a loss but she shouldn’t let it consume her completely.

    Chieri may be ice cold and harsh but she’s a necessary factor for progression. I hope she doesn’t add too much fuel to the fire with that high horse attitude of hers. That tends to get annoying after a while.

    Whoa, the artwork is great. Definitely Scenery Porn at its Finest! You’re right that it’s very similar to Symphogear but it also competes with Guilty Crown, “Another” and Hyouka’s flawless and awesome visuals and scenery.

    • Hawthorne says:

      Agreed! I was worried that the sci-fi story might end up being a negative aspect of the show (since idol/sci-fi has been done before and failed), but AKB is surprisingly awesome! (The singing and dancing just seems like a bonus at this point.)

      Chieri is dangerous, imo, but in a good way. She seems to have some of the best talent of the group and she’s able to motivate people in such a strange and off-putting way. I agree though, that high horse attitude is a bit annoying. I wish she would just warm up to everyone!

      Just learned that the artwork is done by the same people who did Symphogear (ANN can back it up too), so it’s no wonder they’re so similar. XD Definitely right up there with KyoAni and PA Works type quality, looking forward to more!

  6. Felice says:

    Ono Daisuke played the instructor

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