Prepare for an epic finale! … and plenty of idol tears.
|In true AKB fashion, I am stylishly late … or rather, I’m just late. To tackle this last post for the series I’m going to hit on my final thoughts for each of the characters. Without a doubt they were the highlight of the AKB0048, and within these thoughts I’ll also talk about their individual storylines. AKB0048 has been one of the most entertaining anime experiences I’ve had this year, and it’s not over just yet! (And if probably will never be over considering the OP endlessly replays in my head. -_-)|
Nagisa and Chieri, Loved by the Kirara
As the leading ladies of AKB0048′s cast I had my doubts about whether or not Nagisa and Chieri could prove they’re any more likable or admirable then the rest of the stellar cast. I can easily say they accomplished that. One of the central plot points throughout the series was mending the relationship between two long separated friends who share the same dream. On one end was Nagisa who seemed more focused on their friendship rather then her own dream of joining AKB0048, and on the other side was Chieri who prioritized her dream over everything else.
Nagisa, like many leads, took some time before she truly shined. I’d even go as far to say that Makoto, despite being characterized as the forgettable one, stood out even more-so then Nagisa in the beginning of the series. That’s not say she lacked a definable personality or screen time for that matter, but rather the new characters being introduced with bright personalities and even brighter hair caused Nagisa to fall a bit into the background. Her classic “I want everyone to be happy” protagonist personality didn’t help her status either. It takes more than being the “main character” to captivate the audience, which is something I feel is true for many series lately where the protagonist is a complete bore or not likable in the least. While I very much fell in love with the mother-daughter scene in episode 1, it wasn’t until Chieri opened up and pushed Nagisa forward that I began to see her in a new light.
Classis Nagisa smile. ´▽｀
I’m going to be honest, and I’m sure anyone who reads my posts can attest to this, I was not a fan of Chieri initially. Much like Nagisa I had to warm up to her character and take a more fair look at her actions before I realized how amazing she truly is. The choice to give Chieri icy blue hair could not have been a coincidence, right? Her cold and straight-forward personality is most likely what caused me to have such a negative opinion at first, but when you look deeper into her intentions everything she had done up until the end of the series was for the better of someone else, because without a strong team beside her how could she ever shine as an idol.
I felt as though Nagisa’s final hurdle of losing her voice was a bit contrived, and not all too creative or believable, and in the end her overcoming that hurdle wasn’t as powerful as I had expected. I immediately think of a similar show, iDOLMASTER, which handled the scenario with a lot more conviction. The power behind Asami Imai’s voice is what makes that scene stand out so much more than AKB’s. The faint vocals of Nagisa’s VA don’t have the same effect on the audience that it may have been trying to achieve. Despite that, I very much enjoyed Nagisa’s role in these last few episodes, and involving the family was a good direction to take the final scenes.
The Other Half, Yuuka and Orine
It’s important to remember that Chieri and Nagisa weren’t the only ones affected by the return to Lancastar, and despite Orine and Yuuka being the less important half of, what I view as, the “central four” these last few episodes have done wonders for bringing the spotlight back in their direction. I would say Orine suffered less from the attention grabbing of the huge cast this season, the hater episode for example brought plenty of wonderful characterization to her and allowed us to see her as more than just the shy idol, it also reinforced the very human and very stressful emotions that come with being a part of AKB0048. I had a looming feeling that her work in the factory would be touched on again, but it was a bit surprising to learn she had been creating DES all that time. All in all I’d say her personal conflicts with regards to the haters and to the Lancastar return were all well concluded. She may not have been the most crucial character in the story, but a loving supportive friend like Orine is always a welcome addition to any cast.
Yuuka on the other hand was very affected by the attention grabbing. Besides her initial introduction it felt as though she was being ignored for most of the show. Sure, she had some occasional lines, but they lacked any kind of impact and caused her to fall into the background, not so much as Mimori however. It wasn’t until much later that she finally got the attention she deserved all starting with an email from Mr. Slapped in the Face. Noticeably, apart from some yuri-goggle shipping, romance had very little to do with AKB0048. (I believe romance in the real AKB48 is not allowed?) Anyway, the romance was injected at a very high level during these last couple episodes and it was handled pretty well. What I loved about the relationship between Yuuka and Mamoru was the obvious divide between loving a person from the past and loving how they are now, and also how great of an affect being apart of AKB0048 has on personal relationships. I wasn’t all too satisfied by the open-ended feeling of their final moment together because despite Mamoru’s facade of loving Suzuko he still clearly has feelings for Yuuka. Perhaps this is something meant to be touched on in the second season?
Takamina, Youko, and the Center Nova Mystery
The decision to include the current AKB0048 successors as an important part of the series was something I wavered between as a bad idea (because of the already huge cast) and impressive (because of the awesome line-up of VAs). For the most part any worries I had drifted away as I came to realize the understudies would remain the central characters and that many of the current idols got very little screen time. Episode 5 admittedly was a fun distraction, but I always had a preference for watching the understudy’s journey to becoming idols. Takamina and Youko were without a doubt two breakthrough characters from the successors and ended up being two of my favorites each week for not only being a pleasure to watch, but also for the new plotlines they brought into the picture.
I was very critical of Takamina throughout the series because I didn’t necessarily agree with a lot of the choices she made that ended up negatively affecting Kanata. In fact, her occasionally foolish determination annoyed me to no end! She went from an admirable senpai to somewhat of a pitiable rival. That’s not to say I didn’t relate to her situation of feeling pushed aside, but my support for Kanata sometimes skewed my opinion. Thankfully her worries were all for naught and she’s once again the chosen Takamina! It’s interesting to note that it was only when she put aside, in my opinion, selfish desire and focused more on the welfare of her fellow idols and the audience that the Kirara changed her fate.
Youko’s contributions to the show were much different then that of Takamina’s. Rather than her development being attached to the rest of the cast, Youko had a very individually unique role in AKB0048 that focused on her own dream of becoming center nova. The mystery involving Acchan was never truly resolved this season and I expect if a second season does happen that it will be further touched on. In truth, I can see Youko becoming a very difficult rival of Nagisa and Chieri, who without realizing it are becoming more and more likely of taking the spot. Aside from her determination, there wasn’t too much development for Youko and I would have loved to learn more about her past before AKB0048, since that drive must be a result of something in her life.
Kanata and Sonata, Cross Generation Idols and Sisters
Whenever I think of Kanata and Sonata, this scene from episode 3 immediately springs to mind. Who could forget that adorableness!? Anyway, I’ve already discussed my thoughts on one of the important conflicts regarding Kanata in the last section, so I’d like to focus on Sonata. As the most childish character in the show I initially expected her to become an annoyance rather than an important member of the understudies, what with the high pitched voice. However, she avoided that role as the annoying character early on just from being so darn likable! Much like Makoto she became a comic-relief type character in most episodes, but she handled that position well and always managed to make me laugh. Besides that, I don’t have much else to say.
In the Background: Mimori, Suzuko, Makoto, and Megumi
A sign of a great cast is not only strong leads, but also well-rounded side characters to fill in the gaps of time not spent on the central story lines. That’s where Mimori, Suzuko, Makoto, and Megumi come in. Being side characters doesn’t mean they weren’t developed beyond their initial impressions, Suzuko being a prime example. For every star there is a person behind the scenes supporting them or allowing them to follow their dreams, and without such people (Tsubasa, for example) there’s no telling how big of an effect it would have. With so many of these idols dreaming of stardom and the opportunity to shine, it was a pleasant surprise to see a character like Suzuko in the mix who’s only wish is to help other girls achieve that dream. Her discussion with Makoto back in episode 10 remains as one of the most powerful moments in the entire show not only because of her compelling convictions, but the undivided love and support for her fellow idol. She’s a perfect example of how a character who is typically in the background can leave a very memorable impression with what little screen time she had.
Makoto is a very different story because from the very first seconds of her introduction her role as the “comic-relief” character was emphasized. When a character’s focus episode is a beach episode about breasts you know they’re not exactly the most dignified of the cast. Despite that, Makoto’s body image issues and struggle against “normality” were potentially touching issues, especially as an idol within such a … unique group. I don’t think that potential was ever truly met, as she fell back to that comic-relief role, and rather than enforcing the idea of changing your body to fit a certain image (in this case, bigger breasts and thinner waist) I would of loved to see Makoto take Suzuko’s words a little more seriously and learn to accept her image of normal-ness.
They love-u you Makoto, they really love-u you as you are! ;_;
Mimori is another character I felt had a ton of potential that was never met. I fell in love with her and Kanata from their opening performance of “The Lemon Season” in episode 4, and her emotional telling of the “Cursed Generation’s” fate depicted her as a very strong support character with a unique story. After episode 4 however her character fell flat, more-so than any other character and if I’m being honest I wouldn’t have seen to much of a difference if she wasn’t even in the understudy group. The possibility of a second season means she’ll have more opportunities to impress us with her pheromone power! Megumi had a similar fate of being “along for the ride” and I still can’t quite say I like her character any more than I did when she rallied her generation against Kanata. Her relationship with Sae was a highlight of her presence in the show, and I’d love to see that further developed.
Scenery Porn and Dat Music!
So … beautiful … my eyes … can’t …
One last time I wanted to talk about how much I LOVED the artwork in AKB0048. It was absolutely stunning week after week with the amount of detail put into the backgrounds. More importantly however I’d like to talk about the music. For an idol show I must say that there was a noticeable lack of music, which is a disappointment considering the music that was included was, for the most part, outstanding. I mentioned this before, but that OP will forever be stuck in my head. As far as favorites go, “The Lemon Season” and “Nagisa no Cherry” stand out as two I enjoyed listening to outside of the anime. The performances on the other hand weren’t as positive as the music. Sure, the strobe lights were fun and the choreography was great, but sometimes I found the CG dancing to be a bit detaching from the rest of the scene. Jumping from back and forth from CG to the usual animation was a bit odd as well.
I JUST DIED A LITTLE.
Well, that’s all for AKB0048 folks, for now at least! That last shot could mean a lot of things: a new season, an OVA, a movie … we’ll just have to wait it out together. (… and a long wait that will be.) If there are any improvements I would like to see most in the next season, if that happens, it’s more music, a focus episode for Mimori, and some successions since nobody actually graduated or was promoted this time around. There are also a lot of burning questions yet to be answered, such as the identity of sensei-sensei, the origin of the Kirara, and of course the disappearance of Acchan. I can see why a second season would be perfect! The director’s cut versions of some episodes are being released, and if I get a chance I’ll make a post highlighting the new scenes. Anyway, until next time everyone~