AKB0048 11 – 13 [END]

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. -_-)

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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.

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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?

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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.

*shipshipshipshipshipship*

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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SECOND SEASON!?

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~

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18 Responses to “AKB0048 11 – 13 [END]”

  1. Hoshi says:

    ~I just want to say I’ve been shipping Yuuko and Takamina together because it just fits so WELL.

    Anyway, I think the return to Lancaster was a great ending arc; a little cliche but it fit perfectly and created lots of great drama (especially with Nagisa’s family). I agree that Nagisa overcoming that last hurdle just wasn’t powerful at all. I felt like they just randomly added that on there to make a bad situation even worse.

    The ending, overall, just wasn’t satisfying for me! SO MUCH IS STILL LEFT OVER! So I’m really hoping that there is a second season because they just…they just can’t let it go after introducing all these mysterious aspects. Not to mention I already miss these girls…

    • Hawthorne says:

      B-But what about Kanata! :< kanamina shipper

      Agreed, it did feel tacked on to an otherwise great finale premise. I wouldn’t really even have cared though if Nagisa had broken out into a powerful, emotional vocal-explosion of amazingness … but that didn’t happen. -_-‘

      Maybe it was unsatisfying on purpose because now it makes us even more excited for the finale. It’s going to feel like such a long wait though!

  2. Mitsuki says:

    I suprisingly liked the series a lot, but sadly am suffering as a cosplayer since no one around watched it Q__Q’
    I loved Chieri’s design AND her character since the beginning, actually I knew her personality as awesome from the very beginning, since that was obvious to me ^^’ She’s that type of character that worries about others but would rather express it with realistly harsh words rather than sugarcoating everything. I totally dig that in characters X’D

    I loved Yuuka focus part, but that they took out Megu was annoying. I kind even thought it would be funny if Yuuka, who ranked last in popularity in Japan would possibly be the first one to succeed. lol.

    I still am all teary eyed when I see that scene in episode 12 Q///Q

    btw, shipping: Nagisa no Cherry? Nagisa no Chieri ;D
    That, and I don’t ship them.
    Somehow Suzuko is pretty cool too.
    I wonder who the people who know AKB would think the kenkyusei would become successors of most likely?
    I mean, I still think that Nagisa-Acchan and Chieri-Yuuko. I hope some one succeeds as Mii-chan, lol.

    And of course, the main theory: Sensei-Sensei is actually the main villain who sucks out souls from young girls and turns the souls into kirara, so that the girls become leeches and can fight and sing better…errr…. I think I heard that SOMEWHERE before XP

    I’d love to have the stuff resolved with Chieri’s dad in next season.
    But yes, despite the cliches it was super entertaining even though the premise was total banana, I started watching because of Chieri X’D

    • Hawthorne says:

      It’s funny you should mention that because I was just looking at some of the AKB cosplay wigs the other day. (Chieri’s looks awesome!) Who cares if nobody watched it, you should do it anyway. XD IMO I think Chieri was the breakout character of the show, she’s very popular in a lot of different forums I visit.

      Megu felt so irrelevant after the Tundrastar arc, I feel like we weren’t given enough opportunity to warm up to her after what she did to Kanata/Chieri.

      Ah, I knew that song must have related to something! I don’t ship them either, but thinking back it gives that song a lot more meaning.

      I think Mimori would make a good Miichan. ´▽` Also, Suzuko -> Mariko maybe? I agree with Nagisa being Acchan, but I think Chieri would have to succeed someone else because Youko seems determined to stay in AKB as long as possible.

      That … would be such a creepy plot twist! XD (Somehow it makes a little bit of sense though. ><)

      • Mitsuki says:

        Yeah, the one on moemall, right? Looks totally gorgeous. Maybe the UNDER version of her ^^

        I kind of got interested because of the entire Yuko/Sae relationship, althoug Megu suddenly warming up to her was wtf imo.

        Oh yeah, that’s some nice succeeding. Who would you think Makoto could succeed as?
        That’s the thing. The most popular members are taken and I think Chieri and (at least anime) Yuuko have a very similar look out on their work and they do work themselves to the ground(even though with Chieri it is only hinted during the opening, her becoming Yuuko’s Under and that one morning scene).

        You know there was that one total OUCH moment? Right after the Orine saying she wanted to succeed Sacchi episode, the real Sacchi got caught in a scandal and was transferred from AKB48 to the sister group in Fukuoka?
        OUCH

        • Hawthorne says:

          Yes that’s the one! They all look really nice.

          Hm, Makoto is so tough to call because of her personality. I really can’t even think of a good answer. >< All of the current AKB0048 idols are so young and I can’t see any of them stepping down for one of the understudies. She’ll probably succeed an idol who hasn’t been characterized in the show.

          A lot of people were saying that Yuuko was throwing up death flags the whole series, maybe Chieri really will succeed her if something does happen. It’s interesting to note though that Mayu Watanabe voices Chieri and Mayuyu is also a character in the show. (They also had a nice scene together early on.) Maybe that’s a possibility too.

          I didn’t hear that about Sacchi, but knowing AKB it probably wasn’t even that big of a “scandal”. -_-‘

          • Mitsuki says:

            Actually I thought the current Takamina was throwing around Death Flags. She was starting the episode where Show ▼

            It felt almost every single episode that she just might die.
            Yuuko not so much.

            Well, you know the no love rule they have? She kinda broke it a few years ago and her ex got her pictures posted in a magazine?
            As far as I’ve heard less known members have been kicked out for less, so she’s lucky she’s just got transferred to a less known sister band.
            She will also no longer(at least unless she climbs out of THAT hole she dug) participate in the Senbatsu selection (popularity vote for a new single/etc.) so after Acchan said she graduates and Sacchi is in a pinch, everyone’s ranking went up 1 or 2 numbers.
            So she kind of went from, what was she? #6? most popular to no one in one go.

  3. JPNIgor says:

    OMG, there will be a second season *-* I almost cried.

    Those three episodes were very beautiful in all senses, but the part of the Center Nova, I just couldn’t understand ._. Did all of the understudents become Center Nova? I don’t get it TT.TT

    • Hawthorne says:

      Me too! ;_;

      This is just me speculating, but I believe what that scene indicated was that all of the 77th generation understudies + Mimori and Kanata are all potential candidates to become the Center Nova.

  4. Moni Chan says:

    2ND SEASON

    At least this show tells you that there will be one. I can’t wait a whole year.

    I really enjoyed this show. My iPod has a few songs from AKB48. Their music grows on you

    • Hawthorne says:

      Same Moni Chan, I might die from impatience before it even airs. I have a few songs as well, they do become pretty addicting over time. ´▽`

  5. Joojoobees says:

    I’m really glad they brought things back to Lancaster. I thin that was a great way to end the series.

    • Hawthorne says:

      I agree! I love when a series goes full circle and makes it’s characters face their problems back where it all started.

  6. skylion says:

    Wow. That was a very well rounded ending. It brought much of the emotional narrative to a close, but left itself open to exploring more of the character’s natures for future.

    see you Next Stage

    Oh, yes.

    I won’t bore anyone with details, but I still feel the “entertainment ban”; a setting piece that is very worthy of further explaination, did not achieve verisimilitude. It felt tacked on, and I had to bury my sense of disbelief. It was not a difficult burial….

    The character animation was superb. The CGI blending continued to get better as the series went on, but never quite made it all the way for me. It still felt a tiny bit jarring to see it.

    Favorite characters for me were Sonata and Kanata. I enjoyed Sonata’s girlish antics, and really liked seeing Kanata emerge as a dynamic character. This is in a series that had so much punch in that department already.

    Things I would like to see/to have seen. A bit more on the martial side. We’ve seen “idol training” done right both here and in iDOLM@STER, but 0048 had a vastly different element that it utilized. Fight for your right. I wish they would pursue that with more equality to the idol business.

    This show has a great deal of potential that it has yet to realize. I would love the see the greater setting fleshed out a bit more. It’s a fantastic canvas for space opera.

    • Hawthorne says:

      The entertainment ban was a little bogus for a premise, especially since it felt so underdeveloped like you said. It did move the story along in a way that allowed for a lot of great characterization though, especially for characters like Chieri and Nagisa.

      I’ve never been a big fan of CG in anime, it just feels so … clunky and lifeless because of the lack of budget I suppose. That’s not to say I always think it’s bad. The original Last Exile and the new Berserk movie for instance used it wonderfully. I do agree though that it got better as the series went on and the performances became more dynamic.

      Sonata/Kanata dynamic duo<3 Such a pleasant surprise they were. I can't wait to see more of them in the second season!

      Agreed, Skylion! I had my fingers crossed week after week in hope for some more action scenes, in a series where the budget never seemed lacking either. What I loved was that each idol seemed to have her own unique fighting style, like Kojiharu's love power, Yukirin's ribbons, and Sayaka's electric whip. I think it would have been awesome if the understudies all developed their own unique fighting skills.

      What's great is that we're getting a whole second season to bring that potential to light! (Unless it turns out to be a short OVA or something ... ><)

  7. BlackBriar says:

    This was so much fun. It’s still funny how the studio skillfully mixed serious situations such as combat and Totalitarian regime with idols and entertainment.

    Returning to Lancaster was perfect. Having the concert where it all began for the girls. It was good so they could reconnect with their friends and family. Though one thing is sure, Nagisa’s father has a cold way of showing his love for her. Ice cold.

    The things worthy of remembering are the scenery porn thanks to awesome visuals and the characters designs. Throughout the series, I’ve noticed the girls have a faded heart design in their hair and have one in each of their eyes.

    I can happily say my yuri goggles were put into overdrive. So many shipping possibilities but my first pair is obviously Nagisa x Chieri. I always like it when they try to help each other. Second pair would be Takamina x Youko.

    I’m relieved there is indication of another season, especially when there are so many questions that are still unanswered. What I’m focusing on particularly are on the Center Nova and the Kirara. I’m guessing AKB0048 is a two cour series and if it goes like Fate/Zero and Rinne no Lagrange, it’ll be ready for Winter 2013. It’s still too long no matter how you look at it.

    • Hawthorne says:

      Right!? XD Before it aired I was like “this is never going to work”, but once it all came into play I was surprised at how well it meshed. Who would have thought idols, suppression, and mechs would fit so well together?

      His coldness annoyed me to no end, I was waiting and waiting for him to just break down and become a softy for his daughter who is changing the world, but he just kept that same straight face. There was definitely love there despite that!

      Don’t forget the diamonds! Graduated idols like Tsubasa and Miichan had faded diamonds instead. I thought it was cool how much detail was put into the character designs.

      Another Takamina x Youko supporter? Where are my fellow Kanamina lovers? ;_; There are so many different shipping possibilities, just another benefit of this awesome show!

      Way too long, yes. Impatience will be the death of me haha. If you start to feel AKB0048 withdrawal, the BD director cut episodes have new scenes. (I think I’ll do a post on that …)

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