AKB0048 Next Stage – 02

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The curtain opens on another great week of AKB0048.

I’m incredibly excited about this season for one reason, actually make that two, AKB0048 and Love Live! I’ll be writing weekly this Winter for both shows (and Kara will be tagging along for the latter). It seems as though “idol” is morphing into a genre all its own, and that means great things for seasons to come!

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This week: Variety shows!

Talk about a shift in tone! AKB0048 pushes forward, not with entertainment trials or Zodiac battles, but with … variety shows. This is closely based on the real world AKB48 variety shows that feature the idols participating in completely ridiculous events that usually result in some kind of punishment game, like eating live, raw seafood or dressing up into characters. (You can watch an episode from 2010 here, that happens to feature dodgeball just like in the anime!) It’s campy and random, and ultimately hilarious! If anything, AKB0048 managed to reproduce the excitement of variety shows well enough, while at the same time teaching the understudies (minus Chieri) a lesson about letting go and enjoying themselves. With all the oppression and tyranny in their world it’s not like you can blame them for being apprehensive at first, but what I took away from this week’s episode is that their other ways to combat the entertainment ban outside of singing. Laughter!

The sudden change in tone isn’t something I’d think most viewers are keen on, since the action-oriented story usually provides the most entertainment, but I wouldn’t label this episode bad in any way, shape, or form. Rather, it was a crucial turning point for the understudies, who after witnessing the general election update have grasped the importance of interacting with the fans. Having been surpassed by Chieri, this should give the understudies a much higher level of determination. That said, the variety show had its comedic points, though some moments fell a bit flat. The comedy relied too heavily on the traits of the characters that have already been established in season one and, to be honest, exhausted to the point where the variety show felt uninspired. That’s not to say it didn’t have a lot of energy and fun, but from an audience stand-point it had that “been there, done that” feeling.

There were some scenes in particular that did catch my attention, either through Satelight’s continued high level of detail and creativity in their scene direction as well as some smaller details that don’t necessarily add much to the plot. I especially loved Chieri’s solo dance practice, as well as the scene featuring Yukirin and Kojiharu that followed. The script wasn’t anything spectacular, but the art, only enhanced by the lighting, was breathtaking. Elsewhere, Mimori’s positivity and cheerful personality were easily the highlight of the episode. And some minor background information on Makoto’s past gave her a little more depth. Having come from a “comedy planet,” her demeanor makes a lot more sense!

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Satelight does it right!

It’s clear from the build-up these last couple weeks that Zodiac’s scheme is slowly coming together, but their intentions remain shrouded in mystery. My take is that they plan on fighting entertainment with entertainment. We’ve seen them trying to produce Kirara, likely to use their energy against AKB0048. If Chieri becomes popular enough, and the real Kirara shine brighter around her than there’s the possibility that Mr. Sono will attempt to kidnap her, and steal that energy. I wouldn’t give-up on the possibility that he’ll form his own “anti-idol idols” to combat AKB0048. That would be quite the twist.

There’s another noticeable conflict that’s been rearing its head ever since the general election was announced, that being the struggle between teamwork and individuality, and my only hope is that the show will address this. At this point the “rivalries” are all on the positive side, but there’s no way this peaceful competition will stay peaceful forever. That simply wouldn’t be realistic. While music may tie these girls together, the possibility of shining brighter than the rest may be reason for further conflicts to arise. Chieri is currently ranked in the 9th position (out of 10), but I don’t expect this to last forever. The understudies have just as much fight in them! (Go Makoto! kukuku)

Oh, and how about that ED? Fantastic music and even more fantastic visually. I was somewhat disappointed last week when it turned out to be nothing more than recap animation clips, but it was worth the wait! If you’re curious the song is called “Kono Namida wo Kimi ni Sasagu.”

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Makoto is silently judging you.

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13 Responses to “AKB0048 Next Stage – 02”

  1. skylion says:

    I like where the theme is heading. That it takes some competition and teamwork to get the the members where they need to go.

    I still wish they would fill out some of the more martial aspects of the setting; not because I want this to be an action show, but because they made it part of the setting, and now it looks like it might be kinda brushed aside. It’s an important facet.

    I wish they would have showcased the individual election posters, I mean, they dropped the shoe, but not the other one. As I could see freezing frame: Orine looks adorable as Alice in Wonderland, Kanta is rocking her semi-military garb, and Sonata is just plain trying to give me a heart attack.

    The rest look pretty good, but those three are my high points.

    The OP is going to take time to grow on me, but the ED is a smash; need the mp3 (even the tv-sized) ASAP.

    Cheers, Hawt.

    • Hawthorne says:

      I agree on the martial point. It’s definitely an area that would benefit from being fleshed out. We did get the minor “training” arc last season, which was nice, but not very satisfying.

      kukuku, so I wasn’t the only one trying to perfectly freeze my video to see those? Orine was adorable, easily my favorite. I missed Sonata’s though, I’ll have to go back and check it out. Makoto’s was pretty cute too!

  2. Mitsuki says:

    Yup, good episode, though I was hoping for more Chieri QwQ
    That being said, some one postulated on anime suki forums that with the new senbatsu members announced there aren’t that many popular members left, which does leave to wonder who will inherit. I don’t believe that the current KKS won’t inherit anyone’s name, since some are so obvious like Makoto->Sasshi, Mimori->Tomo~mi (mind you, she already was compared to her in first season by Sayaka), Nagisa->Acchan, and with the free spots, I’m still thinking Chieri->Jurina and possibly Suzuko->Mariko. No one can argue about Makoto though, lol.

    That being said, I wish the newly announced Senbatsu members would appear in the show… like Kitarie and Paruru… or Oya Shizuka, since she was the only one I recognized without reading the names X’D
    oh, and I’m missing the 76th Gen KKS Q__Q’ And the senbatsu concerts, so many KKS concerts >wW< … and I don't even like RL Sasshi, but I like Makoto

    • Hawthorne says:

      Chieri needs a spin-off at this point. XD We’ll definitely be getting a lot of her in the coming weeks though, if her dad’s plans come to fruition.

      Ah, the general elections were so much fun last year! If not somewhat obvious … >_< Those inheritance picks are perfect! Especially Sasshi and Mariko. Looking back, there were a lot of hints last season. I’m still lost on which name Sonata could inherit though. Any ideas?

      Paruru is going to appear! I’m not sure to what extent though. Others as well, like Kitarie and Mocchi. They have character designs already made too, you can check them out on MAL.

      They’ll probably get the Megumi-treatment though. ;__;

      • Mitsuki says:

        yeah, poor megu Q__Q She should just inherit Yukirin X’D

        It’s hard to guess, but going by the latest Senbatsu election from RL if I take the AKB members only (without purely SKE or NMB): Miichan, Sato Amina (Yuka’s seiyuu, lol), Iwasa Misaki, Nakaya Sayaka (Orine’s seiyu), Nakata Chisato, Miyazaki Miho, Nagao Mariya and Fujie Reina.
        If the production wants to put in a joke, they could make Yuka und Orine inherit their seiyus, lol. I was going for Sonata maybe Myao, though not quite there she is the most rebellious one. Kanata though… ~___~ no clue. Some say Miichan, but Miichan is variety queen.

        it looks like a lot of akb0048 seiyu ranked pretty good last election btw O_O (not mentioned them since most aren’t actually akb, but ske)

  3. BlackBriar says:

    The new OP isn’t as exciting as last season’s. A lot of pressure is being put on the girls even Chieri and the others get it in different ways. I’d even go as far as to say that I’m feeling it seeing them worked on so intensely. Those variety shows are too extreme and whose bright idea was it to include bungee jumping? Their dedication, however, is always refreshing to watch.

    The general elections starting out of the surely means people are going to be soured by the results.

    What caught my attention is wanting to know what Chieri’s father is up to. A moment there focusing on that machine, it looked like he was trying to create artificial Kiraras.

    • Hawthorne says:

      Yeah, it’s really … lackluster. I miss last season’s now, thinking about it. :<

      Isn’t strange that they have very little apprehension when battling against mechs, tanks, and guns with nothing but their voices, but when it comes to bungee jumping it’s terrifying? XD

      Yeah, that will definitely be important down the road. Dangerous, even. It’s kind of sad to think that Chieri will inevitably fall under control of her father … that must have something to do with all that experimenting.

  4. KoroshiyaKi says:

    *looks at first picture*

    Puella Magi AKB Magica?

  5. fr says:

    It’s clear from the build-up these last couple weeks that Zodiac’s scheme is slowly coming together, but their intentions remain shrouded in mystery. My take is that they plan on fighting entertainment with entertainment. We’ve seen them trying to produce Kirara, likely to use their energy against AKB0048.

    Its actually explained in the AKB Glossary, you seriously need to read that. I’d link the translations, but those are in a fansub blog (Evetaku) and that’s not allowed Meta (just Google it).

    To sum up it all up, Kirara Energy is the basis of all space travel. Since Kirara tend to gravitate toward idols, The Entertainment Ban and DES were created in an attempt to monopolize space travel. Kirara is the reason why entertainment was banned.

    On the other side the WOTA Brigade were founded by the first scientists who researched Kirara, hence their close ties to AKB. This is what I like AKB0048, its setting is surprisingly complex.

    So the artificial kirara research is pretty self-telling. What I do find fishy is Chieri rise. Mariko has already noticed that the rescue last episode was too easy, and there are implications that someone is backing her up. I beleive that implies Chieri’s dad may have engineered all this to push her daughter to the top, probably for some Kirara related experiment. If that’s the case I can smell the drama coming when Chieri finds out.

    • Hawthorne says:

      WAH I didn’t even knew that existed! Thanks for the link, now I just have to go find the translation.

      Never would have thought the Kirara were the basis of space travel … hm, I don’t remember the show ever mentioning this though (unless I’m just forgetting), so it would have been nice if they talked more about this in the anime. Those are some really important plot points after all!

      So that would mean Mr. Sono wanted her to get captured and then make that that speech (resulting in her rise in popularity)? Wow, that guy’s a mastermind …

      If you don’t mind, I might quote you in next week’s post (in case some people were just as unaware as I was), this is some great info!

  6. Yuki88 says:

    This episode is so related to the real life AKB, lol. Like how they want the KKS girls to step up their game and beat their senpai in the election (RL Mariko’s word). And the variety show, hahah. The infamous Kojiharu the first lady from Ariyoshi AKB, Muchaburi Dodgeball from AKBingo!… Everything is so familiar. XD

    • Hawthorne says:

      That’s what makes AKB0048 so awesome! ´ ▽ ` Thanks to the show I’ve become a huge fan of AKB in real life, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

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