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!|
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!
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.”
Makoto is silently judging you.