Secret Santa 2014 – The [email protected]

Idolma@ster-Are you ready

Are you Ready?

spring14-highwWe saw OC’s post on House of Five Leaves on Christmas Eve as part of Reverse Thieves Secret Santa 2014 and, like her, I really enjoy the opportunity to both suggest some of my favorite anime to other people, and see what other people think I might like. I think that most people do put some thought into the shows they recommend, even if that might not be apparent (like I didn’t recommend any harem shows this year, since the person I was recommending for rated all the ones on their list low or dropped). So what did I get for 2014, my second year participating?

Idolma@ster-From humble beginnings

From some humble beginnings…

Well, since you saw the title of the post (and the first couple screenshots), you already know what show I picked to watch. One thing that I will kvetch about with the shows people recommend: why do I always get the 2-cour series? Last year I got Macross Frontier (26 episodes), and this year, two of my recommendations were the 25-episode [email protected] and the 24-episode Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince. The third was a harem / magic show that I’d never heard of, Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou, and it admittedly is a single cour series. But given that people have been yapping at me for years to watch [email protected] and the opportunity to write it off as a blogging experience came up, that’s what I picked. Plus, there’s no way I was doing two mecha series in a row for Secret Santa. I might watch Demon King Daimaou sometime, because it does seem right up my alley, tho.

Idolma@ster-Yayoi Zoom

Best shot of Yayoi in the whole series

So with the selection made, what was I getting myself into? On the surface it seems like a no-brainer to watch this. I like idol shows, or at least seem to. Love Live! is one of my favorite shows, I even watched Wake Up Girls! and Super Sonico and generally enjoyed both. Music is right up my alley, although I’ll admit that most BGM is not something I notice. But insert songs are, and Love Live! may be the absolute best with insert songs and performances. So maybe I was going in with a little bit high expectations, or at least a little bit of unfair comparison for the show. In hindsight that may have been a bit of my problem with the show.

(Also, unlike some of the other Secret Santa shows which are relatively obscure, I seem like the last person on earth to have watched [email protected], so I’m not really worried about spoilers. Not that there are really many things to spoil.)

Idolma@ster-before they're famous

Starting off as an obscure group, there’s only up to go

So the basics of the show, if you just haven’t gotten to this show yet (or have forgotten because it’s been a few years), are that a new talent agency has started, 765 Production (referred to as “nanrokgo pro”, smashing the three words together as much as possible), and they’ve got a stable of unknown idol wannabes who are trying to break into the business. From humble beginnings in a cramped office, they climb the ladder of popularity to become a really busy group of idols in a cramped office. But that’s ok, because they’re almost never in the office after their popularity starts to take off. Along the way there are some trials, some focus episodes, and changes in the way their relationships are going. But maybe the best way for me to talk about this show is to answer the important questions: which girls do I like and which don’t I. With 13 to pick from, most discussions about the show tend to devolve to this anyway.

The Ones I Liked

Idolma@ster-Funniest moment

This was the absolute funniest moment of the entire series

There was a little variation in this category from the beginning through the end. Azusa was an early favorite, for her look and the maturity that she had. But she kinda faded as the whole group from Ryuuguu Komachi was pretty much taken out of the show. At the end of the series, if I look back, my four favorites are Takane, Chihaya, Haruka, and Miki. Takane’s focus episode was terrific, perhaps my favorite episode of the series, and even though she didn’t do much else throughout the entire show, she had a presence when she was there that kept her interest high. The other three had nice, in-depth stories that felt like we were learning about them. Chihaya with her family troubles, Miki with her capriciousness, and Haruka’s story that was the main object lesson for the whole series, with Haruka representing the force that 765 Pro was able to bring to bear when they were all united and engaged with each other. These three characters formed the backbone of the main story presented in the show, and did a very good job being interesting characters.

Idolma@ster-Takane composed

Takane was not afraid to be an individual

The Ones I Didn’t Like

Idolma@ster-The bottom 4

Even Producer-san looks annoyed at these four

This list will probably disappoint a few people (for instance, this group would be skylion’s category of “Characters he likes”), but anyone who’s read more than 4 of my posts on anything can probably guess who’s on this list: Iori, Ami, Mami, and Yayoi. Basically, these characters were kids, acted like kids the whole time, and were just not very interesting to me. Actually, all four of them were positively annoying, and the amount of focus on these characters early in the series really made me not very interested in the series at all. It was actually good when Iori and Ami got shoved off into Ryuuguu Komachi, because that meant they barely showed up in the rest of the series, and with Ami off screen, Mami’s attention was significantly reduced, and her appearances improved without the whipsaw sister act. Yayoi actually seems like a fine girl, helping to take care of her family, but she literally did nothing for the entire rest of the series after the episode where Hibiki and Iori went to visit her house. If the whole group wasn’t there, then Yayoi wasn’t there. Heck, even her Nama-su ka? segment was spent ignoring her and talking with the studio characters. This did have the effect of making her one appearance on most episodes, as the camera flew over her head at the end of the OP, something that I thought was cute, but mostly she was a completely forgotten character.

Brief Thoughts on the Rest

Idolma@ster-Everyone sparkles

They all end up sparkling in the end

The rest of the girls – Hibiki, Yukiho, Azusa, and Makoto – were generally non-offensive, but not very interesting. Hibiki’s talk-to-animals act was cute enough, and the episode that focused on her fight with Inumi was not bad. Yukiho and Makoto ended up completely shipped together, and like Yayoi, they pretty much disappeared in the second half of the series. And Azusa, as a member of Ryuuguu Komachi, disappeared as well, which was a bit disappointing, but after her Runaway Bride episode, it felt like there really wasn’t actually that much there to be interesting. I did find Ritsuko and even Kotori to be nice supporting characters, although I kind of wish that Producer-san had been a little less wishy-washy. He took his injury like a man, tho, and came through in the end.

General  Series Thoughts

Idolma@ster-to the big stage

And reach the big stage

I mentioned that I’m a huge fan of Love Live!, especially their insert song performances. Unfortunately, [email protected] didn’t come anywhere close to those, either in the quality of the songs or in the presentation of performances. It was better than Wake Up Girls!, but that’s probably damning with faint praise, since WUG! had one good performance and the rest were chop jobs with static cuts and cop-out animation of heads and faces. But here there was a lot of quick cutting to avoid showing dance routines, flying camera moves, audience shots, and just general disappointment at the performances. And on top of that, the songs were just not very interesting. The only one I found good to listen to was Sleeping Beauty, the one that Chihaya sang a capella at the beginning. I was even a bit turned off by Smoky Thrill by Ryuuguu Komachi, because the subject matter of that song seemed a little mature for Azusa, and just outright squicky for Iori and Ami to be singing.

Idolma@ster-Takane in charge

Don’t test Takane

header-spring14-highw

I would say that I enjoyed [email protected] well enough for a Secret Santa show. As far as impact, it definitely didn’t have as much on me as last year’s Macross Frontier, but it was probably enough to get me to continue, watching the movie and the upcoming Cinderella Girls anime. And maybe next year, I’ll actually watch a 1-cour show, and be done with it before December 24th.

About

Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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25 Responses to “Secret Santa 2014 – The [email protected]

  1. skylion says:

    So…basically, in not so many words, we have skylion likes bad characters? I wasn’t LADY for that….

    It’s odd, I don’t have this sort of recollection of the show. I recall it as a bit more streamlined with characters moving in and out as needed. I will still champion my gang, cause…

    • Highway says:

      Well, *I* found them not very interesting, and everyone knows I have unimpeachable knowledge in knowing what I like. 🙂

      Honestly, tho, I’d be surprised if Yayoi had more than 10 lines in the whole last 10 episodes. Likewise, I’d put Iori’s number at maybe 20 in the last 10 episodes. It really turned into Miki, Haruka, and Chihaya, and Haruka finally assumed that main character role that she seemed to have at the very beginning. I was beginning to wonder if that was an “Akariiiiin!” moment, where she wasn’t the main character in any capacity but her imagination.

    • Di Gi Kazune says:

      It was made to sell CDs. Your lack of recollection is probably due to the fact it was light on plot and they spread out the entire series covering 14 characters for development. Exactly the same reason for the upcoming Season 2 of [email protected]

      • skylion says:

        …that might be true, or moreso, I have a very bad memory…But I do recall feeling that the characters were broadly, but well, written at the time…

      • Highway says:

        I wonder, given the exceedingly lightweight nature of the songs, if the series wasn’t more geared towards ramping up sales of the game. I can see it having more of an effect there. Of course, I’m not really the target audience for the songs, but as I said, none were really memorable.

        • skylion says:

          You aren’t wrong, at least from my standpoint. The songs mattered little to me at times, I just liked it for how they wrote the characters in broad strokes and made them work. The whole Idol business was just the vehicle for that….

  2. akagami says:

    I enjoyed both [email protected] and Love Live, although they’re both idol shows I feel they target slightly different audiences.

    Prior to [email protected], my previous introduction to anything idol related was Idol Master Xenoglossia, which was… forgettable.

    [email protected] was the show that got me into idol related anime, and it still holds a special place. I’ve started rewatching the series in BD and still enjoy it as much as I did initially. I do agree that it’s lightweight and fluffy, if you’re expecting anything more you’ll be disappointed.

    • Highway says:

      I can see where it would get someone interested. skylion’s saying that he needs to get me watching AKB0048 now, so we’ll see about that. I think a lot of what I like about Love Live!, compared to [email protected], is that the songs mean a lot more in Love Live!. The show is about them putting the songs together, preparing for them, and what their performances of those individual songs mean. [email protected] is a lot more about the overall ‘being an idol’, experience.

      • skylion says:

        00 is an odd duck. It shouldn’t work. The underlying premise, “entertainment is banned” just cannot work as an enforceable system. But there it is. Also, idols that sing and fight at the exact same time is….whaaaaaaat? But if you take the massive nudge and somewhat clumsy wink…

      • akagami says:

        AKB0048 was an odd one for me. I really tried to like the show, but it was just missing something for me. The singing and battling kind of worked for the show, in an odd charming way.

        Overall it was a decent watch, although I enjoyed the second season more than I did the first. I did find the whole election thing kind of silly, but I guess they were staying true to the AKB48 premise.

        • skylion says:

          The election was just over-done, but yes, it was by the groups tradition. Oh, and the planet of the magic bears….WFT!?

          • akagami says:

            I don’t remember the bears, to be honest. Every time I think of a bear, momma bear from Knights of Sidonia pops into my head.

            The one image that sticks in my head is the igloos, with the kids all huddled inside. I never learned how to make an igloo! I feel cheated.

  3. Foshizzel says:

    YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY Highway watched The [email protected] and if anyone wanted to know I got his name for secret santa which is a bit weird since were from the same blog, but hey at least you watched!

    The [email protected] vs Love Live: I have to agree with Akamagi and echo what he said those two series being for different kind of idol fans! Love live is more about the actual live performances while The [email protected] is all about the characters and how they grow into pros.

    My favorite girls will always be Miki, Haruka and Makoto but I will say that Haruka was my all time favorite because I felt the most connection to her thanks to her personality which I feel I am sort of similar too well somewhat.

    I can’t wait for the Cinderella girls soon and then we can all have our top three <3

  4. Overcooled says:

    Last year I accidentally recommended three 2-cour series…haha…But this year I tried to avoid that.

    Funny how you got another Metanorn member as your secret santa!

    • Highway says:

      I recommended 2 1-cour series and a 2-cour. And of course they picked the 2-cour (Hyouka) over the 2 1-cour (Girls und Panzer and White Album 2).

      • Wanderer says:

        Whoever it was really should have watched Girls und Panzer. Because everyone should watch Girls und Panzer.

        • Highway says:

          I will make Girls und Panzer my number 1 recommendation every year I get someone who hasn’t seen it. This year it was even a sports anime blogger, so I thought it would be right up their alley.

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