First Impressions – The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls

The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls

Have faith in your dreams, and someday your rainbow will come smiling through.

lvlln avatarThe long-awaited spinoff to The Idolm@ster, one of 2011’s best shows and best video game adaptation to date is finally here. Whereas that series was based on the main series of console games, The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls is based on a spinoff game, a mobile card collecting game with a whole new set of idols. So while this spinoff has most of the same production staff as the original series, it’s also starting with a clean slate. Can it replicate the success of the previous series? We shall see…

Highway avatarI’m new to the Idolm@ster universe, as you know from my Secret Santa post just a couple weeks ago. But maybe another reason for going ahead and watching it then was that this new series was coming out this Winter. But this time my lack of interest in previews bit me in the ass.

Karakuri avatarI’m more excited about Cinderella Girls more for the character aesthetics than anything else. I really liked Mika’s design (…which makes sense now that my boyfriend pointed out to me that it’s kind of similar to Amu off of Shugo Chara) and Goodsmile’s new Ranko figure looks gorgeous. My expectations aren’t really that high story-wise (though the other Idolm@ster was pretty good for it’s interesting story), but all I really need in life is cute, animated girls.


I’m all prepared to fall for Kaede who appears to be an idol already at the start of this show and who, by the way, is 4 years older than Azusa.

Karakuri// I wasn’t that interested in the first episode of the last Idolm@ster anime that aired. I did watch all of it eventually and really enjoyed it once they expanded on the characters, but I thought that while that episode was innovative in the way the setting and characters were presented, they just tried to introduce way too many characters at once. With Cinderella Girls though, they did almost the opposite. There was no mystery surrounding the producer, but the girls were introduced much slower and in greater detail as to who they were as characters. Uzuki seems kind of Haruka-like in her personality, but we know more about how she is in this episode than we knew about Haruka in her first episode. Producer looks like he might have more of a personality too… Or at least he has more distinctive traits than just being an all around good guy who magically gets along with everyone. They introduced some of the other new (whom I assume are) senior idols from the beginning song, but it still wasn’t like the name-throwing in the other Idolm@ster. So overall, this was a pretty easy-to-handle episode. No, not much happened, but at least the idols introduced (with names) are pretty distinct. Where the story is going from here is pretty obvious too, but that’s fine.

lvlln// The original Idolm@ster series took an unorthodox approach with its 1st episode, presenting a documentary-style look at the lives of the girls already working at 765 Pro. Cinderella Girls takes a more standard approach, starting off with just a single girl aspiring to be but not yet an idol, along with a Producer trying to gather the girls needed to form his troupe at 346 Pro. It’s a formula that fits with the Cinderella story theme and seems better suited for exploring each of the girls’ personalities and reasons for becoming idols.


Some guys just don’t know how to take “No” for an answer.

Unfortunately, the first episode did precious little to make use of this opportunity. We started off with Uzuki Shimamura, a bubbly cheerful girl who is given a second chance after initially failing to make the cut in the Cinderella auditions. This could have been a starting point, but then the rest of the episode was dedicated to the Producer stalking the 2nd girl, Shibuya Rin, harassing her to join his team. This was problematic for a few reasons. First of all, there was absolutely no basis for the Producer’s seeming belief that Rin would be particularly good at being an idol. She was literally a random girl he happened to see in the street, and when pressed for a reason he was so insistent in wanting her, he responded with a meaningless canned response, “because of her smile.” Second, the Producer made it clear from the outset that he needed 3 idols for his team, so why wasn’t he pursuing other, more traditional channels like auditions, for another idol while he was working on this Rin recruitment project? Third, Rin finally relenting and agreeing to join 346 felt overly convenient and contrived – even if Rin was bored with her life as the Producer implied, how would he have known, and why was becoming an idol in particular appealing to her? Her conversation with Uzuki seemed to be a turning point, but Uzuki’s words felt rather empty, filled with naive hope rather than any real substance.

It’s a real shame this got off to such a clumsy start, because the characters who are there are all very interesting. You’ve got the Producer, a scary-looking, phlegmatic, awkward man who seemingly means well in his desires to start an idol troupe. You’ve got Uzuki Shimamura, an energetic and dilligent girl with a pure but somewhat ignorant dream of becoming an idol. And you’ve got Rin Shibuya, a serious and muted girl who appears not entirely satisfied or sure about her current station in life. These are all very compelling figures around whom you could build an idol story, one that wouldn’t really have been possible in the original series with its characters in their already established roles. Of course, that show was more a light-hearted romp than a serious dramatic work, and one may expect Cinderella Girls to follow in its footsteps. But this episode didn’t do a whole lot with that either, with a relative dearth of fun or silly moments.


Hey, I’ve seen those girls before!

Highway// So I’m sitting down to watch this first episode, and it seems nice enough, and the art looks familiar, and the music’s good. But I’m starting to wonder “when am I gonna see someone I recognize?” I think the one shoe finally dropped during the OP (or maybe when that actual shoe dropped right before) that there were going to be a bunch of new characters. But the other shoe didn’t drop until well after the OP that this was a completely different set of people for a completely different company. As I said, I don’t really pay attention to previews besides the ones that I help out on in our season preview post. So this kind of took me by surprise.

But to be honest, it didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of this episode. I actually liked the way this series started a lot more than the way the first Idolm@ster started, with more focus on just a couple characters, and not the noisy hodgepodge of voices and clamoring for attention that the previous series had. Now, there was definitely a bit of sketchiness to the whole thing. Did anyone check this Producer’s bonafides? It felt from the beginning like Uzuki was being taken by a conman, and not a very good one (although any con man who actually successfully takes a mark is good enough, I guess), and while this feeling faded, it was replaced by a feeling that while this producer (who handed out his card so much, but they don’t want us to know his name) is an earnest guy, he’s in over his head, and just not very good at being a producer. I guess it’s better to be a not-very-good producer than a not-very-good conman, but neither one is putting food on the table. But as you’d expect, he eventually breaks down Rin’s hesitance (with Uzuki’s help) and gets her to join up.


This Producer is not quite as good with first impressions as the last one.

As a huge fan of the first Idolm@ster anime, I can’t help but be disappointed in the way this spinoff started out. I wasn’t expecting it to start with a gimmick episode again, but I sure was expecting it to have some of the same strengths, putting interesting characters into fun situations. Instead, we got a clumsy start to a slightly more serious story. All the pieces are still there to put together a great dramatic idol anime; I just hope this Rin recruitment story was an uncomfortable hump we had to get over, rather than an indication of things to come.

Once I dumped my wrongly-held expectations it was a lot easier to get into the show. I guess they’re setting up the big underdog aspect pretty well, because you have a not-very-good potential idol (Uzuki has been turned down multiple times at auditions) and a not-very-good Producer trying to team up to become famous and successful. It’s one of those foregone conclusions that they’ll end up being successful, but it’ll take a while. And while I liked that they introduced just a couple girls in this first episode, I worry that introducing so many others will take up so many episodes that we won’t have much time for actual story development. But the setup is promising and maybe the show will blossom from a bit less frenetic pace than the previous show.

This was a bit more straightforward approach, but it seems like Cinderella Girls will be following the same story that the last Idolm@ster did about having the girls start at the bottom and climb their way up. That works perfectly fine for me, since watching all of the characters slowly move forward with their careers made for a really interesting anime. I guess this time, they’re starting even lower towards the bottom, since some of the characters introduced weren’t even part of a production studio yet. Some of the 346 characters seem like they have somewhat similar personalities to the 765 group, but that will probably be okay as long as their circumstances and career growth goes slightly differently. What I liked about the last anime was watching everyone gradually succeed as idols, so I really wouldn’t mind watching almost the exact same anime with slightly different characters. They might get more innovative than that, which would be fine too. In general, I look forward to seeing how things go from here.


Hm, girl #3?


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4 Responses to “First Impressions – The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls”

  1. Di Gi Kazune says:

    It’s… A Trap!

  2. skylion says:

    This was an odd, awkward journey. I liked it for that. Rin is going to have a fun and interesting ride on this.

    But….it’s not going to be worth beans until we get the best of the best. Futaba Anzo the NEEtest LOLi EVAr!

  3. Overcooled says:

    New characters in a spinoff, huh? So I can watch this without having seen the original Idolmaster? I’m slowly getting dragged into the world of idols after becoming obsessed with the love live mobile app…

    • akagami says:

      Join the crowd! I haven’t seen any real idols though, and not sure if I would really enjoy the experience. I’ll stick with my 2d idol fascination for now.

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