The Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls – 05

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Live cats on stage for an idol debut doesn’t seem like a recipe for disaster at all.

lvlln avatarSo rather than focusing on the 5 girls who were announced to be soon debuting at the end of the previous episode, this one focused mostly on Miku and her insecurities about seeing those girls leapfrog past her. It wasn’t a bad idea – I’ve liked Miku’s competitiveness since the start of episode 3 when she first confronted the main 3 girls about this – but I was left pretty unsatisfied by the episode’s reliance on forced drama based on inexplicably poor communication.

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How did 3 young girls manage to overtake a restaurant? I would have liked to see this go down.

Of course, The Idolm@ster franchise isn’t and has never been about deep, meaningful character studies, but rather about cute idols doing cute idol things. I wouldn’t normally be so critical of the drama, but it felt like those cute idol things kind of took the back seat to the drama in this episode. It definitely had good cute idol moments, such as the main 3 girls trying to think up their subunit name – and seemingly only able to come up with food names (though Fried Chicken would have been the perfect name – easy to remember, has a story behind it, and easily used for sponsorships) – or Anzu excitedly getting up at talk of a strike. But those didn’t make up the meat of the episode.

As evidenced by the resolution being provided at the end by Producer’s rather vague and non-specific promises, the entire conflict in this episode seemed to be predicated not just on Miku’s frustrations at not knowing when she would debut, but rather on her fears that she would never debut no matter how much work she put in. This strikes me as absurd for a few reasons. The first reason being, of course, that she was hired to be an idol, and the primary responsibilities of that role is to be public-facing. One does not filter employees through auditions and then provide them dance training if one doesn’t intend to show them to the public.

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Rika is only 12, yet she already understands the deep eroticism of the sailor school uniform. She has a bright career ahead of her.

But it’s reasonable enough to assume that Miku, being an adolescent, can have insecurities that overtake the more rational circuits in her brain. There are entirely believable narratives she could have built in her head about being strung along with false promises, only to be used in unglamorous backup roles. This is where we see another point of failure, the ineffective communication of long-term goals and plans by the management at 346 Pro.

Naturally much of the blame falls onto Producer, being the direct supervisor and manager to the idols. His stoic personality and imprecise style of speech surely did little to alleviate any concerns Miku and her cohorts might have had about their futures. To make matters worse, his actual employee management skills seem to be rather lacking. He just sat back and watched as Miku, Miria, and Rika challenge the main 3 girls, and when the challengers emerged victorious, he had no response to their demands of their own debuts. They may be middle/high school aged girls, but they are still his employees working under his direction, and he should have made clear to them that he was the boss. I liked his response to the girls’ debut proposals better, with the gracious “Thanks for the input, but don’t get your hopes up,” but he could have also asked them to come talk to him before possibly wasting their time on such efforts in the future.

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Holy crap, Anzu is actually helping. I would have thought that her arms had atrophied by now to the point that she couldn’t lift a chair.

And I actually really liked these displays of incompetence by Producer! It was entirely believable that a man like him would have difficulties wrangling a herd of pubescent girls. What was a little harder to believe was the failures of management above him, in deciding to give the green light to this Cinderella Project without also providing the girls meaningful information on what they had planned for them. Not only is that unfair to those girls, it’s also just poor HR management; you’re probably not going to get the best girls to join your team if you don’t give them specific information on what you want from them and what they’ll get out of it. You simply can’t create a situation in which a prospective idol is genuinely wondering if she will ever make her debut, or thinks giving out her homemade cookies would make for a good idol debut, or believes that she can one day earn massive royalties despite doing nothing but sleep all day. 346 Pro is portrayed as a successful organization that employs dozens of idols; they should have figured this stuff out by now.

The episode could have played on the same themes and issues without invoking the contrived misunderstandings it did. I would have loved to see the hard work Miku had put into getting where she is now. What sacrifices did she have to make, and why does she seem to have a chip on her shoulder about seeing others get past her with less work? Her cynical words to Rika and Miria after their costumed photo shoot tell me that maybe she has experienced disappointment from Producer before – show that to us! What little of her personality that’s been shown to us has already made her one of the most compelling characters in the cast, and that’s with her insufferable “Nya” tic holding her back. It’s just a shame that the show missed a great opportunity to give us so much more.

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New Generations is frankly… underwhelming and generic. It’s no Ryuuguu Komachi, that’s for sure.

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A math/science geek and a self-dubbed cynical optimist. I don't care if it's deep, if it can make me feel something or laugh, it's fine in my book. @lvlln
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17 Responses to “The Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls – 05”

  1. If she can herd cats, I think that counts as a super-power.

  2. Highway says:

    From a business perspective, Fried Chicken is a terrible name: Non-exclusive and Unprotectable. Personally, I liked new generations, although it’s not particularly insightful or meaningful.

    Maybe this is the point of the whole Cinderella Project, but it seems like the majority of the girls are too much quirk. Whereas the entire cast of the first series, and the 5 main girls we see here whose debuts have been scheduled are idols with maybe enough individuality to qualify as personality (or are as generic as you can get like Uzuki), the rest of the girls seem to be more a rogues’ gallery of personality quirks or even flaws. I kind of wonder what they can do with someone like Kirari, or Ranko, or even Miku, whose self is so tied up in a schtick.

    • skylion says:

      Do you remember the Prachett book, Going Postal? The observation was made that a character mistook mannerisms for manners. It’s quite easy to mistake quirks for personality, which seems to be Miku’s whole bag. It cannot be an easy subject to broach.

      But then, it has to be more than a smile, so perhaps she has that going for her.

    • lvlln says:

      Yeah, most girls keep going predictably back to their main gimmicks whenever they show up. I feel like there’s a lot more to them they could explore, rather than reiterating that Rika admires her older sister or that Kanako loves cookies. Anzu even reused the same “8 days off a week” line from the last episode. I think the Cinderella Girls game went less deep into the idols’ personalities than the main game, but it wasn’t necessary for the anime to do the same.

  3. skylion says:

    Bow down to your LAZy LOLi OVErLORd! All the free time off you can muster while supine, or even incline if you so choose.

    Maybe Anzu just needs to find what makes her special.

  4. skylion says:

    Rika is only 12, yet she already understands the deep eroticism of the sailor school uniform.

    She probably understands it as deeply as the twins of the original show understood Bang Bang Boom

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