Posted by psgels on 23 May 2012 with categories: AKB0048, Aquarion Evol

AKB0048… I…. give up…

I want to hate this show. I want to rant about what an incredibly stupid and pandering premise they settled with. But I can’t. I have no clue why, but this show has this amazing energy and charm. The idol shows did it again, even though I hate idols and J-pop. This is the umpth show that went “So you hate idols? Well, here is a really good anime about them, so there!” Some other examples of this are the current Natsuiro Kiseki and its use of idols to bind the cast together, but the past also was full of them: White Album? Unique romance with balls. Fancy Lala? Incredibly genuine character-study with an amazing ending. Full Moon wo Sagashite? It had heart-wrenching second half. And then there was Skip Beat which was hilarious, Key the Metal Idol was really well made, Symphony in August was really well done for one of the few non-fiction anime out there and Perfect Blue was just the perfect gritty look at the business. Sure there have been plenty of duds, but I’m still amazed at how much good and daring stuff the genre brought forth.

The only problem: how on earth am I going to blog this in this already incredibly busy season? the only thing I can come up with is blog it together with Aquarion Evol, since they have so much staff in common, being both helmed by two of the big trolls of anime out there: Shoji Kawamori and Mari Okada. The thing is: in these first four episodes went along as well as Aquarion Evol, if not better, and Aquarion did develop a few issues along the way which I don’t see coming as easily with AKB0048. It’s just unfair to prefer one over the other at one point. The individual entries will probably get a bit shorter than usual, but I do want to highlight both, because I’m enjoying them a lot.

AKB0048 is very genuine and despite its huge cast it actually keeps track of everyone. It’s very charming, but what surprised me also were some of the production issues so far: here is the thing: most of the main voice actresses in this series are members of the real AKB48 group (or whatever it’s called) and have very little experience, if any at all. And yet they are all doing a really good job at bringing their characters to life! They aren’t trying to stuff themselves into stereotypes either. That was one of my biggest beefs against that Idolm@ster show (or at least the first three episodes that I managed to last) and what prevented me from enjoying it unlike a lot of other people: everyone felt like a stereotype. Here instead the characters have a much better defined backstory, motivations and personalities that don’t need to be shoehorned into archetypes. And thank god there is no Kugimiya Rie either.

Also, I’m not sure because of who this was, but one of my beefs with Macross Frontier was that as soon as someone started singing outside a concert, it still felt like everything was taking place in a recording studio, with random instruments appearing from out of nowhere and all. Here though, when characters are singing for leisure, it really feels that way.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Now, as for this week’s episode of Aquarion Evol: bloody Nora, what a plot twist. I should have known from the couple of Mari Okada and Shouji Kawamori in a series that tries to be as over the top as possible: to think that there were points at which I actually tried to take the love triangle between Amata, Kagera and Mikono seriously. They’re the same person. Of course. With that, all makes sense. I like that though: it’s a satisfying twist after all that bloody build-up and this episode lead into it pretty well. That dream sequence in particular was awesome, and actually among my highlights of this series.

And Shoji Kawamori, did you again just pull the “it really looks like one of the main cast members died but h/she turns out to be fine in the end?” I’ve seen too many of your series to know where this is going, unfortunately. It would be an awesome twist if I were wrong, though, but the dead sign that Zessica is fine is that bit at the start of the episode where she talks to Mikage: whatever that was leading up to hasn’t happened yet.

Why I really liked this episode by the way also had to do with that this episode went back to the city of the first episode, and showed in a completely different light now that it’s destroyed and evacuated. Earlier I complained that this show didn’t do anything about continuity. I really have to take that back now. At this point, there are tons of scars in the landscape of events that happened in the past, from this destroyed cities to Andy’s filled up holes. One notable exception is that we still don’t know who the heck does the maintenance on the mechas in this series.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

16 Responses

  1. DmonHiro says:

    My reaction to AKB0048:
    Before episode 01: Wow, this show’s gonna be absolute shit. The premise is retarded and it’s just a big add for the idol group.
    After episode 01: Well, that wasn’t so bad. The songs are nice, the voices are surprisingly good and it’s got a certain charm. Still dumb though.
    After episode 02: Well, the characters sure are interesting and the DES are a bigger threat then I expected them to be.
    After episode 03: HOLY SHIT! Are you freaking kidding me? Damn, that was an excellent episode. I’m sold! Bring on the next episode.
    After episode 04: This is still top notch. I can’t believe what a great job everyone’s doing. What’s going on? This show was prime C-list fodder. It was supposed to be shit. Also, DAMN Sonata is so adorable!

    • ChobitsChi says:

      I wholeheartedly agree!

      I was mentally ready to trash this show, to laugh at its ridiculous premise, to hate it with passion…
      Instead, I fell in love with AKB0048 and I don’t regret this one bit!

  2. Qwerty1 says:

    Is AKB0048 really that good?

    I tried watching the first episode but couldn’t get to the point of believing a story revolving around idols being outlawed… and the cg was a little creepy at times… and those hearts in everyone’s dead eyes…

    • DmonHiro says:

      You fell in a small trap. This actually DID happen in feudal Japan, when all forms of entertainment were forbidden to anyone but royalty.

  3. Scruffy says:

    Aquarion Evol .. WTF was that?? The last 2 episodes have been awesome (I was on the borderline of dropping it while Mikino was doing her pouty thing. But what on earth do they mean that he’s the same person? Was he divided into 2 halves when his mother was kidnapped? Very wierd.

    One other thing .. is it Netorare if it’s your other self that takes your girl??

  4. Blob says:

    @AKB0048. You guys just like watching little girls running around, right? This show is so much male oriented, it’s freaky…. i don’t think I’ve ever encountered a show that was tailored so specifically to gender aside from hentai and yaoi. The plot is pure nonsense that never gets any explanations at all (and i doubt it will) and the dialogues are pretty bad, but what freaked me out the most was the all male audience of the first concert and the absolute void of any significant male character, both father and boyfriend are just filler characters at this point (again a doubt there will be more to it). It’s based on the AKB48 concept so this should not surprise me, but imo this anime topped the freaky factor of the actual AKB48 group.

    • psgels psgels says:

      … and yet, the one who recommended this show to me was a girl. ;)

    • DmonHiro says:

      You’d be surprised how many females like watching little girls run around, my friend. And if you’re creeped out by a show that has yet to do anything creepy just because it has little girls in it, you are the one with the problem.

      • Blob says:

        @DmonHiro

        Heh….. I’m not creeped out by little girls running around, I’m creeped out by the dynamic this show has, which mainly has to do with the AKB48 franchise than anything else. It’s not that AKB48 don’t have any female fans, there are plenty but it’s the fact that the original and the utmost purpose of this group is to cater to male otaku culture and this show is pretty much in your face about it in a way I haven’t encountered before. Speaking of which the manga of the same franchise had actually softened the effect by introducing a guy as main character. Perhaps you chose to ignore it or like this anime despite it and that’s fine, doesn’t mean that I have some sort of problem for not doing the same.

        • Blob says:

          “Perhaps you chose to ignore it or like this anime despite it” should be “Perhaps you chose to ignore it or like this anime despite it or because of it” forgot to add it, but it that applies too and it’s all ok btw.

    • Anca says:

      The script writer is also female, and she’s one of the few that can write scripts that always resonate with me (<- also a girl).

  5. tktym says:

    Lots of girls in Japan love akb48. . .just as they love ayumi hamasaki, mostly because they want to be like them in a sense like how all boys want to be like micheal jordan or insert sports star here. Of course most of the men in Japan who like them are the standard otaku types, but the group is suprisingly mainstream and are pretty much getting so big that people(most Japanese people) dont really associate the whole “only for dirty old men/otaku” stigma that was there when they first came out years ago when they were marketed as cute high school girls (seriously they were in high school girl outfits all the time when they came out) Now though They are serious(using that term loosely) singer/perfomer/idols whatever. Hell, some of the most popular members of the group e.g. Tomomi Itano is pretty much the spokesface of the Docomo cell phone company (or is it softbank? I forgot) her picture is everywhere!

    I do find it interesting that people are finding this show good. It’s not my cup of tea(I’ve gotten pretty sick of anime and all its pandering as of late so I don’t watch much anymore) but I’ll at least read psgels reviews of the show. . . if he continues to blog it. . .

    @demon hiro
    “And if you’re creeped out by a show that has yet to do anything creepy just because it has little girls in it, you are the one with the problem.”

    now that isnt neccesary, if you cant discuss something without trying to throw veiled insults at someone for voicing their opinion, then maybe you should not say anything at all.

  6. RABUJOI says:

    This isn’t just an anime thing…if there’s a death scene like Zessica’s, there’s virtually NO WAY she’s actually dead. Even if we saw her lying in state, embalmed and all, we’d have our doubts. She’d pretty much have to be blown to bits or cremated or something before we’d actually believe the show killed off a core character.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:27 PM)
    A 13 episode series would work for the second title unlimited. But Alternative is a pretty long visual novel. You need at least two cours to give it justice. Making extra an OVA could work but you do need it for alternative. But it’s not an optional part of the trilogy. It needs to be read first, so that events later have a greater impact. Personally I am not even sure Muv Luv can even work in another medium.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:12 PM)
    That might compress things, but I think a good screen-writer can fit pretty much any VN in 12-14 episodes (covering just the main route).
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:07 PM)
    @Aidan: then the best solution would’ve been to make a two cour season covering the 2nd and the 3rd book. Have the cours air two anime seasons apart, and in the middle have an offshoot short OVA that covers the 1st book, but has a more harem comedy feel to it. Think Full Metal Panic and Fumuffu.

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