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)