Posted by psgels on 23 July 2012 with categories: AKB0048, Anime Reviews



So, AKB was a series that not many people seemed to like, so with this review I’ll try my hardest to explain why it managed to win me over. And let me get one thing straight: it’s not like I’m some sort of idol fanboy. In fact, I hate the idol business. I really dislike J-Pop as a music genre. And I’m really not a fan of abusing moe and cute girls to pander to an audience. So yes: how on earth did this show manage to win me over?

For the people who aren’t familiar at all with AKB0048: AKB48 is an idol group, consisting out of a huge amount of teenaged girls who sing songs and do other cute things. This series is meant to promote them: the main characters are all played by various members, most of whom have no voice acting experience, and the plot is about a world in which music has been outlawed and the girls run around and perform guerilla concerts as a sort of resistance. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Yeah, but here is the thing: the two main creators, the chief director and the main writer, are two of the biggest trolls around in the anime business: Shoji Kawamori and Mari Okada. And they were given a lot of freedom. I still don’t know who found that a good idea, but bless this person.

Now, to fully appreciate this series, you’re going to have to need to read inbetween the lines a bit. It’s indeed true that we have a bunch of idols who sing and fight evil enemy soldiers at the same time. But at the same time this series does some really surprising things as a show that’s meant to be a promotion of an idol group. I mean, usually these things are incredibly cheap and superfluous: cartoonified members of the group go on random adventures and try to be as cute or cool as possible. AKB0048 however, completely throws these conventions out of the window and starts to focus on the uglier sides of being an idol; how unfair the business can be sometimes, how hard it forces teenaged girls to work and how it forces some dangerous mindsets on them. This series, on one half is indeed cute girls doing cute things, but that other half is really dark to balance all of that out, with some really cynical messages at times.

Beyond that, this show also is just very well executed. The thing with this show is that nearly all voice actresses are completely new, so they don’t have a stereotype that they all try to fit in like what you’d have if people like Kugimiya Rie were cast and all. There are a lot of characters in this show, but none are unlikable or try to force their cuteness down the viewer’s throats. They’re all well-developed and all have engaging issues that actually differ quite a bit. Beyond that there is excellent animation and musical numbers: the performances in this series really work and its use of music is really excellent.

Having said all that though, the overall storyline of this show IS completely silly. The people who outlawed entertainment are nothing more than shallow villains, and somehow they keep getting beaten by a bunch of little girls despite being in armored tanks and mechas. For as much attention this series gives to entertainment and idols, so little it spends on the actual bad guys of this series. That really is the biggest weakness of this series: at times it will be really, really hard to maintain your suspense of disbelief. The sign whether you’ll like this show or not is probably at episode number two: if at that point the characters don’t interest you, then you’ll have a very hard time with this. That episode however does have the power to really capture its audience though, so if you’re interested in this series, do give it a chance and don’t be put off by the whole premise… too much.

Storytelling: 7,5/10 – An excellent animated musical, but the action scenes make no sense!
Characters: 8,5/10 – Large cast with actually likable characters, rather than characters who put too much emphasis on moe stereotypes. They actually got a balance here.
Production-Values: 8,5/10 – Eye candy! Great use of music and songs.
Setting: 8,5/10 – A very cynical and interesting look at idols that you would not expect from a show that’s meant to promote idols.

Suggestions:
Aquarion Evol
Macross Frontier
– Nerima Daikon Brothers

6 Responses

  1. gandalf8 says:

    I was holding myself from watching this series when the first episode aired. I really enjoyed the previous idol focused anime series, the Idolmaster, but had heard all sorts of unsavory things about the real world AKB48 idol group and their, to say it mildly, creepy hardcore fans. Therefore, I was resolute in giving the series a pass, what with the Spring season chock-full of other interesting shows.

    So, imagine my surprise when you started to blog and review the weekly episodes of this series. You, who has stated that your not a fan of the idol culture and jpop songs, reviewing an anime based on one of the most popular idol groups in Japan. Still, my schedule was already full with all the other currently airing series, so I decided it to put on my to-watch-list. Then, after the start of the Summer season, with a few days where I had no shows that I wanted to watch, I finally decided to marathon it all just after the penultimate episode aired.

    Suffice to say, I quite pitied those who did follow this weekly, as I blasted through all the episodes at a furious pace, and still felt so impatient waiting for the finale. I’ll chalk this as another very entertaining series from Shoji Kawamori, and will be waiting in anticipation for season 2 next year.

    • DmonHiro says:

      Yeah, tell me about it. I watched it weekly and couldn’t wait for the next episode each time. Still, worth it.

  2. Firechick says:

    I just finished this show and I found myself liking it as well (but I do admit the weakest episode is episode 10). I mostly watched this because I wanted to get rid of the snoozefest that was Kimi to Boku and look for something more exciting, and lo and behold, I found this, and I couldn’t be happier! This is like…K-On done right to me.

  3. mnscoaiy00understudies says:

    How far have you watched when you wrote this?
    As you have noticed, AKB0048 seems to be fleshing out more the darker side of the story along with DES and the previously mostly unexplored part of Zodiac, who’s CEO is Chieri’s father. The action and drama is increasing, and the storyline is more in depth. Yuuko disappears, Mikako Minamino, the former center nova and Minegishi Minami the 5th, is shown to go to the dark side to return the Center Nova to this world. I don’t know how you think, but it’s becoming a bit more intriguing for me.

  4. mnscoaiy00understudies says:

    I think you hate Kugimiya Rie. Am I wrong?

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  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:43 AM)
    @Friend: perfect, I on the other hand am not as fast lol
  • Friend
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:19 AM)
    I should have the rough draft ready by the next 24 hours, so I’ll show it to you then.
  • Friend
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:16 AM)
    @Bam :-) “Rome wasn’t built in a single day”
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:14 AM)
    @Friend: very pragmatic- I like your style ;)
  • Friend
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:09 AM)
    @Bam Heres what I’m planning to do: I’ll draw the city as it might have looked like pre-industrial revolution and post-columbian. So, maybe the late 17th century. Then, I’ll add in the changes brought in by industry. Afterall, every building isn’t built at the same time, so it’ll give that contrast of old/new, making the city much more authentic.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:07 AM)
    @Friend: hard question … needs some serious thought if we’re trying to feel authentic.
  • Friend
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:04 AM)
    What would they use electricity for, if they’ll even accept it?
  • Friend
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:04 AM)
    @Bam I’ve been thinking about that as well. Their irrigation was already a masterpiece, so I think hydraulic piping would only perfect their skill at city planning. Now, energy is what I’ve been stuck on.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 06:02 AM)
    @Friend: you’re on the right track with the modernization of the culture, but I need to ponder a little bit about what would’ve happened in that scenario. Metals, medicine, energy and irrigation would be the significant advances that they could use without serious industrialization, but I need time to think what these would’ve all meant to them and where they could’ve taken their society with it.
  • Friend
    (Friday, Oct 24. 2014 05:56 AM)
    @Bam Yes, it’s very bright and sentimental. It is a morning prayer/celebration. \.0/

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