After days of getting my thoughts straight (and raping the replay button of the animated dances), my body is now l@dy to talk about the Idolm@ster.
If you’ve been around the anime community for a while, you would know what Idolm@ster is or rather, what it is infamous for. It spearheaded the whole otaku craze on 2D/CGI idols with the game selling like hotcakes back in 2006/2007. Basically the game has a huge fanbase. It got itself an adaptation in 2007 called XENOGLOSSIA and basically the reaction to it was it’s either bad or it’s bad. It kinda used the characters and turned them into mecha pilots. Casual viewers got bored after a while and Fans of the game were insulted in how the anime changed the characters personalities. It definitely felt like that was probably it for the Idolm@ster franchise in anime form. There was one OVA back in 2008/2009 that tried to do something with it but it pretty much failed too.
Four years later, this got announced. Idolm@ster will be turned into an anime again, this time with more respect to the game itself. They got themselves A-1 Pictures to animate with ex-GAINAX members. Safe to say, this was gonna look real pretty. The big question then was, is sticking to the game itself gonna be a good choice? The characters themselves are walking stereotypes that cater to every single otaku fetish; it felt like a huge gamble. Safe to say, at least for me, this succeeded.
The anime had a pretty slow start. The first episode was fairly unique. It introduced all 12 idols in a documentary format. Back then my impression was that it had a really unique layout but the characters really were walking stereotypes. Slowly though, episode by episode, things get developed. Each Idol has at least an episode centered around them (with the exception of the more popular ones like Miki and Chihaya and our MC Haruka). Most of the idols don’t have much development in them but with the episodes catered solely for them, somehow we do get attached to them. I guess it’s just good characterization overall.
The characters that do have a fair amount of development are Miki, Chihaya and Haruka. These three got it real good. Miki, stole the first half of Idolm@ster, no doubt about that. It’s like watching someone slowly become a star, with the way she was focused on. Haruka got the last few episodes of the series, and A-1 Pictures/ex-Gainax peeps gave her a real got drama which just oozed awesomeness in an aesthetic stanpoint and despair in an emotional standpoint. The highlight for Idolm@ster for me though is Chihaya Kisaragi’s little story. Like most people, I shed a few tears on her song Yakusoku. Somehow, drama is not what you’d expect with a series like this but they pulled it off.
Idolm@ster is a work of love. Our ex-Gainax staffer/our director is a HUGE fan of Idolm@ster and it really shows how much he loves what he’s working on with how this series played out. The animation is nothing short of phenomenal, especially when dances/concerts are concerned. EVERY MOVEMENT IS DRAWN. In case you’ve never noticed, most dances are just CGI (AKB0048/Macross F) or just full of retouches and repeats (EDs with dances on them). I swear, watch the dances. . . it’s crazy how well made all of it are. There’s also singing (hey Chihaya!) and a lot of insert songs which makes watching this a real treat.
In a sense, Idolm@ster let me accept my inner-otaku self, even for just a bit. I started loving all the characters, even though most of them never really stepped out of their stereotypes, and I started getting sucked in into its world. Anime that are works of passion and love (and not a “if we have a chance for budget cutting, DO IT) are rare to come by so I really suggest if you want to watch one that is a work of love, go watch The Idolm@ster.
Execution: 37/40 (Only a work of love can pull something like this off)
Engagement: 26/30 (Started slow, ended amazingly)
Characters: 18/20 (Great characterization, especially considering the fact that this series had 12 characters to work with //excluding the producers which are also well developed)
Production Values: 10/10 (Dances are phenomenal; lots of insert songs)