Friday, July 15, 2011

The Idolmaster - First Impression

I'll start by saying I've never played the Idolmaster game, but I'm kind of a sucker for series about idols. I actually liked Lovely Idol, which puts me in a very, very small minority. I loved the Nakagawa Kanon arc of Kaminomi, even with the weird taser thing. And I liked, although maybe not loved, Idolmaster Xenoglossia - I've always liked the idea of taking a cast of bishoujo and putting them in a totally different, original setting than the one from the game they came from. Haruka and Imber...well, whatever, but I give Sunrise props for trying something innovative. Now along comes another Idolmaster series, and given A-1 is the studio doing it, it looks like a dead ringer for Working, character design-wise at least. Is it good? Barely watchable? A worse idea than "Harry Potter and the Infection of Fire"?

For what it's worth, here are my random thoughts after watching the first two episodes:

- I think I get what Konata was trying to tell Kagami about how when Drama CDs have one set of seiyuu and they change it for the anime it takes a while to get used to. I miss Yui Horie as Yukiho. Also Joseph was much more badass than the Producer. But other than that, I'm adapting.

- The first episode with the game-like "documentary" was innovative, with the unvoiced lines appearing as text like you're playing a galge. But also kind of boring - it blows through the cast of a dozen bishoujo in 20-some minutes and you see a little of their antics. OK. Second episode, a little better, as it did have some form of plot.

- The second episode is better, but I find myself comparing it to Lovely Idol, and I'm not sure which is superior. I think A-1 Pictures has a real chance here to flesh out the characters' backgrounds and motivations, and throw in some drama, rather than just making it a bunch of characters with zero depth acting sort-of cute. Then again, from a business standpoint, cute and shallow sells shiny discs, and let's face it, they went all dorama with Xenoglossia already. Still, I know A-1 can do better, I've seen Kannagi and Sora no Woto - show us why Iori wants to be an idol so badly, aside from some clips in the ED that show her alone a lot in a big mansion. Why does anyone want to be an idol? Do they want to feel loved? To make an impression and rise above the billions condemned to anonymity? Because Mommy forced them to? This stuff just writes itself if they try.

- Back to Iori...a stuffed animal? Really, Iori-chan? You're trying to look grown-up like Azusa, but you carry a stuffed bunny everywhere you go? Just, no.

- The OP is addictive as hell, but if you're going to throw in English words, learn to enunciate your "r"s already. "Are you la-dy? I'm lady!" is all kinds of messed up. Although since I can only read ten kanji I probably shouldn't put down other people's grasp of English.

- Yayoi, Iori, and the twins fail hard at makeup, which was kind of funny, but...OK, I could see my 2-year old doing something like that if we were negligent enough to leave her alone with makeup. But come on, they actually think that looked good? No one that age is that stupid, unless I'm giving today's tweens/teens too much credit. Kids these days may not be able to spell, read, write anything over 140 characters in length, or find the USA on a world map (think I sound old?), but I bet they sure as hell know when someone looks that bad.

- Needs cameos from Xenoglossia and Working. An Imber model on the Producer's desk, or Poplar walking by in the background, would crack me up. Inami could even teach Yukiho self-defense, the possibilities are endless.

In the end, it's probably borderline worth watching if like me you're not a fan of the game to begin with - since I saw some improvement second episode I'm giving A-1 the benefit of the doubt and sticking with it for now. Haruka bumping into that guy in the hall isn't something you'd bother animating just to show she's clumsy, unless he factors into some kind of dramatic plot later on, right? Maybe the Producer could fall for Azusa but be torn between love and professionalism, right? Or Iori's absentee father sees the light and decides to retire as CEO to spend more time with his estranged daughter, forcing her to come to terms with why she wants to be an idol? Hey, I can dream.