Friday, December 16, 2011

Idolmaster 24: Family

Overall, this was a good conclusion to Haruka's arc - they went with the theme of friendship among the 765Pro idol family, and that's fine.  As much as I wish they would have delved into a Haruka-Miki-Producer-san love triangle, that would have been a little out of place with the rest of the series anyway.  Instead we get Haruka having a breakdown as she feels all her friends at 765Pro are slipping away, Ritsuko giving her some time off, and finally after a chat with Producer-san Chihaya asks Ritsuko to help get everyone together, Haruka remembers why she wanted to be an idol to begin with, and we're all set for a happy finale.

The real blame for Haruka's predicament rests squarely on Producer-san's shoulders, though - you don't put on a concert with all your idols without scheduling time for them to practice together, at least a few times.  All the stress Haruka put on herself trying to schedule time for everyone to meet was basically her trying to do the Producer's job.  To cut Producer-san a little slack, it's a very common mistake of rookie producers and project managers alike - over-committing, and as a consequence overbooking their idols (or "resources" in corporate-speak).  If everyone's overbooked, the end result is things don't get done and/or get done poorly.  If there aren't enough hours in the day for 765Pro's idols to get all their jobs done and practice, it's the Producer's job to step in and start saying no to people to free up time - otherwise, as Haruka foresaw, the end product's not going to be very good.  It's a fine line - you want to do as much as you can, but you don't want your idols/team to be overworked and start sacrificing quality either.  Bottom line, if like Producer-san you're on the phone telling people you're going to put on a great show, you need to line up the practice time to make the show great.

Uh...thank you...I mean, thank me...

The visuals were very well-done this episode though, and while Haruka giving herself candy was a little surreal (reminded me of that scene with the two Kyons in Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi a little), everything still clicked well overall.  The Producer was out of commission most of the episode but did at least give Chihaya some good advice, which partly makes up for his sucking at scheduling.  Miki impressed me because she didn't throw Haruka under the blame bus for what happened to the Producer, probably helped by the fact it was clear in the first couple minutes of the episode that he'd have a smooth recovery.  If his prognosis had been in doubt, it would have upped the drama some, but again, Producer-san wasn't the focus here, it was on friendship/family and that's fine too.

Finally, the good kind of tears

In the end, part of me still thinks they could have done a lot more with this if they'd thrown the romance angle in, but I can accept this story arc for what it is - we did get some very well-done, emotionally powerful moments that you never would have guessed were coming if you'd only watched, say, the episode about Hibiki and her dog.  Haruka's acting audition was conveniently close to how she really felt at the time, but it showed us a side of Haruka we hadn't really seen before.  At a glance you might think Haruka's one of those eternally cheerful people that would find the bright side even if the sun was about to explode, but this shows she's a more complex character than that, and how much she depends on her friends for support.

This was a nice touch, going full circle with the OP

Early on, Haruka seemed to disappear for episodes at a stretch and I was wondering if she was going to end up like Akari in Yuruyuri - but fortunately, in the second cour she had a lot of time in the limelight, and she's easily my favorite character of the cast.  It's going to be sad when the curtain goes down on the concert and the series comes to an end - but Idolmaster is something (at least for arcs like this one, Hibiki's dog not so much) I can see hitting my re-watch list.  

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