765 Production Studio manages the unique talents of 13 professional idols as they slowly make their way to the top and become country-wide celebrities. But the girls' journey is far from just fun and games: hard work, sweat, and tears are some of the prerequisites needed to flourish in this industry—and for 795 Pro in particular, a watchful eye out for their rival, the infamous 961 Production.
As the girls' fame grows, however, their time together as a family diminishes, and now the very popularity they sought is threatening to tear them apart. A difficult balance of work and bonding must be achieved, or they risk everyone going their separate ways. The personal and professional ordeals of these idols can't be conquered alone, but with each other's loving support, any obstacle or hardship can be overcome!
When one gets to point where they begin disregarding anime because they have too many girls on their front poster, it's probably time to take moment and re-evaluate. Granted, I've forced myself to sit through so many generic harems, rom-coms and ecchis these past few years that it has almost become reflexive of me to steer clear of any anime which possibly looks like it may contain any one of the aforementioned three. It was only natural then when I saw the poster of The Idolm@ster, an ensemble of 13 cute girls gawking up at me, that alarm bells tripped off in my head like fire sirens at a pyromaniac's convention. Only due to vigorous recommendations did I reluctantly pick up the series later on.
Proverbial justice looks down on the pretentiously knowledgeable, or so it would seem. My transition from skepticism to fanboyism was swift. Within episodes I was converted, all preconceived doubts I harboured for the series unfounded or long forgotten. I almost felt ashamed, my predictions of meaningless plot and mindless ecchi not only completely wrong, but also reflected the conceited critic that I had become. The Idolm@ster humbled me, never again shall I judge an anime at face value.
The Idolm@ster follows story of 765 productions, a small time idol agency and their road to stardom and success. The narrative of each episode are alike but flexible, each one generally focuses on the backstory of one character, but also contains plenty of interwoven exposition of various other characters so that no episode can really be considered standalone. The general theme of each episode often revolves around a character issue or weakness, some form drama arises from this issue, which is then eventually resolved with the character experiencing some kind of revelation or growth. In many episodes the show cleverly relates the story to a broader context; for example the episode "Everything Starts with One Courageous Step" refers both to Yukiho's small step in facing her phobia, and the day's events as 765 production's first step towards their future.
There are times where the structure of each episode feels a little formulaic, however this is largely offset by the large variety of different stories the show offers. The tone of the stories are what I like to call very PG-13 esque, many of the problems and struggles are grounded in realism, but airbrushed with a heavy hint of optimism. Whilst the drama does get quite heavy towards the later stages of the anime, you can always rest assured that there will be a happy conclusion. In fact, the entire overarching theme of the anime seem to revolve the simple ideas of happiness and optimism which it conveys well, sometimes to a fault.
The characters of course are, quite literally, the stars of the show. It quickly becomes apparent how unexpectedly deep the characterization for these girls go. Each character is unique and Idolm@ster goes out of it's way to make sure these girls all interesting and memorable, which it does a surprisingly good job of. Idolm@ster features an amazing ensemble of voice actors that do a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life, both on stage singing as idols or off stage exchanging playful banter with each other.
Ironically, the true unsung hero is actually the main protagonist. Given a largely clean slate, the nameless "producer" remains very undeveloped and uncharacterized, acting as a role of sorts for the viewer to jump into, (if one was interested in that sort of stuff). What it also meant was that the spotlight always on the girls, never stolen away to implicate or relate the girls with a largely support figure character, romantically or otherwise. Funny how irrelevant the titular character ended up being.
There are many standout qualities The Idolm@ster offers, but the gem of the glitter has to go to the cinematography. In many ways the cinematic progression of the show reflects the characters themselves. While 'offstage' the production value is reasonable at best, easy to look at but not spectacular. The anime goes about it's daily business, not hinting at the show that's about to come.
Then, as stage is set and the music cues, here's when you finally realize that all bets are off. Explosions of lights and sound ensue, magnificently choreographed sequences aided by thrilling transitions, zooms, pans and cinematic techniques I didn't even think Japan knew existed, all cumulating in an electrify experience that's really putting my vocabulary limit to the test. The contrast of onstage and off really allows you to appreciate the level of workmanship devoted into these few minutes of animation. And then there's the ED sequences, which being unique to each episode itself is already unprecedented, also offers some great imagineative style backed with wonderfully fitting music. I have nothing more to say about The Idolm@ster's production value, other than two giant thumbs up of approval.
The Idolm@ster is in many ways a neat little snippet into a prominent Japanese idol subculture. Though perhaps not entirely accurate and/or realistic, The Idolm@ster takes a risk with it's presentation, using what could easy come off as a simplistic and childish tone, and instead delivering on a show that has both enthusiasm, energy and character.
Watch Idolm@ster with an open heart, and you'll quickly discover the sparkle that is perhaps one of the most underrated anime this season.read more
Story: 3 (no impact. Mostly episodic, and while episode 08 is the only one that i like, the rest was boring for me)
Art: 8 (moe-moe cute girls)
CHaracter: 2 (annoying and childish)
Overall: 2 (don't bother this at all)
Before proceeding to review sentence, allow me to apologize for my harsh overall ratings.
The Idol Master has potential to be the most entertaining idol anime because it was adopted by A-1 Picture that notably has abundant budget to create appealing animation, art, and music/OST. Unfortunately it falls apart from the expectation due to that it diverges its way from being realistic in idol topic...or not so serious if you like. The reason i prefer idol anime to be more serious nuance is because idol anime heavily involved in, not only in character development from childish to more mature idol-like person, but also frequent engagement in business commercial that may connect to political things.
Below is a quick bird view for screening purpose. If you don't want to see those things, please see the other two idol anime out there.
Things that are lack of:
- Very little internal conflict exists within group members and individual
- Very little competition, and thus conflict, between idol group
- No idols scandal at all
- Mediocre Lack of management, marketing, networking story of how to lift the idol group to the top
- Although there are some internal problems needed to be solved by idol group member, most of problems are trivial, which don't need to have manager for that. It is just as if the manager and director in idol master is represented just for the sake of completeness, without further development.
- No interesting characteristics or traits of idol members. Worse, most characters are annoying as hell
Idol Master could be said to be similar just like school club activity (slice-of-life), except it was flavored with idol taste. So it's just sad that, while art and choreography are sparkling, it's not be complemented with more mature and non-mediocre story, the things that i'm looking for, hence ripping off the balance of interesting dimensions of idol topic. read more
I'm sort of a strange fan of the iDOLM@STER series. In terms of experience with the series, i've only seen Xenoglossia myself, which I also enjoyed very much, even though the other people I talked to about it didn't really seem to like it. Aside from that, i've never played any of the games associated with it, so I can't say I have any experience with them.
That being said, The iDOLM@STER so far has been quite an enjoyable experience for me.
(Please note that all things said below are my opinion only! Also, most of the things I talk about are already subjective in nature, so not everyone will agree with the verdicts that I lay out for it. I respect everyone's opinion and it's ultimately up to you as the reader/viewer to decide if you agree or disagree with the points I discuss. With that being said, enjoy the review!)
In terms of the story, I can attest that, so far, they have done a great job at keeping it consistent. The story as you may already know, is about a group of amateur idols (the main cast) and their journey towards reaching their goals.
Keep in mind that this isn't just restricted to becoming a successful idol. While (nearly) every character in the cast wishes to become a popular, there are also a number of other goals that the characters are aiming to achieve alongside their journey through the industry. These goals are unique to those specific characters, and, in showing that, the show adds a side to it that increases the variety the of plot material as you are able to see that the cast isn't just a group of people aiming to do the same exact thing.
Although there is no real central plot to the story aside from them wanting to become popular idols, the show supplements that fact by adding in sub-conflicts that different members of the cast face while they progress and grow. This is also made more interesting in that it shows how being an idol interacts with the character's lives and how it may sometimes get in the way of or complement their other objectives.
For the most part, there hasn't been any heavy drama yet, but this may change in the future. There were some specific dramatic parts for some of the characters (Don't want to spoil.) which I thought were done well for the most part. Nothing that made me break down crying, but still legit and reasonably believable/enjoyable. The episode hid a glaring chekhov gun in early on so there is probably something large waiting over the horizon.
The comedy of the show has been mostly just light comedy, nothing that made you burst out laughing like Nichijou, but nothing that made you cringe in disgust like you've been told a really bad joke either. Most of the comedy is usually good enough to put a smile on your face and elicit a few giggles, which is good enough for me.
The show is, for the most part, separated into specific character-centric episodes where they choose one of the cast and focus on a slice of their life. This hasn't been followed strictly seeing as some episodes have been shown to focus on multiple characters, or even the whole cast equally to some degree, but so far, there have been a decent number (3? I think.) of character-specific episodes. So far, the show has done a good job of doing it both ways, by giving a reasonable chunk of the screen-time to specific characters for their spotlight episodes, and also treating the cast fairly equally in episodes that feature them all.
The show does a very good job of keeping a steady balance between idol-related business, normal everyday life trials, and also catering to each character's equally important side-goals as well. In my opinion, the story is very solid so far, and I can attest that it is accomplishing what it had set out to do and not straying too far from the main path.
In terms of Art, I can at least say that I enjoy it. The characters are designed very well and they all look nice. I don't have much to say about the art because this subject is incredibly subjective, right alongside music, so I can't really explain whether it's good or not. You either enjoy the style or you don't.
I guess this category could be attributed to the overall music for the show. In my opinion, the music included in the show so far has been very good. The opening sounds great, and also does a good job in getting you into the mood to watch the show. The ending themes are very good as well, aside from them being enjoyable music, the songs are tailored to specific characters of the cast, making for a heightened experience that complements the characters when viewing their spotlight episodes. The insert songs are fine, and the BGM is fine as well. Other then the specifics mentioned above, there wasn't anything that stood out as particularly "bad" in terms of music to me.
Oh boy, this section was actually going to be pretty big, but I think I already covered a majority of it in the story section. Due to the nature of the show's lack of a centralized conflict, it's obviously going to have its main focus be character development.
That being said, the show succeeds in presenting the characters in ways that make them unique and interesting.
There are a number of different personalities to identify with and explore.
The characters also come from a variety of different backgrounds, ranging from the poor to the rich, to the average every-woman to the mysterious others.
In terms of character development, the show doesn't slack in making sure that all of the cast has a their own, unique and interesting set of traits, goals, personalities, incentives, and probably more.
Enjoyment & Overall;
In my opinion, it's a very solid show that knows what it is aiming to accomplish and isn't hesitant to go for it while also providing a very enjoyable experience to those who want to lend their time to watching it. As a small side-note too, I really enjoy shows that give you a look into the life of another while also teaching you things as well. If I ever decide to become an idol, I can always look back and see that, while this show is probably idealized in some aspects, it is still a fun look at what the life of an aspiring idol would be like.
Some people may be questioning why I gave the show 10's in everything. Well, here's the thing, the show so far hasn't really done anything for me to actually say it's bad. It's basically that kid in school that's doing everything he's supposed to do. I don't feel right taking points off of the score of a show if I don't even have anything reasoning behind taking them off. The show is for those who are interesting in hearing a story about the lives of a group of aspiring idols and their journey to success. If you are not interested in watching a show like that, you can always just watch something else.
The show knows what it whats to do and is doing it well. It's developing it's characters, keeping a steady pace on the main plot, making sure every character in the cast is diverse and interesting, and for the most part, making your viewing of it worthwhile. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested looking for a light-hearted slice of idol life show to just be able to relax and enjoy.read more
There are some anime series that you desperately want to love. You’re either drawn in by the premise, one of the characters will strike your fancy for some reason and you’ll begin a furious Pixiv binge in search of any fanart of them to the point that your computer crashes and you’re declared legally dead, or you see some shimmer of pure gold underneath that thick sheen of shit and mediocrity and want to see if it’ll be more evident later on. The Idolmaster was one of the latter series, and it left me feeling entirely unsatisfied from start to finish.
The premise is simple enough: Twelve girls of questionable talent with single-note personalities and insecurities all vie for the chance to become idols with the help of their talent company and their ever-faithful producer. This single idea takes them all over Japan as their popularity inexplicably soars and they learn important things like trust, friendship, and synchronized dancing. Say what you will about the overall quality, it sticks to this premise throughout without ever losing the spirit of the idea. If you’re not in the market for a show all about the power of friendship or supposedly catchy pop music, there won’t be much for you here.
For me, the most important thing in any show is how the characters develop and interact. Something with a fantastic plot or great production won’t leave much of an impression if the characters don’t; see Madoka Magica. Unfortunately, this is the first and gravest misstep that the Idolmaster makes.
Though it really can’t be helped with such a large cast of main characters, there isn’t much gravity to how the characters develop or interact. One minute, soliloquies are dropped regarding what problems a certain character has on their rocky road to idol stardom, the next the plot tousles them on the head, tells them to move on with their lives, and it’s never brought up again. While I understand that everybody is supposed to develop, it still feels awkwardly crammed in when it shouldn’t be.
This would be acceptable if all of the characters were memorable in some way, but some quite simply shine over the many others, leading to some intimate moments feeling resolved much too quickly in order to get back to what the Idolmaster perceives to be the most important characters. Haruka and the Futami twins seem to take up the most time, leaving the likes of Azusa and Makoto in the background for all but a few scant moments when they could have been fleshed out and humanized much more.
These overly-sentimental bits are punctuated every so often by the meddling of a rival talent company, 961 Pro, led by the conniving Takao Kuroi, which essentially play out the same each time. While they’re a welcome distraction from the slew of halfhearted character developments, these scenes could have easily been left out without the series suffering in any way. Don’t get me wrong, these were the only episodes in which I believed that the 765 Pro girls would come out more mature and fleshed out in the end, but I acknowledge their overall pointlessness. They take away nothing from the experience, but they add very little in return.
Where the Idolmaster came closest to breaking out of mediocrity was in the last few episodes, as Haruka dealt with everyone’s newfound success and consequential estrangement. It’s well paced and actually competent, leading to a complete departure from the episodic format of before.
Story and character-wise, the Idolmaster falls a bit flat for me, even with the competently strung together drama in the final episodes. However, if there is one area where it shines, it’s definitely the production. The animation is crisp, the character designs are pleasing to the eye and soft by comparison, the dancing is wonderfully choreographed, the music could actually be confused for something thrown onto the market to be bought by thousands of impressionable Japanese teens and otaku of all sorts… in short, the Idolmaster went all out to bring the games to life, and that’s something to be admired.
Yet, for all the dazzling displays and occasional moments of interesting storytelling, the Idolmaster fails to be anything more than a flashy series that’s ultimately completely forgettable. Yet I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is the best adaptation of the game series that anybody’s ever going to make. I tried to like the Idolmaster for what it was, and I did enjoy it every now and then, but overall it was a disappointing experience that I wouldn’t in good faith recommend. read more