Mimu Emilton is a cute fourteen-year-old who has come to the annual Starland Festival to become an idol, just like her role model, Yuri. It is the most celebrated event on a united Earth, and Yuri, now the President of Earth, has encouraged people to join the ranks of Excellent Idols. Unfortunately for Mimu, she can never seem to make it to her audition on time, as misadventure after misadventure lands her in situations (usually involving undergarment exposure, I might add) that she escapes with the help of the current Excellent Idols, whom she befriends. Just as she makes her place on the stage and begins her audition, though, an unknown group of aliens kidnaps her and the Excellent Idols. It is only the beginning of a wild interdimensional goose-chase that places Mimu in the position to save the world, if only she can believe in herself.
Today we'll be looking at an OVA from the mid-90s. Idol Project was a work by Studio Ox. If you haven't heard of them, it's not surprising. They've mostly done production assistance and design work on anime spear-headed by other studios. I can't say I've ever seen an anime where they were the driving force before. So, this'll be a first. It was written by Amano Hiromitsu & Arakawa Naruhisa. Arakwa may sound familiar since he wrote the anime adaptations for Spice and Wolf, Upotte & Terra Formars Revenge. Which isn't exactly a record to boast about since the best of those was
Spice and Wolf and the other two were quite bad and sub-par respectively. Then again, those were adaptations and this is an original work. So, we'll see how he does with that.
We open with our protagonist, fourteen year old Mimu, going to the Starland festival for her idol audition. On her way there, she gets caught up in all kinds of random events involving the six excellent idols. She barely makes her audition and is about to sing when she and the excellent idols are kidnapped by aliens. From there, more randomness ensues.
Therein lies the big issue with the OVA. The “humour” is based on random events happening. In the first episode, it's the random things while she's trying to audition. In the second, it's random events that happen during a highly haphazard competition. In the third episodes she's caught up in a bunch of inane nonsense while trying to make a delivery and randomness does not, in and of itself, equate to humour. Randomness can be funny when you have some kind of deliberate set up that ends in an unexpected non sequitur, and if you're going to have a lot of it you need a good pay off or a clever logic to it that works when you think about it. It doesn't work when everything that happens is just random nonsense. Consequently, the comedy largely just leaves you scratching your head or rolling your eyes rather than laughing.
The best thing I can say for the OVA is that the comedy is largely inoffensive. It's stupid and it barely registers as comedy but it isn't actively annoying, for the most part.
There's really nothing to the characters in this. They're only one step above your average harem characters. They're all very basic archetypes. You've got the dumb martial artist, the child, the obvious lesbian, the bad girl, the elegant young lady, the tranquil Buddhist & the ordinary protagonist who manages to have big dreams in lieu of a real personality. At least they didn't do the Baka to Test thing and make fun of the obvious lesbian because... someone being gay is inherently funny?
Here's the thing about under-written characters in a comedy. They can work if you can give them dynamics that offer a lot of comedic possibilities and you take advantage of those. In this series, we don't get that. The comedy is based less on the character interactions and almost entirely on the random events. So, having under-written archetypes for characters doesn't work in this context.
The artwork and animation in this are frequently lazy. The parts where they seem to put the most effort are the ones designed to be fan-servicey. Because when you have a fourteen year old protagonist it's vital to see her panties because... class is something for other works.
I've seen so many trashy, fan-service heavy portrayals of way too young characters in anime at this point that I'm probably on some government watch list. And people wonder why anime fans have a bad reputation. It's this sort of thing.
The performances in this are kind of weak. They got some good actresses. Hisakawa Aya, Kanai Mika & Inoue Kikuko are all in this. Their performances in this are just lacklustre. The music is decent but really could have used more effort considering that this is an OVA about idols.
There's a little bit with Corvette and her clear interest in our heroine but there's never any sign that it's reciprocated.
That's Idol Project, a stupid, unfunny OVA from the mid 90s. Ultimately, the series is one that just falls short in every regard. The characters are weak, the comedy is weak, the acting is weak, the art is generally weak, at times delving into outright trashy territory. It's a dumb little OVA that I can't really recommend digging up. My final rating is a “solid” 3/10. Next week I'll look at something a bit longer with Kill Me Baby (That's the name of the anime, put the blunt objects down.)