Originally intended to be one continuous two-cour series, due to production problems, the show's run ended early with episode 13. Re-airings of the original The iDOLM@STER anime aired in the rest of the purchased timeslots. The originally planned second cour returned as a second season July 18, 2015.
The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls is like the party of the most popular kid in class you get invited to even though you’ve never really talked to them before. When you arrive you realize, oh wait, you don’t actually know anyone there and everyone’s already talking to each other. So you start filling a plate with carefully picked food before walking over to lean on the wall that’s not too close yet not too far from the crowd to have people think you’re a loner while you begin slowly chewing away, trying to look busy.
As a big fan of the original iDOLM@STER who’s seen the
original series and the movie twice and planning on a third time, you should’ve seen my face when they announced another season. It was still iDOLM@STER, even if only tangentially, and iDOLM@STER holds a special place in my heart. But this… this was just never quite what I wanted it to be. I couldn’t find the passion in it that drew me in to the original so quickly – it felt way more content with its character quirk busywork, and it never really lived up to its potential. And frankly, I’m not sure if it ever even wants to. It spent so much of its time trying to sell its characters to its rabid pre-existing fanbase, and what momentum it might try to build only ended up dithering away through its obsessive focus on keeping its one-note personalities as intact and samey as possible.
While the directors of this and the original iDOLM@STER do have very different styles, it really did feel like there’s a certain energy that was missing here. And it’s not quite that it was less upbeat (although it certainly was less upbeat) and more that it was missing this extra layer of creator personality. It felt like it was just going by the motions – like it was just being iDOLM@STER – what with it spending so much time on giving each character quirk its dedicated screentime. And, sure, you could make an argument that the original iDOLM@STER also went by its motions, but it felt like this show really ramped up the optimisation for Maximum Screentime Efficiency. The original iDOLM@STER felt like it was directed by someone who likes The iDOLM@STER, while this felt like it was directed by someone who just really likes anime.
And with the less creator personality in this show it also apparently comes without any of the cynicism present in the original – this really is just much more content with its characters quirking it out and letting the fans do the rest of the engagement work. Something from the original that really caught me off by surprise was during the Gero-Gero Kitchen reality cooking show where they deliberately show these small visual asides like a cameraman focusing their camera on Haruka and Chihaya when they fell over, trying to frame their compromising situations with an enticing spin. The show wasn’t going to make its quirks Super Nuanced Characters but it was moments like this along with how it liked to revel in some of its obvious ridiculousness that I thought really gave it an extra breath of life.
I bring this up because there was a scene halfway through one of the earlier episodes with three idols posing in police uniforms when one of them suddenly bursts open, revealing part of her chest. They give it a close-up shot and play it completely straight, with no cameramen zooming in or even any remarks from the audience.
And I was like, “what?”
It’s a small scene, yeah, but it didn’t feel like something The iDOLM@STER would ever really do. It almost felt like a sort of cynicism in its own way, like the creators were sticking to their market data studies and concluded they needed to add something like this every once in a while between all the quirk screentime to maximise its fan appeal. But it didn’t stop there.
I thought the biggest offender of this show’s constrained, passionless core was when three other idols ended up on a variety show and they play out their quirks without missing a single beat. Having them go on a variety show was fine, but having them go on a variety show and just letting their one-note personalities do all the work felt pretty darn lazy. It put the focus on their inherent character, but since they’re pretty much entirely predefined entities there wasn’t a whole lot of personality to them in the first place. Of course, you could draw the immediate comparisons to the original iDOLM@STER’s Namassuka!? Sunday, but that episode felt far more playful and self-aware. The show never really gives most of its expansive cast any particular nuance and it’s especially exacerbated by the very passive, self-contained writing – all the small moments of self-seriousness kept piling and piling but refusing to burst, leaving the entire segment feeling even less passionate than some of its busiest of busywork.
And I think it’s really a shame because this show’s more organic dynamics could’ve really worked well with the things it tried to do, and it didn’t have to compromise any of its own integrity to do it. The performances, while not entirely common, were fantastic visual treats, and they were great to see how far this show could stretch its creative muscles. Its dramatics had visual subtlety in spades, and it imbued a whole wealth of personality to even the smallest of gestures – a small hand movement or a slight sideways glance – that spoke quiet volumes by themselves and helped keep everything firmly grounded in the personal. I don’t think we've ever really had anything like this in the original iDOLM@STER outside of dramatic setpieces like episodes 20 and 24, so there were parts of this that almost felt like a completely different show.
Because the more I keep looking at it, the more I can see its very obvious strengths. The genuine heart I could feel from Producer's final "You had a nice smile today" despite his usually stoic and uninvolved nature brought the biggest grin to my face from all the shows I've seen in the past month, and it was a perfect reflection of both the Producer's and idols' journeys while very smartly playing to this show's talents as an organic and natural product. It's something unique to this show you could've only barely found with the original iDOLM@STER, because that was rarely going to try to be as grounded as this. It's a high-profile, high-budget, and high-effort franchise blockbuster that could've done things few other shows would've ever even dreamed of. It’s not over yet, and there’s still a whole second cour to go, so maybe this is when things will actually start kicking in and this show can finally be the star it’s always wanted to be. But for now all I can think about is how the ballroom's been packed for hours, yet it's been dead quiet - the ball's halfway over, and no one's really tried to dance.
As one of those clueless idol anime fans out there, I'll be honest here. I watched Cinderella Girls before I bothered to watch the original. Now, I was reluctant to watch the original after watching this because I thought to myself "wow, look at all these unique characters and great songs in Cinderella Girls", now that I look back at myself for thinking that, I want to slap myself as hard as I can this instant.
So some people are probably wondering what the huge hate on Cinderella Girls is compared to the original iDOLM@STER, now I'll put this example as
a real life scenario. You all have seen those food commercials on TV or on your computer and said to yourself "Damn, that looks delicious" and you decide one day to go out and get that food you saw on the commercial to try for yourself and you see it as half the portion and not even relatively close to the food you saw on the commercial, this is what it exactly is like. A pile of misleading directions trying to sway on how you really want to think.
"Omg, why is this guy rating the story 5 for Cinderella girls while he rated it 7 for original iDOLM@STER?!?! Aren't they both basically about cute girls singing cute songs???" No, just no, this is the statement that refrains new-coming anime viewers to avoid anime with these kind of genres. Cinderella Girls is probably inferior in mostly every way compared to the original iM@S series. While the original was based on starting from the bottom, working together with friendship and hardships, going through fun times and the sad times, Cinderella Girls is the complete opposite. The way they produced this was literally half-hearted, they plopped the girls into one big room and forced them to mingle and that's how 346 Cinderella Girls was formed.
Even though the art for the original and Cinderella Girls are basically the same and made from the same studio, Cinderella Girls didn't give the same feeling as it did in the original. In Cinderella Girls it had those very lazy intros to each characters, such as just putting a caption under the character with their name on it rather than in the original where they zoomed up to each characters face trying to catch the viewers attention, it was a very half-hearted thing to do. They also had very awkward moments when they dressed up different, I'll take Rin for an example when she was dressing up for Mika's TOKIMEKI concert. Her face and her clothing were very awkward looking when she looked at herself in the mirror.
Why am I giving this a 10 if I said that this is inferior to the original in mostly every way? The keyword there was mostly. I'll be frank here when it comes to the song, it was very catchy indeed, the group songs were honestly better compared to the original group songs IMO (I have downloaded majority of the original iM@S Live The@ter series, the 765 Allstars pros, and their Solo Collection, same with Cinderella Girls, I downloaded all the Jewelry albums and some of their solos. I have to say that the group songs for Cinderella Girls is more pleasing to me while the solos for original is better, but that's just me. As far for how the characters sound, they all fit their character basically. Each character getting assigned to their personality with a specific Japanese artist, nothing too special.
Why are the characters such a low rating? Think of it this way, you go to your local Free Market just to see what's going on and you see a pair of Nike knockoffs that were smuggled in to be sold for a cheap price, let's say 20 dollars whilst you saw the same design of those shoes at the mall for 150 dollars. That is how you describe these characters, majority of them are just a half-baked knock off of the original characters while adding some new personalities to jazz it up and not get repeated. I'm not saying this is a bad thing because I love the Cinderella Girls characters also, but they just don't feel that attachable if you get what I'm saying. Each character has such a rushed development and doesn't make you feel that attachable to them. The main issue in this series were the separative groups such as Candy Island, Love Laika, and New Generations. This was a huge mistake in an anime such as this, I honestly think that this is what enraged some of the original series fanbase because the original had them all work together and go through the hardship together while in Cinderella Girls if they had an issue within the subgroup, it was their issue to deal with as the other girls just shrugged it off not trying to get involved with them.
Now I realize I sound hypocritical after saying at the beginning on how I watched this before the original series, but hear me out. I would've honestly given this an 8 or a 9 and the others a much higher rating if I never watched the original series, but this felt so inferior compared to the original after I watched it. They add melancholic drama to Cinderella Girls that shouldn't even exist. For example, when Mio got sad when she realized she performed in such a small crowd. I thought to myself "You fucking selfish bitch, you still performed in front of people tat a god damn mall, how do you think 765 felt when they got turned down from local auditions and had to perform in a country side full of middle aged people and elderly?!?!". This part is what infuriated me when I didn't even watch the original series at first, but after watching the original that specific part in Cinderella Girls just infuriated me even more. So for those who don't want to read this scumbag rant of mine I'll write a TL;DR below here
THE ORIGINAL IS BETTER THAN CINDERELLA GIRLS
Hi! Another Robert's Too Late Reviews to be had here! Get it while it's hot! This entry is interesting as its a continuation of the Idolmaster series, which, if you missed my evaluation of the first round, was a fairly pleasant ride through watching a group of girls blossom as idols. This time we go down this similar path, but instead with a few new wrinkles thrown into the mix. While rated overall the same for me, Cinderella Girls is the inferior of the two groups, but nevertheless is an entertaining ride. I do recommend giving the girls a try if you like this genre,
but don't expect the moon and you should have an enjoyable time. Will there be new pics/plastics on the RTLR wall/shelves of glory? Let's rock this bad boy.
The basic premise remains intact, in that there are girls who are vying to become idols and the story focuses on them and their issues as they come up the ranks. Last time the girls become quite popular and the show struggled with the idea of keeping the 'family' together, so to speak, after fame hits. This time, however, we're dealing more with the struggle of actually breaking through to fame a great deal more. There are many other similarities that will be immediately visible to returning Idolmaster fans. The producer still does not have a name beyond Producer-san, though this guy is quite creepy to the point they make jokes about it, whereas the last producer was personable and, well, not super creepy. Even though the poor new producer is mistaken for a suspicious character everywhere he goes, he really does give his all for the girls of the Cinderella Project. There is also tv shows involved, and the girls have to promote themselves in various ways. They also hold a handful of shows before the primary 'main' event, though these meet with some rather disastrous results.
There are some notable differences as well. The girls are all almost immediately broken down into trios, duos, or soloists instead of focusing on the overall group and then single singers like in the first season. First time around, we really only had one trio that held any show time, them still being just a note on the side. These duos and trios are where the bulk of the emotional and character based troubles are produced, and where the growth is truly found. Another major change is that where 765 Pro was a small company, the new production company is huge and has a full stable of idols in operation already, and are not just relying on the success of the main cast. A final difference of note is that the antagonistic elements of the story originate from inside the company instead of outside. Last time they had to deal with the boys from the rival company. This time it's a new president of the company that wants to ruthlessly cut any performer that isn't just perfect. Her eye falls on several of the Cinderella Project girls, and only through the fierce fighting of the producer are they given a chance to prove themselves and become successful.
Even though most of the girls are cheery and happy, they learn quickly and early that becoming an idol is not an easy road, and some of the girls take it very hard when they're not just instant stars, leading to struggles in keeping the individual units together. One group might have a girl attempting to drop out for foolish reasons, and another might have clashing personalities in their setup and have to learn to live in balance with each other.
Later the new studio president comes along, rips everyone's idol status from them, and then completely reorganizes the entire cast lineup, completely doing away with some of the trios and duos, and forming new matches that didn't exist before, tossing a liberal dose of chaos to the poor girls who weren't on that great of footing to start with. This situation causes all kinds of personal drama and issues for the girls as they struggle to keep their heads above water and off the president's chopping block. The producer decides to go all in on the girls, proposing to the president a concert he calls the Cinderella Ball, where his girls can have a chance to sing and shine. The president grudgingly agrees, still expecting failure. She's particularly hard on a single girl, breaking the girl's confidence and leading her to question her abilities and why she's even in the program at all. The end run is the girls coming together for the Ball, and whether or not the bummed girl can find the confidence to shine even when others doubt her. The Ball comes, and only the stroke of the metaphorical 'midnight' can tell if the girls pull through to shine together.
The show looked about like the last one, not any real major improvement from my seat here. Not that it was needed, it's not as detailed as Love Live! or other anime out there, but the look is perfectly serviceable, and the colors are nicely done. I did not find anything distracting or overtly bad.
There is one interesting thing, however. There's no overly unusual hair colors. No pinks, purples, greens, or even blues. The first season had several blue haired girls, but no such thing on this season. There's one girl with silvery/white hair, but that's about it.
There is, like in the first season, lots of music to be heard through the series, and as long as you're okay with the styling of the pop music (and if you're not, I doubt you would want to see this) you'll hear some nice tunes. The girls all have little numbers that go along with them and sound appropriate for the personas of the performers.
The opener and closers all sounded exactly as expected, but are not as catchy as some of the tunes in season one. The background music also is properly done, not sticking out too much, and filling in where needed for emotional moments and what have you. Good music for an idol show, who'd guess it?
The voices are fairly well done. No one sticks out as overly terrible, save for the meowing girl. I cannot STAND the meowing cat girl types. Now they can dress all catty, and act silly, but start meowing when they speak, and I'm just outta there. The 'mysterious' girl this time around sounds a little weaker than the 'mysterious' girl from season one, but not by much. You should expect a handful of teen girls, and they sound exactly like that.
The girls are all fairly varied and interesting, with a few holdover types from the previous season. Again we get the always sleepy girl, and there's another mysterious type chick, and of course the required girl full of determination chanting 'let's do our best!' for the whole show. They are varied enough to be interesting, but none save for one or two stand out enough that I'll remember their names now that I'm done watching the show. Varied enough to work in the show's framing, but not memorable enough to stick with me, save the best girl.
The producer is pretty funny, in that everyone thinks he's a pervert or creep just because he looks kind of caveman-ish. He's a caring, protective producer, but cursed with scary looks. He's all about management with care, giving the girls room to shine before casting them aside. He wants each girl to have the time and training she needs to do her very best before being judged.
This is in conflict with the new studio president. She believes in ruthless efficiency and that every girl that isn't immediately a sure bet should be released. She rules with a bit of an iron fist, but her intentions aren't truly evil, they are just a bit severe. She wants whats best too, she just is more than prepared to trim the 'fat' wherever she thinks she sees it. It takes the producer to remind her that even diamonds come in the rough and need to be polished before they can truly shine their greatest. She openly admits she disagrees with the producer, but allows his Ball to be put on, and even sends him the papers for a new set of girls once the Ball is over and everything is said and done. Fire and ice, those two, but it seemed to bring out the best in everyone.
I did enjoy the series, and it had several moments that were tense and I worried the girls were going to break under the strain of what they were facing. Because the show did shuffle characters around in different musical configurations, it made me think a lot of things were possible as to who made the final curtain call. It isn't as sure of a ride as the first season where it was more than evident that all the girls were successful, in fact that was the plot point for that season, instead this time we were left to wonder if all the girls were even going to make it as idols at all. The resolution, and what happens after the stroke of midnight for the Cinderella Girls was satisfying and pulled everything together nicely.
Best Girl: Ranko. She's not quite as good at the mystery air as Takane was in season one, but she's still pretty goth and always saying strange things, which I just loved about her. She's also the only girl with anything close to un-'natural' hair, a silvery white that accented her black gothic outfits and her strange sayings perfectly.
To close, I liked Idolmaster, and I think if you like these kinds of shows, you will too. It's not the top tier anime in the genre, but it's a solid entry for sure. There's no new entry for Cinderella Girls on the RTLR wall, but Best Girl Ranko scored a spot on the Idolmaster shelf, alongside the 13 girls from season one (in their Beyond the Shine concert outfits). So give it a try, maybe the glass slipper will fit on you too!
My experience with the idol genre of anime can be summed up with “Love Live”. Based on that being the most popular entry in the genre, I didn’t hold out much hope that Cinderella Girls would blow me away. That being said, despite some preconceived notions upon starting, Cinderella Girls proved to me that the idol genre is basically a giant game of best girl and the only reason anyone watches anime of this type is to bitch about the crappy characters and gush over the good ones. So, in other words, Cinderella Girls cemented what Love Live had already taught me.
But Cinderella Girls is
actually a much better series. The focus here is on a large variety of girls and their backstage shenanigans. There’s no school life or anything like that, this is about training, promoting, and doing shows.
The initial episodes introduce us to a trio of characters who I guess we can consider the main girls. Rin, Uzuki, and Mio are picked up by a producer to join an idol project known as Cinderella Girls. From there we are given a bevy of other characters who are put into units and gradually make CD debuts. After we get an idea of the overall dynamic, an episode is dedicated to each of the units which is then followed by the entire group coming together again. It’s pretty well done pacing, though suffers initially because of how boring the first three characters are. Once you get past that hurdle, the series is a lot less rocky and much more entertaining.
There’s not a lot of story to be found though; no running thread or immediacy to the plot. Cinderella Girls plays out a lot more like a slice-of-life. While there is the occasionally painful drama piece (Mio walking away was ridiculously forced and underdeveloped) the lack of story gives the huge cast air to breathe and develop. I’m sure the second season is where we’ll see an actual plot given that the viewer is now pretty well acquainted with each cast member.
Something I enjoyed and found unique was that there was a male main character, the unnamed producer. While he’s not the most exciting person, being very stoic through most of the season, he does have moments of tenderness and comedy. I hope we see him open up more in the second season.
Getting into the huge cast of girls would be a pain in the ass in the typical format. So I guess it’s time to play the biggest game of Best Girl this site has ever seen!
15. Miku Maekawa- The prerequisite cat girl who says nyan after every sentence annoyingly, Miku is a cancer. All she does is bitch and cry, treat other characters like shit, and continually do that terrible cat girl thing. She’s the worst girl and I’d fire her ass on the spot if I was the producer. She ruins the dynamic and really brings the entire cast down.
14. Chieri Ogata- The crybaby moeblob piece of shit. Go away. You’re useless.
13. Kanako Mimura- The fat one who eats and bakes a lot of sweets. This is when we move from bad characters to plain boring ones.
12. Uzuki Shimamura- Why do idol anime have to have a super girly, clumsy, and entirely uninteresting main character? She’s basically the exact same as Honoka. A “let’s do it everyone” attitude may be inspiring to younger girls, but to me, is way overdone and doesn’t create a compelling lead.
11. Kirari Moroboshi- Super tall and super unexciting.
10. Miria Akagi- The youngest girl. She’s cute but not very entertaining.
9. Minami Nitta- Neither here nor there. She’s just boring.
8. Rin Shibuya- She started pretty great but gradually became another bland character with little emotion. The hesitance to be an idol is quickly forgotten and she becomes the straight man.
7. Mio Honda- Her drama portion was shit, but her character isn’t bad. She’s preppy and tomboyish. The best of the main three by a longshot.
6. Rina Tada- Rina’s a rocker girl who wears typical British-punk clothes and has a collection of head phones. She’s obsessed with rock and trying to be a rocker. While not the most developed girl, nor the most exciting, she is fun.
5. Anzu Futaba- A seventeen year old who looks like the youngest girl in the show, she’s a NEET with very little ambition. Her portions, at first, aren’t that great but she grew on me as the show continued and some of the funnier moments of the latter half came from her.
4. Rika Jougasaki- The kid sister of popular idol Mika, she’s trying to emulate her sister however she can. She’s one of the most fun characters of the show.
3. Anastasia- A Russian girl who is still learning to speak Japanese, Anastasia is really freaking adorable. She enjoys looking at stars and that’s about as much as we get of her. But what we did get I enjoyed. I loved her.
2. Mika Jougasaki- A very caring big sister who is also the most popular idol who gets any screen time, Mika is really fucking hot. She loves looking sexy and being the center of attention but wants the best for the new idols. Not the most solid character but one of the most memorable.
1. Ranko Kanzaki- Seriously one of the most adorable goth girls in any anime I’ve ever watched. She’s a chunibyou who speaks like a total weirdo but only does it to hide a very cute interior that hates horror movies and is secretly in love with the producer. She develops a lot in the show, maybe more than any of the other girls, as by the end she’s speaking like a normal person and is a lot warmer than she was initially. She may not be the most complex or even the cutest character but she is definitely the best combination of both and my favorite character of the series.
For the most part, pretty solid. A lot of the characters don’t look unique enough to stand out while a couple (Ranko and Mika) are really memorable. During movement the animation is fluid though characters can look kind of strange. Even during still shots characters in the background can look a little derpy. But there’s nothing offensively bad and, thankfully, no CG during dance numbers.
I appreciated that, much like the cast, there was a huge variety in the music department. Each group got their own unique song and there was a new song for more minor things like training montages. While the music itself is vapid and sounds much like the rest of the idol J-pop of every other series, there are some decent ones like Ranko’s song.
It took a couple episodes before I really got into Cinderella Girls but once all the characters had been introduced, I found that this was a fun little ride even if most of it was vapid and pointless. Each episode did something new and the few really good characters brought a lot of charm and cuteness. I don’t think it’s a show that can be marathoned without getting bored, but it is a good distraction between watching other series.
At the end of the day, Cinderella Girls isn’t anything special but it does provide a more engaging and varied experience than Love Live, though not an overall more memorable cast. That’s the problem with having such a huge group of characters: some are bound to be tossed to the sidelines and never get enough development to be likeable or anything more than a facsimile of a singular character trait. So in that regard, because Love Live has a smaller cast, it does have the advantage in characters and development (well, that and it’s had two seasons so it’s unfair to really say that).
But Cinderella Girls has a few wonderful characters, pretty decent animation, some good songs, and a few memorable episodes. If you liked Love Live, I’d definitely suggest giving The Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls the viewership it deserves.
Lolita fashion is a phenomenon that has gained fame in the real world, as well as in the anime universe. These outfits, based on clothing from the Victorian era, match the fantasy themes of anime perfectly. Let's take a closer look at 15 of the most elegant lolita anime characters out there.