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
It's difficult to view The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls in a vacuum. For a story existing in the same universe as the original iDOLM@STER series, it seems only natural that it should be judged against it. The formula is a bit different this time, but an idol anime is an anime; at the end of the day, there are going to be things that I want from it.
Unfortunately, however, it may in this comparison against the original series where Cinderella Girls falls the most. There are differences and similarities both: 765 Pro was a small agency, whereas 346 is a massive one; 765 was already together
in its entirety before the series started, whereas Cinderella Girls devotes some time to the formation of the group as a whole; both groups started as amateurs, and the anime follows their climb to relative stardom. But throughout almost any comparison you can make, Cinderella Girls falls short to the original. The characters are less memorable and more underdeveloped; the plot is relatively dry and the pacing worse; even the music isn't as good. However tempting it is to use the original iDOLM@STER as a ruler to measure all successes and failures of Cinderella Girls, I will attempt to judge it by its own merits, to the extent that it is possible.
A note: This review will have minor spoilers. I'll try to not go into specifics, so you can still watch it with fresh eyes.
The story of Cinderella Girls may easily be the worst part about it, as a whole. There were relatively basic problems in pacing and escalation of plot. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that in a series with so many characters would spend the leading episodes building up personalities and relationships, then start to break some of them down near the end, adding drama and suspense, only to finally (because this is a happy happy idol anime!) bring everyone back together through the power of hard work and friendship. However, even in this regard, Cinderella Girls fails rather convincingly. The primary complication you'd expect from an idol anime is the whole "I can't do this! I'm letting everyone down! I don't want to be an idol anymore, I quit!" was used far too early, and it undercut all subsequent drama. At least let us get to know and care for these girls before trying to pull them away and make us care about it.
Moreover, the way that Cinderella Girls attempted to actually introduce each of these characters to us is rather odd. It's to be expected that the early/middle part of the series be devoted to giving us a view of each of these up and coming idols, developing character and personality. However, Cinderella Girls attempted to go about this in a way that didn't work for me; by dividing the group into subunits, and giving each solo, duo, or triplet group their own episode. Sadly, this quickly developed into a formulaic approach that was far more boring than it should have been. The asymmetric distribution of screentime also led to skewed views of the characters; it's far easier to understand the characters that got a solo episode than it is those who had to split screentime 3 ways (with the exception of the "main 3", I suppose).
In the end, the buildup to the climax was plenty believable. I don't even consider it to be a spoiler to say that, of course, the anime ended with a group concert. The leadup was well enough paced, with it being a relatively natural step up from their previous activities. However, the drama (because there has to be drama!) was really quite weak. Why choose the character we arguably know the least about to be the centerpiece for the conflict of the episode? That's not to say there wasn't some decent resolution: The main 3 overcoming their problems since early on was nice to see, and I adored Anastasia's role at the end. However, though the ending wasn't terrible, neither was it wholly satisfying. It just ended things adequately.
Nothing bad to say here. They've done a fantastic job of making the series looking great, like the original before it. The concerts have always been the high point of animation for the iDOLM@STER series, and Cinderella Girls was no exception; it's worth noting, however, that I felt the actual number of performances to be lacking. Songs overlapped dialogue often and fully animated dance + song sequences were limited. That's a small criticism, however, seeing as the art in general was very good. Overall, this is probably the strongest area of the anime, together with its music.
I think the easiest way to judge this section is, truly, by comparison. Speaking honestly, I think the music in Cinderella Girls was inferior to the original iDOLM@STER, and to other series, like Love Live. That's actually not saying too much though, because in my opinion the music from those other series was phenomenal. The music in Cinderella Girls was good; it was well composed, and the performances were exciting to listen to. Perhaps not as memorable as some other series, but good nonetheless. Oh, and for what it's worth, I think the OP is the strongest song by far (other than, maybe, the solo idol's piece)
The voice acting was actually quite strong, especially in the cases where it might typically break down. Of course, we had the girl that it seems every idol anime needs, adding an excess of "nyaa~~"s into every sentence, but we also had a Russian girl speaking broken Japanese, a producer that had difficulty being less formal, and girl who's country style accent was fun to listen to. The voice actors did a good job of matching the characters and imbuing them with life.
I could talk about this forever, but I'll try not to. With 14 idols, it's impossible for things like this to not spiral into a discussion of "best girl". Certainly, some characters stood out more than others, but unfortunately, they often coincided with whichever characters were given more of the extremely limited screentime. As such, nearly all the characters seemed at most one dimensional, at worst simply walking representations of a single idiosyncrasy.
The "side" characters were actually some of the most interesting. Mika was a joy whenever she was on screen, and the Producer had just enough personality to keep it interesting (although the creeper/hentai jokes were a tad overused). The "from the sidelines" view of the other idols at 346 Production was fun to see, and of course I was delighted whenever a billboard or such would reference the 765 girls or Jupiter. Also, good ol' Yoshizawa~
(For what it's worth, my Top 3 "best girls" are Rin, Anastasia, and Mio, with Rika and Uzuki coming shortly after)
Boy did I try hard to enjoy this anime. As such, even a 7 might be somewhat inflated. The middle of it dragged on, and I found myself just starting to like some characters before they were wrenched away from the screen for 3-4 episodes. I held out for the songs, but having them performed almost exclusively by a small subset of the group was nearly uniformly disappointing. Then I held out for the end concert, and was only mildly disappointed; I came for the music and animation, and was rewarded in those, but was let down in the character department pretty heavily. It was hard to get behind the zany hijinks of this ragtag bunch, mainly because so much of the interpersonal antagonism felt surprisingly cruel-hearted. It'd be one thing of the pestering was lightly done, but often, in the cases of characters like Anzu or Riina, it actually was just pessimistic or mean.
I watched this anime because I really wanted more idol anime. I like the themes of overcoming odds through hard work, of friendship and unity helping a group become greater than the sum of their parts. I like the music and the spectacle of the performances. I like the sense of struggling through training and growing because of it. Cinderella Girls touched on each of these, and satisfied my desire for them on the barest of levels. I hold some lingering respect for the series because of its resemblance to the original, which I love, and some resentment because it wasn't able to live up to it.
I would not recommend this anime to anyone who isn't looking specifically for an idol anime. The plot is not engaging, the characters are not particularly amazing, and you can get all the music an performance you need by looking up the songs on YouTube. If you're like me and just need to watch more idol anime, whether because you're obsessed with forming best girl lists, or because you want to relive your high school days of performance (like me), then Cinderella Girls will pass. Barely.
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.
The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls is a follow-up to the 2011 iDOLM@STER anime that is set in the same universe, though with no returning characters. That said, I make frequent comparisons between the two. If you have no interest in seeing how Cinderella Girls measures up to its parent story, and want a review of it as a standalone work, read elsewhere.
Cinderella Girls tells the story of the girls at 346 Productions, and the hurdles that they overcome on their paths to becoming professional idols. Every episode, some hurdle will appear, and one of the characters will have to grow as a person to overcome it.
It goes a bit beyond that for the main trio, but for the most part, that's about as deep as the story gets. This is a character-driven show, and any plot that exists is just an excuse to put the characters into interesting situations. It accomplishes that just fine, but don't have any lofty narrative ambitions, because even with the introduction of an antagonist in the second season, the story remains largely inconsequential.
Art & Animation
The original iDOLM@STER anime had character designs drawn by Nishigori Atsushi, who also did character designs for Gainax shows like Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking. It's not easy to follow that up, but Cinderella Girls does a pretty good job. While definitely not on Nishigori's level, every design is distinct and appealing, which is impressive considering the massive size of the cast. Outfits are silly at times, but at this point, that comes with the territory. My gripe in this category is actually with regards to the animation. Coming back to Nishigori, the performance scenes in the original series were traditionally animated, and served as spectacles that still hold up today. In a few cases, Cinderella Girls captures this, but more often than not, these performances are reduced to series of stills. These scenes can be cathartic, and offer the characters a chance to really express themselves, so cutting out the animation was a huge disservice.
Cinderella Girls is an idol show, so there’s plenty of music, but none of it is particularly good. To rephrase that more objectively, I’ll say that none of it is memorable. Some of the songs from the original, such as Yakusoku and Nemurihime, were unforgettable moments, but for Cinderella Girls, these scenes are few and far between. Part of the problem is that song lyrics were mostly left untranslated by the official subs. They were covered when it was most important, such as Uzuki’s song during the penultimate episode (which is excellent), but for the most part, viewers were left in the dark. Some scenes had the potential to be memorable if the audience actually knew what they were singing about, but as most of the songs weren’t translated, the musical aspect of Cinderella Girls was largely a forgettable experience.
Cinderella Girls has an expansive cast of 14 girls, though with 25 episodes, you’d think there’d be plenty of time to develop all of them thoroughly. Unfortunately, the unit system makes this task near impossible. The group is broken down into six units, each with one to three members, and since episodes tend to put the spotlight on a unit as a whole, rather than its individual members, there’s less focus on each character’s personal growth. To make matters worse, the second season often tries to showcase several units in the same episode, further reducing the amount of screen time each character receives. In the original iM@S series, every idol got their own devoted character episode, which served to clearly establish their personality. Additionally, each girl acted differently depending on with whom they were interacting, so the diverse cast helped to further develop different sides of their characters. But in Cinderella Girls, characters are mostly restricted to interactions within their units. This means that the unit dynamics are well built, but any dynamics outside of them are largely unexplored. Lastly, there was a tendency to bring in other idols from the games as a sort of fanservice for fans of the series, and while they were intended to aid in the development of a member of the main cast, they would usually just end up taking up precious screen time.
In case it wasn't made clear over the course of this review, I'm a huge fan of the original iDOLM@STER series. It's easily one of the best animes I've seen, and I still regularly revisit some of its scenes/episodes. I went in to Cinderella Girls hoping for a worthwhile successor, and it unfortunately fell short. As a standalone, Cinderella Girls is fine, but it's never anything more than that.
If you immediately look at the poster and think, “That’s too many girls,” then know that this show is not for you. There are a lot of girls and not all of them are equally developed. However, if you’re able to look at the ones that do—and even look at the messages the show delivers using the wide variety of characters—then I believe that you may find some value in this series.
I formed an incredibly personal connection to one of the characters in the series; I had never seen her issues portrayed and solved on screen like I did here. Among the other characters,
while I did not enjoy some of their personalities, I enjoyed how the show used them to deliver several messages throughout each episode. One example is the young idol Miria, who I am not particularly fond of, but I was very fond of her arc where she learns to accept her place in her family. It’s a real struggle that I (and I’m sure many others) have actually experienced. If you can look past not knowing every intricacy of every idol’s life and look at the overall message, then it may be worth watching for you. Some of the problems focused on are struggling with the idea of not being good enough, balancing your outer self with who you want to be, expressing yourself when in a limited situation, being happy with yourself even when you’re in a tough situation, and finding out what you really like and want to do.
The arc that I found most compelling occurred at the end. This paragraph could be considered vague spoilers, but you should also know that as soon as the problem is introduced in the show, the outcome is quite obvious (it’s more about how they get to the answer). One character tells her friends that she believes she is not good enough; no matter how hard she tries, they always seem to shine brighter than her. Looking at herself, she sees that the only things she is “good” at are not unique. This problem of “not being good enough” is shown in a lot of anime, but I’ve never seen it resolved the way it was here. Usually this involves characters accepting the other for who they are and telling them that they simply are good enough. It involves almost no change from the central character (or the origin of this change is from an outside source), and the problem is frequently considered “addressed” and done with. In Cinderella Girls, she is forced to examine herself and makes a promise to herself that she will keep trying. It is an active solution, one that she has to keep working towards. I really admired how the change came from making a promise with herself and that the end wasn’t her simply accepting everyone telling her that she was fine. She decides to look forward herself and accepts that the way she sees things can be true, but they can also be changed. As someone who struggled with self-esteem issues my whole life and has truly felt sometimes that I can work hard and never achieve the same as others, it was really inspiring to see a character on stage go through that change herself.
Overall, an appreciation for Cinderella Girls relies on the ability to personally connect to any of the characters, problems, or solutions. There are many shows out there that one can appreciate simply because they are well written, executed, and without having to form a personal connection (I am thinking of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood). This is not one of those shows. The overall plot is nothing new. Most of the characters are nothing new. What’s new is how they interact with each other with music at the core. If you want to see characters find success with who they are as individuals, with some nice music as a bonus, then this is worth checking out for you.
TL;DR: 6/10. It's OK, but could be a whole lot better. I am disappointed even though I didn't hype or over-expected anything aside from naturally comparing it with the original. The songs are awesome though.
Wow, I must thank myself for not believing hype from others. This show's OK, but could have been better. It really could. And please don't think I'm writing this because I'm a hater. I'm writing this because the iDOLM@STER was, so far, the only anime series that I seriously took my time writing a review to express how glad I was to stumble upon the show, and how much I
fell in love with it.
No, I absolutely didn't expected it to be impressive like the original. In fact, I started watching this with the same strategy as before: set my expectation as low as possible. However, the differences are too obvious to accuse it for the result of having half less episodes. Within 13 episodes, the first iDOLM@STER made me love it completely. Within the same 13 episodes, Cinderella Girls made me feel literally nothing.
(Things I don't like)
One thing is that the girls' personalities may be all over the place, but I think they have a lot of potential if developed more effectively. Unfortunately, the show just didn't bring any of them to the full capability at all. Hell, I can hardly recall their names. Of course, I can remember Rin and Ranko naturally because they're different from others in the first place, but others? Well there's Mio whose personality is somewhat more notable and was given more screen time; then there's... um... this super sweet girl I like. She's the first girl we met, but what's her name again?
(Things I like)
Anyway though, there are still something that I like: the music. The ED is simply wonderful, and OP is super awesome. The OP is actually the only thing of Cinderella Girls that I like over 765PRO's. There are still no songs that are near the level of Chihaya's Aoi Tori and Yakusoku though... but I think that's just my preferences for slow songs. I hope there will be some in the second season. Voice acting is good, although I'm not sure that real life Russians spoke like the russian girl or not.
Also, the art is awesome, especially in first few episodes. They're very gorgeous.
Despite talking about how I'm disappointed by it, I still give it 6/10 score, which means for me it passes. It's just how much it could really be better that makes me rant this much.
Anyway, I can just only hope that it'll be better in the next season. That mysterious lady might turn this show into something more interesting. Perhaps the plot and pace will be improved since they've used all this time introducing us the atmosphere and characters in overall.
Once upon a time I watched an anime called The iDOLM@STER. It was a likable if unremarkable show, its enclave of characters not standing out, its absence of story robbing their chance to shine, and only the gift of music and concerts to look forward to. The lack of a resonant tale on this first chapter would close the book on this series for many years. But one day, the clock started ticking, the pumpkin carriage was set, and a new generation of idols was ready to take the stage with sparkling glass slippers. This is The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls
With no relation to the first
anime outside of a few posters in the background, these girls are free to ascend the palace steps on their own terms. Uzuki Shimamura, Mio Honda, Rin Shibuya, Kirari Moroboshi, Miria Akagi, Rika Jougasaki, Kanako Mimura, Chieri Ogata, Anzu Futaba, Miku Maekawa, Riina Tada, Ranko Kanzaki, Minami Nitta, and Anastasia; these girls are scouted by 346 Productions for a new venture called the Cinderella Project
But the magic isn’t just in the name. Any 1 of these 14 girls would have trouble standing out without cost to another girl. Limited time with this many characters would force any show to slide the scale between focusing on everyone and nobody standing out to focusing on a few at the expense of others. But this story wrote a miracle unto itself, focusing on everyone and conjuring a resplendent ensemble in this tale, climbing steps that are inconceivable to ascend
It ascends these stairs by personalizing the girls into smaller groups, dedicating itself to focusing on a few characters at a time and letting these subunits tell a tale of their own. Mio and Rin are the classic high-energy/aloof duo, with Uzuki being the balance between them as she consolidates the trio. Kirari, Rika, and Miria create an amusing contrast of a young woman acting like a child, a precocious girl who wants to be a woman, and a girl who actually acts her age. The duo of the quietly forceful Minami and the exotically girly Anastasia create a feminine force balanced by the gothic chuunibyou of Ranko Kanzaki. And the wild rocker Riina and the catlike, feisty Miku who synchronize with each other more than the other would like to admit
If there were one group who shined less than the others, it would be Kanako, Chieri, and Anzu, since the former two are more or less the same character, with only frogs and sweets distinguishing their shy personalities. Anzu, meanwhile, achieves the title of lackadaisical, often coasting along but putting effort when it really matters. The show itself could have coasted along, letting the magic in its name carry itself to Cinderella’s Ball. But from the poignant opening scene to the finale of season 1, this show proved to be something special beyond its namesake
It wasn’t just how much this anime made so many characters shine, but how it connected all of its precious gemstones called idols into a gorgeous narrative crown. No matter what group of girls the tale focused on, it never lost sight of its other characters. Not once does someone outside the episode’s scope appear and feel like an out of place throwaway for fans of the character. They push each other to do their best, help one another through difficult times, compete to be the best, all the while becoming friends even with the most unlikely of partnerships. It is this connection between all the characters that makes every ascension from practice to performance all the more rewarding, each success encouraging another to dazzle even more
However, the magic would not last. As resplendent as Cinderella was at the ball, her magically gifted luster faded as the clock struck midnight. Indeed, the graceful steps that let each of these girls climb on their own terms is abruptly taken from them in season 2. They must now prove themselves better than they envisioned themselves to be, faster than they thought they would go, or the Cinderella Project is done. As turmoil gripped upper management with what direction to take 346 Productions, these idols now had to abandon the ephemeral magic of Cinderella to achieve the everlasting presence of a true princess. The clock struck midnight, but their tale had just begun
And it is not a tale that holds back, forcing the girls to confront problems from within and outside. The person you want to be conflicting with what you’re supposed to be. Feelings of envy and admiration that test friendships more than surface differences could ever hope to. A common responsibility to unite 2 very different characters. Channeling nervousness and anxiety masked by a group to stand on your own. The decisions you make to test yourself because of and -despite- your best friend
What’s astounding is how some of these threads are built over the course of season 2, introduced in one episode as a road while other stops tell their tale along the way, only for the road to reach its destination after sitting just on the horizon. It plays the short fable and the longer tale, using the former to build the latter and using the latter to unify the former. And despite how emotionally thick the show can be at points, it never goes too far (except for this one episode in the middle of season 1...). There’s either levity at the right points or the characters are tested but never soured
And nowhere is this tale more emotionally loaded than in the final chapter of season 2. An impeccable combination of close-ups, dialog, and even character positioning slowly build the strongest narrative this series has put to screen. From the clenched fists in its conception to a bridge that exemplifies the road a character takes, this is when the show hits its hardest with no reservation. It’s easy to see where it all goes, but it approaches like an inevitable tragedy instead of an innocuous predictability. But what tops it off so perfectly is how the resolution is anything but perfect, turning the fairy tale on its head. It’s this grit that pushes season 2 from an improvement over season 1 to an astounding tale in its own right
The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls needed season 2, and season 2 needed -this-. This show could have been content with a perfectly likable cast, but it goes the extra mile to stress test them from within and outside. To create empathy and a meaningful connection with each of them beyond surface likability. To test their own friendships and come out ever closer. In effect, this is a cast-driven tale motivated by individual hopes, dreams, and fears. And complementing this poignantly resonant tale is an astonishingly great soundtrack
And I don’t just mean the memorable melodies from the subunits. From ‘Theme of Cinderella Girls,’ a light piano piece that transforms into a mixture of vocals and other instruments that exemplifies the sense of a new adventure, to ‘Passione,’ a wonderfully jazzy tune to fit with the hectic goings on with the characters, the less obvious music tracks do wonders in keeping every episode lively before the main event starts. But equally impressive is the show’s capacity to hold back its music and let the dialog and characters speak for themselves. It knows when to play, but it also knows precisely when to have confidence in itself to let the audience witness events unfold. It wields energy and silence perfectly, to say nothing of the superb songs from the subunits
‘Freshly Evo! Revo! Generation!’ is a reflective rhythm that captures the enthusiasm of New Generation, while ‘Trancing Pulse’ is saturated with a soprano reverberation befitting of the powerfully passionate and cool Triad Primus. ‘Memories’ from Love Laika marries femininity and coolness, creating an unexpectedly strong melody from the most unlikely of idols. 'OωOver!!’ is a journey in itself, opening with onomatopoeic ‘nya’s’ before it rocks out into a proper song, echoing the tale behind Asterisk. And then there’s S(mile)ING!,’ a solo serenade that begins in simplicity and ends in triumph, the pitch of lyrics adorned with louder and louder vocals as it culminates in a cathartic crescendo of happiness and resolution
There are many more songs and instrumentals in this tale, as these are just the ones I liked the most. And I’d be remiss to not talk about how good the performances accompanying the songs are. Every concert is fully animated in traditional 2D style when it would’ve been quite easy for the show to use 3D models. The end result from song to song encapsulates every girl’s expression and movement with every song’s style and rhythm, making the tale that much more of a labor of love than love manufactured by labor
If there was any problem I had with the animation at all, it’s season 2’s tendency to cut away from performances, though this is more of a directional problem than an animation one. But it’s a minor grievance, as the songs and performances are the send-offs to splendid chapters rather than a crutch for a lackluster story. It’s not a problem I’m excusing, but it’s definitely worth noting for anyone who wants more dance with their song
But what’s magnifique about the visuals, especially in season 2, is the direction behind them. Though the final chapter is the best at this, the tale is scripted with powerful visual direction. The juxtaposition between an idol’s nervousness and the audience’s indifference to reflect her helplessness. The resolution between self image and expectation being hidden before a wide shot reveal. Two older characters having a heart to heart while one of them is obscured by a shoji wall to hide her vulnerability as she confides in the other. Or a quirky example from season 1 that cleverly deceives its audience
The tale is as creative with the camera as it is diverse with the designs, and with 14 idols one of them is bound to be easy on the eyes. From the gracile and mature Minami to the younger and rotund Kanako, the Cinderella Girls have no need for the sorceries of fanservice to let their luster shine on its own. And indeed, the charm of personality to harmonize with their appearances is all the show does and needs. I’m still shocked I liked -Miria-, since her archetype is the last thing to blip on my radar
But The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls isn’t content with likable archetypes to distract until the music starts. It strives for characters tested as they emerge more resplendent, singing in jubilation. Its visuals don’t coast on its budget, but ride a creative brilliance. These girls could have been content using the franchise name alone, but they ascended higher than even the palace steps could reach. Though the midnight strike makes the magic ephemeral, their majesty is endless, their hopes and dreams real
Having watched iDOLM@STER and Love Live!
This is a very wonderful entry.
The girls are unique in their own ways.
Not only that, but it combines the depth of connection from the original iDOLM@STER and mixes it with cute girls to produce an enjoyable and memorable experience.
Each girl has been produced extremely well including their personality, looks, etc.
The songs in this are truly eargasmic and superb! Especially Ranko's one :3
The plot is very well done as well, as it goes through friendships and the barriers that may appear causing distress, and discovering ways to overcome these is presented well.
IMO, this series is highly under-rated
it's a very superb and well done anime, this deserves more commotion!
For me Cinderella girls is a big disappointment for me. The first Idolmaster was one of my favourite anime because it's unique. And the second installment just scrap everything that make the first one unique.
The first installment doesn't have cute/beautiful character models, hell I might say the model choice is pretty weird. But one of thing that really impress me is the story. It have pretty realistic story and timeline, you start as a very small idol but you can see their growth. And you can see each character have their own personal problem and their strength.
Anndd Cinderella Girls just nuke all of it. I
only remember girls that I like and can't remember the rest. The story feel so out of touch for us commoner. Most of the character feels so awkward especially the Producer. I don't emotionally attach to all the character. I even prefer the song in the first installment.
I finished the entire season in order to give the show a chance but it's just not good.
It's about a shit ton of girls trying to become an idol. There's really not much to go on except for that.
Probably the majority of the reason why I didn't like the show was because of the poor characters. Seriously, a big cast like that and all of them are very one dimensional. These girls had poor personality, unmemorable and over all not relatable. The problem with a 12-episode show with a huge cast is that not everyone will be developed by the end
of the season. I mean what are their motivations? They want to become an idol but why? And why is Rin so fucking emo?
The music was okay. Like the characters, it wasn't memorable but it was decent none the less.
Finally, this was being compared to Love Live? Yeah I don't think so. Not even close to Love Live. (Don't get me wrong. Im not part of the fandom. I'm just observing and being honest. )