WUG has always stood out to me from the other idol anime franchises for its more realistic portrayal of the industry. The original anime made a good attempt, although it still ended up falling back to many of the cliches of its siblings. I'm happy to say that this movie does not make the same compromises in the story.
The story is the best part of the movie. There is no intense drama or complex plot here. It shows the realities of an pop group that has just made its major debut: the initial high, the change in lifestyle when working for a major label, and
also the dip that comes afterwards when the newness wears off and people begin to wonder if they were a one hit wonder or a group that can endure. The WUG girls have to face a world that they are not familiar with and it shows when they try to act more like the idols around them but come across as unnatural and stiff. The story flows very naturally and engaged me the entire time despite the lack of action.
There is a subplot for the rival I-1 group from the anime that gets a good amount of development without distracting from our main girls, and shows the pressure at the top of the industry.
This movie has a sequel, so the plot isn't resolved. However, it ends at a critical turnaround and growth period for the girls which is very effective in drumming up excitement for the sequel.
Unlike some other anime movies, the art does not see an improvement from the TV series. It is still the same clean and simple style, which is not a bad thing, but I had hoped for flashier performances and smoother animation. There is only 1 new performance and it is nice, if nothing spectacular.
There are two new songs, but one of them does not get fully played. The second song is really quite catchy and great. Again, a little disappointing for an idol movie.
Great. If you liked the girls from the anime, the same personalities return and they are cute as ever. They are normal girls that most viewers can sympathize with, even though they all have very different personalities. It is a short movie, so everyone does not get as much screen-time, but all the girls get chances to show off without it being forced. Their interactions with one another are natural and fun to watch, and they really count on one another. There aren't any major new characters other than a flamboyant Spanish producer.
Edit: Damn Yoppi looks good with short hair.
The I-1 characters make a return as well and despite little screen-time, stand out strongly. Their CEO has some thought-provoking lines, so watch out for that.
However, what I enjoyed most about this movie was the manager. In the past year, he has grown up a lot, and now has an actual strong-willed personality. His weak and idiotic antics were the worst part of the anime for me, but dare I say it he is now quite likable.
Plenty of nostalgia for me, so I really enjoyed watching this movie. It's a good thing when your biggest complaint is that the sequel movie has not been subbed yet. Soon.
Seishun no Kage is a great sequel to the anime that improves on its realism and story. The struggles that the characters face aren't some obscure obstacle like saving their school or some evil rival CEO, but rather the realities of working in a tough industry. That's why, when it sends the same message of not giving up and persevering through difficulty, it feels more sincere and relatable.