One day, second year high school student Kanade Amamiya is suddenly scouted by legendary idol Haruto Mikami. He now faces the life an idol with others in the same agency. He aims to make his CD debut in Dream Festival!, joined by the mysterious Shin Oikawa, the stoic Junya Sasaki, the kind but passionate Itsuki Katagiri, and the clumsy but smart Chizuru Sawamura. In order to receive the Dream Festival! Cards sent by fans, can Kanade and the others become the best on stage?
I decided to write a review before the final episode because the episodes seem to be very consistent in quality and feeling. I gave it an overall 8/10, but personally my enjoyment is 11/10.
Dream Festival! is an anime about a few guys who are hoping to make their debut as idols, their dream is to win the Dream Festival contest. We meet Amamiya Kanade in the first episode, who never even thought of becoming an idol, but through Mikami Haruto's persuasion he accepts the offer. He later on forms an idol unit with Shin, Junya, Itsuki and Chizuru and they become the DearDream unit. Later on we get to know their main rival, the Kurofune unit.
This is a very typical idol-boys kind of anime. You've got your concerts and silly idol-things (like sending kisses to fans, "every fan is very important to us!", trying to aim higher and higher, occasional drama among the unit mmebers) in every episode, but somehow DreFes does it all in a very endearing way. Every aspect of this anime feels "good, but nothing special", but I think that's what makes it so great - it's a very nonchalant, easy-going anime.
However, that does not mean that it's superficial or boring. I think the personal dramas were good, the occasional suspense was exciting, and all in all, I was (and currently am) entertained.
DreFes isn't the best with songs. For example, UtaPri has a lot better songs, but DreFes has some catchy tunes too. Just don't try to focus too much on their terrible English lyrics... They don't use much technique in their songs either - the variety of instruments and modern effects is quite minimal, and every song has the same kind of feeling to it. This kinda makes the concerts (or as they call them, Lives) repetitive and boring, but luckily the songs are quite short, only 1-1.5 minutes long.
For some reason, the animation team went with using CG characters for the dances? Which was a terrible decision in my opinion. The dances look very awkward and even the facial expressions seem kind of blank and emotionless. But then again, luckily it's over quickly, and in comparison to some other CG animations, DreFes actually does surprisingly well.
STORYLINE AND CHARACTERS
I think DreFes's charm lies in these things. Every episode has a pretty solid and enclosed storyline that is easy to follow. The occasional humor is very endearing and adorable. The characters' little quarrels and problems with each other are always solved, and at the end of every episode, everybody goes home with a smile on their face. The problems presented in these episodes are very real (being trampled by rival unit, having to choose between personal career and the idol unit, family problems, etc), but with love, everything can be solved~!
DreFes uses total "newbies" as their voice actors for the main characters. The only "big name" is Mikami Haruto's voice actor, all the other guys have this as their first role. [note: There are still some characters, whose voice actors we don't know.] I won't lie, it's pretty obvious that these guys are kind of new to this field. Sometimes their acting comes out a little flat, and you can hear their effort, but really, it doesn't make it unenjoyable. I think they're doing a great job despite this being their first time. Their characters' personalities really come through, and with the whole package of animation, background music, and all that, the emotions do come through. All in all, I think they are doing an exceptionally good job. Personally, I prefer these new voice actors, because it's kind of different from the usual, it's nice to give them a chance, and it's a nice mix of 'unexperienced voice' and 'trying hard and actually doing it right'.
Unlike some other titles this season, DreFes's animation quality stayed pretty consistent, which is a big thing. Now that doesn't mean that there aren't occasional derp faces, but I think they are cute in their own way. The dancing is surprisingly well animated (except for when it's the CG dancing part), the colors and character designs are really pleasing to the eye. But that's about it - they don't really go overboard and try to make it flashy and sparkly. It's a pretty simple artstyle but I guess that's exactly what makes it nice.
Now it's not like we haven't seen other idol anime titles do some silly and weird things in their idol universes, like flying through the sky and building things with strings of talent etc. etc., so it's really no surprise when I say that in the DreFes universe, the fans choose the idol units' clothes for the concerts, which they then put on magically in a magical-girl-transformation way. The outfits are printed on a card called Dream Card (or Dorika), and when the concert starts, the fans just shoot these out from their designated card holder thinga-majingas, and then the idols need to catch a card to be able to equip it. Surely this whole system was created to boost sales for the game, and it's actually not very well explained in the anime why they went with this kind of system or how this works (but I guess it's my problem for trying to look for logic in an idol anime)
OTHER DREFES THINGS
DreFes is actually pushing through really hard in Japan with arcade games and buyable Dorika cards, and overall they're doing a very strong campaign for this merchandise line. This would make anyone think that the DreFes anime is also just a sales technique and no deep meaning will be found in the storyline, or no huge budget will be spent on it. I was actually surprised in a very positive way. I think the anime is very down-to-earth and loveable, despite the fact that it was really only created to help sell the merch.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH DREFES
- loveable characters, interesting chemistry between them
- quite relaxing, it's an easy anime to watch, with a solid storyline
- some songs are actually pretty catchy and all that
WHY YOU SHOULDN'T WATCH DREFES
- if you really don't like the concerts and are not willing to skip them
- if you wish for more depth and/or negativity in an anime
- if you're looking for anything sexy or something like that (DreFes is actually very PG-13)read more