Increasing income divide, creeping environmental pollution, unsolvable waste issues, childcare waiting lists being discussed without those concerned, repeated corruption… The government, smeared by vested interests, can't do a thing against the many problems and sources of discontent. It's in this situation, with Japan cornered with no way out, that idols rise up to save the day!
The Heroine Party, Sunlight Party, Starlight Party, Bishoujo Party, Wakaba Party, Subculture New Party, and SOS Party. From these seven idol political parties, the idols who have become National Diet members and representatives for each prefecture will smash through the sense of stagnation covering Japan using the power of song and dance! They'll bring back the smiling faces of the people, and wrap Japan in a glittering aura!!
Have you ever wanted to see a political anime, blatantly and badly disguised as an anime well now is your chance! Idol Jihen I am pretty sure is basically a method of trying to get kids into Japanese politics by funding an anime and disguising it as something interesting to get them to become enthralled. Only issue with this is you probably want the show to be interesting and not incredibly dull if you actually wanted to get kids into politics.
Unsurprisingly, as it does surround politics; it feels like one of the most drawn out forced series. Very little occurs every episode and the nature
of politics is thrown about all over the place even though this anime could literally have nothing to do with politics and likely be the same show. The whole Idol aspect is completely baffling as well and much like the politics has no real place within the anime other than to get idol fans somewhat interested. The only real reason it shows up is so they can have a sing-song at the end of every other episode that then contributes very little to story, not that there really is a story.
Characters are all genuinely stupid with it being quite worrying when you realise these people are in charge of the country. Every evil guy is some creepy looking old man and therefore delves back into the point of this being a badly disguised attempt as getting kids and most likely girls into politics from a young age.
Art is actually not that bad, has a specific style but only industry standard whilst the music is also pretty decent too. The idol sections are actually great, the songs are always upbeat and specifically catchy wrapping up the ending pretty nicely. Shame the previous 19 minutes of every episode is completely sparse of interesting content.
Hey, LA didn't know Ruby Kurosawa from Love Live Sunshine grew up to be a politician!
This kind of premise of being idol AND a dietwoman is by all means a crazy and to be honest laughably weird premise, especially for the idol genre makes this kind of idol anime a weird outlier. LA doesn't know how to exactly tackle this kind of anime besides the "strengths" and "flaws"...let's start with the strengths first shall we?
For what a weird and crazy premise Idol Jihen has, the only thing LA was immediately worried about was the balance between it's idol elements and political elements, thankfully how straightforward
and gung-ho they are about the premise making LA just laugh LA ass off sometimes. The next strength LA saw was once it finally got serious in a ways but using typical political slander, yes slightly forced on how serious it gets but it was better than the episodic stereotypical evil politicians of the week stylings from this strength LA really saw in all this is that how they utilized their episodic format to bring things to the forefront once the serious plotline arises allowing the episodic format NOT be just filler. From the idol side is that Shizuka Onimaru voiced by Mai Fuchigami as a character does grow from the standoffish tsundere idol with her "aura" being too strong into becoming a strong idol leader (though how she turns into this has a slightly shaky and rushed development). The final strength LA will put into Idol Jihen is that the "final arc" mainly concerning the current Prime Minister's plans to destroy the Idol Dietwoman actually isn't that bad, as it makes a somewhat cohesive and focused narrative instead of the Saturday Cartoon episodic villiany feel to it as well as makes the huge cast and it's main characters take action and essentially has a conflict of fire vs. fire a la "idol wars" which for a final plan is kinda thought out and interesting for an idol fan, though trying to get to this point is gonna be hassle not to mention it gathered the various idol dietwoman into one cohesive group and made them tackle their situation in a serious manner instead of the kiddy coincidental ways they resolved conflict.
There are lots of problems however LA saw throughout the anime however. Let's start off with how LA said above that the episodic politician villains of the week are just stereotypically evil one way or the other and effectively being even more childish than the idol dietwoman themselves sometimes, not making their point comes across (though the only defense LA will say to this however is that one or two of the evil politician of the week does point out that an idol being a dietwoman is laughable and putting Japan to shame and in reality YES...it would!). Now the major villain of this anime, the current Prime Minister isn't much better allowing his "minions" to do all the dirty work and making them do all the work, his "plans" isn't much better and like his evil minions, his plans are slightly better but still stereotypical political slander with an idol edge to it. (Once again the defence with this one is that the current Prime Minister does use the main cast's popularity and "righteousness" to his own advantage making him a "somewhat" competent main villain). it's kind of a problem with this kind of anime if LA is rooting for the major villain than the idols themselves. on speaking of which, the main idol cast is HUGE, though the main two that are focused on are Natsuki Hoshina voiced by Sarara Yashima and Shizuka Onimaru voiced by Mai Fuchigami. The rest at best are satellite characters to ONE ANOTHER within their own party giving them at best one episode worth of development, individually they have their own quirks sure, but as a group (in which they are usually in) makes them increasingly harder to remember their names. Natsuki as a character however due to her infectiously genki personality can be a plus to the anime sure and her belief that "bringing smiles to Japan is the way to go" is admirable...but for politics...well it's laughable and really can't be taken seriously, she also gets the opposite of Shizuka's character development once the anime gets serious.
In terms of animation, the animation done by MAPPA and Studio VOLN is acceptable especially concerning the character designs, they are bright and colorful to say the least and at least some of the character are distinguishable albeit only because the majority of the characters have a quirk or accessory to them making them distinguishable but again...since the cast is soo big and many characters sticking to one another that it's still hard to remember their names (let alone try to remember their voice actor!). The idol dancing animation done by Chiptune if anything is typical of the idol genre just less effort, as it's blatantly obvious nearly EVERY scene when it becomes 3D CGI -implemented. Heck even Sunrise with Love Live Sunshine put in a bit more effort than this!. The animation overall is slightly above average if only because of the character designs.
With the voice acting however is where LA thinks the anime has one of the most lack of, this coming from an anime full of idols and NOT UTLIZING the voice actors properly. It just really feels like the majority fo the voice actors were on autopilot for the majority of the time, the only 3 LA saw give some effort was Sarara Yashima (for her genkiness and later personality change), Reina Ueda as Sachie Kondou, Natsuki and Shizuka's manager and Mai Fuchigami but they only get this spot merely due to screentime...nothing more.
Idol Jihen can be a rather funny and odd ride and sure many of it's flaws actually has a silver lining to it and it's strengths has some detriments to it. It just feels like Idol Jihen is taking the Saturday Morning cartoony feel to it, making the anime somewhat tone-deaf to it's situation especially to such a topic as politics (the only exception LA will say to this statement being once the anime gets serious but even then it still has the lingering feeling of it) and putting a kiddy evil political villains doesn't help. LA wouldn't put Idol Jihen into the horrible anime pile but the anime still has tons of problems. At best it's a soo bad it's good anime, at worst it's situationally tone-deaf anime. Sure LA is taking this kind of premise seriously, but LA only does it as the uniqueness of this anime comes from it's political elements and politics kinda needs to be taken seriously and Idol Jihen just doesn't take itself seriously.
No show this season screamed "Wasted Potential" more than Idol Jihen. Wait!.. A show about idol politicians has wasted potential? Believe it or not yes it does. In fact, I'd say Idol Jihen had all of the ingredients to make it great. However, it had neither the talent nor the drive to actually get there.
Like most people when I read the premise of the show I wasn't hopeful. It seemed like a shallow idea made purely to make a "unique" idols show when really it was just going to be another idol show. Why would idols become politicians? What sense did that make? And episode
1 did nothing to change my opinion. There was way too much telling instead of showing, and the characters and its setup just didn't seem that interesting.
As it was it was nothing special. But then Episode 2 happened and I saw hope. In that episode Natsuki sees the trash during her skydive, which was admittedly sorta pointless and silly, and has a vision of it being art. And so the unwanted and unasked for trash site was now turned into a place for the villagers and whomever to decorate and turn into art. And I was actually amazed. Here they provided a solution that improved everyone's quality of life while also keeping in line with the inspirations and characterization of Natsuki. I would find it hard to believe a politician would see the beauty in a dump site. However, a young idealistic idol could see that same trash and see something greater from it. See the potential of entertainment and joy that could be gathered even from something unlikely like that. I then could see the good that Idol Jihens could do. They were entertainers, moulded with a different mindset. They were out to listen to the cries of the people and give them joy and happiness. They might not have been the most political savvy, but they had the heart and a unique perspective, one that could make great things happen. They could bring a populist message to a diet that clearly needed one.
However, there were some flaws in this. Politics is a nuanced field. As much as we'd all like to say that we have the answers there are pros and cons to every solution. There are few things which are slam dunks. While I am fine with the treatment of the Ryogai Party as corrupt I feel they are often too corrupt and not believable enough. Some of the plots are assinine what they try to do. Sometimes it's not even for profit but because of they got slighted. It makes it very hard to see the Idols as anything but 100% correct, which is detrimental to the story.
Still as a feelgood story where we see the Idol's win and create positive change it worked. It wasn't well written but it was pleasant. At least was.
Then they introduced the climatic plot. And here is where the show really fell apart. The problem was all of the nice changes and progress that the Idols made in the earlier episodes were nonexistent in the later episodes. Rather they were focused on strife. Now while strife is important in a character arc, the problem was the characters were never the strong point of Idol Jihen. They were passable when being used to make a point, but failed when being stood up on their own. They certainly weren't worth five episodes worth of heavy plot. To make it worse the plot was terribly constructed. It feels like someone looked up how a traditional narrative should work and forced Idol Jihen to fit into that structure without checking to see if it worked or not. Some of the plot points that come up in that section are ridiculous and unbelievable. They technically work under normal narrative rules but just don't fit in with the show and its structure what so ever. Not to mention the plot arc goes on for way too long, especially for something they're not particularly good at writing.
The other big issue I find is this plot feels like a stark difference from the beginning. Before they seemed untouchable while in this later plot they're always on the defensive, and are more in a position of peril. To me, these two moods don't go together well. If this show was supposed to be more balanced and more of a struggle that struggle should have appeared earlier on with more nuance. If it's supposed to be a happy show, then that should have held through for longer, and had the climactic plot shortened with less hinting or chances towards strife. I feel like either of these decisions would have helped the show, but rather since they went halfway it feels like it has less of a place, and fits too close to a boring cliche narrative when it could have been so much more.
The art style of the show is pretty nice but the CGI in it is pretty bad. Being an idol show the music is pretty good. That said neither are strong enough to carry the show, but they do both help add to the mood.
Idol Jihen's lack of nuance and unsupported faith in conventional narrative structure helped turn what could have been a great show into a bad one. They gambled away their unique traits for their characters and story, but neither of which were worth helping. Had they done it the other way around, I think this would have been so much better. This show never had the best characters but it didn't need to have them. Natsuki was a perfectly fine tool to promote populist change and invoke interesting methods of getting that change. However, as a vocal point she fails. The show had some unique charm that could have sold it, but instead it sold those charms to make a crappy narrative.
Idol Incidents seemed stupid even before it aired. I gave it a shot anyway to see if it would be a decent idol show and now I regret it.
The story follows Natsuki and the Heroine party as well other parties as the idol diet-women try to make citizens aware of issues within the towns and cities through performing concerts. It's a good way to get the attention of the people, but the political stuff doesn't seem to be fully figured out since so much time is spent preparing for and putting on performances. Besides that, the plot seemed to be a little
all over the place and it didn't necessary have a clear direction for the majority of the show.
The art was very vibrant, but it's pretty much an example of colorful art covering up a really stupid plot. The character designs are bad too. I'm fine with shows reusing a basic face design, etc, and just changing the features, but even the leg size seemed to be reused here. The character movements seemed a little robotic like during their performances.
The sound was really bad too. Not just because the background music is either non-existent or not memorable at all, but the songs aren't even that good.
The characters are awful too. There are so many different idol diet-women and almost none of them get any character development nor enough screen time. I would be fine with not having much if any character development if most of them were show more than just in crucial moments. Most of them were sidelined unless some big event was going to happen or some idea had to be discussed. They just shown at times when basic idol diet-women stuff was going on, but they were not really a focus of the scene.
I did not enjoy this much. It was ok at the beginning, but it quickly became something that annoying to watch. Seeing the cute girls and the vibrant art were 2 of 3 main reasons for not dropping this. The other reason is that out of the 9 new shows I was watching over the winter 2017 season, all really good or great in my opinion, besides one that is just good, and 2 that are bad/very bad. Overall, Idol Incidents is very poorly constructed and executed, but at least there's cute girls and colorful backgrounds.