As someone who's watched a lot of male idol anime, I went into Side M not expecting much more than a fluffy plot-less ride, hopefully with some slapstick moments of humour. I haven't watched the original iM@S series, but after watching Side M, I now know I need to give at least the original 2011 series a try. Because Side M is the best male idol anime I've ever seen.
STORY: 7/10 (Good)
The fact that this anime has any semblance of a story already catapults it into above average territory. The fact that the story follows a realistic arc? Nearly unbelievable. We follow 315 Productions as
the company gets its start, with 315Pro's only producer/talent scout, Producer (or KaitoP, after his seiyuu) building up his almighty stable of talent (19 idols. 19. Individual. Idols.)
Side M's greatest storytelling method is to introduce the units first as already formed, before delving into each member of those units via the central member. For example, the audience's 'in' to HighxJoker, the largest unit with 5 members, is through Shiki. As we get to know and empathise with him, we see his relationships and interactions with the other four and it spirals out from there.
Characters are individuals, units built up over arcs that don't feel overly machinated or contrived, and all within a 13 episode season that feels just right. That's not to say the story breaks new ground or doesn't resort to tropes, because it does, but the storytelling itself is clear and pure. Unlike with Uta no Prince Sama or Tsukipro, both male idol anime with a non-anime foundational brand, Side M doesn't introduce beats that feel fake. It is a simple story, well told, no unnecessary frills attached.
ART: 8/10 (Very Good)
You can recognise an iM@S series right off, and that style carries through in Side M. Characters are recognisable but not over drawn, each character given enough of an identity to be just right but not too much.
Also the way that Side M utilises 3D in its performance sequences is perfect. Unlike rendering the whole sequence in 3D which can make characters slip into the uncanny valley, Side M only uses it in shots that are backlit or taken from a distance, reserving traditional 2D animation for any shots from the front. Fantastic.
SOUND: 9/10 (Great)
The seiyuu are excellent, pretty much all of them. I especially like that the majority of the seiyuu are unknowns, with Side M being their debut project. I feel like the casting of non-A List seiyuu means that rather than relying on the name first, singing ability second (cough Uta no Prince Sama cough), most of these seiyuu were cast because they can actually sing.
And since this is an idol anime, we're also talking insert songs. And the vast majority of them are catchy as all hell. Units have their own distinct sound within the pop spectrum - Dramatic Stars is drum and bass driven, S.E.M are electronic-infused etc. Side M has been around for a while and I highly recommend checking out the discography for your best unit, you won't be disappointed.
CHARACTER: 8/10 (Very Good)
When I started Side M, I was very sure that there was no way in hell all 19 idols would be getting characters or backstories. But I am so glad to be proven wrong. While our main trio of Tendou, Kaoru and Tsubasa (Dramatic Stars) get the lion's share of individual development, the remaining units each get at least one episode to shine. And the greatest thing about this anime? The majority of the idols are in their 20s. Our main trio, Dramatic Stars, are made up of men that are older than 24. S.E.M has two members in their 30s. Finally, an idol anime where not everyone is in high school!
While of course I have my best unit (S.E.M or Dramatic Stars depending on the day) and my best boy (which changes depending on my mood, but mostly Tendou that pure cinnamon roll), each of the 19+ characters have an identity. Even the faceless 315Pro President. Sure those identities aren't necessarily original, but they're charming takes on the tropes.
Also, if you're wondering like I was why there were unnamed-and-yet-noticeably-designed characters that occasionally pop up during the episodes, those are cameos. In the official Side M game that spawned this anime, 315Pro has a LOT more than 19 idols. Which means we have to get a season two. Right. RIGHT.
ENJOYMENT & OVERALL: 9/10 (Great)
For an anime I started just to pass the time with, the fact that I waited on tenterhooks all week for a new episode is a sign in and of itself to me just how much I enjoyed Side M. It's a great, easy blend of slice of life with idol anime, something with just enough stakes to keep you on board, characters that are compelling, charming and cute and a simple story which is well executed.
If you're looking for a male idol anime to watch, watch Side M. If you're looking for an idol anime to watch, watch Side M. If you're looking for something that will be fun, fluffy entertainment, something to make you smile and escape from IRL for a little while, watch Side M.
I don’t think highly of A-1 Pictures. There aren’t any particular people there who I think are at fault, but rather how the studio itself is managed has led to some rather lackluster projects. The typical A-1 anime isn’t particularly ambitious, and while it will be enough to entertain you while you’re watching it, it’s unlikely to leave a lasting impression. That said, I think A-1 has had some more interesting projects over the course of 2017, such as Demi-chan, Saekano Flat, and Fate Apocrypha. But sadly here we are at the end of the year, with a few projects that are the quality I’ve
come to expect from this studio.
The iDOLM@STER SideM is the latest entry in the iM@S franchise, though this time, the idols are all male to cater to a female audience. There isn’t much of an overarching story present in this season, and it instead serves mainly just to introduce the characters. That said, every entry in the series prior to this point has continued for two cours, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see another season down the line, that would potentially bring up a greater conflict. But until then, I hope you like character introductions….
…because you’ll be seeing a lot of them. SideM has an expansive cast of 20 characters, and it takes the first 7 episodes to even introduce all of them. Similar to Cinderella Girls, SideM manages this cast by dividing it up into units, so that audiences can meet the cast a few members at a time and not be overwhelmed. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the same character archetypes are being recycled in each unit (I particularly dislike “Guy who can’t go two sentences without injecting broken English into his speech”), and little is done to characterize the cast beyond their most surface traits. It’s not like it would have been impossible to distinguish a bit more between characters in the same archetype. One detail that had the potential to be interesting was that most of the characters were adults that had had careers prior to debuting as idols – including a doctor, two soccer players, three teachers, and even a prince – and it would have been neat if that factored into their characterization instead of just being lipservice backstory. Perhaps the greatest tragedy is the producer, who, despite appearing the most since he serves as a mentor to all of the units, ends up being the least developed member of the cast. While it’s true that his development is secondary to that of the actual idols, previous entries in the franchise have demonstrated that it’s possible for the producer to have a compelling character arc in the background, and it’s a shame that this one ended up staying a blank slate.
Equally disappointing is the performance scenes, or rather, the absence of them. Almost every time that a performance is about to begin, the camera cuts away to focus in on another scene somewhere else. While this is an understandable move to lighten the load on the animators, it seems strange to have an idol show where the performances aren’t used for spectacle. And when the audience does get to see these performances, the camera either lingers close enough so that there’s never many characters in the shot at once, or far enough away so that the use of CG can be disguised. The choreography is unimpressive and the camerawork is uninspired, and the performances all end up feeling like missed opportunities.
And with so little focus on the performances, it’s only natural that the songs would suffer as well. When the camera isn’t even on the stage where a performance is happening, it’s not uncommon for the focus to instead be on a conversation in a separate scene, reducing the song to just background noise. In addition, the official subs also don’t bother to translate the lyrics, which seems to be standard practice at this point. It wouldn’t even have been hard; many of the songs weren’t original and were just taken from the SideM mobile game, so the translation team could have used the English lyrics that already existed courtesy of Project iM@S. It seems strange to say this about an idol anime, but the music basically feels like an afterthought.
With all of these issues, I had originally written SideM off as another cash-in about which no one on the production team actually cared. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. After finishing the show, I learned that much of the staff has been involved with iM@S since the beginning, and care about the franchise a lot. For example, there’s Kuroki Miyuki, one of the directors for SideM, who was a key animator for the original 2011 iM@S, and has been vocal about her love of the Jupiter boys. It was heartbreaking to learn that so much love had gone into this production, and that the end product had still turned out so lackluster. This team had been passionate about the project, but they weren’t given adequate time or resources to create their vision. Going back to the first paragraph, this is my problem with A-1 – that they view anime as a business more than as an artistic medium. There are definitely exceptions to this, but in general the studio seems to strive for acceptable rather than exceptional – projects that are just good enough that people will buy the physical releases. I hope to see more bold and interesting originals in the future, but A-1 Pictures simply isn’t the studio from which I expect them to come. There’s talent in the anime industry, and it needs to be given a chance.
As somebody who is unfamiliar with this franchise, I figured i'd share my thoughts after having completed the anime in order to give perspective on those going into this show blind. I've watched and enjoyed a few male idol anime, but not necessarily enough to call myself a fan of the genre. Looking back, this probably wasn't the most ideal place to begin, and you'll be better off starting with the original ID@LMASTER anime as it gets referenced quite a bit. But that is to say, this show can still easily be enjoyed without having seen the other works.
The story here is pretty much
what you'll get from the sypnosis, it follows the many idols of 315 Productions as they experience many different things that help to cultivate themselves both as an idol and an individual. There's a wide range of idols in this anime, with the main focus going towards the groups Dramatic Stars and Jupiter. Thankfully though, I found both these groups story's to be quite amusing to watch, and each of the other groups gets at least an episode to themselves. I would however, like to have seen slightly more focus on these other groups such as what drives them to become an idol and their origin regarding how they became affiliated with 315 Productions. With it's episodic nature in the middle, some episodes did grow stale on me, and the use of cliches was a bit too much. There were moments that felt completely random, and I kinda wished that the whole anime focused around both the hardships and the rewards of being an idol like the initial one's did (we actually do get a bit, just not as much as i'd hope for), but I never found myself bored out of my mind, and the conclusion does a good job of showcasing to the viewer how much everyone has grown since the beginning.
The art/animation in this anime was very nice to look at. It's simplistic, but it gets the job done right. The vibrant colors were especially pleasing to the eye. Nothing mind-blowing, but no qualms in this section :)
It's an idol anime, right? So the music has to be the best part? Well.. from the few idol anime I have seen, the music has never really been to my personal taste. But I will say that ID@LMASTER Side:M's soundtrack is indeed upbeat and fun. It's nice to listen too, if slightly forgettable. The background music however, was very fitting for the show and set the mood for the tones the scene was trying to convey.
With so many idols, its a given that some would get more focus than others. But surprisingly enough, this show does a good job of at least giving the spotlight to each of its characters. I especially enjoyed Touma, and found his actions to be the most intriguing of the bunch. There's also Dramatic Stars, with Kaoru and Teru constantly clashing at each other and Teru spitting out puns (that stupid humor is actually my type and gets me laughing LOL)
Unfortunately, the other characters left much to be desired from. Each group gets at least one episode to highlight how the idols are individually and together, but to me it felt as if their growth was incomplete. The Producer and President were especially boring characters, now I believe that every Id@lmaster anime has a producer like character, but wow did the Producer in this anime feel so robotic, it was hard for me to be empathetic with him. Now I also understand that a lot of the background characters that appear in the anime are other idols from the game, and I thought that was pretty neat. But I would like to say that I still found all the characters to be very fun, if some more forgettable than others though.
I definitely enjoyed this show, it does everything it sets out to do, and there were some nice moments that really got me hooked. A 6 in my ratings book is actually still considered good, but not necessarily the best, as I feel like the forgettable side of this show slightly outweighs the good moments. But still, I recommend you at least try this show and see if it's to your liking.
LA will be honest here, this is LA's first foray into the male idol anime.
LA has been an extremely dedicated fan to the iDOLM@STER series for a very long time, probably ever since LA watched the ORIGINAL iDOLM@STER series, LA has been up to date for the most on on many of the iDOLM@STER spinoffs. So LA decided to watch what SideM would had to offer for LA and this anime is something of a first taste as to what the male idol genre will give to LA.
Well it had something...
First and foremost about SideM is that it's something of a look at male
idol industry through the 315 agency with Jupiter (from the original series) having some spotlight about them and getting scouted into the 315 agency. Second is that the producer is a male in similar respects to Cinderella Girls as well as original. Lastly is that we have over 20+ male idols to get to know all in which they get a "group unit" dedicated episode to themselves.
LA for the most part of SideM is looking into how they units tick and getting to know them and that is a good step for these kind of idol anime and LA actually likes SideM because they did this simple feat with this huge of a cast. Yes, the major problem even if SideM gave some good amount of development to the majority of the cast is that due to the size of the cast, they are BOUND TO HAVE blended together at some point and LA kinda forgotten their names or the units they were in at some points...NOW LA gets why people thought this way about Cinderella Girls.
Here's the thing for LA, as much as LA does see SideM as something of an improvement to the controversial Cinderella Girls anime and how that was handled, LA is some of the VERY few that still thought Cinderella Girls was good in a ways, LA still sees that Cinderella Girls is still better than SideM even with SideM essentially solving the mistakes of Cinderella Girls. Why?, because one of the biggest problems LA had with SideM is that even though it tried to solve many mistakes from Cinderella Girls, on trying to make it less dramatic and controversial, to this end, it made SideM play it WAAAAY to safe, and that leads itself to being boring. LA nearly fell asleep during some of the character development episodes (like with HighxJoker), W's episode was just plain calculated and though it was one of the more seriously dramatic character development episodes, LA thought by the end of when it was gonna end already.
Now this may have been LA's bias in enjoyed and/or knowing more of the girl idol animes than looking at the male idols, however in an iDOLM@STER standpoint however, LA just saw SideM has playing safe thus it took no risks at all (and when it tried to during the last 3 episodes of the anime with Kaoru Sakuraba, THAT was quickly resolved). At the very least Cinderella Girls stirred intrigue into the franchise with how controversial and how intensely dramatic it turned, people TALKED about the Cinderella Girls anime...LA doesn't think many talked about the SideM anime because of how lethargic and typical of the idol genre it was. SideM was just a boring and cliche attempt in the idol genre about being the best and whatnot that LA has seen time and again just with male idols.
Well with LA's biggest complaint out of the way, LA will say some good things about SideM. For one, the animation done by A1-Pictures was well handled, from the good traditional animation and CGI used together with the concerts scenes. The character designs was all great with LA being able to distinguish the majority of the cast. SideM also does the tradition Cinderella Girls has done by quietly adding cameos in very episodes of the other male idols which was good so we get a bit from the people who liked those idols in particular. If anything, for a male idol anime, the animation was great and consistent.
In terms of voice acting, the majority fo the cast was diverse enough, though there are some squeakers here and there with the "genkiness" they display, from Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Shouta to the W twins Yoshitaka Yamaya and Takeru Kikuchi. However like what LA talked about characters blending together, this kinda happened the same about the voice actors thus, LA really thought the voice cast was underwhelming...though it was a good cast of seiyuu's nonetheless.
SideM for LA at least tried to fix the mistakes of Cinderella Girls but in it's place made it's own ones in the process.
LA REALLY didn't outright hate SideM to be honest here, it definitely tried to be it's own thing and it succeeded in that front, but being a person who has watched lots of idol animes, LA just found SideM being too safe with itself to the point of boredom. SideM isn't the worst idol anime LA has seen neither do LA think it's the worst male idol anime ever considering this was LA's first ever looking at one, but if any anime gets LA bored multiple times and it itself not taking risks, then the chances of LA ever being invested into this huge cast of characters is gonna be slim if any.
SideM in the iDOLM@STER franchise point of view for LA is probably the shy younger brother to the tough older sister of Cinderella Girls, both looking up to it's parent of the original series.
Do you know would be great for the iDOLM@STER anime series though?
Anyone want iDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE: The Animation?
Side M was my first foray into the world of idolm@ster anime. After watching it, I can say with full confidence that I won't touch any other idolm@ster series with a ten foot barge pole. I found side M to be boring, cliche, and completely soulless despite its many monologues about passion and finding happiness. There are a multitude of reasons why side M falls flat, including having WAY too many characters, and a bizarre tendency to focus on anything except the show's main draw - idol shows.
Side M is an anime of introductions. More than half of the 12-episode season is dedicated to
introducing you to about 20 characters, and despite that I can barely remember more than 5 names. The story beats are predictable and almost mechanically rote. Sometimes I felt like episodes were made according to a checklist - beach episode? check! Melodramatic fallout that spans two episodes but is eventually resolved and has no lasting consequence? Check! This got boring pretty fast.
One good part of Side M is it's art. The backgrounds are really appealing, and the OP is eye catching. The characters look nice, although movement is limited and static shots are overused. The use of CGI is hidden cleverly, but I was incredibly disappointed in the lack of dance scenes. Maybe I've been spoiled by love live, but I actually expect dancing in idol shows.
Where side M lacks plot, it tries to make up for it in the music department. The characters have great voices and every song sounds great. Background music always fitted the scene well, and was pleasant but didn't take over the scene. One gripe I had was that whenever good music kicked in, it was often covered up by talking. I'm here for cute boys singing, not conversations about passion, dammit!
Hooooo boy. Side M has a massive flaw. Too many cooks spoil the broth, and Side M had about a million cooks in their kitchen. Every single idol is shallow and boring, all sharing the same lackluster ideals to 'be number one' and 'make people happy'. They often have boring conversations about these ambitions, but motive and backstory is rarely discussed. When it is, it's ridiculous - a surgeon leaving his job to earn money in a much more competitive, risky job? WTF?
I also have a big issue with the age of the characters. Side M seems to take pride in the cast's age diversity, but nobody seems to act their age except the HighxJoker group, who are about high school age. There's a 15 year old who has the mental capacity of a toddler, and a 30 year old who acts like he's pushing 70. It's ridiculous and I'm getting annoyed just writing about it. >:(
I know I shouldn't be analyzing a lighthearted show so much, but Side M's flaws really diminished my enjoyment of the series. I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy 3 dudes talk animatedly about passion, then not actually..... do anything..... and then talk about passion again.
I didn't like Side M. That being said, I'm (overly) picky about what I watch. If you want to watch something light and happy, then maybe you'll enjoy Side M. For me, however, there was just not enough substance. Idolm@ster Side M could use a lot less talking, and a lot more action.