Well this summer season of anime had some really good shows and some really big disappointments. 'Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49' though was the biggest surprise for me. A nice slice of life with a lot of J-Pop 6/10
I'm genuinely impressed with the show, it doesn't mind telling you straight out some of the negative aspects of show business (especially how Japan produces their Idols) they have some profound lines here and there...I'm not a big fan of J-Pop so the music isn't really why I enjoyed watching this (and I'm sure with less of it I would have given it a higher score), there's also no yaoi even if you would assume that by having an all male cast!
We follow our characters in what they're doing in their everyday life as well as their training to become Idols. Kakeru is a high-school student that was scouted, Ikuma the oldest member used to be a delinquent, Kira has always been in show business as child actor, Shun wants to become a musician, Daiki is an orphan and fan of the original Shounen Hollywood...so a colorful bunch that got together under 'Shachou' (former member of Shonen Hollywood) who manages the guys. We find out more about each ones backgrounds and dreams later on.
What I appreciate is, that you don't only see those characters having the time of their lives and saying things like 'This is great, I'll fulfill my dream of becoming an Idol...blah blah' sunshine and rainbows. No. They actually say things like 'I don't want to do this' or 'this is ridiculous and embarrassing'. They are holding a mirror on male Idols and what they have to go through. This show is more realistic and less melodramatic than other anime in the same genre, and partly responsible for that is the experienced manager, who tells Kakeru how it's going to be for him in the future. His friends won't be his friends anymore once he's famous, they'll probably sell private story's about him (whether they are true or not), the media is merciless and you won't make it with just talent or just hard work, and getting a fan base takes time. The manager already went through that, so he knows show business is never a save career. All those uncomfortable subjects are processed and I think 'Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49' is refreshingly different. So even if you don't like J-pop like me, this show has a lot more to offer than just hot guys and music. The members want to accomplish something out of the ordinary (maybe you have dreamed of performing on a big stage one day too), they're still young and inexperienced and many times lose hope and want to quit. The character development is well done, and so are the dialogs, and the pace of the anime is relatively slow, which I always prefer in slice of life.
Now what I don't like so much is the animation, compared to other anime it's really nothing special. The bands performances weren't spectacular, sometimes it was rather cringe worthy. And some moments were simply dull. But I was always waiting for the next episode because I wanted to know if they will become successful Idols, and if in the end that was what the boys really wanted. The journey of them becoming the next big thing looks pretty exiting.
Season two for 2015 confirmed ^^