After finishing Aikatsu Stars! I felt giddy, and not many animes can make me feel that way after watching the last episode, including that ones I consistently watch over. Which means, there was something kind of special about this anime.
As with the original Aikatsu!, this series focused on idols, daily idol activities and competitions, which is typical in this franchise. For an anime aimed at kids, this was particularly well done, but I did notice that unlike in the original, this one had a slightly more mature tone that the original lacked, which made it enjoyable for the older audience. I won't say anything more to avoid spoiling but the drama in this was definitely heavier than its predecessor.
The art is one of the strongest points in Stars!. Everything is so detail-focused that it's hard to say anything bad about the art at all. And I'm talking character and dress designs, and even backgrounds! The animation was also smooth and the 3D performances have definitely improved in quality since the original.
Like the art, sound is one of the strongest points in this anime. No matter how many opening and ending songs there were, you remember each of them vividly as they were continually sung by the characters throughout the series at different times. Also, every single episode had a performance, so that was something to look forward to, especially if it was a new song. There was a multitude of songs in this, and that was typical for an anime about idols. Overall, the sound is just amazing.
Not much to say about the characters. They weren't poorly written but they weren't particularly special either. The characters' personalities are reminiscent of the original's, which is where everyone sports this positive attitude towards their activities most of the time. But unlike in the original, we actually get to see some antagonists pop up in the first and second half of Stars!. Elza Forte was especially memorable for her prominent role in the second half and I was surprised to see how that second half actually developed with her arrival in Japan. Other than that, the characters did their job of representing the themes of this anime well.
Despite my liking for action, horror, mystery and romance, this kind of genre puts me at ease and makes me excited at the same time. It's always refreshing to watch this anime, despite the repetitiveness. In other words, I enjoyed this, A LOT.
Bringing everything together, Aikatsu Stars! is one spectacular anime to watch with kids and adults alike. I'd recommend this anime and this franchise in general, to people who are looking for something refreshing after a binge-watch session of Hellsing or other heavy anime, to get that balance back in place, especially if they don't mind this genre. Or just for anyone who's looking for a long anime to escape a bit of reality.