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THE iDOLM@STER (2011 anime) March 12, 2012

Posted by coolmikeol in Anime, Games.
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Sorry for the late review! THE iDOLM@STER is a anime series about a group of 12 aspiring young girls in pursuit of becoming idols.

As a person who explores J-pop culture online, I do get to see a bit of everything. I encountered The iDOLM@STER from browsing around YouTube. If you don’t know what The iDOLM@STER is, it originated as a game for XBOX 360. “The game follows the career of a producer who works for the fictional 765 Production studio and has to work with a group of prospective pop idols.” – Wikipedia. Basically in these games, you are to build an idol up from the ground up by making good decisions and such, sort of like a visual novel with the theme of idols. Well enough about the game, because this post is about the anime adaptation, no not the alternate mecha Idolmaster: Xenoglossia anime, but the 2011 adaptation that follows the games faithfully.

The 2011 iDOLM@STER anime has over a dozen main characters: 12 propective idols, one retired idol producing them, and a new male producer. This adaptation follows the story of the new producer and the idols of 765 Pro with the goal of them becoming great idols. The anime can be broken down into two parts: The first half of the series tells the story of how the idols built themselves up from the beginning to fame, and the second part focuses on their fame and idol work and the struggles that fame brings to each of the individuals, such as slowly drifting away from each other who worked together as a team for so long.

What I especially liked about this anime was the fact that it allows at least one episode to focus on each character, to show more of each idol’s personality. Usually with a cast this large it’s hard to get to focus on each character but the format for the show and the theme allowed for an easy way to explore each idol in depth. I also liked the fact that this anime focused solely on their idol lives and themselves and not showing much of school, something which can get really repetitive when watching animes all the time. It was a bit of fresh air watching an anime that didn’t have school as a big setting.

I remember when I got to around episode 13 or so I was wondering how it was going to end, as I thought that this was only going to be a 13 episode anime. When it kept going after the halfway point, I looked up the anime on MAL.net and saw that it was going to be 26 episodes. It surprised me, but I was glad that it was longer than I thought it would be.

*SPOILER ALERT!* – In the last few episodes, it became much more bleak in atmosphere when Haruka starts to realize that members of 765 Pro are slowly drifting apart and tries her best to get everyone together for end of the year celebrations, but as her efforts seem to fail, she slowly falls into despair, a stark difference from her usual optimistic attitude. To me it felt that the anime was reaching for realism that moving forward does for people who stay together initially, its like how you make close friends in high school but drift apart after graduation. It’s sad but true and necessary for the future. The fall that occurs with the Producer in the end of Ep. 23 sort of makes it worse on Haruka herself because she was thinking it was her fault because he saved her from falling herself, but I guess what it served to do was to shock the idols of 765 Pro enough to remember their origins and not to leave it behind too quickly. The Producer I think was a symbol of what made them a close knit group from the beginning of the series.

In the end, it sort of felt like a bittersweet but warm ending to see all of the idols of 765 Pro get together for their end of the year concert. I guess I’m a sucker for these kind of endings, as cliche as some people would think they are. I liked how the anime tried to play out the real problems of becoming famous and dealing with the problems that come with it, like how Miki told Haruka during their audition for a musical that it wasn’t right for her to be wishing each other good luck as only one of them can be the lead. It’s things like that that brought some realistic problems into the anime that wasn’t just skipped for a regular happy-go-lucky series, I can see that this iDOLM@STER series brought many scenarios and problems of being an idol into an anime.

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