Before Christmas – The iDOLM@STER

It’s hard to believe Christmas is around the corner! Where does time go?  And I have so much work to finish before the end of the year, argh!

I decided to title this post after what has been taking my attention (besides the obvious, i.e., looking forward to stuffing my face on Christmas Day and doing sweet f- all for at least two weeks), and that’s the iDOLM@STER animation. It’s streamed live, free (and legal!) through Crunchyroll for the internet, and it’s based on the characters of a video game series of the same name. And will be coming to a close soon (I haven’t checked if there’ll be another season afterwards).

Now, I’m still trying to figure out this particular Anime. The games are probably not very well known in the Western countries, simply because they’ve never been translated. They’re mostly a kind of “growing up” game mixed with a rhythm game, where one has to bring a girl (or a group of girls, in the iDOLM@STER 2) to be the top idols of Japan. Teen idols don’t have a particularly good rep around these parts, probably due to how the Disney girl types quickly turn into trainwrecks as soon as they become legal (and often before that), but it’s a different ball of game in Japan.

Incidentally, the game is more about the stories of the girls and how you (as the “producer”) help them overcome everything to realize their dreams, so it plays a lot like a visual novel in some parts. I only wish they’d have given the produced a voiceover too, I can follow when everyone else speaks thanks to the voiceover, but I really have to work on my Kana. Understanding the girls is a lot easier (and downright hilarious sometimes, I’m looking at you Miki-nano!), although Takane is really hard to follow sometimes.

Oh, and as I showed, someone’s been doing Facebook profiles for the whole lot, you can see them at 765Pro. I’m assuming it’s either the chaps from Crunchyroll or some fansub group having a laugh, but it’s pretty funny nonetheless.

Where was I? Oh yeah, this isn’t about the game, it’s really about the Anime. As I was saying, I’m still not sure what to make of it. The game, and the Anime, are both really about the characters, with some music thrown in (if you don’t like the Japanese songs then don’t bother with either game or Anime 🙂 ), and in Japan, seeing that the game is fairly popular, I don’t see the Anime really having much of an impact. Most of the stories for the girls are rehashes of what’s already in the games, the “Visual Novel” part, and don’t really add much novelty. On top of that the Anime had, IMO, a rather weak start (the second chapter is downright embarrassing by how trite and predictable the whole thing was, for example), and only got better when they cranked it up with the more involved stories from the cast.

Of course, that had its share of problems, as the chaps at Atarashii Prelude so eloquently put it, they kicked the angst up so much it felt like it was being made by Studio Gainax. And therein lies the rub, if you are not familiar with the game, this is all well and good, only perhaps a tad too heavy depending on your taste. If you are familiar with the game, though, it’s not only heavy, but quite a bit of it is rehashed. It kind of has to be, they’re the same characters!

I don’t want to sound like I’m being too hard on the show really, I like the characters so it’s fun to see them “fleshed out” in an Anime show. They added a fair share of new music, and didn’t try to add too much of what one finds in the games to appeal to the gamers (something the Persona 4 Animation did way, way too much). Which is probably a good thing, the dance routines in the game are pretty awesome, and it’d have looked pretty bad if compared with the low-framerate and not-so-great animation of the Anime (one of these days I have to plug the console to the computer and record Ritsuko with the rest of Ryuuguu Komachi dancing Kiramekirari in a catgirl costume, it’s the most hilarious song in the game).

But the bottom line is that it feels like a rather pointless Anime for the “original” audience, i.e., everyone who played the game(s) and is familiar with the characters. Kinda entertaining to watch, and it has its moments. I suppose it depends on where you’re coming from, someone who had not heard about it before would have probably liked it a lot more. See: Toxin Muffin’s post on it, for example (a pretty good summary, I think 🙂 ). I’m sure that, as the show comes to a close, more people will be collecting their thoughts and posting impressions.

If you like the music and can get somewhat attached to adorable animated characters, it’s a pretty good one to watch. If you’re familiar with the games, it may not add much. And as far as games-to-TV goes, it’s not bad as the Persona 4 Animation, that one warrants a whole rant by itself.

On another note, this week’s chapter will come early, as I’m taking off to enjoy the sun and the break. So there’ll be new stuff tomorrow afternoon.

And in that note, Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year!

2 Comments ↓

2 Responses to “Before Christmas – The iDOLM@STER”

  1. reiseng December 23, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    Haha, I am glad you found my post useful, though, personally I had never intended for it to be a summary. 😛

    Although, I don’t play many games that anime are based of, I do read a lot of manga, so I can understand where you are coming from when you talk about adaptations. If I have already read the manga for an anime, then I normally only watch a bit of the anime. I almost always drop anime that I have read the manga of.

    • Walkiry December 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

      Well, it’s because that was the kind of summary that I’d give someone when asked about the show, the important bits are there really, a couple of Crowning Moments of Awesome and a general feel for the show! Hehe.

      Adaptations are tricky beasts. So far the best “manga/anime” dual adaptation ever made is Full Metal Alchemist, but it’s not something that’s easy to pull off, specially when you have an already established fanbase.

      That said, iM@S seems to have been reasonably popular on these Western parts, I wonder if that’ll convince Namco to sub the game and bring it over. We’d probably never heard the end of it though (think about it, in the game you basically are a guy who micromanages every day of a bunch of teenage to young adult girls as they become idols, I can already hear the screeches of “pervert!” 😀 ).

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