The Idol genre has entered something of a golden age in anime what with numerous series becoming successful and many more getting upcoming movies such as Love Live, Aikatsu, Pri Para and recently Idolmaster. Love Live in particular has been topping charts now in sales and is probably the Queen of the genre right now if not the entire anime world. However, Idolmaster is a big reason for the initial surge in popularity in the genre, sure there were series before Idolmaster but Idolmaster refined the formula and became a break out hit.
I think what is key to the current formula is also related to one of the biggest criticisms you hear about idols which is purity. As a product of moe, idols are kept pure which besides the no boyfriend rule means that generally you are going to get a very positive, very happy anime which right now is something people really seem to want. Sure this is probably an asinine thing to say but when you compare this to something like the idols from the Macross series which are quite “corrupt” in comparison dealing with love triangles, wars and other unpleasant things there certainly is a difference between these two styles. Regardless what you think is better, certainly right now people want happy cheerful idols to brighten their day. Anyways let’s get on to the Idolmaster movie.
Speaking of darker things, Idolmaster is great at these trailers they insert into the show like “The Sleeping Be@uty” which kicked off the start of the movie. While mostly a parody of other movies like Harry Porter it’s still a lot of fun, I’d definitely fund a spin-off series about this. However I doubt that will ever happen as while a “dark” trailer may be okay within context of it just being a trailer within a movie I imagine it would break the idol formula too hard if it was made into an actual anime. Compare this to something like AKB0048, from what I understand failed, I can only assume it’s partly because war and other negative things just don’t mix with the idol genre in the current climate.
While I’m talking about the trailer let’s be honest, Miki would make a fantastic villain. She’s already half way there to being a bad girl and red eyes suit her well!
So the movie was fairly standard, let’s have a concert and spend the movie preparing for it. I thought early on this might be a little too dull for a movie but it ended up being very good. Like the best stories in the idol genre the theme of the movie was about growth and dealing with hardship. I really can’t get enough of this as someone who loves to see characters evolve and become better.
What is a better way to show growth than taking a trip to train. Of course now all the girls of 765 pro are harden vets and this stuff is easy but thankfully this is only the setup for it’s really about the more interesting aspect of this movie, the new girls they bring on as backup dancers.
At first I thought these girls were just put in to sell something or some other cheap trick but really Kana ended up being one of the stars of this movie along side Haruka the appointed leader for this concert they were preparing for. While not exactly original material I found Kana’s struggles of keeping up and failing while Haruka trying to learn how to become a good leader and trying to understand Kana very gripping. Even if it’s nothing new it’s just a kind of story I love to watch.
Characters like Kana won’t be popular because people want perfect heroes but you know what, flaws are what make a character great. You can’t have a very interesting or deep story with perfect people nor can you make a character grow. I suggest you go watch some sports if you want the “best.” For these reasons and more it’s why often the character you want to see the most of will more than often make the story very shallow or boring. Also why you should never let the fan mindset dictate what to write.
Speaking of shallow another thing I find that really ruins things is shipping however in Idolmaster I find myself really loving Haruka and Chihaya. While I don’t really care about a romantic aspect to this they are a top-tier pair in anime to me. This is for the very rare reason that they just are what each other needs. While shipping usually consists of putting together fantasy pairings out of things like character traits or sex appeal these two instead are each others better half. They have great moments and great interactions that help each other grow and move along the plot.
I know someone had to be something of an antagonist in this movie but honestly I just wanted Haruka to tell Shiho off and make her shut up. This is mostly because I am not a fan of the “rival” trope seen so often the idol genre which Shiho was obsessed about. It’s like best girlers who just want to pit people against each other rather than making a decent story.
One thing I really took note of was everyone had new clothes throughout the movie. They really went all out on giving them a wide variety of new outfits, something you don’t often see, even in major movies and for this many people.
Their idol outfits were very cute as well, I think if there was something Idolmaster did not do well coming into this movie it was the outfits. However they really stepped up their game in this movie and I am happy for it.
Azusa getting lost was a must for this movie, I’m only sad I couldn’t see the chaos this caused. I’m glad even though they all have grown they still haven’t changed in many charming ways.
The concert at the climax was great, while not on par with my favorite (Ranka’s movie concert) I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t flashy but it had some nice camera work and the music was very good. Like I said before the outfits were very cute and it was a fitting conclusion to the series if this is the last we see of the originals.
For my one negative about this movie it’d have to be how lacking it was in setup for the main storyline and ultimately how despite all the change that was claimed to be happening the end result was back where they started from. Producer going to America would’ve had more impact if it didn’t feel like it was just there to give them more interest in the concert and him coming back in the credits just makes it almost laughable.
At the same time I wish they had devoted some more time to developing why they made Huraka the leader, why producer is leaving now and why this arena concert now in relation to everything else. Sure there is reasoning going on but it felt a little flimsy. However this is nothing new in the Idolmaster world and almost goes with how it is in the games so I’ll just say it was just a minor issue worth noting.
Overall it was a very enjoyable movie and I highly recommend it to anyone that likes Idolmaster or the current Idol genre. I hope this sets a standard for the upcoming movies and even TV series to follow and improve upon so that this golden age of Idols will continue on for some time.