THE IDOLM@STER – 18
「たくさんの、いっぱい」 (Takusan no, Ippai)
“Lots of, Lots”
Ritsuko fans will likely be both pleased and disappointed with this episode, as we got to see her stand in for a mumps-ridden Azusa with some of the shoddiest artwork to date. The quality has always fluctuated with some shortcuts taken when possible, but wow, this week was a doozy since it looked like the animators finished the episode in their sleep. There was a pretty huge variance going from scene to scene, as the close-up shots that they spent some time on looked as good as always. The prevalent use of a three-quarters top-down view was somewhat dubious though, because it really didn’t look like they tried all that hard.
The surprising thing? I didn’t really mind the obvious dip in quality. It’s become quite apparent over the past four months that A-1 Pictures is cutting corners within reason wherever they can; however, the poor artwork hardly detracts from the viewing experience when watched in motion (e.g. during the dance animations), so I never felt the need to make a point of it. This episode clearly wasn’t one of their better efforts, but the animation itself was still pretty fluid, so I chalked it up as a one-off and found the production quality rather amusing as a result. Realistically speaking, I’m impressed by how “lively” the characters are animated in this adaptation, so I figured it was only a matter of time before we saw some evidence on how taxing it is on a studio to produce this kind of work on a regular basis. I may be too forgiving in some people’s eyes, but unless this drop in quality becomes the norm, I don’t think it’s worth fretting just yet.
Regardless of the inconsistent artwork, this episode was surprisingly enjoyable. For one, it was a lot of fun to see Iori and Ami get some payback on their “demon dictator” and work her to the bone in return. We also got a glimpse of Ritsuko’s idol days, which she got to relive a bit of thanks to the secret invitation sent out to her fan club, plus a follow-up to Miki’s new outlook on being an idol, showing how she’s no longer interested in becoming a member of Ryuuguu Komachi. I have to admit I reveled a bit in Ritsuko realization of how inconsiderate she was being by asking Miki for help. It wasn’t so much because of Miki’s unnatural politeness (i.e. “Ritsuko… san”), but because Ritsuko was going to have to fill in for Azusa whether she wanted to or not. It was Ritsuko’s reluctance that ultimately made this episode as entertaining as it was, and the bit with Miki pretty much cemented her resolve to get through the secret live somehow. I wasn’t much of a fan of her “Ippai Ippai” song, but I did love the sentimental touch that Iori and Ami provided with their consideration and appreciation toward their producer. Very sweet.
* They continue to build up Chihaya’s subplot, so I’m starting to wonder if it will be used for the series finale.
ED18: 「魔法をかけて!」 (Mahou wo Kakete!) by 秋月律子 (若林直美) (Akizuki Ritsuko (Wakabayashi Naomi))
Watch the 18th ED!: Streaming ▼