THE IDOLM@STER – 21
「まるで花が咲くように」 (Maru de Hana ga Saku you ni)
“As If A Flower Were Blooming”
A follow-up to Chihaya’s subplot, a resolution to the 961 Pro/Jupiter problem, and an unexpected performance by Kotori that ties Takagi and Kuroi’s past? Suffice to say, IM@S continues to push forward with its mini drama, providing an extra dimension to the series that one wouldn’t expect. In the case of 961 Pro and Jupiter, this boils down to Touma’s resentment toward Kuroi’s methods that results in the male pop group’s departure from his agency, much to the Producer’s surprise. It was the only natural outcome to pin all the blame on Kuroi and show that Jupiter was just being used, so while that didn’t come as much of a surprise to me, the tenacity the 765 Pro girls showed in the face of Kuroi’s meddling did. From a viewer’s perspective, it’s easy to curse Kuroi for sabotaging 765 Pro’s efforts by intimidating makeup artists and audio technicians out of helping them, but it’s hard to dwell on that when the girls didn’t let it get them down. Instead, I found their positivity “emotionally inspirational”, as everyone figured it was Kuroi’s doing.
Haruka once again deserves praise for spearheading the group’s optimism, though it’s starting to look like she’s pushing herself a little too hard by shouldering that role. Her forced smile really suggested that she had doubts about Chihaya’s acapella performance being well-received, as it looked like she was on the verge of tears from a sense of relief that it was. During the performance, the expression on Haruka’s face spoke volumes to me, as I too was moved by how Chihaya insisted on singing even though she didn’t have any music. I have a real soft-spot for those who push on despite the great adversity they’re up against, especially when it I see it move others into coming around and supporting their efforts. It wasn’t quite enough to get me choked up and teary-eyed like the support everyone showed Chihaya last time, but it sure had the same emotional effect when the music started playing and Chihaya continued to sing her heart out. That’s two weeks in a row that IM@S has moved me, which I find rather remarkable since “moving” isn’t a word I thought I’d ever use to describe this series.
As for the 765 Pro assistant who doesn’t get as much attention as she probably deserves, I would have never figured she’s a former idol, let alone an idol nurtured under the guidance of Takagi and Kuroi before the falling out they had. That revelation came as a pleasant surprise, as it showcased both Kotori and Kuroi in a very different light. In Kotori’s case, her performance of “Hana” in that black dress single-handledly changed my image of her character, much like it did for everyone else. Her character’s attractiveness shot way up in my books too, as she’s older than the rest of the 765 Pro idols and exudes a different type of charm. In Kuroi’s case, the talk between him, Takagi, and Yoshizawa redeemed his character ever-so-slightly by suggesting that he wasn’t always like this. Their conversation was a good way to conclude 961 Pro’s harassment — if only temporarily — allowing the series to move on from that in the final stretch. To that end, Chihaya’s question about what it means to be an idol at the end was a nice touch, considering everything that’s happened, as was seeing everyone in good-spirits going into the Christmas episode next time.
ED21: 「空」 (Sora) by 音無小鳥 (滝田樹里) (Otonashi Kotori (Takita Juri))
Watch the 21st ED!: Streaming ▼