THE IDOLM@STER – 23
If one of the goals of this IM@S adaptation was to make it one of the most unexpected dramas of the year, the producers should give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done. It may be nothing compared to an actual drama series, but for a show that’s primarily slice of life with an idol twist, I can only commend IM@S for driving that aspect in the late stages of its run to show that it has more to offer than just that. As I said last week, I’m quite surprised at how much the 765 Pro girls have grown on me in the past two seasons. That’s instrumental in making me actually care about what they’re going through and “buying into” the drama, so the recent string of episodes from Chihaya’s traumatic past to Haruka’s unhappiness has left a strong impression on me. Episode twenty was without a doubt a series-defining moment, as watching the performance of “Yakusoku” in support of Chihaya gives me goosebumps even to this day, and now serves as a reminder that the girl who brought it all about needs the same kind of loving support in return.
Unlike everyone else who’s so focused on their idol careers, Haruka makes it fairly clear that she’d give up her fame if it meant that she could just spend time with everyone like they used to. It’s simply in her caring nature to be more concerned about her friends than something superficial like popularity, and the fact that the show’s made me realize that makes me even more sympathetic toward what she’s going through. She may feel that it’s a bit selfish of her to want to get together as a group again despite everyone’s busy schedules, but I don’t at all think it’s unreasonable when it’s dance rehearsal for their New Year’s concert. More so than feeling lonely, I see it as Haruka’s unhappiness over how distant everyone’s become — so much so that she stops by the office every day just to be reminded of their beginnings — hence why it pains me to see that there’s no one looking out for her. Who’s going to help the girl who always keeps a smile on her face and stays optimistic when she’s struggling to do so herself?
The answer is likely the Producer, who picked up on a bit of the signs here, though he probably had the adverse effect when he instinctively sacrificed himself to save Haruka. After seeing her tears in the instrumental ending sequence, I’m really not looking forward to seeing how Haruka blames herself — not because I can’t stand an episode of teenage angst, but because I really don’t want to see her beat herself up any further. Like I said, the series is doing something right from a drama standpoint. Something as “trivial” as an open trapdoor can shake the very foundation of the series simply because I’m fond of all the characters and their different personalities. What adds an extra degree of complication is how no one’s to blame here — not even Miki for having a one-track mind about getting the lead role and impressing the Producer — though I do wish at least one other girl exuded the same perceptiveness as Haruka.
In hindsight, I guess that’s what makes her special, as she’s the only one who seemed genuinely sad about the cancellation of their live Sunday show. Her attachment to sentimental things may not make her the ideal idol in a cuttroat industry, but it definitely makes her a much better person. It’s also the driving factor behind the dissonance between her and the rest of the girls, which should serve as a finale-worthy subplot to conclude the series around. With only two episodes to go, I suspect Haruka’s subplot will be the last one before things wrap up on an uplifting note. (There better be an uplifting note.)
Full-length image: 08.
ED23: 「見つめて（instrumental）」 (Mitsumete (instrumental))
Watch the 23rd ED!: Streaming ▼