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THE IDOLM@STER – 23

「私」 (Watashi)
“I”

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 Sequence

ED23: 「見つめて(instrumental)」 (Mitsumete (instrumental))
Watch the 23rd ED!: Streaming ▼

Preview

December 10, 2011 at 10:36 pm
52 comments »
  • December 10, 2011 at 10:46 pmsaka

    Haruka finally breaks down. She wasn’t that mentally prepared for trade off an idol has to receive for being popular.
    The characters are created to have flaws so that there can be drama plot, like Miki being too blunt although she didn’t mean any malice, & Haruka being depressed easily.
    Broducer ups his manly points for taking the fall.
    Now wonder if Miki will blame Haruka for indirectly causing the accident, or will she show her mature side & deal with the matter accordingly?

    Also, the poster with the bullet speed girls, think they’re parodying Girls’ Generation.

  • December 10, 2011 at 10:46 pmFencedude

    though I do wish at least one other girl exuded the same perceptiveness as Haruka.

    Well, there is one. There’s a girl who saw what was happening to Haruka, a girl who owes Haruka everything. This girl offered to cancel her greatest opportunity to stay, to be with Haruka. But of course Haruka told her not to, to go.

    Only one person can save Haruka, just like how Haruka was the only person who could save her.

    Kisaragi Chihaya.

    It is your turn.

    • December 11, 2011 at 12:43 amKinny Riddle

      Exactly. Haruka turned out to be very emotionally vulnerable once Chihaya was away on other errands.

      Just as Chihaya needed Haruka to keep her going, the opposite turns out to be true as well.

    • December 11, 2011 at 6:58 pmKelfistan

      I wish it were like that, but I think Broducer needs to resolve this problem in my opinion. It would feel more like a better end to me.

      • December 12, 2011 at 12:53 amFencedude

        No.

        That would be completely missing the entire point.

      • December 13, 2011 at 7:04 pmKelfistan

        WTf, no I just wanted to say Broducer is good too

  • December 10, 2011 at 10:52 pmNhelraios

    Broducer ;__;

    I wonder what’s Miki’s say in all this. Things are gonna get uglier next ep.

    • December 11, 2011 at 9:47 amKelfistan

      Yes I agree.

      He’s called Broducer.

  • December 10, 2011 at 10:58 pmmafias

    Based on animedia, Show Spoiler ▼

    • December 11, 2011 at 6:26 ampaulrenzo

      Hopefully for the better this time.

  • December 10, 2011 at 11:09 pmThe Moondoggie

    Sad end for the episode… I hope he ain’t dead yet…

    • December 10, 2011 at 11:47 pmfragb85

      BROducer survived getting hit by a truck in the games. A silly fall isn’t going to stop him.

      • December 11, 2011 at 2:22 amBreedo

        That’s probably why they drew him to look like Clark Kent lol, maybe an inside joke who knows.

      • December 11, 2011 at 9:59 pmThe Moondoggie

        Yeah… But that’s Miki’s route. Who knows what now it’s Haruka’s. Will she end up calling him “Honey” as well?

  • December 10, 2011 at 11:37 pmKingdragun

    Wow shocking episode indeed seeing Haruka falling slowly into depression and later seeing the accident with Broducer was shocking… let`s see how the things work out!
    P.S.: I want that Mikki disc right now!!!
    http://randomc.net/image/THE%20IDOLM@STER/THE%20IDOLM@STER%20-%2023%20-%20Large%2005.jpg

  • December 10, 2011 at 11:45 pmfragb85

    Well THAT I didn’t expect. This is much more depressing than Chihaya. All she had was just a tragic backstory. This episode we have the freaking universe slowly break Haruka and everything she stands for. Then the BROducer is hospitalized save her. Might as well kick Haruka while she’s down if they want to go the extra mile.

    Seriously, Haruka’s stories were always light, fluffy and optimistic, not THIS. It just feels weird. But I guess they needed a dramatic climax so I can let it pass.

    I’ll just watch some happy Haruka videos to counter the mood

  • December 10, 2011 at 11:58 pmLectro Volpi

    Looks like the other idols (sans Chihaya) never really tried with the xmas special, I mean, I don´t consider trying when you leave it to your “spare time” after schedule as it is really organised and left to luck. Haruka rescheduled and sacrificed hours of sleep. I, myself am not really a man of sacrifices but if you know (looks like the did not) that your friend is struggling with that and it is important for her then you could at least try (try as if doing something like reschedule, not expecting to have free time out of the blue)

    I don´t want to hear an “It´s your fault” from Miki, please.

    Neither this at EP 24/25

    • December 11, 2011 at 12:05 amLectro Volpi

      Last episode I stated that I can´t hate on Miki because she has no malice in her words or actions, but when you are that oblivious to your surroundings then you have a problem.

  • December 11, 2011 at 12:08 amsatkaz

    This was a very depressing episode, not only for the end, but the fact that you could see Haruka become even more saddened as the episode went on…someone wasn’t paying much attention to safety.

    Hmm, I wonder if the ending song had been sung with lyrics…maybe a good guess at what’s going to be sung?

    Interesting that the song that Haruka was listening to while seeing the video of everyone practicing was “i”.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    Also, I think the Producer could be very messed up. The fall could have been about a good distance away, and it did seem like the Producer could be falling at a downward angle, judging on how his body was moving. That means he could have hit the ground neck or head first. Not to mention that the stage lift is, by design, higher than the actual ground, which could add to the damage (unless he fell square on the lift, which could lessen the damage. And then there’s the fact that Miki was waiting in front of an operation room and the fact that the Producer didn’t say anything when people called him if he was alright.

    Course, it could be he fell on his arm or something, and that the operation was needed to put back broken parts of his arm so that the bones heal properly.

    • December 11, 2011 at 4:03 amSnooSnoo

      The credits say the ending theme is called 見つめて (Instrumental)
      Means something like: To look at. I suck at translating =x

    • December 11, 2011 at 6:33 ampaulrenzo

      My dyslexic side initially read your comment as “producer is a messed up person” hahaha.

      Anyway, if I saw the scene right, he fell down sideways. Which means at least one broken arm. While there’s a chance that his head didn’t hit the floor, there’s a good chance of it snapping, which could either lead to neck-down paralysis or (worse?) death.

  • December 11, 2011 at 12:17 amSeishun Otoko

    I thought it was mentioned in the last episode that Haruka was the one who got the lead role in the play?
    They better wrap things up in an uplifting note. I want to see all my 765 Pro girls smiling when the ending theme starts rolling…

    • December 11, 2011 at 3:46 amDivine

      Haruka and Miki are getting the lead and sub-lead roles, but it hasn’t been decided who would get which part.

  • December 11, 2011 at 12:34 amPasserby

    I’d like to second the point about this being one of the most unexpected shows of the year. I walked into Idolm@ster on the strength of a friend’s recommendation and the A-1 branding, but I really wasn’t expecting much. It was, after all, just an anime based on a game. Hollywood tries movies based on games once in a while, and those don’t exactly receive critical aclaim, to say the least. Even anime based on very story centric games–the visual novel adaptations–are a bit of a crapshoot. If anything, I would be less surprised if The Idolm@ster was just a cash-in of the franchise drawn from the merchandise budget. One or two cour of fan pandering and it’d be a wrap.

    It was a surprise of the most pleasant sort when I gave The Idolm@ster a few episodes and found that it was actually more than that. While not a perfect series or anything like that, Haruka’s character is a good example of the things this show does right. At first I thought she’d just be the generic happy-go-lucky character who just magically manages to be unphased because she’s nothing but a ball of cheerful energy. That’d be boring. But the show gave her development and made her human. She gets introspective, hesitant, tired–before she rallies the team, as she always does, she must rally herself. The setup in episode 5–that little conversation at night–was actually quite well done.

    The best thing I think A-1 did was to keep Haruka’s struggle relatively subtle. Drama series are often about the drama; big things happen to cause big tears. Hatches, matches dispatches. As a slice-of-life first and foremost The Idolm@ster, instead of making the drama bigger, made us more sensitive to the characters. It was really the producer’s tumble that broke Haruka’s floodgates. We saw it happening slowly as life laid seige to the way she lived, chipped away at the edges, wore her down. The accident was but the last straw on the proverbial camel’s back. You can feel her getting tired, having doubts, needing to summon more of that internal reserve to get back to Chipper.

    I’m excited to see how The Idolm@ster takes it from here, after such a fundamental attack on Haruka’s life. There’s a lot that they can still do, and with only 2 episodes left I already starting to miss the show.

  • December 11, 2011 at 12:44 amsilentv

    I think Haruka is more suitable to be a future producer than an idol. She would make a great school teacher too, or a mom… any role that involves care and sheepherding.

    • December 11, 2011 at 6:48 amButterbean

      It’s kind of ironic that Haruka is the one unable to cope with fame. After all, out of all the 765 Pro girls, Haruka was initially the one most enthusiastic about becoming an idol.

      If you all look back at episode 11, there’s that scene where Haruka and Chihaya are having a conversation together while eating dinner. Chihaya basically asks Haruka why she wants to be an idol, to which Haruka very enthusiastically says that becoming an idol has always been her dream.

      As far as I remember, no other 765 Pro girl was ever as enthusiastic as Haruka at the prospect of being an idol. Azusa, for instance, joined 765 Pro out of a whim right after graduating from junior college. Similarly, Chihaya just wants to sing, and probably wouldn’t mind not being an idol if she could continue singing. Makoto, to give one last example, just wants to find a way to be considered more feminine.

      Now that they’re all famous, though, Haruka is the one who is least able to cope with how idoldom is distancing 765 Pro as a family. It’s sad that she’s taking this the hardest. I did not expect her arc to be this depressing. Hell, it’s even more depressing than Chihaya’s arc — and judging by all the feedback I’ve seen to this episode so far, it looks like I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  • December 11, 2011 at 12:57 amKinny Riddle

    I’m out of words on how A-1 Pictures just keep exceeding fan expectations, even for unexpected twists like this episode.

    The way Haruka’s perception of her place in the idol world slowly unravelling, eventually leading to her breakdown, was totally believable.

    Still, tears are not befitting for a cheerful girl like her. I hope the rest of 765 Pro rally around to cheer her up just as she has cheered them up on countless occasions in the past. Though her contribution may be small, she is the engine that drives everyone forward and keeps them going.

    Get well soon, Broducer. If Haruka is the engine, then you are the fuel to power it up.

  • December 11, 2011 at 2:16 amTaiakun

    I have a feeling that Miki might put the blame on Haruka. As much of a loveable character Miki might be, she does seem to only care about herself and the producer, and in hindsight she and Haruka are almost completely the opposite.

    I think this will make Haruka realize that being an idol is not her thing, and she quits after the conclusion of the next concert. However she might end up helping out in the office instead which definitely suits her better. I know that tears will flow in the final 2 episodes just like it did in Chihaya’s arc final episode…

    • December 11, 2011 at 3:53 amDivine

      I also got the impression that Haruka was going to tell the Producer that she wants to quit.

  • December 11, 2011 at 2:39 amBreedo

    Well they really laid it on Haruka this time, The perfect bloody storm, for someone who prides themselves on taking care of others and being helpful to have to feel they may have caused another supportive person harm is the ultimate blow. For her klutzy knack to have brought it on proably added to it as she sees it as a flaw in herself as well. It all makes it more personally her fault in her mind. She probably sees him like a big brother of sorts so it’s a big deal to her. Also I wonder if she was going to quit there before Miki sat down. Producer really seemed to sense there was a issue that needed to be handled pronto. I nearly died at the end with that teary pic of her biting her lip. Maybe producer is the only one who can turn her around it’ll be damn interesting next week. PS I love the snowflake costume and Little match Girl….dammit I was riding high on this one they really set me up for a big fall!

  • December 11, 2011 at 6:35 ampaulrenzo

    If producer survives this (relatively unharmed i.e. no permanent injury), he’ll be just a step below Onizuka in terms of immortality.

    • December 11, 2011 at 2:58 pmLectro Volpi

      Not really.

      Remember that Broducer fell on Haruka´s Dorayaki that acted as a cushion.

  • December 11, 2011 at 7:41 amDusk

    Aside from the main plot in this episode, there are two other things that impressed me. First, Yukiho’s singing voice is great… no, the whole performance was fantastic! Secondly, the cars moving in the background while Chihaya and Haruka were on the bridge. I love it when they pay so much attention to the details and make it feels so realistic.

    • December 11, 2011 at 12:58 pmPasserby

      Funny how you mentioned both of those. The Yukiho scene in light of the bridge scene was a bit painful for me, actually. Haruka and Chihaya were really tight, just like Makoto and Yukiho are. The way Makoto is always looking out for Yukiho emphasised the fact that Haruka had lost one of her pillars of support when Chihaya went overseas.

      • December 11, 2011 at 2:33 pmJulio

        Seeing Yukiho getting over her fears and finally maturing just made me happy, but it was so sad seeing Haruka getting shafted. Yukiho is my favorite singer cause her voice is great.

  • December 11, 2011 at 11:07 amfoshizzel

    Doh! Haruka noooo!! T__T It is really sad to see the happy character get down and depressed, sadly this might be a huge wake up call for her. I know they were really building up to something dramatic eventually! They practically called it with that huge show getting called off.

    Haruka loves the social side of the group and all the friends she has made, sadly she has to realize those days are over…and everyone is focused on their jobs and becoming famous especially Miki who was like ya screw the friendship I have to get famous! Ah well I still feel terrible for Haruka.

    Overall I was not expecting this turn of events, or for producer to get pulled into it! Then again I have pretty much loved all of this series and will be sad to see it go…

    • December 11, 2011 at 3:24 pmstaticology

      Miki was never like “screw the friendship.” She’s already separated business FROM friendship, which is what Haruka needs to do (especially since they’re in DIRECT competition for a BIG role that could define their careers). Miki explicitly told Haruka why the role is so important to her and she expected Haruka to work just as hard. Honestly, it was purely bad timing with that and Haruka’s personal issues. I feel bad for the both of them, because neither one did anything wrong. It was just a coincidental sequence of bad events.

  • December 11, 2011 at 12:15 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

    Broducer go down the hooooooole…

    …sorry, couldn’t resist, lol.

    But yeah, I gotta agree on what’s said. It’s very nice that this has been much more than simply an attempt at animated a game. Especially a game that…well..isn’t like most games with more intricate (or at least attempted intricate) stories and such. Pretty few anime based on games of any sort can really be said to be THAT good (like Amagami SS and Higurashi/Umineko and such were also good ones to me).

    Would be a surprise if we got Awakened Miki after this too.

  • December 11, 2011 at 9:59 pmc2710

    i have a feeling that this’ll be another series that turns on the water works… no regrets picking this show up

  • December 12, 2011 at 2:04 amRelic

    Not the best episode to watch before bed, but so be it, in fact angst and tragedy are sorta my thing to be honest. They’re DEFINITELY doing this show right. I can really commiserate with the poor girl being much the same way, but with the ability to let most of it just roll off my shoulders so I’m not burdened with worry. I really like this show and really like her character and am glad we finally get to see more of her as the show wraps up. I’m loving it.

  • December 12, 2011 at 3:03 amnagi

    The Idolm@ster: Biggest surprise of the year. Period. (my jaw was literally dropped from the time Broducer fell until the first few seconds of the ending credits)

  • December 12, 2011 at 7:19 amdopenhagen

    I think people have already fleshed out the drama sooooooooooo…….Little Match Girl m@ster version PLEASE????

  • December 14, 2011 at 4:51 amjreding

    This was a really touching episode. I’ve been liking Haruka for a while, for her personality as well as for her outfits. She prefers to dress in fall colours and generally in a rather understated and conservative way. This, I find, stands in some contrast to her cheerful attitude. This ep. now gave us a deeper look into her true personality. I won’t go further into detail because Divine has expressed perfectly everything I felt when watching this episode!

  • December 14, 2011 at 6:21 amx

    Totally unexpected ending to this episode. Have to admit that I was expecting this anime to end in whimper. It looks like it will end with a bang. Loved how they fleshed out Haruka’s personality.
    Don’t think they will kill off the producer (many will rage if this happen, though it is ironic, since he was the least likable character when this started). If they were daring enough to do so, ending on a sad note, it could turn out brilliant or horrible (depending on how it is handled), and possibly leading to a new season with a new producer…(seems really really unlikely :p).

  • December 14, 2011 at 8:32 amHaruka fan club

    Haruka crying

  • December 14, 2011 at 8:38 amHaruka fan club

    I like haruka chan

  • December 14, 2011 at 9:49 am*3*

    Really how deep is that hole that BROducer fell? Just curious. about 1 floor high?
    Haruka-chan… T3T

  • December 14, 2011 at 6:00 pmskylion

    I’ve been asking myself why I even began to watch this show. Found my reason: Some depth of character. They could easily let things go over the top and allow it too spill everywhere. I had a friend ask me what it was I was watching, “It’s like America’s Top Idol. In Japan. But animated. But more believable.”

    And you know. I don’t really dig pop music all that much. I’m a punk college/alt rock/ kinda guy from way back.

    • December 15, 2011 at 8:18 ampaulrenzo

      Yeah, I honestly find the pop music a little bit too cheesy for my tastes. But I’m here for the slice of life, and interesting character relationships and developments, something that this series has in spades.

      Oh, and a male character who will probably win best lead male anime character of the year (if there is one), for being a pillar of support / catalyst for development for most of the girls (with the exception of yukiho, the twins, and iori).

      • December 15, 2011 at 11:05 pmTewi

        I agree, the Producer was handled well. One major plus point imo is how professional and responsible he has been in maintaining relationships with all the girls – you can see that he cares for their well-being as employees and people rather than romantic interests (affirming Makoto’s femininity however he can but not stepping out of the ‘we’re more like siblings’ mindset, humouring Miki’s ‘honey’ without encouraging it). It’s quite refreshing!