THE IDOLM@STER – 24
Up until about a month ago, it would’ve been nothing more than a joke to consider IM@S as one of the best dramas of year, but this recent string of episodes has really made a case for the series. Of course, it never hurts when the budget’s been blown for this episode, where we finally get a resolution to all of Haruka’s bottled up feelings. I’m a little indifferent about the resolution itself though, as none of the other idols actually reached out to Haruka in person. Instead, they went with a televised message in hopes that it would reach her, after coming to the realization that Haruka’s been trying to get everyone together under the guise of practicing for the New Year’s live. While Chihaya did come through for Haruka by informing everyone of her secret desire to spend time with everyone, it was ultimately Haruka (and her inner child) who cheered herself up.
Be that as it may, this episode didn’t disappoint one bit from an emotional standpoint. Right from the get-go, it was pretty easy to get a sense of the guilt and unrest within Haruka, which she used in her acting to land the leading role in the musical. It was even easier to get swept up in her emotions after seeing her stare at the messages in her phone and break down in tears in front of Miki and Ritsuko because she wanted to prioritize the 765 Pro live over her solo gigs. Miki’s reaction in particular spoke volumes to me, because she had come to the stark realization that Haruka wasn’t just being selfish about trying to get every together. While the true underlying reason of Haruka wanting to be with her “765 Pro family” still escaped the others at that point, they were genuinely saddened by everyone growing distant and didn’t want to break ties with their agency, providing additional emotional build-up for the subsequent scenes.
Of those scenes, Haruka was the only one who acted on her desire to keep everyone together as a close-knit group in spite of their success, so I had to fight back the tears a bit when she was reminded of everyone by some elementary school fans. The kids’ resemblance was uncanny, so it worked well in emphasizing that Haruka misses everyone. Those feelings of heartbreak were compounded by everyone’s guilt from failing to notice, considering how Haruka’s always the first person to reach out to them. The end result was a masterful depiction of just how bad everyone felt from unknowingly neglecting the one person who’s always been there for them, which had me wishing they just stormed out the door in search of Haruka. I just know I would’ve been caught up in the moment if this episode ended with everyone giving her a tearful and heartfelt hug, so it’s a bit of a shame that things didn’t turn out that way.
However, from the Producer’s perceptiveness about Chihaya’s worries, there was a clear sense that the group’s grown closer after achieving success as idols. Next time in the finale, we’ll see how the closeness that even Touma acknowledges translates to their New Year’s live concert. If the budget of this episode was any indication, I’d imagine we’re in store for some amazing performances.
Full-length image: 34.
ED24: 「まっすぐ」 (Massugu) by 765PRO ALLSTARS
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