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「星屑セレクション」 (Hoshikuzu Serekushon)
“Stardust Selection”

You’ve asked and they answered.

…Okay, so you didn’t, but they still answered. AKB0048 presents to you……Kalashnikov-toting idols.

When they kept going on about try-outs in the last two episodes, you can bet boot camp was the last thing on their (and my) minds. Where I expected dancing and singing (oh don’t worry, there’s still loads of that) the show instead gave us a run-through of a Basic-Military-Training course. Nearly everything’s there, from the tiny bunks to broken showers, grueling training to crappy food. (Well, to them anyway. Steak is AWESOME, ya’ll know it.) And hell, I’d be fooling myself if I were to say that it ain’t more entertaining than watching them prance about on the dance floor.

I always wondered when the “Guerilla” part of the show’s description was ever going to feature, so it’s nice to see the show tackle this issue straight on with the auditions. What I certainly didn’t expect was for them to take it this literally by putting them in combat uniforms, giving them futuristic AKs and then pitting them against mechs. Now who in their right mind sends a bunch of preteen idol-wannabes to fight against mechs with nothing but a rifle? While I might be sounding sarcastic about this, I’m actually not. Playing to the pumping AKB48 insert Beginner, it was equal parts hilarious and epic to watch them struggle against an enemy they could barely damage while faring about as well as I expected. This is to say, not very well at all. What made the scene even more comedic (or possibly, more awesome) was how they tried to dramatize the whole affair with the explosions, tears and sacrifice when really, it was near impossible not to tell that a fakeout was going to come at the end. Come on, you didn’t think this was going to end up like a certain magical girl series, did you? (But honestly, I’d bite that. I really would. The manager would make a deviously lovely contractor.)

It’s also nice to see that this show is more than just performances and fights by giving precious time to properly flesh out the personalities of the girls. This episode showed just how similar Chieri and Yuka were; they appear to be resolute about their beliefs, yet their actions completely contradict what talk about. Chieri in particular stuck out her neck for Nagisa a second time even after repeatedly talking about how they should only be concerned for themselves. I did think that Chieri’s tension with the group did get resolved rather abruptly, but considering that most of the animosity between the girls was gone, perhaps I should be thankful they didn’t actually try to drag it out.

One of the negative things I noticed in the episode was how Satelight’s reliance on CG is starting to show in the dancing sequences. I’m not outright decrying the CG animation, because the smooth and well choreographed dance moves are legitimately good. (It seems to mirror the actual music videos very closely) However, the 3D models are jarring to say the least, thanks to the uncanny valley effect.

The other is the heavy-handed foreshadowing with the mysterious voice that’s been going on since episode 1. I get that the show obviously wants to paint us a bigger picture of the overarching story, but the way they’re pulling it off with the overtly-cryptic and exaggerated scenes makes it feel extremely silly and unnecessary.

Also, did the show actually try to clumsily incorporate anti-war themes with the simulation? Because if so, blowing up little girls and then saying “weapons cause hurt” ain’t exactly the way to go about it.

Full-length images: 02, 08, 11, 13, 16, 19, 24, 28, 32, 33, 34.

There was no preview at the time of posting. It seems that the PV only gets uploaded onto the AKB0048 website and youtube about 3 to 4 days after the airing of an episode.

May 15, 2012 at 11:04 pm
51 comments »
  • May 15, 2012 at 11:24 pmfragb85

    Move over American Idol. THIS is how you weed out weaker candidates. Put them in battle and make them wet their pants and suffer PTSD as they get gunned down by giant robots. Best selection round ever!

    Seriously though, I did get trolled a bit. The whole battle was played hilariously straight that I didn’t notice how it was obviously faked. It was awesome seeing Nagisa and Chieri take out a robot though. They have serious GAR potential as a team.

  • May 15, 2012 at 11:42 pmKah

    I thought the sacrifice was real… after all so many tears in the OP sequence. In my mind, the show was being all kinds of awesome at that moment.

  • May 15, 2012 at 11:52 pmFencedude

    I almost thought that it might be for real. I mean, it was pretty much just hair-heart lacking extras getting blown the fuck up (and while I’ll accept the paintballs, I’m gonna call shenanagins on the explosions), so who cares?

    I really did doubt they were going to off Chieri though, maybe one of the others, but Chieri? No way. She’s too HomuHomu to die now.

    Seriously wish they would quit with the CG Dancing. CG Dancing is for Precure EDs.

    • May 16, 2012 at 7:23 amAni_BEE

      Yeah it feel cheap and the rehearsal scene made it worst because the lighting in it didn’t help at all. If would have been awesome to see them cell animated rather then a cheap vocaloid production. I’d just glaring obvious that this in being inserted where it dose not belong. On the other hand the CG mech battles in EVOL the moment feels more realistic for some reason and the skinning work matches the the cell animation.

    • May 16, 2012 at 8:00 amv3000

      For the life of me they could’ve left the vehicles and the craft as CG and spent more time sketching and drawing the dance sequences in 2D (even more OK if it were to be rotoscoped), as most viewers would have preferred (and even the likes of SKE48′s Rena Matsui, who’s also an IM@S player and in her Google+ page she pointedly criticized the use of CG). But as this is Satelite (and they’re doing CG-fied dance sequences since Macross Frontier’s Nyankuri Music Clip Collection), they would rather get the choreography right just as depicted in both the PVs (promo vids or music vids) and live-concert footage.

      • May 16, 2012 at 2:11 pmAni_BEE

        Rotoscoped at its best is in still scenes with detail moment. Because they are choosing to do a panning scene (the camera angle is all over the place in this show) it would be a nightmare to rotoscope.

        They can improve the skinning on the girls to make is flesh out more the feel like plastic dolls on strings.

        The story and interact of the characters are good but something like the CG they can do better looks cheap. Am I enjoying this series. YES because the setting and premise is interesting, I just hate it when a visual element is so incongruent with the rest of the feel of a show.

  • May 15, 2012 at 11:55 pmLonghaul

    While the battle may have been a fake out, going by at least one recruit being hauled off in a stretcher the injuries were in fact real.

  • May 16, 2012 at 12:38 amAlec

    This anime , to me, is the biggest surprise this season.
    Just looking at the premise and genre months ago, I was almost sure this would never ammount to anything… But here I am praising this work

  • May 16, 2012 at 12:49 amNhelraios

    “You must learn the ways of the force if you’re to come with me to Akibastar”

    Agreed. Totally didn’t see the fakeout coming, I mean just look at this, this, and this.

    • May 16, 2012 at 2:12 amNhelraios

      Err..scratch that I somehow misread that part of your post.

  • May 16, 2012 at 12:58 amGuardMonkey10

    I love this show so much.

  • May 16, 2012 at 2:42 amcow

    This show was bottom of my list this season with expectations of dropping after the first two episodes. Now it’s flying pretty high in my to watch list every week. I mean seriously, a ship named “Flying Get” and mic-sabers? Sold.

  • May 16, 2012 at 2:55 amWhatsht

    I think they are trying to make a pun… using AKs to protect the AKB0048 concert.
    The CG dancing sequence looked weird(coloured outlines?), I prefer the CG dancing in the Music Clips of Macross Frontier.
    Maybe I should download AKB0048 instead of streaming it.

  • May 16, 2012 at 3:02 amCarVac

    AK[b]-48: Future successor to the AK-47.

  • May 16, 2012 at 3:05 am†Croos†

    I think someone just drop some grenades here while they were running. I really think that the bots were also using real bullets in the process in the beginning.

    • May 16, 2012 at 3:28 am†Croos†

      Why do I feel that this girl, when she grows up, will time travel back in the past and will look like this

  • May 16, 2012 at 3:45 amc2710

    I got trolled. The battle scene looks absolutely real. I really thought it went along the lines of a certain magical girl show

  • May 16, 2012 at 3:45 amreader

    I’m glad they used Beginner. Although I was hoping they’d save it for another moment.
    I agree that the CG does look weird.
    Although that girl who keeps complaining is getting on my nerves.

  • May 16, 2012 at 5:30 amThe Moondoggie

    Fake out here? In Idolmaster Xenoglossia they murdered a bunch of female mechanics! A whole complex! I’ll bet we’ll be seeing dead idols in the near future.

    Killing underage girls for any reason sickens me, even if it’s just pretend. I don’t like this part.

    • May 16, 2012 at 7:49 amv3000

      I have a dozen barf bags ready just in case.

  • May 16, 2012 at 5:43 amewok40k

    If the gates of heaven are guarded by marines, then gates of anime heaven are guarded by combat idols!
    Pink hair, check
    Cyber (Yuri?) Goggles, check
    AK-47 , hell , check!

  • May 16, 2012 at 5:58 amstarss

    One thing that drives me crazy: why do they ALL HAVE HEARTS IN THEIR HAIR???!?

    • May 16, 2012 at 6:12 am†Croos†

      1.)It means they’re unique from others.
      2.)They are the true idols.
      3.)If you wonder why the Producer has diamond shape on here hair might be because shes the producer.
      Here’s my example:
      http://puu.sh/v2bZ
      http://puu.sh/v2cT
      If you notice the other girls they don’t have a heart on their hair.
      P.S.: All of what I said is just theoretical.

      • May 16, 2012 at 7:17 amAni_BEE

        I can’t wait for the questions to pop up (How do ad white hearts to a wig) on cosplay.com. lol

    • May 16, 2012 at 7:31 amcow

      their eye reflection is also heart shaped

    • May 16, 2012 at 7:51 amv3000

      It’s style for me, as the Satelite folks are trying to make the girls more distinguishable than anything else this season.

    • May 16, 2012 at 7:59 amItachizame

      I sai something about the hearts in their eye and hair on the last episode I believe or was it the first I don’t remember but I pointed that out before

    • May 16, 2012 at 8:37 amAsobi

      You’d have to ask the design team about that, I’m afraid. Them artists, we can never know what they’re thinking. :) However, the contrast between the characters and the world do make them stand out a lot more than your typical anime.

      • May 16, 2012 at 11:15 amItachizame

        yeah you noticed the other participants had not shapes of any kind in their hair or in their eyes. The “normal” people as you can say

      • May 16, 2012 at 11:33 amstarss

        Crazy, crazy artists. :D

    • May 17, 2012 at 8:52 am†Croos†

      I guess there is a meaning for hearts and diamond in this anime and Marika-sama(now retired back to Tsubasa) proves that I guess. I guess diamond means retired or maybe legend and heart means potential idols.

  • May 16, 2012 at 6:04 amBenigmatica

    Those who have dull-colored hair will not pass… Hell, they can die too if this selection round happens to be a real battle!

  • May 16, 2012 at 7:43 amKitsu

    Are you reading for a second Madoka?

    • May 16, 2012 at 8:20 amBenigmatica

      Um, that would make Akimoto angry if his idols were animated by SHAFT, with Shinbo and Urubochi working together after Madoka.

  • May 16, 2012 at 8:13 amv3000

    To be frank, some people (including high-profile newsblogs) think the whole show’s nothing but yet another recording industry cash cow with questionable motives to condition the populace to embrace the whole franchise and to buy merchandise and discs, as well as other kinds of politically-incorrect actions incompatible with the outside world.

    Fuck all that shit, I’m not buying merch just because I’m watching and enjoying the storytelling, and am going to keep this and love to see whether it’ll live up to the hype. Pray that Mari Okada does it right this time.

    • May 16, 2012 at 8:31 amAsobi

      I assume you’re talking about that Kotaku article, eh? (Yes, I read Kotaku religiously :D) Won’t say they’re exactly wrong. AKB0048 is a largely a marketing push and is quite unabashed in that respect. But like I mentioned before, that’s not a quality indicator at all, and so far while not perfect, its been entertaining in its own right. Will liking this make me an AKB fan? Unlikely, but I’m still enjoying it.

      • May 16, 2012 at 11:18 amv3000

        (offtopic) I lost interest in Kotaku after realizing that they look at Japan’s pop culture in the same way the curious line up to see the freak show at the county fair.

      • May 17, 2012 at 7:44 pmSilver

        I have the same feeling about Kotaku. After a while, I started to shift over to Siliconera because it seems more like they just love gaming in general so there’s little bashing of JRPGs or other niche titles and they just seem to take things at a more relaxed view.

  • May 16, 2012 at 8:55 amBenigmatica

    Say, did you notice that Chieri (Mayu Watanabe) is talking to herself when facing Mayuyu the cyborg (or gynoid) idol?

    It’s so paradoxical!

  • May 16, 2012 at 9:08 amSinan Çevik

    The use of CG in dancing sequences is ruining this for me. I really miss THE IDOLM@STER. The scenes in what looks like a shrine doesn’t make any sense and feels weird at this point as well. Overall it feels weird and unnatural at times but still I guess I’m enjoying it to some extent.

    • May 16, 2012 at 11:19 amItachizame

      The CG is kind of a turn off for me too but i can tolerate if i must. So far the series is great. I cant say about IDOLM@STER because i never seen it before and singing and suff like that in anime isnt me type of genre i watch but watching this caught my interest.

      • May 16, 2012 at 11:33 pmSinan Çevik

        If you’ve liked this series even a little bit, I highly suggest that you take a look at THE IDOLM@STER. And it’s not just singing and stuff, and pretty fun.

  • May 16, 2012 at 11:23 amItachizame

    i like the Mic Sader concept :p

  • May 17, 2012 at 12:07 amLZ

    Idols will die, horribly, if the manager of AKB has anything to do with it going by his other works (the previous mental anime and a number of their videos.) He seems pretty big on making little girls cry.

  • May 17, 2012 at 3:10 amTakayume

    Always love this anime!

  • May 17, 2012 at 8:38 amTingster013

    I given this anime its chance, and now it is on my not to watch list… Mr Macross has created something that is so not him…. WHERE ARE THE VALKYRIES!!!! WHERE ARE THE SONGS AND CHARACTERS THAT HAVE DIRECT CONNECTION TO IT ENEMY??? ALL GONE!!!! And AKB48? I know they are very popular now, but seriously a anime? If it is good I dun mind, but the girls are plain stupid, who would put trainees straight to battle on mission 1? No one, and what with the heart shape in their eyes? And the CG also, feels weird and no I dun like it….

  • May 17, 2012 at 7:47 pmSilver

    I have to say though but the audience CG is the worst thing I have ever seen in my life. The first episode audience wasn’t CG and there’s variety. In episode 3, some part there’s variety and some part they all look the same with some difference in the hair. Their faces however all looked exactly the same with the same dull expression.

    Other than that, even though the CG for the dance part was a bit odd, I actually still kind of like it. Plus the song even made it even more awesome!

  • May 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm†Croos†

    Marika-sama, now known as Tsubasa after she retired, lets Sonata participate for a reason. I guess it has something to do with this(See Life and Career), when the director was making this anime.

    • May 17, 2012 at 8:27 pm†Croos†

      Mariko-sama*(to much Mouretsu Pirates >.< )