AKB0048 – 04
「その努力裏切らない」 (Sono Doryoku Uragiranai)
“I Won’t Let Down Their Efforts”
I’d already decided on “Taking a break from the combat? But-but-but, that’s the best part of the show!!” as this week’s excerpt. Why the heck then, did the episode have to actually go and be equally good!?
One of the things when watching AKB0048 is that you can never be sure whether or not the creators knew what they were doing with the wacky totalitarian context of the show, and how relevant to the story this would ever get beyond idols-fightan-marines hijinks. It’s pretty amazing then that this episode not only manages to get me to start taking its setting somewhat seriously, but also legitimately had me invested into the emotions and backstories of the characters presented.
I’ve complained before that the exposition and drama aspects of the show paled in comparison to the ludicrous yet ridiculously entertaining militaristic parts of AKB0048, so my heart sank when I heard that the episode was having none of that guerilla idoling goodness, and was instead featuring the dreaded “slice-of-idol-life”. Yet, the show managed to capture said heart with the brilliant characterization of Shinonome Kanata (Ishida Haruka), sister of the genki Sonata and a 75th generation Kenkyuusei who joined up with 00 (I’m calling the group this from now on and will refer to the show by full name.) two years prior to Nagisa’s 77th generation group.
What’s interesting is how the setting of the story ties into the Shinonome sisters’ lives, with their family formerly being part of an anti-government rebel group until their father was struck down by DES marines. I really liked that the show gave us a character whose motivation for joining 00 is vastly different from the others in that it is one of revenge, and the writers really sold me on the self-conflict between her purported mission and her true passion for singing and dancing. Furthermore, two years since joining and she’s still a trainee? Boy, it’s hard not to be frustrated about that situation, and the show manages to carry through her emotions as well as those of fellow trainee Kishida Mimori (Sato Sumire) surprisingly well. Thankfully, the angst that permeates into her every action, from the family drama with Sonata to her dismal performance in the lessons, refrains itself from becoming too overbearing, and succeeds in bringing a slightly darker edge to AKB0048. (Because really, up until this point, DES just seemed a bit too goofy to me.)
Once again though, I felt that the issue at hand was resolved far too quickly without much consequence. Certainly, the show succeeds in getting me engaged with its darker side, but it gives too little time for Kanata’s problems to properly be fleshed out and the consequences on their lives understood before resolving her doubts and relationship with Sonata.
Surprising though that as I say this, Chieri is once again is at odds with the girls in the group thanks to her unchanged attitude, which was played to a pretty brutal effect. It’s honestly hard not to sympathize with Kanata after hearing Chieri’s blunt words and getting dissed by the fabulously androgynous instructor. (I swear, I jumped out of my seat when the voice that started to come out was MALE.) While I was thinking that Chieri’s situation was already resolved last episode, it seems that the writers still have more things in stored. As Katagiri Tsubasa (Kakazu Yumi) implied, her attitude might be the catalyst that causes the other Kenkyuuseis to grow.
~Credit goes to Moomba for lovely screencaps, who is helping during my exam period so that I can get these posts out in good time. Give Moomba your <3~