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AKB0048 – 09

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「キモチリレーション」 (Kimochi Rireshon)
“Emotion Relation”

The Empire DES strikes back on Hoth Tudrastar!

I’ve gotta say, of the two show being worked on by the Kawamori-Okada team, AKB0048 has slowly been edging Aquarion EVOL out as the more enjoyable one out the two for me. It’s not just in the fact that both are mecha science-fictions that these two shows share common ground, as the direction in both largely feels like it is similarly made up of two halves: One half encapsulates the absurdities and ridiculousness so integral to the tone of the shows, AKB0048 with its entire guerilla idols context as well as the DES/AKB clashes, and Aquarion EVOL with its over the top, innuendo-filled gattai-ing robot fights and its grand story about duality. The other half comprises of character dramas, through the competition and hardships an idol faces, and similarly in the central theme of LOVE in EVOL.

Certainly, no one could fault the former; both shows are equally matched in the pure silly entertainment they bring to the table, with Zen’s wacky logic and strategies as well the Aquarion mech pulling out crazy, effects-laden moves in nearly every episode of EVOL, and AKB0048 with their AK48-toting idols, micsabers and Itasha mechs. Just look at this episode, with the idols employing a fantastically surreal hit-and-run concert against the DES forces! But it is in the latter, the character dramas, where EVOL had spluttered along towards its ending, and where AKB0048 has continuously impressed me for the past few weeks.

The difference between the two series ultimately boils down to its consistency in characterization. The initial handful of episodes aside, the idols of AKB0048 have displayed a continuous, organic growth alongside the developments we’ve seen, the lack of which is painfully obvious in the latter half of Evol, what with characters constantly jumping steps in its developments.

This is why I really enjoyed how Takamina came to concede that Kanata deserved the succession name in the end. There were no shortcuts, no jumps in personality from the Takamina of last episode that wanted to cling on to the title. Indeed, the girl perhaps came off far too strongly here at first, to the point where she was disturbingly hostile to Kanata for substituting her in the performance. There’s no denying that Takamina had spirit when even the Kiraras glowed in response to her, but the captain herself came to understand that the ideals of the title were lost on her in that moment of self-fulfillment. For Kanata, there was every right for her to be resentful, but even in that unreasonable moment of selfishness by Takamina, she remained devoted to success of the performance and to the success of her admirable mentor, the one person blocking her path to succession. The moment Takamina understood how Kanata felt about her was a moment of emotional relation, the realization feeling both organic and natural. And in my opinion, this organic progression is really why AKB0048 has been getting better over the last few weeks.

This praise also extend to the side-plot AKB0048 is pushing between 76th gen Kenkyuusei members Wanabuchi Megumi (Kinoshita Momoka) and Youko – now sucession member Sae. Her conversation with Mimori in this episode while short, was succinct; as both girls were in a similar situation with a close friend progressing ahead of them, it felt natural for an understanding to form between them.

It doesn’t mean AKB0048 is flawless: At an earlier point the show didn’t seem to understand which direction it wanted to bring the growth of Chieri into, having her flit between her logical, goal-orientated persona and her more emotional, silently concerned personality. And let’s not forget the characters that hardly had a chance to shine until now, such as Makoto. This is the problem with such a large cast, as the spotlight will naturally fall on a number of key characters – in this case, Kanata and Takamina – regardless of how well it can balance the exposition of its extended cast. I’d say that the only show I’ve have ever seen done this, and done exceptionally well, is Bacanno!, but considering how far most characters have come, AKB0048 is already doing a stellar job where so many other shows tried but utterly fail.

What I’ve been going on about brings us to the main problem I have with the show at the moment, one directly related to the points I’ve mentioned on character dramas and which this episode has brought into stark focus: The validity of DES as a proper antagonist. As it stands, rather than being the villain of the show, DES feels more like a plot device used to further character growth and developments along, showing competence when they need to (last episode, to dramatize Takamina’s situation) or otherwise staying as a background presence that barely hinders the idols, merely because the context demands their presence like in this episode. (You’re telling me they can’t hit idols standing still in the spotlight? That they don’t have enough manpower to enclose the whole area?) AKB0048 is not the first story to use an opposing force as a plot device in this manner and it certainly won’t be the last. Thus, while I hardly have any misgivings with its purpose (it’s to be expected of the medium already) I still find the inconsistency of DES’s portrayal irksome.

That said, it certainly didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this episode. Not only was the aforementioned melodrama brilliant, the entire episode served as a nice throwback to the very start of the series, and for the four girls – Nagisa, Chieri, Yuuka and Orine – their dreams have somewhat come full circle as they performed together on a planet so similar in its aura of depression to Lancastar, while a group of young girls gain the same idoling dreams they have. Furthermore, the concert scene was also fantastic, reaching the same levels of quality we saw in AKB0048’s first spectacular episode. And DAT music. I don’t usually make a note of pointing out the inserts, but I especially loved the dual performance of the heart-pumping [River] and the beautifully evocative balled [Sasae].

Next Week: UMI DAAA! (And it doesn’t look like a fakeout this time!)

Full-length images: 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 22, 26, 31, 32, 33, 35.

 

Preview

AKB0048   09   Preview 01 AKB0048   09   Preview 02 AKB0048   09   Preview 03
June 28, 2012 at 12:42 am
22 comments »
  • June 28, 2012 at 1:03 amFencedude

    Blargh. Looks like my prediction for next episode fell through. Ah well.

    This was quite the good episode, especially at the end with Kanata and TakaMina.

  • June 28, 2012 at 1:08 amfragb85

    In Soviet (Space) Russia, heart idols you!

    I’m glad that the entire 77th finally had something to do. The “hit-and-run” concerts was a brilliant way of getting the large cast to contribute something. This is how a large cast should be handled. Even Megumi (who was only recently introduced) seems to get her own arc developed. There is even more foreshadowing for Nagisa when the Kirara glowed for her again. I’m convinced she’s destined to be the next Acchan.

    In other news Mimori confirmed for M(kinky!). Also, Kanata has some SWAG in this scene. I’d ship it.

  • June 28, 2012 at 1:14 amMakoto

    Kanata looks like a prince carrying a princess.

  • June 28, 2012 at 1:25 amSeya

    All the people in their world live in such bad conditions for life. And idols live in splendid apartments and have a beach season for them =_=

    • June 28, 2012 at 1:59 amfragb85

      They don’t really have it easy though. In episode 5 its pretty much stated that AKB is constantly busy training in combat, singing and dancing and only have 1 free day PER MONTH. Also they’re constantly risking their lives every mission so I’d say they earned a bit a beach leave.

    • June 28, 2012 at 6:50 pmv3000

      Idols in that alternate universe are like gladiators; their dream job actually has high-risk value, putting them in the same category as military combatants and mercenaries, which means the possibility of being caught, wounded or even killed are very high.

  • June 28, 2012 at 1:40 amYui

    Takamina TAT… Somehow she suddenly weaken so much from before. I mean she’s supposed to be the leader and she’s having such a bad time thinking about Kanata replacing her… I mean of course, there are a lot of hidden stuff about AKB0048 that Tsubasa hides… but still she should think of her position and her job as a leader instead of being upset about Kanata replacing her. Well, of course it’s quite normal that she get upset about this kind of stuff.. Sigh…

  • June 28, 2012 at 2:04 amBakaMochi

    Stupid me read Tudrastar as Turdstar OTL. Silly Mochi.

    Your posts always remind me to catch up on AKB0048. Time to go into catch-up mode during the summer! x__x

    • June 28, 2012 at 6:03 amAsobi

      You and me both! I also have a dozen shows I need to follow up on, including two that’s going to get sequels next cour…

  • June 28, 2012 at 3:20 amewok40k

    ss#13 = young Jedis?
    ss#35 = mecha lap-top ride FTW!

  • June 28, 2012 at 3:26 amAitakatta

    Chieri was so cute this episode. Her solo speech during Heart Gata Virus was just too much.<3 Honestly, while I think Nagisa will succeed Acchan, I've got the feeling Chieri will become the next Center. She just seems to be made for that position. Although I have no idea who is she going to succeed. Yuuko maybe? But current Yuuko doesn't seem ready for graduation so I don't know. We'll see what happens.

    On another note, if they're wasting their time with beach episodes I hope there's a second season.

  • June 28, 2012 at 4:21 amWanderer

    Sigh. I don’t think it’s right for Takamina to have to abandon her dreams, and her very identity, in order to let Kanata succeed. There must be another way.

    • June 28, 2012 at 6:08 amAsobi

      The competitiveness, when you put it that way, does seem rather absurd even though AKB0048 has done a great job in making me buy into it. Again, the question of whether or not a B team would be created is brought up, but with the emphasis the show has placed on succession I doubt it’ll throw out its precedence and go that route.

      • June 28, 2012 at 6:56 amfragb85

        It should be noted that AKB0048 is only at half-strength according to the official glossary. One of the sub groups have translated the glossary but the entry to the Succession system should be noted.

        Succession System

        During the long-ago war that decided the fate of the Earth, the idols of AKB48 continued to sing and dance to the bitter end, bringing light to the hearts of the ravaged peoples.

        Inheriting the radiance, souls, and names of those legendary original members, AKB0048 was formed.

        Succession is decided not only based on appearance, but also based on the combined factors of singing, dancing, and performance skills. However, the most important factor of all is the “essence of the soul”, which allows the worthy ones to succeed the name of an original member.

        If none worthy of the name are found, the spot is left unfilled.

        Of the original members, less than half currently have successors, but the group hopes for a full revival in which the names of all the original members will be succeeded. At present, due to the dearth of successors, they are not split into teams (to put it another way, there is currently only one team: “Team 00″).

        Breaking through DES’ defensive network involves extreme risks, so on top of their already tight schedules of training and performances, all successors must undergo strict combat training. As a result, the dropout rate for understudies is high, and few endure for very long.

        So basically there are plenty of spots to fill, which may mean that some of the understudies can inherit an unclaimed name. Most obvious would be Acchan, which the show seems to indicate that Nagisa will inherit.

        Unfortunately it doesn’t help Takamina, since Kanata is clearly meant to inherit her name. Takamina at least seems happy next episode, so my prediction is that she will be content on grooming Kanata to be the next Takamina if she ever leaves.

      • June 28, 2012 at 3:22 pmWanderer

        I don’t know. Making alternate teams of idols is a valid AKB thing: they’ve done it. There is precedent. I could see it being revived as an old tradition, just like the understudy/stand-in system was revived a few episodes ago when Sensei-Sensei spoke of it.

        I mostly do not want Takamina to leave. I’ve taken a liking to her ever since episode 6. She deserves better than to have to give up her dreams in life, when she could easily stay in the group for several more years, under normal circumstances. By the same token, Kanata deserves better than to be stuck as a trainee for all those years, but she also deserves better than to be the one who forced her hero to quit. I am sure she does not want to do that.

        The girls really need to take this directly to Tsubasa and tell her that what is happening is unacceptable. Every time someone has challenged the rules and traditions of 0048 with true determination (showing the spirit of an idol, so to speak), Tsubasa has changed the rules to allow for them. No one’s made any outrageous demands or anything, it’s not like I’m saying she’s a pushover, but she respects audacity and determination. This is a situation that I believe can be worked out to the benefit of everyone, if they’re willing to try.

  • June 28, 2012 at 6:51 amYuunagi

    Here’s a link to a performance of Sasae: http://youtu.be/3spYc6ZbYhk

    It’s actually a song by Team K of AKB48. One of my favs, and watching the performance always make me tear up a little XD;

  • June 28, 2012 at 9:20 amMakoto

    I love this series. It’s my most favorite of the season, because it’s just simply entertaining.

    I do believe Kanata to be the rightful Takamina, but I also don’t want the current Takamina to leave as I’ve taken a liking to her. It’s really nice to see the melodramatic scene where the successor and soon to be successor admire and care one another, and their conflicting feelings.

    I’m ecstatic to see if Nagisa will really inherit Acchan’s name and be the new center, or will Kawamori suddenly troll us viewers.

  • June 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm†Croos†

    AKB0048 has been tricking us guys.
    We see this. And then we see this.
    How do you guys explain the increase of number of regular members? (Note: they don’t look like the understudies if you observe carefully)
    This things go back in episode 3 if you observe in their practice ( When they argued the only people left were this), live performance ( ) and after the understudies selection .

    • June 28, 2012 at 8:39 pmWanderer

      *shrugs* They only has 8 specific successors that they wanted to spend the time to characterize and draw and animate, so close-up shots only show those girls, but I’ve just taken it for granted that there are other successors in the background (as we see there) who simply aren’t doing anything important enough to justify putting more effort into their design.

      Or if you want some crazy sci-fi explanation (totally non-canon, made up entirely by me): the other girls you see are holographic decoys created specifically to draw DES gunfire away from the real successors. They’re there in the practice for obvious reasons: the girls need to know where to move so as not to step through decoys and ruin the illusion. :P

    • June 29, 2012 at 6:07 pmArbitrary_greay

      It’s canon that there are names other than the nine senbatsu with voice actors, such as Sasshi, (although that position is currently unfilled since it was stated she had just graduated) Miichan, Paruru, and Yuihan, but it’s not canon whether or not the latter three positions are filled or not. The only thing we know for sure is that the Acchan position is currently unfilled. That there’s only one team right now only means that they have less than 21 positions filled, the size of a normal AKB team. Possibly more but less than 42, as Himawari-gumi, a real life combination of A and K, had their own stages together before B was formed.

  • June 28, 2012 at 10:04 pmSherylfan

    loved how takamina star struck (or in this case heart struck) the little girl. lol.

  • June 29, 2012 at 12:24 amAngelus

    You’re telling me they can’t hit idols standing still in the spotlight? That they don’t have enough manpower to enclose the whole area?

    It was night so they got sent out with night sights, but these were completely blinded by the spotlights. DES forces would have to be spread thinly among the populated planetary systems. It’s probably not the most popular job in the universe :)