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AKB0048 Next Stage – 02 »« AKB0048 – 13 (END)

AKB0048 Next Stage – 01

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「少女裁判」 (Shoujo Saiban)
“Girls’ Trial”

Finally. After six long months since AKB0048′s debut, we finally get the sequel to one of the most under appreciated series of 2011. And if there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that if this episode is a sign of things to come, it’s going to be a spectacular ride—because this was a darn awesome way to start things off.

Continuing shortly after the end of last season, Kawamori gets the ball rolling right off the bat with two inserts (Shonichi – Opening Day and Niji no Ressha – Rainbow Train)… and some darn nice animation too. Some of the CG ain’t quite perfect (and shows itself in some of the screenshots), but the fact remains that AKB0048′s Next Stage is setting itself up with a high bar in terms of standards—in terms of drama, entertainment, and visual goodness.

As we move on, we get Tsubasa’s announcement that general elections will be re-established, along with the Center Nova position that Yuuko in particular is glad to have back. With the fact that fans can now vote for who they wish to perform the new single, it makes it so that even the understudies have a chance to shine now on the same level as the successors, and it just injects some nice intrigue to it all. There’s just that added element of both looking at each other as real rivals and also as teammates you’d risk your lives for in the background, and it’ll be interesting to see how it either solidifies or separates our heroines from one another. That and who ultimately becomes the first Center Nova since Acchan.

In the meanwhile, it seems like we’re getting the development of another large plot line too—in the form of DES and their increased vigilance against AKB0048 in general. And it’s here where Kawamori shows a bit of his dramatic genius, luring us in first with some concerts to set up a rather cheerful vibe, then suddenly shifting things to a surprise DES strike and subsequent “trial” of Chieri, Sonata, and Yukurin, who end up being captured and bought to Kasumigastar. Combine that with the inevitable rescue mission (and yet another insert in the song “Pioneer”) and things end up pretty epic considering it’s only the first episode of this sequel. As usual, there’s some suspension of disbelief involved in it all, but if you’re still watching this now, I don’t think it’s anything particularly surprising at this point.

Ultimately, what can I say aside from just stating that Kawamori does a darn great job here? Combining various aspects from the other sci-fi series he’s worked on (Macross Frontier’s borrowed aspects were particularly noticeable this episode), he manages to fit in quite a bit in this first episode while still making it work. New inserts, a dramatic new soundtrack, quality animation, and fights with DES on levels we haven’t seen before just come together flawlessly, and it was a darn joy to watch. Definitely feeling pretty good about making sure I had this series covered… and I hope you guys’ll join me on what looks like it will be quite the ride.

Full-length images: 21.

 

ED Sequence

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ED: 「この涙を君に捧ぐ」 (Kono Namida wo Kimi ni Sasagu) by NO NAME

End Card

AKB0048 Next Stage   01   End Card
January 5, 2013 at 8:38 pm
40 comments »
  • January 5, 2013 at 9:07 pmCarVac

    Yay, rainbow trains!

    I like the new ED…

    • January 5, 2013 at 9:15 pmCarVac

      Also: I didn’t notice any particularly imperfect CG. Which screenshots in particular did you refer to?

      Speaking of screenshots, none of Mayuyu Mk3 bridal-carrying Yukirin? I found that hilarious.

      • January 5, 2013 at 9:30 pmZephyr

        Well it doesn’t really show up that obviously while watching, but screen capping some of the particular CG scenes… results in some rather blurry results. I left pretty much all of those out as a result, lol.

        And ahh yeah I was thinking of that screen, but had one of her jumping already for the Center Nova thing I wanted to talk about and by then I was already well above the norm… so had to cut out a few. -_-

      • January 5, 2013 at 9:39 pmCarVac

        I’m sure the blurriness was from video compression rather than in the computer renderings; having rainbow sparkles everywhere is not so nice to h.264.

      • January 5, 2013 at 10:02 pmZephyr

        Hmmmm. Still though, overall seems like it’s a fair improvement over the first season to say the least. Either that or my memory’s starting to get fuzzy on me. -_-

    • January 8, 2013 at 6:41 pmJohnHayabusa

      More yuri-teasing! Fantastic start of the new season by the way.

  • January 5, 2013 at 9:18 pm†Croos†

    • January 5, 2013 at 9:30 pmZephyr

      There was some supernatural stuff going on there. Lol. ACCHANNNNNNNNN

  • January 5, 2013 at 9:50 pmUndercover Brian

    What is the title of the end song? My kanji sucks.

    • January 6, 2013 at 3:35 amAnnyms

      ? Zephyr has it written in romaji next to the kana. Unless you’re talking about the first season’s ED?

  • January 5, 2013 at 9:56 pmArbitrary_greay

    The color saturation in this series is so delicious. Rainbow train indeed.

    And may Rainbow Train also be a sign of the yuri to come. I think I was slightly traumatized by the dressing room scene, even while it’s pretty accurate of real-life AKB dressing room accounts.

  • January 5, 2013 at 10:28 pmfragb85

    Very good season opener, its everything I enjoyed about the show, silly, energetic and awesome. Not to mention and enough Yuri fodder to fill my goggles for my favorite ships. Even the CG is much better, its a far cry from the hideous uncanny dancing of the first season.

    The 77th are finally moving up and actually piloting their own robots. The upcoming elections seem ripe for an advancing plot and I can smell the rival drama already. It also seems that Nagisa is disturbed by her premonition she’s already acting out of character.

    Its also nice to finally see a face for DES, makes them seem like a credible threat.

  • January 5, 2013 at 11:13 pmMightnare

    Jailed for 48 years. As expected.
    Welp, time to download more AKB songs.

  • January 5, 2013 at 11:28 pmqwert

    So the big theme of season 1 was this mysterious force picking the girls based on their souls…

    And now they’ve decided to just screw that and let the fans vote on it… yea…

    • January 5, 2013 at 11:33 pmZephyr

      Different stuff. Election system is just for the occasional single/concert. Inheritance of successor title and Center Nova is still separate and the thing everyone wants in the end. The first just adds another layer of competition/intrigue that puts them on their way towards succession by putting pressure on them to succeed and work together at the same time.

  • January 6, 2013 at 12:57 ampongo

    Awesome episode to get us back into the 0048 groove, totally worth the wait.

  • January 6, 2013 at 2:12 amtabemonogatari

    :D The colourful goodness is back! Such a great start~ I hope this keeps up :D

  • January 6, 2013 at 3:31 amVaans

    Akb0048! How I miss you sooo much!

  • January 6, 2013 at 4:10 amSeedStriker

    And Sunrise expect to challenge this with Love Live? RRRRIIGGGHHHTTTT!
    The music, mechanic, characters… Oh, Kawamori, you magnificent bastard.

    Question, is Sho Hayami the voice behind Chieri’s dad?

    • January 6, 2013 at 8:18 amMightnare

      Sunrise and Satelight, AKB0048 and Love Live, Gundam and Macross.
      It’s like they are indirectly competing with each other.

      • January 6, 2013 at 11:13 amv3000

        With much competition, it’s going to be like watching real-life AKB facing off with any of its rivals onstage.

      • January 7, 2013 at 5:43 amBenigmatica

        You might even say that Love Live School Idol is the Nogizaka46 of anime, not to mention that both King Records and Lantis are fighting each other!

      • January 7, 2013 at 4:34 pmv3000

        The other one feels like Berryz to me. :P

    • January 9, 2013 at 3:11 amiron2000

      Haven’t watched both but Love Live come across as something closer to Idolmaster.
      This AKB show feels like Mouretsu Pirates to me.

  • January 6, 2013 at 6:08 amWanderer

    No mention of Chieri’s epic speech in the court with her kirara glowing like the sun? I loved that scene, as it’s a beautiful sign of how she’s grown from the uncertain girl who couldn’t make it light up at all. She’s lost her fear that she doesn’t really belong, and has become a confident young woman who knows she’s an idol, and who can truly let her spirit shine.

    And you didn’t even mention that we finally have a face of evil! Chieri’s father appears, having observed the whole trial with an evil “just as planned” look about gathering data on the kirara, and talking about how “useful” that now makes Chieri. He just watched his own 13-year-old daughter get thrown into a massively public trial in a kangaroo court and get sentenced to 48 years in prison, and did nothing to help her. With the pull he’s clearly got he could have pulled strings and gotten her out of the trial into his custody before the trial began. He could have saved her. He didn’t even try. Instead he treated her like a test subject. GRRRRR!

    Also, that court. What sort of court sentences at least two minors (we don’t know Yukirin’s age) to what is practically life in prison? I admit, with the speed at which they were thrown into the trial, I was initially afraid they were going to be sentenced to death, so that was a relief, but still that’s an outrageous penalty to inflict on children.

  • January 6, 2013 at 7:53 amselpheed

    In picture 27.. Is a robotic arm??

    • January 6, 2013 at 9:26 amWanderer

      On Mayuyu? Yes. Haven’t you seen the previous season? It’s almost certainly related to an in-joke about the real Mayuyu being called a cyborg. But yes, Mayuyu Mk.3 has a rocket-launcher in her arm and speaks in a very robotic cadence. We’re unsure if she’s a cyborg or a robot, and we’ll probably never find out for sure.

  • January 6, 2013 at 8:11 amMech

    At least they took the 6 months to make the CG Dancing sequences to look not as awful.

    • January 6, 2013 at 10:35 amMatt_D

      Has to be said towards the end of the first season the CG moments were far better than when they were at the start of the season.

      • January 6, 2013 at 1:26 pmCarVac

        It wasn’t as dramatic as Girls und Panzer’s improvement, though. That first episode was… a slideshow.

  • January 6, 2013 at 11:10 amv3000

    If some viewers are vocally avoiding this show, they’re missing something. Like fun.

  • January 6, 2013 at 11:06 pmFuu

    I’m so excited!! I was surprised at the idea of a senbatsu since the regular AKB0048 members are the original senbatsu members of AKB48. Interesting they are continuing with Acchan being some sort of God-like being.

  • January 7, 2013 at 9:21 amRigelin

    As much as I loved season 1, I feel this first ep didn’t flow quite naturally. Perhaps it felt rushed, like they were trying to do too much in too short of a time. One moment they’re doing fan service with a bath scene and then randomly they’re attacked and captured and on trial?

    I’ve watched season 1 so I know you gotta have a suspension of disbelief but this is a bit different from that. Season 1 seemed to be based on the story and characters and then everything seemed to wrap around that. Because of this the songs felt natural and were usually well-placed and timed, but I felt in this ep they were just showing off and it had less of an impact because of that.

    Though don’t get me wrong, still liked the episode and I still love the series. Looking forward to future episodes, I just hope it flows more naturally.

    • January 7, 2013 at 4:40 pmv3000

      They have to deal with some of the loose ends. It could be a little longer and thus flows better with more episodes, but they have to work within limitations, as it’s an original work not derived from existing media. Original works means more risk.

      Show Spoiler ▼

    • January 7, 2013 at 5:38 pmWanderer

      I think the suddenness of the attack was supposed to feel jarring. We were supposed to be feeling like the girls were: mostly relaxed, focusing on the election and center nova announcements. The attack was intended to feel off-kilter, to catch us off guard, suddenly bursting in in the middle of that and kidnapping three of our girls. And the trial was rushed: that was a summary trial, convened the moment they knew they had idols they could make an example of. The girls were very likely taken off whatever ship brought them there, given those clothes, and then shoved straight into the courtroom. I doubt there was any downtime in captivity at all beyond whatever it took for transit time.

      • January 8, 2013 at 8:58 amRigelin

        Yeah I understand that, but what I was saying was that I didn’t feel surprised or it didn’t feel jarring to me. It just felt so unnatural that instead of getting into the anime and being emotionally evolved, I was more or less just watching. It felt forced.

  • January 10, 2013 at 8:02 amv3000

    The next episode will be a great load of fun, as it’s peppered with numerous references to many of the TV shows that the real-life AKB gets involved in, and even one from out of Macross Frontier.

  • January 10, 2013 at 9:16 pmArbitrary_greay

    Preview screencaps are out!

    WHY IS THERE A BOOBIES CAKE IN THE STAGE 15 PREVIEW. D: D: D:

    In other news, holy crap they’re doing shout-outs to AKBINGO and ShukanAKB (and one of ShukanAKB’s more infamous episodes at that, as well as AKBINGO’s best games!) I foresee some major traumatization in the girls’ future.

    Either she was drawn off-model, or someone is dressing up as Chieri in that first smaller screencap. YES PLZ COMEDY GOLD.