AKB0048 Next Stage – 03
「アイドルの夜明け前」 (Aidoru no Yoake Mae)
“The Idols’ Dark Before Dawn”
IT’S TIME FOR GENERAL ELECTIONS! With even commentators for this event having successors, suitcases handcuffed to guards to prevent tampering of results, an innumerable amount of fans praying for their choice’s victory, and multiple insert themes (Beginner and the OP/ED themes from last season)—it’s no wonder everyone’s been riled up the last few weeks, as these elections are truly serious business. Admittedly, even I underestimated what a big event it would be… and what a spectacular episode it would set up.
To say the least, there was a bit of everything this week, and I’m just having trouble even putting all my thoughts into words at this point. Since the start of this new season, everything’s just on another level in all respects—and it’s just great to watch. For one, there’s the whole drama resulting from the re-establishment of the General Elections and Center Nova position. The competition is fierce, tensions are running high, and it just begs the question: how much pressure can our heroines take? The competition should bring them all to the top of their game (and also assist in investigating the Center Novae disappearance phenomenon), but as even Tsubasa mentions herself this week, there might just be a point where the whole scenario causes more harm than good. Granted, it’s highly likely that our heroines will succeed in overcoming this obstacle regardless, but the fact that they had this scenario—one that challenges each of them to do their best—shows that this series (and the life of an idol in general) isn’t all fun and games. There are things each of them are fighting off and trying to overcome out of the public eye, and this episode not only emphasizes this aspect, but uses it to propel the series to greater heights.
And what exactly do I mean by greater heights? I mean the fact that all of this General Election and Center Nova business gives the series a chance to really hone in on the individual characters. It’s obvious that each of the characters should all have their own unique personalities and/or reason(s) for doing what they do. Actually being able to demonstrate this though, is a whole other story. And this is what I mean. The above scenario gives AKB0048 this chance and the series just seizes it to give us an in depth look at the characters—a notion that just makes this series much better than it otherwise would have been. Heck, this episode alone had individual moments for Chieri, Takamina, Yuuko, Nagisa, and Mimori.
In the end, one can only imagine how hard it is of a task to give individual characters a focus in a series with such a large cast. You just have to tip your hat at Kawamori Shoji (that magnificant bastard!). He just has a knack for incorporating drama with music and sci-fi, and it’s definitely showing in AKB0048′s Next Stage. Looking back, it kind of even feels like he was just setting us up the first season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was at this point.
Moving on, another interesting aspect this episode touched on and really hammered in was the fact that what AKB0048 is doing is illegal. As such, they’re quite powerless to do much about people/businesses that use any of their members’ likeness, names, or performances to their own benefit. It just emphasizes how despite the occasional absurdity and the hoops you have to jump through for things like copyrights and what not in real life, they really do serve a protective purpose (usually). Notably, this whole business aspect leads into…
…our next big topic of discussion: the Zodiac Corporation. As we find out this episode, Chieri’s father (I WANT YOU TO JOIN THE DES ARMY!) is indeed influencing a variety of events in the background, having played a big role in having Chieri benefit from the public trial from two episodes back. Heck, he might’ve even instigated the whole thing himself. Either way, Chieri’s father is forcing himself into the conversation, and it’s undoubtedly not only going to have a big impact on Chieri herself, but also AKB0048′s continued existence as a whole. There’s still the Kirara experiments being run in the background too and there’s just a lot going on at the moment.
Suffice to say though, despite some parts feeling slightly rushed, the AKB0048′s Next Stage is really establishing itself as one of the better series this season, and it just pains me to wait a whole week just to watch the next episode. But alas… somethings you just can’t change, so to that end, I’ll catch ya guys next week.
Full-length images: 32.
ED2: 「希望について」 (Kibou ni Tsuite) by NO NAME