OP: 「希望について」 (Kibou ni Tsuite) by NO NAME
「選ばれし光」 (Erabareshi Hikari)
“The Chosen Light”
What’s with all those tears in the OP? Get ready ladies and gentlemen, it seems like we’re in for some of that classic Kawamori angst.
But no folks, we’re not quite there yet. Instead, have some “Enjoyably silly” first. That’s the most frequent comment I’ve seen from people who liked the first episode of AKB0048, and it admittedly sums up my feelings about the show quite succinctly. AKB0048 is an unabashed fanservice machine wearing the skin of Macross, unmatched yet highly entertaining in its absolute absurdities and spectacles. Where else this season can you find a crazy concoction that even includes android idols, space marines and space-jelly-powered warp drives?
……Wait, what’s that? What moé cthulhu this season? Mother of cthu–
Okay, erm…uh…asides from that, where else?
Yet, after the surprisingly decent premiere that caught me off-guard, episode 2 is a rather disappointing follow up to the hype of the first episode.
The Bad. Let’s start with the characters. We’re introduced to an addition four of our main cast, and all save for one didn’t jive with me at all. Now, perhaps I’m not giving them proper time to introduce themselves, but the genki nyanko Shinonome Sonata (Yagami Kumi), stoic Kanzaki Suzuko (Hata Sawako) and zetsubou-idol Yokomizo Makoto (Mita Mao) certainly didn’t give me a favorable first impression. And people always say, first impressions count the most. Their silly personalities shouldn’t come as a surprise to me considering the nature of the show, but after the first episode showed us it can handle a more subdued and down-to-earth cast, I can’t help but feel slighty disappointed that the creative team chose to populate the show with such blatant and honestly, slightly annoying stereotypes. This was what I was skeptical about from the start, but I concur that perhaps like the IDOLM@STER, time is needed to give each seemingly 2-dimensional personality a chance to shine. I didn’t fall in love with that show during its second cringe-worthy episode, that’s for sure. Plus, the characters of AKB0048 seem to share the same wonderful chemistry that the girls of IDOLM@STER had.
Secondly was that bit of drama towards the end with Cheri and Nagisa. I really do appreciate the fact that the show tries to incorporate some of the idol-trainee drama that made the AKB49 manga a pretty decent read. (And ohbytheway the manga is also a great way to familiarize yourselves with the terminology and characters.) The road to idolhood is not an easy one, and they did well in presenting the grim truth of it.
However, the way it was executed had me struggling to decide if I should be laughing or cringing. Really, potentially allowing your friend to die or get taken away by the space marines (to probably die) so that you can get a better chance of success in the auditions? Idoling. Its Serious @#$%ing Business. It’s almost parodic how seriously the scene seems to want us to take it when you consider the stakes. In short, the drama just didn’t fit into the exaggerated context of the whole situation, unlike the first episode which actually saw some smart execution of the character dramas and the portrayal of their emotions. This was also one of my concerns with the series, where much like in Aquarion EVOL, the drama aspect just doesn’t jive well with the plot and action. I mean, really, what’s with the gender-bending!? How can I take a love drama with that seriously!?
-Whew- Okay, I’ve taken my chill pill, so now for The Good. While I might find the new characters to be slightly more on the annoying side, the saving grace is that the voice actresses might just be the best out of the bunch thus far, especially the ones behind Sonata and Chieri. The only exception to this is Suzuko, who voice actress’s breathiness is so strong it almost feels like she’s constantly speaking with her tongue between her teeth, and was absolutely frustrating to listen to. So color me pleasantly surprised, because one of my original fears with the series was that we were going to get a cast which I wouldn’t be able to bear listening to.
I also enjoyed the characterization of the cynical Sono Chieri (Watanabe Mayu), on whom the spotlight shone for much of the episode, so perhaps my judegment of the other characters really should be withheld until they actually get an episode to shine. Badass ojou-sama who can swing around a rifle and take down space marines? I do believe we have a winner here. Her tension with Nagisa and their contrasting beliefs makes for some interesting interaction, and also intriguing is the fact that her father owns the corporation that supplies the weapons of our NO FUN police.
And while I’m not too keen on the drama in this episode, it doesn’t change the fact that watching idols in macross-ish transformable-hovercrafts going up against space marines in a battle set to j-pop music is just massive, grin-inducing silly fun. Satelight certainly knows how to give us a spectacle.
To Sum, alright, so maybe I’m giving AKB0048 a bit of a hard time. Hazing a bit too much. The characters aren’t as downright annoying as I feared, and given time I’d probably come to like them soon enough. (I hope) We’re only into its second episode after all, and with a continuation season planned, there’s still plenty the show has left up its sleeves.
AKB48 Fun Facts
- Flying Get, the name of AKB0048’s mothership, is the name of the 22nd major single of AKB48
- Heavy Rotation, the power used by AKB0048 member Oshima Yuko, is the 17th major single of AKB48
- It is possible that the portrayal of Watanabe Mayu (who plays main character Chieri) as an android is a reference to her starring as a CG cyborg in a Xenoblade commercial
For those interested in how the concept of AKB0048 came to fruition: According to a magazine interview, Starchild label’s Toshimichi Otsuki (AKB0048’s executive producer, also producer on Evangelion 1.0) first hatched up this idea, then came to Kawamori Shinji (Director, the Macross man) and asked if they could pull it off. Sometimes later they came to Yasushi Akimoto (Producer of AKB48) and presented the idea, and much to their delight Akimoto gave them the green light. ~Credit goes to V3000 for this information. Give him/her cookies! :D~
Finally, there was an OP-ED mix up last episode. The closing song was not (Yume wa Nando mo Umarekawaru) but was (Kibou ni Tsuita), which will be the show’s OP henceforth.
ED: 「夢は何度も生まれ変わる」 (Yume wa Nando mo Umarekawaru) by NO NAME
Watch the ED!: Streaming ▼