I originally thought that this was the final episode (it certainly felt like one) but apparently we have 13? I really should have checked. Well, we’re going to carry on as we are for now.
I’m probably going to have to write about The IDOLM@STER when it ends and perhaps I’m spoilt in that department, but I still must admit that this concert episode was certainly the height of the series visually. The level of detail in the art certainly rises above anything we’ve seen in Sore ga Seiyuu! so far, and the animation held in there as well. Since Sore ga Seiyuu! has made do with fairly simple, but serviceable, visuals it’s good that they’ve saved up a bit for this last sequence. It’s probably also to promote the new musical number—if Sore ga Seiyuu! is going to turn a profit, a suspect that a good portion of it will come from music sales. I don’t disapprove per se. If the anime industry needs more ways to monetise to keep making good shows, I’m all for that.
Of course, while the concert was the high note, it’s all the things that lead up to it that are important. A successful performance was, after the trials of Earphones, a given, more of a reward for all their effort. Sore ga Seiyuu! is too optimistic of a show to have them bomb at the last moment. And because of this general optimism, the question was never about whether they would overcome the problem of Ichigo’s injury, but how they would do it. I was actually expecting a bit more drama from that department, perhaps to rival episode 06. This was our final major arc, after all, and Ichigo really looked like she needed an intervention. At least go see a doctor before you lose your leg, Ichigo (though I suppose her fear would be that the doctor would advise her to stop dancing). There certainly was potential for the showdown to have milked more heightened emotions or be messier soap opera, but it was resolved fairly sensibly. Modify the routines, add some cosmetic disguises, play backup for Ichigo. While on one hand we could have had more of a spectacle, I suppose Sore ga Seiyuu! has always trended down towards the earth. The important thing is that it allowed Futaba to stand out in a sort of leadership role, to do her big monologue about the wisdom she’s attained (and summarising the show), and unifying her team. Look how our little girl has grown!
Indeed, the theme of this episode—and other episodes, really—is everybody coming together to create success, and more or less the entire cast comes out for a final hurrah. Konno-san the manager got her own episode, so she’s definitely here with the rest of Futaba’s people from Aozora Productions, but there’s also Futaba’s one fan, Rin’s best friend/groupie #1, Ichigo’s faceless dad, and even the unenthusiastic radio director. Oh, and of course the comic relief producer, but he’s useless in a crisis (though he did somehow manage to sell almost 500 tickets, so credit where that’s due). As for the guest star, we’ve had many cameos to date, but who better to return but Horie Yui? She was Earphone’s idol inspiration, Ichigo’s ad hoc mentor, and probably the original author’s mentor too. One gets the feeling that she misses being in a team, sharing both joys and sorrows, and maybe Asano Masumi does too. But hey, Aice5. Maybe this is their chance to relive that buzz.
Even though a big concert would have been a natural closer, this is isn’t the final episode. One wonders how they’re going to outdo the closest thing Earphones is ever going to get to a showstopper in Sore ga Seiyuu!‘s run. Perhaps they don’t intend to, and episode 13 will be some kind of omake episode, a side story—not unheard of, definitely. Alternatively, there may be some epilogue, a gentle denouement, to draw the curtains on the story. If we’re lucky, they may also be hooking into a sequel! The (strong) possibility exists, of course, that I’m totally wrong. For once, we have no preview to guide us, so my mad guess is as good as yours. Perhaps Sore ga Seiyuu! will surprise. I’m open to anything.