AKB0048 Next Stage

November 16, 2013

The fight for entertainment freedom is not over yet! We have the right to enjoy ourselves in the way we want and not become like some mindless robotic zombies whose purpose in life is to work, eat, sleep, repeat cycle before kicking the bucket! We demand entertainment! We want our idols! If that sounded really bleak in the event if the world ever came to that stage, be thankful now that a big part of the world can still enjoy their idols, be it those K-pop or American Idols whatsoever. This idol thing must still be a big craze in Japan. I don’t know, I’m not really a big follower but it must be big enough that the largest pop group in the world had their own anime adaptation and even a sequel: AKB0048 Next Stage. As if watching the big idol group of girls dance on stage wasn’t enough. As if attending all their special public events weren’t enough. As if getting to shake their hands at every handshake event wasn’t enough. As if owning every single memorabilia of your favourite idol from posters pasted right on your ceiling down to your floor and the bed you sleep on wasn’t enough. Well, it is never enough if you’re an obsessed fan. Very obsessed fan, that is. Yeah, it makes you sound like a creepy perverted stalker. Don’t give me that weird deep breathing either!

Now back to the sequel of this story, for those who have watched the first season would definitely have come to know that in this fictitious story that is based on this group, the intensity between idols and anti-idol organizations have increased many times fold as ever before. Our heroine group (or terrorist unit if you are anti them) has been going on the offensive by launching more guerrilla concerts to bring hope and entertainment to planets whose civilians are persecuted under the Entertainment Ban. DGTO have also stepped up their attacks on entertainment which forces AKB0048 to bring back the discarded General Elections and thus the enchanting but risky Centre Nova position, a position coveted by every AKB0048 member (because you get to be the centre of attraction I suppose). As if fighting against DGTO and DES machines weren’t enough. Now they have to ‘fight’ among themselves for that spot. Well, nobody said that the path to being an idol was easy. So are you ready to love your idols once more?

Episode 1
Nagisa dreams of climbing an endless stairs. Her fellow comrades start falling off when the stairs start breaking up. Acchan tells her that not only her Kirara shines but the radiance must come from within. Nagisa must have fallen asleep on the stairs after another one of those hard practising sessions. The Understudies are practising to put up another guerrilla performance. Needless to say it is another sterling performance but this time their Kiraras shine so bright like never before. Such flood of lights was never seen ever since Acchan disappeared. At the end of the concert, Tsubasa makes a surprising announcement. Due to the increase anti-entertainment efforts by DGTO, she is bringing back the General Elections. This means the Centre Nova position will also return. Fans get to vote for their favourite members regardless of their status and the top members get to be part of a new single. Some of the Understudies (especially Nagisa who is definitely against it) are torn about this General Election. Even if the battle for Centre Nova isn’t their goal, the election results will show who is top and who is bottom. There can be in-fighting to be the best. It can be quite demoralizing to know who is better or worse off than you. During the banquet, Yuuko makes her announcement that becoming Centre Nova is her dream and those who aim for that position to also do their best. When some of them are preparing to enter the hotspring, a DES machine ambushes the place. Chieri, Sonata and Yukirin are kidnapped. They are taken to Kasumigastar where the High Court is held and being put in a speedy trial. This is with the intention to subdue anti-government movement that idolizes them. News spread like wildfire throughout the galaxy that the trio are being charged in engaging in anti-government activities. During the trial when being read the charges, Chieri stands up and voices out that AKB0048’s actions are founded upon love and will never hurt others. At the same time, Tsubasa and the other AKB0048 members are preparing to launch a rescue mission. They are not amused that the trial is trying to make a spectacle of AKB0048. The lawyers try to convince Chieri if she admits she has been deceived, her sentence will be commuted. She stands firm on her dreams and beliefs. The judge concludes that they have shown no signs of remorse and sentences them to 48 years in prison. That’s when the AKB0048 girls bust in. However they did not use violence. Instead, they use DES’ attack as counter attack. Their own missiles destroy their own building. AKB0048 sing their way filled with love to rescue to trio. Back at Sagitarriusstar, the headquarters of Zodiac Corporation, Chieri’s father sees the trial as blessing. He relishes his daughter has become more useful than ever.

Episode 2
Sensei-sensei is talking funny things. Guerrilla. Gross-out. Funny faces. Huh? Due to the trial, Chieri’s popularity has soared. As some of the Understudies fear, she is pulling in lots of votes and preliminary results are showing that there is a dramatic rise in number of downloads since the announcement. So Tsubasa has the other Understudies make their appearance on a variety channel. Look at it as celebrities doing various stuffs. Like bungee jumping. Yikes! Is this all for the sake of rating and increase in popularity? I hope they don’t make a fool out of themselves. The ‘funniest’ is when they had to imitate others. And Sonata imitated Makoto snoring!!! Totally embarrassing!!! Meanwhile Tsubasa feels disturbed. When they burst in and out of Kasumigastar, supposedly a very stronghold of the government, it felt too easy. Because the Understudies aren’t doing a very good job on the variety channel, Tsubasa summons them and chides them for not being serious. Sure, it isn’t fair to suddenly thrust the camera in their face and they would prefer to hold concerts than doing this. Tsubasa just tells them to carefully reflect the purpose why they are doing this. Late that night, Nagisa catches Chieri practising hard as usual. But Chieri is not sure if she is popular due to her own effort. Kojiharu and Yukirin note that Nagisa and Chieri are the only ones left who have not finish their General Elections poster. They decide to show them a video of Acchan at the last General Election. Her radiance was shining very brightly as Centre Nova that it moved everyone including Yuuko who was still an Understudy. Soon the Understudies realize why Tsubasa put them up with such variety shows. On planets where ban on entertainment ban is the strictest, holding concerts is next to impossible that’s why such broadcasts are shown instead. Even the broadcasts are received illegally via WOTA’s underground network. So the girls are fired up to do their best in their next variety show, which is penalty dodgeball. Nagisa and Chieri finish their poster and continue doing concerts. After a concert ends, Tsubasa pops up to do an announcement of the early results of the General Election. Starting from tenth place upwards, seems Chieri is now at 9th spot.

Episode 3
Ninth place is pretty good for an Understudy to secure but why the gloom face, Chieri? Aren’t you happy? To boost their popularity before the General Elections, there will be a handshake event. One of Nagisa’s fans will do his best to help her. She didn’t understand why he would want to do that. Simple. Because she is doing her best too. While Chieri is shaking hands with one of her fans, she hears him praise her I Girl Noodle commercial. She senses something amiss and rushes off backstage to watch it. The commercial had footage of her but it’s not that she acted in it (it was taken from the trial). Of course this is illegal but Tsubasa puts it, what they are doing is illegal in the first place and have no right to complain. However her fans aren’t aware of the foul play being used in the commercial. Yuuko and Takamina renew their rivalry for top spot in the General Elections. Nagisa is amazed that Mimori can remember every word her fan said. She admits she is a fan of her fans. Although she is never in the spotlight, they see her in the shadows and shower her with their love. On the day before the General Elections, the Understudies are still worried. But Mimori is upbeat and views everyone has an equal opportunity. Chieri makes her way to a diner to meet her old butler, Yasunaga. She talks to him about the commercial. I Girl Foods is under Zodiac Group. Furthermore, she noticed all the cameras at the trial were from Zodiac Corporation. What is going on? Wasn’t her father against her joining AKB0048? Yasunaga relays a message from her father, the company’s CEO. At first he did want her to return but he soon realized her radiance as an idol that kept growing. He will no longer oppose her membership and support her with all his resources. Chieri realizes that her popularity is not the result of her own skill. She has a message for him. Refusing to let him have his way, she is willing to sacrifice her dream. Chieri doesn’t want to have anything to do with the General Elections as she doesn’t want to bring down her friends via underhanded methods. And so the results of the General Elections are here. The stadium is filled to the brim. So serious the results that it had to be sealed in a suitcase and handcuffed to the security’s hand! At least no tampering. Are we excited after waiting with baited breath? At tenth place… Mimori!

Episode 4
So you are going to hear lots of emotional thank you speeches by some of the girls. The winners cry. The AKB0048 girls cry. The fans cry. Everybody cries. Unless you’re those anti-idol group. So if you’re the emotional kind, prepare a box of tissue papers. Mimori gets the tears rolling by thanking her fans and especially Kanata as her special friend. Chieri is amazed by Mimori’s speech but she is still in a dilemma. She told Tsubasa she will make her announcement of quitting AKB0048 if she is chosen. She feels her father earned her those votes and her popularity as a result of Zodiac’s interference. Tsubasa told her all the votes were from her fans and she is about to betray them. But winners are given a chance to speak on stage and she can say what she wants. She won’t stop her. In 9th place is Youko while Tomochin comes in 8th. This shocks many because in the preliminaries, she was ranked third. After so much heartfelt speeches, Chieri’s perception of the General Elections starts to change. The fans give them so much love and if they make it onto the stage, they can also return their love. Kojiharu takes 7th and while Chieri is still contemplating those votes don’t really belong to her even though she starts realizing that because of her father’s interference, her fan base grew. Suddenly her name is announced in 6th place. She couldn’t believe it. What can she say? She is so shocked that she starts hyperventilating! She’s having a hard time catching her breath as she limps towards the stage. When she manages to calm down, it’s time for her to make her announcement. She loves them all! Her Kirara shines the brightest and she vows to continue being an AKB0048 member. Mayuyu takes 5th followed by Yukirin in 4th and then Sayaka in 3rd. Takamina grabs 2nd and the overall winner of this General Election goes to… Drum roll please… YUUKO!!! Part of her heartfelt speech includes that winning this election and becoming Centre Nova is not enough since her rival is Acchan. She wants to stay in that position and glow more radiant. She vows not to disappear. In the aftermath of the event and at the backstage, the girls continue their emotional hugs and congratulations for one another. Nagisa congratulates Chieri and now realizes why she was against the General Elections. She was afraid in becoming a spiteful person with all the competitions and comparisons. But she saw how everyone sparkled and was amazed. She vows to do her best to stand on that stage. Both their Kiraras shine so bright that it catches Yuuko’s attention.

Episode 5
While those elected are busy with schedules, those unelected are so free. Makoto is sure grumbling as usual, isn’t she? She knows herself she won’t get elected even if it’s a miracle so why the long face? Sulking… Anyway AKB0048 must gear up for another guerrilla concert on Baltistar, another planet with strict entertainment ban. While the elected members will be on their first performance, Kanata and the 76th generation will provide the defence. Because there are reports of high profile people coming in and out of a nearby asteroid, Tsubasa has the 77th generation lead an undercover investigation. First, they infiltrate a ship filled with boys forced into hard labour and take over their identities. Meeting with the lieutenant of the asteroid base, they are put under the supervision of a stupid looking beaver teeth DES private, Higashino. Not thrilled, is he? Well, can’t say the same for the girls. They’re not built for hard labour. Except for Makoto who is going all out. Because she is still sulking over not being elected. When the guerrilla concert begins, all DES members go into full force to stop it. That’s when the undercover team goes into action. Nagisa’s team is puzzled to hear AKB0048 songs coming from a room. Sneaking in, they see a very posh place and lots of important people in some party. It is actually an illegal casino and they are making bets on AKB0048 on how long they can last, etc. So on the surface they look like anti-entertainment but they are just plain hypocrites, huh? Makoto wants to investigate further but slips. This causes her identity to be busted and the base on alert for AKB0048 intruders. The girls are cornered but flushed down the trash compartment. Thank Higashino for that. Once the girls relay the big news to Tsubasa, she realizes why some DES attacks were weak. It is part of some gamble to rake in profits. Makoto is a funny girl. She is so gloomy and lack confidence that she thinks she fits sitting along with the other trash. She’s calling herself a trash?

Orine’s team hijack the main centre and discover a massive nuclear reactor in the asteroid centre. Shutting it down means cutting out all the power. The higher ups watching this are starting to make a bet if they can shut down the power in time. But with so many DES personnel around, can they make it? Orine’s team hijack a DES machine and go on a rampage. As usual, Makoto cowers out. Higashino recognizes that negativity. You can’t beat that, can’t you? This is what she comes to after he helped save them? He admits that he is a closet AKB0048 fan. But don’t tell on him. Makoto still feels useless so Higashino adds to that but tells her he voted for her in the elections. Four times! Even though she lost, it’s not about the numbers. It’s the love! Wow. She’s being told off by somebody like him. But why her? When he first saw her on TV, true to her nature she is useless and clumsy but she never hide it. He could relate it because he too feels the same way. In that sense, Makoto encouraged him a lot. So is that enough to get you going? Higashino leads her to the reactor and a switch beneath that will cut the power. For once Makoto becomes brave and even admits that although she can’t fly like others, she will fail with all her might! That’s like dare to fail, right? And she’s going to fall! Jump down, that is. She bungee jumps down into the reactor and true to her nature, she misses! First big failure? However that didn’t stop her and on the second run, she kicks the switch and breaks it! At least the power goes out and her Kirara shines brightly. Success! Sorry officials, you lost your bet. The girls escape the asteroid but since there is no power, somebody is needed to manual crank up the escape pod. Well Makoto, I’m sure you can learn something valuable from Higashino, right? He lets the girls escape and vows to always be Makoto’s fan. See Makoto? Even if you don’t believe in yourself, somebody else does. Now will you be more confident? Meanwhile Chieri’s dad isn’t fazed about the leaks revolving the illegal casino because he has issued a strict gag order. Even if AKB0048 has discovered this scandal, he is confident the data they received was worth the risk.

Episode 6
The Kiraras of succession suddenly shows the original Acchan. That means somebody is going to succeed her. Since the election, Yuuko has become even more popular. Chieri and Mimori’s popularity are rising too. Mikako becomes the group’s new camerawoman (probably it was hard for her to find a job due to the crackdown). Tsubasa still has reservations about her since last season she said something about using her power to stop bringing back the Centre Nova. Mikako assures she only said that out of spite. In the midst of the Understudies’ practice, Yuuko blows her top especially to Nagisa and Chieri because they are supposed to radiate more than this mediocrity. Ushiyama talks to Nagisa that despite her goal is to rival Yuuko, miming her won’t do and there must be a purpose to her soul. Likewise, Mikako talks to Yuuko and gives her hints about capturing radiance like snapping pictures on a camera. In addition to find clues to the next Acchan, Yuuko goes around taking pictures of her fellow comrades. Mimori’s face pops up at the Kiraras of succession. Shortly, Mimori collapses of fever. This is a sign that she will inherit a name because Tsubasa also experienced such symptoms. As standby, Tsubasa and Ushiyama choose Nagisa to replace Mimori. She must learn all the moves in a night in addition to her own performance. She’s up for the challenge. On the day of the concert, Mimori’s determination not to let her fans down has her performing alongside her elected AKB0048 members. She’s holding it out despite running a fever. Even so, her Kirara is shining brightly. During the break, Mimori is close to collapsing so Nagisa will have to take over from here. Nagisa is on par with the other girls as she sees the Kiraras of Yuuko and Chieri shining brightly. In that spur of the moment, Nagisa doesn’t want to lose out to their radiance and right in the middle of the performance announces she will shine as bright and will become Centre Nova. The crowd goes wild seeing her Kirara radiating as bright as the rest.

Episode 7
Mimori wakes up in the underground cave shrine but her fever has subsided. Ushiyama tells AKB0048 a change in their concert schedule. This time the Understudies will the one performing to mark Mimori’s debut as a Successor. Everyone is happy that Mimori has finally made it and now talk is rife on which name she will succeed. Her friends are also concerned if she would change into a different person. For this special event, we here the AKB0048 current Successors in an interview on their feelings when they succeeded. Elsewhere, we see Mikako reporting to Chieri’s father about finding the final piece required to initiate the Centre Nova phenomenon which she believes is in this next concert because the readings of dualium crystal readings were very high. A spy? Takamina talks to Kanata and learns that she long ago had such fever too but subsided. This prompts Takamina to ask what she would do if she had all the qualities to become a Successor. What she is trying to say is that, would Kanata drive her out to become a Successor? After all, because of Takamina holding on, she couldn’t advance. Kanata doesn’t know what to answer but she knows Takamina holds a special place in her heart. On the day of Mimori’s debut concert, she wows the crowd with her new hairstyle (she cut it shorter) and will now be known as Mariko the 8th. Her fellow AKB0048 girls are in awe of her beauty and performance as a Successor and are happy she transformed into a better person. Ushiyama thought Tsubasa was still the better Mariko so Tsubasa says the reason why she succeeded that name will only be known in time. But it proves that since Mimori succeeded that name, Tsubasa is still standing her (she went by that name during her gig as AKB0048). This gives hope that even though somebody will succeed Acchan, the original one must be somewhere out there. Mariko brings Kanata on stage to tell her this is where their dream begins. She hopes Kanata would be ‘greedier’ or else she won’t become a Successor. She hopes she can be one by Christmas and it will be the best Christmas present. Kanata makes her announcement that she too will become a Successor. Lastly, Mikako has determined the 3 vital factors for the Centre Nova phenomenon: 1) A concert involving combat; 2) Atmospheric disturbance; 3) Large quantities of high purity dualium crystals. Chieri’s father is happy that his Centre Nova research has made great advancement. He puts forth his plan by sending a message to DGTO headquarters to request for launch of DES mobile fleets. Their next target is Akibastar. War is coming…

Episode 8
Yuuko remembers when she was an Understudy, she protested she wanted to do more guerrilla concerts instead of boring Akibastar otherwise she won’t get the chance to stand on a bigger stage. But Acchan told her Akibastar was once laid waste by war. It took a long time to rebuild. It is a place where suffering and grief could be reborn as new hope and for all those who love entertainment. That’s why it’s not a boring space. It is the most precious and sacred than any other place. She wants Yuuko to protect Akibastar’s radiance. The Understudies could hear Yuuko practising by herself. Despite the noisy turbine sound, they could hear her singing. Chieri feels even though she was voted the best in the General Elections, it’s like as though she is not satisfied and crying. Yuuko even ditches Ushiyama’s lessons so she can practise on her own. I guess it’s not challenging enough for her. Takamina and Kojiharu worry for her and have this feeling that she is harder to approach now and is lonelier. Tsubasa tells them Acchan once had such aura. She talked to her and hoped she would rely on them more. Although Acchan agreed, she disappeared soon after. Meanwhile Mikako talks to Yuuko if she is willing to pay the great price to stand as position 0. At the same time, Chieri’s father has mobilized the DES army as they start attacking the space defence of Akibastar. He is targeting this planet because there are massive deposits of dualium crystals underground. Meanwhile Yuuko leads an AKB008 concert on Akibastar and is shining very brightly due to the advice she got from Mikako about accepting loneliness to become Centre Nova. Those who glow brightest are haunted by the darkest shadows. They’ll envy, target and try to manipulate you.

Suddenly the red alert is sounded for everyone to evacuate underground. DES forces have broken through their defence. All AKB0048 members go into action to engage the enemy. Chieri’s father relishes the second condition for Centre Nova activation: A concert in stormy weather. Well, somebody hacked the weather on Akibastar and turns it into one. AKB0048 face their greatest war yet because the girls are no match for DES. Mikako fears this is not what is agreed on and reveals Zodiac is after the dualium and Centre Nova. This prompts Tsubasa to get her girls to protect the shrine because if anything happens to Sensei-sensei, Akibastar will be done for. Akibastar is turned into a devastated war ruin when Mikako tries to activate a concert because she feels AKB0048 radiate the most during concerts. This is when they are strongest. AKB0048 hear the song and start singing and fighting their way. Chieri’s father is amazed Mikako has played into his hand because the last condition to activate Centre Nova is a life or death battle concert. Now all he needs is a torrent of emotion that surpasses it all. Tsubasa realizes they can’t win this and with a heavy heart announces they must abandon Akibastar as the enemy is after them. Yuuko is still concerned of being position 0 so she defies Tsubasa’s orders and flies straight to the stage where only the true Centre Nova is allowed to stand. After all, she made a promise with Acchan and will become Centre Nova even if it means being alone. DES forces fire at her but her glowing Kiraras protect her. They glow even brighter as it opens up a portal from above. Tsubasa realizes this is part of Mikako’s plan to open the gate so they can bring Acchan and the rest back. Yuuko’s bright light soon engulfs the entire area. When it’s over, she disappears.

Episode 9
DES has taken over Akibastar, Yuuko is confirmed disappeared and the whereabouts of AKB0048 are unknown. At least not officially. They have barely escaped via hyperdrive on the main ship. Mikako is locked in the store as some of the girls go to ‘interrogate’ her. Why is she doing this despite being an ex-Centre Nova? She didn’t think she was one to begin with. When she was about to become one, she chickened out because she saw strange aliens from another world trying to get her! She believes all the disappeared Centre Novae vanished into another world. Those who didn’t, graduated normally. However if their ambition for radiance falters for even a moment, they will lose all the radiance they had. After Mikako graduated, she became a camerawoman to stay by their side and protected them from disappearing. But inviting a DES attack? Mikako met Chieri’s father and was told about the mysterious substance called dualium that holds a certain power. He believes it can link 2 worlds. He also knew she had a glimpse of the other world when she almost became Centre Nova. Those aliens are actually Kiraras. As Kiraras react differently to humans will and amplifies their power in response, in ancient times, entertainment was somewhat a communication ritual to the Gods or other worlds. DES was trying to capture AKB0048 alive and the Kiraras for military purposes since a Centre Nova makes the Kiraras glow brightly. But didn’t what Mikako did is a contrast to what she said about protecting them? She couldn’t answer.

Later Tsubasa tells the girls that Mikako’s intention was to save the disappeared Centre Novae by opening the gate to the other world. She thought of using them to do that and help Zodiac but she was double crossed instead. The girls still have doubts on Mikako but Tsubasa understands how she feels because she wants to see Acchan again. She thinks Sensei-sensei might have the same thinking since he brought back the General Elections. There is one way they can save them and is to create another Centre Nova. Nagisa wants to take up this challenge and save Yuuko. Suzuko finds that there are no more websites on AKB0048. Have DES clammed down on it and fans bowed to their pressure? Suddenly the red alert goes off. A DES mothership has found them when they tried to established connections with Akibastar and were traced. DES launches its mini robots to attack them. The main ship is still damaged to it will take time for the hyperdrive to start up. The ship takes lots of damage and in a way it frees Mikako. She doesn’t hesitate to steal an LAS to fly away and escape. The rest are shocked that she intends to betray and report everything back to Zodiac but she buys time for the hyperdrive and fights back the DES machines. How can a single woman like her kick ass? Maybe it’s because she has a glowing Kirara and is singing. You don’t see DES doing that, right? That’s why all their missiles can’t reach her. Haha. But Mikako eventually takes a hit and resigns to her fate. Before she is going to be blown away, Takamina rescues her. Although she hasn’t forgiven her, they need all the allies they can get. With all the other girls lending their moral support, Mikako goes back with Takamina in time before their hyperjump.

Episode 10
The gang has landed on an alien planet. While the ship undergoes repairs, Tsubasa wants the girls to find out more about this planet. Nagisa talks to Chieri who is still bent on confronting her father. Nagisa tells about her own experience whereby her father initially was against her joining AKB0048. She showed how serious she was and now he is supporting her. She believes Chieri’s father will be like that too if she tells him her feelings. Orine and Yuuka are somewhat lost when a little alien creature (I thought it was Pokemon) fell into Orine’s arms. It takes a liking for her so Orine names it Mofufu. That night when everyone is sleeping in their camp, giant monsters attack them. However they leave the girls alone and only took back Mofufu. Orine wants to go save it but Tsubasa reminds her about their situation. They are running away from DES and once repairs are complete, they will leave this planet and thus not to do anything rash. However Orine won’t listen and goes off to find Mofufu along with her Lancastar friends. They see the aliens and at first Orine thought it was going to eat Mofufu when suddenly the place is under siege by DES. More precisely, Zodiac machines. Orine realizes that monster is Mofufu’s mother as it was trying to protect it. The girls research and find out this planet, Funghistar is inhabited by those peace loving monsters called Funghi. Because Funghistar has lots of dualium properties, it has become Zodiac’s mining ground. They did hideous tactics like taking Funghi offspring hostage to lure the adults out. They don’t care about the creatures and are just here for the crystal. It is no wonder they are aggravated when they see humans. AKB0048 reach the core that has a massive dualium crystal. It also serves as a healing place for the Funghi creatures. Orine tries to talk to them that they want to help them out. Seriously? Those Funghi don’t speak human language, girl.

Sayaka starts singing because if their words don’t reach them (obviously), their feelings through their songs might. When the girls start singing, I thought the Funghi seemed more aggravated than before. But when they see the little ones jumping in joy, the adults also join in and it feels funny to see them support the girls like idol fans. Zodiac machines are seen approaching and ready to attack so the girls get ready to fight back. Their singing causes the dualium and Kiraras to glow even brighter and more powerful. It is responding to their song and everyone becomes one with the planet. So great that a barrier is created and disables all of Zodiac’s machines! Tsubasa couldn’t believe her eyes when she thinks she saw Sensei-sensei in the dualium’s core. Orine now seems to be able to communicate with the Funghi. At least she knows what they are saying. They consider them their friends and give a dualium crystal to them. Tsubasa, Ushiyama and Mikako rewatch the resonance video again and realize it is the same power that Yuuko gave off. They realize the dualium reacted to their emotions to create a powerful barrier. If every member learns how to achieve maximum resonance with dualium, taking Akibastar back is possible. But when AKB0048 return, they say Nagisa and Chieri are missing. The duo have snuck on board a Zodiac ship that is returning to Sagitarriusstar. Chieri is taking up Nagisa’s advice to tell her father how she feels.

Episode 11
They sneak into Sagitarriusstar and Chieri knows moving around freely for them is impossible. So she calls Yasunaga and he drives them back to Chieri’s residence. The duo wait and relax in Chieri’s room while Yasunaga makes arrangement to see her father. Chieri somewhat knows they won’t see him soon because he has always busy with work. It’s the same when her mother and big brother died. She was always alone in this mansion and had servants as companions. Chieri first discovered AKB0048 when she accidentally peeked into her father’s PDA. She was enthralled with the footage and with Yasunaga’s help, she manages to obtain more of their clips. Chieri’s father one day took her to Lancastar as part of a routine inspection. That’s when she first met Nagisa and co. They become her first friends as she lets them know about AKB0048. We also saw them attending the guerrilla concert then and that was when Chieri wanted to become part of it. But after the concert in which a Kirara started following her, upon returning, her father knew she had attended the concert. Since she said it stopped glowing after the concert, her father dismisses her as no talent, reminding her that entertainment is prohibited and AKB0048 are terrorists. She tried to plead to him but was given the cold shoulder. When he is swamped with work, Chieri sang outside the room but breaks down since he totally ignored her. Her words didn’t reach him. However she had one fond memory of him. When she fell asleep outside after that, she noticed her father picking her up and bringing her back to her room. She felt his warmth. Although she was told that Yasunaga was the one who did it, she still believes it was her father. Suddenly Zodiac SPs barge into the room to take them into custody to see Chieri’s father. Do they need to do these to a pair of harmless girls? Well, AKB0048 is considered a terrorist unit, right? But as pointed out, this is to keep them in their custody so DES won’t find them.

Meanwhile Nagisa’s dad is brought to see Chieri’s father (recently he was given a position transfer to mining dualium). He read his report which is supported with facts that planets that do not enforce the Entertainment Ban have higher productivity than those without. He finds it fascinating. So after all that arrangement, Chieri only gets to talk to her father via video conferencing? Anyway, he has been observing her growth and is impressed with her talent. Chieri knows he only wants her to become Centre Nova so he could use her. That’s why he interfered and increased her popularity. He shows AKB0048’s ship hovering above Sagitarriusstar and can easily request for DES attack. Chieri warns her father not to lay a finger on Nagisa or AKB0048 and will do as he wants to become Centre Nova. He wants her to show her radiance and she will show her feelings to him. On her way, she sees Nagisa’s dad. She talks to him and feels envy the understanding parents Nagisa has. However he cautions her not to get the wrong idea. He never approved his daughter to join AKB0048 and believed the paths they walk were different. Despite so, they’ll never stop being a family. He tells Chieri that her father is a lonely man and doesn’t realize it. Despite hearing his twisted expression and revelling how his daughter will become Centre Nova, he feels he is just looking for somebody to walk beside him. Outside the door to her father’s office, Chieri starts singing as her radiance glows brighter. This is the radiance he has been looking for. Suddenly a gunshot is heard. She feels something is wrong. When Chieri opens the door, she is devastated to see her father lying in his own pool of blood and a bullet hole in the window. Nagisa and Chieri return to AKB0048’s ship as Nagisa consoles the latter, obviously very shaken at what happened.

Episode 12
The assassin still remains free and news spread about Zodiac’s CEO’s assassination. Chieri’s mental state is unstable and thus Tsubasa excludes her from participating in their operation to take back Akibastar. Kanata can understand what Chieri is feeling since she and Sonata lost their father. However this is no time to let emotions run high. They need to stay strong so each can achieve their Centre Nova radiance and make the dualium and Kiraras glow. Mamoru’s WOTA forces are hiding in Akibastar. The atmosphere is gloomy and the life from everyone’s eyes has vanished. Because they can’t afford to get into any skirmishes with DES, Kojiharu takes them underground where the rest are hiding out. Tomochin is sick as she notes how the people of Akibastar hate them thinking AKB0048 have abandoned them. She starts to glow. Tsubasa is furious seeing AKB0048 practice and gets riled up they can do better than that. She even starts dancing to show how it’s done. Everyone is amazed the Kiraras glow but for an old lady (sorry), she doesn’t have the stamina anymore. This gives the girls motivation to do better. So much so they radiate so much and they find themselves riding a train. They see a revitalized Akibastar. When they return back to consciousness, they realize this is the key to take back Akibastar. However Nagisa is still unconscious. And Chieri too. They are still on the dream train. Nagisa sees the familiar flight of stairs and on it is Yuuko with a very broken spirit. She is depressed that even though she saw Acchan and the other Centre Nova before her, she laments she can never reach them.

They wake up and tell the rest what is happening. Tsubasa thinks they must have seen AKB48 Theatre. Before Earth was destroyed, this small place in Akihabara, Japan was where AKB48 was born. Mikako suspects Yuuko didn’t complete her journey. Although she met the requirements to initiate as a Centre Nova, she failed to do so for disappearing as one. Say what? That important condition is a frighteningly powerful sense of unity that exceeds time and space. It is a sense of becoming one with everything. The way Yuuko disappeared was as if she was feeling alone, seeking refuge in isolation. Tsubasa prepares to jump back to Akibastar and signals to WOTA and the other AKB0048 members about their timing. Tomochin tells Tsubasa that she received a message from Sensei-sensei. The key to this operation is No Name. Nagisa apologizes to Chieri for being unable to do something for her. But Chieri has made her peace, realizing the thing she always wanted behind the door will never open if she gets consumed by darkness. With her composure back, she is confident to become Centre Nova to see what is behind that door. When AKB0048 ship jumps into Akibastar, the elected members right away go into concert mode. However all the people start throwing stones and telling them to leave, calling them traitors. Scary. I know DES’ brainwashing propaganda was swift when they take this planet but this is how far their loyalty goes? The girls are afraid and getting them to radiate seems tough now. Mikako realizes amplifying and uniting emotions also lie in the people’s heart so the dualium and Kiraras won’t react via the members alone. Everything will be futile if they can’t reach the people’s hearts. AKB0048 is sad that the once friendly people of Akibastar are now turning against them but Nagisa can’t stand and watch to end like this.

Episode 13
Despite it is a very demoralizing situation, AKB0048 still have hope in the people because it is their warmth that brought them this far. They continue to sing even if the people continue to tell them to leave. Meanwhile Yuuko sees Acchan. The latter explains all Centre Novae were summoned by Sensei-sensei, more accurately the collective unconsciousness of all living things channelled through Kirara and integrated through dualium. If entertainment disappears, people’s hearts will remain in darkness. That’s why the collective unconscious formed through dualium resonance has gathered the Centre Novae in this space outside time so that the depths of humanity’s unconsciousness will never be lost. They are the light of hope and if that light disappears, people’s hearts will be swallowed by darkness. Acchan wants Yuuko and the rest to defend that in reality but Yuuko feels she can’t do it otherwise she will never be able to sing by her side or surpass her. Acchan hugs her and shows what is going on at Akibastar now. Despite all the abuses the people hurl at Nagisa, she tries to tell them that all they want is to sing and show their love. Even if they hate them, please do not hate songs and entertainment. Nagisa suddenly radiates so bright that everyone thought they see Acchan in her. Nagisa starts having fever, the kind when there is going to be a succession. DES enforces break through the barrier. While WOTA keeps them at bay, AKB0048 continue to keep singing. Everyone is surprised that the portal opens and Yuuko comes flying out to join them singing. Yuuko communicates back to Tsubasa that Acchan told her the disappeared Centre Nova are illuminating the shadows of the heart. It is now their job to illuminate the present. She has Mikako project all her photographs she took to the audience. It is then the people realize they love Akibastar. Nagisa notes even if everyone hates them, AKB0048 will never hate them. Nagisa’s Kirara shines so bright that everybody returns to support AKB0048 while calling Nagisa as Acchan.

DES forces continue to attack. A DES member almost raped Suzuko but she was saved by Chieri. At first she was brimmed with anger thinking how her father was killed. But she calms down and starts singing. The DES member who was afraid of being cut down by her sees her light and starts believing in her! Woah! She converted him just by singing! That is a much effective way and what AKB0048 is about, right? They’re here to sing and show their love. We get a rare moment between Yuuka and Mamoru (before we forget there was romance between them). Yuuka was blown out of the sky but Mamoru catches her. He vows to always protect her and almost kissed. If it makes her radiate greater, he will always watch over her. Chieri’s singing continues to convert more DES members to see the light! So great her radiance that she is giving off that resonance of a Centre Nova. The main DES battleship receives orders to capture her or eliminate her before her power grows big. The battleship crashes into Akibastar ready to capture Chieri at all cost. Chieri says they are going to use everyone’s emotions to stop DES. Chieri and Nagisa fly towards the battleship as they could feel not only the people’s emotions but those throughout the universe resonating inside them. The DES crew are stunned to see the beauty of their radiance. So now do you believe in them? Not just a single DES battleship but every one of them retreated! All hail the power of idols! Thanks to the emotions of the people who love peace and entertainment, bolstered by countless nameless emotions, the girls sang with radiance and will herald in a new era. All the Kiraras light up Akibastar like a starry filled sky and form the constellation of hope. In the aftermath, peace has returned to Akibastar and the place is rebuilt. Although the battle with DES continues, AKB0048 continues to sing with their hearts to their fans. Chieri has become the new Centre Nova while Nagisa has officially succeeded Acchan.

The Brightest Star In The Sky: Idols!
I guess this season was pretty decent although I felt the ending could have been better. Really. I thought I would see AKB0048 turn DES into an idol loving and supporting organization but I suppose it would be unrealistic to defeat an organization that big and with so many anti-entertainment people around, it is going to take a long time even if they can pull off a miracle. Let’s look at it this way. It would be cool and a happy ending for everyone in the universe if entertainment lovers and haters would end this silly war and start enjoying the shows idols put up. But without DES around, the idols wouldn’t probably have worked so hard and pushed themselves to radiate as brightly as we see them. Not to say that they will slack or laze around without DES, but there won’t be that motivation and fire to push themselves to the limits. You know, humans work best when they are pushed to a corner and during strife. It brings out the best and also the worst. That’s why it is partly thanks to them that AKB0048 exists. Thanks to them, people under such strict laws know the meaning of hope in which otherwise many would have taken granted for.

Even so, this season is still entertaining in its own right because we have the short trial of a handful of AKB0048 members, a stray visit to an ancient planet with equally strange native creatures (watching them dance along with the idols was pretty hilarious – it’s like watching your pet dog or cat getting jiggy with it, no?) and an all-out battle between AKB0048 and DES enforces on Akihabara. It was shocking for a while to see that the fans for the moment started turning their backs on AKB0048. I know they’ve been brainwashed by DES but I thought all the love that they have built up was just washed away in that instant. It is understandable they may have felt ditched and that they may have not understood the situation of why AKB0048 had to flee and look like cowards abandoning the people, but doesn’t that show how shallow their belief and faith for them? So what you’ve been a Chieri fan for ages, attending every event, getting every memorabilia on her and even gotten up close to shake her hand whenever there is such chance. Their sudden return at the wrong time when the mood is gloomy may be provocative. But can’t they tell which is better? To have the idols doing their lively performance or continuing to live with the gloom? The people of Akibastar should know better. They’ve been living on a planet that is never short of idol entertainment and to reject them means they prefer the harsh Taliban-like conditions of DES? Come on. Think, man. And entertainment believed as some sort of ritual to the Gods? Wow. I don’t think I ever saw that coming. But I can understand a little better why Shamans or native Indians do some crazy dance every time they need to communicate with the other world. I hope my stinky lame dance didn’t just summon some sort of mischievous or perverted God…

Although there is no word if there will be another season, it isn’t really the end for AKB0048 and the rest of the aspiring idols. With Chieri now as the new Centre Nova, does this mean Yuuko has relinquished hers? I suppose so because as far as I can see, there can only be one Centre Nova position at one time. Unless you’re telling me by some miracle there are two. That would defeat the purpose, right? I also guess that to end the season so as not to let Chieri hog the limelight, they gave something to Nagisa too seeing that from the start of this series, I have a feeling that it would have something to do with both of them. So whether you are a fan of Chieri or Nagisa, I guess both end up having good tidings with the former as the new Centre Nova while the latter succeeding all-time fan favourite Acchan. Even though I am satisfied with the explanation of the disappearing Centre Novae, it’s not that I fully understand. So let me get this straight. They didn’t really vanish into the other world. More like, they become one with the universe and everything and are everywhere. So even in the deepest darkest of shadows, they’ll be singing and giving hope to everyone. Just one problem. Why didn’t their voice reach DES and all those anti-entertainment people? Maybe their hate is too strong? But as shown by Chieri, it is not impossible to convert those whom they have directly come into contact. Even Nagisa’s dad is seen cheering for her at her concert in the end. So all is not lost. People do change and can change. Although some may need more convincing than others and maybe there has to be the need of contact. Seeing is believing. In that case, AKB0048 should hold more guerrilla concerts at DES headquarters. Nip the problem in the bud, I’d say.

The only thing that still bugged me was who shot Chieri’s father. Was it an act orchestrated by DES? It is confirmed that he is really dead (and not a hoax – Yasunaga was paying a tribute at his tomb in the final end credits) and though it is heart wrenching for a daughter to see her father die before her eyes, I’m glad Chieri grew stronger out of it. Whether or not Zodiac had her hand in skyrocketing her popularity, one thing is for sure. Her fans love her true blue and this is something she cannot deny. With each of the idols having their own set of fans, the love between idols and fans are reciprocal. They exist because of each other. How can you be an idol without fans? How can there be fans if there is no idol? You love me, I love you. There’s lots of love to go around so don’t be too stingy with it, eh? ;p. Besides, an idol’s job is to sing and entertain her fans and not to fight against authority. Leave it to WOTA for that part.

Animes with too many characters and shorter number of episodes would definitely have a hard time trying to flesh them all out. So for this season, I think they try to give some decent time to the rest of the Understudies. For instance they focus the spotlight on Mimori and turning her into a Successor. Last season Kanata took most of the spotlight share at the end so from what I can see here, she is just minor. Same case I feel for Suzuko, Sonata and Yuuka. It felt they were just negligible. Then they also give single episode focus on Makoto and Orine. Despite that, I still feel that it is just so that Chieri and Nagisa do not hog all the screen time. After all, the Understudies of No Name did start out as the 9 of them. I still love Makoto and forgive me if I sound like a sadist because her clumsiness and pessimism gives her character and is what makes her funny. Because she is not ‘afraid’ to show those negative traits, it gives other losers inspiration and hope. So she’s not all that useless as she think she is. So being a negative clown too has its advantages. Hey. Am I turning into a Makoto fan? Just her antics… The other amusing Understudy is Sonata because of the way she gives her weird nicknames. Put her together with Makoto and you’ve got a manzai comedy duo. If only Sonata had more impact in this season…

The other characters are also okay. Yuuko is given more prominence among the rest of the Successors since she became Centre Nova but had to shortly disappear temporarily after that. Because of that, I felt the rest of the Successors are there just to show face. Like I said, too many members, not enough time for them to show us their love ;p. Tsubasa and Ushiyama play great support to the girls but of course the idols shine because of their own efforts and determination. Casting Mikako initially as a villain, I thought it was just a slight distraction. She’s not actually a bad person, just that she is misguided and obsessed in bringing back Acchan and the rest from the other world in which they are not familiar with. Chieri’s father may also seem like a villain since he is obsessed with making his daughter shine so he could get his hands on the dualium, it is sad that we don’t get to see father and daughter reconcile or if ever deep down in his heart he sees Chieri as a daughter and not an object. As cold as he is ever, Chieri believed he once display the warmth of a father even though it was for a short while. We would like to believe it too. But seeing the way how it tragically ended, let’s just keep believing it was like that.

As we have seen, despite the strict entertainment ban in some of the planets, there are those in the top levels who flout the rules in secrecy. And they do it without shame. I guess it’s to make us feel disgust and even more hatred for these kind of low lives. Then again, you can’t stoop too low to their level and return that hatred with hatred. It might be a long shot but it is not impossible to fight hatred with love. If only these people knew the warmth and love like these idols have shown, maybe they would come to understand better. So seeing that they enjoy entertainment in secrecy, why not stop being a hypocrite and abolish the entertainment ban? I figure that if entertainment is like a rare commodity, it can only be truly ‘appreciated’ if it is enjoyed by a selected few and not by everyone of the public. Where would the ‘fun’ be if everyone enjoys the same thing? There is also this great feeling of being in power and ultimate control when you see others in misery while knowing in the comfort of your own seat you are enjoying something that others can’t. That’s why it won’t be surprising even in the real world to find leaders being caught red handed in some scandal, a total opposite of what they preach.

Although this season features much more songs from AKB48, somehow I just don’t them as appealing as they were as from the first season. Take for instance, the opening theme, Aruji Naki Sono Koe by No Name. Although sounds like their trademark typical pop, it lacks the oomph and excitement that I heard in the first season’s Kibou Ni Tsuite. I believe my taste in music is not that sophisticated either. Similarly, this season’s main ending theme, Kono Namida Wo Kimi Ni Sasagu also by No Name, despite being a slow rock, I feel it doesn’t do better than last season’s Yume Wa Nando Demo Umarekawaru. But it isn’t that bad. Just that I didn’t find it appealing enough for it to hum in my head for days or weeks (and on and off a few months down the road) as much as its predecessor themes. Although some insert songs of AKB48 like Heavy Rotation, Beginner, Aitakatta and Shoujotachi Yo that were featured in last season are also featured again here, there are more new insert songs like Blue Rose, Chance No Juban, Korogaru Ishi Ni Nare, Oogoe Diamond, Pioneer and Ue Kara Mariko. As usual, I’m not a big AKB48 fan so they sound just rather okay. Typical lively idol songs that almost sound the same. Please don’t hate me.

The ultimate lesson of this story is perhaps love conquers all. Even so, do it in moderation. Because too much love turns you into an obsessed stalker and that is just plain creepy. I would really love to see the day when we could really stop all the fighting and wars just by singing as a ‘weapon’. You move hearts and emotions with the power of words and love instead of force and bloodshed.  If you can’t change the heart, then probably you can’t change the mind either. Till then, idols for the time being are just perhaps through a cynic’s view, some money making phenomenon or fame seeking opportunist. So many idols produced today but how many can live in our hearts memorably for the rest of our lives and for many generations to come? Is this what entertainment for the future has become? By the way, the ticket for a concert still costs a bomb. You got to break your bank just to attend one of those concerts. No money = no idol love :'(. That’s just sad and tragic.

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