If you can’t get enough of your low cost idols, whoops, I mean local idols, you will be glad to know that there are a couple more episodes to satiate your appetite, Futsuu No Joshikousei Ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita OVA. Yeah, because super large and famous groups like AKB48 (and all their other moniker spin-offs) and those super sexy K-pop girl groups are just so far out of reach and overwhelming for insignificant fans for us to keep up. So what a better way to continue giving our appreciation to small local units with the same big love we always have for them in the same way other fanatics and hardcores and diehards would for their gigantic untouchable angels.

Episode 14
Nagarekawa Girls are holing a Christmas fair at a local shopping centre. The crowd just loves teasing Nanako… At the backstage, Nanako is surprised that everyone holds a birthday surprise for Yukari. Isn’t her birthday on the day after tomorrow on Christmas? Yes but the staffs can only meet her after Christmas. So on Christmas Eve Nanako tries to go buy a present for Yukari but couldn’t decide on any. She sees Yukari shopping there with her friend and can’t help but spy on them. Afterwards Nanako meets up with her friends for their own Christmas Eve party. They exchange presents and recount stories how they first met in school and became friends. Meanwhile Yukari is having a high class Christmas Eve party with her family and other clients while Mirai joins Yui at her home. Before midnight, Nanako plans to surprise Yukari by dropping by in a Santarina outfit. But bad luck ensues. Yukari didn’t answer her door, Nanako realizes she left her handphone at her friend’s place and not to mention she brought the wrong present! Oh, she finally realizes that Santarina outfit is too thin and since it is snowing, it’s just freaking chilly. Hey, at least she wasn’t stopped by any policeman on patrol thinking she might be some sort of hentai weirdo. Slipping and landing on her butt ends her misery because Yukari is seen coming back. She ushers her into her apartment and after Nanako tells her happy birthday, she breaks down in happiness. They have their own little party and since it is late, Nanako stays for the night. Sorry people, no tantalizing yuri scenes. Next morning, Nanako’s friends along with Mirai and Yui arrive at Yukari’s place to celebrate her birthday. Another round of partying. I hope they won’t get fat at this rate. They watch the beautiful snow covering the town during sunset and renew their motivation to do better and more events and shoots for the coming year. Nanako then realizes she forgot to call her mom that she would be staying here. Don’t worry. Yukari already did that last night. Nanako is left to ponder why Yukari is on good terms with her mom. And she won’t tell.

Episode 15
Nanako is impressed the PV Awa Awa Girls made on TV. But she doesn’t believe Nagarekawa Girls will ever get to do one. You know how irony works, right? Because suddenly she gets a message from her uncle that they’re going to do a PV. Damn. The rest of the girls also get the message and since they have no idea how to do a PV, they decide to call Awa Awa Girls and get some hints. Basically, lots of hard work and difficult stuffs but the rewards at the end are satisfying. Well, don’t freak out so much, Nanako. No job is worth doing if you don’t put in the effort. So when they get their briefing from Saori, they realize all they have to do is wear their uniform and go around shooting video clips of the town. That doesn’t sound so PV. Then uncle explains they are shooting more of a PR video that will shoot gourmet spots that will sell the town. So apparently typed wrongly PR for PV? Are we supposed to be disappointed or relief? So as they go about their usual shooting, uncle gets this feeling that they are stiff and something is missing although the girls have been doing their usual. Guess what? He lets them think on their own and come up with ideas! WTF?! How irresponsible can he get?! Don’t blame them if it comes out something crappy. Like Yukari’s idea of focusing on Nanako’s cuteness. Nothing about Nagarekawa. Or like Nanako’s idea of being saved from drowning, eating cake and remembering a certain place in Nagarekawa. That would only make people remember about the girls and not the town. Tough, right? A bunch of kids see Nagarekawa Girls filming and interact with them about their shooting. Then they realize Nagarekawa Girls interacting with its citizens is the charm. So they go around shooting at various local tourist spots before editing the final cut. On the day their video is supposed to be released, turns out it will be simulcast worldwide. It turns out to be a big music video. Well, everyone we see is singing the theme song. So part MTV, part documentary, part trailer and part advertising. Yeah, it feels like a mix of all that. And this cheesy tagline at the end: Good town, good people, Nagarekawa! Ugh… Yukari and Nanako wonder the impact of their worldwide broadcast. You know it is successful when a couple of foreigners come to town and instantly recognize them. Welcome to Nagarekawa! Wow. Absolutely flawless English.

They Really Tried To Keep Up The Hype
Well, if you are really a fan of the series and Nagarekawa Girls, only you can appreciate this couple of episodes. Otherwise if you are like me, there is nothing really special except to see Nagarekawa Girls going about their usual routine but in a different theme. A Christmas and PV setting this time. It offers nothing new so if you are really expecting something different, prepare to be disappointed. It’s basically almost the same formula. You get your nearly intimate Yukari x Nanako scene in the first OVA and with the second one it is to remind us this is what they’ve been doing in the TV series. And Nanako still keeps mispronouncing her own name on stage due to her nervousness and everyone is like laughing about it because it has become a staple running joke. Overall the OVAs feel like an extension to the TV series just that these episodes are set almost a year apart from each other. Yeah, they’re really trying to keep the interest alive, huh?

Sure, I can consider this series to be one of those calming and soothing animes without all that violence and sex or other controversial stuffs that a majority of them are these days. However there was nothing really that special to tug my heart that would make me consider so. Heck, it even took me a while after finishing watching the OVAs to make me realize if I should consider this as the same level like Non Non Biyori, Tamayura and more recently Flying Witch. You see, the latter duo might be as boring as f*ck too when you look on a general level. But at least there was something underneath all that boringness that appealed to me. Non Non Biyori had the countryside simplicity and a certain eccentric loli. Tamayura had splendid sceneries. Flying Witch, uhm, light hearted magic? But as far as Locodol is concerned, nothing of that sort tugs my heart. I’m sorry to say this but they still haven’t converted me into a fan of theirs as I find them unexciting and bland. Yeah, I’m just watching for nostalgia’s sake.

So what is only new is the opening theme, Rainbow Baton by Nagarekawa Girls (but of course) as well as the first ending theme, Seinau Yoru Ni and the second ending theme, Seishun Say Cheese. Both are sung by the main quartet girls. They’re pretty decent as an anime pop but nothing that attracts me. So while these OVAs aren’t that bad and they are one of the few safest animes to watch, it all boils down to if you want to see a bunch of cute girls promoting their town with an equally cute (or is it creepy) humanoid fish character. Well, there is one way they could evoke my interests again and by 100%. Just dress up as maids! And you can bet they’ll have all my attention in the world. They don’t really need to try that hard then.

Have you ever had dreams of wanting to be some super mega world famous idol? The kind that you see Japan and South Korea churning out in the past few years? Oh yeah. Super stardom and fame. Super idols, who wouldn’t love them and love to be them? But what happens if you can’t make it this big? Well, don’t worry. Your dream of being an idol is still intact and you can start by being a locodol. Eh? What you say? Locodols. You know, local idols. I suppose instead of reaching international heights so high that you can’t see your own hometown, perhaps it is sometimes a good idea to have locodols that ordinary Joes and Janes can admire and fawn over. Well, you got to start small and from somewhere, right? Uh huh. Sometimes when super idols grow too big, they’re untouchable to ordinary fans. That’s why you have locodols to touch your hearts locally and still provide the same idol performance and execution. Albeit at a smaller and local pace. And thus this anime, Futsuu No Joshikousei Ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita showcases of a small locodol unit of a small sleepy town made out of high school girls. They do the best they can in providing a little entertainment for the locals. But will what they do reach the eyes of the national and international level? Only time will tell.

When I first heard the term locodol, it felt really odd because just hearing and looking at this ‘new term’ itself feels funny. I took the liberty to even deduce what it could have meant. Firstly, idols that promote trains! I mean, locomotive idols, right? Choo, choo! And then it could also mean… Low cost idols! Oh sh*t! I think this is somewhat almost true if you watch this series. It would have been amusing if this term was really used if not in this anime but another spin-off or something. You don’t need expensive and fancy things to be famous idols, right? That is why you have cost saving and thus low cost idols the give you high quality entertainment! Oh yeah. Lastly, I might be crazy thinking about this term: Crazy idols! Loco is a Spanish word for crazy. Wild idols that you will love or loath! Idols that cause controversy and chaos wherever they go, rebelling against establishment but the public loves them. Ah, we can’t have these type of idols as role models, can’t we? So before I lose myself in more of what locodols could mean, let’s get back to the anime shall we?

Episode 1
Kids have it all these days. Nanako Usami is asking mother for money to buy a new swimsuit and doesn’t want to work for it. Even if the simplest job pays the cheapest, she’s still complaining. So of course she tells this ‘problem’ to her friends and since her budget is around 2000 Yen, the friends agree to go help look for one after school. Being apart from her friends also weighs heavily on Nanako’s mind since most of them have their own activities and they can’t spend time as much as they want like they used to. When she returns home, her uncle, Mitsugu Oota who is a public servant pays a visit and he has brought lots of local souvenirs of Nagarekawa like soda pop and pudding. And entire fridge of pudding? Overload. Since her uncle is in charge of revitalizing this little town, he thinks he has the perfect job for Nanako. A thousand yen per hour for only 2 hours at an event at the public pool. You up for it? She is quite interested and even asks for payment upfront. In exchange she better work harder. That’s the problem with kids like her who didn’t even ask what kind of job she is doing until the day itself. Seems she will be a locodol, a local idol. Uncle believes that with other towns having their own attractions, Nagarekawa will be left with only old people and kids when the young ones flock to other towns. So to make Nagarekawa into a local attraction, locodols are needed! He wants Nanako to become one. She can’t walk out of it now since she is paid in advance. Plus, he reads out Nanako’s dream of wanting to become an idol and change Japan’s future! As expected, a rookie like Nanako doesn’t know what to do. Don’t worry. Yukari Kohinata is a veteran and she is nice enough to cover for Nanako’s nervousness when the camera crew is here to interview them. The girls go out to introduce themselves for the opening event of the pool’s remodelling. Nanako is nervous enough to fumble on her own name. Nanyako? Sounds cute… As they introduce the new attractions of the place, Nanako continues to be nervous and mixes up her cue cards. The crowd is seen losing interest and some of them are starting to leave. It is suggested to them that they sing. Just sing anything! Yukari gets it going by singing the local anthem. When Nanako joins her, this brings back the crowd’s interest. In the end, the crowd loves it. Next day, Nanako wakes up thinking all that yesterday was just a dream. Nope. Her face is all over TV! She finds Yukari is a second year in her school and she looks forward working with her in the future. Yukari wants Nanako to deal away with the formalities and not treat her like a stranger. After all, partners are like families.

Episode 2
Yukari and Nanako are doing a news for a local pest control. Nanako messes up and wants to do a retake. Sorry, this is live. This locodol job might be getting tiring after a week. At first her family and friends were excited but then you know, it becomes a normal thing. Wondering if this is really helping the community, she asks Yukari about it. Although she is not sure, she knows nothing beats making them happy. They’ll figure it out along the way. On another job that promotes a local sweets store, Nanako becomes worried that if she says the wrong thing and sends the wrong impression, it will be her fault if the store closes down. Calm down. Try eating the food first. Nanako’s expressions don’t lie when she tastes the glorious fillings. She is so naturally herself that she forgot she is still on the air. Oh… This food reporting airs daily so Nanako is forced to do it otherwise uncle hints she can’t continue to go to school anymore. Later Nanako calls Yukari to thank her and praises for her calmness and everything. Yukari believes Nanako was so convincing in tasting the food that it made her feel of wanting to try some. One day, Nanako heads over to Yukari’s place to discuss their team’s name outfit. You’d be surprised how rich this Yukari girl is. She has the entire floor to herself. Even stepping out of the lift, Nanako gets a personal welcome from her. Nanako flusters upon spotting a yuri manga she is reading. Is she into this kind of things? Yukari treats her to so much stuffs that they might actually forget why they are here. As they try to come up with a name, Nanako can tell from Yukari’s actions that she is like a girl excited that a friend is over for the first time. Actually she is. She practised and baked all those cakes from scratch so that they could have a good time. Yukari thinks she is not as composed Nanako thinks she is. Nanako suggests they just talk casual things instead of work. In the end, they had a great time. When the duo go collect their pay, Nanako is surprised it only covers basic wages. Seems they don’t get paid for TV work and it is treated as volunteerism. Their contract only has them paid hourly wage for concerts, product distribution and TV appearances. Though it pains Nanako, there is some a little extra. The sweets store manager has written a letter of appreciation to them. Their earnestness reached him. A token of gratitude is always the best reward. Oh look, he delivered boxes of free sweets to them. Looks like they are going to get fat…

Episode 3
The duo will be getting a new partner. A mascot? What the heck is this blue blob with a scary fish behind its back?! Uogokoro is its name and looks like uncle made it their community’s mascot. Can’t he come up with something better? Oh, a lot of funding has been received so it will be a lot of trouble if this flops so it is up to the locodols to make it popular. Nanako scolds her uncle that their outfits are cheaper than this mascot. Where’s the budget?! The girls introduce Uogokoro on stage and it impresses the crowd with its back flips. However its voice changer is slightly broken and this scares some of the crowd. The girls convince the crowd it is not feeling a little well. During the break, they find Uogokoro is manned by a petite girl, Yui Mikoze. She is actually their senior in school. She gets nervous when people look at her, thus the reason she took up this mascot job. Yui laments all she can do is back flips and will never become an idol. However she is glad for their cover. Despite Yui is their senior, in the job industry she believes she is their junior. She wants to go buy them drinks and when she lets loose her mascot outfit, she has a very well endowed body. Back at school, Nanako learns their unit has been called Nagarekawa Girls. Has she read the online stuffs and local newsprint? Too embarrassed to read about herself. She learns they were called something else but her uncle managed to plead it down to this so just be grateful. On another job, Nanako’s friends, Shouko Noda and Satsuki Kashiwaba drop by to support and check on how she is doing. Noda is not impressed with the progress made and at this rate people will only remember their lameness. But they start to be in awe when they meet Yukari. At first the friends laugh at their group’s name but Yukari hopes they’ll stay to watch or they’ll regret it because Nanako stands out more than her. For once, Nanako’s uncle bought a decent uniform dress with the budget for the girls. They are doing fine with their stuff on stage and even perfectly sing Uogokoro’s theme song. Then it starts to rain and everyone disperses to take shelter. What now? Nanako becomes bold and starts stripping and does the same on Yukari. Don’t worry, they’re wearing swimsuits underneath. I guess the guys just love it. Hey, if the girls are already wet, are you going to stay dry? No sexual innuendoes intended. The event ends on a high note. See, even the rain stops. Later Nanako apologizes for getting Yukari caught up into this. No hard feelings. It’ll be her turn to strip her the next time. Noda and Satsuki are impressed with Nanako’s performance as they text their other friends to go see her perform the next time.

Episode 4
There is news that a stalker or pervert is around with incidents of idol dresses being stolen from dressing rooms. Nanako got a fright when she thought Yukari could be one because she was following her from the train station and even picked up her gym clothes she forgot. At the studio, Nanako thought she saw a stalker in their dressing room. She panics and even misspoke her words (telling Yukari in the face she is a pervert). When they return, the said pervert is nowhere as Nanako’s uncle comes in to introduce Saori Nishifukai who will replace him as their new manager. As they are shooting at a river bank, Nanako got a bit stressed worrying about the pervert so Saori calms her down and assures that the staff will do everything they can to protect them. So forget about the pervert and focus on her job to have a heartfelt smile on her face. Back home, it is revealed that Saori could be the biggest fan-cum-stalker of Nagarekawa Girls as she has lots of photos on them as well as lots of outfits she would love them to try. She begged Nanako’s uncle for it and got the job. Nanako is surprised to see pictures of her uploaded to their website. Yukari tries to brainwash her that she is a cute idol. Later Saori hands them all the fan mails that she has been keeping. Talking about the website, it seems Saori knows a great deal about it. The girls point out the suspicious photo shots uploaded like as though it is from the point of a perverted man. They wonder the kind of person who could only take those shots and present at all their events. Someone like Saori. Saori can ask the website operator to shut it down but the girls love it since the site is interesting. At the department store, a group of kids recognize Nanako and Yukari as locodols although for the wrong reasons. Noting they are getting more fans but have a long way to go, the duo decide to perform Uogokoro’s theme much to their delight. Even the store’s mascot is supporting them. Later they realize was in that mascot (she’s doing a part time job) since it was like it knew every move they made. Saori calls Nanako about that guerrilla performance and hopes to inform them next time or else they can’t protect them. Yukari believes they should inform her and everyone properly the next time because they are all on the same team.

Episode 5
After another successful event, Saori reminds the girls about their true goal as locodols to promote public relations with the rest of the world. This has the girls start thinking about the need to promote themselves externally. Part of the discussion has them state what they want to be in the future. No, Yukari being close to Nanako doesn’t sound like it. On a serious side, Yukari wants to study abroad while Yui is saving up to be a voice actress. Nanako is so impressed with their goals that although she doesn’t think deeply about hers like them, it brings back traumatic memories about her dream to become an idol. They decide their next goal is to appear on national TV and what do you know? Saori calls them to say she has just entered them in the National Cute and Loose Character Field Day which airs over national TV. Goal achieved? Feeling nervous already? Nanako becomes a little celebrity when her friends find out she is going to appear on national TV. At the studio, Yukari tries out Uogokoro’s suit but she’s too tall for it. Although this new suit is lighter, it is at the expense of the voice changer (don’t even talk about the cost). This means they cannot communicate and how are they going to promote their town? It is suggested the duo will become the interpreter. That way they will get more screen time too. Killing 2 birds with 1 stone. The girls visit Yodel Hall to try their signature tanuki cake. Yukari and Yui are ‘merciless’ in ‘slicing’ it up but it is too cute for Nanako to do so. How will she ever eat it? Later they pass by the local river in which Yui narrates a very deep back story and historical background of the town and how the mascot came about and what it represents. You get all that Nanako? Feels like a history class, doesn’t it? More insights when she learns the fish is actually the real worship object and official character (it even has a name – Mulder). Yukari even adds on to the meaning behind Uogokoro’s design and all. They are going to pray to a local god for victory but Yukari points out a little ugly statue next to a mini shrine. This is the god of luck and named Biliken from America? Oh dear. I’m so lost. Why is Nanako trying to speak English? Biliken tries his best to make others happy, just like their job. Therefore they should focus on entertaining people rather than winning. But the budget still weighs heavily on Nanako’s mind and as they pray, Yukari and Yui’s are typical of wishing happiness, fun and smiles but Nanako just prays this whole damn thing resolves itself without having their salaries cut. She’s being realistic, right?

Episode 6
The National Cute and Loose Character Field Day is here. Nanako is going to experience shock when she sees the people underneath those mascot suits. Middle aged men… The locodols have their screen time in introducing their local specialty. Nanako is already so nervous about messing up on national TV and losing out to others that she is close to being broken. Wanting to strip? Yukari calms her down and says that they just need to be themselves. Of course she already messed up her lines and stuttered her name. It’s all going on national TV… Before the mascot games begin, Nanako notices that some mascots are slightly altered. Especially that Tamahosshi. The real mascot doesn’t have such a muscular body, didn’t it? Well, Uogokoro is also altered and made lighter, right? The games begin. Uogokoro got lucky in the sumo match. Uogokoro actually trips but the opponent is clumsier and trips out of the ring. The obstacle race, the mascots are bulky with odd parts and cannot traverse obstacles easily unlike Uogokoro and this allowed the blue blob to finish first. For the tug of war, Uogokoro wins on default since the opponent is an old guy and hurt his hip after bending down. This projects a rumour that Uogokoro brings bad luck to others and the harbinger of death! Of course Yui is concerned that they will have a bad reputation. Nanako cheers her that at least they’re getting more screen time. In the tag match, all the mascots that lost to Uogokoro give their support via hand signal. Wow. Understood so well. It’s like a translator wasn’t needed in the first place. During the break, the girls wonder why Yui’s altered suit hasn’t produced good results like the rest. Saori reminds them that if they wanted to win, they would have altered it greatly. The reason the electronics were removed was for her safety. It would be great trouble if something were to happen to her. The enlightened girls are motivated to do their best and not think about winning. In the final sumo match with Tamahosshi, Uogokoro does a back flip on him and wins. Although overall, Tamahosshi wins the championship and Uogokoro came in fourth. Although Yui gets scolded by Saori for doing something so dangerous, nevertheless she is glad that the TV is highlighting her for she is the only one to defeat the overall champion. Later Tamahosshi congratulates them and is impressed they are just young girls. Nanako’s uncle picks them up and it seems they did win an award for fighting spirit. Saori can’t help herself to take pictures of them sleeping.

Episode 7
Tonight is the national broadcast of National Cute and Loose Character Field Day. Nanako isn’t really looking forward to it. Because mom bought a sophisticated recorder set. So everyone is nervously waiting for it to air. Nanako is flustering a lot when she debuts. However she is busy responding mails from her friends to watch. I wonder how they can watch and text together. Yui’s family is watching too but when it comes to the crucial part, their power trips. Everybody was leaving their whatever appliances running. As for Yukari, her family has an important event and she has to attend it. Don’t worry, she recorded it but when she replays it, she was so tired that she slept through. So the technically the trio didn’t actually watch it live. Well, they can watch the replay, right? Their national debut has made them little celebrities in school. On a day of another locodol event, Nanako thought Yui is already inside Uogokoro. Suddenly here Yui is. OMG. How on Earth? Her sister? She has no sister. I don’t think this show is going as far about cloning. So once everybody calms down, Yui explains inside Uogokoro is her understudy. Nanako jumps to conclusion that Yui is going to leave her job! Wow. She’s really crying. As really explained, because Uogokoro’s popularity has increased, this means more demand for its appearance. To ease the burden on Yui, another person is hired to play Uogokoro. This is the advantage of a mascot as you can change the player. The newbie is Mirai Nazukari, a fellow student from their school and from the acting club. Ironically a person from the acting club, shy? Although Mirai is nervous on her first job, she does well as she loves to deal with children. With Mirai behind the suit, Yui is free to provide the voiceover for Uogokoro. While Nanako and Yukari man a stall selling Nagarekawa goods, a girl from Tokyo visits them. She came to visit this town because she saw on TV how they promoted their town well. This makes them happy and they couldn’t be happier when she buys a bunch of souvenirs. Looking forward for your continued support.

Episode 8
Mirai is still shy towards Nanako and Yukari. Nanako learns Mirai and Noda went to the same middle school. Noda describes Mirai as a person with good grades and good in singing. She makes guesses that Mirai just joined Nagarekawa Girls. Either a trio or replace Nanako. Just kidding! To get further acquainted with her, Nanako takes Mirai to a karaoke joint. However they’re both too humble in letting the other sing first. Mirai couldn’t really decide and when Nanako starts singing Uogokoro’s theme, their session time is up. During a meeting with Saori for their next event, she notes Mirai’s soft spoken nature and needs to speak louder as she will have to handle movements and voice together the next time. Somehow Nanako is made to guide Mirai and become Uogokoro’s appraiser. Well, she isn’t exactly a good teacher as Mirai has a hard time trying to guess the nuances Nanako is making. On the way back, Nanako considers them as friends and for the first time Mirai is able to call her first name. However the loud speaker overshadowed everything so she didn’t hear a thing. As the training continues, Mirai’s movements of Uogokoro still aren’t there. This has her think she is not cut out to be the mascot. Because in the acting club she doesn’t stand out and just does work behind the stage. She gets an idea to do Uogokoro’s iconic back flip. Unfortunately she sprains her ankle. She gets scolded by Saori for doing it because although it is popular with kids, they are fast to mimic it. Her ankle cannot heal in time so Yui had to do both shifts, in which she is fine with. Mirai observes Yui’s movements. During the break, Mirai notices a kid watching and prevents Yui from taking off the suit. Yui thanks her for not ruining a kid’s dream and it is her attentive and considerate points that make her good person to play Uogokoro. Yui almost collapses from exhaustion. Mirai suggests taking over as she feels her ankle is healed. Mirai goes out and becomes perfect as Uogokoro. So much so that Nanako and Yukari are surprised to find her behind the suit instead of Yui. The biggest question bugging Nanako is if Yui is going to continue as Uogokoro once she graduates? Although she’ll have to retire eventually, she still can keep working while attending training school. She enjoys being with them and don’t intend to quit for now.

Episode 9
Nanako confronts her uncle wanting to clarify if he is doing something illegal! Because she heard from Noda about the ‘conspiracy’ that the locodols are all from the same school. Well, there is no other girls’ school in town. Plus, there is a reason why uncle chose her. Can she handle the truth? Here goes… She lacks feminine appeal and thus a safe bet. Shock? Surprise? Nagarekawa Girls and Uogokoro are in a day-long event that commemorates the train station’s anniversary. Nanako is introduced to Yukari’s grandpa. Does he look familiar? He was the former mayor. Holy cow! Don’t even recognize your own ex-mayor? Because Yukari has been handling the emcee stuffs, Nanako fears that if something happens to her, she’ll have to do it. She’s already shaking just thinking about it. And then suddenly Yukari collapses into her chest. This is not her usual prank. Yukari has fallen ill! This means she must rest and cannot continue her job. Although Yukari throws a tantrum like a kid that she wants to continue, Nanako becomes the strict mom that she can entrust everything to them. And as expected, Nanako fumbles her lines. Less than perfect but nevertheless entertaining for the crowd. Yeah. Saori even notes not even Yukari can replicate that. The next day, Nanako visits Yukari who is more than happy that she came. This has Yukari remember the time she first met her. She was in a mascot job for a shopping complex when she stumbled across a lost girl. In a dilemma since she is on the job, Nanako then comes by and offers to accompany the girl till they find her mother. Eventually it they are reunited and Nanako realized the shop she came for to order clothes for her high school is closed. She might be her usual emotional self but soon picks herself up. Yukari is impressed that she placed the little girl ahead of her own needs. Ironically Yukari was fired from the job. However that didn’t dampen her spirits because thanks to Nanako, she wants to help others too. Soon, her grandpa recommended her to this locodol programme and shortly Nanako was introduced since there are no other ‘suitable’ candidates. Yukari is glad to see her again and after all that they have gone through together, she is happy Nanako has not changed since. So when Nanako believes it is fate that brings them together because if it wasn’t for her, she won’t be a locodol, Yukari agrees. The next day Yukari is all healed and continues her usual tease on gullible Nanako. Isn’t it any wonder why she loves to mess with her?

Episode 10
There will be a locodol festival where all the locodols will gather and this event will be broadcasted on TV. They are excited to meet all kinds of locodols till they learn they only get 1 minute of stage time. Saori is cautious because they have other jobs that might clash with it and put a strain in their schedule. Nanako is being optimistic that after all they’ve been through, they can do this one and since this is a rare event, they have no intention of turning it down in the first place. However Saori has a condition. She wants them to write a song for it. Since they are the stars, they have to sing it instead of Uogokoro. But they aren’t professional song writers… Can’t strain the budget… Oh dear. More stress on Nanako. Start thinking this is a bad idea? But with Yukari able to play the piano and handle the song writing, Yui the choreography and Mirai helping out with the lyrics, it dawned to Nanako that she got screwed to do the lyrics. Pessimism level going up… So they talk this to Nanako’s uncle and when he mentions about royalties and money they can make when they sell a million hits, you interested now Nanako? Of course this is just a ploy and the adults very well know they will never reach a million. This is just to let them have a sense of responsibility and can’t slack off even though this is volunteerism. Even the song they write is just enough for some pocket money. More stress on Nanako when she finds out the others are waiting for her to finish the lyrics so they can do the necessary as they don’t want to impose their own vision. Mirai suggests writing on Nagarekawa Girls instead of the town. When she thinks about all the things they have done, it starts to get easy. Yup. She wrote the lyrics in 10 minutes! Uhm… Quite frank on the activities they did. A thousand yen per hour job? Showing this to her friends, they think she is some kind of masochist. They feel she hasn’t described her feelings. Nanako seeks Yukari’s company (music to her ears – like a date, eh?). They spend time talking so Nanako could have motivation to write the lyrics. Even better news is that Nanako stays for the night. Lyrics are done and Mirai props it up a little. As for practice, they use a clubroom for it but all their friends and teachers are watching with glee. Well, they’re locodols, right? Nanako’s friends are impressed. They’ve never seen her like this and start to believe she is taking this locodol thing seriously and working very hard at it. They show this to Saori who is also impressed. This has Nanako wonder who wrote Uogokoro’s theme. Her uncle. He was once in a rock band in his youth. His dream might have been shattered but not Nanako’s. Nanako has a request. She wants to perform this song for the Nagarekawa citizens first. Although not a big crowd show up, the girls still give their best.

Episode 11
Nagarekawa Girls will be running a tight schedule since they are going to participate in both the town’s summer festival as well as the locodol festival. There goes Nanako’s hopes of going sightseeing. On the train to Nagoya, Saori discusses with them about the locodol festival whereby audiences vote for their locodols and although no cash prize awaits, the winner earns some fame (read: more regular national TV screen time). Last year’s winner was Awa Awa Girls. Thanks to them, this year’s number of candidates quadrupled but thanks to Saori’s connections, she managed to squeeze them in. They check out the booth they’ll be manning and it seems they are right next to Awa Awa Girls. Glass Cute (all wearing glasses?), the idols who are selling across them introduce themselves. As the festival begins, it seems Awa Awa Girls and Glass Cute’s booths have a long queue since they are selling their locodol’s merchandise. Poor thing Nagarekawa Girls don’t have their own. Saori’s face hints that insufficient budget thingy. Damn, it’s a sin to be poor. Nanako feels down because the other booths are drawing the crowd and even if theirs did, it is mainly because of Uogokoro pulling them in. Yukari brings Nanako to the stage where the locodols will perform tomorrow. They meet Awa Awa Girls. As usual, Nanako stammers and asks weird questions although Awa Awa Girls are equally surprised to learn they work like public servants and are paid hourly. Each locodol is given some time on stage to promote their booth. Nanako is a natural in promoting their croquette specialty (at least she didn’t stammer her name this time). Thanks to her convincing display, their booth is streaming with customers who want to get a taste of it. Mirai even helps out by using her voice to bring in the customers. At the end of the day, their booth is a sell-out. Of course the rest too sold out their stuffs. Awa Awa Girls who have been observing Nagarekawa Girls in action all day feels something. Despite their booth doing well, it was their merchandise that was sold out instead of local specialties. They feel they got their priorities wrong. Learnt something? The girls return to their hotel room for a much deserved rest for tomorrow’s locodol performance. Nanako is nervous that she can’t sleep so Yukari cheekily suggests sleeping with her. Shockingly, Nanako takes up her offer and falls asleep like a baby. Now Yukari can’t sleep! Is this a dream?

Episode 12
Nanako is relishing the good food after all the hard practice. However it is back to worrying when she realizes they still have to do the closing act. Yeah, luck has it they are the last one. Even more nervous when Noda and co are here to support her. Of course they praise their great routine and everything. Not only Nanako is nervous but Saori too? Seems they’ll be running on a tight schedule and she is predicting and preparing for the worst case scenario. To ease Nanako’s nerves, Yukari hugs her and says she doesn’t have to worry about the closing act or being the best. Let’s just give our best. Of course Yukari is also nervous so does 2 nervous girls make a calm one? Awa Awa Girls want to go greet Nagarekawa Girls before their act but they overhear something from Saori. When Yukari and Nanako return, Saori has bad news and good news. Which do you want to hear first? The bad news is that with their tight schedule, they won’t make it back for their summer festival. They have to go back now or forfeit this one. But since they are adamant in performing both, this is just a little test Nanako’s uncle put them up. He wanted to hear their feelings on this and since they made it clear, he tells them to go ahead with their performance and he will do something about the summer festival. Now for the good news: Nagarekawa Girls have new outfits! Saori made them herself. Nothing to do with the budget whatsoever. It is her gift for all their hard work. When Nagarekawa Girls take to the stage, they thank their fans for their support and start singing the full length of their theme song. The winner of this festival is announced: Awa Awa Girls! Why am I not surprised? Before they start anything, they tell Nagarekawa Girls to leave first. Not because they lost, they understand they have a summer festival going on so it would be a shame for them to let them stay on. Besides, isn’t this what a locodol should be doing? Everyone gives their approval for them to leave. Awa Awa Girls hope they could do more local events. So literally the girls really rush back. It’s one tiring affair. It is late at night by the time they reach home. The local sweets store uncle picks them up and it seems the festival is not over yet. They’re waiting for them because the festival won’t be over without them. But who was entertaining them all the while? Nanako’s uncle in his Elvis getup? I can see why they really want Nagarekawa Girls. Haha! As they sing on stage, Saori and Nanako’s uncle discuss the most important talent that these locodols have: The ability to be loved.

Episode 13
It is the summer holidays and Nanako is surprised to find Yukari in her house. Mother let her in to take care of her while she is away at work. They hang out by the river and see Yui and Mirai doing some water training for their feet. Uogokoro’s suit is being sent for maintenance. Nanako gets a call from Awa Awa Girls. They are in the midst of their national tour so they thought it would be nice to drop by and see Nagarekawa Girls’ hometown. Nanako tries to give a tour of the place but she fails badly. I mean, lots of greeneries, lots of water and big huge sky… So vague… They are taken to Yodel Hall and the tonkatsu shop loved by locals. Are you trying to fatten them up? How are you going to burn all that fat away? Now that they want to go to an amusement park, Yukari knows the perfect place for the summer. But isn’t this the public pool? Yeah, the amusement spot for locals. Saori heard they were coming and prepared swimsuits for them, including Awa Awa Girls. But the swimsuits feel more like cosplay. Is Saori into cosplay? She won’t say. Can’t say… I’m not sure about this ball game contest they’re playing. They have to mention the best features of their town while keeping the ball in the air. Awa Awa Girls could keep on going until Saori had to stop them and change the topic of best features of their group. Again the same thing and more so, it is giving moral damage to our Nagarekawa Girls. But they won’t give up and take the challenge. But how come the best features of their group are all Nanako’s embarrassing things?! It ends when the children come to join them. Nagarekawa Girls see them off at the train station. Several old couples spot them and Awa Awa Girls thought their identity has been busted. But the old people are here to thank Nagarekawa Girls for their splendid performance during the summer festival. This has Awa Awa Girls think of the need to do local events next time. Back at the city hall, Uogokoro’s suit is cleaned and returned. The girls thank the guy and he feels great of helping Saori put up some of her announcement posters at his workplace. Because Nanako surprises us all of wanting to do more locodol jobs, Saori already has the next plan in motion. A concert tour accompanying the Nagarekawa product exhibition. It’s only a day trip so they don’t have to worry about the budget. Not another tight schedule. Hey, they asked for it, right? Nanako realizes that there are lots of people supporting them than she imagined. That’s why she wants to do anything she can in return for them. But she seems to have forgotten something. Her homework! Yukari stays positive because they have some time before the opening ceremony. Hurry!

They Really Tried Being Entertaining And Funny
Oh… And so it is like that. Unfortunately for me, despite this series feeling just more like those ubiquitous cute girls doing cute things. I know what Nagarekawa Girls are doing are for the benefit of their little community but since I am not from there, I don’t really find the stuffs they are doing to be attractive enough and thus this series is a little bore to me. Therefore it is safe to say that I won’t be a fan of them any time. Haha. Seriously. I know that there is supposed to be some sort of appeal when you use cute girls to promote events and stuffs but sadly this one just didn’t get through my heart. So that is why perhaps it is best for them to just stay being locodols to cater for their locals because only they know what the locals want and love. If they’re lucky, they’ll get a few outsiders to come visit the town. And like you have guessed it, no, I won’t be visiting the town either. Not because they suck in promoting it but rather I’m not the kind of a travelling person.

Therefore the characters feel a little bland and unexciting despite I believe they try to give them some personalities (maybe it is because of the idea that they are locodols, there is a need to be flashy and showy?). Because I feel that this series is mainly funny (if you can call it that) is because of Nanako’s accidental antics. From her pessimism to her stuttering, I guess to some they may find it funny. Indeed it was but after a while, it gets a bit old. So much so that you would just automatically laugh whenever she does this. It is like as though it is ingrained into us after a while. Or maybe you would just stop laughing altogether and note, “Oh boy, there she goes again…”. It’s only cute if you are really a fan of her…

Therefore, Nanako I suppose is the most amusing and funniest girl. Too call her naturally funny would be misleading either. Firstly, she is a bundle of nerves and no doubt that she is new to this locodol business, when she learns the reality of things, she cannot help to start worry and fret over it. She panics easily and jumps to conclusions. That’s why she looks funny in this state, no? Because of this, you can say that she is the most level headed among the girls in the group. This means she is practical, right? But her mood pace swings so much and she can be feeling ecstatic in one second and then suddenly plunging into anxiety over the next. She is going to lose a lot of hair by the time she becomes an adult. Then there is this running joke of how she usually stammers her name on stage thanks to her nervousness. I guess we will forever know her as Nanyako. Nyan~.

Yukari is a complete opposite of Nanako as she is calmer and level headed although at times can be clumsy. There are hints that Yukari is yuri and Nanako may just be her type, the way she fawns over her and knows a lot about her. The anime mostly revolves around the interaction between them and of course with the other characters and town people. We see them gradually learn about themselves and despite each have their own strengths and weaknesses, they stand strong and move forward because they complement each other. That is why they are a unit. Also not forgetting Yui who may be small in size but big and strong in character and determination. There is also the very shy Mirai who isn’t as bad as an unsociable person as she started out but still she is too quiet that I feel she doesn’t really make an overall impact.

But even if I don’t feel much in the character development area, at least there is something different about these girls that makes them different than other idol themed series. They are not based on stereotypical views on how Japanese idols are. You know all those cutesy and flashy act they put on stage and when they meet fans all that sort? Doesn’t it just feel so fake and artificial? Yeah well, it goes to show you here that the local girls are being themselves and that is probably why they click so well with the townspeople. They aren’t doing it for the money or fame but just for the love of their town. No doubt that Nanako is still being practical about the wage they get for the jobs, but at least she isn’t thinking about million dollar contracts and expensive appearance fees. This would lead to inflated ego and when you get money in the way of your thinking, there is a high chance you won’t be putting genuine love in your job.

Then there are no b*tchy rivalries you see in reality TV or in-fighting among themselves like you see today. Even among the locodols, they are friendly with each other (not just because they are on TV whatsoever). Therefore in this segment of not stereotyping the locodols as mini divas, I guess this is where this show stands out. Sometimes being plain without all the flashy distraction wins. Not to say that idol shows like Love Live, AKB0048, The Idolmaster and even that gloomy harsh reality of Wake Up, Girls! are stereotypes of such idols (in a way they are), but there are too many flashy elements that it makes you think that there is such a high level of aptitude to such high level performances. It all boils down to how much you want to entertain your fans.

There is no doubt that Saori is a big secret admirer of Nagarekawa Girls but over time I noticed that her ‘stalking’ tendencies tone down as she handles the girls more responsibly. Because I used to notice how she never misses a chance to snap pictures of the girls at every moment. Her finger is so fast snapping away that she could beat the texting king. She seems to have mysterious connections to just about anything to get things ready but at the pace of where this anime is going, I don’t think we will be concerning ourselves with it. And then there is Nanako’s uncle who is trying to revive the town but keeping it within a budget. It is sometimes hard being a civil servant.

Art and drawing style feels simple and nothing special although the characters lean towards this cute and simple looks. If you’re going to do a locodol show with cute girls on stage, might as well make them look cute. The uniform of the locodols also feel pretty decent and nothing really extravagant like you would expect to see famous idols wear. Practicality is the key here. Because like Nagarekawa Girls’ plain white t-shirt uniform, it might look boring but for the kind of outdoor work they do, it is very much practical. Feel is the studio that produced this anime and they have produced a handful of animes with cute character designs like Da Capo (first and second season), Kanamemo, Jinsei, KissxSis, Papa No Iukoto Wa Kikinasai, Nagasarete Airantou, Minami-ke (third and fourth season), Outbreak Company and Fortune Arterial.

Uogokoro’s design may feel uninspiring and nothing really special but what is most important is the love and important lessons he brings. And since the mascot is a hit with the kids, I guess it doesn’t really matter. Besides, it does look cartoonish enough to get kids to happily crowd around it. If you can’t get enough of Uogokoro’s limited appearance, be happy to know that the next episode preview just shows Uogokoro walking and sometimes rolling while doing his trademark back flips. Although this is very much a repeated, recycle and repetitive scene.

Voice acting feels rather okay. No big names for this one. Miku Itou voices Nanako (Sahono in Mangaka-san To Assistant-san To) while Sachika Misawa helms Yukari (Minami in Tokyo ESP). The rest of the other casts include Naya Yoshioka as Yui (Taeko in Girls Und Panzer), Inori Minase as Mirai (Suzu in Love Lab), Asami Shimoda as Saori (Rin in Infinite Stratos) and Shiori Izawa as Noda (Tanpopo in Witch Craft Works). The opening and ending themes are sung by Nagarekawa Girls (but of course). Mirai Fanfare is the opener while Mirai Shoujotachi serves as the ending (when Yui and Mirai officially join the group, their voices will be added to the song). Personally, both these anime rock pop just sounds okay to me. Oddly I prefer much Nagarekawa Girls theme song despite sounding like a generic lively anime pop for girls group. Uogokoro’s theme song isn’t that bad either. There are other songs from this series too but I don’t find them appealing (like Nagarekawa’s local theme song because it felt like some national anthem with local flavour).

With locodols having such a big fan base themselves, why are they not reaching international stardom yet? Have not any talent scouts find them yet? Even though Awa Awa Girls are more famous, I am guessing they haven’t reached an international level yet and are just more famous in more provinces judging by the fact that they lament they should have done more activities for their own town. More mind boggling, do the fans actually prefer to choose them over more famous idol units? Okay, everyone has got more than one favourite idols so it is not fair to label them as locodol lovers. Maybe on another time, they would follow bigger ones but at a local level, they follow locodols. Of course as hinted in the series that it isn’t the fact that they want to limit themselves being locodols, if they start doing those international or national level idol stuffs, it would defeat the meaning of them being locodols. Entertaining the local principality is the most important job and meaning for locodols, right? Therefore sometimes I feel that they might be caught in between of wanting to reach greater heights but also to give back to their local community. I know they can always move on and let newer ones take place but in the event if they don’t, does it mean that they will forever be stuck as being a ‘village champion’?

Overall, even though I consider my stint in watching this series to be a bore, it isn’t entirely a bad show. It’s just a simple show with nothing complicated (no villain of the series too). As goodwill for what I said, if there is another season, I would still watch it (maybe to catch Nanako’s cute stuttering). If you are tired with all those flashy idol stuffs, this series is a good ‘detoxification’ to perhaps change your expectations on your favourite idols. Because idols just like all of us are still humans. Perhaps it is our fault for expecting a lot from them and thus the pushing of limits to bring ultimate entertainment. If that is what you can call these days. So sometimes the thing is you don’t have to have super big dreams to make it. Being a local idol may sound like a small dream but hey, when you give it your all and the local people love you, that itself is already achieving the biggest dream ever. I mean, how big to you want to get? And if so, can you handle it? So if you want to believe in the power of idols, this one is one where you can truly believe in and pour in your support. What will idols be without their fans anyway?

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