Miss Monochrome S2 & S3

August 20, 2016

I wouldn’t have guessed it that Miss Monochrome would get another season. Not one but two seasons this time. I guess a couple of OVAs over the years must be the foreshadowing of things to come. After all, our famous android idol wannabe still hasn’t reached her goal yet in surpassing her idolized idol. Well, we know it is not easy and seeing there are 2 seasons to cover all the adventures for her to stand out more and to stand atop next to Kikuko, the path to become an idol is a long and arduous journey. Even though each episode is only about 8 minutes long but it is at least twice the duration of its first season. Yes, even androids have it tough in the idol world.

Season 2

Episode 1: Reignition
Monochrome is doing well. Well, if you consider living in a one room apartment using newspaper as blankets as good. Hey, at least the weather is perfect. After recharging herself, she thinks of a way to surpass her rival idol, Kikuko to become a super idol. From mannequin acts to part time job at a convenience store, what else is needed? Surprisingly for the first time, Ruu-chan speaks! He says to increase her fan base by going on a tour and make her first album. She goes to talk about this to Maneo and although he knows it is impossible, well, you’ll never know if you don’t try. At least they’ve got optimism. And I think they got this first album thing wrong… Because they compile a photo album of Monochrome’s past acts! And the nationwide tour? On a rickshaw?! Only old ladies seem to be interested in buying the photo albums… But behold! It is sold out! Then it hit Monochrome that tour means a live concert. This means she needs an arsenal of songs. Back to the drawing board.

Episode 2: Promoter
Having the idea of holding a concert is great. But who is going to help promote it? That is why they need a promoter. Herald Mana! She’s back? To help be Monochrome’s promoter? Hey, what about her 19.3 billion debt? Don’t talk about the past! The future is now! So if she gives her 700 million and makes it to a round number of 20 billion, she’s all set. Where are they going to get money for this scam promotion? They can’t lease the convenience shop that’s for sure. If that is the case, Mana will go return to work as Kikuko’s manager. Thanks for nothing. So they go look for a promoter. I think Monochrome has got the wrong idea that a promoter means pro motorist! So here she is at the drifting circuit looking for that promoter! She spots one (since it makes her heart beat) and races with her. We meet this meek girl, Yayoi. Thanks to their drifting race, Monochrome is able to write a new song! Yayoi has experience working in a small recording label but it was never successful. That’s why she takes out her stress via drifting. She is happy to be appointed as Monochrome’s promoter. Timid and clumsy, but when she is behind the wheel, she becomes a foul mouth speed demon! There she goes…

Episode 3: Guitarist
Yayoi is fast. And I mean really fast in getting things done. So when Monochrome mentions the kind of venues she wants to book for her concert, Yayoi is gone and back in the flash and has already sealed the deal for the venue. I didn’t know Monochrome know how to joke because she wanted a big venue that could house 700 million people. Yayoi already got it done and manages to change it to 150,000 small venues. As for the songs that she will be singing… Hmm… How come they are all anime songs that Yui Horie sung? Aha… Monochrome would also love to dabble in different music types like metal, jazz, reggae, rap, opera, etc. Now for her band members. It is suggested they need a good guitarist to draw the crowd. Conveniently, they hear the sounds of a great electric guitar play. At the back of the store, Akiko who is Monochrome’s co-worker is jamming like a pro badass during her break. Guitarist found.

Episode 4: Goods
Monochrome and Akiko are doing well in their practice. Yayoi discusses with the rest the goods they would like to create to sell at the concert. Monochrome sure comes up with lots of weird ideas and you wonder if she is just joking. From a monochrome Rubik’s Cube to dark lights to towels and just about everything. T-shirts, stationery, posters… You name it, everything she wants. But not a guitar pick as suggested by Akiko? After Yayoi gets a move on to start making those goods, Monochrome tells Maneo she also wants an action figure. She believes her fans want them and she’ll be one on her own merits. I don’t know what happened or if Monochrome misinterpreted something because she turned into a bear! For a while, the hunting guys surround the convenience store but we cut all that crap and just jump to the happy conclusion that she is able to become a real one eventually.

Episode 5: Scout
Yayoi has returned with the towel goods. Monochrome likes it a lot and wants to charge a price enough to buy a house! Just kidding. After winning Wooser awards for being the best mannequin, the production meeting begins. They need to find other band members like bassist and drummer and give them some solo time. Akiko shows off her awesome guitar skills. But Monochrome tells everybody that nobody else needs solo time. This is her concert and nobody shall bask in the limelight. A foreigner heard Akiko’s awesome play and wants her to play for him. Shortly, Akiko quits her job, follows him to America and releases a successful guitar album. What have you got to say now Monochrome? With the band members issue still persisting, suddenly Ruu-chan is heard playing music so Monochrome not only makes as her band member but the DJ table and lighting. All in one! But she doesn’t mind giving him solo time? Too bad it was cut short due to time constraints.

Episode 6: Showdown
Despite Ruu-chan can do almost everything and save money, he can’t be a backup dancer. While Monochrome is in her usual mannequin act, the producer introduces them to a group of idol who just made their debut, Caramel. They are roped in to do the mannequin act with her. But when Monochrome hears them wanting to surpass her as their goal, it really irks her. But hearing that she is like the senior to them, she likes the ring to it and would gladly teach them how to be one. And so it goes without saying Monochrome is a natural but the rest can’t hold their positions any longer. Why do they even pick hard poses? But Monochrome tells them not to give up and observe her. Monochrome changes her position but is this allowed during the film? Some scenes do not focus on them so it is their chance to change position as the audience will not notice it. Caramel tries it out and their move changing act felt like one big slow-mo dance. Monochrome feels she wants to become the reason these girls look up to. She will be their Kikuko. They will stand out more. And that is how the backup dancers for the tour were chosen.

Episode 7: Again
Monochrome and Caramel continue their mannequin practice at the park. Then they discuss about changing outfits between songs. Yayoi mentions about a request to work in a programme and it would be good to couple in with their album and concert. Maneo points out that Monochrome has appeared in that wake up surprise before (although that show was put on hold indefinitely) and maybe she can do it again. The surprise wake up crew enters Monochrome’s room. They see the ‘mannequins’ but do not bother. As they try to surprise wake up what they think is Monochrome sleeping underneath the covers, it is actually Ruu-chan. Monochrome and Caramel spring to life. But they are creepy as hell, moving like horror movie ghosts! Crawling on walls too?! How did they do this?! It really scared the hell out of the crew. In the aftermath, Monochrome considers this a great success although that show isn’t broadcasted. Caramel is helping out at the convenience store but this worries Maneo about the labour cost. Don’t worry, Yayoi has already a job request from them after a surprise wake up crew referred them. Turns out to be a wax mannequin haunted house and they are doing their scaring perfectly. They should make this their day job.

Episode 8: Requiem
As Monochrome is about to recharge herself, suddenly an explosion and pops up before her is a handsome, uhm, battery? Shocking? Indeed. Claiming to be her fated friend, he takes her out and recommends several high quality batteries. Then they go adventuring around the world with their power of friendship. Get it? Power of friendship. I guess they went too far and got lost in the desert. There is no convenience store to recharge and Monochrome is fading fast. Battery did the only thing a friend would do. He recharges her at his own expense. Oh, he is non-rechargeable. Shocking, no? His last wish is to be recycled so that one day he could meet her again. He is a battery after all. Shocking, right?

Episode 9: Publicity
Preparations for everything is going well. Monochrome uses her 3D printer to print out the set where she will perform. Wow. A big amusement park. It will cost 150 billion. Yayoi eagerly goes to negotiate but is of course shot down as the production doesn’t have that much money. Using projection mapping, they can do some publicity stunts like photos for the tour items. Nearby, Kikuko’s crew are recording her music video. Monochrome meets her idol for a short while as Mana suggests an image change because Monochrome’s photo shots look bland. And so her image change only involves hairstyle changes from the ludicrous afro and Mohawk to the more typical girl hairstyles. Eventually she settles for a ponytail. Doesn’t look that all different, right?

Episode 10: Seventeen
Monochrome wants to know the difference with Kikuko and so she becomes Sherlock Holmes to deduce that. But first she needs to practice. Yeah, her elaborate scan of a woman can even reveal her back story as a spy and her future getaway! After almost 5000 practices (in which all were successful case solving materials), are we ready for Kikuko? With Maneo, they spy by joining her production crew as Monochrome only stares… Deep stares… Finally it dawned to her that there is only one question that she needs to ask Kikuko. But for that they have to wait in line for her handshake event. A queue so long that it takes more than 53 days for their turn!!! OMFG! So what is the difference? Kikuko responds that she will always be 17 years old! Why? Because her fans want it and so every inch of her body will forever be 17! So motivating that the entire country clap their hands. Now Monochrome vows to share that same dream and will forever be 17. It will be the most important thing ever like a religious doctrine. Hey. I thought androids don’t age… And hasn’t Monochrome been the same since the start of everything?

Episode 11: Innerspace
Monochrome is doing well in her practice. When Yayoi suggests trying another dance, Monochrome downloads it from Ruu-chan. But Yayoi clumsily drops her pencil and when she goes get it, accidentally unplugs the wire. Monochrome is now malfunctioning. Spinning like a DJ? Spinning and throwing Wooser? Spinning plates as a clown? You get it. Spinning is the theme. Ruu-chan then inserts his wire into Yayoi’s mouth to transmit his thoughts (how is this even possible?). The abnormalities occurring in Monochrome’s body will be big trouble if they don’t do something. So they have to go inside of her and repair her. With Yayoi riding Ruu-chan, you know what this means. So they’re shooting bugs like flying through Death Star? Anyway the problem is fixed and Monochrome is back to normal. She thanks her for the good work and Yayoi could feel a deep bond forming between them. Monochrome then reinstalls the programme but history repeats itself. Yayoi drops her pen and as she goes to grab it… Oh no… Not again.

Episode 12: Crisis4696
Preparations for Monochrome’s first album tour, Black Or White is progressing well and on schedule. It is becoming true that Maneo cannot help cry. But Monochrome tells him not to because it is all fated. But is the next thing that comes along fated? Because Yayoi says there is a big problem. She placed orders of several goods that go into tenths and hundreds of millions! They’re overflowing the city! Monochrome did mention to Yayoi about making those extreme numbers but before she could say it was a joke, Yayoi already left and placed the orders. If they cannot pay their dues by the end of the month, the company will go bankrupt and Monochrome will kiss her dream goodbye. Still insisting that she needs to become an idol? It seems the amount owed is 19.3 billion Yen. Hmm… Doesn’t this amount sound familiar? Very familiar indeed… And then Mana pops in because she heard they are in trouble. Aha! So fate does exist.

Episode 13: Monochrome2
In full emotion, Mana claims she is here to repay her debts to her. She will buy all their glow sticks for about 4 billion Yen and then sell them at Kikuko’s concert for 400 billion Yen, making a cool profit of 396 billion Yen! But there is still the 15.3 billion balance. Akiko returns from the midst of her tour to help. She feels indebted to Maneo for giving her the convenience store job and wants to pay back. She will buy all the remaining items like towel, t-shirts and preserved food at 15.3 billion Yen. The recording label now debt free and this must be fate too, huh? You must be wondering how Monochrome’s goods bearing her name will be used by Akiko. She donated them to refugees and thus Monochrome’s name has become celebrated as a great philanthropist. Monochrome hands out tickets for her first concert to many like Kikuko and Mana. A little girl buys her ticket and greatly looks forward to it, making Monochrome happy. And so her destiny to stand out more begins!

Season 3

Episode 1: Diskjockey
Monochrome and her team are on Mt Fuji to pray for their album’s success. She is in deep meditation when she sees a vision. She realizes there is something missing from their line-up. They lack a DJ! Are you serious? I think she isn’t joking. The reason being that in case if she runs out of battery during her concert, a DJ can continue to entertain the crowd while she recharges. Great idea. Why not just ensure a full battery then? Anyway, she has Caramel to spin to see if they have got what it takes. I don’t think a balancing act is what she meant. Heck, even Maneo has a go. I don’t think she is looking for a ballerina. As Yayoi drives them around in search of the elusive DJ, they stop by a patrol station. Monochrome sees the station owner wiping the car windows and likes his circular motion. That’s it. You’re hired, Mr DJ.

Episode 2: Exercise
I guess Monochrome and her team are going to think big now after releasing their album. Go on stock listing and opening more convenience store branches? Aside that, in order to stand out more and surpass Kikuko, Yayoi suggests more visibility. Monochrome then jokes about producing 7 billion samples. One for everybody! Aside the cost, if everybody had one, nobody will be left to buy it. Instead of giving out samples, she decides to hold a concert with her clones. However they notice the kids are more attracted to some silly yakisoba bread skit nearby. I’m sure Monochrome wants to attract children too but remember that demon getup from the first season that scared them away? She better not try that again. Another suggestion to increase her visibility among children is to do exercise. To do that, she needs gymnastics. And so Monochrome enters all gymnastic competitions and won all gold medals! Wow! Yeah, how could you beat a robot anyway? Now the convenience store is hanging all over with her medals! Maneo then made an exercise song of it and it becomes a big hit among the kids.

Episode 3: Mister
One morning, Monochrome gets this curiosity to put the battery in reverse despite knowing well it is not advisable. After all, it is human’s nature to do the opposite. She is not even human… She does so and what happens? She transforms into a guy! OMG! Mister Monochrome! Not only that, his personality is a total opposite as he is shy and wants to remain secluded. But he is a hit among the girls. So shy that he doesn’t want to go on stage and sing but the girls love him even more. Soon his reputation as an idol booms and becomes popular among the girls because they just feel like they want to protect him. But one day he can’t take it anymore and digs a hole so deep that no voice could reach him. I don’t know how the body was found but Miss Monochrome is back and learnt her lesson of never putting the battery backwards again. Meanwhile, her guy counterpart becomes a legend and his fan girls hope one day he will come back so they can protect him.

Episode 4: Appeal
A Star Wars opening narration parody to remind us that long, long ago in a far, far away past, Monochrome made a promise with Kikuko who is now reborn as the top idol. Yayoi wants Monochrome to change into her mascot costume now because they are going to enter a mascot grand prix. However Maneo says the outfit is only half dry. But it would be a waste if they pass up this long awaited chance. Monochrome’s meditation has her come up with a brilliant idea: Create a new mascot out of card boxes. Brilliant… She has Maneo wear and appeal to them this strange card box outfit. He sucks so much that even Monochrome quipped they can’t even appeal to old ladies! Beyond their wildest dreams! Yayoi suggests making the mascot shorter and with a few modifications, well, this one looks slightly better. Monochrome has a staring contest with it. She finds this danboroid perfect. Although they were too late to enter the grand prix, danboroid helps in distribute flyers and is a hit among old people. Yeah…

Episode 5: Girlfriend
Monochrome realizes Kikuko has lots of merchandise. Now she wants to do cross-promotion to stand out more. Maneo returns with news that the gaming company wants Monochrome to write a song to be used in their game. The theme shall be a Christmas one. Leave it to Monochrome logic to travel deep into the forest to find a Christmas tree so she could find inspiration to write one. Then she decides to go to Finland to seek Santa Claus’ advice on Christmas. So this guy doesn’t live in North Pole? He suggests she go to high school like in that game. Monochrome becomes a student and becomes attached with the teacher whom she calls Master Chris. But she had to leave for a journey overseas. Then it hit Monochrome. Master Chris… Master Chris… Christmas… Get it? With this new song, she demonstrates it before the producer. She is impressed and approves this cross-promotion which will be released during Christmas.

Episode 6: Fisherman
In preparation for their live concert, Monochrome and her team are at Okayama. A Caramel member has a friend who could rent a venue for dirt cheap and her relative runs a hotspring inn so they stayed for a bargain. Real cost cutting measures, eh? Caramel soaks in the hotspring and dream of some gay liaisons of Maneo and a male acquaintance! Yikes! Meanwhile Monochrome stumbles upon a man who pops out from a tuna (parody to Momotarou). He is Magurou and cannot stop moving or else he will die. As he needs to keep moving forward, this word clicks with Monochrome so they become best friends and move forward ahead together. But their friendship is short-lived as Magurou wants to head out to sea in his boat and catch tuna. Monochrome cannot follow as the salt in the sea will rust and leak her battery, leading her to be short-circuited. And so they have to part ways while moving forward their own path. Monochrome might not be able to handle salty water but she seems to be doing just find soaking in hotspring water.

Episode 7: Disguise
After the successful concert in Osaka, Monochrome and Maneo go sightseeing. They hail a cab but a limo pulls up. It is Kikuko and Mana! They are here to preview their concert venue at Super Osaka Dome. Monochrome invites Kikuko to go sightseeing with her and since the top idol has never done so due to her busy schedules, she agrees. But she is so famous that she will be recognized instantly. Don’t worry. Monochrome has a solution. Kikuko wears Monochrome’s mascot outfit. Then they hand out flyers to promote Monochrome’s album. Working while sightseeing? They even visit a place called USJ, which is actually Wooser jamming up the entire place. At the end of the day, they had so much fun and Kikuko thanks her. She will be heading off to America for a film next. The moment she takes off her suit, a fan spots her and you know what happens when all her fans come rushing, right? Luckily her jet is here to pick her up. Ah, life of the rich and famous.

Episode 8: Project
On her way home, Monochrome picks up an abandoned kitten. After nursing it back to health, the kitten speaks! She is Catora and to show her appreciation, will bring Monochrome to her world. In this beautiful fantasy world, Catora mentions there is an idol contest where it could help make her stand out more. Hmm… Those other contestants look strangely familiar to Caramel members… It is Monochrome’s turn as she does her impression of a mannequin. Everyone cheers her perfect act of a mannequin! The king announces the contest winner… Ruu-chan! Why?! He is impressed with his vacuum abilities to suck in garbage and trying to make this world a better place. He is so touched that he must win the contest! Catora feels bad for Monochrome but she can try again next time. It is when Monochrome is shocked that the cat is talking! She wakes up back in her home thinking it was just a dream. But isn’t that Ruu-chan with the king’s crown?

Episode 9: Unity
After another successful concert, Monochrome and her team relax. But while they are boating, Monochrome has been spacing out when suddenly she calls for a meeting. First, she reminds them about the tough competition of being idols. Then she points out their faults during the concert which are just minor faults like being off by a few milliseconds, a few millimetres further or even a little weight gain! It is needles to point out that Monochrome and Ruu-chan are perfect… Of course Caramel argues they are humans and tend to make mistakes. However Monochrome reminds them about the aim to be top idols and that they must be perfect and aim higher. This of course sends Caramel into depression but Maneo knows her harsh words are to remind them that people tend to forget their roots after getting popular. He agrees to act out with her. Therefore Monochrome puts on her perfect mannequin act with Maneo praising it. Caramel sees this and realizes Monochrome has been strict for their sake. Instantly they remember their original goal and join the mannequin act with her. They’re going to stand out more this time.

Episode 10: Radio
Another successful concert in Sendai. Monochrome is now wearing an eye-patch because of chuunibyou? The gang are excited for a music programme the very next morning at Tokyo. But it seems they missed the last train. With the programme on the verge of being cancelled if they can’t make it, Monochrome isn’t pushing the panic button yet. They have Ruu-chan to catch the bullet train. But his battery died! So why need to bury him?! Too far as a joke! Monochrome then takes off her eye-patch for her chuunibyou power to summon… Cows? Too bad they can’t grab any of them. Running out of options, Monochrome then makes an unscheduled appearance over a local radio about her plight. A fan listening was kind enough to send them back to Tokyo where they made it in time for the music programme.

Episode 11: A
During an interview, Monochrome’s answers are pretty obvious that the fans actually expected them. Because of that, she falls into depression. Can she? Or is she just waiting for Maneo to ask her so she can tell all about it. Monochrome feels she needs some unpredictability that would surprise her fans. So they discuss some shock factors like turning Ruu-chan into a girl, suddenly inserting a different anime into this series or trolling viewers with a fake Miss Monochrome: The Movie trailer! When Ruu-chan almost falls into the pond, this gives Monochrome an idea. In the next interview, Monochrome mentions a big surprise for her fans. Suddenly the trapdoor opens and everybody drops down! She calls it a great success. The platform soon rises back up and you bet the fans did have the biggest shock of their lives.

Episode 12: Distress
After a successful concert at Sapporo, Monochrome stays back to promote an album. She meets a fan, Umio Kita who praises her for everything. His fiancée, Michiko Hokkai is also a big fan and calls her but her line suddenly cuts dead and she sounded like in distress. Because she is mountain climbing, he panics that she is trapped at the peak. With the bad weather, the rescue team cannot proceed. Umio falls into despair as Monochrome and Ruu-chan take flight to rescue her. Can’t leave a fan dead, right? They find Michiko unconscious and they take shelter in a cave. Michiko comes to and is grateful for the rescue. As she is feeling cold, Monochrome lets her wear her outfit. Monochrome then sings her lullaby to let her sleep. It’s a rock song???!!! Ah well, since she is a fan, it is music to her ears. Monochrome’s rescue efforts make headlines the next day and because of that, her outfit is flying off shelves as the next fashionable clothing.

Episode 13: Monochrome3
Monochrome and Chrome perform in their final venue of their first live tour. Needles to say, a resounding success. At the backstage, a little girl thanks Monochrome for a fun concert. She promises she will come to her concert if she organizes more. Monochrome is happy she made another promise and will keep them no matter what. A party is held to celebrate the success of the first tour. Kikuko and Mana praise and thank Monochrome for inviting them to her lovely concert. They renew their rivalry and Kikuko is confident they can compete as top idols in the near future. Monochrome gives her thanking speech by naming everyone involved. After all, she couldn’t have done it without them all, right? But it is not over because she will stand out even more and sets her sights on bigger targets. Like getting a turnout of 469.6 billion attendees! How many humans does Earth have? Or does the universe have that much aliens? Everyone chants out Monochrome’s name, believing her dream will come true. Well, if you believe in Santa and aliens, why not Monochrome becoming a top idol?

Standing Out To Be Out-Standing
And there you have it. Monochrome making great progress and development in becoming the next top idol that would rival Kikuko herself. But personally something this season feels incomplete because I was hoping there would be some sort of development or showdown between Monochrome and Kikuko. And I mean competing as top idols. After teasing us with their intriguing past in the last season, I was really wishing to see something of that sort happen (helping Monochrome out during her stints doesn’t count) but as it turns out, Monochrome still has a long way to go before the epic final showdown. So more seasons or OVAs in the future? Well, if that is what it takes for her to stand out.

Although this might be trivial, the one thing I couldn’t understand is why this series is split into 2 seasons despite being aired back to back. Unlike some anime series whereby they air the first cour, take a season or two break before airing the second cour after it. The fact that this series restarts its episode numbering in the third season unlike those other animes which continued their episode numbering from where they left off before the break. So I just don’t comprehend why they didn’t treat it like a continuous series with 26 episodes as many if not all of the episodes feel episodic in nature.

With more episodes in store and even the increase in its duration per episode, Monochrome has definitely more time to shine and do her silly attempts to stand out more. Yes, her quest to stand out more has been repeated so often that it is like as though she wants us to remember that fact that she will do so. Uh huh. And it feels they are playing that joke for us to expect all that in one of the episodes. Monochrome is making steady progress in standing out but I have a feeling her standards to reach there is so high that it might take an awful long while.

I know Monochrome has been a funny android since day one. But what I didn’t expect is how her character can actually try to make jokes! The kind of jokes where she makes unrealistic demands of something before Maneo reminding her it is not possible and then she retracts that statement and says it was just joking. With a robotic face. So we aren’t entirely sure if she was just being sarcastic or really pulling a fast one. It was also hilarious to see her misinterpret certain words like tour and album. Such puns also catch us off guard as it is not what we would expect either and the effect is perfectly executed. Ironically as an android who has lived longer than any civilizations, she has yet to understand the human culture and the current era. Yeah, humans are so complicated that even androids can’t comprehend.

Other characters aren’t too shabby like Maneo who will always be supporting and trying his best to provide what Monochrome needs to achieve her goal. Then there is newcomer Yayoi who provides some comic relief as a naïve, gullible and clumsy woman. She literally believes every demand that Monochrome wants and she is so freaking efficient that before Monochrome could cut her off as a joke, she already has them delivered! Maybe it is thanks to her devil driving skills that makes her deliver them fast! With Ruu-chan as the equipment provider and Caramel as her backup singers, all of them don’t particularly, wait for it, stand out because otherwise it would be an insult to Monochrome by stealing the limelight. Yeah. That android will get jealous if you try to stand out more.

This means that also owing to the episodic nature of the series, many characters come and go and appear only for a single episode. Like that male version of Monochrome, that battery dude, the talking cat from the other world and that fisherman guy. But like I have said, this is so that Monochrome can hog the centre stage of each episode and be the star so she can, you’ve guessed it, stand out even more. Even if her tactics look silly and sometimes fail, but in a way it brought about other changes like that refugee thingy and snow mountain rescue attempt. As such it serves to enhance and make popular Monochrome even more. Mana isn’t such a bad girl because after swindling Monochrome of her money in the first season and running off with it, it seems to make our blood boil again when she returns even trying to trick Monochrome to part with her money. Then all is forgiven when she helps out to clear her debt later. I guess you can’t hate everybody eventually in this series.

There have been a few trivia making its appearance here like that Initial D parody whenever Yayoi gets behind the wheel. But more importantly the handful of Wooser cameos in a handful of episodes. As I have watched all 3 seasons of the Wooser series, I now understand a little of their little cross-over. In fact, Wooser too did make his cameo in her first season. After all, both anime series are animated by the same studio, Sanzigen.

The more I hear Yui Horie as Monochrome, the more I am starting to believe that she can actually pull off that cute robotic voice naturally instead of using special effects. And sometimes in my extreme case, I believe that she is actually an android! Okay, I’m just kidding but she is just so convincing in her Monochrome character that by not believing it feels like I’m in denial. Heh… I don’t even know what I’m saying. While the casts from the first season is retained, new ones are of course added. Especially Kana Asumi who is very much recognizable as Yayoi. She displays both her different sides of her voice with the clumsy version and the tough racer chick version. I thought it was going to be different when they decided to give Ruu-chan a voice, especially no other than Hiroshi Kamiya behind it. However his speaking roles are only limited to what I noticed as the first and last episodes of each season and they are just short sentences. In other normal times, he would be beeping as usual. The members of Caramel are voiced by the famous seiyuus themselves and you would have noticed when they are also suspiciously named after them. Like Yui and Kana. You know who they are, right?

Another one of the baffling things why I never understood this series split into 2 seasons instead of listing it as a 26 episode series is the opening and ending themes. At first I thought they were going to use the same opening theme Black Or White all the way since it was still the same opening well past halfway into the third season. Oh, please note that Black Or White isn’t some sort of rip-off or cover of the song with the same name by Michael Jackson. This song is as catchy and retains the trademark of Monochrome’s robotic voice which I believe what makes the song great. Despite the chaotic and crazy euphoric beat of the song, the only ‘downside’ is how the song suddenly comes to an abrupt halt. Like as though they ran out of their allotted time for the opening theme.

I would have preferred they retained this opening theme but with only a quarter of episodes left in the third season, they changed it to Miss Monochrome Taisou. This song might be a slower beat as compared but I didn’t like it very much since it sounds quite weird and feels like a song for kids. Besides, Monochrome and the other characters are doing weird exercise-like dances just makes the entire experience feels odd. The ending themes also follow the same appearance as the opening themes. Step By Step sounds like your typical idol song as well as Kimi To Boku which only makes its debut with only a quarter of episodes in the season left to go. But at least both ending themes don’t sound bad. It goes without saying that since this is Yui Horie’s show, she sings all of them and could even compile an album with songs sung with her robot voice. For the record, in this aspect my favourite one will still always be Coloring from Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai.

Overall, these seasons of Monochrome are still as entertaining and even perfect if you are a huge fan of her or Yui Horie. It goes to show that being an idol is not a bed of roses because even androids have it tough. Or could it be that anybody in this era can be famous so as long as you put your face up in social media and upload videos there. Or post dumb comments… And of course if you really do aspire to be an idol, this series is not meant to be a guide on how to achieve it. In the end it is still hard work, perseverance and effort. Because at the end of the day, these qualities will never betray you. Just remember to set your goals reasonably, okay? Yeah, where the heck are you going to get 469.6 billion fans anyway? Not even Anpanman has such many characters… :-).

Miss Monochrome OVA 2

January 16, 2015

Wait a minute. There was another OVA? I couldn’t have guessed it as there is a second episode for Miss Monochrome OVA. Well, if some random fansub never came up with it, I would never have gotten my hands on it and this limited edition OVA would have flown by me into the darkness. Something like that. So it is no harm to see more of our little Miss Monochrome as she works hard trying to understand and become the idol that she wants.

Manager
Monochrome is perfect in her role in a drama shoot. Yeah. She’s standing there steadily as a mannequin. Perfect. Suddenly she gets a call from Mana. She’s in hospital. Is she dying?! Serves her right for trying to cheat! Haha! Oh wait. You mean she is not and just got a cold? Shucks… Anyway because she is ill, she wants Monochrome to do her a favour and temporarily become Kikuko’s manager. And since Mana has faith in her, how can Monochrome say no? So with Maneo, they become the temporary manager and follow her around to her interviews, handshake events and photo shooting sessions. As tired Kikuko sleeps on her way to her next concert, Monochrome wonders why she is pushing herself to this extent. Maneo replies it is because she is an idol and she wants to show her fans the golden dream. As there is a traffic jam, they won’t reach the concert in time. Monochrome vows to protect her golden dream and carries her all the way there with all her fans (and animals?) running alongside them. Kikuko manages to put up a splendid performance and Monochrome vows to stand out more so they can compete as top idols one day. As gratitude, Mana sends a golden battery to her. However it is too powerful and she runs rampage on the props and set. Time for another big apology from Maneo…

Managing Well…
Well, there is nothing much save for it brings back some nostalgic memories of the short TV series. And a great reminder that Yui Horie is still having that cute lovely voice :). With Monochrome having a little experience working as an idol manager, hopefully this will spur her to greater heights to become a top idol. But you know with her kind of personality, that is going to take a while. So it goes to show that whatever job you do, it has its difficulties and obstacles. All you need is to put in the effort and lots of passion to make the difference. Now, I wonder if there is a job as an otaku manager…

Miss Monochrome OVA

September 5, 2014

The only reason why I can think of Miss Monochrome OVA was released in the middle of June 2014 is because FIFA’s World Cup Brazil 2014 edition. Uh huh. That’s because this time our Monochrome girl is trying her hands at football. What better way than to garner support for your favourite Blue Samurai team (if you’re a Japanese anyway) than to have a cute idol voiced by one of the cutest seiyuus in Japan. And since it is aired on her official YouTube channel, I guess that just says a lot, huh?

Supporter
While sweeping outside the convenience store, Monochrome spots a boy juggling a football. She then decides to go cheer for the national football team by uploading her performance on to YouToob (not type error). She is going to make the football team stand out alongside her as well. She is going to make a big wave and stand out more, so much so she doesn’t mind becoming Bluechrome instead of Monochrome. So the video starts off with Monochrome and Maneo telling us supporters the dos and don’ts for the supporters to cheer on their team. Like not stripping naked or using a big laser cannon to disrupt the game or even shooting down some crow (the crow is the symbol and part of the Japan Football Association’s emblem). Monochrome begins her footwork action by dribbling past her opponents, a leopard and lion. Ole! Ole! Ole! I’m sure she could have best Messi and Ronaldo or any other super star world football players you can think of. She shoots! She scores! GOOOOOOOOAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!!! And here is Monochrome doing her cute victory dance (if only she had more facial expression it would have been the best). After uploading on the video sharing site, her effort draws the attention of a sports company and was selected as a model for a new pair of sneakers. Okay, that’s a start.

Ganbare! Nippon!
Well, I’m sure by the time my blog came out, we all know the Japanese football team’s performance, right? But as far as this mini OVA is concerned, it is still fun as a standalone itself. Even more fun if you are a football fan and a Japanese supporter so this little OVA serves its little part to cheer on for the national team more than anything else. Monochrome’s victory dance could be the next Gangnam Style if it was ever expanded and put behind a catchy dance song. If it does, then Monochrome would have really achieved her goal of being a popular stand out idol. Then maybe she can really give some real support for the Blue Samurai. Yeah, we know how they’d fare in Brazil, right? Uh huh. Forgettable… As always, they can always try again in another 4 years.

Miss Monochrome

March 21, 2014

Hmmm… Doesn’t this character look like a cross between Nyaruko and Hatsune Miku? I don’t know. That is my first impression when I saw Miss Monochrome. The chequered skirt (like Nyaruko) and the hairstyle and idol presence (like Hatsune Miku). This character is actually created and designed by the seiyuu-cum-singer Yui Horie herself. I suppose everybody these days can design their own characters but you rarely hear one doing so from the same industry. She first used this character as a 3D virtual singer in one of her concerts back in 2012 (which I didn’t attend or see) in which the character was also featured in a social network game. Now, it has been adapted into an anime albeit each episode is only 4 minutes long. As I read the synopsis, the titular character loves the monochrome style and dislikes all colours and has this goal of changing it to her favourite black and white colour. Sounds boring? Well, I’m trying to look at it from a comedy perspective and it would be interesting to see the kind of character Yui Horie came up with.

Episode 1: Fall
Monochrome has this dream again. A girl dying in her arms and a promise to meet again under some waterfall. Monochrome is living her life as a so called idol in a big castle. She has a helper named Mana to help around. After seeing Kikuko the idol performing on TV, Monochrome wants to be as popular and stand out as her. As suggested by Mana, she needs a manager. Yup, Mana appoints herself. What is the manager’s first job? Get her 19.3 billion Yen! Agreed! And so Mana took that money and disappeared. So much about loyalty. Monochrome is evicted from her castle and as she wanders around, she bumps into this guy, Maneo. Because she saw his manager card, she makes him her manager and wants to give her work. Yeah. He is the manager of a convenience store and thus begins Monochrome’s job there.

Episode 2: Heaven
Now she’s living in a run-down apartment. Her little round robot vacuum, Ruu-chan starts cleaning but due to the amount of rubbish, it gets stuck and Ruu-chan goes offline. Maneo compliments Monochrome for posing really still. Like as though she’s an android. Yeah. You don’t say… She is fine living in such an apartment because she heard from Kikuko that an idol must have a hungry soul and will work her way up. When Monochrome returns home, she shows the alkaline battery she has got. It’s better than the zinc-carbon one since it lasts longer and rechargeable. She notices Ruu-chan not moving and is sad it has ‘died’. She buries it. For the first time in her life, she learnt the meaning of sorrow.

Episode 3: Vengeance
Aliens are planning to invade Earth! Meanwhile Ruu-chan is back. I’m not sure if Monochrome put in new change of batteries or got a new model. Anyway Monochrome is admiring at some Evolta battery displayed at a shop. After another great ‘mannequin’ idol performance for the kindergarten kids (they were left confused, actually), Maneo gives her the Evolta battery as reward. She goes home to charge and feels the electrifying power overflowing her. Meanwhile the aliens begin their human hunt and target Maneo first. Monochrome sees the UFO above and with the battery, powers up including some transformation, to fire a beam at them! When she comes to, she has no recollection of what happened. Not even why there is a big hole in her roof. And thus mankind was saved thanks to Monochrome!

Episode 4: Metamorphose
Monochrome notices a nendoroid (android imitation) of Kikuko in toy stores. She thinks it is a sign of popularity and wants one. Maneo gets straight to it but of course the higher ups told him that she needs to be popular if she wants to have one. Monochrome vows to do it using her own merits. And so she shapes clay, chops and carves wood, makes a potato chop and even sculpts a Segway from iron but all do not feel quite like it. Finally she makes a giant head of herself and becomes a big hit among children. Yeah, feeling like a mascot? So popular and cute that the businessmen zeroed in to cash in on her popularity and release Monochrome’s version of nendoroid. Ironically, the nendoroid is the one that became popular instead of the real idol herself…

Episode 5: Halloween
Monochrome sees Kikuko on TV again. She really wants to be like her and have fans screaming all over her. That’s when Maneo got a job for her to cosplay in a special TV programme. As she ponders what to cosplay, she mistakes that it is equivalent to Halloween so she searches the internet for more information. She has found an eye-catching outfit. At the studio, the kids are screaming and running away from her because she is dressed up as a bloodthirsty demon! Ah, well. This is how she got people to scream for her. Of course her appearance had to be cut from the programme and Maneo is reduced to an apologizing wimp to the producer…

Episode 6: Job
As part of her schedule to become a popular idol, Monochrome has taken up lots of jobs ranging from washing dishes, pulling out trucks from ravines, acting as Prime Minister (WTF?!) and going into space. None of which has anything related to being an idol… In a drama shoot, that needs to have the protagonist jump out of a building on fire with a kid, Monochrome jumps out clutching Ruu-chan tightly. She’s never going to lose it ever again… And she isn’t the protagonist of the film… Maneo suggests Monochrome to be on the Surprise Wake-up programme to leave an impact on her audience. So the programme’s crew enter her apartment as he pretends to be asleep. Then she pretends to be surprised and wakes up. She accidentally hits her battery recharger and when the battery falls out, she starts disappearing! The crew freaks out! Because this left too much of an impact, this programme was not broadcasted…

Episode 7: Props
After watching yet another Kikuko performance, Monochrome thinks she knows what she lacks. Like the wand Kikuko is having, she thinks she needs a prop to be a famous idol. And so Maneo gives her several props… How come they all are cleaning props? Duster, broom and cleaning cloth… What the? Noting that such props do not work, Maneo suggests vegetables. Before you know it, Monochrome is cultivating her own farm land and planting lots of different vegetables. Somehow this self-sufficient lifestyle of living together with nature gave Monochrome a sense of fulfilment. The props don’t matter anymore, eh?

Episode 8: Winner
Monochrome gets a job as a race queen. However in order to stand out more, she starts racing with the cars! She wins the race! OMG! Is this even legal? Again, Maneo apologizes to the producer. But what the heck?! Nobody finds it odd that Monochrome won?! I guess because of this, she didn’t get the mountain climbing reporter job. Kikuko’s climb on Mt Fuji gets her lots of attention so Monochrome thinks she will get the same attention if she climbs a mountain. Aim for greater heights! But not a soul is there when she climbs Mt Takao. Hardly any challenge… She also climbed Mt Olympus and laments nobody was there. Where the hell is that? It’s that large crater on Mars… Is it a wonder why there was nobody around? Not even Martians…

Episode 9: Rival
Those bloodthirsty aliens are back! Oh wait. This is actually a flashback. Those aliens indeed massacred Earth and will be back once it is repopulated again. Monochrome saved Kikuko but the latter knows her time is up. She is glad to have competed with her as top idols and that they are eternal rivals. She believes they will meet again and hopes Monochrome will wait for her till she reincarnates. And so Monochrome waits throughout all the ages just to fulfil that promise. She waited and waited for a very long time, even when Earth is reborn (dinosaur period again?) and her memories have faded. Feudal peasants accidentally put in her battery and she materializes but worshipped like a God in an altar. Fast forward to her days as an idol in her castle with Mana as her helper. She sees Kikuko on TV and notes she will someday become an idol who can compete with her.

Episode 10: Fighter
Maneo once again ‘praises’ Monochrome for her mannequin performance. Is it a wonder why she’s not a popular idol? Nearby there is a convention that houses handshakes from various idols. After experiencing one, Monochrome wants her own handshake event. Yeah, well… Everybody who pays at the convenience store counter gets a long one. You’d worry if you get your change back… Soon, Monochrome shakes hands with just about everybody and everywhere. Probably some got the wrong idea because like Rocky Balboa, Mike Tyson and Hulk Hogan, they make her enter the ring and she becomes the new world champion in arm wrestling, boxing and pro wrestling. Not to mention weightlifting too. In no time, she’s accumulated lots of champion belts and trophies. But where are the handshakes?

Episode 11: Audition
Now Monochrome wants to take part in an audition. First up, the gourmet reporting that has participants react and ‘report’ the ramen taste. The judges don’t seem to find one that is outstanding till it is Monochrome’s turn. She precisely analyzes the ingredients and its calorie content. Amazing. But since she didn’t eat it, she got disqualified. Next is a cooking audition. This time she takes care to make good presentation and mind the calories. However she didn’t taste test it and it sucked big time. Disqualified. Finally there is one audition that she has passed. She is in charge of illuminating the night sky and buildings. Yeah. She really shines here. Literally. So beautiful, the lights. But not as beautiful as you my love. You can hear those cheesy romantic pick-up lines…

Episode 12: Idol
Thanks to the producer, Monochrome is able to watch Kikuko rehearse. But look what the cat dragged in. It’s Mana! Where has she been?! My, isn’t that such a big lovely and expensive ring? Every time Monochrome asks about her money, spunky Mana cuts her off and starts ranting about the gratefulness and thankfulness of whatever she’s referring to. She is currently the manager of Kikuko! When Kikuko meets Monochrome, she felt this familiarity. Have they met somewhere before? Kikuko brushes it off as her own imagination. Then something tells her Monochrome doesn’t age. Monochrome agrees. Kikuko advises that not aging is a real strength for idols and be sure to treasure it. Because Kikuko will always be 17 years old! She hopes they will one day compete as top idols. This motivates Monochrome to move forward as far as she can as an idol. Flashback to that dream again. It seem their dream of meeting already come true because when she said about meeting ‘underneath the waterfall’ (taki shita), the producer’s name so happened to be Takishita! Oh, Mana left before Monochrome could ask about her money… Bad debts…

Episode 13: Monochrome
While walking home alone, suddenly there is an old guy who seems like a flasher. Actually he is here to show Monochrome her debut CD! And so it begins Monochrome’s real journey as an idol as she get into photo shoots and the stuffs idol do. Maneo is grateful to the old guy who believes Monochrome’s hard work has caught the attention of someone’s eye. Monochrome then sings a street performance but Maneo is the only audience. However a little girl was listening and she is very happy to hear her sing. It made Monochrome want to stand out more and do her best to be an idol. And that old guy… He turns out to be Santa… Hohoho! Merry Christmas.

Miss Idle Idol
First, let me get out this grouse of mine. After watching the series, where in the world is this show about Miss Monochrome trying to turn the colourful world into black and white? From what I see, she seems to be having ‘fun’, if not trying her best to understand and do what it takes to be an idol. You see, trying to be an idol means you’re going to lead a colourful life because you will be doing lots of things and will be under the watchful eye of viewers and prospective fans. That’s why I thought the synopsis was rather misleading and it certainly has taken out the overall enjoyment factor. I suppose that’s why sometimes I don’t read what an anime is about and jump straight in to watch. I know this is just something trivial but there is a big discrepancy in the plot. A very big one. Trying to bring boringness to the world and trying to be a popular stand out idol are 2 very contrasting plots. Unless that synopsis was the setting for the social network game, which I am not aware about.

On to the series itself, the short animation is really fun to enjoy although I would advise to try not to think too deep about certain stuffs. Like how Mana can get away scot free with Monochrome’s money and have the cheek to reappear before her life again without showing any repentance. And then off she goes again. What about that curious and fateful meeting between Monochrome and Kikuko since time immemorial? What does it mean? What will the future hold now that they have met in such strange circumstances? Ironically Monochrome as an android, she can have memory failure of the most important event that happened then. I guess this shows nothing lasts forever. She just lasts longer than most things. Then prior to being swindled, she was an idol, right? But it wasn’t clear if she was famous or just a non-popular idol. Her castle that was worth billions of Yen could have indicated she was but it was possibly because the people worshipped her as something else and gave lots of donations. I’m speculating this part a lot so I might be wrong. And yeah… Maybe she isn’t sure what the definition of an idol is and labelled herself as one till she saw Kikuko on TV again that it reignited her real quest to become a real idol.

For a monotonous character, Monochrome is pretty fun and funny if you look it from another perspective. Not to mention cute too. Now if only she smiles more often… Her best ability is to play a mannequin and that is to stand still without moving for a long period of time. It’s just like shutting your appliance off, eh? It baffles people. But to me, that is just plain funny. I can think up 101 reasons why she strives so hard to be an idol but can’t even manage to get a decent number of fans or a decent start. Mostly, she has this monkey see, monkey do mentality when it comes to idols. Thinking an idol is famous because of like this, she too wants to do it. Of course she misinterprets the whole thing and somehow her impulsive actions make her veer off course often with hilarious results and in the end, don’t really make her a popular idol. Oddly as an android, she should have better understanding and analyzing about the concept of being an idol but I guess it is more complicating being human. Yeah, to a point that an android seems to ‘struggle’ comprehending our culture. But all these experiences are good for her and despite it don’t have anything to do with being an idol, at least she gains some sort of experience and some even a greater good for mankind. I suppose those pesky aliens will never destroy mankind again, huh? Yeah. Thank you Monochrome. In the end, it shows that all her hard work (random acts, if you want to look at it another way) pays off. Yeah, it took Santa to notice. Say, is Santa into idols? These so called random events and ‘things Monochrome wants to do to become an idol’ makes the series enjoyable to watch if you have nothing better to do in the short period of time and want something entertaining to fill in before the next big thing.

If there a category for one of the most unique characters ever in anime history, it would be Ruu-chan! Because this circular cleaning machine has no actual spoken lines! I don’t think I have ever heard a single beep coming out from it. It accompanies Monochrome like a shadow but is family to her. Then there is Maneo as the manager and fatherly figure to Monochrome. I wonder if he can juggle between his manager role and his convenience store job. Like they say, don’t quit your day job. Mana is a character you would both love and hate. She’s cute but she’s deceiving. And she can put on a straight face about being grateful and all that crap. Well, it’s not like she admitted stealing the money, right? I mean, Monochrome gave her the money, right? Yeah, I ask for 1 year advance salary to renovate my house and then I disappear and never show up at work ever again. Besides, had not been for Mana, this misadventure to be a top idol will not have started. It would just be confined to her dream and television for Monochrome.

Yui Horie is of course the voice of the titular character herself and she’s a real cutie voicing Monochrome. She’s voiced many anime roles too and even some as close as Monochrome. I am sure that everybody can try to make and imitate a robot voice, something that Yui Horie does here as her character. Sometimes I have this tendency to think that she can imitate a computerized voice but logically, I think she has got the help of the computer synthesizer to make parts of her voice sound computerized. Of course, she also sings the ending theme, Poker Face and you can see Monochrome strutting her idol stuff, dancing and singing in the ending credits in 3D render. Although this song has computerized vocals, I feel it is not as exciting and extremely cute as the one Yui Horie sang as the ending theme for Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai, Coloring.

My guts tell me that they are making some references to another veteran seiyuu featured in this anime, Kikuko Inoue. No prizes for guessing which character she voices here. Especially that trademark statement of hers that she is forever 17 years old. Yup. She’ll always be forever 17 years old. 17 + 50 years old! Haha! Oops! I’m guessing at this rate, Monochrome and Kikuko will forever be waiting to have a chance to compete as top idols. Unless that final episode’s progress was just a fluke. Touch wood! Also making its cameo appearance in certain scenes is that mysterious and cute yellow blob called Wooser. I’m not sure about the reference about having this character from another anime. The only similarity I can find is that both animes are animated by the same studio, Sanzigen and that both shows are short in duration as well as it shows the daily issues and challenges the protagonists face and approach.

So it certainly shows that being an idol is tough and not easy. Maybe it takes a little luck too. Don’t worry about Monochrome being a stand out popular idol. It is pretty much how you define that. As of now she might only have a little girl as her first true fan but from that little girl’s perspective, she is the biggest thing and that already itself is an achievement. She doesn’t need to conquer the world to be famous. Only conquer the hearts… Monochrome may not be the biggest idol in this anime but I have a feeling that in real life, she may have been steadily garnering a sizeable amount of fans, especially hardcore fans of Yui Horie. Real idol and virtual idol? It’s like having your cake and eating it. Now, if only Mamiko Noto came up with her own character design, I would definitely become her biggest idol. Oh, I can see it already. Jigoku Shoujo AKA Hell Girl!!! Ippen shinde miru…