OMG! Backstreet’s back alright! Wait a minute…. What is that you say? You mean this is not Japan giving Backstreet Boys their own anime? Even if they have broken up a long time ago and did some reunion stints over the past few years? You mean this is not an anime about Backstreet Boys teaming up with Goo Goo Dolls to create one of the weirdest gender bender music show?! Holy sh*t! You mean to say that Back Street Girls – Gokudolls is about a group of failed yakuza members who are forced to undergo a sex change surgery and become cute kawaii idols as repentance? I’ll say, bring it on! That works for me too!

Episode 1A
Looks like a group of yakuza guys fouled up big time. The big boss of the Inugane gang, Kimanjirou Inugane AKA Oyabun is not impressed with Kentarou “Aniki” Yamamoto, Ryou Tachibana and Kazuhiko “Kazu” Sugihara and wants them to go for sex reassignment in Thailand and become idols. You heard that right. Otherwise he will sell their organs. Or they could just die if they cannot decide in 5 seconds! Holy sh*t! And so a year later, the trio became the famous back street idols known as Gokdolls. Folks, meet Airi (Aniki), Mari (Ryou) and Chika (Kazu)! While male fans squeal in amazement of their cuteness, at the backstage they are still the tough and rough yakuza at heart, confused with what the f*ck they’re doing. They reminisce the harsh ‘retraining’ and mental reconditioning they had undergone a year ago that was scarily effective.

Episode 1B
When Aniki first joined the gang, Oyabun viewed him as having lots of prospective and they even exchanged wine cups. But now the irony of them singing about wine cups as idols feels like sh*t. Even more so when Oyabun acting as their producer is the one who wrote the lyrics! Airi asks if their wine cup is still valid. Oyabun writes it off because she is now an idol. Poor Airi goes into heavy drinking although the rest warns her about the photo shoot tomorrow. Oyabun then barges in to beat up Airi and tells them to go to bed. Because of their photo shoot tomorrow, their skin must be perfect! But didn’t Oyabun just messed up Airi’s face?!

Episode 1C
Mandarin Kinoshita is a renowned idol manager and has helped many idols become stars. Hence he is hired to do the same for Gokudolls. Assessing them the first time, he can tell they are just putting on a show like as though they’ve been controlled by someone. You don’t say, huh? Plus, he couldn’t sense their inner cuteness. Later when Gokudolls are alone with Kinoshita, they warn him to not say unnecessary stuffs before their boss. But he is not cowed with their threats and think they are former delinquents. As he is unaware of their yakuza background and circumstances, they are forced to tone down and not resort to violence. Their training begins with Kinoshita starting with some mental training. Too bad they have no good memories and come to think of it, Oyabun is looking more like a demon. He changes the topic to think of a senior they admire. Yeah, it’s their tough ass big brother chief, Okashira. Kinoshita wants them to act like they confess to him so they fess up some shady stuffs they did. Kinoshita so confused.

Episode 1D
Kinoshita doesn’t understand why Gokudolls like playing hanafuda and mahjong. Idols don’t play them! He tries to motivate them but his words are coincidentally similar to Okashira. As Kinoshita decides to give them individual themes based on their characters, again they sound coincidentally similar to Okashira’s. More accurately, the last time they visited him in prison before he got locked away. Because of that, now they think Kinoshita is their Okashira.

Episode 1E
Gokudolls are doing a handshake event. Yeah, creepy otaku guys saying creepy I-love-you stuffs. But Airi recognizes this next weirdo shaking her hand. It’s Tooru Ooguroda of the Ooguroda gang! This is the guy that got them in this sh*t! Flashback reveals the trio got captured after messing up. Ooguroda told them he didn’t want to fight Inugane and ignore it but with the trio acting on their own, he has no choice but to go to war. However this sneaky bastard has an even more devilish plan. Knowing they don’t want to be killed here, he sends them back to their boss ‘to die’. He wants to see what kind of punishment they will get. Airi tries hard to contain her anger not to whack this dude although the rest want her to calm down as there are other innocent bystanders. But other otaku guys see Airi crying and think it is Ooguroda’s fault. They all start assaulting him. In the aftermath, the news shows how the otaku fans’ assault led to the biggest catch of a wanted criminal. Gokudolls are feeling so confused. They finally got their ‘revenge and nationwide broadcast’. But with the otaku fans screaming how much they love them and will always protect them, damn it’s just hard to swallow it all down.

Episode 2A
Airi and Chika receive many branded gifts from their fans. But Mari… So little and so normal… Because of that, she can’t help feel jealous. They get into a heated argument for a while before they realize they are still yakuza bros. That night as they sleep, Mari has this weird inner battle between her idol and yakuza side. Do you want to become a popular idol or a manly yakuza? In the end, perhaps the idol side won but since it is ‘fused’ with the yakuza side, it sounds so cringe when Mari talks so cutely. The others heard and it becomes even more embarrassing.

Episode 2B
Kazu was a mentor to Kimura when he was a newbie. Because of that, he became his follower. But now Oyabun has hired Kimura to be their assistant. He better not be turned on by their cuteness or Oyabun will cut off his dick! So Chika and Kimura talk and drink like old times. Chika is glad he still hasn’t forgotten about many stuffs. Kimura ends up drunk and when he is in this state, he strips. Nothing wrong to a yakuza except he is wearing Chika brand underwear!!!! WTF???!!!! So this dude is a Chika fan now? Chika as Kazu is so disappointed…

Episode 2C
Gokudolls will appear on a live radio talk show alongside their rivals, Buongirls. It is clearly obvious that Buongirls look down on them and even setting the pace. Gokudolls know if they mess this up, Oyabun is going to bat their asses! No wonder he has been going to the batting centre recently. Desperate, they seek Kinoshita’s help to get trendier. So honesty is the best policy, eh? Sounds easy. When they return from the break, when asked if they have romantic problems, Mari replies something about her pubic hair. WTF????!!!! You bet Oyabun is going to whack their asses when they get back. Ironically, Mari’s fan base grew… Perverts.

Episode 2D
Kinoshita hopes Gokudolls can communicate with each other more sisterly and femininely instead of brotherly-like. They get massaged by their stylist, Karin Mizugochi and although shocked at first when she starts touching them in various places, Karin says it is normal for girls to have such skinship like how guys do when getting naked in the bath together. Hence they get this idea to communicate by rubbing each other’s boobs! HELL YEAH! But… It feels so f*cking awkward. Does it feel good? Does it feel bad? So confusing. Can’t tell. Maybe rub a little longer, something good may come up… Nothing…

Episode 2E
Aniki remembers his life. From a broken family and his mom had an affair with a punk and didn’t care for him. In school, he had no friends and got into fights he didn’t want to. As an adult, he couldn’t do anything right. So when he joined the yakuza, life just got edgier. He realized he had no family, friends, laughter or warmth. That’s why seeing Gokudolls having a blast with Kimura, he could feel that warmth. He visits a bar he used to frequent. He orders his usual but the bar master remembers only someone orders this drink. He heard he screwed up and is dead. Airi wants to know more about this ‘guy’ so master explains how a kind soul he is and came here to drink as repentance for beating up someone. He liked that guy although naturally he never liked the yakuza. Airi returns to her warmth and is glad Gokudolls is the best thing that happened because he doesn’t have to hurt anybody here. Until Oyabun barges in. Looks like he will be hurt instead because he is forcing them to do a 50 hour hugging event. 50 HOURS???!!!

Episode 3A
Kinoshita prides himself from the studies and data he researched, he practically knows everything there is to know about girls. He can handle any girl. Until Gokudolls. Because Mari is talking to him about her problems of constipation, haemorrhoids and sh*t. No data on that. Does not compute! Eventually he tells her to go see a doctor. For the first time Kinoshita has never felt so defeated. But he tries to shift the blame she is a weirdo and his data is still correct. He thinks he can regain his pride with Airi but with her drinking and screaming she wants her dick back, time to go back to school. Refreshers course?

Episode 3B
Kinoshita sets up Gokudolls for a movie audition. But the director and producer of course look down on them thinking they are one of those generic idols. They are made to adlib and be creative with the props. Coincidentally the scene is an injured yakuza lady boss! Gokudolls think they can do it. Drawing inspiration from Okashira, they go overboard with their acting. No, actually it’s for real! This of course shocks the staff with their real acting. In the end, they even decapitated the mannequin! Too bad they got rejected because they think their supporting role stood out more than the protagonist.

Episode 3C
Kazu (as Chika) goes back to see her father. Damn, daddy thinks this must be some elaborated scam! He proudly tells her off to get the gender right and is proud of his son as a yakuza! It took a while to convince him. The rest are worried about Mari if she should go see her father. She knows father will not accept her like this as he too was part of the yakuza but retired. Flashback shows father telling Ryou not to join the yakuza. Ryou was very confronting despite dad telling him he regretted joining one and would redo his life if he had the chance. That was 10 years ago. Mari calls him and they agree to meet. Guess what? Mari is the one with the biggest shock because dad is now a tranny!!! HOLY SH*T! Is this now a mother-daughter relationship?! Looks like she’ll be drinking harder tonight.

Episode 3D
Shinji Takemura is Inugane’s treasurer. Oyabun has found out about his embezzlement and as punishment, he is to become an idol like his bros in Gokudolls. Or sell his organs. Or die. He talks to Gokudolls about this but eventually decides he would rather die than become idols. Gokudolls are worried because if Takemura kills himself, others would start thinking how brave he is but his other brothers are just cowards. To protect their reputation, they try to scare him that Oyabun will not kill him so easily and the benefits of being an idol. He is convinced and goes to Thailand. When he returns, man, his transformation guy is just ugly! So ugly that Oyabun doesn’t want him to be an idol, forgive his embezzlement and just excommunicate him! Oh damn! And he wanted so much to be an idol! Now he has to go live in some gay district…

Episode 3E
Oyabun punishes Gokudolls after catching them sneaking out late to convenient stores. Yeah, he has got this sick impression of idols going to bed early by talking to their teddy bears until they sleep! Plus, they’re going to do some ‘bedroom work’ with some president. Can idols be dirtied? Oh, they are yakuzas now?! The trio has a photo shoot with Oilshock Yamakoshi AKA Oiyama. Despite being the biggest douche spewing profanities in every line, nobody could touch him because he is so damn good in his job. So when he abuses Airi, inside she is going to explode but manages to stay calm. The abuse still continues. During the break, they thought of giving up but can’t because they have gotten this far and have no friends. When they return, they see Oyabun and his men beating the sh*t out of this jerk. He gives him a choice to move to South America or 6 feet under!!!! They’re so glad he still values them. Until they realize he sees them as his toys and have to make him more money. Their boss, their hero, their devil… So true…

Episode 4A
Gokudolls are being interviewed about their training. However all they can think of is the hell training Oyabun gave them. Sorry, can’t go into details. Heck, there was one time they even had to cooperate and kill a bear! Are they really training to be idols or some jungle military survivor?!

Episode 4B
Kazu proposed to his girlfriend but told her he has a big job next month that could make or break him. If he succeeds, they’ll be set for life. But of course we all know that didn’t happen. So in another Gokudolls concert, Chika is shocked to see his girlfriend now hanging with another guy! WTF are they doing at this place. Because of that, Chika instead of singing starts ranting and complaining about a certain backstabbing woman and breaks down on stage. Damn, Oyabun is watching as he calls to make arrangements that Chika cannot arrive for the next photo shoot because she got involved in an accident and is hospitalized…

Episode 4C
Hiroshi is a NEET and an obsessed fan of Mari. Look at all his goods in his room on her. His mom tells him to get a job but of course he tells her off. Is protecting Mari a real job? At a Gokudolls concert, he gets into a fight with another fan. He goes home all bruised. Even more so when his room is cleaned out. No more Mari stuffs. He gets into a fight with his father in which his shirt got ripped. Hiroshi is shocked to see a rare Mari swimsuit he is wearing that he was unable to buy. Yeah, mother is so freaking shocked…

Episode 4D
Ryou broke up with his girlfriend simply because he hates sweet things and she baked him a really sweet cheesecake. Now Gokudolls are supposed to do a food interview and Mari must eat this cheesecake. On the first try, she curses this thing! After calming down and making his resolve, the second try sends him to heaven! Or at least some other dimension in which he sees his ex-girlfriend who is so happy he can eat cake. Mari is knocked out but not before giving some out of this world good comments that.

Episode 4E
Airi is being harassed by Tarou Iwamura. Apparently he is one of the top executives in Inugane. He doesn’t care they were men as he likes idols and boobs (I guess idol boobs are better than his wife’s boobs). To save their own skin, Mari and Chika give excuse to allow Iwamura to be alone with Airi. But after remembering how much Aniki has always helped them, they go back to help. Too bad their faces got beaten to a pulp. Of course Oyabun is not going to forgive this bastard and beats him up. Gokudolls will still face their punishment. They have to do some mental training to become better idols. Ah, this solitary confinement does bring back some nostalgic memories.

Episode 4F
A cook, Teppei Okamoto holds a grudge against Gokudolls. 3 months ago when they interviewed him on his cooking, they point out the obvious how everything is just normal. Furthermore, the producers didn’t have time and money to edit and aired it like that. Not that anyone cares, right? And so his shop went bankrupt. Thus he has gathered all victims of Gokudolls to plot their downfall. Too bad the only other person he got is Hiroshi’s mom, Yuko. Can the meeting still proceed? Everything looks so gloomy…

Episode 5A
One day, Chika is wearing a scarf supposedly from a gift and tries to show off. The others are unimpressed. Next day, it is Mari showing off her gloves. Then it’s Chika and her boots again. So the ‘competition’ goes on until Airi blows her top that if it is getting cold, just turn on the damn heater. She does so but it is also a ploy to show off her corset and brag about it. Revenge? However she felt this victory as bittersweet.

Episode 5B
Ryou always admired Jin Takemura as a manly actor. Now as Gokudolls, they get to act with him for a scene and Mari is thrilled. Even if he isn’t into idols, at least he still maintains his pride that respects them and this awes Mari even further. At the end of their recording, Mari wants his autograph and is ushered into his car. She continues praising him as he ‘warns’ he isn’t as he seems in real life. Suddenly she sees his perverted rape face. Fearing the worst, Mari starts thinking and even though she admires him, she is willing to give her body. However Jin reveals he is a fan of Chika and had been wanting to ask her to get her autograph. DAMN!!!!!! That angry face isn’t going to subside any time soon.

Episode 5C
Oyabun has got a brother in America. Is he that Don? As in that Godfather? Anyway he heard about this idol business and is interested. Hence he will send a lackey of his to train under him. Folks, meet our young American of the God Money mafia, George. Quite a chirpy guy. Doesn’t really understand why Oyabun is strict. So as he talks to Gokudolls, it seems he is unaware of why they ended up so. He doesn’t even understand what this ‘transformation’ means. Heck, he even suggests a foursome! But Gokudolls pity him so much that they allow him to grope their boobs! Next day, he is shocked to hear Oyabun forcing him to head to Thailand. Then it all starts to make sense now…

Episode 5D
George is now a girl. Hmm… Not bad looking. Of course he is sad that he is screwed and fears he cannot return to America. Gokudolls understands and sympathizes with him. When Don visits to check things out, the bosses are impressed and praise be on Thailand. But when Don hears how much work is to put into that, he loses interest. Yeah, he wants to leave Oyabun with a gift. Uh huh. George is your present. Bye. Folks, meet Rina. The American intern student of Gokudolls!

Episode 5E
Kinoshita talks to Rina for the first time. As he is unaware of her mafia background, he gets the wrong idea about the ‘family’ he is talking about. He thinks she comes from a poor family from the slums forced to become an idol. Oh, her ‘brothers’? Those are her mafia bros. Kinoshita is very touched by her story and views it as wonderful.

Episode 5F
Remember Takemura and Iwamura? You can say they are both victims of Gokudolls. At least they think they are. Iwamura might not have sex reassignment but he has now boobs! Both lament their lives going downhill ever since. Meanwhile at the other victim meeting, looks like they haven’t got any new members as Yuko laments her husband divorced her and can’t go on living anymore. Teppei will not allow her to be alone and will be alone with her (huh?). A new romance blossoming? They are joined by Takemura and Iwamura. They’re now a couple???!!!! This should be a meeting association of weird couples!

Episode 6A
Gokudolls are tired from their hectic schedule. Rina has an idea. Make Oyabun mad and he’ll punch their face. The injury will be so bad that they’ll be put out for 5 days or more. They can use it to rest. What a great idea! So when they summon their courage and confront Oyabun for more rest days, of course Oyabun changes their schedule that they will be in an accident. Gokudolls accept this fate but is unprepared for what comes next. 2 days later, they are on stage doing a ‘special cosplay’. The fans love them in bandages and casts!!! Damn…

Episode 6B
Gokudolls are in a radio interview with a famous enka singer, Natsuko Tanaka. However she has a toxic personality and hates young idols. We see how she pisses them off by telling them to sing and dance and then doesn’t want to watch them. She even runs her mouth about them being cute to bait rich men. With Oyabun and his men listening, one of them wants to kill that b*tch when suddenly Oyabun beats the sh*t out of him!!! 30 years ago, Oyabun proposed and married Natsuko despite knowing her nature to beat men into submission. He made a promise to not forgive anyone who speaks badly of her in this one sided relationship. Oh…

Episode 6C
We see Natsuko’s hatred of idols stemmed when they were rising in the industry and became more popular than her. Hence she hires a private detective not to snoop about her husband having idol materials in his room but to find out more about Gokudolls. She wants to get revenge on idols. Meanwhile, Kinoshita believes hip hop is the next in-thing. Showing a rapper video, everyone is puzzled why Oyabun calls it pigeon. Soon the detective returns with a picture. A very ambiguous one because from this angle it looks like Airi is giving Oyabun a blowjob!!! Actually Oyabun was trying to act like the rapper and Airi was forced to move her head back and forth like a pigeon. You know, that’s what rappers do, right?!

Episode 6D
Natsuko confronts Oyabun and has him explain everything. However they are not on the same page. While he is serious about going forward with his idol business (he knows she hates idols, that’s why he didn’t say anything), she thinks he wants to add to his sleazy immoral harem. She is holding back only because the detective advised her to understand each other. And then a message from Airi saying she is tired and will do her best tomorrow. Definitely getting the wrong picture now.

Episode 6E
Natsuko has the detective find anything on Gokudolls. He heard they want a pet to enhance their cuteness or something and hoping the fans would indirectly give them one. Natsuko wants to send them a pet that looks cute on the outside but vicious on the inside. A terrapin. Yeah, she’s going to send it to them. However they ate it!!! OMFG!!! They even used the knife sent by her as a warning to slice it up! Mmm… Tasty… Natsuko has no choice but to go to the next stage. Hence she bribes a newspaper editor to write dirt on them. This article might be fake and Kinoshita believes it will only serve to enhance their popularity. But why is Oyabun unhappy? And Natsuko too? Both have the same idea the article is so small that no one will notice!!!

Episode 6F
Last resort for Natsuko. She still hates idols. Meanwhile Oyabun is starting to feel scared. I mean, really scared! Wow. If the demon himself is scared, is it the end of the world? He has this vision that 5 demons will come after him. Gokudolls think it’s some rival group but Oyabun believes he can’t even tell if they are men or women. Natsuko arrives at the meeting of Gokudolls victims. Yeah, she sees them happily dancing. This is her last resort? Yeah, with trans people here, no wonder Oyabun can’t tell… But at least they manage to scare Oyabun’s gang.

Episode 7A
George remembers f*cking his sexy Angelina. Oh yeah, how he would love to f*ck her again. Unfortunately as Rina now, sex is a very much taboo word. Hence Oyabun is going to give him some mental training by having holed up in a room watching porn with a dog for a week. WTF. At first it all seems normal until Rina realizes she cannot masturbate! The dog’s erected dick looks tempting. It moves on to watching the dog f*ck his b*tch and on the final day, Rina is now cleansed of all earthly desires. She doesn’t even know the meaning of sex…

Episode 7B
When the underlings report that Tanimura has been caught, Oyabun has bigger problems to worry about: Writing lyrics for Gokudolls! He doesn’t care about this dude because if he did something wrong, he should get caught. Let’s make the world a peaceful place! He should just give up being a yakuza… Anyway, Oyabun draws inspiration from the previous boss. On his deathbed, he gave Oyabun an island as a final gift. (Note, it might mean turf in yakuza language). Hence Gokudolls sing a song on this and it brings tears to Oyabun’s eyes. At the grave, Oyabun prays for his gratefulness. Then he realizes ex-Oyabun’s final words to treasure those who support you. Oh no! Tanimura is gone! Yeah, you don’t realize what you have until you lose it.

Episode 7C
Yui Nakamura is a fan on Oyabun? At a Gokudolls handshake, she has Mari tell his whereabouts. So she barges into his room and starts singing and dancing. It seems she wants to be part of Gokudolls. Oyabun remembers how he came from America to join this gang and ex-Oyabun gave him that chance. Thus Oyabun is going to reciprocate his teachings and give her a chance. Meanwhile 72 hours straight into the 100 hours of Gokudolls handshake…

Episode 7D
Gokudolls is shocked that Oyabun decides to take Yui in. Can she live with them? If you haven’t realize by now, their room is actually a makeshift toilet. Yeah, that’s where they live. Mari tries to hint about others finding out but Oyabun isn’t interested and has a little talk with them. As Yui waits, Rina returns after handing out flyers. Shocked to see Yui and not knowing her background, she is confused of the things she says. Yeah, they’re not on the same page. Especially cutting ‘that’ off, Yui thinks it is appendix and says she did it since elementary school.

Episode 7E
Yui goes on stage for the first time and is nervous. After that, she fells so bad and useless. Gokudolls feel weird trying to console a high school girl. Yui tells all the cute and plus points of Gokudolls. Chika and Mari somewhat embarrassingly like it. Airi tries to set her straight by telling off she is not fit for this but Yui takes this as tough love and now gets motivated to do better.

Episode 7F
Rina finally learns Yui is a real girl. Gokudolls warn Rina that because Yui gets special training by Oyabun, she might become an official member before her. This prompts her to remember his mafia days. He was partnered with a newbie who seems promising and have the potential to usurp him. Rina is jealous and blows her top not to underestimate her. Then on stage as the duo battle it out as the opening performance, Yui is cute before the fans and once more Rina’s jealousy gets the better off her as she berates Yui at the top of her voice. Everyone in shock. This won’t end well…

Episode 8A
Looks like the producer wants to play a prank on Gokudolls like Candid Camera. So as they are interviewing a shop, yakuza dudes barge in demanding for money. It’s all part of the play but Gokudolls didn’t like this and tell them off yakuza style. The actors think they’re such good acting and play along too. Is this a reverse Candid Camera? In the end, I guess the producers ended up arguing if this was supposed to be it or not.

Episode 8B
Gokudolls are to interview a bar that has just gone bankrupt. This place brings back memories as they used to drink here. It isn’t surprising that the bartender is depressed. Since he has lost all hope and motivation, this irks Airi because he was the one who gave them advise and courage. It is role reversal as Airi scolds him for giving up. At least that motivated him to carry on. And they all have a great drinking reunion. However viewers have different opinions. They don’t think this shop is worth saving and soon enough it goes out of business. Forever.

Episode 8C
Natsuko has had it. This meeting feels nothing more like a social club! Yeah, so when is the next date to the beach? After reprimanding them for forgetting their original mission, it seems they are back on the right path. Their revenge plan involves creating their own idol group and crush them. Natsuko has the financial backing so don’t worry about funding. As she is famous, she cannot be seen holding the audition and leaves it to the rest. The qualities to qualify as idols are big tits, slender and motherly. All fetishes of her husband. Yeah, she is going to crush Oyabun too. So in the end, they create a recruitment poster. A social gathering for dancing! WTF.

Episode 8D
Natsuko is not impressed. Looks like they have found their idols with the required qualities. But they are separated instead of all in one. Like Watanabe who is ‘slender’ (frail and sick), Miyazki who is ‘motherly’ (unfulfilled idol dreams) and Ono who has big boobs (fat). While it brings the rest to tears with their sob stories, Natsuko blows her top that this place has turned into some consultation for troubled people. She tries to imagine them all on stage by idols but it isn’t going to cut it. Fail!

Episode 8E
Mari’s ass hurts. Thanks to haemorrhoids, anal fissure, etc. Yeah, it’s the grand slam of major anus diseases, she calls it. Kinoshita arranges her to see a doctor. Well, Mari doesn’t mind her ass getting checked by this pretty doctor. Yeah, feels so good… She then brags to the rest of this wonderful experience. Can this be considered getting anal? When Oyabun hears this, he will not waste money on her ass rehabilitation and stomps on her ass! WTF???!!! I don’t think that will make her better. Her ass just got worse…

Episode 8F
Yui complains to Mari she hates old men because they grope her again. Sure, there are some exceptions. Like Oyabun. That’s the worst! But to her, the worst is her dad as he is a drunkard, gambler and got traumatized when he used suppositories in front of her. She wishes he’d disappear. That is when Mari blows her top and snaps back for saying those things. Does she not know how hard her father works? He deserves to drink for that. Do you know how stressful society is? He deserves to play some games. And as for the suppository thingy, Mari is so mad that her ass explodes blood! OMFG!!! Are you okay? Too bad this just adds to the list of Yui’s trauma.

Episode 9A
Although Yui is decent, she doesn’t have enough fans to warrant a solo concert. Because of that, Yui thinks she isn’t fit to be part of Gokudolls and should quit. This has the yakuza guys remember how other gangs snatched their new members. Yui reveals a company scouted her and they tempted her with some good contract and money. This fires up Oyabun as he tells his Gokudolls they must investigate this and will not allow Yui to pull out. Flashback reveals it was Teppei and Yuko who approached her. They were very kind with the offer and gave her time to think. This was part of Natsuko’s plan to take away members of Gokudolls one by one instead of that failed audition.

Episode 9B
Airi shows Oyabun the business card from Teppei he gave to Yui. They wonder if this is some trick. Oyabun orders her to investigate this bastard. If Yui goes, Gokudolls will pay! Oh sh*t! Meanwhile Yui is still in a dilemma whether to stay or leave. Yes, she loves Gokudolls and wants to be part of it but because she realizes she has no talent, she doesn’t think she can stay. I guess with their support, Yui realizes she loves them as sisters and can’t quit. As she goes to the roof, she sees Chika and Mari trying to pee like a man! WTF?! Because doing it ‘squirrel’ style isn’t going to cut it?

Episode 9C
I’m sure this adds to the list of Yui’s trauma as the duo try to give lame excuses why they are peeing like that. Screw how lame it sounds. As long as you scream out you argument with passion, I’m sure it’ll pass. Like how excretion is part of men’s desires! Perhaps Yui got confused. Now she is interested to pee like a man to understand how they feel! Of course they try to stop her but this prompts her to want to take a sex change surgery! As they vehemently protest, Yui realizes they know a lot about this. You don’t say… Next day, Yui goes to see Natsuko and declines her offer to join her as she wants to be with Gokudolls. Yeah, Natsuko is pissed that sh*tty group has got more to offer than hers. When the subordinates relay the message that Natsuko is the one behind trying to steal Yui, Oyabun’s world is falling apart…

Episode 9D
Natsuko, Teppei and Yuko are captured by the Inugane gang and roughed up. This is when Natsuko realizes Gokudolls is managed by her husband. When Oyabun barges in, he beats the hell out of his underlings for laying their hands on his wife. And then he beats himself up for failing to live up to his promise. Natsuko is so f*cking touched! I’m sure the rest are so confused because the married couple apologize and reaffirm their love for each other.

Episode 9E
Wow. Oyabun and Natsuko so lovey-dovey again. Now that Natsuko knows the whole truth, Oyabun has Gokudolls dance and sing before her. Now she is receptive of them? Or is it because of their sh*tty lyrics dedicated to her? Either way, Gokudolls are trying real hard not to puke with his ultimate cringe fest… Later Oyabun ties up the guy who punched Natsuko. As he is not a demon, he isn’t going to take away his life since it is his arms who were at fault… Oh sh*… Oh, does he like boobs? Off to Thailand he goes. Now he has boobs on his arms. WTF…

Episode 9F
Gokudolls are in a radio show where they answer queries from fans. The first one was okay but the host notes it was boring and should answer more realistically. When they do so the next time (putting in some yakuza ideas), he tells them not that kind of realism but realistic. Huh???!!! And the next round, Mari went full blown with all the foul words on some relationship advice. She was referring to bad breath instead of his dick or something. And hence we see a metaphor of Ryou’s dick thanking him for not being forgotten. WTF…

Episode 9G
The shows that Gokudolls discover and taste food… There is this strange pattern they all shut down. It is no surprise nobody wants to be interviewed. Even the creator of this show doesn’t realized this fact and tries to shift the blame. Anyway he wants something to be done. Hence the crew surprises Gokudolls that they want to take a look at their daily life. This means raiding their rooms. I’m sure Gokudolls are having a hard time trying to give lame excuses why their room is like a toilet. Then there is that mental training room (that solitary confinement one) excused as some VR videogame room but I wonder how they’ll get away with this practice dance room. Because we see Rina tired to her ass after what it looks like a gym workout. Yeah, what the heck was that?

Episode 10A
Kouji Nagata or better known as Okashira is back! So of course he is curious about his underlings and it is no surprised he is shocked to learn they have become Gokudolls. But after hearing them out and remembering the yakuza soul they all still have, he views their job isn’t bad because it helps to group out. With Gokudolls motivated to do their best for the group, suddenly the next day Okashira spots a poster of Gokudolls in police uniform. The tagline seems to be down with gangsters! F*ck the yakuza! His trust in them suddenly vanished…

Episode 10B
Gokudolls are in the police station talking to the superintendent of organized crime, Hideki Tamura. He hints that their organizations have very deep relationships. Gokudolls think he is extorting money from the group and believe this is their chance to expose his wrongdoings to regain Okashira’s trust. They set him up to make him look like he raped them. With photo evidence, his colleagues then arrest him and he is now all over the news. Gokudolls return and elated to have done their best but Okashira is in shock. Flashback 27 years ago when Okashira and Tamura first joined the group. Oyabun had a long term special plan for them and planted one of them as a mole in the police force. All the work down the drain for nothing…

Episode 10C
Gokudolls hold a special private interview event in which participants can talk privately to them. We are focused on Chika but I think that is enough to see all the stupid sh*t fans will do and say. For example, a crazy fan wants her to look at his underwear for 5 minutes! WTF?! Even Jin is here and he wants a kiss! Otherwise he will use his influence to remove Gokudolls from the industry forever! Ultimate hell! Then a guy who wants to be punched. Chika doesn’t hesitate and sends him flying a few metres! Lastly, a crazed guy who loves her so much underwent surgery to look like her but failed. Now he wants her to take responsibility! WTF???!!!

Episode 10D
Don visits Oyabun again and since business is tough, Oyabun suggests doing the idol thingy because it’s profitable. Hence Don is interested to take back Rina to America. Rina is ecstatic as she says goodbye to her mates. On the way to the airport, Don asks about cutie Yui. Rina explains everything including how she is a real girl. Then it hit Don. He should have just used real girls as idols. So why the f*ck did George underwent a sex change surgery?! Don drops Rina back. Rina has rejoined the group. Drink hard, Rina. Drink hard…

Episode 10E
Kinoshita believes he has stagnated as Gokudolls has not improved much. He believes he needs to step up and tries his hands at writing lyrics. However it is so generic and boring that even Gokudolls scorn him as some sort of pervert. He shows it to Oyabun who finds it okay and points out the problem isn’t the lyrics but his attitude! Oyabun demonstrates as he screams his cheesy and corny (but much interesting) lyrics. He is not ashamed of it! With that confidence, Kinoshita tries to say his generic and boring lyrics to Gokudolls but unfortunately he said it to Okashira. Weird awakening?

Episode 10F
Oyabun barges in and wants to practice a prank show with Gokudolls since that idea got rejected by the TV. So they start off with this whoopee cushion. Because they fail in the timing, Oyabun beats the crap out of them! And then, wow. Suddenly Oyabun is so mad that he doesn’t want to be mad anymore. Knowing they cannot improve anymore, he gives them a chance to quit for good. Of course they will get excommunicated from the group but they’ll gain their freedom. He can work without them. Gokudolls is shocked upon hearing this. They have to make their decision fast as flashbacks of their past (mostly Oyabun’s violence) flash through their minds. Hence they have decided. They’re going to leave. Thank you for everything. But as they leave, a big sign in their face pops up. Everything was just a prank! Gotcha! And so our sad Gokudolls pray with all their might that this ‘prank’ would someday become a reality… Fight on, Gokudolls! Fight on…

Idol Jihen: Trans-Idols!
Hey wait a minute! It’s already over?! Why the heck only 10 episodes instead of the usual 12 or 13?! Hmm… I have this weird theory. You know how many yakuza members don’t have a full set of fingers because they have to cut them off for various reasons like penance? So if 12 or 13 episodes are the equivalent to the normal 10 fingers every normal humans should have, this means this series having only 10 episodes reflects that missing ‘fingers’ of this series?! Ouch! Don’t want to go deeper than that and open a can of worms. But seriously, I was really enjoying all the fun and suddenly it just ends like that?! Not that it had any plot to begin with nor I was hoping for some sort of closure but I was hoping it would go on a little more…

With each episode, dividing into short skits, the quirkiness and randomness are better to digest and laugh at. In this way, we get to see more hilarious antics in different various settings from the gang rather than in one long storyline. What storyline?! So with the last skit giving us that shock factor that Gokudolls might actually get their long awaited freedom, yeah Oyabun actually trolled us real good there. There is no way he is giving up his prized cash cow, right!

One of the biggest factors that divided the community loving and hating this series is the fact that those who hate it dislike its animation style. Mostly they view it as some slideshow animation. While it is true that this series lacks a lot of animation, it is not entirely some still picture animation and hence definitely not a slideshow. You want to know what slideshow atrocity animation is? Just take a look at the horrendous Mahou Shoujo Naria Girls. Now that is what you call slideshow atrocity. So if you love your anime with lots of smooth flowing animation where every frame you must see the character’s hair flowing through the wind and be so awed with that kind of animation, this series isn’t going to cut it for you then.

Some also say that the art style quality is also low because of how the sketchy the animation is. Yes, it is true that the art style looks sketch-like but personally I believe it works a lot on many levels for this anime. At first, as this is meant to be a funny series, it does not need to look very realistic. This way, the jokes are delivered in a more effective manner because when you see yakuza dudes getting loud and passionate, it will look and sound funnier compared to more realistic and conventional anime style. Besides, Gokudolls look freaking cute and kawaii (okay, more of passable) so what is there to complain? Oh. I see you are considered gay if you like them because they were once men… Who f*cking cares?! As long as they look cute and can sing and dance as well as their cuteness level, not forgetting how much they make me f*cking laugh, I’ll accept them! I’ll even let them do me a blowjob!!! Hell yeah!!! Wohoo!!! Oops, sorry. Got a little carried away there.

The characters themselves aren’t anything that much. But it is hard for me to sympathize with Gokudolls and the hell they go through seeing their torment is what brings in most of the laughs. The irony of once tough yakuza dudes are now being made to do cute girly stuffs sure clashes with a lot of their own ideals and sometimes you can see their manly yakuza inner side pulling off such comebacks which makes it hilarious to watch. Everything that Aniki, Ryou and Kazu had before their transformation has literally vanished. You begin to wonder if this is better than death, considering they are from an organization that has their own codes on life and death. Rather to be humiliated than die? I’m sure there is some hope message in there like what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger but seeing where everything has been heading, it’s more like out of the frying pan and into the fire too. But their life seems to be more spiralling downwards… Sometimes I question their loyalty to Oyabun because they put up with all this sh*t just to save their own skin and stay alive. Even as Gokudolls, they still continue to do some slipups especially that police mole case. Everything unravelled and become undone in just seconds. Imagine the whole organization could be brought down just by idols.

Even if the main Gokudolls are basically revolved around Airi, Mari and Chika, I was hoping that Rina would play an equally important role and have as much screen time as the trio. But as of now despite some decent screen times of her here and there (to be fair, the character only popped up half way), Rina feels more like a side dish and supporting character. I suppose she isn’t going to shake off that intern tag for a while. Yui being the first real female to somewhat join the group, I guess it shows that the need to have sex change surgery is a mandatory prerequisite to be part of Gokudolls. But I wonder if Yui would still stay if she really knows the real truth behind the history of Gokudolls. Don’t be surprised if she gets super emotionally impressed and spurs the group to greater heights. There is no better emotional motivation than sisterly (or is it brotherly) love with lots of girly (or is it manly) tears and big group hugs. Yes, it is that kind of series. Expect the unexpected.

There might be some subtle hints that being in an idol business is no less different if you are a yakuza or in any other trade. Show business is a cutthroat business. A dog eat dog world out there. I am sure you have heard how idols train rigorously like a robot with some tragically ending up in death or suicide (remember that K-Pop suicide incident?) and their lives are so rigid that they are not allowed to have any romantic relationship at all (remember that J-Pop idol who was forced to shave her hair as apology after spending a night with her boyfriend?). Ah yes, such a cruel industry to be in. All that glitter is not gold. Fortunately for this anime, it doesn’t take itself too seriously as we see how our failed yakuza dudes trying to get through life the best they can in their new bodies. As long as horny otaku males keep bringing in the cash, they can scream and be perpetual fans of anyone and anything. Oh yeah. It all boils down to money. That’s show business, people.

Oyabun being one of the scariest slave drivers ever in history, possibly even Satan himself fears him should he die and go to hell. No, seriously. This kooky guy definitely has a screw loose in his head. But don’t tell him that. He’ll do a lot of stuffs that are worse than death. Even if he is merciless in training and beating up Gokudolls just to keep them in line, but let’s look on the positive side, Gokudolls are doing pretty well as an idol group, right? They had better. Because if they don’t, they’ll know what is good waiting for them. So don’t you see Oyabun’s ‘kindness’? No slacking allowed!

But I guess once in a while, Gokudolls would get really depressed about it and their old male instincts would start to kick in and reminiscence the good ol’ days. Ah, the good ol’ yakuza days… After all, be it the yakuza, idols or the transgendered, they are all still human underneath. But don’t tell that to Oyabun… Who knows what his sick and twisted perception of idols are… You’ll get a knuckle sandwich or some batting practice before you know it. Yes, prove that although violence may not entirely solve anything, at least it keeps your ass moving. On a trivial note, Oyabun’s brother in America has a very clever play on words. Inugane literally means dog money and for Don’s mafia organization to be called God Money, I think that’s pretty clever there.

But perhaps the more dangerous people are Gokudolls’ fans… As far as we have seen, none of them are decent and have their sick twisted issues! I know idol groups attract fans from all sorts of backgrounds but as we can see here for Gokudolls, they only have the worst kinds of fans. Is this what you get if you can’t get international fame and remain as back alley idols? Maybe it has got to do with the weird kind of yakuza-like lyrics they sing too…

Not sure how he got bit by the idol bug because he really seems passionate and interested in it. Well, at least it brings in the money. Probably better and more profitable than selling organs on the black market because dumb fans keep buying 100 of the same copies of your stuffs. Or having them do porn… At first it might look like a big excuse to torture his failed yakuza boys and take out his frustrations for ruining the group’s reputation. But then you see the way he really ‘tries his best’ to write songs and lyrics for the group, no matter how crappy and cheesy they are, at least he puts his dedication into writing them! This coming from a badass guy who often makes his entrance by kicking down the door? Can’t imagine it. Just like how we can’t imagine rowdy yakuza guys becoming cute lovely idols, eh? And all praise be on Thailand! The land that reigns supreme in sex change surgery and the queer. I know many big bad bosses will have failures be paid with lives but this one sends them on a plane to Thailand…

Perhaps the other hilarious bunch of people that needs more screen time are the so called victims of Gokudolls. They gather to plot their revenge and their downfall but ended up to become some sort of meek social club. Even if the mighty Natsuko joins it, well, it shows how screwed up this association has turned into. Even if they are ‘victims’, don’t you see that they end up happier paired together? Yeah, maybe all they want is a place to be accepted and be happy as they are. With Natsuko and Oyabun back on good terms, does this mean the association is done for? After all, it failed to get more members.

Voice acting is pretty good with Keiji Fujiwara really sounding like a cool badass demon as Oyabun. Such a low and sexy calm voice that makes you want to fall in love with him but at the same time feel shivers down your spine. Daisuke Ono as Aniki is recognizable and with him playing a ruffian role, I thought he almost sounded similar (but not) as that Nendou dude in Saiki Kusuo No Psi-nan although the latter was pretty much unrecognizable for me that time. Same case for Jun Fukuyama as Takemura but as the transgendered, he now sounds so gay… Other recognizable casts are Junichi Suwabe as Kinoshita, Satoshi Hino as Ryuu and Natsuki Hanae as Kimura.

The other casts are Yuka Nukui as Airi (Sanae in Just Because), Kaori Maeda as Mari (Aria in Aikatsu Stars), Hikaru Akao as Chika (Kaos in Comic Girls), Kazuyuki Okitsu as Kazu (Andre in Prison School), Minami Takahashi as Rina (Quetzalcoatl in Kobayashi-san Chi No Maid Dragon), Shinji Kawada as George (Ian in MAR), Kimiko Saito as Natsuko (Gagaran in Overlord) and Ayumi Mano as Yui (Ayane in Tsuredzure Children). With lots of yakuza style loudmouth passionate screaming, it adds to the funny effect but some may find it noisy. I of course find it funny given the irony of the situation. Because it feels like as though the one shouting the loudest seems to be the most correct regardless of logic or who is right or wrong. Yeah…

If you like cute idol music, then you might love the opening theme, Gokudoll Music which is sung by our very Gokudolls themselves. Amidst the crazy psychedelic animation and seemingly cute idol dance moves, you’ll find the lyrics are equally weird. I guess when you leave it to a certain someone to write them… The same can be said for the ending theme, Hoshi No Katachi although this is a little toned down but it is still as weird. If you’re interested, there are lots of somewhat similarly weird and cheesy insert songs that would make you laugh and cringe at the same time after hearing the lyrics. But the funny and cringe factor notches up another level as there is a version of the opening and ending theme that is sung entirely in their male counterparts’ voice! OMFG! So manly! So macho! So gay! Makes me grateful of their sex change…

Overall, this is quite a funny anime that pokes fun of mashing the yakuza and idol industry together as well as running jokes for the transgendered (sorry offended people, this show is not for you then). It is definitely comical and enjoyable (at least by my standards) even with many of the cringe and ironies serving as its joke base and hence giving it its unique quirkiness. It might not seem possible now but there is a chance that Gokudolls would go on and conquer to become to best transgendered idol in the world. Because all you people can’t you see, can’t you see. How your political correctness has affected reality. Every time you think we’re wrong, they can make it right. And at that point, that is what makes them larger than life.

Love Live! Sunshine!! S2

April 21, 2018

Seeing that the ultimate goal of saving their school wasn’t accomplished yet, that is why we need to have another season of Love Live! Sunshine!! S2. Another reason for us to keep up with one of our favourite anime idol groups and for hardcore fans to get hyped and salivate over their favourite girls prancing and dancing on stage. Can Aqours do it this time? They better. Or else we would need to have another season…

Episode 1
It is the new school term and Chika is already running late. Meanwhile Mari addresses her fellow students that Aqours failed to make it to the nationals but thanks to everyone’s effort, they manage to keep the school open. However there is more good news as there is another Love Live competition announced. But their goal now is to find a way to increase the enrolment numbers of Uranohoshi before finding their own way to shine. As they go about their daily lives, Kanan notices Mari acting stranger than her usual strange. It is revealed that Mari’s father has decided to cancel the open house that is supposed to be the draw to attract more students to enrol at Uranohoshi. This means Uranohoshi will not be taking applicants for the next year. Mari tried persuading him but he will not budge. Guess what? Chika wants to go talk to him personally now?! He is in America… Naturally with nothing more they can do, they can only imagine in gloom doom fashion had they won Love Live then. So we see Chika doing her usual bumming-cum-pondering until she gets her baseless confidence back to create a miracle. Guess what? The other Aqours members too have the same idea. They’re not giving up yet. They’re going to shine together.

Episode 2
Mari once more tries to convince her father. Even though his stance remained unchanged, unless they can bring in 100 new students, he might budge. So far they only have 10. Well, doesn’t look far, right? Only 90 more to go… Discussing about the new Love Live preliminaries, a rule is that a new song must be sung. So they’re racking their brains to come up with 2 new songs. One for Love Live and the other for the open house. Instead of putting pressure on a single person to write the songs, it is suggested they split into groups. The second years will be writing one and the seniors and juniors will be writing the other. The latter group heads for Mari’s luxurious seaside mansion and end up having fun instead of doing any work. Too tempting… Dia puts her foot down and has the venue change to hers. No fun… We see that both the juniors and seniors have very different tastes in music. So much so Chika is called to intervene because they are at odds over the kind of song they want to write! Seeing that trust is important, it is suggested they do bonding stuffs. Again we see their different tastes. The seniors are more of the outdoor type while the juniors prefer indoor activities. I guess the only true way for all Japanese people of different walks of life to bond is the bath. It certainly feels good but they hardly make any progress. As they leave, it starts raining so they take nearby shelter in a temple. Cue for jump scares… No progress still but then the roof starts leaking as they place pots, plates and pans to catch the leak. This is when it hit them. The different drops come together as one big harmony. That’s the motivation they need to come together. Coincidence or not, both sides finish their song.

Episode 3
More trouble for Aqours. Mari gets a call that the open house will be delayed a week due to the rain as the storm wreak havoc damaging the roads. Chika, it is not okay because this clashes with your Love Live preliminaries! Although held at different times, they discuss the possible travel methods after finishing one. Helicopter? Mari doesn’t want to ask her father for help since they have to do this by themselves. Luxurious liner? Whoever has this kind of cruise ship? The bus is the only possible solution but with a condition: They must go first in the preliminaries as the next bus is in 3 hours. And so all of them have to decide who should take the draw for the preliminaries. Yoshiko wants to do it but others view she has more bad luck than any other. Eventually she ‘defeats’ Dia in a rock-scissors-paper game. Behold her amazing luck! Aqours will perform as number… 24! That’s right in the middle! Hence the girls are now divided to just perform in either one. Of course nobody wants that as they want both. Can a miracle happen? Apparently Chika hits upon a great idea. Tangerines? After Aqours perform in their stylish kimono clad outfit at the preliminaries, all of them start making a dash across the mountain! OMG! Are they going to run all the way?! Not exactly. It seems in the mountains, Chika’s classmate runs a tangerine farm. They can ride some rail machine that is used to pick tangerines. I don’t know if Aqours riding it feels like overcrowding. What the heck? A turtle is faster than this machine! Then Kanan breaks a handle. It now becomes a roller coaster ride. Then they make the rest of their way by foot and manage to awe everyone at the open house. Wow. They really have so much energy after all that running. They can even perform like normal with all the energetic moves and smile. Truly idols. Truly a miracle. Truly crap…?

Episode 4
Everyone except Chika is nervous about the preliminaries’ result. That’s because they did so wonderfully that there’s nothing to worry about. Good for her. And the results are in. They pass! But of course. But here comes the real problem now. They lack the funds that would take them all the way to Tokyo. Just a stinking 5 Yen left. Of course the best next course is to work part time (sorry, Mari is not lending her fortune) but Dia scoffs off that old fashion way and suggests a flea market. It seems she has an ulterior motive. Noticing everyone is closer to Kanan and Mari, Dia too is ‘jealous’ she wants to get closer to them. At the flea market, Chika gives in to cute puppy dog eyes of little girls to sell dirt cheap while Dia makes it a hard bargain and will not sell below the listed price. Yeah, they didn’t sell much anyway. With Chika noticing something is wrong with Dia, she talks to Kanan about it. So Kanan and Mari go bug what’s bugging her. Eventually she reveals it and they couldn’t stop laughing. So at this day job at the zoo, Dia tries to be nice to everyone but they think she is mad and is suspicious of her goody behaviour. Is this really Dia? To avoid more confusion, Kanan and Mari tell the rest the deal. Somehow kindergarten girls are being let loose running all over the place. The girls can’t control them. Some even weep. Even Ruby?! And then Dia takes control of the situation and in her nicest behaviour rounds up all the girls to behave. Wow. At the end of the day, Dia feels dejected she couldn’t achieve what she wanted to but Chika tells her how everyone loves Dia for being strict with them when they slack because it makes them secure. They hope she will always stay that way. Don’t come complaining when she starts scolding the next round…

Episode 5
Riko still has fears of dogs. Especially Chika’s pet, Shiitake. One day, after Yoshiko’s mom visits Yoshiko’s mom, she left her handphone behind. She wants Riko to go return it to her but along the way Riko stumbles into Yoshiko feeding a stray dog. Yoshiko has it chase Riko around! Riko knew this was coming but Yoshiko wants her to temporarily keep this dog as her place doesn’t allow apartments. It seems the other girls will have their reasons too. So her logic is to keep it safe in one’s place who has phobia of dogs? Riko is forced to accept seeing Yoshiko has the dog chase her again. It gets a little awkward for Riko trying to feed it in her room but gets used to it. Then when Yoshiko comes by to claim it, Riko now wants it to stay?! She won’t give it back?! They end up arguing about it including the different name they have given it. It is like fate intervenes because Riko’s mom shows a poster of a missing dog. The dog is rightfully returned and the duo are depressed ever since. Heck, they are in perfect sync depressed. Yoshiko doesn’t accept this outcome and comes up with a conspiracy theory that the owner is fake! She is going to get the dog back! Riko tags along as she feels responsible for it somehow. Outside the owner’s doorstep, the moment the owner pops up, they run and hide. You mean they are going to wait there as long as it takes until the dog appears? We hear Yoshiko and her views as a fallen angel, destiny and unseen power. She might act like chuunibyou but she is also pretty perceptive of reality. She knows all those aren’t real but also accepts them. When the dog finally appears, it looks like it doesn’t remember them as it goes back in the house. I guess that ended it. I guess that’s destiny for them. Riko looks like she has overcome her dog phobia and is able to touch Shiitake. Talk about unseen power and dreams that are more than just coincidences. I don’t know. At least she learnt something from Yoshiko.

Episode 6
Time is running out. They don’t have many applicants and only a month left till the deadline. With the looming preliminaries of Love Live, there are websites trying to predict who would make it. Yeah, Aqours name is surely there. This time the polls will decide who advance to the finals. While it may do away with the anxiety of waiting for results, however this means the number of supporters you have determine your fate. How many students are enrolled at Uranohoshi again? Huge disadvantage. Because of that, Mari and Dia are bugging Kanan to resort using their last chance which is some dance choreography she came up. Kanan still has her doubts since Mari injured herself the last time. She throws away her notebook into the see but Mari jumps in to save it. See her resolve? Because Chika also feels the need to shine more than other groups, Kanan’s choreography comes to mind. Another round of bugging. If they don’t use it now, when will they? Kanan is not amused but decides to put her trust in her. But if it ever becomes risky, she will stop her even if it means dropping out of Love Live. So we see Chika trying her best to practice those moves but comes up short. Of course the usual flashback and motivation why she pushed so hard like everyone else. Even her pals come to support her. Don’t cry now. Keep trying. Close, but still not close enough so Kanan had to give her a final warning if she cannot pull it off by next morning, she’ll forget about doing it. Yeah, she’s going to take the whole night then… With more support from her friends, they remind her the most important person she is doing this for. She named everyone except herself. Yup. That’s it. Because of Chika, they are where they are now. And what are the chances Chika could pull off that move? Because now we see them performing perfectly at the preliminaries.

Episode 7
The results are out. Only the top 3 make it to the finals. And who are they? Drum roll please… Let’s say Aqours not only made it but they won the most votes!!! Thank goodness this isn’t some trolling dream. It is no surprise their view count on the internet keeps rising. But the real test is here. Do they have enough enrolment? Nope. Deadline is looming. Mari calls papa and he only gives her a mere few hours of extension. That’s like 5am in the morning, right? But right after that, the enrolment slowly rises. And then stops. This is like heart attack for them. Chika is so desperate to force invite others and even do a concert now! At this dead of the night? All you can do is believe in yourself. Yeah, believe. I guess shouting to the computer screen won’t change things either. Or screaming to the rising sun. But can a miracle happen? Because 98 enrolments and a minute left to the deadline. Come on… Come on! Suddenly applications are closed. Damn it! So close! On a side note, I want to know who the f*ck enrols during the dead hours?! Unless they’re foreigners, why would any Japanese kid be looking at the site and enrolling at this point?! Unless they are having haunted dreams to enrol or else… Damn drama… Anyway, everyone is frustrated. Especially Chika. Oh, if hard work could only guarantee victory. In the wake of this ‘defeat’, an announcement is made that the school will be absorbed to Numazu. So while everyone is putting up a brave front and try to practice because they still got the finals to win, Chika had to ruin it for everyone and cry. Okay. Nobody is in the mood either. They need some time to think if they really want to participate in the finals for the seniors, it isn’t that important. Eventually everyone believes they still want to participate. Damn you Chika for ruining things again because she doesn’t care about Love Live or their own way to shine. Without the school, there is no way to shine. I guess she complained so loud that the entire school could hear and hence give their answer to support them. They want Aqours to win the finals and cement Uranohoshi’s name as part of Love Live’s history. That is one way to save it and live forever. Not bad idea, right? New motivation, new hype. Let’s get to it.

Episode 8
Aqours is invited to Hakodate in Hokkaido as a special guests to watch the region’s Love Live preliminaries. A few antics of staying warm from the cold and keeping their balance on the wet icy ground… Before the performance begins, they go visit Saint Snow at the backstage. They renew their rivalry with the sisters, Seira and Ria to meet at the finals. Funny, it felt like a jinx because Saint Snow didn’t make the cut! It seems they made a single mistake during their act. Tough luck. Understandably Saint Snow isn’t in any mood but it is affecting Aqours too? Especially Ruby? Yeah, they heard Saint Snow were fighting and made a mistake in their last tournament too. Is this the end of them? Aqours go sightseeing and then stumble into the shop where Saint Snow works and lives. Not sure why Ruby was snooping around but she caught Ria crying in her room. Oh no. Death threats if you tell it to others. Ria then announces Saint Snow is through. She is done with anything that is idol. Later Aqours ponder about Saint Snow’s fate but Ruby seems to be the hardest hit. Because you know, big sister thingy. She almost reveals about Ria’s crying and instead ran away crying herself. WTF. Dia talks to her and it seems Ruby is worried they won’t get to sing together anymore once Dia graduates. She doesn’t want to be alone. Dia tries to be realistic. The school is closing down anyway but don’t think too much about it because focusing on the finals is what is most important. Dia was very happy when Ruby told her she wanted to become a school idol as she thought and decided it on her own. Later Ruby personally goes talk to Ria. Sounds more like reinforcement of their love for their respective big sisters. Ria too is worried about showing to Seira she is independent but screwed it up and now it has become their last song. Ruby tells her not to make it so then as she takes her to sing under the beautiful lighted up Christmas tree.

Episode 9
Ruby wants to do a performance with Ria for Seira and Dia but she needs Hanamaru and Yoshiko’s help. The quartet try to brainstorm things but since more time is needed, they get ‘permission’ to stay back while the other Aqours members take their flight home. Kanan and Mari make Dia paranoid that those young ones are definitely hiding something from them. Like as they they’re going to split from Aqours and form a new unit. Herald Saint Aqours Snow! Oh my, Dia panicked and almost caused the air stewardess to think if it’s some terrorist attack or something. The trio are in Ria’s room. They notice a snowflake crystal on her shelf. Ria explains the story how it was the symbol that made them form Saint Snow. Once they are done writing their song and lyrics, not sure what audition they had to go through so they could approve their event. Nervous, but I’m sure all that love and tears are worth it. They even make their announcement via radio broadcast. Probably the slipping up is what made it memorable. Ria seems to be hiding from a couple of classmates whom she never had the courage to talk to. Apparently she thinks they are upset for losing out on Love Live preliminaries. Yeah, with those faces I can see why… But it turns out they aren’t and are supportive of her and Seira. Wow. Sudden strike of friendship. More tears flowing… Aqours are soon called back to Hakodate. Is this just an elaborate setup so the younger sisters could give their older sisters an invitation to their event? Of course big sisters won’t miss it for the world. Time for a sisterly hug. And more tears… Looks like Aqours have also prepared a surprise and hint their new outfits are prepared. So we get to see the collaborated performance of Aqours and Saint Snow. If it was a surprise, why are they so well coordinated? Okay, maybe they had some little time to practice. In the aftermath, Ria makes up with Seira. Ria won’t keep Saint Snow going and will start a new group and find a different snowflake (why does this sound so politically incorrect?). She’ll make a school idol group that everyone can love.

Episode 10
Flashback shows a young Mari, Kanan and Dia went up to some stargazing site to make a wish on the star. Too bad God wasn’t on their side as it is cloudy and it is starting to rain. Mari was on the verge of giving up till Kanan marked the star chart for reference so that they could have their wish to stay together always. It is New Year’s Day. Saint Snow is here to help Aqours in their training. I guess this is the only way they could keep their relevance. Mari gets a call to be the director at Numazu as it would help ease the transition process. She declines since she is going to an Italian university recommended by her dad. Hence the reminder, she has 3 months left with them. Oh why do you need to trigger those worries and sadness for Chika? A little soul searching as Chika has to come to terms with reality. Mari thought Kanan and Dia would be mad at her for not telling about her plans. They aren’t because they too have their own plans and didn’t tell anyone. Now they’re even. More childhood flashbacks of them being together. One that includes Mari threatening to disown her parents if she didn’t get to hang out with the duo. They must love their daughter so much. The star chart brings back memories. Yup, even it gets cloudy and rains. They start ‘blaming’ each other but eventually Mari blames God! He is trying to not make their wish come true?! If that’s the case, she will disown Him! WTF?! That night, the trio have an idea. They gather the rest of the Aqours. Mari in the driver’s seat? Don’t worry. She’s got a valid licence. Her driving’s fine. I hope. Where to in this night trip? To see the stars. I know this series has some exaggerations but this one is totally ridiculous because we see the van flying into the night sky into the stars!!! OMFG!!!! I figure they must be high on drugs to see this illusion. At the site, looks like it’s raining. Again. Their wish is to one day be together again. So they’re going to stay here till it clears up? Haha! Or else they’ll disown God! Haha! Hahaha!!! You think the sky is going to listen to you? Haha! Haha~… Oh my… God must now be an Aqours fan because he clears it up for them???!!! Freaking miracle???!!! Is God scared of being disowned by a few cute girls? Oh yeah. So scared that he showered a few shooting stars for them to make several wishes. Now wanna bet He is going to make them win Love Live?

Episode 11
Uranohoshi prepares for its closing festival. The highlights include Mari trying to cook some premium nabe and some of Aqours see a couple of strange walrus mascots running by. Tracking them down, they suddenly disappear! Oh my. Ghosts? Still want to continue investigating in this dark storeroom? Why don’t they turn on the lights? Anyway they see the bed sheet moving and the culprit revealed underneath it is Shiitake? When the walrus duo pop up for real, it scares the sh*t out of the dog as it now rampages throughout the school. Why must it break down the arch that took lots of time and effort to put up? Anyway, Dia gives them an earful despite Chika giving explanation that Mito was walking Shiitake but the leash got loose. It is discovered that Kanan and You are behind the mascots and they are supposed to put on some show for kids for the festival. However if You has been fixing the arch, who is the one behind this mascot? NOTHING! OMFG! Real ghost???!!! The festival proceeds well. Highlights include Dia putting up a Love Live quiz and Yoshiko and Hanamaru ‘forcing’ Chika to come take a fortune because no customers. The biggest surprise for everybody is a bunch of girls release an arch made completely out of balloons to thank everyone for everything. Then they release it all to the sky. What a waste. Wouldn’t this be air pollution? What will the next prefecture say when they see balloons flying over? Oh, who cares? This is their last festival and since everyone is happy, let’s turn a blind eye. The festival ends with the students having a bonfire dance. Then Mari makes her final statement as Uranohoshi’s director. Happiness. Thank you. Emotional apology. You know the drill. But with everyone chanting Aqours’ name, everyone turns into a giant choir team and sings together. Wow. Did they sing until the wood becomes charcoal?

Episode 12
I wonder why Chika still holds that previous results sheet that has Aqours in dead last place with zero voters? Anyway, Aqours are off to the shrine to pray for their victory. They are glad to see many of their friends too have written their wish for them to win. But why the sad face when they see that there are also many other fans vouching for other idol groups to win? It’s not like they’re the only group in town, right? But this must be the only shrine in town because the board is filled with only idol victory wishes. Saint Snow is also there to personally give their blessing. Seira asks Chika if she wants to win Love Live. I thought that was a silly question even if Chika asked her previously this same question. As they stay in their inn, they are obviously nervous and pressured to win Love Live to etch Uranohoshi’s name in history. You eases the tension by having a pillow fight! We see Chika going about asking some of Aqours about why they want to win. Again, I thought it’s a silly question but I guess we need to ramp up some emotions from the viewers as they give their personal honest answers. Mostly, it’s got to do with love and pride of being part of Aqours. Of course everybody wants to win! Which team ever goes to the finals and wants to lose?! Silly! So throw away that old results sheet and chart your own path. Anyway, the next day, the big finals is on the cards. One last hurrah from Aqours to hype things up that they have come this far and all that is left is victory. From zero to one, from one to the future. Go, Aqours! We see them in their heavenly performance on stage.

Episode 13
From the banner at the start… Aqours won Love Live! Hooray! End of story. Oh wait. There’s still more? Oh right. Proper closure needed. So we see the students ‘vandalizing’ Uranohoshi walls with paints of positive messages because apparently this is their last day so it gives them the right. Then a final assembly and Mari’s last speech to officially close the school. Then everyone goes around reminiscing their times. Tears flow. Last moments together. More tears. Finally the closing of the gate in which Aqours have the honours to do so for more tears effect. Oh Chika, why make promises that you can’t keep. Because why tell everyone not to cry when everybody is already so into that? In the aftermath, spring is around the corner. The most shocking revelation is Riko is no longer afraid of dogs and has adopted one! And Shiitake has pups now. Shiitake is female?! Chika bums around at the beach. So apparently she gets to keep the banner and puts it out on the beach as it is the best place for everyone to see? Why not on some tall building? Whatever. Then with some encouragement from her family it isn’t like her to give up, Chika throws a paper airplane in which at the gust of her yell, it really flies ridiculously far as Chika chases after it. Oh, like fate playing a prank because it leads her back to Uranohoshi. Hmm… The gate is open… Chika walks around and reminisces all the things she and her pals have done in that particular corner of the school. So nostalgic that damn she’s crying now. What did I tell you about not making such promises? At the hall, she is shocked to see all the students waiting for her and on stage, other Aqours members extending their hand for Chika to join them singing as a group. One more for the road? Man, did they really plan all this and waited for Chika to show up? And Chika not knowing a thing? Okay, I understand if it’s Chika. And they expected all this to turn out exactly as planned? Okay, not surprising if it is for Chika. Thanks for the performances. Bye.

From Sunshine To Shining Star
Oh well… You know it is not over yet because… There is a sequel! Technically, a movie. Apparently goodbye seems to be the hardest word. I mean, would this be the end of the Love Live franchise? Or will they come up with another school that needs to be saved so we can have another bunch of new girls who are ‘forced’ to form an idol group to save their school by winning Love Live? Yeah. This formula is getting old. Unless you are super hardcore fans of idol themed series and one who is so into the Love Live series, then I guess the producers have got you locked in there, milking and squeezing all the money and every penny (or yen in this case) out of you. But I suppose you people won’t mind because you love your idols more than money, right?

I figure only fans of the series and Aqours can only appreciate this sequel. Casual viewers like me would have found nothing exciting or new to the table. Though, it does have its funny moments. In the sense that it felt weird that it seemed funny. But other than that it is basically a bunch of girls becoming idols in hopes of winning and achieving their goal. But if you think the Love Live series is going to be ultimately the same, this Sunshine series is slightly different in the sense of the plot that Aqours were unable to save Uranohoshi. Unlike in the original Love Live series, Muse managed to save Otonokizaka by the end of the first season. If Aqours managed to do that even by the end of the second season, I guess it would not be any different and might as well go back and watch the original Love Live series.

Therefore it gives a much needed drama for this season for Aqours to be even more relevant and work harder to achieve that goal to save their school. Thus for this series, that is why we have Uranohoshi’s final closure as the main ‘story’ while the Love Live tournament feels relegated as secondary. It works to make the feels via separation than winning something. It hits you harder on the emotions there. Hey, this show is about Aqours, not Love Live. I really felt this scene of saving their school was ridiculous because of how unrealistically the numbers were trickling in as the deadline closes. As if it was to enhance the nail biting drama that they could do it, they could do it, and they could do it. At this point you would expect the final second saving grace moment. You know, when a hero diffuses a ticking time bomb, he usually does so with a second left on the clock. Yeah… Alas it was a heart attack and heartbreak for those really expecting for good news. They might have lost this battle but they have won others, right? So it’s not so bad after all. Hey, you can’t win everything and earn a flawless victory. Life is not that rosy despite looking at how easy and fun becoming a school idol is when it isn’t so straightforward. I know they put in a lot of effort in the background that is not shown but still, they make it look like so much fun. Maybe it is for them. After all, it’s not like they want to dominate and conquer the world, right? Or do they? The other ridiculous part was ‘flying to the moon’. I know, exaggeration but really, that was too much.

Fans would be familiar with the members in Aqours especially if you have a favourite girl. This season does focus on some of them but not all of them. I feel the second years like Chika and You are mainly on the side lines while the juniors and the seniors have more limelight and screen time. There is not much changes to the characters either since Yoshiko (or is it Yohane?) is still acting like a chuunibyou, Hanamaru speaking in her weird accent and Ruby still being the shy and most timid of them all. I guess the biggest ‘change’ is Riko overcoming her dog phobia. No more Shiitake chase running joke? Okay then. Good for her. I still maintain Chika as the most annoying of them all because of her tendency to drag others into her own pace. Despite all that sunshine and super optimism, it becomes annoying when you see her spout all those flowery hopes and dreams and making it look so good. Then she tries to act tough by keeping up her positivism and cheery side when we all know that deep down inside she’s breaking up. Shouldn’t she be true to her feelings like always? Whatever. In the end, Aqours is Aqours and they certainly have found their own shine after all the moments they have been through. Their breakup is understandable as they will be going separately to different places. But can they reunite in the later years? Maybe that is all a different story altogether and it won’t be the same as now when they’re still in high school.

As part of the surprise and twist, Saint Snow who is supposed to be Aqours biggest rival crashed out early. I guess this only gives an excuse to have more friendship drama because the sisterly duo definitely have more screen time and focus. Heck, even more excuse to show their sisterly love! I suppose that is the other theme of this series other than friendship. In a perfect world, big sisters love their little sisters and likewise little sisters love their big sisters. What a big happy world. Is it me or does this worlds have only females? Yeah, coincidently those with siblings only have sisters. Where are all the guys?! They become fat ugly useless otakus possibly showing up at concerts and performances when they have to support their favourite idol group. But then again, I have a feeling all the fans in the stands are females too. No wonder you don’t hear any creepy stalker stories from this series. Too traumatic for its sunshine theme.

Artwork and animation remain consistent as the first season, bright and colourful. Cute looking girls and the use of CGI when the girls are dancing on stage. Doesn’t look too bad but it would be if you think too much about it because CGI dances seem to make them look a bit robotic. Because the setting of this place is the seaside, there are some nice backgrounds to look at. As usual, an idol themed series is all about the songs but I didn’t find any that I really like, not even the various insert songs. Well, there’s one. The closest that came to attracting my attention was My Mai Tonight. A typical group idol opening theme, Mirai No Bokura Wa Shitteru Yo with all the cute stuffs that you would expect from Aqours. The same can be said for the ending theme, Yuuki Wa Doko Ni? Kimi No Mune Ni. Of course this has multiple versions. You have the individual solo or duo versions and the big group Aqours version.

During the same season, another idol series aired with its second season: Wake Up, Girls! I am not sure if they are supposed to be going head to head with each other and pitting fans of both sides against each other. But I don’t see anything of that sort serious rivalry since there is no reason to hate or sabotage other groups as long as you love your own. Right? Either way, both have their own styles and their own fans so no big deal or cutthroat competition to see who is better. On a side note, I am neither their fans but yet I still watched both series and all their previous seasons. Am I a closet idol fan?

Overall, like I have said, only fans of Aqours and the idol genre would definitely connect and grow with the characters over 2 seasons (4 if you include the original Love Live that has no real connection with this one). You learn, laugh and cry at all their endeavours and attempts as they inch towards their dream and shine and feel the heart-warming friendship that brought them this far. But like everything else, it must all come to an end so what better way to go out in a bang and do the things you love and want to do before you can never have that chance again. Thank you Aqours for leaving a lasting impression in our hearts (at least till this season ends). Oh wait, there’s that movie sequel so looks like they’re going to be sticking around for a while. From zero to one, from one to the future, and from the future to infinity and beyond! Aqours can really reach for the stars now.

Not too sure how I would have lost since I didn’t watch the few movies that released before the second season, Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shou. Heck, I didn’t even see that chibi zoo spin-off series thingy either. Hopefully not much since the title says it is a new chapter, right? Even so, I guess I wouldn’t care since I’m not really a fan of them. Whoops. So what am I doing here watching the sequel anyway? Oh, just sticking around to give them a chance and see if these idols can steal my heart. Just kidding. Didn’t even know the second season was coming out so I got surprised a bit and decided to take a look.

Episode 1
Ayumi Hayashi, Itsuka Atsugi and Otome Morishima uploaded a fan video of a WUG dance. As narrated, WUG won the Idol Festival in 2015 but I-1 snatched it back the following year. This year, with the bad economy looming, idols aren’t spared from the effects. In fact, I-1’s Sendai theatre will soon be closed down. However as Tange puts it, they can’t afford to worry about other idol groups as they are still literally unknowns in the idol industry. Therefore she wants them to go out to do promotion stuffs as their target is releasing an album in 6 months. A next big gig arrives. WUG will be performing on a national programme, Song Stage along with I-1. Before WUG’s turn is up, Airi realizes she forgot her scrunchy. She has to rush back to the dressing room to get it. This causes a bit of a hold up. This scrunchy was made by Yoshino as recycled item from their old idol outfits so it is like their group’s good luck charm. No major delays as WUG goes up on stage to perform. At the end of the programme, WUG apologizes to I-1 for the hold up (their appearance was after WUG). However Moka Suzuki (I-1’s new petite centre) didn’t find it amusing and scoffs off at them they’re not fit to be professionals. While Airi feels a bit down, it was a good thing she had it because without it, she believed she would have messed up. But since everything turned out alright, no need to be so depressed about it. Meanwhile a group of hardcore idol fans converge to discuss the horror of several bands disbanding. They know I-1’s popularity is declining and as fans of WUG, they still aren’t as successful. They vow to do everything they can to help WUG. Matsuda gets a rude awakening from Tange because she has decided to do a national tour and has already got them Sendai stadium.

Episode 2
In addition, Tange wants WUG to live together in a dorm. It saves time for them to be late so often. After all, many of them have already graduated from high school or living by themselves. Better group cohesion, I guess. After WUG move into their new dorm, they meet the nice landlady who hands them the keys to the place. She ‘warns’ them about a ‘freeloader’. Just a fat cat named Zunda. Careful not to get on its bad side. With Tange planning on more solo TV projects for WUG, she wants to promote Minami as a sea squirt lover. Say what? Why does that sound so hentai? Don’t worry. It’s not. Together with Kaya, they appear on a local food show along with other guests like that tweedle dee and tweedle dum pair. Although the girls might be cute but the fatty duo are far more interesting and entertaining to watch. When they are teased they will grow fat with all the food they’re eating, this enrages Kaya so she shows it to them by devouring all that is in front of her! She’ll show them an idol can lose weight as fast! It was impromptu and probably she regretted it but since everyone loved it, everything’s alright. When Ayumi talks to her friends about this show, it seems most of them aren’t that interested. Because the new craze now is V-dols. Virtual idols from an app. With Kaya and Minami taking on more food eating programmes, Kaya is starting to feel a little sick. I’m guessing she has put on weight because she doesn’t want to eat with her other members and she gets mad when Minami continues to snack like there’s no tomorrow. Yeah, this girl probably didn’t even put on a single gram after all that eating. Kaya tries hard to control herself (though, she often sneaks out late at night to eat) and not let others know but eventually they find out and to Minami’s relief, it wasn’t the fact Kaya hated her. So the girls convince her not to skip meals and eat properly since their regular dance practice can burn more calories. So Kaya screws it all and WUG as a whole starts enjoying their snacking. Meanwhile the producer is asking Hayasaka about his composition of I-1’s new song. Don’t feel like writing it.

Episode 3
Miyu and Nanami are assigned to appear on a talk show. They must be feeling weird and lost with the eccentric host ‘talking nonsense’ and is trying to get them to do the same. Though, their I-1 counterpart does it better and more natural. Meanwhile Yoshino heads for a photo shoot. The photographer isn’t too thrilled that she isn’t posing very idol-like (maybe it’s the weird way she smiled?) but the next idols really motivated him and Yoshino is like all forgotten. Airi is doing a local mini segment on TV and again the producers are telling her to be more idol-like. Miyu and Nanami’s appearance is aired on show. However their part is totally cut out like as though they were never there! WUG then discuss among themselves about this obstacle they’re facing since Tange isn’t very clear when she told them about the important working in solo. I bet she wanted them to figure it out themselves. Miyu has this idea to do her own web series once a week after watching Kaya. This is to help her so she can do better on the talk show again. We see other WUG improvising and doing their best like Minami now sings after she tastes her food and Yoshino being naturally clumsy for a swimsuit photo suit. It makes her more interesting and the picture livelier. Above all, she’s having fun. Airi is turning heads because she is wearing a shark headgear for her TV segment. All this makes them stand out a little. Tange wants Nanami to do a musical. She isn’t interested at first as she is done with this kind of thing. She wants to stick being an idol but since there is no law saying idols can be on musicals, I guess she has to. It’s not bad once she tries out the audition. The most shocking job comes to Mayu as she will be co-starring alongside Shiho.

Episode 4
As the drama shoot begins, the duo also answer questions from the press conference. Both maintain their professionalism on questions pertaining to their ex-centre roles in I-1 as well as their current onscreen roles that pretty much differs from their own personality. Mayu’s schedule is now packed as she puts in the effort. During a shoot, Mayu seems to have trouble in focusing her lines. So while they take a break, the drama’s writer comes to talk to them. Mayu gets some clarification on certain aspects of the script before the shoot resumes. Ayumi and co look through an audition for extras for the drama. They get hyped up to apply but first Ayumi needs to convince her mom. You know how kids will say anything (like doing everything) just for this once in a lifetime chance. But a ‘scandal’ breaks out. Moka sprained her ankle after falling through the stage during a performance. Hence Shiraki announces Shiho will be temporarily returning to I-1 to replace her. Hence the drama schedule will be heavily revised. Ayumi and co are on set being filmed as extras. They try hard to not be nervous although they are just background characters in the film. Ayumi got too nervous that she dropped her lip balm but Mayu coolly picks it up and returns it to her. Meanwhile Shiraki and the executives are in one of those high powered meetings. Things aren’t looking good especially sales of I-1 continue to fall (in addition to Moka’s fall – Sorry, bad pun). They will need to relook and overhaul everything. Ayumi is so motivated that she announces she wants to become an idol.

Episode 5
Moka’s feet has recovered so she is able to perform again but Shiho will still continue to perform with the main I-1 group. Ayumi and co are looking through the ads to see if there are any idol recruitment drives. None. When Shiraki walks in while the girls are practising, you know something big is going to happen. In a bid to take I-1 to a new direction, he announces a couple of girls from other units to be transferred to the main unit. Because that unit they are in will either be absorbed into others or shut down. Oh, they have to keep working because their new song is released next week. Don’t rest! Don’t complain! Don’t think! Man, this is starting to sound like a cult. When Shiho learns of this, she couldn’t focus on her acting and makes some obvious mistakes. But after talking with Mayu, she steps up her game and before you know it, it’s a wrap for this drama shoot. At the party, the producer answers Mayu’s question that she asked prior that he purposely casted Mayu and Shiho together to attract attention. But he also did so because he saw potential in them and they surprised him in many ways. Tange now wants WUG to hold a fan club meet. How? That’s for Matsuda to go figure out. Discussing with the girls, they come up with touring Sendai with the fans in a bus. It’s going to be like a school trip. Ayumi and co applied for this and now they are training hard in their walking. Looks like they’re catching their breath a lot more than they’re going to catch WUG. Haha… A couple of producers approach Green Leaves to request WUG to do a song which is going to be part of a full album of a V-dol that will be officially debuting as one of its agency’s entertainers. A Japanese major debut is planned as well. They also heard Hayasaka will be part of it. Speaking of him, he doesn’t seem interested in composing a new song for I-1 because he is occupied with a certain ‘girl’. Shiraki receives report of the sales of I-1’s new song. Didn’t hit the million mark again.

Episode 6
Due to a scheduling delay, Minami might not make it in time to join the rest on the bus tour. Something about a chef needing inspiration and hence a 2 hour meditation? Worst case scenario they might have to perform without her. So the first stop of the tour has the fans needing to find WUG dressed in their animal outfits and once they do, they get a stamp. After lunch, Minami still hasn’t arrived so they bring forward the dance lessons with fans first. With time running out, WUG then performs without Minami. Noticing Minami fans would be disappointed, Nanami has this idea of changing into her animal outfit during the performance. It works because you can’t see one’s face clearly in that gear and it’s not like the fans are very close to the stage. Too bad the secret is out when Nanami trips, revealing her face. She tries to recover, the fans find it funny and some may even convert to be a Nanami fan! Thankfully, Minami has just arrived. Thanks to the super express cab Tange had her ride in. The fare is going to be pretty expensive… Guess who is going to have to pay? WUG performs as a whole and to the delight of their fans, they announce their upcoming album on sale as well as a national tour. In the evening, Airi got separated and lost to her way to the bath. She stumbles into the staffs’ room and like any normal fan who discover their idols’ outfit… And then she hears someone coming… Mayu trips upon entering the room. But she never questions why the outfit was placed in such an odd fashion compared to the rest? Yeah, Airi is wearing-cum-hiding in it. Because Mayu spilled her tomato juice, it looked like she just murdered the animal. Just when Mayu realizes someone is inside, she thinks it is Yoshino and takes her to the bath to wash it off. She’s not even curious why this ‘Yoshino’ was doing here in the first place? With all the steam in the bath, Airi manages to slip out and sneak out. Only after that the real Yoshino pops up and Mayu asks her about it. Not that Yoshino knows what she is talking about anyway. Next day when the fans get their stamp from WUG, Mayu remembers Airi as an extra from the drama shoot. Airi is so touched that she declares aloud she wants to become an idol too. Best of luck. Being too happy-happy is detrimental to our health so now it’s time for something ‘depressing’. Shiraki has summoned his entire squad of idols and he will have them ‘reborn’. Is he going to turn them into mindless killing robots? Haha! Oh no…

Episode 7
A special edition that some call it episode 6.5 because this live action episode and features the casts doing behind the scenes stuffs such as interviews and playing some weird variety game. Not sure if this is lazy (because it’s like they can’t meet this week’s deadline or the overall story this season is too short) or creative (because nobody expected it, at least not me) but it breaks the usual pattern of 2D animation all the way as such specials are only reserved for BDs. Although I didn’t watch the entire episode and just snippets of it, overall it feels like a very big promotion for Ayumi and friends’ characters as they eat up a lot of the screen time… Hmm…

Episode 8
The bus tour is a success and preparations for WUG’s big concert is on schedule. However Matsuda points out a big problem: The seats are not filling up. Tange’s usual answer is to have him to fix it. It’s his job. Who picked the Sendai stadium in the first place? I-1 announces a Christmas performance at Tokyo Dome. We see Shiraki announcing to his ‘army’ about the forming a brand new selection unit in which will have its own centre. Moka is not happy as this means she will be replaced. Was it because of her injury? Partly. Shiraki claims that even though it isn’t her fault, a true centre must have luck. He also switches captaincy between the units. One of them is a shy girl so this makes her even more fearful. More bad news as Hayasaka tells Shiraki straight he isn’t writing I-1’s new song because he doesn’t feel like it. Ayumi and friends enter Green Leaves to request to become idols. However Tange shoos them away as they aren’t recruiting. Sad but Tange believes people who claim to be the biggest fans of something are just naïve. Good thing or not, they won’t give up. Matsuda has just received 4000 printed flyers of WUG’s concert. How to distribute them? Ayumi and co take the liberty to do so but it’s a cold world out there as nobody gives a sh*t about them. Tange is mad at Matsuda for allowing them to do so but he says they whisk the flyers away before he had a chance to do anything. Tange asks them to smile. Creepy… She tells them the importance of an idol’s smile during tough times. Since they cannot do it, they’re not cut out for it. Sorry. Sad ending again. Ayumi practises smiling until she gets her mom’s ‘approval’. This lifts her spirits as they continue distributing flyers. This time with more positive results. At the end of the day, their cheeks are sore with too much smiling? A little boy trips and is on the verge of crying. Ayumi tries to help him but trips. Everyone laughs at her since her face is messed up. Gee, everyone is such a sadist… Hearing positive comments from the boy’s mother, they get motivated to continue distributing with even bigger smiles. Then they go back to Tange and beg again. I guess with all that pestering, she has to give them an audition chance. After having them introduce themselves and show their dancing talent, Mayu’s comments on how she saw them work hard has Tange make them idol trainees. Is it alright to make middle school girls idols? Of course. When there is money to be made! And so WUG now have juniors training under them.

Episode 9
Tange has spent so much on this and it better work. Otherwise she’ll run away! Oh, Tange. You really make the ‘best’ jokes. Soon she hounds Matsuda to get working because they still need a song from Hayasaka. Sure, but what can you do if he isn’t picking up? And it’s Matsuda’s fault?! Meanwhile the juniors’ first task is to clean the office… It builds up stamina. Free labour put to good use. Or maybe she is just abusing her authority and understaffed. Mayu gets a call from I-1’s Megumi. She is crying about being made the new leader and the several changes in I-1 that is scaring the sh*t out of her. There are also rumours the Hakata theatre will also be closed. And when complained, they were told it isn’t their job to think on this. All Mayu can say is that Shiraki will not do something that doesn’t benefit I-1. WUG will be doing a short commercial for departmental store, Nyaon. This will help boost their image and sales for the concert. Miyu then overhears Tange and Matsuda talking about the stagnant ticket sales as well as their concert day clashing with I-1’s tour. Talking to the rest, Yoshino decides to ask them directly but gets scolded by Tange to continue practising if she has time thinking about this. Then Tange scolds Matsuda for making them worry. They should be thinking about performing at the concert and not worry about ticket sales. That’s their job! She’s got a point. WUG does their best to stay positive on the matter. A group of executives just finish watching a commercial about a virtual idol that will be released soon on all media platforms. They hope Hayasaka could write songs for them in the future. Although he agrees, he doesn’t look that all interested. Oh look, it is Matsuda calling and bugging again. I guess it is like saying perseverance pays off because soon out of the blue, Matsuda gets a mysterious email from Hayasaka. He has written a new song for WUG! Only 1 condition: They must write the lyrics. Hayasaka wakes up from some past nightmare about his band breaking up since he didn’t agree with the lyrics and quitted. WUG gets help from some veteran duo who also meet their juniors for the first time. Then a breaking article pops up. Hayasaka is spotted on a trip to America and he might be staying there to work.

Episode 10
WUG is trying to write the lyrics. Not as easy, huh? Not sure what Nanami’s current job is but she has to supervise lots of children. Lots of naughty children. Did she just give up? It hit a nerve when Minami thought it is great to work with children. Because a star of some former would be appearing next week as a guest in Nanami’s show, Minami would like to ask more about her. Nanami thinks she is bragging and this causes a rift between them. With all of them having different work, they have barely any time to practice together and set a date when they are all free to do so. Moka is not happy that Shiraki has dropped her from the new I-1 line-up. Crying won’t get you anywhere… You think Miyu is joking when she asks Tange to hire a housekeeper. It’s not that she’s lazy, most of the house chores are done by Airi who is the least busy. At this rate, she worries she might collapse. Okay. Cue for the trainees to step up and provide more free labour. Mayu notices Shiho depressed lately. She talks to her as she reveals Shiraki wants her to quit her unit, Next Storm. She feels sad about it because she worked so hard to get there. Ironically she now understands how Mayu felt when she quit I-1. Accompanying Shiho means Mayu is late for WUG’s group practice. As promise to Shiho, she can’t tell the reason. Mayu then misplaces her scrunchy at a busy time. The trainees notice this and offer to look for it. But a rift has formed between Yoshino and Mayu. The former accusing the latter of being more dedicated to I-1 than WUG (she continues to be late). She also notices she hasn’t been wearing her scrunchy lately. Luckily the trainees find it (damn Zunda keeping all those junks in his whatever nest). Mayu sheds some tears, Airi suggests writing a shared journal among them. Nanami and Minami are back on good terms and this gives Yoshino a good idea what WUG is about. Individually they are weak and lacking but when united, they become stronger by influencing each other.

Episode 11
The virtual idol named Vdol makes its debut in America. There will be a concert using the world’s first virtual concert system via app that is designed by an American company. Look at the white dude all smiles. And the Vdol’s song is written by none other than Hayasaka. WUG reads this on the news but they have other matters to deal with. Because Hayasaka rejects their lyrics and wants them to come up with something new. Time is short as they have less than a week before their album goes on sale and then kicking off their nationwide tour. Hayasaka and the Americans celebrate their 4th placing debut but why is Hayasaka not happy? He then gets a mysterious call from a strange anonymous person. More woes for WUG because the stage they are supposed to be appearing on is cancelled. Apparently Vdol’s sponsors are sponsoring that stage. Tange believes it will all work out. But does she have to abuse Matsuda? Yoshino then gets an idea they should hold a guerrilla concert at several places like parks and rooftops. Matsuda is against it since they are now somebody but Tange approves of it. The only condition is that they have to do it a limited budget. And guess who has to help them out? Matsuda at your service… In small groups, WUG holds their guerrilla concert much to the surprise and delight of fans. Nothing beats real idols, eh? WUG still has problems trying to come up with the lyrics. Then Miyu sees an ad of Namahagez’s concert nearby. She goes to say hi and they remember the good times they battled during the competition. They have not disbanded despite their agency has closed down. They are now freelancers and work part time to get funds to hold small concerts. Miyu gets this idea to help advertise their concerts. The idea of helping one another has WUG realize what they should write as their lyrics. They finally finish it and what is Hayasaka’s verdict? They pass. They can have the song. Hooray! Think it’s all smooth sailing from now? Think again. Because Vdol buys out the Sendai stadium and converts it into Vdol stadium that is scheduled for a performance on Christmas Eve. Uhm, that’s the day of WUG’s concert, right?

Episode 12
WUG kicks off their nationwide tour. Though, they are still left without a final venue. Shiho confronts Shiraki about the closure of her Hakata side. She is told she has a chance to become the centre again but she is somewhat unhappy. She agrees but hopes to go back to Hakata one last time. She meets her fellow members and tells them the bad news that they are breaking. They don’t want this but what other choice do they have? With no one refunding their tickets for Sendai, WUG is happy to note that their fans still believe in them and will work hard till they get the final venue. Mayu gets a call from Megumi. She tells of Shiho might quit I-1 to keep Next Storm together. Mayu wants to go talk to them and Yoshino agrees on a condition that she also comes. So the girls meet and they ask if this is what Shiho really wants. She should talk to him again if she is really prepared to quit. So Mayu goes to bug Tange to arrange a meeting and with WUG ‘pressuring’ her, she gives in and calls Shiraki. And so that guy could only spare 15 minutes of his time just to talk to Mayu alone. They have very differing views on what it means to be an idol. Shiraki insists I-1 doesn’t need friendship. Hard work and strong mentality are all it takes. If Shiho wants to leave, then leave. You can’t reach the top if you rely on others or swayed by your feelings. Shiraki ends the meeting but little do they know, a paparazzi has taken a photo of them. Soon it hits the magazines about this ‘scandalous’ meeting. Rumours fly that Mayu will quit WUG and return to I-1. Oh well, I’m sure true comrades and friends will believe in them. With Shiho released from her contract, she manages to save Next Storm as Shiraki’s ‘parting gift’ to her. Also, Moka becomes Shiho’s replacement as the candidate for the new centre. Not happy? A chance is still a chance. Shiho calls Hayasaka about her departure from I-1 and also to tell something is happening to WUG. Then Hayasaka calls Shiraki to come up with some ‘mischief’. WUG has some good news. They finally find a venue: The old Sendai airport. The huge land is barren and empty. Looks like more costs to erect a stage. So WUG helps out by picking up trash? This is going to take some time. WUG manages to successfully have many idols perform simultaneously on Christmas Eve. Then they bug and Tange so their apprentices can debut. At first she disagrees but after another round of ‘pressuring’, she gives in. That easy, huh? But the only condition is they will only be WUG’s opening act. Hence she has to bring out a song Twinkle wrote for them. WUG tries to come up with a name for the trainees’ new unit. Noticing how they’re always running around, it is decided to be Run Girls, Run (RGR). I guess it beats having just an alphabet and number.

Episode 13
Tonight is the night where many of the idols will perform simultaneously. A lot of people in Japan must really have no other plans but to attend concerts nationwide, eh? We see I-1 going about with their performance first. RGR is nervous before their debut so WUG helps calm them down by giving them scrunchy. Feeling part of the team now? Naturally they are still nervous and slip up on stage. In their bid to recover, they look so funny that the fans love them. Ah, you can’t go wrong as long as you’re cute girls, right? They manage to recover and do their number. And now it’s time for the main event with WUG performing a montage of their songs for the next 8 minutes of this episode. Then the other idols elsewhere like Next Storm and Namahagez get only a second of clip because we’re not going to show everyone, right? Hayasaka calls Shiraki and it seems he was the one who helped WUG find a concert venue. Even more surprising, it was Shiho who called him to help out with this. Hayasaka then asks him a question the difference between human and virtual idols. To him they are all the same. So I guess to prove what Hayasaka is going to say or why human idols have their own charm, something happens during the concert. WUG’s microphones suddenly get cut off while the Vdol just suddenly vanishes! Yeah, blame the cold snow for messing with the equipment. So the fans for the Vdol will have to wait while the technicians get it to fix back but for WUG, they continue performing and they improvise by getting closer to their fans and performing in their stand. Hayasaka thought letting the perfect idol debut with his songs would be the best way to maximise his music potential but learnt that was wrong. At the end of I-1’s concert, Moka is chosen as the next centre. Apparently she doesn’t look happy. A surprise guest appears on screen then. Rather, guests. Because all the other idol concerts pop up. This is also part of Hayasaka’s doing. Shiraki then answers back by making his announcement. There will be a new idol festival. In the aftermath, Hayasaka returns to Japan (because it’s more fun there). Shocking news as Moka steps down as I-1’s centre because the real battle for it will be postponed until the new idol festival. I-1 has also rescinded their seeding and will participate in the preliminaries alongside other idols. WUG is ecstatic of this news but leaves rookies RGR in a lurch because now they are rivals! No more nice girls?

Virtual Wake Up Call
It would sure be interesting to note about this next new idol festival since the Vdol would also be performing! Well, even if this may seem like one sided because machine is virtually perfect but it all boils down to the number of fans you have. In a way, you can be ordinary idols, famous well known idols, obscure idols, idols from another nation, idols from outer space or spiritual idols for all we care. As long as you can capture the heart of your fans, you’re a true top idol. Well, that’s the only thing interesting for me to watch and see if there should be another sequel. Otherwise, this sequel didn’t really offer much especially for casual viewers seeing the biggest struggle for WUG was trying to maintain their relevance and getting their final concert filled. Yeah, the lyrics writing thingy didn’t really seem that all bad. Personal and individual struggles are not on some epic scale that would shake up anything or cause any concern. Remember that ‘scandalous’ meeting between Mayu and Shiraki? Now that she has put up a great performance I guess all is forgotten and forgiven. If only the real world was this good…

I don’t see this season’s plot as exciting despite the virtual idol being the biggest threat to the dwindling idol industry. For a casual viewer like me, despite WUG being the main stars of the series, I just don’t feel that they are going anywhere. Sure, they are struggling to stay relevant in a time when everything is so online that even idols are now in digital form. They might have made a name for themselves but I am figuring they are not as big as say, AKB48. Because I get this feeling that they are just popular locally at Sendai instead of nationwide. Then there is the struggle to keep the group’s cohesiveness together. Although considered a small group by today’s standards, having 7 members in a group is still a feat to manage as each individual is unique. That problem is partly solved as they are living together in a shared dorm now. But other than that, with a few small arguments here and there that doesn’t matter, ultimately they reconcile in no time and there is no big internal strife that would put the group in danger or risk any of them quitting or falling out. Thank goodness. Thus, nothing pretty much exciting if you want to look in terms of the plot and character development because the past season (and perhaps the movies) have done all that. It’s just more WUG happiness to appease fans.

Aside WUG, it looks like I-1 is going through a major change and shift as well. We don’t see much of it because this isn’t their show so it is understandable. So the problem with super huge groups like I-1 as you can see is the cohesiveness of the overall team. Though not shown, I believe not every single member is close to every other single member. So many members like as though Shiraki who only remembers all the members via a given number (he doesn’t even address them by their name unless specifically forced to), is raising a mini army to take over Japan via singing and dancing through our hearts. This guy really makes his I-1 training camp look more like a boot camp. I suppose when you have so many members, you can’t have everyone voicing their opinions because that would split the group and hence who better to play the ‘dictator’ than the man himself. Sometimes Shiraki’s ways might be too harsh, cold and soulless but if you think deeper into it, there might be some truth in it especially about idols not needing friendship. It is still a cutthroat industry so this one is really 50/50 depending on your ethics and morality. So now I-1 is going through a rough patch and their past glories won’t save them unless they innovate. Good times don’t last forever. But so do bad times.

Which brings us to this new Vdol phenomenon which is sweeping the world at a feverish state. Like a new toilet, it is the talk of town. A different experience that excites everyone. But just like trends of anything and everything, eventually this too would become boring and either slow down or phase out. So our idol girls of the flesh and blood kind will really need to work harder and innovate if they wish to stay relevant in the industry. After all, there are pros and cons of both traditional idols and virtual idols. For the former, you can at least get a physical handshake at special events! You can’t touch your virtual idol’s hands, can you? Not even with the latest high-tech VR equipment. Yeah, those are just so artificial…

With Shiho now on her own and running her own freelance little unit, let’s hope that she would be much happier this way. Looks like history is repeating itself when Mayu first quit I-1 and formed WUG, eh? Will Next Storm cause another blistering storm or just fizzle out? I thought Moka would also quit I-1 in view of all this but I suppose she’s just stepping down as the centre. Sometimes I think it is like a slap in the face, she got what she coveted the most but since she didn’t get it the honourable way she wanted, she doesn’t want it. Uhm what? A win is still a win, it’s not like she cheated or anything. Did she? If not for Shiraki’s greater vision to make I-1 the centre of all idols, her actions could have been shot down and fired for all we know. So count your blessings that at least in this anime, idols get to compete with each other fair and square. And we fans still love you all! True fans or true suckers?

I believe this season tries to introduce a group of young WUG fans that turned into their apprentices. Unfortunately they don’t really make an impact. In the first half of this season, you see them bum around from time to time, admiring and dreaming the great idol life. And then once they join as trainees, they fall further into the side. Maybe that is why in order for them to have more screen time and for us to be more ‘acquainted’ with them, unlike last season whereby the next episode preview is done by WUG’s seiyuus, this time we have the seiyuus of the trio narrating and talking whatever. But I guess perseverance pays off because they finally have their own little unit now. Oh, I almost forget about Zunda. I am guessing this cat is supposed to be the series’ mascot but its appearance is so sparing, it can be done without anyway. I mean, it’s a cat and does what it wants. Screw your deadline, just feed me and give me a place to sleep. I show my face once in a while to remind who your lord is and for all you slaves to fawn over. Right. We need to ramp up more moe cuteness. Cute girls + cute fat cat = Epic cuteness!

Ironically, the more interesting characters are the adults. Like Tange who still is the very sly slave driver with connections. She gets lots of this crazy ideas on a whim for WUG to do like as though she came up with them during one of her drunken sessions. Really. Thank goodness it all pays off somewhat. She talks with stern confidence whether she agrees or not. That’s why she makes a good top level manager. She gets things done. Only problem is that she loves taking out and ‘abusing’ Matsuda and piling up all the work on him. But hey, he too somehow manages to get things done so I guess it isn’t that bad. Too bad Matsuda feels like a wuss pussy like last time for being pushed around a lot by Tange but I suppose somebody has to do the job and it isn’t the girls in the agency. Yeah, who is the only guy in the agency? Despite taking out on Matsuda, she gets easily pressured when WUG demands something. Of course it’s for the better of the group and plot convenience and Tange will be viewed as a b*tch if she doesn’t give in to their demands. After all, don’t want to be blamed if they failed, right? On a side note, there is a bunch of WUG fans who are always plotting their next support for WUG at a diner. They usually get too loud and causing a nuisance around them. Are there better places to meet up?

Last but not least, Hayasaka. This talented guy is still as eccentric and whimsical as ever. Because of his tremendous song writing talents, he gets to do what he wants because apparently nobody in this age writes song anymore except him. So they have to pander and beg him but it all depends on his mood. Feel like it, okay, write it. Don’t feel like it, delete everything, drop it, quit, whatever. Clips on his past insights should be interesting and perhaps would enlighten us on how he came to be this enigmatic and erratic character he is today. So he already had his hands in writing songs for his own group, a famous idol group, a lesser known and upcoming idol group and now the virtual idol. What is next? What is the perfection he seeks that will satisfy his heart and soul? Only Hayasaka will have the answer to that. And looks like he has to return to Japan to find it. Where else in the world has produced more interesting idols than Japan? Oh, right. There is South Korea but that’s on a totally different league.

Not too sure if this season was supposedly the battle of the idols because in that very same season we had the sequel to Love Live! Sunshine aired. So will it be WUG or Aqours? Because I am fan of neither groups and considering I have watched both series including its first season, I can’t tell if there is supposed to be any competition between them. Although in the similar idol industry, the settings are just too different if you want to make them go head to head with each other. It’s like they don’t need to compete with each other in the first place and are sufficiently standing on their own feet without the need of trying to outdo one another. After all, both idol groups have their set of dedicated fan base and unless you want to really delve into the dark and dirty idol world, let’s just assume that everybody is just happy with their own favourite idols without the need to resort to low level mudslinging and name calling.

The opening and ending themes feel like spiritual successors of last season. 7 Senses as the opener is your typical lively idol piece while Shizuku No Kanmuri as the ending theme again feels out of place because of its slow ballad style. Though it isn’t bad and not to say that idol groups don’t sing slow ballads, but I still can’t help feel that it just sounds weird as an ending song. There are a few insert songs too but since I’m still not into them, I guess they didn’t sound that attractive to me.

Overall, looks like idol fans and true blue WUG fans would only appreciate this sequel that would otherwise be just boring and average to other casual viewers. In an age where technology is so rampant and one by one jobs that were once manned by humans are slowly being computerised, nothing is left safe at the hands of so called modernisation and development. Hence the only interesting thought this season provided me is how even idols are in danger of being replaced digitally, which isn’t so far-fetched a reality. Let’s just hope in the event if real traditional idols really die out, they won’t resort to shady stuffs in a desperate bid to stay relevant like releasing sex tapes and making adult videos. You think porn is safe from automation? There are sex dolls now! What a time to wake up and be alive.

Oh my. You mean there is more of it?! More of the gayness?! Well, it seems that Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! Love! Love! Is going to be the final. That is why this OVA is almost an hour long! Oh boy. I don’t know if I should feel relief or sad but this is it. Graduation is looming for the gang and with that they won’t be able to stay together like before. Let’s hear for one last time for the boys.

The ending of the love…
We hear the guys discussing how Tawarayama has been revived so many times that they wonder if he is still the same person. It creeps them out thinking if he isn’t. Next we see the guys taking a bath as they talk and reminisce about things. Among them include Kusatsu having a writer’s block to come up with a graduation speech, the very short encounter of how Kusatsu and Zundar met but a very long one between Wombat and the Earth Defence Club quintet. Then there is an argument between the Beppu twins, Io, Ryuu and Akoya on which one of them is supposed to address the speech as the underclassman representative to the graduating students. Cue for each of them to sing their own character image song. Each of them. Yup, this is going to take some time. Then they realize something is wrong when Yumoto isn’t here. Something truly is when Wombat says he has not been cuddled once today! They find him depressed in the clubroom holding a sponge. What’s this? Wombat getting jealous and wants him to hug him like he always do?! Creepy! And to think he hated the ‘raping’ so much. However Yumoto is still dejected and denies he is the main character or something. The rest think he must be sentimental since spring is here and to leave him alone. Yumoto passes by Yuzuru Botan who hates graduation ceremonies. Yumoto sympathizes with him and knows how he feels.

When the graduation ceremony is here, a button monster attacks the place. Caerula Adamas go into action to subdue him but he escapes. The quintet then want to leave this to them since they have to concentrate on the ceremony. The culprits behind this are Zundar and Dadacha. They pretended to have reformed and gone home but waited for the right time to exact revenge. Battle Lovers get help from VEPPer but still aren’t good enough to take the monster down. They argue the good of the graduation ceremony when the monster questions back if the important things are found in every day, so what is the point of having this special ceremony? For the first time, Yumoto is outdebated and loses his power. Goura explains this is so because Yumoto doesn’t want the graduation ceremony to happen too. Yumoto admits that and doesn’t care about it. They should even call it off. The rest also feel the same. Yumoto is surprised and explains he didn’t mean this to bother them. It is that he wants to stay with them like this forever. The monster attacks as Yumoto’s friends protect him. Goura wants to help but Wombat stops him. This is a challenge to see if Battle Lovers can solve this themselves. After all, his love is letting things go. Zundar and Dadacha try to convince the twins to rejoin them in the universal stage but they refuse. They thank Dadacha for everything but it’s time to say goodbye. Yumoto and the rest face the reality of graduation. He thanks them for everything and for the first time they purify the monster without being in their Battle Lovers form. The graduation ceremony proceeds well. When they don’t see Wombat, they realize he has left a note in the clubroom. By the time they read this, he is already preparing to leave this planet and taking along Zundar and Dadacha with him. As Earth is now filled with love, his role here is over. There are still many planets filled with hatred and fear so his retirement is still a long way off. The guys manage to catch Wombat for the last time before his galaxy railways takes off into the stars.

Love Is Over!
Oh well, like I have said, I don’t know if I should feel at ease because it is all over or sad because everything has already ended. Unless… But as for now and at this point, it looks like another one of those series which I didn’t even expect to get a second season has finally come to a close. I suppose this is much better than many of the other animes out there which never got its proper closure and just left hanging and forgotten over time after losing its appeal. It goes to show that nothing lasts forever. Not even love. Heck, even Naruto has ended! Although technically there is a new spinoff of it running, basically the original is already done. So there goes my joke of what is the difference between love and Naruto. Love ends. Hah… Not funny anymore…

It is so obvious that a big chunk of this OVA is because of the character image songs in the first half of this show. This is why the running time could last up to almost an hour. I believe this is the first time I am hearing all of them (except the Beppu twins who used their trademark battle song) and I figure the best sounding one is Io’s since it is all about money. You know this is going to be some sort of special final goodbye when during these songs they start replaying clips from previous seasons, many of which I cannot remember. Oh yeah, those were the good ol’ (gay) days. Making it even ‘sadder’ is the ending theme, Kokoro To Kokoro De which is filled with all the goodbye and parting words. It definitely gives you the feels that it is really over.

Fighting the final monster also feels like a final parting gift for the series as we see everyone in their battle uniforms for one last time but the twist of it all is that how the power of love that comes directly from the heart heals the monster instead of the usual love attacks. It is still creepy and cringing to now think that Wombat has accepted Yumoto’s cuddles. It was one of the very ambiguously gay moments (if not bordering bestiality) that sends shivers down your spine but at the same time makes you laugh at how silly and cringe it is. Oh well, no more Wombat raping moments ever. From the looks of it, Yumoto has gotten over that since he has prioritize his friends. Good for him.

So this is it. Even if this series is gone, I’m sure the love making will not stop. Things have to go on and move forward but essentially all that love is still the same but in different forms. The only mind boggling thing is that if Wombat claims Earth is now filled with love, is this only confined to Japan? Because hell, it looks like the rest of the world didn’t get the loving touch of Battle Lovers. Oh Wombat, one day you will realize this and make a u-turn back to Earth and reunite with our boys again. And hence another sequel! Oh God. Please don’t think about this and give others strange ideas. But for now, we know a certain pink wombat is out there trying to bring peace and love to all that hatred and terror. And possible getting ‘raped’ at it. The price of love…

Idol Jihen

July 14, 2017

OMG! How did Donald Trump win the recent American elections?! How can this happen?! The world is coming to an end!!! It is time to return to our safe space and propagate and assure ourselves that there is still hope. Because in a time of darkness, there will be a light that will rise and shine above it all to bring us hope. To fight the evil and corrupted politicians and greedy congressmen and power hungry assemblymen. That is why we have idols running as legislators! I’m not kidding. At least this is according to Idol Jihen. If AKB0048 is to sci-fi and Love Live is too irrelevant and only for high school, this series might be the timely appropriate. I guess people are just fed up of typical corrupted policymakers that they decide to give idols the chance to run for office. What do idols know about politics and governance? Who cares? As long as we get to enjoy their concerts. Hey. My drain is clogged since last week and it stinks. Somebody care to come clean it up? I can’t. I have to attend that idol’s concert…

Episode 1
A shady bribery is going on between these old guys… Then the politician chokes and dies on his snack. Now with the Niigata seat vacant, Sachie Kondou and her assistant Kamishiro are looking around for local girls to represent the Heroine Party. Then she sees Natsuki Hoshina revving up the farmers by singing in their paddy fields. Feeling she is the right candidate, she asks Natsuki to join the idol election audition at Tokyo. So the audition is to run up a hill so high that goes past the clouds? Isn’t that more of a mountain? And what is this about idols needing to reach the top? For real? Apparently only Natsuki passed as she is the only one who managed to complete the run. Kamishiro is sceptical if she is the right candidate because right now Japan has no president and they can do without jokers. Don’t worry. Everything will somehow work out… That’s what they all say. Natsuki being the rookie and noob, stutters in her speech and when confronted with rival Rougai Party who is more accustomed with their typical political speech, how does Natsuki overcome this? She blurts out for the men to make her a woman! Wait. What?! Can idols say that? Well, all those old men are definitely interested in her now… Then Shizuka Onimaru (a twice elected idol dietwoman) arrives as requested by Sachie to help out. She is supposed to sing a duet with Natsuki in a live concert. However Shizuka doesn’t believe Natsuki is up to her par yet and will train her. Despite Natsuki bloopers a lot and doesn’t give up, Shizuka decides she is not up to mark. She doesn’t have what it takes to be on stage with her. Natsuki feels down but nothing but a little farming to help bring her motivation back. Shizuka also remembers Sachie removing her from the team. Despite having exceptional talent, her aura hurts others. Natsuki only appears on stage. Some of the crowd is displeased since Natsuki is nervous and Shizuka isn’t around. Well, she’s at the backstage. If she is having whatever doubts, leave it to Sachie to change her mind on that. So the crowd returns once Shizuka appears. Before they could start singing, Rougai Party starts their deafening speech on their usual propaganda. Natsuki then starts singing to drown out the interference. Such beautiful flowery aura. Safe to say we know who the people will vote next. Yeah, even this Rougai Party candidate. Now that Natsuki is elected in, she is still nervous but will do her best. Despite Rougai Party still have the clear majority in the house, a few shady old politicians won’t let these idol dietwomen gain momentum.

Episode 2
The Heroine Party is at a local dumpsite that is legal by law. They see Chinatsu Ryuusekidou of Sunlight Party and a few other idol dietwoman trying to stop the dumping and save the environment. But the local politician tells them off this is his land is graciously offering for garbage to be dumped. Don’t tell me you want to be selfish and dump it in other districts, do you? No choice, they let them through. When Shizuka confronts Chinatsu, immediately the latter slaps her! Whatever history they had, Chinatsu still won’t forgive her. Later that night, Natsuki returns to the dumpsite to find Chinatsu trying to clean up. She learns Chinatsu was raised in this area and often played here a lot. Natsuki offers to help but Chinatsu will not accept any help especially from Heroine Party. When Natsuki tells Sachie about this, she believes Shizuka did something to prevent hurting others but because she never explained it well and left, the others viewed it as betrayal. Natsuki isn’t one to let this drag on so she again pleads to Chinatsu for help. Instantly shot down. With Shizuka and other idol dietwomen wanting to give this a chance, Chinatsu relents but with a condition: A bungee jump challenge at different heights! What is this about idols need to be brave and face the crowd? Anyway if Natsuki falters, Shizuka must apologize to Mizuki Fudou, the chairwoman of Sunlight Party. But it seems Natsuki has no qualms about jumping and does so without hesitation unlike Chinatsu who is barely hiding her fear. On the final and highest jump, Chinatsu faints! Natsuki is a little scared but manages to summon her courage since they will lose their chance to help the villagers. Then the bungee rope snaps… I know there is a river below but how can she survive at that height?! Anyway, while diving, Natsuki has an idea on what to do with the dump. The next day, lots of people have gathered and turning the dump into pieces of art! A free voucher for an idol handshake for every garbage you refurbish! The politician doesn’t like this and sends his boys to beat them up?! How could they? How do you stop rampaging mobsters? You hold an idol concert to turn them into fan boys! OMFG! And so the dumpsite is saved but Natsuki is sad that the newspaper only reported on Sunlight Party. No Heroine Party was mentioned. Welcome to politics. Meanwhile the Rougai Party guys heard one of their guys have resigned but aren’t going to press the panic button yet. Losing a member or two won’t hurt they party. Unless the masses demand change, their regime is safe…

Episode 3
Heroine Party is at Nekonoshima, an island filled with cats cohabitating with humans. They are here for a request to find missing cats and if you think that is tough, all the cats on the island are missing! The only cat on the island is Boss, the sacred leader of all. Oddly, the local assemblywoman hates cats but she looks like one. Also on this island to help out are the Starlight Party members, Sakurako Iizuka (chairwoman), Isuzu Narukami and Shirayuki Arai. They go around looking for clues. Starlight Party visit and pray at all the shrines (a million yen donation?) and find alphabets on stones. Heroine Party on the other hand are doing finding a needle in a haystack as well as asking residents. One of them relates one night he saw all the cats being lured to some ship by some smoke. Someone was feeding them. When he accidentally made a sound, the cat monster reared its ugly head. Doesn’t she look like the assemblywoman? Natsuki tries to tease boss with cattails until he can’t stand it anymore and starts chasing her. It leads them to a spot where they find the assemblywoman’s glasses with catnip smell. Definitely it’s her. With everyone taking a break at the udon store, the old lady tells them about the island’s legend. When cats disappear, 4 maidens shall come from beyond the sea and dance upon the stone stages of cats. Want to guess who are those maidens? And so our idol dietwomen each stand on those stones and start singing. Such beautiful beam of light that it turns the assemblywoman into a cat lover! Get this. A wave of cats is seen swimming from across the ocean back to the island! I thought cats hate water? Just in time for some grand cat festival too. People pour catnip everywhere on the street and let a huge tidal wave of cat rampage through. Yeah, who wouldn’t love the feeling of being drowned by cats.

Episode 4
A bratty politician tries to tick off the idol dietwomen about their fancy idol dress in the diet hall. But they got the last laugh when they say something on the lines to each his/her own. Because of that, he and his secretary try to concoct a plan to embarrass them especially with the upcoming swimsuit competition. Last year’s defending champion, the Bishoujo Party (wait, what?) gives their opening speech and Natsuki can’t help go with the flow and let out her own excitement. It may be embarrassing but at least she is bursting with honesty energy. Isn’t it no surprise all the spectators are men? As the water competitions kick off, it is obviously rigged and some of the girls suspect Rougai Party is behind this as many get eliminated too early and there is one whereby you get naughty octopi all over you if you fall into the water (sorry, no tentacle rape). So our evil politicians think they have got the last laugh but our dietwomen is the one having them because they turn around this mishap and turn those octopi into takoyaki! They’re selling well! Natsuki makes friends with the chairwoman of Bishoujo Party, Ume “Momo” Momoi. She loves the sea and her dream is to check out all the beaches in the world. The game continues as the girls are suspicious they need to put on certain swimsuits. Their worst fear comes true because in the next game where they have to take out their opponents via water gun, their swimsuits disintegrate when soaked. Before more wardrobe malfunction could happen, Momo leads the pack to stay calm and give the right timing for them to counterattack and win the game. If you think that wasn’t cheesy enough, in the last game where they must climb a tower to grab a microphone at the top to sing and win it, the scaffolding is obviously tampered as it starts collapsing. How can they survive that? Because Bishoujo Party starts singing and that is what keeps them afloat! WTF???!!! At the same time turning their evil counterparts into their biggest fans! In the end, Bishoujo Party wins the overall and they take a group photo together. Hey. Did the Rougai Party big boss just Liked their post?

Episode 5
Shizuka is on her day off as she meets her father. He tells her to stop this idol business and return to him. She is smart enough to know this won’t last forever. Of course she isn’t going to listen to him. Meanwhile Natsuki becomes a police chief for a day. Yeah, the chief inspector just became her biggest fan. So you think it is easy being a police chief? Apparently yeah. As long as you’re as cute as her. Then the biggest incident to happen: A hostage situation at a day care. It seems members of the Wakaba Party are taken hostage by… Children of the day care?! It is learnt that this day care will be closing down soon and the kids who have nowhere to go are against this. Yeah, drastic times call for drastic measures. Natsuki thinks she can talk to them but instead got captured. Way to go. But to her shock she learns the Wakaba Party members (are they lolis?!) are in cohorts with the kids. They heard their story that they have both parents who work. This is where they hangout until their parents get home so if this place goes, will they be considered homeless then? The local politician is here and he makes things worse by blaming the mothers of those kids. He believes a woman’s place is at home taking care of children. Easily triggered people shouldn’t be watching this episode. So how to solve this problem? When the day care is torn down, a business centre will be built. This means more income and revenue and thus mothers don’t have to work anymore and can better look after their children. Great plan. When this hostage drama gets dragged out, the politician decides to storm in. Seriously? They’re just kids. Anybody who take hostages are as good as terrorists! Well, I can see the equality there. Luckily Shizuka relays this to Natsuki so everyone starts preparing traps like Home Alone style. I mean, it makes the police force look so silly when they storm in only to slip on marbles, thrown used diapers, fall into pitfalls and blasted with pepper balloons. When the politician gets worked up over this farce, little does he know he stirred a mini beehive. He gets stung. Mothers of those kid quickly administer aid and help remove the beehive. Shortly Shizuka lectures him about those mothers being professionals in various areas and since they are invaluable to society, is it alright to keep them confined at home? You know everything is okay and over when the kids return to their moms, Wakaba Party starts singing and the politician turning over a new leaf apologizing to the mothers and tearing up the business centre proposal. Oh yeah, he quit his Rougai Party too. Starting to get worried you’re losing more men, eh?

Episode 6
Mika Kozuru of New Subculture Party loves astronomy but she is too shy to articulate her proposal to use the diet building’s observatory to launch bottle rockets and stimulate the people’s interest in space so this pesky old politician shoots it down with ease. Later Mika explains her scientific proposal perfectly to Heroine Party and hope they could team up for this event. However here comes that pesky old dude to warn them why the observatory is off limits because of hauntings and ghost sightings. He shouldn’t have said only God or a saint can help because here comes Ringo Yami from SOS Party as she is a self-proclaimed Ghostbuster. It’s time to bust some ghosts. Of course the old guy won’t let them have their way since if their proposal gets approved, budget allocations for them will be cut. So our Ghostbusters enter the observatory and what do you know? There’s a real ghost! Everybody is freaking out now and no exorcism method can work. What a time to regret your unfulfilled election promises? Oh great. Now the ghosts have multiplied! Meanwhile Mika who got lost from the group stumbles into 3 great statesmen. Want to bet they’re the real ghosts or rather the bronze statues come to life? They praise how the idol dietwomen are keeping Rougai Party at bay and advise her not to let them push her around. This helps Mika articulate her vision clearly. Team Ghostbusters realize they have been had after they destroy a hologram projector. They know that pesky old dude was behind this since he dropped his fan. Though he escapes, he bumps into Mika. This time she tells him she isn’t going to give up her proposal with full confidence. You can’t beat that smile. Speechless, eh? After hearing Natsuki say how the observatory lighted up like a planetarium after they stopped the projector, Mika makes a little revision in her proposal since she wants to appeal to a broader audience. Her stargazing event is approved and is popular among the people. Meanwhile Shizuka’s father still will not approve of her idol work. Nothing. Shizuka remains defiant.

Episode 7
The locals at Niigata are protesting the proposed site to build a stadium. Naturally Natsuki is going to help them. She learns the construction company behind this is Onimaru Construction. Sounds familiar? So being an idol dietwoman gives her the right to waltz in to see the president? Luckily he is passing by so he lets her in to see what she has to say. She hopes it would be re-evaluated but he instantly shoots her down that it is government sponsored and cannot be changed. Also, don’t take politics as fun and games! Kamishiro must be having a real headache to learn what Natsuki did but that didn’t stop her. After learning Shizuka is the president’s daughter, she bugs her to go talk to her father only to be shot down. Since Shizuka is not one to say, Sachie explains Shizuka as the only daughter and people had expectations she would follow her father’s footsteps. When she didn’t, everyone was surprised and naturally it caused tensions in their relationship. The president is seeing Rougai Party’s boss and assures what his daughter does has no bearing on what he does. Natsuki continues to bug Shizuka. Since she is stubborn, Natsuki notes she is so like her dad. This makes her snap back. She isn’t stubborn. She makes her own decisions! Can’t argue with that. As Natsuki can’t think of an idea, Sanpei a local boy from her hometown sends in drawings of kids about their feelings of the stadium. They decide to show this to the president but he apparently didn’t give a damn as usual. Not even one look. What a pity those drawings got wet in the rain… Are they going to give up? Instead, they are boosted when Shizuka joins in. They’re going to fight back via public forum and do a live concert. So they dance their way into the audiences’ hearts (because I believe everyone here is against the stadium). Shizuka’s dad did turn up as he observes the crowd. Though it seemed it has failed to convince him, their fan club petitions are starting to gain momentum. Then this shocking thing just came in over the news. The president decides to re-evaluate the project and scale it down to how the people would want and appreciate it! Yeah, their feelings finally reached him. So when Rougai Party boss confronts him about letting his emotions get the better of him, he is reminded his daughter’s actions has no bearing on what he does. All he wants is to make a stadium where people can gather and smile. Take that. Looks like somebody is going to move his hand to crush those idol dietwomen.

Episode 8
With the idols doing more concerts and their congress job better, those Rougai Party guys are starting to get worried with all the recent strings of resignation from their side. They are asking their boss who is also Japan’s Prime Minister Touichirou Sakuraba why he has not taken any action. Don’t worry. He already has. Because the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Natsuki and Shizuka are to be interviewed on TV. Shizuka cautions her to watch what she says because the media who is completely leaning on Rougai Party’s side can twist what she says. As the show starts, the host asks them about what they are doing this for. Natsuki being her honest self goes on happily talking about people’s smiles. Gotcha. The host then in turn plays clips of their past achievements but with a twist. The illegal dumpsite might have been solved but the garbage has to go somewhere and it’s nowhere but the streets. The cats on Nekonoshima have become pests ravaging crops while the day care still lacks funding and in danger of being closed. Natsuki cannot refute any of it. Even though Sachie knows this is heavily edited to one side and Rougai Party had pre-taped all this. Natsuki has no time being depressed because Sanpei calls to voice his concern that the stadium is now cancelled! Shizuka confronts her dad on it and it seems because the company changed the blueprints, the government decided to really re-evaluate this project. Of course he is not going out without a fight and warns Shizuka her value as a true dietwoman is now being tested. With idol dietwomen popularity plunging, a gossip magazine releases an article and photo of Shizuka having an affair with an older man. It is obviously her father but because they worded their statement as speculation, trying to report or fight it will prove nothing. Rougai Party is really coming for them. Natsuki is being lectured by Shizuka about her duty as elected representative since she somewhat fears going to diet building now. But Heroine Party isn’t just facing problems. Other idol dietwoman parties too. Chinatsu is mad the media is accusing Mizuki of plastic surgery. Sakurako is suspected of misusing government funds when it is her own money to buy clothes. Bishoujo Party is ridiculed that they are too dumb to read kanji. Wakaba Party still wets their bed? Who is telling New Subculture Party to go back to space? Who is telling SOS Party to return to the shadows? At times like these, they decide to band together to fight against Rougai Party. So they fight in a way they know best: Holding concerts to address the string of idol bashing. Before they can start, a helicopter lands in the middle of the stage. Who are these 4 beautiful babes? Hey. Aren’t they sent by Rougai Party? Are they like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?!

Episode 9
Saki Shiraga, Kazumi Mukai, Maybelle Takasaki and Megu Izumisawa are part of the legendary idol group, Cherry 7 who help Kagura Mikazuki the only female idol dietwoman in history and paved the way for idols to become part of the diet. When they decide to join them, they are attacked! WTF?! Holding a sword, machine gun and magic explosion wand?! Is Cherry 7 mercenaries now?! Apparently they are not here to support these idols and feel they have lost their way as idol dietwoman. Cherry 7 was hired by Rougai Party to test their worthiness. Surprisingly, Sakuraba comes on stage to show several accusations and scandals for each of the party. Then he belittles them how they are nowhere near Mikazuki and not only they do not solve problems as dietwomen but fail as idols too. He has come up with a proposal to ban idols to be dietwoman. The crowd is silent. Sakuraba takes this as their shocking approval. So before they can block that bill, they must defeat Cherry 7 first. Shizuka calls Mizuki and the other parties in hopes they could unite and band together. However Chinatsu tells her off she is the one to say as she was the least cooperative. Plus, all of them are busy trying to clear their scandals. With all the arguing, Mizuki steps in who tells them they will lose to Cherry 7 unless they give it their all. Chinatsu disagrees with this unity thingy. Because competition makes them push forward, she suggests holding a competition to see which of them is better to take on Cherry 7. Agreed. Mizuki will be the judge. Up till now you must have noticed Natsuki being depressed as hell. So leave it to Shizuka to give her speech about trust and believe and blow Natsuki out of the doldrums. There. Done. As they sing and dance, they realize there is this strange mix of strong power they produced together. Yup. Looks like they need to unite and form a cross-partisan unit against Cherry 7.

Episode 10
The cross-partisan unit is called Smile Kiss and they receive equal coverage with Cherry 7. However Natsuki is back to gloomsville as she continues to slack in her practice. Then with all the nonstop protest calls to their office, her motivation takes a dive. One day she just cannot dance anymore and her voice cannot sing. So Shizuka chides her and lets her go home. It gets even worse when she picks up a complaint call from a construction guy asking his money back for the failed stadium project. As she talks to Sachie about her problem, she is advised to go see those people. Thus Natsuki returns to Niigata and didn’t show up for practice so Shizuka has Chinatsu replace her part. This has Chinatsu commenting that is all Natsuki is worth to her. She abandoned her with ease just like she did with them. At Niigata, Natsuki apologizes to all the workers there. She reflects about being unable to help Shizuka and despite forming a duet with her, she was always trying her best to catch up to her. Sanpei then has her watch TV. The decisive concert is live right now. Natsuki is brought to tears seeing her teammates wearing the same ribbon colour as hers (original each of them had a unique colour assigned). As predicted, Cherry 7 is currently leading a big gap in the polls. Suspiciously when Natsuki starts cheering for her team, the lead starts to cut… In the end, the one who got the most votes is… Smile Kiss!!! They did it! Hooray! Not so fast. Because Sakuraba has immediately hold a press conference. Despite the idols’ amazing performance, don’t be fooled by this illusion. Their performance is just that. A fleeting pleasure of self-gratification. It doesn’t solve problems or enrich people’s lives. Then this is the damning statement that would make or break his bill: Those idol dietwomen were so caught up practising for their performance, they didn’t even do a single job as politicians for the past few week! Oh no…

Episode 11
The vote on the bill is out. And the result is… Rougai Party is celebrating and giving their victory speech. Thanks to that, our idol dietwomen are all doom and gloom especially with Shizuka blaming herself and taking responsibility for it all. Hey, for an idol this is literally the end of the world. Natsuki too is in gloomsville. She can’t even do farm work properly and cries even while eating. Yeah, food must taste this good. Because she continues to cry about not being able to make anyone smile, grandma had to tell her about the rising star story of Mikazuki. A dark age where she rose up and shone through the darkness. People soon started following her and the nation slowly came back out into the light. Asked why she became an idol dietwoman, simple, she wanted to make others smile. As advised, Natsuki goes around town to see what has changed. Remember that guy from the first episode who ran against Natsuki in the by-election? He is sweeping the streets in hopes of getting to know his people better! He has left Rougai Party and became an independent. He thanks Natsuki for changing him. This really makes her day as Natsuki runs all over the place (places of past episodes where there were ‘issues’) to find that all of those ex-Rougai Party people have changed for the better. Like that dumpster is now a museum with all recycled items. That cat island is now booming with cats and the day care gets to continue operating. All because of Natsuki. Oh my. Natsuki is so happy she is swirling around in a flower field?! Hope it doesn’t get to her head. Meanwhile it is about time Shizuka also has come to her senses. She realizes her selfishness when she left Sunlight Party and was only imposing her feelings upon others. It is not she has changed but rather been changed. Thanks to a certain twintail too. Of course the inevitable Natsuki and Shizuka making up again. This time Shizuka views her as her real partner. Their next move is to put up another concert albeit just the duo. But isn’t this against the act? I’m not sure about there are those who voted against it so they want to sing for them but hey, isn’t it still illegal? Are they breaking the law? Oh what the heck. Idols always have their way. So as they gear up for the concert, on that very day we already have a crisis. Not a single soul turned up! OMG! Is it because it is raining? Or is that just symbolic?

Episode 12
Apparently somebody hacked into their website to say the concert is cancelled. I think I know who… Even so, the duo will continue to perform because they are idols. Their song resonates throughout the city so much so curious people slowly start streaming in to hear them. Even the other idol dietwomen see this over the internet and make their way. However Sakuraba anticipated this and puts his next plan in motion. A gridlock in the city and shut down of all transports! Don’t worry. The idols get by with the help of ex-Rougai Party members as they make their way via other methods. By foot, sewer or parachute. The craziest one being Momo as she surfs her entire way there! I know the road is wet and slippery but this?! As the crowd builds up and wanting an encore, Natsuki and Shizuka team up with the other idol dietwomen to put on another sterling performance. Their ideology and party may be different but their feelings are the same. Even Cherry 7 is down here to support them. Sakuraba goes down to the field himself to take command. However the riot police will not listen to his order. It seems the police chief who has been promoted to the central office is the one taking charge. With ex-Rougai Party members reminding him about the infringement of free speech, Sakuraba sees the intense crowd that keeps flowing in and Smile Kiss continue to perform, he then gives out a maniacal laughter. He accepts the challenge of the idol dietwomen. In the aftermath, Sakuraba makes a press conference that he is dissolving the diet for a general election. We see a montage of everyone working hard in their campaign. It is no surprise that all the idol dietwomen get re-elected. Yeah, between a cute idol and an old bald dude. Who would you pick? Don’t tell me you’re going to pick based on character, ability, aptitude, etc! It seems Sakuraba is also re-elected. Although he is still against idols becoming dietwomen and will stick with his stance, he challenges them to follow their own convictions if they insist. They can’t let him win because that will mean the end of their dream.

Make Japan Great Again!
Are we done yet? Okay. The fun is over. Time to return to reality. Don’t be fooled by this anime to think that entering politics is damn easy. Yeah, they certainly do make it look like a whole lot of fun here. Because as you can see the idol dietwomen continue to keep their hair all proper and clean after everything. I don’t know if Rougai Party manages to still retain its stranglehold and majority but it might be so because if every single idol dietwomen were elected and assuming there were no new ones, this would mean status quo, right? Definitely need more idol dietwomen and such parties to enter the diet if we are to cleanse Japan of typical old corrupted politicians and make Japan great again!

It is already a no brainer that we have cute idols holding double jobs working as politicians. But it is even dumber to see how idols can actually instantly change bad politicians into good ones! OMFG! This is so unrealistic! You can evidently see how these idols here do it as some of the episodes feature the baddie politician of the week and our heroines get to save the day by ‘purifying’ them via concert, so to speak. Because if this formula truly works and if the idols were serious in trying to weed out corrupted governing practices, don’t you think they would have just hold a nationwide concert that is broadcasted live to all forms of media? Guaranteed to have the biggest, most stubborn and most vile politicians turn into your biggest fan! No doubt about it! So why bother doing small local concerts and change only 1 immoral politician at a time when you can do it all in one big go! So tell me, are these idols serious in changing Japan for the better or do they really know what it takes to run a country? But to show that Sakuraba isn’t as bad as he looks, he is seen attending a concert in the final moments and even tapping his feet to their beat. Oh ho. He may not look like it on the outside but is he converted on the inside? We’ll never know. He is after all the big final boss that our idol dietwomen needs to defeat.

I know some people aren’t really into idols but in this anime what I usually notice that many have this herd mentality. That bill to ban idol dietwomen kills it. Unless Sakuraba is an excellent eloquent smooth talker, the people here feel like they follow their feelings over what they heard. It is like they have no faith in the idols at all. One minute ago they were singing praises about them and the next minute they turn on them because of this WTF scandal that they don’t even care to dig deeper to understand why they didn’t do their governing job. It is scary in real life that idols are walking on thin ice to satisfy ‘hardcore fans’ who would without hesitation turncoat and desert their favourite idol once a scandal arises. But as far for the people in this anime is concerned, it is like they are hoping idols can magically solve their problems that could have taken a little longer to resolve. Oh right. Maybe that’s why they voted idols in. Something different than your conservative politicians. Or maybe the idols’ singing is the one brainwashing people to vote for them? Told you about this silly aspect. In that case do you not think an idol is very similar to a politician? Swaying people with sweet words on stage while looking good. It only takes a scandal to tarnish their name and bring them down. Oh, the similarities…

It is pretty much disappointing that with so many idols from different parties, it is sad that many of them don’t get decent screen time. The most is that they have an episode for them but that is if Natsuki and Shizuka get involved. Even more so, you don’t really get to understand what those parties are fighting for. Heck, what does Heroine Party stand for anyway? Making it worse, the 7 idol dietwoman parties seem to be a representation of some sort of stereotype like the Wakaba Party seem to have only little lolis (are they saying politics is child’s play?) and the Bishoujo Party have members that look more like tanned surfer girls than pretty kawaii ladies. Because I only see Ringo as the only member in SOS Party, I am starting to make generalizations of the party is some sort of gothic fashion party. I don’t know much about the legendary Cherry 7 but looking at them feels like as though their theme is armed and dangerous. It certainly looks so. Plus, with them draping in black, it looks as though they’ve returned from a funeral. Really.

Even the development and friendship drama between Natsuki and Shizuka fails. It just feels generic. Young inexperienced new girl comes into party to pair up with a veteran who defected from another party. They go around helping people to bring about smiles and they make it seem so easy and effortless as I wonder is it because of their idol status makes their job a lot easier an uncomplicated. Then we have a little bit of family drama and tension between Shizuka and her father only to be conveniently and predictably resolved. All because he attended a live concert of Shizuka? Sure, he claims he operates differently from his daughter. But think about this. Has he not heard her daughter sing from other formats even assuming if this is the first time he attends it live? So why now? Both father and daughter have been so stubborn to the point they could be strangers. Thus is it her music? Plot convenience? Reminder that idols’ songs are always the best? Well, can’t have Shizuka’s father as the baddie seeing the real antagonists have been set as Rougai Party. Then there’s the past between Shizuka and Sunlight Party which had potential but never explored further and thus it feels wasted and redundant to somewhat tie a loose connection between them. It wouldn’t make any difference had she not been linked to it in the first place.

And Natsuki is so inexperienced and at time useless that whenever things doesn’t go the right way, she starts going into depression and bums around doing nothing. WTF. I know she is in shock but clearly when she decided to run for candidacy, did she not know the risks? Maybe she doesn’t. Welcome to the world of politics where everything isn’t rosy and sunshine. Except maybe when you’re an idol whose singing can change everything including giving off those special flowery effects while you are at it. Despite being cheery and at her own pace in nature, ironically it takes her a while and even advice or guidance from others to reach out to her before she gets her gears going like normal again. Oh right. Nobody is perfect. But aren’t idols supposed to be perfect?

Art and drawing are pretty standard with your pretty idols looking more like bishoujos (except for the loli ones). Not too sure if the outfit they were is their uniform because if it is, it makes them look like cosplay. Because of the idols looking pretty and cute, corrupted politicians especially from Rougai Party have this typical trademark of what is stereotyped as bad guy looks. I see Mr Sakuraba, you have very thick gorilla eyebrows and deep voice that is only reserved for evil leaders… So cliché. Hence for those politicians who turned over a new leaf, they look pretty normal and decent after that. Is this some sort of discrimination? CGI is also used but very sparingly only when the idols start prancing on stage as a big group. However it is not that noticeable because such concerts itself do not last very long. The series is a joint production between MAPPA and Studio VOLN whose other collaboration is the alternate updated version of Ushio & Tora.

At the end of each episode, there is an end card illustrated by several people. Some illustrated twice for different episodes. Somehow they look all the same to me… What is worse than some end cards which serve as idol fanservice? That idol keeps reminding us that the DVDs are going to be out and be sure to buy them. Are they trying to condition and brainwash us to buy this disappointing show? I know I won’t be bought out. Even if you pay me to buy it I won’t. Wait. Did I just make a no brainer statement?

The voice acting just feels normal and decent and nothing to shout about. Mostly are relatively new seiyuus that I still can’t recognize or veteran ones but I still can’t recognize such as Sarara Yashima as Natsuki (Sayo in Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game Girls), Mai Fuchigami as Shizuka (Nagisa in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Reina Ueda as Sachie (Mira in Dimension W), Sarah Emi Bridcutt as Chinatsu (Chika in HaruChika), Lynn as Mizuki (titular character in Fuuka), Yuuki Fujiwara as Kamishiro (Liang in Nanbaka) and Kouji Ishii as Sakuraba (Garterbelt in Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt). Old veteran seiyuus I recognized helmed roles as the legendary Cherry 7 like Yukari Tamura as Saki and Kana Ueda as Maybelle. I’m going to skip the rest of the list because there are a whole lot of seiyuus lending their voices here and most of them only had a fraction of their dialogue or none at all. I mean, am I serious and hardworking enough to list down all the idols representing all 47 prefectures of Japan?! Are you crazy?! But what is interesting to note is that all of the seiyuus do actually represent and were born in the prefecture of the idol dietwoman that they play.

If you really like idol brand of music, this series has a few of them. I’m not into it so that is probably why I don’t really find the idol-like opening theme, Utae! Ai No Kouyaku by Smile Kiss to my liking. But the ending theme, Respect by the duet of Natsuki and Shizuka feels a bit weird. Pop idol music relying heavily on the synthesizers and effects plus a bit of Arabic feel. In almost every episode there would be an insert song featuring that idol dietwoman party in focus but none really to my liking.

We should have a reality TV show whereby politician wannabes have to go through tests and challenges viewed by millions on TV to see what it takes to become one. It would have been interesting to see how candidates get eliminated by a different voting procedure. I know Donald Trump becoming president doesn’t mean anybody else can become president especially those from the entertainment industry. Oh wait. There’s Ronald Reagan… Then there is Kanye West for 2020…And what’s this? Katy Perry also? The Rock too? Really, America? If it really turns out that celebrity singers are going to run for the Oval Office, then we can call this new reality TV show Ameican Idol. What do you mean that name is already taken?!

Overall, this is quite a disappointing series trying to cash in on the idol craze that is still riding high on its wave in Japan and some parts of the world. Because if you really want good idol material to watch on TV, Love Live and even AKB0048 do it better. So it only goes to show that idols are best and can be in the form of high school girls trying to stop their school from closing down or space revolutionaries fighting against the banning of music. Anything suits them as long as it is not politics. Now we know they don’t mix. Because it would be really bad and sad if idols were to use their star power to side a certain party for the elections like we have seen in the recent American elections. Thus there is a reason why specific jobs exists and even in the same category. Not everything is one glove fits all size and nobody can wear all hats. Some things don’t go together as we learn here, idols and politics. Truly this is not the case of grooming a horse to be a fine horse. It is rather a cat can never become a horse! If they are going to make another season, you bet I am going to cast my big “NO!” vote even if it is just a referendum. Come on, people. Let’s not support sh*tty animes again. No more disappointing animes. Say no to substandard animes. LET’S MAKE ANIME GREAT AGAIN!!!

P/S: A politician and an idol walk into a bar… They become scandal fodder for tomorrow’s tabloid headlines!

After that cliff-hanger ending from last season, it feels like a blatant excuse to setup another season. And thus that is why we have a fourth season, Uta No Prince-sama Legend Star. Though, it took more than a year for this sequel to pop up on air. I suppose this is the most popular franchise of the hot guy idols genre so better way than to milk it even more and get girls squealing in delight with more hot guys on stage. Oh, who am I kidding? Me? I’m just here to find out the conclusion to their decisive battle although I have an idea who might be the winner who will take it all.

Episode 1
It has been a month since we left off from last season, the three-way fight for the SSS crown. Therefore a short flashback of the results that night. Due to Heavens’ surprise entry, they have been disqualified. Not sitting well with fans… The winner goes to… Quartet Night! But guess what? They decide to turn this opportunity down! WTF?! They feel all of them were equals and suggested another competition to finish this. Well I’ll be damned. It’s like Brexit and the US elections having another go. The next scenes are absolute nonsense as it supposed to introduce and showcase how important these guys are as they sing and try to steal Haruka’s heart in their extravagant and elaborated set pieces. From Heaven’s cosy limo before being hijacked by Quartet Night’s makeshift pub truck and then being whisked away by the royal ballroom of Starish’s aircraft. WTF???!!! Haruka beats The Bachelorette anytime! It is finally decided that another competition among the 3 boy bands will be held. But there’s one catch. Haruka will write a song for each of them! Holy crap! Not her again?! Can she play fair? Of course she can. Finally all the heartfelt thanks and gratitude from Starish to Haruka because without her they won’t be making it this far, blah, blah, blah.

Episode 2
Saotome and Raging announce a surprise duet project. A member of Starish and Heavens will be paired to sing together. Guess what again? Haruka will write the songs! OMFG! They’re really going to work her to the bone and milk her dry! Of course this has both sides wondering if they can even work with each other seeing the intense rivalry. Before Quartet Night is blown into oblivion, the reason why we need to have this episode mainly focused of them. Since it is Reiji’s idea for his comrades to live together, of course those grumpy and moody guys hate it. With Camus and Ranmaru constantly bickering and at each other’s throats for the silliest reasons, suddenly Reiji drops the bombshell. He can’t do it anymore. He quits! OMG. It’s real. Sh*t is hitting the fan. It is no joke when he never comes back and the rest starts thinking how important Reiji was as the glue that kept them together. Then after they get a lecture from Ryuuya how they won’t capture any hearts if they continue to be divided (because they should be putting all their efforts being in a group rather than an individual), this real shake up has them call a truce. They realize they aren’t bad singing together in a group. Miraculously all of them reunite again at the beach. They seek Reiji’s explanation and honestly he really thought he couldn’t continue anymore. He forced them to live together to bond and when it backfired, he panicked. With the group whole again, Reiji suggests going on a national tour. A blatant excuse for them to showcase their music.

Episode 3
The first duet project is on and it pits Tokiya with Eiji. Tokiya is blown away after hearing him sing. Like an angel! Aside that, Eiji is a pretty nice guy. He even invites Tokiya to come practice at Heavens’ studio. Taking up his offer, he sees the high concentration and power of Heavens practising. Due to his numerous visits, the media soon picks this up and writes rumours Tokiya might be leaving Starish for Heavens! Starish is of course worried although Tokiya rubbishes it. One day, Tokiya bumps into Raging who hints he wants to recruit Tokiya into the team because of his talents. Although he declines, Raging hints his doors will always be open. This leaves Tokiya thinking. As more rumours surfaced and Starish believing Tokiya will not simply transfer to another agency, Tokiya finally snaps at his comrades that he might really go over. Because he feels that the group is not advancing and if they remain stuck, the gap between the bands will only widen. If that happens, he plans to accept Raging’s invitation. So we have all the Starish members being gloomy thinking about this break up but eventually they can’t let this get to them and the need to improve. It’s their fault they drove Tokiya to this. On the other hand, Tokiya really doesn’t want to go over and did this as a wakeup call in hopes his comrades would change. So with everyone reconciling and accepting to push to greater heights, Tokiya realizes the importance of Starish to them. He wants to continue singing with them. Tokiya and Eiji and complete their duet together as we get to hear the sultry and sexy R&B beat of Mighty Aura.

Episode 4
Next up is Sho and Yamato. However Yamato despite talented isn’t interested in going through this. When Sho identifies him as Ryuuya’s little brother, Yamato punches him in the gut! So Sho talks to Ryuuya about this and it seems the only way to settle it is via this celebrity sports variety programme, Muscle Fight. When the brothers meet, Yamato is looking for to fight Ryuuya. However he says Sho will be replacing him and this doesn’t sit well with him. Asks why Yamato wanted to become an idol, he doesn’t have the slightest bit of that. He joined Heavens to beat Ryuuya. If Yamato beats Sho, he will get to fight Ryuuya but if he loses, he must do the duet with Sho. On Muscle Fight, we skip all the other events because it is down to a boxing final match between Sho and Yamato. At first Yamato is beating the shorty up. But Sho always stands back up no matter what. The power of being an idol? Since we can’t have just a bunch of guys throwing punches at each other, we have to make them sing while doing so! Yeah. I guess this is the song Haruka wrote for them. In the end, double knockout. At the end of the day, the duo somewhat make peace and despite Yamato’s haughty behaviour, he will still do the duet with Sho.

Episode 5
Haruka and Cecil go meet up with Shion to discuss about the song details. However this guy is in his own world, ignoring them and doing his own things. Cecil is a bit dense, that’s why he is able to keep up with the cheery positivism. Unfortunately Haruka can’t understand what they’re saying. With Shion keeping up this attitude, Cecil’s enthusiasm also wanes. It becomes damning when he sees Shion smiling in Heavens. So when Cecil talks to him, that is when Shion blows his top. He says something about his oath only to sing for Heavens otherwise his soul will be defiled. Chuunibyou case? He has now had it with this and was putting up with this thinking it would help Heavens. So he runs back and locks himself up in the closet? So when Heavens can’t even bring him out, they barge into Starish’s dorm to find out. Thankfully rational heads prevail instead of starting a brawl because they know this project is to help them polish up for SSS. If both sides cannot complete this project, they cannot participate in SSS. After Cecil tells what Shion said to him, they explain Shion was the last to join Heavens and fears losing the group more than anything else. Cecil seeks Camus advice on the matter. He interjects what if he joins Starish. This surprises Cecil a lot. The point in matter is that they are intruding into Shion’s space. Eiichi talks to Shion that they can allow him to stay true to his oath although it might hurt Heavens’ reputation. Of course that won’t do for Shion. Between a rock and a hard place now. Well, at least they succeed in bringing him out of the closet but he is now running away. Coincidentally Cecil happen to be nearby and chase after him. Once caught up, Cecil explains how he too was the last to join Starish and the group feared the additional member would diminish their brilliance (or was it the competition over Haruka?). He tells Shion to sing for Heavens and he will sing for Starish. Yes, they can sing together for different things. So Shion finally turns up and sings a duet with Cecil. Shion is amazed at the different experience outside Heavens. They make peace and accept each other and everybody is happy.

Episode 6
In addition to their duet, Ren and Van will be starring in a movie together (I have a feeling it parodies Phoenix Wright). Because Van is such an outgoing and playful guy, this makes Ren seriously worried. Even more so when he expresses in dating Haruka! Time to step in. But Van tells him back that he really likes her and is just saying his feelings unlike Ren who is untrue to himself. If you lie to yourself, your music is a lie too. Then it becomes a competition to see who can get the higher praise for the movie will get Haruka. Ren notices Van’s superb acting chops like as though he is a different person. In the final climatic courtroom drama scene, both sides are equally intense till Van starts adlibbing. Ren equally responses and both sides manage to keep up with each other. Why didn’t the director stop filming? He doesn’t want to lose the intensity of this scene. In the end, both acknowledge each other as equal. But Van sneakily confesses to Haruka and wants to date her, promising he can make her happy. What is Haruka’s reply? Music is all that she can think off now! You’re rejected. He accepts and encourages her to write a great song so he can greatly sing it. Ren was too late coming in the picture but don’t worry, Haruka rejected him, right? Van insists his confession is because he is serious about her. Ren’s silence on his feelings for her also means he is serious. Narrating how she helped him find his way back to music, that is why he puts her happiness before his. Right now he is watching over her as his way of showing his love. Van admits his loss this time but won’t give up. They are motivated to sing their duet, Lovely Eyes, a jazzy and playful Broadway-like piece.

Episode 7
Nagi is being a brat during a meeting with Natsuki. But he upgrades to a dick when he questions about his past of tossing away the violin to play the viola (because he wants to play them in their duet). This leaves Natsuki in some sort of trauma. Nagi accuses him of not wanting to play as the reason for acting like this. This stopped when Satsuki comes out to put his foot down. Later Haruka learns from Satsuki the reason of his existence is to protect Natsuki. Of course Haruka tells the rest but there is nothing they can do since Natsuki wants to go ahead with this project. Nagi adds fuel to fire after researching more about Natsuki. He brings a violin for Natsuki to play at their next meeting and when he questions about him crashing into Hayato’s concert and he couldn’t remember, this makes Nagi certain that he has a split personality. He wants to tell everyone but Satsuki comes out of his own. He has had it with this and storms home to pack his bags. He is going to quit this project and being an idol! Putting his glasses back on doesn’t even change him back! This is serious. But with the rest showing their support, Satsuki decides to give this another chance. After an interview that has Natsuki thanking those around him for his sweet smiles, he decides not to run away and face this. Thus he is going to play the violin. A night talking with Haruka, Satsuki reveals why Natsuki tried to toss away this painful past of his. His beloved violin instructor whom he trusted plagiarized a song he wrote. Satsuki was created to help protect him but now seeing Natsuki is eager to change and accept his painful past, there is no longer any reason to protect him. So both alter egos make peace with each other. With that, Satsuki is gone. So it is a surprise to others when Natsuki doesn’t change when he doesn’t don his glasses. The duet goes well but is it me or do I find Grown Empathy sounding a lot similar like Lovely Eyes? Just add violins…

Episode 8
Masato and Kira find they have so much in common. Even their families have dealings with each other for generations! You bet they’re going to get along very well till Masato gets a call (after 20 miscalls!) from home. His father has collapsed. Masato cuts short his practice and postpones the duet to return to his home. Although father is stabilized, Masato didn’t expect this turn of events as father wants him to be the heir and succeed him. Masato was supposed to be in music for only a year but father quietly allowed him to prolong it. As he explains about the important SSS coming up, father argues it is why all the more important he has to leave the group now before he becomes too important to part. WTF. Masato is forced to extend his stay for another 2 days because there is an annual dinner his family hosts and since father cannot attend, he will be his proxy. Masato realizes nothing has changed. With this, Starish and everyone else get worried but believes he will pull through. Kira talks to Ren about Masato. He realizes they are different because Masato lacks resolve. There are still doubts in him. Masato is shocked to see Ren and Kira at his home. He believes there is more to them attending as their father’s proxy. Masato explains he has talked to his father but he won’t budged. They think he is running away from making his own decisions and if they go back to Tokyo now, nothing will ever change. Masato thinks Kira’s father blessed him with freedom but on the contrary he took it with his own hands because his dad too opposed him entering the music industry. Not convinced? Hear this song then. During the dinner, Masato’s dad makes his surprise appearance. All just to announce his son will be taking over. Masato quickly pops up to denounce that. He claims music is now very important to him unlike the last time where it was his only escape from reality. He might risk making lots of people suffer but he is prepared to bear those sins. So literally f*ck everybody else just for my own selfishness? As proof of his resolve, Masato and Kira perform a piano duet of Lasting Oneness, a techno and Chinese blend. Is father moved? He warns him continuing his music path risks severing ties with the family. So be it. Then walk that path knowing he will never be part of the family again. Thank you. It seems father let him go because it was the first time he looked him in the eye and told him how he felt. He believes his songs will one day support millions around the world. So money it isn’t money?

Episode 9
Eiichi is delighted that he is paired up with Otoya and is one friendly guy. Wow. This guy is so different from the snobbish dude we know. When Eiichi returns to Heavens, he notes the group moving forward well. However Raging disagrees with all that. The reason for this duet project is to show Heavens they are better than Starish. Their goal is not improving but to become the best. That is the meaning of their existence! Haruka has written a song that it motivates Otoya to write the lyrics. He pours his heart and time into it. However Eiichi is not pleased because such awesome song requires some soul shaking lyrics instead of just scratching the surface. He thinks he should look into his soul and be true to himself to be able to sing it. Of course the stress gets to Otoya. He isn’t smiling like he should and if he is, it looks fake. Starish can tell he is acting strange so Reiji advises them to talk to him. However they can’t because Eiichi has whisked him away to a training camp. Any contacts become futile. He isn’t picking up. Haruka finishes her masterpiece and sends it to Eiichi who believes Otoya might be able to do it after hearing this. However this isn’t the case. He still can’t come up with anything despite being true to himself. Maybe he needs to look deeper. Oh, the power outage is great so they can look at the darkness of his heart. At this point, I’m starting to think Eiichi is getting very creepy… Indeed. He has researched all about Otoya! He knows he is starved for love. He shows him a sunflower painting. And then burns it! Otoya has lost his parents and everything. Not wanting to lose anymore, that’s why he put on a fake smiling mask. Otoya sees how Starish becomes disappointed in him and leaves. Even Haruka. And after all that caressing from Eiichi, it’s time to open up to his true self. Wow. Creepy indeed. So gay… And so Next Door is a dark rock piece that is a personification of the dark and tragic past of Otoya. Just creepily insane.

Episode 10
Otoya calls Tokiya. He can’t smile. He can’t be part of Starish. Bye. Tokiya is super confused and tells this to the rest. Even more baffling is that Haruka has just received mail from Otoya and Eiichi’s duet recording. They hear it and are shocked to listen to the dark lyrics. Is this Otoya? Tokiya calls Eiichi to find out what happened. Eiichi tells the truth that he wanted to bring out his the darkness of soul for the ultimate music. He claims they do not know the true Otoya, a sunflower field of despair. Tokiya leaves Eiichi to his crazy delusions. So when Raging is pleased this rumour is going about in the industry, he praises his son for doing a good job. Eiichi is shocked to hear this and he really didn’t intend it to go this way. Now that Otoya is missing, Tokiya does some research on his past and tells what he has found. He never knew his father and couldn’t remember his mom. His aunt took him in but she died of an illness (she promised to bring him to the sunflower field when she got better). This made Otoya blame himself and by the time he entered the orphanage, he realized he can’t smile. They deduce by being with them, he will also start to lose them. Tokiya feels the need to find him before tomorrow’s broadcast. He isn’t prioritizing work but rather Otoya’s safety. If this gets out, he will be hurt even more. First, Starish sends out a message by singing a song with hope under the guise of Saotome’s debut anniversary. Guess who is it targeted to? Guess will it have an effect on Otoya? Sure it did. He wants to see them but he still can’t smile and must resolve this himself first. At the withered sunflower field, he remembers his aunt’s hopeful words to shine. Otoya comes to terms to do his best and make everyone smile. But he isn’t alone. Because Starish is here.

Episode 11
Some apology here and there. They give Otoya some hope about their bonds while revealing they talked to the orphanage director to get directions to this place. With Otoya’s genuine smile back, he adds that there is no such thing as eternity. He doesn’t know what the future holds or if Starish will sing forever. The important point is that what they do is limited and they have to cherish every moment of it. With that, their high level of motivation has them run and sing their way back home. Even rejuvenating the sunflower field! WTF?! With Starish back as a whole, Raging is not pleased as Starish’s reputation has increased. He is disappointed Eiichi didn’t fully crush Otoya. Eiichi says he only wanted to make the ultimate music. Raging blows his top that they are just his tools. Heavens disagrees. They want to compete fairly with Starish and Quartet Night. Raging is the only loser. Eiichi knows his history when he retired early thinking his single became the top seller. But he lost because Saotome beat him subsequently. Therefore Heavens is his tool for his ultimate revenge. Raging will not allow it and begins his underhanded scheme. Starish is shocked when they head for their individual duet projects, their Heavens counterpart has seemingly cancelled the appointment. Soon rumours are swirling that Heavens have dropped out from the industry. Of course as our protagonists discuss, they know Raging is behind it. As Heavens has defied him, he is going to make things go his way even if it means smearing the name of his own agency. This means Heavens might not make perform at the decisive concert. Heavens is reeling in despair over their fate back at their estate. They cannot do anything. Then surprise! Here comes Starish to give them a little pep talk about giving up. Don’t. Because they hand them Haruka’s song for them. Be there or be square. Heavens takes a look at Haruka’s work and finds it super good. Goooooooood!!! They can’t let it go to waste and want to sing it badly.

Episode 12
The decisive concert is here. As Quartet Night and Starish are being introduced on stage, suddenly it is announced that Heavens has dropped out and won’t be participating. Man, you can hear the uproar of Heavens’ fans. They won’t accept this! Everyone is in shock except for Raging. All as planned. Quartet Night then has something to say. They believe this is not the decisive concert they have been waiting for otherwise the re-election would have been a waste. They will wait for them no matter how long it takes. Starish also give their opinion and believe they will come back because their love for music is true and won’t give up. And what do you know? Here they are! Heavens has answered your prayers and returned! Raging is upset with this turn of events. He thinks Saotome has put them up to this although that eccentric guy says he didn’t do anything. But there is nothing they can do now once the concert begins. Just shut up, sit back and watch their performance. Quartet Night goes first as they belt out God’s Star. After their amazing performance, they thank Haruka backstage. She also meets Heavens who also thank her for her song. They are going to give their best performance yet and if they win, Eiichi wants her to become Heavens’ composer. They go out on stage to perform the energetic Immortal Inferno. Finally it is Starish’s turn to hit the stage. They’re so excited to deliver their feelings to everyone.

Episode 13
Raging is true to his name. He is mad. But that is because he realized when did his love for music die and started becoming interested in numbers. Leave it up to Saotome to show his usual trademark exaggerative effects to tell him about how love never dies! His love for music might be lost but it isn’t dead! Love is forever! Ironic because a couple of episodes ago, Starish didn’t believe in eternity. So before Starish take centre stage, their usual thanks to Haruka and this time each of them give her their personal hug! Then out onto the stage where they sing their self-titled song, We Are Starish. Damn, if those girls just stopped screaming, I could decently hear their song. You can guess their performance is so dazzling that it wins praises not only from the crowd and judges but their fellow competitors as well. What’s this? Raging is crying?! So beautiful?! This is the power of love?! He isn’t staying for the results because he needs to concoct a plan with Heavens to defeat Saotome and overcome his sales record. And finally a decision is made. The winner who will sing at the opening of SSS goes to… STARISH!!! With the ‘losers’ taking this loss gracefully and vowing to aim higher, more congratulations to Starish and since they still want to sing, all of them starts singing the ending theme. Wow. Enemies now singing like best friends together. In the aftermath, Starish meets Haruka and they have this idea to do a great concert involving Starish, Heavens and Quartet Night. Sounds wonderful till you realize who the heck is going to write the songs… I don’t know. That last scene the way they showed it at that angle I imagined Haruka wanted to scream and run away… Just kidding of course.

Let The Music Heal Your Soul & Past
Well, everything was as I expected. Starish winning this decider. Actually I was also predicting the other outcome whereby nobody could really decide which of the trio wins since everybody is so damn good and thus all of them would be singing at SSS opening! Yeah, screw your limited opening screen time because these hot guys are much more important and popular than your whatever SSS event. Look at how all the girls are going crazy over them! And poor Haruka has to again write the songs… Poor Haruka… More about her later on. And damn if the 3 groups should merge into one big group, a few more members and maybe they can give AKB48 a run for their money. Maybe they should just do that because it would be a shame to leave such handsome men behind. So therefore this season doesn’t really come with any big surprises that would shake everything up. Despite some ‘shocking’ revelation of a certain character’s background, it is overall still pretty much the same thing all over again. As if this is just an extended season 3.

I should have expected that with this kind of genre, the story and plot of each episode more or less plays out a similar formula. You get an episode focused on a particular character and because there are too many guys this time and it won’t be enough and impossible to give each one of them their own single episode, that is why they pair up Starish and Heavens. It ‘hurries’ the pace of the season and at the same time doesn’t bore you to death because if they really did focus on the individual, I mean how much can they really tell about them individually? Sure, they can do for a handful but if they want to cover all of them, there will be some that would be incomplete or just feel forced.

This season it feels like it didn’t do much to develop the characters much. At least most of them. Because if you have been following this series from the first season, you would already have known Starish well enough. It is like there isn’t anything more left to tell about them. Except for Otoya. But more about him later. So I thought with Heavens in the fray, they might have some sort of background stories to tell. Uhm… Not really either. With the exception of Shion being a chuunibyou, the rest didn’t really have much to tell. Even Shion’s case itself isn’t much but at least with his chuunibyou personality, he stands out a bit more than the rest of Heavens. Even the original trio of Heavens, Eiichi, Nagi and Kira don’t even have any back telling to tell. Instead, their episode in focus actually focuses more on their Starish counterparts instead. So if you are a Heavens’ supporter or fan and want to know more about them this season, you would be disappointed.

Back to Starish, Tokiya, Sho, Cecil and Ren’s episodes feel like nothing. Fillers and standalone that don’t really do much. It’s a reason why I really started to feel even more boring. My sentiments of last season were already bored and this kind of similar styled episodes made it even worse. Then they start to shake things up with the remaining Starish because Natsuki, Masato and especially Otoya feel like they have actually unfinished business. It looks a bit interesting but not enough to overcome that overall boredom of mine when they break the mould with Natsuki reconciling with his alter ego and Masato taking over his destiny to not follow his father’s footsteps and pursue his own dreams with his own hands.

But such personally and family matters pale in comparison if you look at Otoya’s case. That is why they took 3 freaking episodes for Otoya! Wow. Has any Starish member get so much attention and focus in a single season? You could say he has to most tragic past which is kept secret from us in previous seasons till it exploded right in his face. I know this isn’t the darkest of all traumas but considering this bright and lively musical genre, this has got to be the bleakest of the lot. And yes, it is always the power of friendship and music that brings back our lost souls back to the path of the right. They make those who oppose you vehemently at the start to eventually give in and somewhat support you in the end if you show enough determination and willpower. Ah, if the answer was only this easy in real life…

Enough about those handsome hunks because now it is time to mention about Haruka. Poor girl. I feel she is milked and worked to death in writing songs for all of them. Just like my sentiments on her in my previous blog, I feel that there are no other capable songwriters other than her because otherwise why only engage her in writing the best songs for important concerts for the most popular boy bands. Poor Haruka, poor her… I know she enjoys it but if this was reality, this is really slave driving. However this season I feel her presence are particularly less. She doesn’t really play some sort of active role and is more in the background. It is like she doesn’t want to get in the way of the bromance between the guys. At least she has better presence than other supporting characters like Tomo, Ringo and Ryuuya. They only make their appearance and comments just to remind us that they are around. Saotome who was very flamboyant in previous seasons also feels missing here. Yeah, that last episode thingy was just a reminder he still has that ‘flair’.

Raging is painted as the antagonist here but even his revenge story doesn’t feel dark enough. Remember, this isn’t the kind of anime genre you think it is. In a way, it feels pathetic that he is forming a new group of youngsters to defeat Saotome. Even in the case he defeats Saotome, so what about it? It isn’t like he can rewrite history again because history will always point out that Saotome has beaten Raging in sales records. It is his own fault for prematurely retiring. So what if he gets bragging rights? That won’t change anything either. He will always be remembered as a grumpy old man and sore loser oji-san anyway. So he just needs to get over himself. It is a good thing he did in a way although he is still out for revenge. Just trying to go at it from a different (better) way.

I am so indifferent about the music they sing now. Sure, there are some good pieces like the jazzy ones but I can’t seriously remember them by the time I ended watching the fourth season. Eventually I have this mentality that all of them are generally the same boy band-like material. The more members you have in it, the more you need each member to take turns singing a line before everyone sings together as a group. It’s like that, right? Anyway, this season’s opener is Tempest by Mamoru Miyano. Is he trying to sound very sultry or something? The ending theme is of course by Starish, Maji Love Legend Star (at this point we should have guessed that the ending themes of every season is part of the title of the series). Nothing really special. Sounds okay enough but I will state it here again and again that the first season’s ending theme, Maji Love 1000% is still by far the best song from the series.

Overall, this isn’t really an exciting season and I can feel the waning of my enthusiasm as the series is milked even drier. Sometimes I also feel that because of that, they decide to make up for the lack of quality with quantity because if you can’t get quality story, character development or even music, spam us with more hot guys for eye candy instead! Yeah, that is how I feel what this season actually is. Unless you are big hardcore fans of one or all of the big groups here, there is nothing other casual anime viewers would particularly like about this season. So I heard they announced this franchise another new anime project. Wow. That is really milking it dry but with a different look in hopes that they can deceive us, huh? Don’t tell me the trio are going to combine into one big group. I hope it goes well because it takes so long to build up their legendary status and just a while to turn destroy all that. A kind of legend that nobody wants to live with forever in history. Might as well stop and crystalize that legend while you’re at the top and ahead, don’t you think?

After that cliff-hanger ending of the first season, it is only right not to leave it having and thus the sequel Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game Girls Galaxy is needed to save Earth and in turn the universe from the forces of evil by having idols playing crane games. I know it sounds pretty crappy with a plot like that but I guess it beats having a NASA going through the trouble of training a group of ragtag drillers to become astronauts and blow up an asteroid before it hits Earth. Why do I have a feeling this series might save the universe but they can’t save anime…

Episode 1
Our crane game girls are finally hitting big as idols. They’re famous of course for saving Earth. While they’re singing suddenly Dark Gorilla returns! But she is going to fight fire with fire by sending her own idol unit! Folks, meet the Earth invasion idol called Dark Cherry. They are made up of Lumie, Hikaru and Rei. Why are they special? Because they can sing in space. Without spacesuits! But wait. They are not in sync and all over the place. Funny jokers too. Not so threatening, right? That is till they start singing and start shooting powerful beams at our heroines. Tokiko ushers them to play a newly evolved crane game to do idol battle. Wow. So this crane unit has functions of a spaceship too? How convenient. They start singing and blast even more powerful beams back, sending Dark Cherry flying away in defeat. Meanwhile Dark Gorilla and Earth Gorilla talk about the evolution of arcade games from the physical ones to modern day mobile with online functions. For the latter although it may seem there is no physical prize when you win, now there is a hybrid version in Japan in which the company will deliver the prize right to your doorstep! Cool. Easy and convenient!

Episode 2
Dark Cherry is back at their base but looks like they’re goofing around rather than taking their loss seriously. Even when Dark Gorilla summons them, Hikaru shoots at her! Thankfully it’s just the monitor. Worse, Rei locked herself in her room as always. Don’t be surprised to see Saya popping up here. She is hired as their producer and the one who scouted them on Planet Dark Gorilla with the most potential to become an idol. Really? After describing the dog eat dog world of the idol industry, they go get Rei out of her room. However she still refuses and somewhat mocks Lumie about being in a group and going solo. This has Lumie’s bag of patience ripped open as she turns into her devil mode to barge in and give Rei a piece of her mind. Because she has to spend most of her time getting Rei out of her room, she can’t do anything else! Do you see how much she cares for you?! Once the girls are out, Saya begins their training as Lumie and Rei reconcile. On a side note, it might seem Dark Gorilla is scaring Tokiko with a crane machine seemingly moving on its own. A haunting ghost of those who failed to win prizes? Apparently today’s technology allows one to go online and control it remotely! They even have a staff to help you on this but sorry, no late night telephone service to chat.

Episode 3
Dark Cherry is back to challenge the crane game girls. They’re being lame again so our heroines aren’t sure if they’re supposed to take them seriously this time. I mean, they don’t even know if they had really won the last time. Lumie suggests this battle to be an election. There is a counter that will measure their popularity (in billions?) after they make their introduction. The first match pits Asuka against Lumie. Lumie does the exact same introduction in the first episode. No changes. Asuka does hers with some poem and wins lots of applause. First round goes to our heroines. Next round has Mirai versus Hikaru. Hikaru’s introduction is so strange and funny that it makes her popular! While Mirai is doing hers, she accidentally bites her own tongue. Dark Cherry wins by a close margin. Yeah, 2 million votes is small. Finally, Kyouko and Rei. Kyouko goes first with her earnest introduction. When it is Rei’s turn, it seems she is tongue tied and panicking. Even more so the pressure of their group’s fate is rested on her shoulders. When she hits her limit, she starts shooting beams from her eyes! In the end, we don’t know who won but we guess our crane game girls did because Dark Cherry retreats and vows to be back next time. Are you glad they’re idiots? Dark Gorilla shows us examples of scam emails. Then she clicks on one containing a prize she wants but it costs very high. Before she knows it, her PC is infected from all the virus from those emails. Good PSA reminder.

Episode 4
Once Dark Cherry has decided to stop goofing around, it’s another idol battle. This time they’ll be doing rhythm games. And since crane game girls have anticipated another shooting beam, they’ve brought their laser guns. They show us why they’re the best idol gamers because even at high difficulty, they’re still okay. Dark Cherry plays cheat by upping the difficulty to max and our heroines still clear the game with maximum points! Okay, it’s your turn. Gulp. Dark Cherry has no experience in playing rhythm games… During their idiotic rant, they accidentally mention Saya’s name. Naturally our heroines want to know her whereabouts. Saya moves in for damage control dressed in a silly gorilla musketeer outfit and proclaims herself as a mysterious unidentified producer (no, not Pro Douche-cer!), Gorillac Knight! She shares the same name but a different person. Nobody is buying this lameness. She takes her Dark Cherry to retreat. But in the end, the crane game girls are relieved that she is not Saya! Because she wouldn’t be caught dead in such a lame outfit. Yup, another bunch of lovable idiots. But it seems Tokiko has her reservations… Dark Gorilla and a loan shark harass a customer who has been taking loans to feed his online games addiction but can’t pay when it’s due. She tells him about the convenient online crane game with various methods to pay and then force him to do some fishing training that might take up to 2 years! Good luck. You’re going to need it.

Episode 5
Gorillac Knight is holding an emergency press conference. The reporters are grilling her and all she can say is no comment. Why even hold such conference? While Dark Cherry are mocking her behind her back, they realize she is standing out more than them! So what better logic than to go do another idol battle to regain their reputation! Too bad she came with them but this time it is Tokiko whom they are facing. The crane game girls are each having their own jobs. Thus Tokiko chastises Dark Cherry for not working hard! Too harsh! Tokiko knows Saya is behind that mask and won’t be fooled. Time for a flashback. Wow. High quality otome game art style! Anyway it has Saya listing down a long list of things she is going to do to save the world while Tokiko just wants to be a great announcer. They both promise to do their best. By the time the crane game girls arrive, Gorillac Knight continues to dismiss she is the real Saya and retreats this time. Another battle won without having to do anything? Saya should’ve stayed hidden if she didn’t want to be found out. You know how Apple unveils their new products? Yeah, I think they’re paying some sort of tribute here. I mean, Steve Gorilla? He is unveiling a new app that could download a crane game to your handphone. And a whole lot of other crap. Like drones and auto floor cleaner. Lies! And… And… And… And… And…

Episode 6
Dark Cherry is incognito on Earth to infiltrate and find information on crane game girls. But they are tempted by the liveliness of Tokyo. However our heroines are able to instantly recognize them! Plus, with the internet and everything, information is all around so this infiltration is useless. What else to do but not to leave empty handed and go have fun. Crane game girls decide to show them around the game arcade. They demonstrate their high skills in the crane game. When it is Dark Cherry’s turn to try, they of course suck big time. Lumie becomes mad and turns into her devil mode to abuse the machine while Rei zaps the machine with her eye beams! Dangerous! Surprisingly Hikaru won a bunch and gives some prizes to her friends to commemorate their friendship. That’s sweet. Then they continue to have fun at the karaoke. Lumie realizes that they’re rivals and shouldn’t be doing this. But what the heck. They’re already having so much fun so screw all that. Let the fun continue. Earth Gorilla observes Dark Gorilla playing an online crane game. Because of his cautiousness, he levels up everything. Something to do about the girl he has a crush and got no balls to confess to? He is told about the absolutely free to play online crane game so he doesn’t have to worry about spending real money and this in turn gives Dark Gorilla the courage to go confess to his crush he has never ever talked to in his life. Good luck?

Episode 7
Saya is shocked to see a note from Dark Cherry. They have resigned! OMG! Rei is trying her luck on stocks but everything crashes. Then there is some online flaming war that explodes her PC! The internet is indeed dangerous. Lumie is trying for a job interview but the interviewer tells her if it is a good idea to downgrade from an idol. Lumie is fine with it but apparently not the interviewer. Why is she wearing her idol outfit then? Oh, no clothes for suitable clothes. She wants her to go back to become an idol and fails her interview. Lumie goes to take more interviews but also fails them. Meanwhile Hikaru is an idiotic convenience store cashier. She does what she wants and screws around with the customer! She charges everything and free things also include tax?! And what’s this she doesn’t have change? The master of pissing of customers… You think after this experience the customer won’t be back, right? Because she is so damn cute, he thinks he’ll come back. Yeah, I can relate why most of us come back for seconds after a first terrible experience. Eventually the trio fail and have nowhere to go. They see this bright light that gives them hope… Crane game girls are bored now that Dark Cherry has not shown up for quite some time. When they tune in to TV, they are shocked to see them as nuns! Their heads completely shaved! Tokiko answers Dark Gorilla’s anxious questions regarding crane games. No crane game? Make one! Oh, she uses money for that. No confidence or skill to play? Online tutorials are helpful. But if there are online crane games, wouldn’t that make physical ones redundant? Sure. Tokiko shoots and destroys it! Lesson: Don’t waste your time making them. Just play them online.

Episode 8
When the girls meet, you bet crane game girls are really shocked that their rivals have genuinely given up their goal of invading Earth since they were never up to it. They are even going to support them to become the best idols. This does not sit well with Asuka as she flips the table. After all they’ve been put through, you can’t expect them to just let this pass like that. They’re not going to quit for some weird reason. Asuka is going to help them get back on their feet as idols. Don’t worry, their bald head is just wigs. Gathering in the streets, crane game girls are going to gather everyone for a free concert. Wait. So now they love the idea of idol battle? Dark Cherry thinks this is their deep plan to make a fool out of them so bad that they will never recover to come back as idols. Of course crane game girls dismiss that and you can see proof of that in their shiny warm idol aura. Crane game girls call everyone (you mean now only the crowd noticed it is them?) and start singing. The crowd loves them. Then they introduce Dark Cherry. To their surprise, everyone loves them too. It seems they are popular on Earth. Thank internet, right? They perform together to a rousing applause. It looks like a Metal Gear Solid tribute with Dark Gorilla trying to infiltrate steel doors and Earth Gorilla telling its passwords. But it is just a clever attempt to tell you the procedures on how to complete register for a free online crane game. The passwords, details and email that you need to key in for the access.

Episode 9
With their popularity rising, this is all part of Saya’s plan for the next stage. They will now try their hands to win the Cosmic Idol Festival. The girls are now as confused as the reporters in the conference because they are now supposed to join and become a new idol unit, Super Shiny Galaxy! No Lumie, it’s not a darker plot to catch crane game girls off guard and defeat them. Tokiko confronts Saya and knows this is not a plan she put together overnight. Saya reveals that this plan will have them become the greatest idols in the universe. That power will save Planet Dark Gorilla and in turn they will stop invading Earth, thus peace will reign! Hence the idol battles between them were to help them power up for this day. I know Saya is thrilled to train them strictly but what the heck about this part to turn them into gorillas?! And so as Gorillac Knight, she trains the new unit and warns them it is going to be a long tough road. A new unit means they have to start everything from scratch. What a pain. Why does the training menu sound like those survival games from Kaiji? But we can see a difference in their training menu. While crane game girls undergo nice typical idol-like training, Dark Cherry have to fend for their lives! Are they ready for the festival now? Dark Gorilla is some online crane gamer, Gori who is stopped by several challengers. However he ‘defeats’ all of them by not accepting their challenge since he doesn’t fancy their prizes. Till the final ‘boss’ of Earth Gorilla who only has unique and limited prizes. Dark Gorilla gives in and learns the lesson to enjoy crane game battles together.

Episode 10
Crane game girls are nervous before the competition. But seeing their Dark Cherry counterparts not giving a damn and so carefree, they’re even more nervous! Can they make it? Gorillac Knight and Tokiko explain the direct elimination tournament battle style of Cosmic Idol Festival in which the entire universe will be watching and judging. I guess all that survival training are for nought since they’re just going to be singing and dancing like typical idols. They also give analytic details of the opponents they are likely to face like NGC 224 representing Andromeda who are just literally atoms, Lake City Girls representing Saitama prefecture (do they need another Earth representative?) and Jupiter. Yes, there are people living in Jupiter looking like monoliths who can evolve you! Crane game girls are having a headache hearing his but Dark Cherry is pretty fine. They’re used with all the messy intergalactic stuffs. But we don’t have to worry all that because we skip the entire festival and Super Shiny Galaxy wins! However suddenly Dark Gorilla appears and is not pleased. He does not need idols who have forgotten about their goal of invading Earth. He’ll destroy all and start over! Continuing Gori’s adventure as an online crane gamer, he faces off with another gamer but can’t seem to beat him. Till Tokiko comes to his rescue with some laser beams. Apparently some ghost is inhabiting this gamer. So having a second inner spirit is the key to winning? Because of that, Gori tries to summon his own second inner spirit but can’t help spew out names of seiyuus, producers, staffs and anime titles. All rebutted by Tokiko.

Episode 11
Dark Gorilla attacks and destroys the space station but luckily everyone has evacuated. Of course our girls are going to fight back and although crane game girls have no qualms, Dark Cherry ponders by doing so will be considered mutiny. Saya assures them this is just like another idol battle. All they need to do is sing and wake up Dark Gorilla. Thanks to all their training, they have powers equivalent to Dark Gorilla. This boosts their confidence although they aren’t strong enough to defeat her. Dark Gorilla is still bent on taking over Earth to steal its resources because Planet Dark Gorilla is running out of them. When he fires his ultimate beam, Saya intervenes to protect the girls. I guess at this point crane game girls realize Gorillac Knight is the real Saya. A little bit of drama and emotion to rev them up to begin their counterattack. Dark Gorilla fires another shot but the idols’ song this time deflects it. Their harmony is so great that it blasts away the evil force, turning Dark Gorilla into a docile little form. The universe is saved? A scientist is trying to show another fellow scientist inventions relating to crane games but were scoffed off for its impracticality. Finally this idol training unit that utilizes cards to build your very own idol as well as a tie-in campaign with this ‘famous’ anime, seals the deal to have them sell it to arcades everywhere! Damn blatant advertising!

Episode 12
Everyone converges at the stadium for an ultimate concert by Super Shiny Galaxy. Although crane game girls are there and nervous, the thing that makes them even more nervous is the fact that Dark Cherry is nowhere to be seen! Time to go for a witch hunt. Angry Asuka has to pull Lumie attending another idol concert as she has conveniently forgot her own. It isn’t so bad for Rei because she is trying to visit exhibition museums and Kyouko is being very nice to her that she will gladly guide her around after their concert and they both become like super best friends. Meanwhile Hikaru is winning all the prizes at the crane games and Mirai catches herself saying the unthinkable because crane games are unimportant? So they challenge each other but Hikaru also bests her and wins even more prizes. Once Hikaru is bored, she cheekily says there is no more time for this and returns to their concert. Must be a tiring day for Mirai. When they return, Saya and Tokiko usher them to get ready now since it is way past their starting time. Super Shiny Galaxy start singing and thankfully the patient crowd still loves them. Suddenly the girls decide to go on a journey to Planet Dark Gorilla. Despite Dark Gorilla is now in a stuffed toy form, they really want to save the planet with their idol power. Saya and Tokiko give them their blessings to save the universe with their idol power and when they come back, they should become the best idols in the galaxy. And off they go. The final scene sees Tokiko talking to Dark Gorilla the stuffed toy. It seems Dark Gorilla is going to do good and earn points to return to his original form and also promote more online crane games which they didn’t manage to do in the anime. You mean it wasn’t enough? However Dark Gorilla seems to have enough reform points to return to his original evil self. He is going to challenge Super Shiny Galaxy next time and win. Wait. Another season?! Oh please, no!!!

Don’t Make Gorillas Out Of Our Galaxy Idols!
Well, everything turns out as silly as it is supposed to be. I know it might end up in one of the worst anime series of all time but since I was having a little silly fun watching this season, I guess it is not all that bad. Seriously. I still remember my own advice in my previous blog not to be stressed up watching this and thinking too hard of all the illogical stuffs propping up. Yeah, even if this didn’t save anime but at least it saved my sanity. Wowee. What fun this second season is. Right… Please don’t spoil the mood by mentioning that a third season is possible. Because I don’t want to think that there are going to be more idols popping up like Dark Gorilla hiring new ones to fight Super Shiny Galaxy but then they defect and become heroine idols. Yeah, one step closer to expanding as big as AKB48 and beyond. *Shudders*.

However I feel that this sequel has actually done away with a lot of stuffs that we know from the first season that we are familiar with and think we are supposed to expect. For example, the obvious one being the crane games are totally missing! What gives?! Even if that final episode ‘challenge’ between Hikaru and Mirai was to remind us about the ‘origins’, it was a little too late to have any sort of impact. So to have crane game in the title felt a bit misleading since they substitute crane games with idol battles. And also because of that, the idol battles are now in place of crane games as instruments to destroy asteroids aimed at Earth. Yes, it is like a totally different plot now when you look back and compare at these things.

So I figure that to compensate for the no-show of the crane games, that is why this season is blown up to 13 minutes! That is 3 times more than the first season whose duration lasts a paltry 4 minutes! But the actual episode may just be 8 minutes long and taking away the opening and ending themes of 3 minutes, you will be left with 2 minutes of extra, uhm, extras at the end. It is this segment that features a whole load of crane game related references and some even including pop culture references. This might not have any real bearing of the actual plot of the series but at least it has something to do with crane games that the episode proper is missing.

Of course personally this segment also feels like a blatant advertising for crane games and towards the end, for more people to watch this crappy anime. Yeah. I guess that is what being ‘famous’ is all about. But in general, trying to promote crane games here isn’t entirely a bad thing because with people so wired and focused on their Smartphones, nobody actually comes out to the arcade to play these machines anymore. It’s like those pinball machines who are now virtually extinct in many places. What good is having a virtual or online crane game version because I believe being there physically to play the game is much better still. Oh, I have not played a real crane game in my life ever.

Another change that makes it feel this season has deviated from the first is the focus on the new characters from Dark Cherry. I think they are given equal, if not slightly more screen time than the crane game girls. It is both good and bad because crane game girls are supposed to be the main heroines but get side-lined like this. But then again, Dark Cherry aren’t really the antagonists. How can you have cute idol girls as the bad guys! It’s unthinkable!

Though, even with their quirky characters, they still couldn’t really save this anime since their personalities also feel someone cliché. We have the competitive idiot who is also branded a boobs monster. Then we have a socially awkward and ultra shy idiot. Finally the idiotic idiot who is always at her own pace to throw everything off and supposedly make the series funny and make us laugh because she’s such a carefree idiot. You can’t hate cute idiotic girls, can you?! As mentioned, crane game girls get side-lined and since last season we already have a glimpse of their background and family, even if we have forgotten about them, who the hell cares.

Tokiko made a late appearance in the first season and this time around she is sticking a bit longer and becoming part of the main group of characters thanks in becoming crane game girls’ manager. And to answer last season as to why Saya jumped ship to Dark Gorilla’s side, her plans are finally revealed albeit you could have guessed more of the lines her ulterior intentions from the way she planned out those stuffs. She isn’t a bad person, right?

I can’t help think this series is trying to be a very light version of AKB0048 because that show itself is about galactic idols kicking ass and saving the universe. And then you use the power of singing, dancing and music, all idol related stuffs to power up and save the day. Who ever said idols are just out there prancing on stage looking good to please fans. They save the world and you don’t even know it! Yeah, it’s something like magical girls aren’t just little girls transforming into powered heroines to do good and save the world. At least for many magical girl themed series these days… So if crane game powered beams don’t do the trick, your stint as an idol will. Who needs American drillers? So if an asteroid is heading our way, we would prefer the Japanese to take charge and send their idols up there to do the job. Because, they’re just as effective and less destructive so to speak.

The art and drawing still remains the same although the animation is still crappy with using this Flash based tools but at least it is way much better than JK Meshi. Yeah, I can’t believe I still remember that mess. I think from now on every anime that uses Flash with this kind of art style, I have to compare it to JK Meshi because that is the standard of bad. Real bad. This season’s opening theme is Galaxy Party ~Uchuu No Mannaka De Party Shiyou~ by the crane game girls. Although it sounds like a typical idol sound, to me it sounds flat to more I hear it and feels like all over the place once it ends. The ending theme, Zettai Teki Seiten Aozora by Aki Deguchi at least sounds better. Dark Cherry aren’t side-lined as they do sing albeit the insert song, Don’t Call Me Loser (I wished there was some parody called Don’t Call Me Boobs Monster). Speaking of them, they are voiced by Aya Uchida as Lumie (Kotori in Love Live), Mikoi Sasaki as Hikaru (Hercule in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes series) and Akari Kageyama as Rei (Ebina in Himouto! Umaru-chan).

Overall, there are definitely much better idol themed animes out there. Yes, I consider this season to be totally an idol themed one instead of some disaster striking Earth. As usual, don’t get too stressed up watching this series because anger gets you nowhere and you might take it out on the innocent crane game machine. Do you even crane game these days? Logic tells me I’m not going to be a super genius in crane games when I finished watching this show. Because when you already have a talking gorilla in space wanting to destroy Earth, hell, anything goes. I wonder would they have garnered more points had they given Harambe a cameo. Because he would have definitely stolen the limelight from Super Shiny Galaxy without putting in any effort or doing anything. Then maybe we will all really be looking forward to season 3. Dicks out for Harambe!

Love Live! Sunshine!!

March 10, 2017

Eh? Do we need another Love Live series? I thought it was all over. Apparently this isn’t exactly a continuation or a reboot. More like a spinoff. Yes, another new group in focus. At first I thought Love Live! Sunshine!! would be about the younger sisters of the original Muse forming their own group and living up to their predecessor’s legacy. This is not the case. A bunch of new faces and a new school in a different prefecture means everything would be new although we all know the concept and setting would follow a familiar pattern. The forming of a new school idol unit, their trials and tribulations as they try to achieve the ultimate Holy Grail of the idol industry. What else can you expect from this genre? Oh, right. No space ass kicking idols to save the universe here for sure.

Episode 1
Chika Takami is a second year at Uranohoshi Girls’ High School. Along with her friend, You Watanabe they are trying to recruit members for their idol club. No takers. Oddly, Chika has never been interested in clubs and stuffs before but she’s getting into it thinking that school idols are all the rage now. They continue giving out fillers and stumble upon several ‘potentials’. Hanamaru Kunikida and Ruby Kurosawa seem suspicious first. Then there is Yoshiko Tsushima dropping down from a tree and acting all chuunibyou. Ruby seems to know her but Yoshiko seems to be pretending that she doesn’t. And the trio start chasing each other, forgetting all about the idol club. Chika is picked up by the student council president, Dia Kurosawa. She is chastising her for not even applying to create the club. Yup, the club officially doesn’t exist. Besides, there is a minimum of 5 members needed to form a club and Chika is the only one on it. To pour more salt on injury, Dia is adamant she will not have any idol clubs in her school! You thinks Dia is from a traditional fishing family so anything that seems silly will not get her approval. While Chika is trying to figure out ways to get new members, she sees a girl at the pier and thinks she is trying to commit suicide. She tries to stop Riko Sakurauchi from diving in but they both fall into the sea. Later as revealed, she was only diving. The reason being, she is trying to compose a song for a piano and needs to hear the sound of the sea to get inspiration. Despite she is from Tokyo, she doesn’t know what a school idol is. Too dedicated to piano to know anything else. Chika explains about them but doesn’t consider herself as part of them and just your average Jane. Then when she saw Muse performing, she became inspired. That dazzling brightness became her dream. Riko feels Chika’s words cheered her up. As they officially introduce themselves, Riko says she is from Otonokizaka Academy, the school were Muse is from. Chika gets more motivation when You decides to join her club. However Chika and Dia are still head butting each other. Dia tries to discourage them about an original song they need to write for entering Love Live. Because this school has no one gifted in music let alone someone who can compose a song. Then it is like a miracle dropping before Chika because Riko becomes a new transfer student in her class. The first thing she asks is to join her as a school idol. Sorry, she can’t. Dream dashed so quickly…

Episode 2
Chika continuously bugs Riko to join because she is the only one who can write songs. Still no. You on the other hand has designed some drafts for costumes. I think she needs to come up with something cuter than military and police outfits. Again when Chika bugs Dia and tries to give inspiration about Muse, the president snaps for her mispronouncing their name! She then quizzes Chika about Muse’s trivia but she doesn’t know a thing. Well, Dia seems to know awfully a lot. Is she a Muse fan? Unknown to Dia, her trivia interrogation was accidentally broadcasted throughout the entire school. Later Chika tries to lure Ruby with candy. They talk about Dia who is Ruby’s elder sister who is quite against any school idols so they aren’t confident if Chika’s club will get the green light at all. Also Yoshiko has been absent since the first day of school. Chika then sees Riko by the shore again. Still trying to find inspiration for her composition but no luck. Although Chika gives her motivation, Riko still declines thinking this is part of her ruse to get her to join her idol club. Chika accepts her rejection for now. Then she goes diving with her just to try out. As you know, miracles happen when this kind of scene pops up so Riko is able to hear what she wants for her composition. Although Riko agrees to write songs for them, this doesn’t mean she has joined their club. But to start writing one, she needs lyrics. What are lyrics? You mean Chika doesn’t even know what lyrics are? Chika invites Riko to her home-cum-inn to help think up of lyrics. Meet the weird sisters, Shima and Mito and their pet dog that Riko seems to fear? Brainstorming on what to write, since Chika loves school idols, she can write tons of lines on that. Back home, Riko tries to compose her song on her piano but it seems she has some trauma. Eventually when she gets going, Chika is impressed with her composition. Guess what? They live next to each other! Didn’t Riko realize this when she comes home? Anyway Riko still has some fears so Chika allays them by reaching out. I guess it means everything is okay when their hands touch.

Episode 3
The trio are practising their dance moves. Still need more practising. They are interrupted when a helicopter flies low. Riding it is Mari Ohara and Uranohoshi’s new chairwoman aside from being a third year student too. Well, her family is a major patron of the school. Dia is not happy because she vanished a few years ago without saying anything and now she is suddenly back. Mari gives hope to Chika’s idol group. If they can fill in the gym for their first performance, she’ll approve the club and get school funding. Otherwise, they’ll just have to disband. However when they calculate, the entire school isn’t enough to fill the hall. This means they have to get audiences from outside. So Chika begs to Mito for her company of 200 employees to come but looks like it didn’t fly. They go to town to distribute flyers. While You is a natural, Chika sounds threatening. Is that a way to ask people to come to your concert? Shy Riko? What good is talking to a poster will do? Ruby and Hanamaru are there too. But they ask a more pressing issue: What is their group name? And so our trio have to think about a group name quick. Let’s say each come up with their own lame names. They can write all over the beach the potential ones but eventually they stumble upon Aqours. Feels good. Something related to water. Okay, so Aqours it will be. They don’t even know who wrote this. After that it is more flyer distribution. On the night of their performance, the trio are nervous. When the curtains rise, well, only a handful of them. You can count them all who attended. They carry on their performance but halfway the electricity is cut off due to the bad storm. They try to carry on without the music but it is so heart-breaking that Chika is close to tears. And then suddenly here comes Mito bringing her entire colleagues! Wow. Suddenly the hall is filled. Traffic jam all over the place? Well what do you know? Mito scolds Chika for putting the wrong date on the flyer. More miracles because Dia turns on the generators for backup power. The trio continue their performance to a standing ovation. Oh wait. Everybody is standing in the first place. At the end, Dia confronts them that their success is only due to past efforts of other school idols and the kindness of these people. Chika agrees but had they not done anything, nothing would have happened.

Episode 4
Mari gives the green light for the idol club to be approved. This means they have their own clubroom. Uhm, very messy. Clean up time. However they’re still short of members. Ruby reports to Hanamaru that the idol club is approved and is very happy about it. This has Ruby remember she used to act out performances of Muse with Dia. They love idols so much but one day after Dia entered high school, she started hating them and doesn’t want anything to do with it. So if big sister doesn’t like it, Ruby is not allowed to like them too. WTF?! Mari sees her friend, Kanan Matsuura and wants her to join the idol club once she returns to school. It is the reason she came back. However Kanan is not pleased. Hanamaru suggests to Ruby they try out the idol club. Of course Chika is happy but she must remember that if they don’t like it, they won’t join. They hope they can keep this a secret from Dia too. The first order is to train. But there is no decent place for them so it is suggested the rooftop. Like how Muse did it. For stamina training, they run up the mountain. Hanamaru lacks stamina and although considerate Ruby wants to wait for her, she tells her to forge ahead and not be someone she doesn’t want. Otherwise she’ll suffer. After Ruby goes ahead, it seems this is part of Hanamaru’s plan as she is scheduled to meet Dia nearby. She tells her to listen to Ruby. That’s it? Oh, here Ruby and co comes. Dia wants an explanation so Ruby explains the truth. Ruby officially joins Aqours. But what about Hanamaru? She thinks her role is over and returns to the library where she belongs. She loves books. Of course Ruby can’t have her ending like that so she is going to force her to join. Forgive me, I reworded it harshly. Ruby has been observing Hanamaru too and knows she was pushing herself for her sake. She noticed she was happy while practising too and that she loves them as much as her. Let’s be idols together. Hanamaru doesn’t think she doesn’t have what it takes to be an idol. But Chika tells her it is not the question of can or cannot. It is whether you want or not. And so there were five. When they key in their group name to check out rankings on Love Live, they rank 4999. Not bad, right?

Episode 5
Yoshiko believes she is a fallen angel and even records a video of herself doing all those chuunibyou stuffs. But it’s like her other rational personality told her to stop it since she’ll be a high school girl and it will be embarrassing. Unfortunately bad habits are hard to die out so when she first introduced herself in class the first day like that, it’s the reason she never showed up anymore. Aqours move up in their ranking by a few hundred ranks. Not bad. Hanamaru has never seen a computer before since her family runs an old temple. You bet she is a noob when it comes to all technologies. So when she accidentally shuts down the computer… Hope they saved their work. Hanamaru spots Yoshiko spying on them and calls them out. She is afraid her classmates think she is weird but after being assured they won’t remember a thing, she is confident to start anew. Yoshiko portrays herself as the graceful cool beauty. She becomes popular as her classmates would love to know her better. That’s when it goes downhill because Yoshiko starts doing her chuunibyou when they wanted her to do her fortune telling. Oops… She feels disgraced but Chika finds it cute. Thinking this is what they need to improve their rankings further, she asks her to join their school idol club. Everyone tries out the gothic outfit at Chika’s place. But her dog keeps harassing Riko so she literally jumps back home!!! She can become a long jumper if this falls through. A video of a cheesy fallen angel of them is filmed. Embarrassing, right? But it increased their rank just below the thousand mark!!! OMG! Amazing???!!! However when Dia sees this, she blows her top at this utmost embarrassment. She warns them the popularity is only temporary because right now they have dropped back down to behind 1500 as other groups also do their best to stand out. Yoshiko thinks it is the end of her fallen angel days and can live a normal high school life. After she leaves the group, the rest discuss why she was so obsessed being a fallen angel. She was just normal like them and never stood out. Then they realize they want her and chase her all across town just to ask her to join Aqours. She can continue being a fallen angel. It is who she is. It is what she loves. They accept her for all the nonsense. Chika realizes being a school idol isn’t about what people thought or how to get popular. It is doing what you love most that makes you shine the most. And with that, Yoshiko’s in.

Episode 6
Dia learns from Mari that Uranohoshi will close down and merge with Numazu. Of course Mari is trying to delay that from happening, thus her return as chairwoman. But if next year’s enrolment numbers go down, the inevitable will happen. An excuse to use idols to revive the school? Well, Dia is not going to fall for this. So Aqours also learn about this but Chika is ecstatic because they are going to follow the same route as Muse and Otonokizaka. Does she really think this path will also lead Aqours to glory? Well, no harm dreaming. Thus she comes up with an idea of doing a PV. Unfortunately they are all over the place and have no idea on what to report on what is good in their town. Mari also tells Kanan about Uranohoshi’s fate. She can keep it alive but needs her help to come back to school. Kanan is not amused she ‘broke’ into her house just to tell this but Mari reminds her she is her stalker. When Aqours show their PV, if Mari thinks it is trash, I guess it says everything. They might have put in a lot of effort but the result is still crap doesn’t make it any better. Later Chika sees Dia performing alone in the hall. She is amazed at her skills and wants her to join Aqours to help keep it open. But Dia refuses and will fight this her own way. Mari is here to harass remind her about nothing will change if she keeps running away. Dia responds she never ran away. Not now. Not then. When the school is doing community service picking up litter on the each, Chika gets an idea for their PV. They do a music video and mix it in with this communal work.

Episode 7
Aqours now ranks 99th! Not bad! The top 100 qualify for Love Live. Phew, right? Then they get mail for them to attend the Tokyo School Idol World Committee. They’re going to Tokyo! Ruby seeks ‘permission’ from Dia but is told she has already decided on what to do so what others say don’t matter. Then Dia confronts Mari about the idols going to Tokyo. Mari tells her Dia could have stopped them if she wanted although Dia is more concerned if they should fail. If the worse may come to worst, then there’s no avoiding it. So here Aqours is at Tokyo. A bunch of country bumpkin at awe with the tall buildings, the city life, getting lost, getting lost in shopping, etc. Then they run up the legendary stairs that Muse used to run up. Legendary like Rocky Steps? At the shrine on top, they hear the beautiful voice of 2 girls singing. The duo know all about Aqours and seen their videos. They know why they are here and are looking forward to it. From the way they sound, they’re like their rivals, right? And why do they have to look ‘evil’? To show Aqours what kind of bar is raised, one of them does an acrobatic somersault! Later Chika wants to visit Otonokizaka but Riko seems against it. Riko explains she doesn’t hate her ex-school. It’s just that each time she thinks of it, it’s like there are expectations to be met and all she did there was practice and in the end she failed. Chika on the other hand wonders what it’s like to have expectations. When people came to see them off, she felt happy and scared. It’s like she had to meet their expectations and cannot fail. Aqours are at the Dome where they will perform and the audience will vote to rank them. It seems Aqours will be one of teams to start first. Second, in fact. At the backstage, Ruby is still nervous and Yoshiko is still spouting her chuunibyou crap. Then they encounter those girls at the shrine again. You didn’t think they were idol rivals? They are Saint Snow.

Episode 8
Saint Snow goes first and we see their outstanding dance to the rock and hip hop mix. After that it’s Aqours. Well, we didn’t get to see their performance (to say that this isn’t their best?) but we see the girls a bit down and Chika forcing herself to stay cheerful and positive. When they are handed the results, they look for their name of course. Saint Snow ranks 9th. Hmm… Aqours not on the first page. Maybe the second page… Aha! Number 30th. Not bad, right? Well, there are only 30 teams participant. Damn. So how many people voted for them? Zero!!! OMFG! Ironically Saint Snow praises them for their performance. And then a reality check. Because they warn to give up trying to become like Muse. Love Live is not some game. You can’t brush that off easily when they say that with tears in their eyes. On the way home, Chika continues to remain positive and thinks they have done their best. Back home, their fans greet them. But when Dia comes to get them, Ruby lets loose her tears. Time for a little advice. Dia sees nothing wrong in their performance and they have certainly done their best. However there are 7,236 teams participating in this year’s Love Live. More than 10 times last year. The level of competition has risen sharply. Dia also reveals why her side cannot sing. Back then, she and Kanan pestered Mari into joining their idol unit in hopes of saving the school from consolidation. Mari was against it but eventually gave in. But after witnessing how awesome other groups are, it was their turn on stage and they froze. They cannot sing a note. That’s why Dia was against them forming an idol group fearing this might happen. And it did. Mari once more tries to convince Kanan but she continues to give the cold shoulder. Mari now breaks down in tears, wishing to take back those days of them together. Crocodile or not, Kanan is not moved. That night, Chika has a lot to think. Especially when You asked if they should disband. Next morning, Riko is shocked thinking Chika tried to drown herself! She was just thinking with the help of the sound of the sea. She has decided to continue being a school idol. Then she breaks down thinking how frustrating everything was despite trying so hard. Riko hugs her and is glad she is now honest with her feelings. Chika didn’t want to cry so as not to affect their morale. Riko assures they didn’t become school idols for her sake. They did it for themselves. Aqours renew their motivation and set their sights to improve.

Episode 9
Mari turned down studying abroad so she could continue being a school idol. However Kanan for the umpteenth time told her she is quitting. Even Dia agreed with her. Majority won. Aqours try to find out more about their seniors since they heard rumours from Dia that Kanan couldn’t sing that led to this mess. So in order to know more about what Dia said, everyone targets Ruby! The pressure! Too bad she didn’t hear much. They decide to tail Kanan. Hope they saved up their stamina because that girl can run without breaks! Then at the shrine, they see Mari stalking her again to come back and stop running away. Kanan is still stubborn and this time she gets serious. She doesn’t want to see her face again. Next day, Kanan surprises the school when she returns. Mari continues her harassment by giving her the idol uniform. She throws it away. If that is not enough, the drama grows with Mari clinging onto her like a leech. She’s never letting go! Dia can’t do anything as everybody is watching. Ironically it is Chika who tells them to stop this crap and come to the room to explain everything. Wow. Chika is so commanding! Even so, Kanan’s lips are sealed. She remains stubborn saying she couldn’t sing. That’s it. After she leaves, the rest are even more curious to know more. Now they turn to Dia. Get her! The big revelation as she reveals it wasn’t Kanan couldn’t sing. She chose not to sing. On that day, Mari injured herself. Despite Mari insists she could continue, could you imagine had they go on? It would have ended with something worse than an injury. Mari is not pleased her feelings were never sought. She turned down offers from other schools and had even everything all setup for their next idol stint. Dia adds that Kanan was always looking out and worried for her. She was worried they would rob her future and chance to achieve her full potential. Time for Mari to find that girl and slap her. Some past flashbacks as kids how they met and become friends. So time for them to settle it once and for all. Mari starts off that she too was thinking about her. Then the inevitable slap to release her frustrations. Because it was her own fault too for not being honest then, she allows Kanan to slap her. But Kanan signals a hug. Something they did as friends. Time to let out a big emotional hug. And now it is official. The trio join and complete Aqours. At the end of the practice, Kanan reveals their group was also named Aqours. Coincidence? Guess who gave this idea to the juniors? That writing on the beach. Dia has taken them for a ride too. You cheeky devil…

Episode 10
Summer vacation is here but Dia becomes the self-appointed manager to come up with training schedules for Aqours. She’s really into this. But with the neighbourhood association tasking them to work at the seaside café, there is no time for training. It is suggested that they work all day, using morning and evenings for training. Who says being an idol is easy? Chika suggests staying at her place and treat this like a training camp since they will save time on travelling. So after a little fun in the sea, it’s time to work on the seaside café. Dia again appoints herself as the manager as she delegates jobs to make their café more popular than their neighbour’s (which is raking in lots of customers). I guess they were decent but not popular enough to sell out their food and thus they have to finish them for dinner. Yeah, they have Mari’s expensive high quality seafood mix or Yoshiko’s whatever black balls… Tears of the fallen? Yeah, you’ll cry after eating that because it is spicy! The real drama begins when Chika overheard Riko’s family talking about Riko’s upcoming piano competition invitation. They are unsure because Riko has not replied. Chika discovers that the competition is on the same day as Love Live preliminaries. When Chika talks to her, Riko has already set her mind on Love Live. School idols have become a big part of her life now and is more important to her. Why do I have a feeling Chika is going to have the same déjà vu dilemma like Mari did? More Aqours training, working and improvising their cooking. Dia wants to give a history lesson on A-Rise but with Mito giving that stare, Chika quickly calls it a night because she doesn’t want the unthinkable to happen. This is what she actually said, “If we don’t cut the noise right now, the god of this inn is gonna pull my soul right out of my butt!”. Oh sh*t! Back to Chika-Riko drama. Chika has Riko play a piano piece of her least likable song. Chika likes that song. Read: She wants Riko to take part in the piano competition. It’s not like she is asking her to quite Aqours. She thought it would be great if she could go back and play piano again. Remember, playing the piano was important to her. Go on, Chika and the rest aren’t going anywhere. They’ll be waiting for her right here. The green light for permission to pursue her dream and an emotional hug. See? You can have best of both worlds.

Episode 11
Everyone sees off Riko at the train station. After that it is back to more idol training. They are impressed with Saint Snow doing well in their preliminaries but they have to worry about their own. So for idol training they have to clean the pool? I guess it builds up stamina and patience. When it’s time to practice, they realize they can’t start because Riko is missing for the opening gig. Suggesting someone takes her place, somehow everybody is looking at You. Unfortunately You continues to make mistakes all the time. This has You worrying. A much needed call from Riko to Chika as she passes on to everyone to speak to her. When it is You’s turn, her handphone battery is going to go kaput. Why does this always happen? With You obviously looking down, Mari talks to her and after a few cheeky face pinches, she advises her to just say her feelings and thoughts and not make the same mistake like she did. You had a chance to talk to Chika but didn’t have the guts. At home she is thinking of the various scenarios she can tell Chika but they are all dramatically lame. Then the much needed call from Riko to assure her that Chika is really happy to be with her and do her best for her sake. Scenes like these always make the character want to tear up, right? Get ready for more as You is already at tipping point when here comes Chika requesting to practice again with her. This time she thinks You should be dancing in her own way. You breaking down in 3, 2, 1… Let it flow, those tears. Then there is a narration why Chika wanted to become a school idol and nothing else. She didn’t want to shine all by herself and wants others to shine with her so as to spread the light that bring everyone listening to their music together. That way, everything will shine even brighter. Technically speaking. So we get to see Aqours performing as well as Riko in her piano recital at the same time. You can tell they pull off an amazing feat with the crowd applauding. Hey. Is Aqours doing the sign of Black Power? Fist in the air?!

Episode 12
Are you ready to find out if Aqours will advance to the next round? Let’s see… Who the f*ck is Izu Express?! Then they realize the list is by entry number. Oh look, Aqours is on the list! Hooray! They pass! Yes, oh my god indeed, Mari. Even better news is that their PV online is getting more views. But here is the thing that will bring them back to earth: Applicants for Uranohoshi this year is still zero! Oh God. It’s that dreaded number. So with lots of soul searching and thinking, Chika suggests they go back to Tokyo again to see what Muse has that they don’t. Back at the shrine top again, guess who is there again? Saint Snow. They talk and learn Saint Snow is following the footsteps of A-Rise. History repeating itself in a way? I guess Chika asked a stupid question so they have to tell her what else everybody enters Love Live for? To win, of course silly! Aqours then visit Otonokizaka and be awed by its magnificence. When a student of Otonokizaka (Hanayo?) learns they are trying to learn more about Muse, she tells them there is nothing left about them here. They didn’t want to leave anything behind and don’t need those things because their hearts will always be connected. Aqours pay their respect to the school. When they return, Chika has realized why Muse are so amazing. She believes Aqours shouldn’t be like them or chase after them. The amazing about Muse was how they went with nothing and make everyone’s dreams come true. Aqours should be doing things they want their own way. You suggests a hand signal for their group. It looks like an ‘L’ but from another point of view, I thought they look like a gun… Aqours jump with joy with that hand signal and their moto is from zero to one.

Episode 13
We see Aqours training in the summer as well as some of their usual antics. Oh, the number for their school’s open house is still zero. A few of their friends have noticed them practising hard so they talk about their love for their school. At first they thought that there was nothing they can do but after seeing Aqours trying their best, they too want to help out in any way they can. This has Chika thinking that despite hearing everybody saying they love this school and town, why does the number still stand at zero? No, it’s not that everyone is lying. It’s just that the message isn’t getting across. She believes Love Live is not an afterthought. Chika’s mom even returns to lend her support. Oh God. She is a typical anime mom because she looks smaller and younger than Chika! Enough to be her little sister! Aqours is motivated when the entire school wants in to help them out. Wait a minute. Do they not seriously think they can all just go up and perform on stage?! Riko had to break it to them about the rules that only registered members can go up there. Yeah, imagine if they bring the entire country… So we see Aqours having their backstage motivation before heading out to the stage for their regional competition. They start off differently because they are narrating their school’s dire straits and the formation of Aqours. Basically a dramatic summary of what has happened so far. Audiences must be confused if they are watching a play or a concert. Yeah, it lasted over 5 minutes before they get to the real singing and dancing.

Living On Love And Sunshine
Well folks, it looks like if there is a need for it, there is a chance that another sequel for Aqours would be possible. After all, they are going to become better than Muse, right? So what better way to follow in their footsteps and have another, if not more sequels. Because Aqours need to advance and win for our sakes, right? But that is for another time. As far as this spin-off sequel is concerned, personally I am not an idol fan so overall it looks and sounds the same to me. Just repackaging it in a slightly different way and mostly visually. Because it feels like an excuse to distract us that Aqours wants to follow in Muse’s footsteps and thus hiding the fact that we are watching the same plot and journey again but with a different name. Uh huh. Notice how their idol unit is set up just to save the school? How about recruiting members for the group? What about failing and falling back up? A rival to rival them and most important of all, doing their best to win the coveted Love Live title. So similar, right? Might as well rewatch the first 2 seasons of Love Live then.

As I would have guessed and told them from the start when Chika really wanted to become and follow in the footsteps of Muse, Aqours shouldn’t be striving to become like the best school idol group in history ever (for now) because Muse and Aqours are both very different to the core although on the surface they might look the same. Even if this entire storyline feels like going through déjà vu but in a different visual presentation, they are still very much different. Muse is Muse. Aqours is Aqours. They can use Muse as motivation but all Aqours needs to do is to become the best in their own way and pace. Because in that way if they ever become popular, people won’t compare them and say that they are only so because of Muse. That is like they’ve been riding Muse’s wave and will forever be in their shadows.

Well, I certainly have this weird feeling of seeing it all before but yet this season feels different. I mean, if it was completely the same, might as well take out my DVDs of the previous 2 seasons of Love Live and start rewatching them. You can tell the familiar pattern of how the girls are trying to form a new idol group and being the underdog themselves, it isn’t a bed of roses as they will face some sort of obstacle in their bid to win the coveted title. Which of course they’re still a long way to go the way this season plays everything out. Even the ‘completion’ of all the members joining and making Aqours as a whole feels like history repeating itself like Muse since Aqours got all its 9 members after 3/4 of the series. It is around that time that Muse too got completed like that albeit slightly earlier. So do you not think that Aqours is just Muse reborn in a different town?

Making this rebirth of Muse seeing more obvious are the characters themselves. Not only the fact that they have the same number of members, but somehow you could just feel that they are mostly the same characters. Just that they swap hairstyle, hair colour and personalities. And voila! You get a new set of characters for a new group. For example in the looks department, do you not think that Kanan looks suspiciously close to Nozomi? Just take away the boobs. Heh… Then there is the blonde halfie who wields a powerful position in school. Mari is half Italian and the chairwoman while Eri is half Russian and is the student council president. Then there is the joker type who was Niko and her Niko-niko smile, now we have Yoshiko and her fallen angel and chuunibyou crap. Shy girls are still around. If Muse had Hanayo, Aqours has Ruby. Next one is somewhat a bit different but I can think it is to fill in the ‘less feminine’ personality since Rin is a tomboy and they replaced that with Hanamaru the country bumpkin. In terms of roles, it is obvious that Chika is this season’s Honoka as the group’s leader and Riko is the Maki for Aqours since she is the one who only writes songs and plays the piano. Not forgetting the group’s outfit designer are Kotori and You. So do you see how they just swapped everything around and make it sound as though everything is fresh and new?

In view of this, there is not much for me to comment on the girls of Aqours since like I have said, they feel familiar but yet different. But if I want to point out my ‘favourite’ one, it would be Yoshiko because she is a funny girl. Yes, she has a screw loose in her head but she’s funny shamelessly doing her chuunibyou in the middle of public. That’s Yoshiko being Yoshiko (or is it Yohane?). Just like my ‘favourite’ one for Muse was Niko. Because she’s funny. What? You don’t think liking a person because she is funny is not a valid reason? But it seems ever since Aqours became a whole, Yoshiko as the funniest character seems to be taken over by Dia. Uh huh. I believe she is the one that had undergone the most ‘drastic’ change in character among the Aqours members. At first she was very prideful to the point that you’ll be convinced she is just a strict b*tch. But after the issue with her friends are resolved, her funny side shows up and it’s like she can usurp Yoshiko as the comic relief character. Seriously. Then there is Mari too who acts like some sort of stalker to Kanan before and after. Do best friends stalk each other like that? I’m not sure if this is a running joke because Riko is shown to be afraid of Chika’s dog. This phobia seems to be more comical than the phobia of some of Muse’s members. Because Eri was afraid of the dark and Umi was afraid of public performances. So each time she is at her house, it’s like there is this ‘showdown’ between them if it is going to happen or not. When it does, all hell breaks loose as Riko will be running for her life from this canine demon.

Saint Snow is looking to be the destined rival for Aqours although their appearance is just very minimal. It is easy to fall for the trap of trying to compare Saint Snow to their A-Rise counterpart but I believe that on the outside their roles may look like they are similar, we do not have enough information to conclude much about them. Yet. Unless you’re an ardent fan and know everything there is to know about this series. I’m not. Sorry. Is it me or do idol units need to have so many members or just minimal? I thought there would be more members in Saint Snow but it seems there are only 2 of them. Heck, even A-Rise had 3. Yeah, I know. It’s not about the numbers but the quality of their performance. Well, this dismisses my hope to see any one on one showdowns between the rival groups. What the heck am I hoping for?!

Seeing that this is an idol theme series, music plays an important ingredient. Unfortunately I’m not really into this genre so I’m just watching for the sake of ‘nostalgia’ since I have watched the previous Love Live seasons. There are lots of insert songs but none of them really makes my heart jump like the one Muse did, Start:Dash! In fact, that is the only song that I like a lot in the entire Love Live series. Nothing after that comes close to this. So the ending theme, Yume Kataru Yori Yume Utaou sounds decent and lively. It is perhaps the better song for this season if I am forced to pick which is the best song I like. Of course this song has many versions as they are sung by the different mini units of Aqours in addition to the one that is sung as an entire group. The opening theme is Aozora Jumping Heart. Typical idol song but not anything to my liking.

The casts behind Aqours are also a relatively bunch of new seiyuus making their debut or only have minor cameo appearances as background characters in other animes. So we have Anju Inami as Chika, Shuka Saitou as You, Rikako Aida as Riko, Aika Kobayashi as Yoshiko, Kanako Takatsuki as Hanamaru, Ai Furihata as Ruby, Arisa Komiya as Dia and Nanaka Suwa as Kanan. Only Aina Suzuki as Mari has ‘more’ roles than the rest like Shiori in Joukamachi No Dandelion, Kondo in Sansha Sanyou and Tokiko in Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Girls. It is rare to here Kana Asumi these days so it was quite surprising to hear her here as Shima. Kanae Itou also plays a part here as Mito but I didn’t recognize her. Apparently I found out much later that Nana Mizuki and Rie Kugimiya also made their cameos as Riko’s mom and Chika’s mom respectively. Their dialogues are so minimal that I didn’t really get to hear them properly at all. Or maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention…

The art and drawing remain bright and colourful, consistent with the previous seasons of Love Live. After all, they were produced by the veteran studio, Sunrise. So don’t expect to see any big changes in the artwork department because you’ll still have your happy-happy idol girls smiling all the way. Also, they use CGI when the girls are dancing on stage. Although not perfect and you can easily tell this is more 3D animation instead of 2D, at least the difference is not so obvious that it makes watching them perform unbearable. Yeah, at least not robotic. After all, you have to put in some effort if you want people to believe in and be attracted by idols in the thing they do best. You don’t want to fail in this all important visual area, right?

Overall, if you are still into the idol genre, this one should appeal to you. Even more so if you are a fan of the original Love Live and you’re still not over their ‘breaking up’ or ‘end’ and need something new to revitalize your love for the group and brand. Okay, I made that up but if you really enjoying cute and kawaii girls jumping up and down with perfect choreography and synchronicity donning cute and kawaii idol outfits, this series is just like any other idol genre you would expect. Well, I’m not really sure if all-girl group idols are on the decline because recently I noticed there are more reverse harem music genre series coming out recently. From B-Project to Tsukiuta to Magic-Kyun! Renaissance to Dream Festival and don’t forget the Uta No Prince-sama that already has 4 seasons. I don’t want to start a gender idol war or which side does it better but as long as their music can captivate the heart, I’m all for it. Let’s hope Aqours will make their dreams come true before the popularity of idols dies out. You know how fast the rise and fall of idols, right? Out you go if you can’t keep up with the pace. At this rate there will be as much idols there is in Japan as there are stars in the sky. I know there’s a pun somewhere I can make and connect with this… And the chances aren’t zero…

Oh dear. Love making is back! I didn’t know this was getting another season! I thought with all that has been said and done in the first season, there wasn’t any more left to tell but I guess I was wrong. And that strange funny mysterious attraction of gayness that somewhat compelled me to watch Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love! Love!. I know the series is not that gay but from my point of view having an entire cast with only males certainly does so from my point of view. In a funny way of course. And it seems the world is under threat from a new pair of villains and thus the reason why we need more love making to save the day. Yeah, nothing beats world happiness and peace seeing hot handsome guys getting yaoi with each other. Oh wait. This isn’t what this series is about. Phew.

Episode 1
Starting off with our Battler Lovers soaking in Kurotama talking about random stuffs. Some connection between hourglass and kanchou that I don’t really care. The student council trio also join in. It seems they are going abroad to study starting tomorrow. There is an awkward moment between Kusatsu and Atsushi that is just giving the rest tension. Just say you want to come and see him off, damn it! Eventually it is Yumoto who ‘asks’ since he wants to see a plane. After the student council trio leave, an hourglass monster attacks Battle Lovers. He gushes his pink sand all over them which disintegrates their Loveracelets. Because there are no more mosaic and censors, he knows who they are now. Before he could finish them, Goura comes in furious since somebody messed up his bath. Time to back down for now. Next day as the quintet enter their clubroom, the monster is waiting there and before you know it, another epic fight begins. Before they get owned for real again, Wombat drops down to give them new Loveracelets. Different outfit means more power up, right? Yes, because it’s the second season! Oh, more wombat molestation from Yumoto too. Didn’t forget that, did he? With their new transformation and powers, they blast their love powers on the monster. But I guess the monster is also toughened up for the second season since he hasn’t given up yet. Because time is running out as the plane will be leaving soon, Battle Lovers combine their power to defeat and purify the monster. They know this kid to be Tomaru Tokiwa who was born very early in the year so he gets jealous that he becomes a year older faster than the rest of his classmates. They manage to arrive (plane is already taxing) and wave goodbye. I guess Kusatsu must be so relieved he believed in them and almost had his trust betrayed. When Yumoto asks Wombat about Tawarayama, he suddenly realizes he left his body behind. Speaking of which, twin foreigners, Akihiko and Haruhiko Beppu who are new exchange students at Binan find his slumped body.

Episode 2
Tsukuro Ouso is a chubby pretty boy and he is sad that nobody believes what he says. Till he stumbles upon the twins who are well out to corrupt him. It is that time for the Pretty Boy contest again so when Tsukuro waxes lyrical about the twins being the most beautiful, as usual the rest don’t believe him. But when they do appear, some of the boys throw down several challenges. However the twins easily best them all whether it is brains, brawns, games, cooking or just about anything. Even more so, the loser becomes their follower and they are starting to amass a huge group. Yumoto and the rest notice a large building built across Kurotama. Too fancy to be a love hotel, right? This is the first time both sides meet. Yumoto is being Yumoto as usual but the rest try to be as polite as possible. Yumoto gives them coupons for Kurotama but I can feel there is some sarcasm and insult in their ‘thanks’. The twins then call Tsukuro alone to attend their concert. We see them transform into Galaxy Idols, VEPPer! Based on our past season experience, we can tell Tsukuro is turned into a monster. The Loveracelets alert our Battle Lovers to go fight this tofu monster who starts throwing tofu at them. But it only takes Yumoto to defeat and purify him as he doesn’t like others wasting food. This is also when Battle Lovers and VEPPer see each other. Thanks to the mosaic and concealing technology, both sides are unaware of the other’s identity. VEPPer as usual being obnoxious and cocky, as they declare war on Battle Lovers to wipe them out. Oh, they’ve got a green squirrel familiar by their side, Dadacha.

Episode 3
The quintet realize their usual spot for lunch is taken over by the twins and their group of followers. They heard the twins won the contest and have a group of loyal fan boys who call themselves as Beppu Apes. When Yumoto suggests they should read a play to kindergarteners, Tagaru Katari protests since he feels it is his job and duty from the speaking poet society to do it. Of course they ignore him and the twins can feel Katari’s jealousy and sense this could be useful. The quintet talk about Japanese folklores and one of them being the Jizo and the hats. Yumoto also experienced something similar and thanks to Goura’s guidance, he did a great job. The more Katari observes them in preparation, the more his jealousy grows. On play day, the act goes smoothly. But it the straw that broke the camel’s back for Katari is when the kids are laughing instead of being moved. That is when the twins turn him into a microphone monster. As one, he is formidable because he can materialize kanji words to hurt you. Who’d knew dreams could be painful, right? Literally. Battle Lovers fight back with Yumoto giving his own lecture about love. Love is something you give to others! He relates the folklores Goura read to him as bedtime stories might not be well read but they all moved him. With the children and Goura supporting Battle Lovers, they deliver the decisive blow to end it all. Encore! Encore! Goura is glad that Yumoto has grown up well. And Yumoto in turn realizes that Goura has always been watching over him even if he is busy. The only unhappy ones are the twins as they need to find a way to defeat their enemies quick. But Dadacha tells them not to be impatient as it has only begun.

Episode 4
The twins really want to get rid of Yumoto but when they approach him and he is in his carefree form, they still can’t do anything. Back in their greenhouse, they notice Bernardo Salvatore sad. This Italian guy claims he doesn’t get along with his twin, Alan. A total opposite if you’re asking those perfect twins. It seems the Italian twins were never this bad. Only when they hit puberty did Alan start distancing himself. Thus the twins go talk to Alan to find out the reason but he won’t say it seeing it is shameful for an Italian. But after managing to convince him that they can help out his complex, Alan reveals that his jealousy of Bernardo stems from his twin’s manly chest hair! Alan has none. Thus a perfect excuse for Alan to be turned into a chest hair monster. And those are his tits not eyes. His power is of course making everyone grow tremendous chest hair. Battle Lovers fight him but get caught in his beam as they grow unsightly armpit hair before getting caught in a chain of chest hair. A hairy situation they’ve gotten into, eh? Of course they could easily end this charade but Yumoto doesn’t want to. Even if they cure him, this won’t solve his complex with Bernardo. The only way is to call him here as he is the only one who can save Alan. Bernardo never knew chest hair was the source of their animosity. He is willing to give up his chest hair by pulling them out now! Ouch! Looks painful but that is nothing compared to the pain of love, right? In the end, when both reconcile, Battle Lovers purify Alan. The Italian twins are back on good terms as they enjoy a good bath at Kurotama. Somehow Bernardo’s chest hair grows back but Alan doesn’t mind.

Episode 5
Shuzo Oka fails his training with Shigoki Munakata, the volleyball club president. Because of that, they are over as Munakata wonders if there is somebody worthy enough to receive his balls! I kid you not! When Yumoto accidentally receives his balls, Munakata believes this is the one who will receive his balls. I kid you not he is going to spam this line throughout the episode. So Munakata forces Yumoto to join his club and the latter had to since his way to the toilet is being blocked. Oh, he needs to recruit 4 members too. I can guess who they are. And so Earth Defence Club becomes volleyball members as they train to receive and touch Munakata’s balls!!! While Yumoto happily receives his balls, the rest just dodge it like a plague. Does this mean Yumoto loves playing with balls?! Eventually the rest quit (and they have an interesting discussion about why volleyball is called ‘haikyuu’ in Japanese which literally means ‘excrement ball’) only Yumoto is left playing the balls. As Yumoto and Munakata forge stronger ties, Shuzo becomes more and more jealous because he believes being near Munakata is supposed to be his spot. So he wants to be near his balls?! Anyway with the twins sensing Shuzo’s jealousy, time for another round of the usual. Shuzo turns into a black volleyball. I think black balls are something Munakata can’t receive. Battle Lovers fight the black ball but it absorbs all their powers. Until Yumoto tells him how he is already a beautiful diamond instead of needing to wait for someone to polish him up, the monster is easily defeated. In the end, Shuzo and Munakata reunite and continue their training. It seems Munakata is 26 years old and will not give up till his club enters the tournament! Good luck in doing that. Forever. I take it he is never going to graduate. Of course Yumoto has quit seeing the only club for him is Earth Defence Club.

Episode 6
There is a standoff between Io and Ryuu. Despite all the sarcasm they throw at each other, they’re still close by to each other? Apparently from what I understand from En and Atsushi’s explanation is that they have always hated each other from the start since they have the wrong first impression of the other. So everything they do together seems to be a coincidence and sometimes trying to outdo the other. Like how they join Earth Defence Club on separate occasions, En and Atsushi were unaware of their bickering and allowed them to join. Besides, the club wasn’t even official yet so there was no reason to refuse. When Kuroshiro Kumano asks the twins how it feels like to be idols, they use his insecurity and turn him into a panda monster. So when Loveracelets are signalling, Yumoto, En and Atsushi have no choice but to take on the monster themselves thinking Io and Ryuu won’t reconcile in time. Everyone is admiring how cute the panda monster is. Everything he does is cute. Even pooping. So when the trio arrive to take him on, the crowd turns hostile. Even more so their power is not enough to defeat him and the crowd’s admiration turns him big. Surprisingly Io and Ryuu turn up to beat the crap out of him. They’re in sync now? Yumoto gives them the honours to finish and purify the panda. VEPPer makes their brief appearance just to tell Battle Lovers they are not worthy of any love. In short, they hate them. In the aftermath, Io and Ryuu’s standoff continues. Didn’t they get better? It gets weirder when they start complimenting the other greatly but they won’t accept it. WTF?! So apparently this whole standoff thingy originated when they overheard other boys making fun of the other. So when they start explaining how amazing the other is but is not acknowledged, that is when their tension brew. Dumb, right? This reminds Yumoto their standoff was like the first time they visited Kurotama. At the entrance they were already bickering when Goura poured water on them and ushered them in. But if not for that, they wouldn’t have spoken to each other ever again. Yumoto then apologizes as he reveals he was the one who splashed the water. He was cleaning the roof at that time. He also apologizes for the heart shape sewing he sewed on their jacket. They don’t mind it but when Wombat makes a cheeky remark, they get offended. Love shock?!

Episode 7
At the ramen store, En surprisingly suggests doing a Christmas party and Yumoto gladly agrees and will have it at Kurotama. But what will they do for food? The ramen owner suggests he can deliver his Christmas ramen to them since his son, Hitori Hijiriya is also Yumoto’s classmate. On Christmas Eve as Hijiriya sets out his unpleasant journey (kids teasing his costume and all), the twins come to work their ‘magic’ on him. The twins pretty much hate Christmas and Santa too but when Goura invites them, they instantly accept. Christmas isn’t so bad after all, eh? But what about the monster? Oh no. They leave it to Dadacha to sort it out. So here the idol twins are, surprisingly our quintet who thought they had better things to do than hanging out with them. Maybe they had no plan in the first place. Oddly they observe the twins being obedient to Goura but totally ignoring Yumoto. When Dadacha gives the signal he failed to stop the monster, the twins try to push up the programme to exchange gifts since they want to get Goura’s present. But too late the reindeer monster is here and he is b*tching about working on this day while everyone has fun. The twins for once feel they have to leave it to Battle Lovers to defeat the monster but it seems the quintet can’t just transform in front of everyone. They try to make lame excuses to leave and the twins play along but it never worked out. Whether it is the monster calling them out for ignoring him or Goura somewhat inadvertently interrupting things. The last straw came when Yumoto pretends to fake a stomach illness so the rest can usher him to the hospital (but actually outside just to transform). The monster accuses them of fake acting so the twins rebuke him for ruining their dream. This is when the monster gets upset about everyone being selfish while he worked to the bone. Even so people complained. What the f*ck is he doing this for then?! Yumoto then invites him to join them. The gift exchange proceeds and the twins are glad they got Goura’s gift. Atsushi realizes En wanted to do this because his gift was a postcard from the student council trio doing their own Christmas gig. The monster gets Atsushi’s bag of candies and leaves happily. For once they didn’t even need to do any fighting and purifying as a happy Hijiriya automatically returns to his normal self on the way home. A Christmas miracle indeed. And no bath scene too for once?

Episode 8
Yumoto is eager to eat Goura’s soba and see the first sunrise of the year with him. You bet with the twins eavesdropping, they’re going to ruin it. So they approach, Makoto Jinzou who has been failing his entrance exams for 5 years in a row. They make him mad and then give him hope they can help him. You know the rest. Now a snowman monster, he is ordered to lock the guys in at Kurotama but a short blackout throws them off at first. Yumoto is sad his friends have to leave but they realize a thick snow blocking their path. Oh well, they’ll just stay here then. Next, the monster goes in to fight them but everyone is in holiday mood and not willing to fight. Of course snowman can’t go back empty-handed seeing the twins are already celebrating their ‘victory’. So he decides to go back and sabotage En, Ryuu and Wombat who are out to buy stuffs as they lost a game as punishment. But whatever snowman does, it works in our heroes’ favour. Meanwhile the rest are playing snowball fight and when the twins hear Goura in the midst of playing, their horror ups an ante when they see Yumoto wearing the sweatshirt they knitted for Goura. Forcing the monster to come back and fight, snowman threatens to destroy their newly made igloo if they don’t battle him. But right after they transform, snowman breaks down as he laments about his fate of repeating winter over and over again. It is Yumoto’s spring-like advice that gives him hope and purifies him without much fanfare. Of course the twins are now pissed as the guys are looking at this mishap on a positive tone. So when our Battle Lovers are visiting the shrine, the twins have had enough of their density. They go up to them and in their face reveal they are the ones sending monsters out to get them. Need proof? They transform right before their eyes.

Episode 9
The twins are furious because after their declaration, the quintet ignored them and it has already been a month and a half since! With Valentine’s Day around the corner, they get more jealous seeing Yumoto get Goura’s chocolate so they hatch a plan to rid him once and for all. The quintet receive a bunch of chocolates. Yumoto pops them in his mouth and suddenly he feels strange. Of course the chocolates are from the twins and it contains some chemicals that would create high stimulation. This means Yumoto wants to hug and cuddle everything at full force! OMG! The most gay-est scene ever! Hugging and confessing his love to each of his pals! The twins now pop up and they aren’t happy Yumoto is still too happy. They view them as their idol rivals and transform to take them out. However the rest don’t have a reason to fight and escape. So the twins go to instigate some of their Beppu Apes and make them hate Battle Lovers for all the chocolates they are getting. As chocolate block monsters, these guys are going to bring them misery. Despite Battle Lovers transforming, everyone decides to leave this to Yumoto since this idol battle thingy isn’t their cup of tea. Yumoto manages to get the monsters to cheer and support him before purifying them. Even back as normal students, they continue to love him so the twins need to act now. They are about to throw some devastating power but Yumoto quickly hugs them. They manage to give him the slip and escape. Since Yumoto is still stimulated, the rest feel the only way is to throw him into Kurotama’s bath. When Goura learns of this, he jumps in and hugs him. His serious brotherly returns Yumoto to normal. Seriously. Now the rest are starting to think the twins are more than meets the eye and can’t ignore them.

Episode 10
Yumoto sighing?! Is this the end of the world?! Apparently Binan Land is closing down. Yeah… The rest only remembers bad reviews about the place so it is natural it will be closed down. The twins also love Binan Land. So when Entao Junya mocks it, they become mad and are going to teach him a lesson. As Yumoto complains to Goura about Binan Land’s closure, his friends decide to take him there for one last time and also pay his ticket. Yumoto wants to ride this hardcore Mad Mouse ride since you have to ride it 7 times before vomiting! Once is enough for everyone! Yumoto barely remembers after that, Goura put him on the bench to rest (axe behind his back?) and then left for something and never returned. Battle Lovers have to fight a carousel monster and they quickly finish him off as they don’t want to hear his longwinded back story. Thank goodness. But here is VEPPer. When Yumoto claims they aren’t competing with them as idols and should stop becoming enemies, this only makes them mad. Ryuu and Io are right when they put it this way: I won’t date you but let’s still be friends; The investment went wrong so give me back half my money. The rest did ask why VEPPer hates them so much. They believe Maximum Gorar (Goura’s hero name) would have been their big brother. Yeah, they are fans of his TV show. Flashback time. Remember last season when the entire plot was some reality TV to destroy the world? If the current Battle Lovers was the second season, there must have been the first. That was Gorar. Then at Binan Land, the twins were held hostage by a monster. Gorar came to their rescue but was defeated. The twins were sad but Gorar revived and turned the tables to save the day. Gorar had to leave because he left someone (Yumoto) alone. The twins could only dream of him staying with them forever. Although Battle Lovers acknowledge this love-hate relationship won’t be easy to solve, they are feeling tired of all these battles and threaten to have higher authorities and third party intervention or court restraining orders! When they head back to Kurotama, Goura wasn’t there as usual to greet them. They sense something amiss as he is missing. Earlier on it seems he has a mishap while chopping wood…

Episode 11
As they look for Goura, he is not anywhere to be found. The twins were devastated to learn their father will be transferring to Andromeda as part of his job. This means no more Binan Land? Because the twins support Gorar, they are bullied by their fellow classmates. Now Goura is lying in a comatose state inside a transparent coffin in the twins’ mansion. Meanwhile the student council trio are experiencing and witnessing many bad omen signs. It is suggested Kusatsu emails to Atsushi. However his handphone is dropped inside the toilet bowl… Something awful is going to happen indeed. While the quintet are soaking at Kurotama, Dadacha comes to tell them the twins are going to take Goura out to space with them. Of course they capture him and interrogate him to spill the beans that their battle has always been a fight to see who is worthier of Goura. As the twins are arguing who Goura should stay with, Battle Lovers come in to rescue Goura. Yumoto is most upset and rushes in to fight but his pals calm him down that they too have the right to fight for Goura. However the twins will not accept their plea since they already said they don’t want to fight. Not even Yumoto’s honest plea would change their mind. Suddenly a familiar voice tells them to accept it. It is Zundar! Working for another production company, he wants them to battle it out for the sake of TV ratings. Oh, get this. Dadacha is Zundar’s little brother and he is totally in love with him. Yeah… Not even the same species… Dadacha hosts this idol battle programme to all the universe’s viewers. They can vote and Like the team they like. When it is decided VEPPer goes first, Battle Lovers are suspicious because usually the one who goes second has an advantage (like you see in movies) but yet they are confident. VEPPer starts singing and they garnered lots of Likes. This in turn become attacks against their opponents. Battle Lovers take a beating till they collapse. If they don’t get up, VEPPer will win by default. But before that could happen, Caerula Adamas returns! Since Atsushi didn’t reply, they rush back quickly knowing something is wrong. The trio are going to join the fray and show that they are different than before.

Episode 12
But Caerula Adamas hands us a twist and refuses to join in the fight. Battle Lovers revive to sing back. Not only they have garnered lots of likes but Goura is also resonating. A video shows some bird (or duck?) scouted Goura to fight. As we see him take on baddies, the twins note the bad editing of the video. His voice is not sync and he is saying words that he wouldn’t say. It is revealed that Goura was supposed to be the villain but instead became overwhelmingly popular. This derailed the producer’s goal and thus the reason the first show was cancelled. The twins were sad hearing about the cancellation and that is when Dadacha scouted them. If they go on TV, Goura will be certain to see them. But how can they when that series is cancelled? Be an idol. Idols do a lot of variety of things. And thus began the twins’ harsh journey as a galaxy idol. Just when they thought they were good enough to get their own show, that was when the show between Caerula Adamas and Battle Lovers came about. They were supposed to return home to Earth as the greatest idols and they can’t believe these idiots beat them to it. The fight resumes with some talk about love. Yumoto is beaten at first because of the twins’ twisted take on love. Actually they view themselves as not needing it because idols just trick, deceive and entice others with their fake facade. They claim they are better because of their pure intentions they do are for Goura.

When they take Goura away and vanish, Yumoto becomes distraught. So angry and worried that he suddenly becomes Super Saiyan and powerful emotions start bursting out. The other Battle Lovers know this is deep sh*t because if you consider the contest of emotions for Goura, Yumoto has the greatest. It is going out of hand but they pin him down and make Yumoto come to his sense. With that, Yumoto now has a purer view of love. He transforms into an angel and talks about the love in idol. As in ai-dol, get it? The rest also transform into angels and they purify to wake up Goura. The twins are surprised to see Goura still recognize them. Because he too sees them in his dream. They feel pathetic that they have done bad things on him and yet he still views them kindly. He sees they have grown big and strong and more importantly they kept their promise to Gorar. This brings the twins to tears. Man, it feels weird seeing guys hug and cry like that. In the aftermath, VEPPer becomes the greatest galaxy stars with sold-out concerts everywhere. The Earth Defence Club quintet soak in the bath with the student council trio. Making it merrier are the twins who have joined their ranks. Man, they are going to need to get a bigger bath. They feel they have forgotten somebody. Goura? No, he is at the back chopping wood as usual. Zundar and Dadacha? They’ve gone back to space? Hmm… Who could it be? Oh well. We don’t care. Answer: Tawarayama.

Big Brother Dearest
It really feels weird. Not about love making saving the world again (it is too) but rather this entire series is about the battle over the brotherly love of Goura. I’m not used to seeing anime series revolving around love between men (that’s not even venturing into hardcore yaoi stuffs), so to see the main characters here fighting over possibly the coolest big brother ever in the galaxy (at least for this season) it makes me feel a little weird because can this can of brother love be just your normal brotherly love or more than that?

Basically this season mainly follows the same formula as in the last. A big portion of it and at the start would follow the basic route of villains unleashing a monster who are students with problems (that we’ll never care eventually) followed by Battle Lovers fighting and then purifying the said monster. Rinse and repeat. There is nothing much difference except that this time the main focus and issue now seems to revolve around Goura. Despite not making core appearances, his background is enough to initiate an entire season to have both sides at each other. At least VEPPer trying to get rid of Battle Lovers. I guess Goura is the manliest man of all men, the coolest of the coolest, the hottest of the hottest that we have our heroes and villains fighting over him.

This season feels like a waste for Wombat. He was somewhat funny in the first season but in this season it feels as though his presence is forced to be necessary. There is no reason why this pink marsupial should return aside from the all-important ‘plot’ at the beginning to give Battle Lovers their Loveracelets replacement. Throwing Wombat further back into oblivion is the fact that Yumoto rarely rapes molests cuddles him to the extreme. There are a handful of scenes to see Yumoto doing this but it just feels forced. Because like I said, the focus now is on Goura so Wombat is now seemingly unimportant. Even as a running joke. This means Tawarayama is also unimportant and it feels he is like dead furniture lugging around. Even that ‘important’ announcement in the end about him being revived to normal doesn’t really make a difference. Like we care.

As for our Battle Lovers, since whatever back story and relationship issues they had, were already solved and covered in the first season so there isn’t anything much to cover about them here. Thus Yumoto seems to be more in focus compared to the rest of the other Battle Lovers. It is good to see that Yumoto isn’t just a simple and dense kid (although he is still mostly is) but there are times when he gets mad too. I mean, really mad. But that is only when it involves his big brother. If that is the most ‘shocking’ revelation for this season, it would be Yumoto’s never-seen-before burst of emotions. Therefore a warning to all you folks out there. Never mess with Yumoto’s an-chan.

With Caerula Adamas pretty much missing for a big chunk of this season and even when they reappear they are just reduced to a role of a spectator, the twins as the new villains of this season try to give off some sort of drama and tension especially bringing down Yumoto. Sometimes I feel that their misguided hatred towards Yumoto feels the same when Caerula Adamas had for Battle Lovers in the previous season. I heard of guys fighting over a girl and vice versa. But guys fighting over a big brother? Man, that feels brotherly gay if you ask me. Still feeling weird about it…

Compared to Zundar, Dadacha feels weaker because this flying squirrel seems to be more interested in cooking and doing chores for the twins rather than coming up with eviler schemes or something. It’s like, what the heck is he here in the first place for. I don’t know what VEPPer means in this context but at first I often misheard it as fap! So hearing FAPPer twins was really shocking! Even more so when unlucky students who get turned into monsters are ushered into the stage whereby Dadacha would announce, “Welcome to the VEPP theatre”. Wait, welcome to the FAP theatre?! Oh sh*t!

This season’s mid-intermission also has some bio-data and information on the characters albeit I feel that they are much lesser data. In fact for the Battle Lovers, they just put up their nickname and their finishing move. That’s all. After all, if you want to know their blood type, hobbies and likes, might as well refer back to the first season. Such information is only for new characters like the twins, Dadacha and Goura.

While the casts of last season are maintained, it is funny to note that Hiroki Yasumoto who was the voice of Zundar now also plays Dadacha. I thought he sounded familiar and true enough it was him. Though, he did pretty well to differentiate between both characters because Dadacha sounds very gay. Seriously. So this guy went from being a hedgehog to a bear (Kuma Miko’s Natsu) and now a flying squirrel. The other new additions are Keisuke Koumoto as Akihiko (Raul in Yuushibu) and Yoshiki Murakami as Haruhiko (debut main role). There are also tons of other seiyuus lending their voice for very minor characters just like in the first season. Those I recognized are Rikiya Koyama as Munakata, Takehito Koyasu doubling as Alan and Bernardo, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Kumano, Kazuya Nakai as Hijiriya and Akira Ishida as Tokiwa. Of course if you realize by now, they are all males. Not a single female seiyuu.

This season’s opening theme is also sung by Battle Lovers and Futten Toppa Love Is Power has that similar feel to last season’s opener as well. Of course with the galaxy idol twins, it is only right for them to sing the ending theme, Anata Wa Haruka Ittousei in place of Caerula Adamas. Typical idol song too with that almost similar feel to the first season’s ending theme.

Overall, the second season is still funny thanks to all that gayness that I feel from watching the Battle Lovers spout love making battle lines to all that sparkly transformation scene. But still, it doesn’t mean that it is any better than its predecessor. Well, I thought with the plot dusted and done in the first season, this one seems unnecessary. Like as though they needed to enhance Goura’s reputation whatsoever. At least, my overall sentiments of why the sequel was made in the first place. I’m not sure if I can take any more of the love making gayness should there be a third season. In that case I would want to be one of those students-turned-monsters purified and forgotten after every episode, never to return, never to care again.

Sekkou Boys

November 4, 2016

Pop idols these days are getting more manufactured and artificial these days. Behind all that sparkly goodness and cuteness are all just fake glitter. Gosh. What am I saying? It is time for a new brand of pop idol groups. One that is not of the current era but from ancient times! Folks, meet Sekkou Boys. They aren’t your ordinary and typical young teenage boys. They are literally made from stone! Yes people. As ridiculous as it sounds, this is a group of new and upcoming idols made out of Greco-Roman busts! Wait. What? Singing rocks? Can stones even sing?! Whatever. Anything goes these days. One can only hope that their singing won’t be anything rocky.

Episode 1
Miki Ishimoto just graduated from college and is eager to start her first day at work at a talent agency, Holbein Entertainment Inc. She is puzzled that the chief manager, Hironori Yanagisawa is having back problems. He is only 38. He takes her to see the president, Hanzo Horibe. She is very eager to take her job seriously and Horibe hopes she will carry her enthusiasm all the way. No half heartedness, prepare yourself for working long hours. She is still keen so the boss asks her where she got all that stamina seeing she graduated from an art school. She narrates about her passion for arts. However no matter what courses she took, she always ended up doing sculptures and she is sick of it! So her hate for sculptures has given her all that strength and willpower? Horibe in convinced in what she sees as true art (the show business) so he agrees to let her meet the brand new idol group that she will be managing. Miki, I think you’re too fast in daydreaming the life of t he rich and famous. And all that fantasizing comes crashing down when she sees the idol group. Greco-Roman stone busts?! Not sculptures again?! Folks, meet St Giorgio, Hermes, Medici and Mars. They’re all yours. I guess this explains Yanagisawa’s sprained back… I hope Miki doesn’t go into some traumatic rage and smash the sculptures! As Miki reels from the shock, Horibe explains that they used to be an agency for human idols but these boys have their profiles set in stone! Literally?

Episode 2
You mean Miki has to pick up and carry all the sculptures from their apartment into her car?! How the f*ck do they move around in their apartment alone then? But the boys get the scare of their life since Miki is running late and she is stepping on it. Oh, did she mention she just got her licence? Scream, boys! They arrive at Holbein and pass by lots of production stars and actors. The boys thought they are big stars but unfortunately many see them as props. Miki is so overwhelmed by everything that she fumbles before the path of the famous enka singer, Jiro Mitajima. Although Miki apologizes, his entourage isn’t too pleased that the young ones these days lack respect for their elders. Sekkou Boys are also feeling lousy and losing motivation from it all. They can’t do it. That is when Kinue Yamashita, the manager of this cutie idol, Mira Hanayashiki introduces her to the boys. She is a big fan of them and believes in them. That was enough to give Sekkou Boys all the motivation they ever need to do their job. They vow to protect her and the likes and bug Miki to get her phone number. An excuse to give their thanks? During the interview, the boys are dazzling like bright lights while Miki can only role her eyes. They’re just stones, right?

Episode 3
Miki learns from Horibe that Sekkou Boys will be getting a big role in a very famous TV series. The catch is only Medici gets the part. They don’t want to miss this opportunity so they hope Miki can cheer up the rest. After Miki tells them, the boys discuss this upcoming role and Medici seems to be getting a little arrogant. Later as Miki sends Giorgio back, he tells her he envies Medici as he can’t act because he is a saint. Things could have been more awkward if they found out later so he thanks Miki for doing the right thing. Then he bugs her about Mira’s phone number. Still haven’t got it? Miki reads the script for Medici’s role. From the way she sounds, his role looks bad. What can be a role worse than an artist’s mistress who lives in fear of his violent wife? The other boys also read the script and they realize how bad the role is. They promise not to tease but cheer him up. When Medici returns, he can tell they’re trying to be nice to him. But Medici isn’t sad but happy indeed. We see a replay of the only scene Medici appears: He is the murder weapon of the artist who can’t stand his wife’s nagging anymore! Wow. The sculpture didn’t break? Medici thinks he might win an Oscar! Miki can’t be more excited than this. The other Sekkou Boys are just speechless…

Episode 4
Thanks to Mira’s recommendation blog, Sekkou Boys’ next even is a sell-out. Giorgio is like telling his mates what they shouldn’t do but isn’t he himself the one getting nervous? Before the event starts, Miki wonders why there are many guys waiting in the queue. Hermes believes they are Mira’s fans and are here to see if Sekkou Boys are worthy of Mira’s praise. So now you know what the event is a sell-out? As it begins, Sekkou Boys use their usual charm except for Giorgio whose nervousness starts sinking it. He makes bad puns… Because of that, the internet is rife with negative comments about him and Google even has bad memes created! In the next meeting, Giorgio seems mad although he angrily denies it. He goes out for a walk himself and unwittingly makes an old lady think he is a killer and the baby cry harder. When phone calls flood the agency, Miki thought Giorgio is getting flamed again but surprisingly they are his fan clubs. It seems Giorgio appeared in a pharmaceutical ad and everyone loves it! Especially his ‘troubled’ face. He is an instant hit! They even got a new buzzword going around: Giorgio-ing! Later he reveals this face of his is from his pose from staring down a dragon and not in pain, agony or holding it in kind of face.

Episode 5
The boys are in a talk show with Setsuko Furoyanagi. She spams Mars with lots of questions he can’t seem to answer right away. He is stammering. Can sculptures sweat like hell? Flashback reveals everyone was excited when they learn they are to appear in her show. However despite the offer came from Setsuko herself, Horibe warns that she has a reputation for ruining many comedians and newbies into oblivion due to her mega stupid lines and questions. So as the boys discuss who should talk to her, they believe Mars should do it because he is the god of war and the hunter of love. Thus he is invincible and will charm her heart. Well, Mars isn’t into older women but since the group’s reputation is riding on him, I guess he’ll have to do. So back to the talk show, man, this woman doesn’t stop talking! It is bad enough that she is questioning his many women he courted in the past, his pals abandon, backstab and shift everything back to him! I guess Mars was defeated on that day… There goes his invincibility legend… Making it worse, he gets a call from his sister, Athena berating him of how bad he sucks that he gave Olympus a bad name. Oh God…

Episode 6
Miki thinks Hermes is the most mature of the lot. Cementing that thought is how considerate Hermes is when he suggests she drop him off here instead of sending him directly to his apartment so she can quickly go home and get some rest after a hard day’s work. Miki hears from the other Sekkou Boys that they don’t know much about Hermes’ private life. Then she hears from Kinue that she saw Hermes with Mira the other day. Fearing there would be a scandal, Miki and Medici spy outside his apartment. Hmm… Various hot babes streaming in looking for Hermes… Then a few other guys too. Seems Hermes is hosting a house party. Even more shocking that he is in a full body sculpture and has a (sculpture) baby in his arms! Hermes introduces Trismegistus. It’s an ordinary screw, by the way. Hermes is describing its lucky charms and some of the people who used it tell of miraculous stories although from what I see it’s just pure coincidence. He plans to sell it at a high price and everyone would love to have it. Hermes sees a blinding light and it is from Miki turning into Super Saiyan in her rage! She is not amused by his multi-marketing nonsense. Making her even mad is that this baby, Dionysus actually became the god of wine because of Hermes’ influence. Miki continues to blow her top she is going to keep a close watch on him from now on. Man, she is scary!

Episode 7
Miki doesn’t know about the legendary idol group, Dandy 2 Men (Dan2) so she is surprised that they are invited to their dinner show. Even Sekkou Boys are their biggest fans. While taking a train there, Sekkou Boys ended up arguing due to differing opinions. At the hall, their hostility is set aside when Mira is here. As usual, they wax lyrical about her but then it starts to go downhill when Hermes taunts Mars’ helmet as some full nude helmet. Sekkou Boys start arguing among each other so loud that the other tables are probably wondering what the heck is going on. Nobody is scarier when Miki blows her top. Luckily Dan2 starts and we are introduced to the legendary idols who are also bust sculptures! Folks, meet Moliere and Brutus. Sekkou Boys suddenly put aside their differences, become hardcore supporting fans as Mira cheers them on. And Miki is so damn confused.

Episode 8
Sekkou Boys are going to appear on a live show and Miki is not too pleased that they are taking this very lightly. Sure, a few appearances here and there gave them some experiences, right? Even more so, they want to come themselves and not appear in her junk as there will be many fan girls. Stressing her out even more is that they are not only late for rehearsals, but they came in a limo? How did they even get that? Then at the backstage they think everything will be a piece of cake despite Miki’s constant warnings to prepare themselves. Yeah, they’re taking it easy. Think they can nail it? You bet. They think. As the show gets underway with lots of appearances from other guests, Mira is taking too long in her time slot. Going overboard with her time allocation? Once she is done, the next guest is this group, Sanjusangendo Hashiritai. Looks like hundreds of gold statue multi-arms deity! OMG! They look the same?! And are they going to be interviewed one by one! Sekkou Boys start sweating they won’t have enough time to appear as they discuss the need for somebody to cut them off. Then Giorgio did a Kanye to remind the hosts about the time constraints. The talk is cut but now the group will be doing solo performances! Yeah, it felt like an eternal song. Finally Sekkou Boys as the last guests not only have no time for their talk, they are quickly ushered onto stage to perform but even so they have no more screen time left!

Episode 9
Miki is working Sekkou Boys to the bone. She’s like their mother now, warning them no more scandals. But then Mars sneaks into Mira’s place via courier and they talk about bugs and rocks. Unfortunately a spy drone took pictures of them together and it blows up to become a scandal. You should see how furious Miki is! I hope the way she beats him up doesn’t break him. Of course Mira is stressing out over this as Mira’s agency wants to have talks with theirs to avoid this being leaked to the media. Hermes is glad Giorgio doesn’t know about this because he has a crush on Mira. Speaking of him, he is currently seeing some reporter. To deal with the situation, she suggests ‘bartering it with a less damaging story’. Meanwhile the other Sekkou Boys are having BBQ with Dan2 since all their jobs for the next few days got cancelled. BBQ party courtesy of Hermes. Thank you. On the other hand, Giorgio enters the reporter’s room. Sexy time? He must be regretting sleeping with her but it saved their agencies a lot of trouble as both sides backed down. So the scandalous thing Giorgio did is that she is digging his ear wax? WTF?!

Episode 10
When Miki gets lost in the rural area, she sees Sekkou Boys’ CD being used in agriculture and as Frisbee!!! They look at the music review sites and they’re mostly rotten reviews. Even those that are good reviews are just being sarcastic. That bad, huh? It is then they realized they haven’t been invited to music shows and just varieties. Miki vows to do anything she can to change their image. But first she needs to get a new music producer. She is so desperate that she barges in front of the world’s best producer just to give her card! Security takedown! Since she lacks connections, she sees Kinue for help. They learn Mira’s music producer is Masuda Moveman who is the forefront of EDM. Miki continues to look for a producer but to no avail. When Yanagisawa hints her, she gets an idea to call her old classmate from music school. She goes all out to bring DJ Surprise to Sekkou Boys but what does she see? Sekkou Boys partying with Mira and looks like Moveman is going to produce music for Sekkou Boys. You’re not wanted anymore, DJ Surprise. As Mira praises Kinue, Sekkou Boys also wish they had her as their manager. If that is not bad enough, they badmouth Miki! Too late to take back your words. Poor girl has had it with them all and leaves.

Episode 11
Miki returns to her family home at Fukuoka. She is really through with Sekkou Boys. Her parents couldn’t be more welcoming for her to come home. I suppose Medici couldn’t stop sending texts to her so she started blocking him. When Horibe asks Sekkou Boys about Miki, they lie that she is away at a marriage interview. But the problem now is bringing her back and nothing is going to stop them. Miki doesn’t remember her room was this messy with artwork. She remembers a frustrating art moment and the teacher told her to think about Agrippa. Speaking of which, she has a bust of this in her closet. Then she hears Sekkou Boys calling for her outside. They are brought here courtesy of Yanagisawa. They apologize and commend all her good points. She is the only manager for them. Miki vows not to run away anymore and will become their manager again. Sekkou Boys welcome her back by throwing and extravagant (booze) party fit for a queen! Next morning when Miki wakes up, she doesn’t find Medici anywhere.

Episode 12
There is a note lying around indicating Medici has been abducted. When a call comes through, everyone makes Miki take it! But it is not the kidnapper but Moveman who is organizing a party this weekend and is inviting Sekkou Boys to join. Though they accept the offer, Miki wonders if they are going to abandon Medici. Of course not. They’ll get him back before then. As they snoop around for clues, eventually Mira learns about it and has an idea who abducted him. A fanatic Mira fan-cum-stalker is arrested but he is not going to reveal the whereabouts that easy. The police aren’t helping either because Medici’s case is considered theft. So he is just mere plaster? But with Yanagisawa uses his hacking to pinpoint Medici’s location. It seems he is held in an abandoned warehouse. But the big problem is about to crop up. There are thousands of Medici clones! OMG! Which is the real one?! Don’t worry. Miki can tell via her bond and guts. So she’s going to test every single one? Thankfully Sekkou Boys manage to get back as a whole in time for Moveman’s party. Everyone is glad Miki picked the correct one. In actual fact Miki doesn’t have a goddamn clue! It was a scribble that Miki wrote on him somewhere when she was drunk! Miki is truly part of the agency when she now suffers from back pain. Welcome to the club.

They’ll Rock Your World
And so sculptures are humans too? Well in that case I am very sure that many otakus will also view their holy sacred figurines and their dakimakura waifus as equal humans too. I’m not sure why the stalker kidnapped Medici of all and perhaps it was how close Medici was to Mira and his devious goal to break up Sekkou Boys before they get too close to her and ruin his sick fantasy. But I am guessing that it is to serve up a final episode drama and to show how strong Miki’s bond is with her sculptures and that she is the only manager for them. You can’t say her bond is weak if she can’t pick out the right Medici without that ‘cheat’. Can you tell well made clones apart? I mean, can you tell an ant from another ant?

I’m not sure how to put the character development but it feels that I don’t know more about Sekkou Boys or how well they have grown from the start and at the end. Each of them is based off Roman or Greek mythical characters or a real nobleman. Due to my lack of interest in this area of history, I didn’t even bother to find out more about them. Though, I’m pretty sure one of them is a Roman God of war and it would be mind boggling for that dude to put down his weapons and start singing? Mind boggling indeed. But as far as this season is concerned, just like any bands in the world, they have their bond, their ups and downs, their funny moments together. So are they any good? Uhm, they’ve been so good in putting on those rock solid faces without altering into a single other emotion that I can’t really tell. Really.

So the only one I can talk about is Miki whose fate has her deal with sculptures her entire life. With her youth and first time on a real job, she is driven with passion and guts (and naivety) to get it right. She goes to great lengths to take care of them and make sure they don’t go out of line and ruin themselves. It’s a good thing they listen to her when she is mad. You don’t want to make her mad. Really. It is a good thing she doesn’t resort to smashing sculptures. I know there are many clones but hey, every Medici, every Mars, ever Giorgio and every Hermes have their own personality and as individualistic as they are can be. Thank goodness she has lots of stamina to chauffeur those rockies around. However she is still human and this means she has emotions. So it was literally rock bottom for her (pun intended) when after all she had done for them goes unappreciated. It was awkward when there is a strained relationship between the manager and his idols so they were literally between a rock and a hard place (pun intended again). And of course seeing that this is still a feel good anime, they patch up good and their relationship back to almost as solid as a rock (sorry for all the rock puns).

I can’t say much about Mira. She is nice and cute girl whose only reason she has some sort of appearance in this series is so that we can still have a cutie female idol instead of being spammed with manly sculptures. Not used in seeing that kind of idol yet. So they connect her to Sekkou Boys by being their fans but that is much about it. I believe Sekkou Boys are interested in her but due to that risk of scandals arising from dating, it feels like we won’t be expecting a real romance between a human and a bunch of rocks. I guess it wouldn’t work out anyway. As for Kinue, I can’t say much about her but she is more experienced than Miki. Maybe it is because she doesn’t have to handle rocks… Yanagisawa may be a minor character but he seems to be the running joke of suffering from back pains each time he gets his screen time. That final scene of him being a hacker? It felt like to distract us from this running joke.

One of the things that constantly bug me about Sekkou Boys is their mobility. I always wonder how they move around without someone to push them. After all, you don’t really see them move or being animated at all. For example after Miki sends them back to their respective apartments, how the heck do they move about?! Because assuming if they don’t and when Miki comes to pick them up the next day, wouldn’t they be exactly in the same place where Miki left them off? So I have this conspiracy theory that whenever the cameras are not on them, Sekkou Boys will have popped up miniature and cartoonish limbs that will make them move around with ease! Or maybe there are a few little men hidden inside them coming out to move them around when nobody is watching. Oh yes! That could possibly be the only explanation. Otherwise if you think about it, it wouldn’t be just plausible for Miki to carry all of them on and off the stage and chauffeur them everywhere. She would have to do it like four times and her back is still fine? Wow. Super woman indeed. But to show how human she is, eventually her back pains have caught up to her.

This leads to the mind boggling question if they are durable. Obviously they are heavy and I am sure if they are sculptures, they must be at least be made out of stone. I don’t expect them to be made out of porcelain but I am sure that Miki must have dropped them a few times initially. Shouldn’t they be chipped off little by little? Of course thank goodness if Miki doesn’t drop them at all then it is fine and good. Then if the sculptures break, will they die? Will they be easily replaced? Can their crack be easily repaired? Ah, so many mysteries about them so it is no wonder in a way we are interested at them not as an idol group but these issues?

The other conspiracy theory that I came up from the fact assuming Sekkou Boys do not and cannot move on their own is that maybe the conversations you hear them speak are all just a figment of our imagination? Holy sh*t! Big conspiracy theory! I mean, look at them. Look at when they talk, their mouths are not even animated! So how can they speak if they don’t move their mouths and I don’t see any speaker outlet or anything close to it anywhere on the busts? So this must be it too. Everybody is so idol crazy that they are just hearing things that they want to and thus Sekkou Boys are just inanimate sculptures whom everybody somehow believe to be real idols taking the world by storm. Erm, at least in a small part of Japan. You know what? Let’s just screw logic and go with the flow. Talking rocks? Rocks as idols? Hell yeah, we love them!

Art and drawing are pretty standard. But I have to wonder if it is also taking some shortcut because Sekkou Boys aren’t really animated and could even be real life cut-out pictures of them. In fact, their poses never change at all and it is like they could just slap their picture in there without putting much effort into animating them. Even if they are real cut-out images, it doesn’t feel jarring with the 2D animation at all. Most probably is because they are all shades of white so it might go easy on your eyes there. This series is animated by Liden Films who did animated shorts like Miss Monochrome series, Senyuu, Aiura as well as full length TV series such as Yamada-kun And The Seven Withces, Terra Formars, Schwarzesmarken and the new Arslan Senki.

Famous male seiyuus lend their voices to Sekkou Boys and even Dan2. Tomokazu Sugita as Giorgio, Jun Fukuyama as Hermes, Daisuke Ono as Mars, Takehito Koyasu as Moliere and Keiji Fujiwara as Brutus are quite recognizable. It is only Shinnosuke Tachibana as Medici (Tomoe in Kamisama Hajimemashita) that I didn’t recognize. Not too familiar with his voice yet. I also couldn’t identify Takahiro Sakurai as Yanagisawa since his lines are rare to come and he doesn’t speak much. The only female seiyuu I recognize was Yu Kobayashi as Setsuko. The rest of the casts are Shiho Kokido as Miki (Kotone Amamiya in Brave Beats), Yui Makino as Mira (Sakura in Tsubasa Chronicle), Rena Maeda as Kinue (Nike in Soredemo Sekai Wa Utsukushii) and Takaya Kuroda as Horibe (Renjou in Kurenai). The ending theme is obviously by Sekkou Boys. Despite Hoshizora Rendezvous feels like a generic boy band idol song, it also feels like a cheer song for themselves as they cheer and spell out their group’s name in euphoric fashion. S-E-K-K-O, B-O-YS, Sekkou!!! Definitely one of the more enjoyable aspects of this series.

Overall, a daring try in making us believe that sculptures too can stand aside our usual powerhouse idols although it is all just for the light hearted comedy. Yeah, seeing sculptures talk and trying to make it big as popular idols is indeed amusing. But don’t be surprise that even if such head busts may not become popular mainstream idols on TV, maybe they will become YouTube stars because that is where all the weird things happen and some even go on to become household names. So don’t count Sekkou Boys out just yet. They may just rock the boat and cause the idol industry to revolutionize and evolve to another level. But for now, I’d prefer my kawaii idols in sexy outfits doing sexy provoking moves singing sex provoking lyrics on stage. Ah, the desire of the flesh is still preferably prevalent and strong compared to stone cold plaster rocks.

You mean there is more?! I wouldn’t have guessed that there would be a third season but it wouldn’t be called Maji Love 3000% this time. Yeah, that would be over doing it. Instead, we have Uta No Prince-sama Maji Love Revolutions. Yes. The revolution. I guess things will go stale, get stagnant and be the same if you rely on the same ol’ formula. That is why you need revolution to spice things up and bring you to new heights. But for an anime series like this, I am already expecting more or less the same thing even though there were only 2 seasons before this.

Episode 1
Haruka is walking back to Saotome Academy in the middle of the night. A cue for each of the Starish members to get a little romantic with her and refresh our memories of how hot these guys are. Really. Like Otoya’s hug, Natsuki’s princess carry, Cecil kissing her hand, Ren closing up on her face, a waist hug from Sho (part of his acting stint), accidentally touching hands with Masato (to pick up his dropped piano scores) and a shoulder hug from Tokiya. Oh, how romantic… If that wasn’t enough, Haruka too has some sort of encounter with Quartet Night. From Camus riding his white steed into the forest (no sunset, though), some chat with Ai, Ranmaru’s patting of her head (just to pick up a sakura petal) and encouraging words from Reiji. Not forgetting the only other female in this series, Tomo gives Haruka a big girly hug as well as a souvenir as she has returned from Hokkaido after a shoot. If you can get through 2/3 of this episode which is just that, now here comes the supposedly plot of the series. Oh, not forgetting to introduce the teachers as well. The eccentric principal Saotome with his fancy exaggerated grand entrance, the transvestite Ringo and the macho Ryuuya. Saotome announces the international sports festival called Super Star Sports AKA SSS. This year’s host is Japan and they will grace it with an opening ceremony of performance. Quartet Night has been chosen to do that and Saotome wants Haruka to write a song for them. Everybody is darn excited about this, including our Starish guys. Till Cecil brings up this idea: He would like to sing at the next SSS. It makes the rest think. When will it be their turn since SSS is hosted by different nations? It could be an awful long time before it returns to Japan… So everybody runs down to Saotome’s office to bug him about wanting to sing at SSS. Sorry boys. If that is their wish, no can do. Do they understand what it means to enter SSS? REVOLUTION!!! What? I don’t understand!

Episode 2
Well, it seems Saotome has come up with a plan for Starish to revolutionise. He calls it cross-unit groups. So who will be their cross-unit groups? Oops, he hasn’t worked out the details yet. Check back later. Starish and Quartet Night fly off to some beach town for some promotional shoot. Of course our Starish will be paired with a Quartet Night member. Like Otoya and Tokiya with Reiji entertaining kindergarten kids. Reiji is so hot and cool that even young girls start falling for him! Then we have Ren and Masato walking around town with Ranmaru. That’s it?! What the heck is this for? When a street band is playing, Ranmaru joins in and attracts the crowd (and ladies!). If you think that is WTF, wait till you see Camus and Cecil booking an entire restaurant for themselves just to eat cakes for the filming. Of course some customers aren’t pleased with that but thankfully those ladies got charmed by Camus’ apology. So everything is okay? And I really lost it when Sho and Natsuki with Ai trying to find some haunted spot. WTF… Sho is a big scaredy cat… Despite these events give Starish a huge morale boost to impress Saotome, Quartet Night had to play their arrogant villain role to quit dreaming. They are not on par at their level. You want to bet they’ll not give up? Finally Saotome has got their cross-unit groups figured out. He pairs Otoya with Natsuki, Ren and Sho with Cecil, last but not least Tokiya and Masato.

Episode 3
First up on the focus is Otoya and Natsuki. They have received a direct offer from a legendary Broadway director, Gen Isurugi to play in his upcoming rock musical. Of course, Haruka will have to compose the main song. So the plot of the play has 2 princes of opposing personalities have to stop an impending war with their power of music and love. But after the first rehearsal, they got a ‘warning’ from Isurugi to do better next time. Depressed mode… Talking out with the rest to find out their problems, it is mainly because Natsuki and Otoya had to play characters that are opposites of their own natural character. I suppose the best way to learn one is to imitate another? That is what Otoya tries to do while he copies every of Tokiya’s moves. Every. Move. Like the Tokiya we know, he tells him copying won’t do and whatever that solution is, it is Otoya’s job to find it out himself! We’re not going to have the same for Natsuki because Sho is showing macho films of Ryuuya. But he acted out as the wrong prince. At the end of the next rehearsal, another personal note from Isurugi: Don’t overact. Just act naturally like yourself. Eh? What? Another downer… The duo work hard and their confidence boosted by who else but no other than Haruka who has written a song for them based on their ‘colour’ that will draw out their strengths. Therefore, the play is perfect that the duo have become such fabulous princes. Thanks to Haruka’s music too.

Episode 4
Because Haruka writes the song for the film, she gets to watch Ai, Sho and Natsuki act in it. Despite Ai being flawless, he doesn’t understand about emotions at all. Baffling isn’t it? Haruka sees Ai practising in the rain. And then he collapses! He is burning up. After putting him to bed, they see lights flickering in his eyes. That is when Ai reveals he is a robot! OMG! WTF?! We had some magic touch with Cecil and now they’re adding sci-fi?! He is made by Saotome who paid a lot to get his ideal idol created. But there is a bigger problem whether you want to believe Ai is really a robot. And that is the rain is draining his power and at this rate he will not make it. He can switch to low power mode but that would make him start overheating. Oh, the irony. Such sophisticated AI (I have a feeling why he is named so…) with lots of RAM to memorize and learn emotions in which he can’t understand but yet gets power down when exposed to rain. What kind of freaking logic is this?! Anyway, Ai manages to continue putting his best performance but once the director yells cut, he shows signs of wavering. I’m not sure how effective is when Haruka and the duo want to fan him dry. It will take ages! Then there is a talk between Ai and Haruka about emotions in which he thinks he must have made the right decisions since those ‘emotions’ resulted in the right reactions. But he did say the more he learns about it, the more accustomed he becomes to them. Isn’t that like a human being? There is a scene in which Ai dramatically collapses. The director thinks this improvised scene was damn good! But his friends no better. Ai promises this will not happen again but they are really, really, really worried it might be a lot worse next time. And the magical part of their concern somehow has Ai understand what it means. It makes him want to act some more. So here is Ai doing his solo singing for us as he wraps up the last scene of the movie. He finally collapses on Haruka’s lap but there is a big smile on his sleeping face.

Episode 5
Ren, Sho and Cecil will have to do a TV commercial for a Smartphone company. Of course with Haruka writing its theme song, the guys must also help choose its concept. Heck, I thought the phone company was being lazy and just throw all the work to them. So it starts out high with enthusiasm all of them discussing what the phone is supposed to be. Ren vouches for passion (Latin style?), Sho for strength (superhero style?) and Cecil for elegance (Arabian prince style?). But cracks begin to surface when they think their concept is better than the other and cannot compromise. Oh dear. The biggest bust up ever in the series? You can’t blame them for feeling the pressure for doing better after the smashing success of Otoya and Natsuki’s musical. They get a little advice from their friends and they start again their talks. Unfortunately it ended the same way. They’re not giving in. Dead end. When Saotome learns Haruka hasn’t composed a song yet because the trio are still in disagreement, he wonders if they should cancel the project. It wouldn’t be nice to the client if they cancel it last minute, right? And so Haruka is given until tomorrow to come up with a song or else he is calling the project off. So she gets to be put on the heaviest pressure? She goes to talk to the guys individually. They feel bad for worrying her. She doesn’t mind. They vow to work together. Yeah, basically the same thing 3 times over but in a different way. Haruka thinks deep about their connection now and then a spark of inspiration. She texts the guys the song she wrote. They love it. Now we get to see the final product of the Smartphone commercial that has them singing and incorporating all their ideas. Somehow I feel for a Smartphone commercial, the song is just too flashy like it was tailor made for a boy band. And besides, is this song supposed to promote the Smartphone but why do I see prominence given to our hot studs? Now you know why pretty models are always there in promoting gadgets, eh?

Episode 6
The world’s tallest tower is opening soon and you bet it is going to be Shining Tower! Since Camus is to perform on its opening, Haruka as usual must write a song. But that guy as usual is being the cold jerk and tells her only to come to him once she has written one. Cecil can even vouch how cold this bastard is as he lives with him. Despite all the odd requests, he does everything perfectly but yet never does anything earnest. After watching Camus in a programme that has all the fan girls screaming, Haruka requests to watch him work so she can write a song. His first order? Become his ‘slave’! And so Haruka is subject to odd labour especially making his perfect tea. Cecil is not amused and is going to give his piece of mind but when Haruka says it is okay, then everything is okay. Besides, if she accepts it, there is nothing everyone else can do. Haruka continues to be his assistant till she manages to write a song that will bring out the sincerity in him. But he shoots her down just after looking at her score! WTF?! Shell shocked! He also ends her assistance. This is the last straw for Cecil because it is as though he is making fun of Haruka’s music. But Haruka the good girl as always, blames herself instead. While everything seems to go smoothly, suddenly Camus ushers her to Shining Tower! Everything happens so fast that Haruka is probably in shock over the developments. And this guy starts singing Haruka’s song in such a sincere way that he brings everybody to their knees! OMG! I’m not kidding!!! Food for thought: I wonder how Camus knows how to do everything perfectly because if he has rehearsed a single time, I’m sure Haruka would have known since she was always with him. I know he is a genius and can understand things with just a look but you should look at all the choreography, stunts, special effects and exaggeration! Can a mere rehearsal make it so freaking perfect?! Like as though he did everything. So what gives for this? Answering Haruka’s questioning about how he sings in a sincere way, he is always perfect in every way without the need of going that far. But being sincere sometimes isn’t so bad.

Episode 7
Everyone is shocked when they hear Haruka explaining Ranmaru telling her to write an idol song for him instead of rock. He was a bassist in his rock band before they disbanded and he joined this agency. Then Haruka overheard Ranmaru turning down his ex-bandmate for a reunion. The story goes that the outdoor stage is going to be torn down in favour of the SSS stadium so the band wanted to reunite for one last time to play there. He turned him down because he is busy with another job. Haruka asks if he really had to give up his love to be an idol. Well, he can’t handle 2 jobs at a time. Ranmaru is seen training hard. Though it is commendable and professional, the rest feel like he is trying to forget his rock roots. I suppose he trained too hard that he got some ‘trauma’ thinking about his band. Haruka tries to wake him up but he got startled and accidentally grabs her hand. As she keeps bugging if he is fine not turning up for that concert just as a spectator, he tells her he can’t forgive himself. His friend wanted him to play together one last time so bad but he turned him down. He really wanted to go. But with all the work in Quartet Night, he can’t. He never understood things when his band broke up. After joining this agency and meeting everyone, now he understands what is important. He now has a place and won’t make that mistake. He will be an idol and forget his rock and past. Before Quartet Night’s photo shoot, Haruka has written a song for him that is both idol and rock. It is what makes him today. As the photo shoot consists of the members holding their instruments, the moment Ranmaru picks up the bass, he could feel the excitement. After it ends, he grabs Haruka’s hand as they rush to the final concert. Changed his mind, eh? And did he smile? Too bad everybody is already packing up. No matter. Ranmaru gets on stage and starts singing. So awesome that it draws everybody back! OMFG! It’s like they reversed time and the full crowd goes wild over his singing! At least he looks happier.

Episode 8
Otoya and Natsuki won an award for their musical. Ren, Sho and Cecil also won an award for the best advertisement. Now it is down to Masato and Tokiya. They will be performing at Neo Dream Music Festival. In short, the biggest and most famous shows around. The freedom to come up with what they want makes it harder for them so the guys decide to write the lyrics first. They are so perfect in sync that nothing could go wrong, right? Right?! Then this deadlock happened… Reading each other’s lyrics, hmm… Sounds cheesy… Back to the drawing board. Trying to change their thinking styles and even meditating under the waterfall didn’t do much. This deadlock has everyone soon worrying about them and it puts more pressure because as long as they haven’t got the lyrics out, Haruka can’t compose her music. Of course all they can do is to believe in them. Like always. Haruka then motivates them by telling how everyone has been supporting them in the background like cooking for them, etc. A song pops up in Haruka’s head when she looks at them. Then the words just came out naturally from their mouth. Soon they get it going with their lyrics. So during the start of the festival, needless to say that they blew everybody away with their talent. A fist bump for such awesome display from the duo. And Saotome is screaming “Revolution!” with delight.

Episode 9
Otoya and Tokiya help Reiji in a magic show variety. Otoya fails but because it was funny, the audience still had a good time. Haruka is tasked to write a solo song for Reiji but she would like to know him better first before she starts penning. So he takes her on a detour and summarizes his life as a performer during various stints since a young age before becoming part of Quartet Night. Of course they also talk about Starish who is growing and singing song that makes everyone smile. Reiji would also like to sing a song that puts a smile on everyone. Meanwhile Otoya practises his magic before the Starish guys. Still fail… Reiji leaves for a job overseas. He expected his fellow Quartet Night would be sad but you know those stuck up guys, right? No feelings at all… And when he is gone, they realize how quiet everything is. But I don’t think they will go as far as missing him. As Otoya and Tokiya helm the magic show, Reiji ‘usurps’ the show with his live broadcast. He could have stolen the show had he not stopped. At the end of the day, Otoya, Tokiya and Haruka are surprised to see Reiji back. His job went well and that live broadcast was just a pre-recording. So to say he predicted their moves?! Is he a psychic?! He steals the show from the guys again by ‘stealing’ Haruka so that he could let her hear the lyrics of the song. At the end of it, he says he didn’t expect her to find the real him. What does he mean? He confesses he loves her! OMG! After 3 seasons, this is the first guy who has the balls to confess to Haruka! But then he brushes it off as a joke and all is well again. Bummer. I guess that is why Quartet Night doesn’t take him seriously.

Episode 10
With Haruka needing to compose a song for SSS, she is whisked away for a special camp with Quartet Night. You should have seen this coming… As the opening concert will be a big thing, Quartet Night for the first time tries to work together with Haruka with suggestions. Normally they do not interfere with the songwriter and just sing the submitted songs. It goes without saying that with their varied personalities, they have different ideas. It is a surprise that they have worked with each other for so long. With no headway, they take a break with lunch. Can’t think without an empty stomach? That night as Haruka starts composing, she is met and chats personally with all the members of Quartet Night. As expected. Then when she plays her song on the piano, you can bet Quartet Night is going to say how awesome it is and how it fits who they are. Then we hear a demo of them singing to Haruka’s song. It is done. As SSS draws near, the people are being interviewed about it and many feel it is a shame that both Quartet Night and Starish cannot perform there as only a group per agency rule.

Episode 11
With Starish gaining more popularity, the baffling question still remains why won’t Saotome let them perform at SSS. You can tell some serious sh*t is going on when even Reiji himself is not being jovial. Why so serious, Quartet Night? They have returned from the trip but Haruka chose to stay back. They give Starish the CD of their SSS song they co-wrote with Haruka and warn if they don’t buck, they’ll take Haruka away from them. As expected, you can see Starish being blown away after hearing the song. They’re starting to worry now. But they put that behind first and attend an interview which covers their experience during their cross-unit stint. In the end, they always had Haruka to thank for (cue for flashback of personal moments with her in previous seasons). It makes them want to see her. They thought of going to where she is but look, she is just on her way back. Why so surprised to see them, Haruka? Why the heck do you need to say “Welcome back” 7 times? So happy that she is back that they start singing for her. They want to write a song for SSS with her. You don’t say because she already did! Isn’t that why she stayed back? Oh, you don’t have to say her name 7 times either. And you don’t have to praise her 7 times too! Amazed by her work as always, Starish gets straight to work. It is a sign that they work so hard that they just sleep where they stood or sat. So when Ringo comes to wake them up the next morning, everyone agrees to just let Haruka sleep. She’s the one who worked the hardest, right? When Haruka and Starish present their song to Saotome, he looks like he is so undecided that he is shooting beams out from his eyes!!! OMFG!!! Then he kills the mood by saying their revolution isn’t complete yet. That’s like saying no, right?

Episode 12
As expected, Starish explains how hard they have tried so they need to know why. Even Haruka pleads to Saotome but despite all that, he feels something is missing. Quartet Night enters. They have considered Starish good enough to enter and that it would be meaningless to perform without them. So they are giving the green light? Suddenly Saotome becomes ecstatic. Is this the true revolution he is waiting for? There is his passionate explanation about new replacing the old and not only changing themselves but others but I wasn’t listening. Because I was more amused seeing all those explosions, burning flames and light beams from all that!!!!!!! Saotome adds that Starish had already garnered fan mails (the number is still rising as they speak), petition from the web and social media. The only thing left was Quartet Night to stand up to complete the revolution. And with that, Starish is in. Later as Starish tries to thank Quartet Night, the latter of course want them not to get the wrong idea. They’re doing this for themselves. Despite saying there is no point performing without them, it is only so that they can prove why they are much better. It looks like they might be putting up a tough act because at the backstage, they realize how awesome the song Haruka wrote for them. They continue to practice hard. Apparently that wasn’t enough so they call Haruka to rearrange the score again. Not to say that the original one was bad, after hearing Starish’s song, their feelings have changed. They have tried changing the lyrics and dance but nothing that really stands out so they thought they would start with rearranging the song. So as Haruka works with Quartet Night, Starish also work hard in their practice till the day of the opening act of SSS is here. Is it me or do I notice the queue and the crowd consist of mainly women? Quartet Night is chosen to perform first. I can only hear the screaming of the girls’ voice as it drowns out the announcer’s voice when he is introducing them. I know, passionate crowd, right? I wouldn’t even be able to hear their song if they didn’t cut out all that screaming shortly after their performance begins.

Episode 13
Girls screaming. Girls swooning. Girls fainting. So awesome that everybody is blown away! OMG! Cool special effects?! Needless to say, they’re awesome. So this is not revolution but evolution?! Now it is Starish’s turn. Of course the inevitable backstage face off with Quartet Night. We’ve done our best. We’ve levelled up. We’ll go higher. Starish pays a little respect to Haruka about her words that their music will change the world, before they go on stage. And yeah, double high 5 with her. Each. Same thing. Girls screaming so noisy I can’t hear their introductions and initial parts of the song. But if you’re wondering why you aren’t surprised with their hit it is because we have glimpsed it as the ending song of the series. As expected, Starish blows away everybody. Even Quartet Night is surprised at their level and acknowledges them as equals. Before things could end, suddenly somebody returns to steal the limelight! OMG! Look who is back?! It’s Heavens!!! And they’ve brought back more members! 7 of them?! They sing their way into everybody’s hearts! Everything is so exaggerative! How the f*ck did they manage to get that heavenly arc prop on stage?! So awesome that they’re shooting beams at everybody! Shooting blue flames at everybody! Some even blown away by the ‘bomb’!!! OMFG!!! When they end, everybody is so stunned that the silence is deafening! Yeah, I think some judges ‘died’!!! OMFG! Then it is time to introduce themselves. Besides Eiichi, Kira and Nagi from the original line-up, we have newbies Eiji Otori (Light/Kira from Death Note?), Van Kiryuin (Aizen from Bleach?), Yamato Hyuga (Tamaki from Ouran High School Host Club?) and Shion Amakusa (Maximilian from Senjou No Valkyria?). They claim the world will be ruled by them. But of course. The crowd is split. Some are chanting Heavens. Some are chanting Quartet Night. Some are chanting Starish. Oh God. Hell on Earth will soon begin. Could this be part of a bigger conspiracy plan by Saotome and Raging?

Same Ol’ Revolution?
Guess what? With that kind of cliff-hanger ending and those 3 inevitable words… Apparently there is going to be a fourth season!!! Obviously. OMG! Does this mean I am obliged to watch it?! Well, if not for nostalgia… And if not because it isn’t complete yet and so I must finish it! Also because now that I know that reverse harem anime especially of the music trope isn’t my cup of tea (that is, this genre is not trending now for me), I am staying away from such genres. Because I haven’t watched animes that are suspiciously similar to this. Say, High School Star Musical AKA Starmyu. Yes, another group of hot guys singing. Or even Shonen Hollywood -Holly Stage For 49-. Or even Bakumatsu Rock. I wanted to say that these animes are not as popular as Uta No Prince-sama series and most probably they are but since Shonen Hollywood already had a sequel and Starmyu is going to get one, the force of singing handsome guys is still going strong.

But as far as this season is concerned, the entire third season seems to be close to a bore. Not that I am saying it is bad but there was nothing much to call it any different. That is why the only most exciting part where I sit up and actually take notice is Heavens’ surprising entry at the end. And here I thought even if they did pop up, perhaps it was to congratulate our eventual winners but who am I kidding, right? If you know these guys from last season, they are as arrogant as f*ck. And nothing has changed since except their arrogance level just gone up. For a group that has been missing for the entire season, only to pop up at the end and throw the spanner into the works is just amazing and yet shocking. Out of nowhere to come steal the limelight. Great job guys? Almost pull the rug from under everyone’s feet. So just when I thought the third season will come to a boring predictable end, here they shock us with this cliff-hanger. It is indeed a twist and perhaps the only revolution-cum-evolution that I can attribute to this season.

They call the change in Starish a revolution but personally I don’t see any difference. Maybe because I have always had this in the back of my head that since they are the main characters and that everything no matter how dire the straits (really?) will turn out alright for them. They will always be tops. Fans will always love them. Girls will always scream out their names. They can never get enough of them. Always. That is why when Saotome was screaming revolution and all that crap, I didn’t notice anything so different seeing they won the Utapuri Award last season and that already made them the most awesome of all awesomeness, right? Of course when you take into account their rising popularity on the internet, the people down in the streets and even their closest rivals, maybe this was the revolution that Saotome had intended all along. It is only the final episode that was the most amusing and had me laughing because of the exaggerated effects! Yeah, that one was a real killer. Yeah, those beams can kill! Just like cooking shows have their exaggerated reaction effects, I think this one takes the cake for this genre. Truly epic revolution-cum-evolution then.

The flow of the story remains the same as in previous seasons. Haruka as the only main recurring character in the series because all of the guys need her to conduct their business. And I don’t mean it in an ambiguous way. Please, this is a very pure romance show aimed for pure girls. And because whatever personal issues Starish had in the previous 2 seasons, Quartet Night takes up the other half of the focus. It isn’t all that bad but it does mean the roster is getting bigger and we can’t afford to spend a single episode for a single character. At least for Starish. So while each Quartet Night member will get their own personal time with Haruka, they ‘speed up’ the Starish members by putting 2 or 3 of them in focus for a single episode. Because like I have said, there is nothing more to tell about them so they put random filler-like events, a reason why they need to be with Haruka for that particular episode.

So with Quartet Night having more focus this season, we get to know more about them but nothing that really is revolutionary because from last season despite their cameos, we already know what kind of characters they would be. They hardly change albeit a bit because of, wait for it, Haruka. Yes, this girl is an angel. A miracle. A goddess. Not only is she the academy’s slave to write songs, but she manages to churn out hit after hit! I thought songwriters have their up and down days but this girl somehow can write good hits after another. And you know why I said that she is a slave is because Saotome is like a slave driver, entrusting her to write songs for very important and crucial events. Sure, there are problems but it is so minor that you don’t really see the big pressure on her. Do you not believe me when I say that I have not seen Haruka actually go under pressure? This girl is good. And where the heck are the other songwriters in the academy? Is Haruka so good that she can only be relied on to write good songs? Apparently. Saotome is one lucky bastard to have a girl like her. A golden goose. Speaking of Saotome himself, he is still quirky and all those flashy moves define his eccentricity. Still amusing to watch but it gets tiresome and it makes you wonder if he does all that just to get your attention. After all, nobody pays close attention to a boring strict old guy giving lectures, right? Other recurring characters like Tomo, Ringo and Ryuuya are around just because of the need to. Otherwise they don’t even contribute anything much to this season. I guess this means Natsuki’s dark alter ego, Satsuki didn’t make a single cameo. Yeah, was there a need?

On to Quartet Night themselves, I believe I have also said that nothing much is expected to change of them because they continue to remain the same obnoxious, stuck up, arrogant hotties that we would ever know in this idol world. It is like they’re putting up fake smiles before the camera and fans but behind the backstage, they are like conceited idols who think everyone else should bow at their perfect feet. At least for Camus, Ranmaru and to a certain extent Ai. Reiji could have been one too but I figure somebody needs to be the joker and clown of the group or else it would make the entire group look more spiteful. The only ‘shocking’ thing that I never expected was Ai to be a robot. This explains a lot but I guess when a series is based on a game of the same name, something like this should be expected for an element of surprise. Thus I was hoping to learn that perhaps Reiji was an alien who crashed on Earth, Camus the prince of an alternate world fleeing a war and Ranmaru a fallen angel!!!! OMFG!!! Thank goodness that never happened, right? I thought they forgot all about Heavens. Although I did have a hunch that they will make a cameo return somewhere in the middle (though I didn’t expect it to be at the final scene of the final episode).

The one thing that I had predicted but never came true is the fact that Starish and Quartet Night combine into one big group to perform at SSS. I mean, that is how you are going to satisfy all the fan girls and comply with the rules, right? Then we can name their newly combined group as… Starry Night!!! Oh yes! Think 11 hot men in a group is not big enough? Yeah, think South Korea’s Super Junior… I even had another idea that this group will ultimately combine with Heavens to make it even bigger!!!!! I had a hunch Heavens will make a comeback somehow but what caught me off guard is that I didn’t realize they will come back with more members! If they do combine, what better way to make your group even better by absorbing former rivals. But looks like nobody is combining to make into one super group like AKB48 and instead it has become a 3 corner fight to determine who will become the ultimate idol. And this time I can see how bloody it is going to be considering that the fans themselves have quickly divided into supporting their respective camps. Why can’t they just love them all?

To show important Quartet Night is this season, they sang the first opening theme for the first episode, The Dice Are Cast. You can also sample the awesomeness of their magic in the ending theme for episode 12 during the SSS opening act, Evolution Eve. Of course seeing this is Starish’s series, they cannot be left out entirely as the group sings the main ending theme, Maji Love Revolutions. And in all previous seasons, the main opening theme is also sung by Mamoru Miyano entitled Shine. There are also a bunch of insert songs from the cross-unit groups and solos but none of them and not even this season’s opening and ending themes could match the catchiness and greatness of the trademark song of this series that started it all, Maji Love 1000%. Yes, this is still by far the best song ever from all that I have heard. That is why whenever Haruka is said to have written better and much superior songs than before, I could only note the irony that is so because these latest songs don’t move me as much as Maji Love 1000% did.

Overall, unless you are a hardcore fan of the series and love the reverse harem trope, this season is yet another one of those fixes for you to swoon over your handsome guy. Otherwise, seeing handsome hunks battling out via singing feels a bit odd because you know, where is the machoism? You’re in the wrong anime then. Since the ending caught me off guard, I must mentally prepare myself not to fall into the same trap when the next season comes. This means I am making wild predictions as far as now to where our idols will go so as not to go into that ‘shock’. Therefore I am predicting there isn’t going to be just 3 idol groups but there will be a fourth one entering the fray too! Then a fifth! A sixth! A seventh! An eight! Oh yeah, the boy idol industry is going to be crowded with so many handsome boys jostling for screen time and fans’ attention. Then more rivals in the form of… Girl groups! Battle of the sexes! And at the end, they’ll all just join up into one big group, bigger than your choir and orchestra band combined and sing a song that unites the world. Sniff, sniff. Oh, I love the drama of it all. Hey, something feels wrong. Why do every guy here looks f*cking hot and handsome?! I guess there are some things that don’t need to undergo revolution and evolution anymore.

You know how idols are slowly conquering the world with their provocative cute looks, provocative cute outfits, provocative cute songs and provocative cute dance moves? Yeah. It is no wonder that perhaps evil organizations bent on taking over the world are trying to jump on this bandwagon. With that said, it seems Zvezda hasn’t conquered the world yet. And thus the reason why we need an extra episode, Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku No Zvezda OVA to confirm whether they can pull through and make it big in the idol business. I know it sounds crazy but when you have big dreams of taking over the world, no ideas are that crazy. And I thought they gave up trying to conquer the world seeing nobody wanted to sub this OVA (thus no more ‘followers’) and therefore why this blog is late. I guess better late than never.

New Zvezda Operation
Hmm… Pictures of Gorou and Kaori lovey-dovey in their honeymoon. They must be really getting it going. And so Kate announces… Zvezda will be an idol unit! Wow. Asuta is so amazed (read sarcasm). With Yasu wanting to be the manager, what will Asuta be? The producer of course. Roboko is happy about this when she gets a letter. It seems she has been selected to take part in an audition to join the famous idol group, BBK88. Renge is happy for her however Roboko is in a dilemma. Despite it is Roboko’s closet dream to become an idol, Zvezda’s orders are absolute and she cannot go against it. She knows she will not be forgiven for betrayal. Renge suggests that she will join the audition on her behalf so as not to let it go to waste. Meanwhile Itsuka is training Kate on how to sing. She can’t even get a tone right! Loli is going to cry… Roboko is spacing out and can’t concentrate on the so called lesson. Renge tells Asuta about Roboko’s dilemma in class although she was told to keep this a secret. Asuta then goes to talk to Roboko in her room (filled with BBK88 posters). He congratulates her for passing the preliminary screening and wants her to take the audition. Because with her attitude now, she cannot be a top idol and that she is distancing herself from everyone else. Renge hands back the form to her as Roboko smiles. Smile? I can’t see anything? The trio are going to tell Kate and the rest about this. However they are engrossed in watching a new idol video. And this news just popped up. BBK88 is holding an audition to recruit new members. So we hear them badmouthing those b*tches and how since they are going to be their rivals, they are going to break them up! And with them applying for new members, they can’t let this go and curse all the new members! Yeah, those who signed up with them are considered sympathizers of the enemy! So watch out you BBK88, b*tches! All hail Zvezda and may the light of Zvezda shine through the world! Oh boy. This is going to be tough.

In the wee hours of the morning, Roboko heads off to the audition while Dva and White Robin will do something to stall the rest. They creep into Itsuka’s room but her sharp senses have her awakened. The duo are hiding on the ceiling but how long can they hold out? Dva’s sweat drops on her forehead. This makes her cry like a baby as they put a seal on her to sleep. WTF. Next is Natasha but her room is filled with dangerous obstacles that it makes you wonder if this is some sort of ninja palace! They can’t back out now since the alarm has sounded so after all that death defying miracle (it’s a miracle they got out alive), they made it through and put the seal on her. Meanwhile Roboko is in the waiting room and there are lots of idol wannabes. Also there is Miki. Their eyes meet but Miki says today they can’t be friends. Finally Dva and White Robin walk into Kate’s room. Nobody in. Has she waked up? Suddenly the door shuts and the screen behind has Kate screaming at them that she suspected something about them and was waiting for them to take the bait. She forces them to reveal whatever is going on and they can’t get out of here because the door is laced with explosives. White Robin has no choice but to disclose about Roboko and hopes Kate won’t blame her. Unfortunately Kate will not do so and sees this as an act of betrayal. Just then Gorou returns and opens the door. Whoops. BOOM!

As he is being explained, seems that their honeymoon is cut short because Kaori remembered she had a job to do. Something about being a special judge for recruiting members for a certain idol group. She heard somebody named Roboko passed the screening as well as Miki too. Well, they audition is being broadcast on TV live and right about now is Roboko’s turn. The entire town watches her belt out her song. At the end of the day, seems Miki and Roboko didn’t pass. As Miki leaves, the rest of the gang are here. Kate asks Roboko about her whereabouts as she comes clean. Roboko laments she cannot become an idol because she is a robot. Kate punches her face (her fist must hurt a lot) because it doesn’t matter whether she is human or robot. They’re all the same when they take on that stage. So don’t make up boring excuses. Kate is upset that she didn’t tell the truth and thought she would get mad and get in the way if she did (well, certainly it seemed like that yesterday, right?). But the girls can’t stay mad at each other so it suddenly becomes an emotional reconciliation scene as the girls cry and hug their heart out (the irony in Roboko’s case?). So to ‘punish’ Roboko for her betrayal, she is made to perform her idol stint in front of them. Wow. Nice special effects and everything. Flashy stuffs. You go, Roboko! Asuta asks Kate about their idol plans. Oh, she’s continuing it but this time she is going to make idols out of thousands of people under her command. And Asuta will be the producer. Asuta… Fast in declining…

Even Robots Have Dreams!
And so their dream of conquering the world goes on. Heck, I don’t think in this sense they even made any progress. If there is anything about this OVA, it surely focuses on Roboko and from what we can see, she is clearly more human than robot. She could even be more human than most humans are. Beneath that steely exterior lies a robot who has feelings. A robot who has a dream. Just like every other human being. Her actions of being in a dilemma, trying to pursue her dreams and even acting out of fear of not telling Kate the truth at first proves that she is just not some mindless artificial intelligence. Whether or not Roboko gets to live her dream next time is another story. But she doesn’t have to hide it anymore because she has the backing of Zvezda for that.

One thing that I am stumped is the friendly relationship between Zvezda and White Light. I don’t remember much of the TV series about them becoming friends. Even if their identities are known to each other and there is no reason for them to be at each other’s throat for the time being, the way they are shown here, it’s like their organizations don’t really matter. I mean, you see Dva and White Robin working together and easily inside Zvezda’s HQ. So I am not sure if they are allies or just being dormant. Otherwise it would be very ironic to see enemies sitting down together having a cup of tea or in their case, becoming Roboko’s backup dancers in her short idol performance. If the world is that peaceful, why the heck do you need to conquer it? Ah, maybe that is why there is a need for world conquest. At least for Kate.

Overall, this OVA is just okay. Nothing related to the TV series. Nothing serious. Nothing that furthers whatever development and even in the case of Roboko it was just a little and just for her. It is something to watch just to make complete after watching the TV series. Some call it fun, some call it a waste of time especially with the idol themed of this OVA, some might view that they are running out of ideas on what kind of plots to put in standalone filler episodes. I know we don’t get idol themes in every anime we see but with idols being ubiquitous all around, aren’t you just getting sick of it? Not if they continue with their provocative cute looks, provocative cute outfits, provocative cute songs and provocative cute dance moves. Yeah. Slowly conquering our minds and hearts with it. Idols. The new world conquering propaganda we all should fear.

When you have saved your school from closure, what else is there for an idol group formed to just do that as their initial goal? It will be a total waste for them to disband so I guess since they are already here, why not give it a shot and try their hands at Love Live again? And yeah. This is what the second season is mostly going to be. But wait a minute. Didn’t they fail to enter the last time? Well, it’s back by popular demand! Wohoo! I figure that is why we are having a second season. After all, this is going to be their last time together. Gasp! Last time together? What are you saying?! Oh girls, even if this will be your last performance together, you will always be in our hearts, right? Well, if you are a big fan of them. I’m not ;p.

Episode 1
Thanks to the increase in enrolment, Otonokizaka Academy will continue to operate and take in new students next year. Hooray! Honoka has been installed as the new student council president and why, we even have a musical version of it as she sings her way through the school corridors and fields! It might just be her imagination because the moment she took the microphone to address the crowd, she forgot all her lines. Now she can’t laze around since Umi is being as strict to get the jobs done. This is going to be tough work… Never knew the student council was going to be lots of work, eh? Hanayo stumbles upon some shocking information. She gathers everyone and they run around everywhere in school trying to find Honoka. After all that running that could have made them great marathon runners, they finally find her and relay the shocking news: There is going to be another Love Live! Thanks to the popularity of the last one (which was won by A-Rise), this time the competition won’t be based on popularity rankings and will go by regions. Think of it like those sports anime, inter-high competitions of each region will slug it out before the top teams qualify for the Nationals-cum-finals. Their hopes are extinguished when they realize they have to fight A-Rise for a spot in the next round. They’re from the same Tokyo region and this is the most competitive idol region across Japan. This sucks. Well, you’ll never know if you don’t try. Just when everyone gets hyped up to join, here comes Honoka pouring cold water on it. She doesn’t think they have to participate. Say what?! This is an atrocity! They interrogate her and her it seems she is more than happy to sing and dance together. They don’t need some fancy competition, right? After all, their goal of keeping the school alive has been achieved. So to prove her point, she takes her groupies to hang out with her after school. See how fun this is? Erm…

Of course the rest cannot accept this as competing in Love Live has been their dream and they believe Honoka must be overwhelmed by her student council duties. Honoka’s sister, Yukiho is also appalled she doesn’t want to enter. She hints that she and Arisa will enter Otonokizaka next year in April, the same time this next Love Live will start. You know what this means? One rainy day, Niko challenges Honoka to a race to climb the stairs. If Honoka wins, they’ll not participate in Love Live. Niko makes a great start (by getting a head start) but trips. Then the rest tell her the seniors like Eri, Nozomi and Niko won’t have time anymore and since Love Live is only open to students, do you know what this means? If they miss it, that’s it. Even if they get eliminated in the preliminaries, at least they can say they tried their best. After all the motivating talk by her friends, Honoka is back to her usual self and agrees to join. Honoka then becomes God. GOD?! Because she is so happy that she yells to the Heavens for the rain to stop and it did!!! F*CKING HELL, NO WAY!!! The sun is even shining through the clouds! What does this mean? As long as you’ve got the determination, you can do anything! Even stopping the rain?

Episode 2
First obstacle… For the next Love Live, they cannot use songs they have sung. That means only new songs because if so, many will be covering songs of professional idols. Everyone turns to Maki… Oh no. What does this mean? Another training camp! Maki is such a rich girl that in last season they went to her beach villa. Now they go to her other villa in the mountains! Everyone is so captivated by the scenery that they forgot to wake up Honoka who was left sleeping in the train! Nobody even noticed… So in the villa, Maki will be composing songs, Umi writing lyrics and Kotori designing their dresses in their respective rooms. However the pressure is getting to them… Writer’s block? We take a slight detour when a squirrel steals Niko’s wristband. Along with Rin, they couldn’t stop running downhill and amazingly miss all the trees and bushes. Am I playing some sort of platform video game here? Eventually they fall into a river. Back at the villa, the rest notice how quiet it is. Then they realize. Maki, Umi and Kotori have escaped! They’re sighing outside! Oh, the depression! I guess the pressure got to them. So it is decided they split into groups and help them out. Eri and Niko will help Maki compose songs. Honoka and Hanayo will help Kotori with the designs while Nozomi and Rin will assist Umi. Despite the luxurious villa, they have to spend their time outdoors in the wild and as far away as possible. No distractions? But seriously… They’re already facing some hitch. Because the temptation to sleep for Honoka and Hanayo is too great to resist! Rin cannot believe she has to do mountain hiking since Umi is such a big crazy climber. How many more mountains will they climb? And Eri has a fear of the dark… So well, it doesn’t seem any progress is made as we see the groups soaking in the hotspring, lying outside watching the stars and having campfire roast potato. Eventually Maki, Kotori and Umi couldn’t sleep and walk back to the villa where they finally find their groove. Next morning, the girls return to the villa and find the trio asleep. At least there is some progress. When they return, they start practising and Niko suddenly realized she has been had. That damn squirrel still got her wristband!

Episode 3
Due to the large number of participants, each idol team can choose a venue for their performance which will be uploaded live on the internet. However they only have one shot at it. Although the top 4 schools of each region will advance, Muse is disheartened to know they still have to face A-Rise. What’s the big deal? So what if they are guaranteed top spot? There are remaining 3 spots, right? As they need to stand out and attract viewers, the topic of sexy dress comes into discussion. Umi and Eri stand for it and might be willing to drop out! Oh no you don’t! First thing to do to garner support is to broadcast throughout their school their ambitions and goals. Umi and Hanayo are also made to do their introductions since they are naturally shy. Then Honoka had to scream into the microphone to rev up everyone. Did your eardrums explode? They go searching around the school for a venue they had not performed before. Zilch. Looks like they performed everywhere. They can’t do it in Akihabara since it is A-Rise’s turf and doing so is like declaring war. While the girls are admiring the promo video of A-Rise outside their school, UTX High School, suddenly the group leader of A-Rise, Tsubasa Kira takes Honoka by the hand and runs into school! Is this some sort of abduction?! The rest go after them and they meet the other A-Rise members, Erena Toudou and Anju Yuuki who welcome them to their school. Hanayo wants their autograph…

A-Rise mentions they know all about Muse since they have been keeping an eye on them since they can feel they are a team of rare calibre. They note Honoka in particular who is shining brightest out of the 9 of them. They know Muse so well that they can explain each of their good traits! What are they stalker?! Maybe except for Niko… Doesn’t she have any good traits? Maybe… Thanks for the flowers. Niko was a big fan of A-Rise before Muse was formed. A-Rise doesn’t hesitate to say they will not lose to them. Despite being the country’s number 1 idol, that is in the past. They want to continue staying as a group that can please the audience better than anyone. That’s why they won’t lose. But why do they look so shocked when Honoka says they won’t lose too? Is it that determination in her eyes? Was it they never expected her to say that and quietly bow down to their dominance? A-Rise allows them to use their school for their performance venue. The preliminaries are here. A-Rise struts their stuff first and they’re pretty damn good that it might just be the demoralizing factor for Muse. This is what happens if you see somebody’s video and pay too much attention before your act. They’re getting negative already that they can’t measure up to them. So are they giving up? Hell, no! You’ve come this far so give it your best shot! So it’s Muse’s turn to perform their flower maiden concept performance and it seems A-Rise is pretty impressed too.

Episode 4
Everyone is nervous. The results of the preliminaries are out. Those qualified in descending order: A-Rise, East Heart, Midnight Cats and… Mu… Mu… Mutant Girls?! WTF?! What kind of idol name is that?! Turns out to be Honoka’s dream! But it could be a premonition because the same thing happens for real. The top 4 in descending order: A-Rise, East Heart, Midnight Cats and… Mu… Mu… Muse! For real?! Yup. It’s them. Hooray! As the next contest is in December and only one of the 4 may advance, this means they need to practice hard and beat A-Rise. However they notice Niko is missing. It seems she can’t come to practice and have something important. They tail her to see her shopping for ingredients. Could it be she has a boyfriend? When they are spotted, Niko runs. And man, she’s good at running. Thanks to her non-existence boobs, she managed to slip through tight places. As Muse is contemplating what is wrong, suddenly here comes mini Niko! Did she turn into a little girl? Actually she is Niko’s sister, Kokoro. She knows them and takes them hiding and running from who knows what. The paparazzi? Then the biggest shock the girls get to know from her mouth: They are Niko’s backup dancers! Eri calls Niko but she’s not picking up the phone. Kokoro brings them to their home and meet another little brother, Kotarou. Yeah. The backup dancers are here for a visit. The girls then realize something amiss. The posters of Muse have been heavily edited with Niko’s face cut and paste as the centre! Her room is filled with such Photoshop pictures! And she’s good!

When Niko gets home, she’s got some explaining to do. However she runs again after seeing Umi’s death stare. Unfortunately she won’t get far as she bumps into another sister of hers, Kokoa. Niko tries to fool around. They’re not amused. So they can accept that her parents are away for a business trip and she has to take care of her siblings and thus can’t practice. But why the lies of them being backup dancers? She won’t say since it has always been that way. This is her house and what she says is none of their business. The girls leave as they ponder what she meant. Eri remembers when Niko was a first year, she wanted to be an idol. To her siblings she must have been a super idol but when thins fell apart, she couldn’t tell them the truth. She tried her best to be a school idol and even handed out flyers but since Eri was busy with student council work and wasn’t interested in becoming an idol, she didn’t give her much attention. Niko continued to go it alone despite lack of audiences and her other members quit. If she had reached out to her then, would things have turned out differently? One day, Honoka surprises Niko by bringing her siblings to school because they said they wanted to see her on stage. Niko is dressed up like a super cute idol and as Muse takes the stage, Niko announces that this is the last time she will sing as herself. She is not quitting but from now on will be performing as Muse. She is going to be a new person. Her dream is to be the number one idol in the universe and she shines brightest when she is in this group. This is not the end but a new beginning. So let the performance begin.

Episode 5
Honoka, Umi and Kotori are having a field trip at Okinawa. Too bad it is raining heavily. There might even be typhoon. Honoka trying to be a shaman to cast away the rain? I think she is more suited to be an idol putting the sun in the heart of her fans! Yeah! So Rin has been selected as an interim leader to practice for a fashion event this weekend. At first she is reluctant and has no confidence but with the rest putting a lot of faith and encouragement in her, she takes up the job. She’s nervous on her first day and she believes the rest pushed this job to her because they didn’t want to do it. Her confidence is all-time low that she believes she is not the cutest like the rest and not fitted to be an idol. Hanayo laments she might not have gotten over it. During elementary school, she was often teased by boys as she was dressed kind of boyish. Then more woes. Thanks to the typhoon building up, the return trip is cancelled. Honoka and co will be stuck and this means Rin’s leadership is extended. To her horror, as the leader and centre, she is required to wear a girly bridal dress during the performance. She can’t take it and snaps. How far can she run? Anyway she still thinks she can’t do it and so Eri suggests having someone else as the leader. Hanayo is suggested and Rin doesn’t hesitate to entrust everything to her. But Hanayo wonders if she is really okay with this. She is. Really? Yes. As in really, really? Yes. Really, really, really for sure? No doubts about it. So the girls practice like usual and Hanayo even calls Honoka to tell what happened for advice. Come performance day, Rin is shocked that the rest wants her to be the leader. They have practised their coordination so that Rin can be the centre. More words of encouragement and believe why they put their trust in her. Probably Hanayo’s statement sealed the deal. She is the girliest of the girliest, cutest of the cutest that she wants to hug her to death! Is Rin some furry animal? Rin dons the wedding costume and goes out on stage. Safe to say, the show is a success. Better still, Rin has got more confidence now.

Episode 6
Akihabara will have a Halloween theme and Muse is invited to participate as well as A-Rise. Although this is not a ranked performance, it will be a great chance for them to boost their popularity and catch up to A-Rise before the next elimination round. And since they’re going for impact, that scary look on Umi’s face indicates she’s really going to give them the greatest impact they’ll ever have. Some of them attend a live interview on the streets of Akihabara but couldn’t match up to the enthusiasm of the host. Eventually it is A-Rise that takes the spotlight. Umi comes up with the idea of impact by having them introduce themselves dressed in different club outfits. I don’t know. Does it feel like they’re just fooling around? Next idea has got to be the funniest. They try to become another person! It’s hilarious to see Umi as Rin, Hanayo as Niko, Nozomi as Honoka, etc. I won’t say they’re perfect but it’s very close. So much so the original is just appalled. Do they really act like that? Yeah. Everyone so weird. Then this is the ultimate impact and change. Thinking they shouldn’t promote themselves as idols and something wilder, Muse suddenly becomes… KISS!!! Hard rock, punk rock ass! It’s scaring away people! Oh yeah. They really made an impact. And now the chairwoman calls them to her office for an explanation. So wanna perform for the rest of their performance in this outfit? No way! Back to brainstorming. Since it still doesn’t get them anywhere and with no time left, they have to start making costumes and other stuffs. So in the end, everyone becomes themselves. They got so infatuated trying to renew themselves to match A-Rise, they probably forgot that each of them are unique and are best the way they are. And the best part is how they all come together, learn and accept one another. Muse puts on a sterling Halloween performance and gets motivated for the next round. Meanwhile Yukiho is lamenting reorganizing the disorganized books and volumes in Honoka’s room. Then she sees a letter. It must be something big that it is enough to make her go into shocking I-can’t-believe-it reaction spasms.

Episode 7
That letter is actually Honoka’s physical measurements. So? She gained weight! Despite doing some exercise, Honoka is still lax about losing her weight. So Umi gives her a dose of reality by making her wear their idol outfit. That scream… Traumatic… She gets lectured that the extra weight will make her movements sluggish and affect her performance. Thus she will undergo a diet! And while they’re arguing about this, they notice Hanayo happily enjoying her big onigiri. It’s the rice season! Notice something else too? Yeah. She put on weight too! And so the duo undergo strict dieting regiments courtesy of Umi the merciless. One day you’ll thank her. So run! Keep running! Tire easily? That’s because you’re dragging all that excess weight. More running! However along the way, the rice shop seems tempting. Hanayo tries to resist but Honoka persuades. In the end they lose out. So there is a big suspicion that the duo start looking forward to their runs. Then Umi discovers this folly… In the aftermath, Umi reports that Hanayo has got her weight back to normal but Honoka did not. I guess back home, she continued eating like no tomorrow. Suddenly students from the art club come in. They are perplexed that their budget was approved even before the meeting. Kotori realizes it was her mistake. She put it in the approved bin prior because of all that distraction going on with Honoka’s dieting. This is going to be a big problem as the word has spread around. Eri and Nozomi can only do so much so the trio work hard to find a solution. At the meeting with all the club representatives, Honoka admits their mistake, apologizes and hopes they can request to withdraw it. She continues explaining that this year the school avoid closure but has lesser students. Thus the budget isn’t much and they have draft and formulate allocated funds that would meet 80% of their respective club’s requirements. It won’t be much but please bear with them and hopefully this amount will increase if the enrolment for next year increases. I guess it wouldn’t seem nice after seeing them bow their heads and put in all the hard work. So everyone agrees to it. Best ending of all, Honoka lost weight because she has been working so hard that she skipped meals. Now that her weight is back to where it original is, she’s going to start eating! Oh no you don’t, says Umi!

Episode 8
Muse is in an interview but Honoka got fired up an unknowingly fires the first salvo that they’ll win! But the issue now is that they need a new song for their next performance. Nozomi suggests a love song since they never had one before. Well, everyone is looking at Umi. She’s the lyricist, right? And everybody is so tense in wondering if she was in a relationship before. She has not. Relieved? Something feels wrong… Maki doesn’t think they can master it in time but Eri and Nozomi don’t want to give up yet. So they try imagining and mental pictures about romance. What’s the camera for, Nozomi? Well, I just thought Maki played the tsundere part to perfection. While Niko was trying to show off her acting chops (the girls aren’t impressed) and something steamy is about to happen but the camera’s battery went out. Good thing? Because Eri and Nozomi continue to want to work on this, Maki suspects something strange. Why are they pushing so hard? No, I don’t think she has this hidden agenda of joining A-Rise. So the next group discussion on romance has them watch a cheap romance movie. Some are so touched, some are sleeping, some just unimpressed. But the most exaggerated one acting like it’s some horror movie is Umi! Turn it off! So can the idea of a love song materialize in time? They’re up against A-Rise so petty tricks like this won’t work. Then it’s like Nozomi has given up and it’s okay if they do their best with the songs they have. Eri doesn’t feel comfortable with her decision. So Maki later confronts the duo and although Nozomi won’t tell, Eri reveals Nozomi’s dream. She wanted all 9 of them to make a song together by linking their words and feelings. That’s why she suggested a love song. Nozomi continues that Muse is a miracle to her. She has always lived alone and changing schools frequently that she doesn’t have any friends. Till she met Eri was like her personality but distanced herself and couldn’t fit in because of her strong identity. After they became friends, they still couldn’t reach out the other people like them. But now those people are connected in a group sharing the same feelings. It would have been nice if it was a song but it doesn’t necessarily have to because Muse has some achieved something big and her biggest dream came true long time ago. Maki calls the others over so they can all discuss the new love song everyone will help contribute. Yes. Maki will write a new one. Everyone learns of Nozomi’s dream and loves her even more.

Episode 9
It’s a very snowy day and tonight is the final preliminary round. So we see some of the Muse members having their sisters wishing them the best. Then everyone meets up but the new student council trio have the school’s open house to take care off so they won’t be there so early yet. At least Honoka is calmer and cooler this time in handling it all. The other 6 head to the stage venue where the final preliminary will take place. Very big. Very grand. So awesome. They also meet A-Rise there and as usual, the declaration they will not lose. Who wants to lose anyway after coming this far? And now for the big drama problem. The snow has been falling all day that it is wreaking havoc on all transportation. It is about to get worse. This means Honoka and co are stuck at school. Oh dear. An hour till the competition starts. Silly? Desperate? Crazy? But you have got to give it to the trio because they are going to walk through that thick blizzard just to get there! So freaking cold! Yeah. It felt like an eternity just reaching the school gates. When the blizzard simmers down, the trio are amazed to see many of their school mates shovelling a pathway to their venue! Serious! The entire way!!!!!! No way!!!! I mean, yes way!!!!! The damn blizzard almost wiped out their hard work. I know you’re in awe with their steadfast but can you get a move on before the snow piles up again? And so running there has never been faster (isn’t it supposed to be slippery?). Muse finally reunites. Honoka becomes an emotional wreck as she hugs Eri. Crying so hard. Crying so loud. So cold. So scary. Brave girl. And we have everyone to thank for who made this possible. Finally it is time for Muse to put up their snowy white performance and their brand new song called Snow Halation. Thank goodness the snow has stopped. Otherwise how to catch their dazzling performance and for every one of their supporters, friends and family to come watch them.

Episode 10
The freshmen and sophomores of Muse meet up at the shrine for New Year’s Day (the seniors are helping out with Nozomi’s shrine). Maki is the only one turning up in a kimono. I guess the rest didn’t bother to dress. Was there any consensus on that? Along the way they meet A-Rise. From the way they tell Muse to win Love Live must really mean that Muse has won the final preliminary round! There’s a plague as prove sitting in the room! OMG! Congratulations! When Arisa tells Eri her wish to join Otonokizaka to join Muse, this has them thinking they need to get the group together and discuss their future. As Muse practises, they also discuss the next round that they’ll be in. Almost 50 groups will compete and it will be much harder since it will be online as fans will be selective of only the groups they like. As the large number of participants, it is impossible for fans to remember them all and thus many have came up with a catchphrase. They need one that captures their own uniqueness as well as the group as a whole. Time to crack their brains. Later Tsubasa speaks to Honoka. She admits A-Rise’s defeat since all was fair. They’ve been pondering about their future since winning Love Live is no longer their goal. Tsubasa can’t help think about the reason they lost. They’ve practised as hard as them, they had great teamwork as them and certainly have won the hearts of fans with their great performance as them. In fact they believed they tried their hardest and gave their best yet. So what went wrong? You asking Honoka? She doesn’t even know where to begin. So Honoka seeks Umi’s advice and she thinks it may have something to do with the catchphrase they’re looking for. Can Yukiho help? She doesn’t know why but Muse makes her feel like she wants to root for them not because Honoka is her sister or a local group. Muse then makes mochi as thanks for their friends’ support. Niko coming up with a bad pun catchphrase. Something that takes the cake. When Honoka sees the board of wishes at the shrine, she notices most of them are well wishes for Muse. Suddenly she gets inspired of the catchphrase that perfectly describes them. The reason they could go so far, accomplished a lot and still keep on going is because of these people and their support. They try their best, the fans support them, they move on and make their dreams come true little by little with everyone’s strength. This is what it means to be school idols. This is what it means to be Muse. And so their catchphrase: Making dreams come true together.

Episode 11
Arisa is so over the moon that she passed her entrance exam into Otonokizaka. Yeah. She can’t wait to join Muse. Although Yukiho passed too, she doesn’t seem too happy. Even Honoka thinks she should be shouting and screaming banzai. Because Yukiho lets loose this bombshell question: What will happen to Muse after graduation? Umi has now a lighter practice regime since their priority now is to stay healthy. However the girls cannot help avoid the topic of what happens to the group after the seniors graduate. Everyone has their opinion. Some say carry one and some wonder if they should. Eri thinks it is Honoka who has to decide since it is certain that the graduation will happen and they can’t continue working as school idols. Arisa continues to be an eager-beaver and shows off the moves she has learnt. Ready to join anytime? Then Yukiho asks her. What is it that she loves so much about Muse? I don’t mean for her to sound like a sourpuss… Arisa does a lot of thinking and then she confronts Honoka. She has made her decision after Yukiho’s words made her realize something important. She won’t join Muse. She loves Muse when they are the 9 of them and since she is not part of it, she’ll aim to create a school idol group she can belong. Soon, Honoka calls the rest of Muse to hang out. She thought a change in pace might do the group some good. So they really enjoy everything they want from playing games at the arcade, shopping at the idol store, bowling, zoo (imitating penguins and flamingos?), art museum (imitating statues?), praying at the shrine, amusement park ride… Wow. It’s really a fulfilling day. Finally the all-important sunset view at the riverbed. Then the inevitable. Honoka has discussed with her friends and despite their different opinions, everyone came to the same conclusion. With a heavy heart, they announce to the seniors that after the performance, Muse will disband! Because Muse will always be the 9 of them. No more, no less. As expected, everyone starts getting emotional when Honoka realizes they’re going to miss the last train. It was just a ploy to distract them because they won’t stop crying if they start. They take a final commemorative group photo. I wonder how everyone can fit in that cramp booth. Heck, can everyone’s face be seen without something funny happening? After all that laughter, I guess the real inevitable stuff has to happen. Hanayo starts the ball rolling when she starts crying. Oh no! Don’t you start now! Ah, what the heck. Let it flow! Don’t hold it in! Cry all your heart out! Tears flowing, lots of hugging, oh man, such emotional scene. That was really good, right? And with that behind them, all that is left is to practice. A week left to their final performance.

Episode 12
Niko is given the honour to represent Muse and pick from the lots (the performance turn I suppose). I guess it is favourable so it’s not surprising she wants to brag about it but the rest don’t pay much attention to her. After more practice, then it hit Hanayo. This will be their last practice together. Oh no. Please, don’t start it. Niko won’t have history repeat itself and wants them to focus on Love Live. After they pray at the shrine, it seems they haven’t the heart to go home. Honoka suggests they have a sleepover at school. Kotori is able to get her mom’s permission. She’ll overlook it this time since applications need to be submitted 2 weeks prior. Yeah. Don’t spoil their fun. Cheeky Nozomi reveals Eri’s phobia of the dark but this darkness is perfect moment for them to look at the stars. They head up to the rooftop and see an amazing sight of the city lights. Honoka shouts out at the top of her voice, the feelings she wants to convey and she has had since meeting all of them. Morning comes and it is the day of Love Live. The stage is even grander and bigger. Before Muse’s turn to perform, they make their last preparations and drive to give their best. Let’s make it awesome. And they don’t disappoint when they go on stage. After their sterling performance and last bow, they can’t contain their emotions at the backstage. Lots of hugging. Lots of tears flowing. Looks familiar this scene? And then they here the crowd calling for an encore! All their friends and family are supporting them. Even A-Rise. And so out they go again on stage after changing into another outfit. Can’t disappoint their fans and supporters, can’t they?

Episode 13
Honoka is a happy girl because she’s done with her farewell speech. Everyone meets Niko’s mom and younger siblings. Then they see Niko putting up a very kiddie behaviour, pestering her mom to come see something. Guess what? There is a trophy that they won Love Live! OMFG! THEY WON!!! But Umi has got a long face because Honoka is late to come clean up the student council room. Nozomi spots a new (temporary) hairstyle while Eri continues to linger and fell attached to her old student council room she will be missing soon. Honoka gives her a big hug and a thank you speech enough to almost make her cry. That’s a no-no before the ceremony. At the graduation ceremony, this time Honoka is well prepared and ever ready. She also talks about her love for music. With Maki on piano, she even sings a song dedicating to the seniors. The other younger Muse members join them and soon everybody. Don’t worry if you don’t know the lyrics. Just hum along! Later Niko clears out the clubroom. It feels almost empty because most of the idol stuffs are hers. She makes Hanayo the new club president. Who else has a better knowledge on idols? Can’t burden the student council trio either. Reluctant at first, she accepts after support from her friends. With Rin as leader, Maki is made vice president too. Nobody is left out. The seniors want to take a last look around the school and Honoka thinks they should all go together since it’s their last time together. Since she said the taboo word, she is made to treat them all drinks. Yeah, it tastes so good when someone else pays. They visit the alpaca stable (expecting offspring!), the auditorium, basking in the grassy field and finally the most frequented place: The rooftop. Yeah. Lots of memories coming back, eh? As the seniors are about to leave school one last time, suddenly Hanayo receives a big news. So big that she can’t say it here as she drags Honoka back into school with the rest curious enough to chase them. So what is it? Another season? Another Love Live? Or just this ending musical performance for us? And someone please tell me where this place Honoka announced they’re going to go together, a place that we’ve never seen to make our dream comes true? Tell me! I’m such a dumb guy…

One Last Hurrah… And Sweet Victory!
Well, even if there is no more future sequels or spin-offs, the real Muse will still be around and doing their usual stuffs that they have been doing since. So is this a fitting farewell to another idol themed anime or this is just the start of a new beginning? One thing for sure, they have left an impact in the hearts of many with their own unique music and dances. After 2 seasons of Love Live and Muse antics and adventures, I suppose it is time the curtains come down because you know, things don’t really last forever or will they go on forever. Even this idol thingy will die out one day. But hey, let’s not talk about that. As far as this series is concerned, although I am still not a big idol fan nor can I see myself converting into one in the nearest possible future or reincarnated life, there are some funny moments, dramatic moments, friendship moments, heart tugging moments, draggy moments, yawning moments… I know, this show isn’t perfect or it will be my cup of tea, but at least I have this same feeling as them, that satisfied feeling that I can move forward, leave it all behind and be proud of it. Although all I did was just watch 2 seasons of it ;).

There was this dilemma of mine whether or not Muse was going to win Love Live or even make it to the preliminaries. Because from the structure of the show (how far could you go with just over a dozen episodes?) and the way they are focusing on other stuffs instead of preparing for the competitions, it had me thinking that maybe they won’t make it after all. Then they’ll focus the rest of the remaining episodes on something else. Maybe the other characters. Because for each time, we are shown that they are being normally happy in the aftermath. Like the outcome of the competition didn’t matter. It feels like a ploy to get our guards down before they plop the biggest and shocking news that they made it through. It keeps you guessing about the results. Did they win or not? Did they pass or not? Why are they acting so nonchalant like as though it didn’t happen at all? And then the news. And it was absolute sweet victory that they won the Love Live. Icing on the cake. Perfect parting gift. With the lack of hurrah and bravos surrounding their victory, it’s like to make you think it never happened because you don’t see anybody ma king a big deal out of it. I mean when they defeated top favourites A-Rise, shouldn’t the idol world media and paparazzi be hounding them? So I suppose with this season, it is like revenge for making for last season’s failure since the first season was more about to save the school, which was the main reason why the idol unit was formed.

Unlike last season where there is this danger of them being disbanded, this time around they are disbanding for good. It is with mixed feelings that they do so because Muse can only be with 9 of them and nobody else. It may be a trend today of replacing band members, adding new ones or kicking out some but nothing beats the original. Sometimes when you change members so often, it is like a different group and might as well disband the original one and form a new one instead of using the old name. Also, I think that if they want to continue being Muse is also possible. I mean, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be high school students to be idols, right? They might not have to compete in school idol competitions anymore and maybe in some other competition criteria. So I don’t see the idea of them disbanding and stopping becoming idols just because some of them are graduating. It’s not like they’re not ever going to see each other ever again, right? Right?! Unless…

This season also sees some episode focusing on some of the members like Niko’s household, Rin temporarily having a go as the band’s leader and Nozomi’s wish. It’s great to see some character development for them although overall the characters still largely remain the same as we know them from last season. For example, Niko is still the biggest joker and the comic relief of the group. I guess every group needs one like her. In that sense she is my favourite because she makes me laugh with her antics (even if it is not on purpose), no matter how much everyone ignores her or she doesn’t realize her Niko-Niko Smile is looks quite embarrassing (but you have to give her points for doing it every time). And there are some sides you don’t see about her every day… Funny… So Niko, you’re really the most amusing girl of the bunch and please don’t take it to heart because I really love seeing you when you get all funny and stuff.

Then there is Nozomi who is a little devilish sometimes. For instance, the time when everyone was chasing down Niko, Nozomi can’t squeeze into some tight space because her boobs were the major blocking force. So she sends Rin to do the job and you can see her satisfied smirk on her face! It’s like she’s got revenge on something. Eri continues to be the kind and gentle person unlike her strict ways in the previous season so much so you might have forgotten she started off as a cold person then. Same case with Umi’s fear of performing in public. Maki although is mixing well within the group, she still sounds a bit distant from the way she speaks and all. A bit tsundere too… As usual, you can’t beat Hanayo’s enthusiasm for all things idol and her love for anything that is rice, Rin’s energetic or her penchant to talk like a cat (~nya) and Kotori is getting better in designing her outfits for Muse. Lastly there is Honoka who has turned from someone incapable and unreliable into someone more responsible and mature although basically she is still the same fun and loving person we know. Naturally that is why she is unofficially the leader of Muse if I should say. It’s like she has dramatically changed this season and before you know it, she’s much more than the person we knew from last season.

The drawing and art remains the same as last season. This means the use of CG effects when Muse is taking the stage. Although not obvious but you can tell the difference. I won’t say it is horrible. It feels rather okay. I mean going from 2D to CG, that transition takes some time to get used to. The dance choreographies are also okay. As I said, I’m not a crazy idol fan so I don’t really know how to appreciate such moves. But hats off to them and every other idol group, real or fictional for coming up with such dance routines, step designs and arrangements. It really takes lots of effort and practice to get them right and look perfect. I don’t remember about last season but for this season, I can’t seem to help but notice the pink blushes on the characters’ cheeks. It is like a permanent feature on their face and at times I just can’t take my eyes off it. I just kept staring at it. I know, it makes the girls look lovelier. Can’t argue about that, can’t I?

Music as usual plays a big part of the series but honestly for me who isn’t really a big fan of idols, I can say that they sound rather okay the most. I won’t go crazy about it. Sore Wa Bokutachi No Kiseki is this season’s opening theme and sounds like your typical pop idol girl group with lots of energy and passion in it. Donna Toki Mo Zutto is the pop rock ending theme and just like in last season, despite there is only one song, there are a few versions of it. Nine of them to be exact because each of the Muse members will have their turn taking the lead singing this piece (albeit you’ll only be hearing that version once). Sometimes you can guess who will be singing it by figuring which of the characters has the most focus in that particular episode and you can see that character being highlighted right at the end of the animation. The rest of the insert songs are okay. A-Rise’s ones are also not too bad but still my favourite remains the first insert song of Muse from the first season, Start:Dash! I wish they would at least play it once more again here but the real Muse unit has got lots of songs under their belt.

Somehow watching the end of this makes me feel that this series and Muse in particular have come a long way despite it is only 2 seasons long and only a year in this anime’s context. But yet we have seen them achieved so much, grown so much and bond with each other so much that even the sharpest blade or scissors will not make the slightest cut on their string of friendship. And when they turned the final episode into one last (almost) dramatic farewell episode, thank goodness they didn’t spam the tears again (unlike in the couple of penultimate episodes where the tears flow freely) because who knows I could not even have hold it in although the final episode wasn’t really on that high level of emotional scale. Because you know it is already going to end. You know it is goodbye. The inevitable has arrived. But don’t be afraid. Because once you reach there, you’ll remember all the memories and the good times they have brought to us. There’s plenty of that to get us through for the rest of our lives. Thank you and horosho!

Wake Up, Girls!

August 10, 2014

Having troubles waking up early in the morning? Not a morning person or you have just pulled an all-nighter finishing your assignment, watching the finals of a football game or staying up playing a video game marathon. Don’t worry. There is a service that will have cute girls coming over to give you that much needed wakeup call and I am sure after hearing “Onii-chan, okite! Okite!” (Big brother, please wakey-wakey up!), you would feel much better when you wake up… Eh… What is that you say? You mean this is not what Wake Up, Girls! is all about???????!!!!!!!!!! EEEEEEHHHHH???!!! You mean this is an idol theme show???????!!!!!!! Man, I would never have guessed it if I just solely based it on the name of the series and taking it too literally. I mean, what kind of a name is Wake Up Girls for an idol unit? Couldn’t it be something sweet and nice? So okay, there are lots of funny names going around but I guess you have to be unique in your performance and even in your group’s name just to stand out since there are quite a number of idols out there.

Of the very few girl group idols that I have seen, Wake Up Girls (WUG) as I can see isn’t the kind that could rival its flashier counterparts like AKB0048 and Love Live. Firstly, there is no sci-fi element and idols kicking ass so you can say this anime is more down to earth like Love Live. However WUG isn’t as flashy or cutely sweet as Love Live as it chronicles the struggles of that small idol unit based in the Sendai countryside. The road to being an idol is always tough. You have to put in hours into your practice and your performance to stay relevant or else you’ll become yesterday’s news. Yes. Today will become yesterday like for every day. Haha. But seriously, I thought this series was going to be a little interesting after reading the short synopsis of how the idol group and its agency are on the brink of going bust due to some troubles. This is much more serious than say, your beloved school closing down. Thus, there is somewhat something interesting that attracts me to see how this unknown small fry would face such obstacles and triumph in the end. We all love a good humble beginning to great success stories, don’t we?

Episode 1
On Christmas Eve, WUG did a debut concert but on Christmas day, internet forum boards are rife with postings that Mayu Shimada was spotted as part of that group and further speculating her return to idol work. However many remain sceptical as they see her as past her prime. On New Year’s Day, manager Kouhei Matsuda wakes up to a bad start. He had nightmares. After Mayu pays her respects at the shrine, she meets with Kaya Kikuma as they walk together to the agency, Green Leaves Entertainment. They talk about their future and the direction they are heading, the reason why they are here. Miyu Okamoto is also here for the same reason. Although they worry that the agency may close down since it does not have money, Miyu remains positive that hard work will pay off just like how she currently does in her maid cafe. When Matsuda arrives, he calls the rest of the girls, Nanami Hisami, Minami Katayama, Airi Hayashida and Yoshino Nanase to the agency. There is a famous producer, Sudo who has seen their Christmas debut they are interested in helping manage the group. Some are happy but the rest remain sceptical. Matsuda explains he used to work under their president, Junko Tange. Let’s say she is very bossy, pushy and rough but she had connections. It made Matsudo feel like a loser. By the way, Tange ran off with the money. Now he has a chance to improve things and hopes the girls will work with him again. The girls leave with high hopes but the few remain pessimistic. At the cafe, they discuss about this and Miyu remains optimistic and acts out her maid cafe greeting example to the rest. Another idol group, I-1 is making its public announcement on their nationwide concert tour. Mayu was once a member of this group. Flashback to WUG doing their debut gig on stage to a handful of audience who probably had nowhere to go on that day. Come the weekend, Matsuda and the girls anxiously wait for Sudo to turn up. A few false alarms. Who the heck keeps ordering these food deliveries? Or do they get the address wrong? And then Sudo shows up. Uhm… He looks like a yakuza… The first thing he asks the girls to do is to put on a skimpy bikini.

Episode 2
Sudo has also found them a stage to perform. That’s great, right? Yeah. The public bath for men. Seriously, the boring men here seem to have no purpose in life. It’s like they’re half dead. Serious. The girls put on their courage to wear the white bikini (because Sudo saw them during their debut performance where they ‘flashed’ their panties so they shouldn’t be shy about this) to perform in front of the guys. I think they know nothing about idols and just love their nice asses. That’s why they’re cheering. During the break, Matsuda tries to talk to Sudo about the inappropriateness about it all but got lectured back about resolve and that the super popular Shiho Iwazaki from I-1 is also doing it. He also views Matsuda not fit to be their manager as he doesn’t even give try putting his girls on stage. Later Matsuda and the girls discuss and it seems this rookie left the payment dealings to Sudo and didn’t even know the contract he signed them up for! Yes. ‘Photo shooting’ means the loser guys get to take pictures all they want with the girls. They also need to serve the customers. Even if some of their hands go wandering, they can’t raise a finger back. ‘Participating in various attraction’ means playing games with the customers and Miyu certainly had her last straw when a customer ‘earned the right’ to kiss her. Who would want to kiss this ugly f*cker?! She pushes him away and runs away. This made Miyu rather quit than continuing with this. If they abandon this now, they have to return the money the host paid upfront to Sudo. Miyu still leaves while the rest are in a dilemma whether to go ahead.

Suddenly Tange barges in and lectures Matsuda like hell. With her is Sudo being beaten to a pulp. She threatens this shady producer and you can guarantee he won’t be showing his ass around them anymore and pay the cancellation fee. Yeah. She’s scary. But the girls are saved. If Matsuda thinks he can lecture her about running away with the money, think again. She’s still dominating. Apparently her darling needed some money so she took the agency’s money and went gambling. She lost it all. That’s the only apology you’ll ever hear from her. Noting that Miyu is not around, she has the girls go look for her. Not going to break up so fast, aren’t we? They find her at her maid cafe as she explains maybe she did lack the resolve to perform on stage. Because back here, she feels comfortable with her fans who truly love her and it made her want to be surrounded by them even more. They would never do anything to hurt her. Since her performance time is now, she invites them to watch. Oh God. That Nyaruko song… At the end, she thanks her fans and they in turn support her with all their might for her to be part of WUG. Their positive encouragement brings tears to her eyes. Now that the group is a whole again, Tange already has got a job for them and they’ll be appearing in a small segment on TV.

Episode 3
The girls will be split into 2 groups. One will be doing local gourmet and the other weather report. However the latter one also has scalding water. WTF?! It’s obvious all want to do local gourmet so it is decided who goes where via drawing sticks. The ones who got the short end of the stick to do the weather report are Kaya, Miyu, Airi and Yoshino. For this quartet, not only they have to enter hot water but during the weather report, they have to wear animal suits. I don’t even… It’s much better on the gourmet group since Minami is a big eater, she wallops everything. Even if Mayu and Nanami may put the show in jeopardy since they’ll be tasting lots of weird local delicacies, thanks to Minami the show is saved. The director’s only concern is that she expands her vocabulary instead of just saying it is delicious. How does “Tasty, meow!” sound? Both the shows get good reviews and this gives them the chance to promote their upcoming concert at Sendai. Minami’s grannies at the old folks’ home are glad to see her lively as usual and they think of crashing and surprising her by turning up at the concert. But first, they need to make something for her. Mayu notices Minami always holds a charm. She explains it is from her grandma and she used it during the audition. She believes this charm soothes her when she is nervous and protects her from making mistakes. Ever since she passed the audition, the grannies have been supporting her. She knows they’ll continue to do so. But it’s a different case for Mayu because her mom isn’t impressed that she is doing this again. She won’t listen to what she has to say. The day before the concert, the grannies show her a big yellow banner they made for Minami. Yellow like the bright sun that Minami is. However bad luck strikes because on the day of the concert, grandma experiences chest pains and had to be rushed to the hospital. Minami loses all confidence and can’t sing and is very worried. Once her pals get wind of this, Tange wants them to go ahead without Minami and cover for her part while they go make rearrangements with the producers. Minami is by grandma’s side at the hospital. She is doing fine. After her words of encouragement, Minami rushes back to her pals. She is okay to be here since by performing, grandma will be happier. The concert is a success and thanks to that, Mayu’s past of leaving I-1 due to some internal conflict may start to creep back up on her.

Episode 4
A Mayu fan posts the good stuffs he saw at the Sendai concert. However the forums are filled with naysayers who are badmouthing her. Tange relays another good news that the girls will be doing a regular radio programme though it lasts a minute before midnight. Anna and Karina from Twinkle are also here since they will be writing a new song for them. The girls try their hand in practising to speak in limited time. 60 seconds among 7 girls. That’s like around 8 seconds per girl, right? Tange and the other adults discuss about Mayu because she seemed trouble. Similarly, Miyu talks to her but she doesn’t say much and only wonders if she shouldn’t have come back. A publisher from Tokyo, Suzuki calls Tange to set up an interview with the group. Of course with this big chance, she wouldn’t let go. However Suzuki has an ulterior motive especially about the former I-1 idol Mayu. Meanwhile at the training room of I-1 where every girl is training hard. There are so many members that I think it’s like a mini army. The president, Tooru Shiraki (who looks like a typical baddie) gets straight to the point in selecting the best members for their nationwide concert in Sendai, rejecting those who failed the cut and admitting new ones to the team. Some members who know Mayu saw her stint in Sendai and are puzzled she is working in the countryside. I-1’s Megumi Yoshikawa contacts Mayu to tell her about their concert in Sendai. Suzuki and fellow cameraman, Yamada are at the agency to interview the girls. Suzuki seems like he is hurrying the interview of the other girls and when he gets to Mayu, he spams her questions of her departure from I-1 and wants to know the truth. A scandal about her seeing some guy. Tange kicks his ass. Wasn’t this supposed to be an interview on WUG and not Mayu’s past? Indeed. But WUG cannot exist without Mayu, right? When he shows his project about the struggles of a fallen idol that will have people making fuss over her, Tange punches him. He’ll sue! She doesn’t care! Try it! While Tange talks to Mayu about healing her emotional scars, the other girls discuss the malicious postings on her. Welcome to the harsh reality of show business, girls. Meanwhile the true Mayu fan continues to fight for her online. Mayu bumps into Shiho.

Episode 5
Shiho is not impressed she is back and she definitely won’t forget how Mayu caused them trouble. The new song for WUG is ready and Tange thinks of doing a live concert. However everyone else is not so sure because something like this happened before Tange ran away with the money. This time it’ll be different, she guarantees. But there is another bad news. I-1’s concert is scheduled on the same day with theirs! Yoshino takes the lead in organizing the songs they want to sing and since they have only 2, she feels they need to sing more. Of course with the other music genres the other girls suggest, it’s not going to cut it. Till Yoshino accidentally suggests singing songs from I-1. She apologizes but Mayu is okay with it. But she thinks they should show their own colours and there isn’t any need to sing their songs. Meanwhile the I-1 Spartan training regiment continues. It’s like they’re under the watchful eye of some MIB and they even have recording of those who are out of sync with the rest, immediately replay that part and tell her she’s out! You want to be part of this idol group?! Whereas out WUG are more casual although their practice seems to be ‘lonely’. They even have Anna and Karina point out their mistakes in which their dance choreography is indeed in a mess. Their promotion isn’t going too well either because the crowd snubs them unlike the I-1’s fancy promotion. Even if they aren’t there in person, you can see I-1 banners dominate. On concert day, I-1’s concert as expected is to a huge sell-out crowd. Compared to WUG… They can’t even fill a mini room. I think those fans are mostly Miyu’s maid cafe fans. Unlike I-1 giving a professional and entertaining performance, WUG make some silly mistakes, dropping the microphone, bumping into each other and Yoshino being nervous with her lines. At the end of the day, it was just depressing for them. You think Tange isn’t reading their atmosphere as she is feeling happy over their great performance. But she tells them off who are they to think they can compare with I-1? Those are pros. They aren’t ready yet. So don’t ruin the celebration mood. I think this just makes them more depress. Next day, she has them tour the theatre where I-1 is giving fans a handshake. The girls are in awe of their professionalism and feel dumb for getting depressed. Mayu goes up to shake hands with Megumi and ultimately Shiho who seem reluctant to extend her hand but does it anyway. Mayu tells her that she can finally come to like idols.

Episode 6
Tasuku Hayasaka approaches Tange and wants her to let him handle WUG. She is suspicious because he is the composer for I-1. However he claims that idol group doesn’t inspire him anymore. Matsuda is watching an interview of Hayasaka on TV, probably saying a few bad things when Tange brings the real person back. Oh sh*t! Tange and Matsuda remain suspicious and have him sign a contract for they do not want trouble despite assurances that he is willing to do it for free. He hasn’t told I-1 about this because he thinks it is best when somebody catches that guy off guard. It’s like everyone is always worried about how he feels. Besides, Hayasaka doesn’t belong to him and can work for whoever he wants. Tange doesn’t want this to look like they’re picking a fight with I-1 but he assures her that it is he who is the one who approached them. So the girls undergo Hayasaka’s own Spartan regiment. Weird poses to build their stamina. Can you seriously listen and reply in that pose?! There are a few conditions, though. Hayasaka will be their teacher and train them for free. This means they will have long trainings during weekends and for the second and fourth Saturdays, they will perform 3 live concerts to gain experience. Lastly, nobody can complain how he handles everything. In short, he is in full control of the girls. It is no surprise the girls are dead tired and at their limit. Maybe not so bad for Mayu since she got a little idol training previously. Hayasaka talks to Tange and Matsuda and he thinks of cutting off Airi from the group. Speaking of her, she is getting more tired by the day and spaces out during her jobs.

One rainy day after their usual lesson, Hayasaka has Airi stay back. Mayu waits for her while the rest who are already at their limit, leave first. Hayasaka tells it bluntly to Airi that she doesn’t have talent and may be suited to be part of the audience. If she wants to reconsider, now is the time. When Airi leaves, she wants to be left alone instead of walking back with Mayu. Meanwhile Shiraki explains to his army of idols about the small WUG concert held on the same day as theirs. How did he know? He analyzed the sold out tickets for I-1 and 3 didn’t turn up!!! THREE PEOPLE DIDN’T SHOW UP AND HE KNOWS! HE KNOWS!!!!!!!!!!!! However this is no laughing matter. He can see in no time this local countryside group will be a threat and wants them crushed. This guy is really insane. WUG is in their first back to back concert. Only 4 people turn up. Pathetic. Well, this is to gauge how much audience they can gather for the later show. But the first gig was a disaster. Airi knocks into the amplifier. It is no surprise Hayasaka doesn’t mince his words that kindergarten kids are better than them. Then he hints to Airi ‘there is still time’. On a lesson day, Airi didn’t turn up and her friends are worried since she is usually the early one. Plus, Hayasaka won’t conduct his lesson if all of them are not here. So when the big teacher comes in, the girls tell him Airi isn’t here yet. He gets it straight to them that the group doesn’t need Airi and is thinking of dropping her. Although the girls don’t like it, they are reminded that he has absolute power. He gives them a choice. If they are willing to cut Airi, the lessons will go on. Otherwise, they are all fired. Your answer in 10 minutes. And Airi is sitting all alone in her room. Still thinking…

Episode 7
Matsuda confronts Hayasaka that he has gone too far but Tange seems to agree with him (although she may not like it) that if the girls crumble under such pressure, they aren’t worthy to be idols. The girls are in a big dilemma. Furthermore, Yoshino as the group leader is forced to make a decision. Finally they decide. WUG is incomplete with Airi. Yoshino and Mayu will go bring her back while the rest go talk to Tange who in turn tell them they should go talk to Hayasaka since he is the one in charge. So when they find him playing the crane game, he has them get 3 dolls for him. It’s going to take some time but they won’t give up. I wonder how many coins they’re going to spare. Damn machine. Game over so fast. Airi helps out her dad’s confectionary store, which is of course a little weird. She’s never lend a hand before and suddenly here she is. Isn’t she always busy with her lessons? Dad knows… Yoshino and Mayu arrive at her doorstep. Airi’s confidence is rock bottom as you can tell from her speech that she’s beating herself up that she’s the lowest and most untalented among the group. She really thinks of quitting WUG so as not to trouble them anymore. Mayu feels the group is not complete without her and that thanks to Airi, she tried to become an idol again. Yoshino too give her piece of mind. Airi was the one who came up that if anyone of them had troubles, they should discuss them together. If they don’t, what is the purpose of this group? So after much discussion, they decide to bring her back at all cost. As her first order as leader, she wants her back. So emotionally charged that somehow I felt it turned into a crying contest between Yoshino and Airi. Meanwhile the other girls already complete their crane task. Because of that, Hayasaka changes his mind and will accept Airi back and continue their lessons. Although he is sick in watching amateurs pretending to be friends, that is the very think that he likes about them. Yeah, the close friendship thingy. You hardly see that in I-1, right? Now that Airi is back, she promises to make Hayasaka acknowledge him. However he says doing that won’t do her or them any good. They must make the ordinary public acknowledge them. And to do that, he has entered them in the Idol Festival 2014 contest.

Episode 8
Hayasaka has also written a song for them. They should learn it by their next lesson. Meanwhile Shiraki and I-1 are in their usual ‘training’. He mentions to them about the Idol Festival and wants them to crush them all. Then the usual cull list of those who make it and giving a stern warning for those who greeted him when he came in because they shouldn’t be distracted but focused on their singing and dancing. Some of the I-1 girls are talking about Hayasaka working for WUG and the amazing part is that he is working for free. Meanwhile Shiraki talks to Hayasaka and he knows that he is handling WUG. They know Mayu is the one pulling the other members along and if all goes well, WUG can turn out to be interesting. Matsuda and WUG are reading the ‘prize’ for winning Idol Festival (some big contract with a big record company). They need to practice their choreography while Hayasaka is away since he is busy with I-1 events for this few weeks. Later Nanami talks to Matsuda alone. She shows him the requirements for some hikarizuka music genre entrance exam. She doesn’t bat an eyelid saying she is just using WUG as a stepping stone for this and always intended to stop working with the group by then. On short, she won’t be able to participate in the Idol Festival which is held around this time. Matsuda is so dumbfounded… Oh no, what should he do? The other girls are at a cafe when the I-1 girls also patron it. Shiho talks to Mayu and knows her group is entering the festival. She reminds her that she was part of I-1 and if she is going to produce embarrassing results, she’ll damage I-1’s reputation and it’s better she don’t participate at all. If she’s coming, bring all they’ve got and she’ll crush them with all she’s got too.

Although there are many other smaller idol units, WUG receive quite an attention on the forums due to Mayu who was once I-1’s centre. After the girls practice their dance, Airi stays back to continue practising. Nanami asks her why she is working so hard. You know, not good at anything, trying to change who she is, not running away, being half-hearted, wanting to be a proper member instead of just a fan, etc. The girls show the results of their practice to Hayasaka. He isn’t impressed a bit. Even if Kaya notes they’re working hard, that’s where he tells them off that everybody is just doing that. What matters most is the result. After learning the average of 20 hours of practice they put in each week, he thinks it is appalling and nowhere near half of I-1’s practice hours. Of course putting in the hours isn’t just what counts, they must work 100 times harder. At this rate, they won’t even make it past the preliminaries. Mayu thinks they should continue practising and review their practice menu. She is worried because doing these half-hearted practices aren’t good enough and at this rate they won’t beat I-1. This causes a friction with Yoshino who thinks she joined WUG to beat I-1. Even so, it’s like she’s dragging them into it. Mayu denies that but Yoshino wants her to tell the truth why she quit I-1. Kaya breaks them up but the damage is done. Matsuda talks to Tange about Kaya’s suggestion for an overnight training camp. She thinks it’s a good idea to let off some steam but he is worried the group is falling apart at this rate.

Episode 9
Kaya’s aunt runs an inn at Kesennuma. Kaya talks to Mayu about her secret. She lost her parents when she was young and her aunt is like her mom. She lets her read some letter that hoped she would return. Kaya couldn’t make that decision and ended up idling around Sendai. She saw the audition for WUG and applied thinking it would be work-cum-fun. Of course it stopped being that since there were difficult and frustrating times. She also tells her about her childhood friend who kept telling her to challenge people stronger than her. In no time, she improved enough to beat him. That’s why she can’t walk away after losing to strong opponents and doesn’t think WUG can end up like this. Something in her keeps telling her to keep trying and she wants to work hard for those who can’t. Now it’s Mayu’s turn to tell her secret. When she said she wanted to make herself happy at the audition, it was probably because she couldn’t make others happy so at least that is what she wanted to do. Four years ago when she became part of the first generation of I-1 (starting out as a really small and modest club although Shiraki’s tough rules are still enforced), everything was exciting because it was a new experience. But the strict rules became harder to take and many girls would secretly cry. They felt restricted. When Mayu’s friend was dropped because she had a boyfriend despite she never neglected her lessons, Mayu went to confront Shiraki. That guy was uncompromising. He believes once you love other people than your fans, you stop being an idol and become some subhuman trash. Such existence is not needed in I-1. Remember, they are idols first and humans second. Probably Mayu was too rash that she broke his prized record. He then tells her the group will be releasing 2 singles simultaneously. Mayu will be the centre in one while Shiho handles the other. Whosever sales is the lowest will be fired. Mayu’s mom became upset that she angered Shiraki since everything will be lost if she is fired as she sacrificed everything for her. Of course Shiho’s sales top the charts that week and the rest is history. Then the scandal about Mayu seeing a guy was a trap to cover up. Her parents divorced subsequently. Mayu came back to her mom’s home in Sendai. She couldn’t give up on singing and dancing, the reason she wanted to give another try. Though she still holds a grudge against I-1, after learning a lot from everyone in WUG, she believes she can finally make herself happy. By this time everybody else has heard her. Naturally they reconcile and even good news, Nanami is touched by their resolve that she shreds her hikarizuka entrance exam requirement and will put all her effort in WUG from now on. But does she have to litter around? Now they have to pick it up…

Episode 10
WUG passed the initial screening for the Idol Festival and are under the Tohoku Block. Checking out the other competitors in their block, some look more like comedians. Oga Demons… Are they some sort of demon exorcist?! Don’t laugh! Tange warns them that such groups are the real threats because they have something unique that makes them stand out. This has her ask WUG what is it that makes them unique. So the girls ask various people at their jobs and fans at the concert but the answers are mostly on the individual. One night, Yoshino and Mayu stumble upon Oga Demons who are in town to check out their rivals. I’m not sure if they’re making a threat or just fooling around. I think it should be the former. Mayu goes back and wants to talk to mommy about how she feels. Basically, she’s saying she’s happier at WUG compared to her days in I-1 and is sorry for hurting dad and her. She tries to invite her to the festival but mommy doesn’t seem enthusiastic. She doesn’t care what her daughter does. Anna and Karina drop by to give WUG their outfits. About their question of their uniqueness, they think it’s best left decided to the people who see them perform. On the day of the concert, fans of all idol groups turn out in full force including those hardcore WUG guys. Not forgetting Minami’s old folks’ ladies too. Before the competition starts, Shiraki greets everyone via video conferencing and tells us about how it works. The winner of each block (the one with the highest votes from judges, online and offline polls) will get to compete in the final in Tokyo. All the idols strut their stuff on stage. Mayu sees her mom in the crowd and from her smile and tears, you can bet she is happy for her daughter. After all the votes are in, the winner of the Tohoku Block is… WUG! But of course. Oga Demons acknowledge their victory and hopes they will win the finals for them. Back at the agency, Tange gives Mayu the contract her mom came yesterday to sign Mayu to formally join the group. It’s a good sign that she has approved! Matsuda turns on the TV to see any news of Idol Festival. But what he sees is I-1 announcing their new single going on sale today. But isn’t that WUG’s song that Hayasaka wrote for them?

Episode 11
They think they’ve been had, since they can’t use this song anymore as there will be copyright issues. Then here comes that sneaky Hayasaka. He claims he has written a better song for them so he gave that one to I-1. But do they have time to learn a new song? He puts it this way. If they win this festival, they’ll be acknowledged as I-1’s rival and possibly be the best. Top idols can learn new songs and choreography in a day. Whether they win it is up to them. He appoints Yoshino to be the centre for this song. I guess there is only one way. Put in more hard work. I-1 girls are talking about WUG who made it through the preliminaries. Shiho thinks it is good because that way they can crush them and it won’t be much of the competition if WUG doesn’t do the same. As they talk about their new single that Hayasaka supposedly written for WUG, Shiho sounds like a paranoid that it didn’t give I-1 and advantage. In fact it might mean WUG doesn’t need that song anymore and have something more amazing for the finals. WUG has a sizeable amount of fans now. At least their mini theatre is filled. Even some of their classmates ask their autograph. WUG perform their new song and show to Hayasaka their effort. I’m not sure if he’s being sarcastic or something. But he delivers good advice because their job is to convince the audience and that no idol performance is ever perfect even though they strive for that. Yoshino made scrunchies for her members. That night, everyone packs up their stuffs, ready to leave for Tokyo. You wonder if they’re running away or something since their luggage… Anyway they have firsthand experience on how crowded Tokyo is. But the arena they’ll be performing in is damn huge! During rehearsal, nervous Yoshino trips on a wire. Then they see I-1 record their live performance. Just amazing. This is the reason why they are top idols. During the break, Yoshino checks her feet and her worst nightmare comes true. It is swollen! OMFG! I thought it was some sort of critical disease. Looks painful.

Episode 12
Yoshino panics but maintains her calm among her pals. However she spaces out a lot and during rehearsal she is off tempo. The others know something is wrong with her especially with her odd feet movements. She then lets them know and of course Yoshino’s choices are either she can continue or they go on without her. But she’s the centre… Mayu suggests they withdraw because WUG isn’t a whole without all 7 of them. Shiho heard it all and walks in. She won’t let them quit and calls a couple of nurses to bandage Yoshino’s leg. They did a good job to make it last for a few hours. Although not optimum, at least she can move better. WUG make some changes to their dance routine. As the finals begin, Shiraki starts ranting about America’s September 11 and its relation to entertainment and idols. I don’t give a f*ck about that and just start the show! When it is WUG’s turn to take to the stage, the entire arena is quiet. Everyone isn’t impressed that Mayu is back. But the small hardcore WUG fans didn’t give up and continue to cheer on them. So quiet the arena that their cheers sound so loud that it’s resonating. Slowly as WUG performs, everyone sees how good they are and start to cheer hard for them. See, you don’t judge a book by its cover. Yoshino may not be perfect in the jumping part may but the girls are ready to catch her when she almost loses her balance. At the end of their gig, the crowd is so impressed that they start chanting their name! WUG! WUG! WUG!!! It just brings a lot of tears to their eyes. Of course they do this at the backstage. Feel free to let those tears flow. Before the announcement of the results, I-1 performs as the special guest. Miyu notes that was where Mayu once stood but Mayu disagrees because her place will always be in WUG. So the results are in and the winner is… Not WUG! WTF?! Who the hell is Akamiso All Stars?! I guess they’re the better idols tonight. Mayu narrates about herself being happy because if one isn’t happy, they cannot make others happy. Back at the agency, Tange is scared to answer the phone because she counted her chickens and signed up for a bigger office. That call must be the real estate agency. Matsuda picks it up but it turns out to be a major recording label from Tokyo, Bivex. After watching them perform at Idol Festival, they like their performance very much and want to sign them up. Tange revives and the future looks bright for them.

Rise And Shine
Okay… That’s my verdict. Not the best there is but I suppose it was entertaining enough for me to sit through a dozen of episodes. At least they didn’t turn it into some musical where they will break into a song after every few minutes. That isn’t my type of show. For the first half of the series, it somewhat felt a little boring. Maybe it’s because we see them do small time gigs and not going anywhere that is going to make them epic megastars and overnight sensations. It is only when Hayasaka came into the picture, things finally picked up and got interesting since his very unusual ways start shaping WUG to the idols they become now. And now that they have become the best (almost), what is next? Maybe that is why the ‘cliff-hanger’ ending so that if there are lots of WUG converts in real life, they may make another season. I thought that the ‘consolation prize’ for them not winning the Idol Festival was that in return they caught the eyes of the people in Bivex. It could have been icing on the cake but you can’t be greedy and have your cake and eat it. In conjunction to the start of the TV series, this anime also had a movie released simultaneously and it chronicles how the girls of WUG were assembled (and how they got this name too). But as usual, I didn’t see it so I can’t really say much.

Characters play an important role in such genres but with idol units these days consisting of so many members that they can qualify to be a team of some sport, it is hard to say that all of them equally stand out. That is why in each group, there is a coveted centre position. You get all the attention. For this series, from what I can see it is mostly Yoshino and Mayu, the former being the group’s leader and the latter being the ex-member and centre of a currently popular band. Not to say that the other members do not stand out, although there are some episodes that give a little more focus to these other members such as Miyu’s maid cafe and Airi on the verge of being cut from the group, basically I feel that Yoshino and Mayu are the ones who hog more of the spotlight. It’s also great to see that each member isn’t perfect and have their own issues to deal with like Airi who feels she is the least talented, Nanami who puts her hikarizuka music first and of course Mayu’s own ghost of the past and bitter grudge against I-1. At the end of the day, they realize that all 7 of them make up WUG and no more, no less. Something that I believe Hayasaka saw in them because when you have an idol group so big and with enough members to form a mini country, you lose that tight close knit friendship and bond. It plays a vital role why they are able to perform and coordinate so well together not because the songs Hayasaka wrote are damn good. It is partly what the girls put in and their hard work pays off.

Speaking of Hayasaka, I think he is the best character in the series because of his uncanny approach in training the girls. His advice and words are very true and inspiring. Probably he is bored and lost interest after working with the best for so long so he needs to find something challenging. Why not raise and bring up a group of unknowns and let them shine on stage? That seems to be more challenging and interesting, right? Who cares about money and fame when there is nothing to motivate you anymore? Heh. I think only rich and famous people can say that after they have achieved that. Would Hayasaka be doing this for free if he isn’t loaded? My guess is that he won’t even be looking at any other idol groups if he isn’t wealthy as he is now. But I think Hayasaka really cares about WUG and when he threatened to cut Airi from the group, it was just his way to test them. I believe he wasn’t really going to drop her. Tange is quite a brash woman but I guess if you do not have such attitude in this dog eat dog world, you can kiss your agency goodbye. Otherwise she is surprisingly quite a good president with some well connections. Maybe she just needs to give up smoking. Unless that really calms her down in tense situations. I just can’t fathom how she really did ran away with the money at first and then come back again. She really must have such a thick skin. As for Matsuda, I feel that he is like for comical relief. In the sense that the way I see it, he is mostly useless thanks to his timid and inexperience as an idol manager. It’s like he is blur on just about everything as he relies on Tange for those decisions that are critical. Sometimes I feel the series can do without him.

Shiraki may look like the antagonist of the series since he does not show any emotion, which makes him look like a robot. At certain angles, I thought he looked like that character from the Three Stooges thanks to that haircut. Just an unfunny and perhaps ‘evil’ version of Moe? His guidelines are strict and to a point it may be considered inhumane enough to warrant human rights group to protest but if you think about it, he already laid down the rules to be followed strictly. So if you do not adhere to them or do not live up to his standards, out you go. There is no point wasting time on the weak because this way, stronger and better idols can be produced. That is why I-1 which started out as a modest unknown, now becomes the biggest popular idol group in Japan. Every girl who joined this group has their dreams. Some dreams come true but many others are just crushed. Just look at those auditioning hopefuls at American Idol. You’ll get the picture. Imagine if he is the lenient and happy smiley guy, you think the girls will take him seriously? If that happens, what will eventually be of I-1?

But the one thing that I still personally oppose is that idols are still human beings no matter how super or awesome they become. Sure, you are some perfect idol in the eyes of many but that is just in the entertainment industry. As the individual you are, you are still human no matter what deep down. Also, I do not believe that idols cannot have their own romance life. As long as they don’t shirk their duties, what is wrong with falling in love? Not to say that this is an issue in this series but there seems to be this perception that idols must stay single and pure. Sounds like the idols are some sort of possession and belonging by the fans? That’s why I find it baffling that people will come to hate an idol if she ever gets into such relationship. If this was the case in Hollywood in America, you have lots of single celebrities who can’t afford to date somebody or even get married because you might just earn the ire of your fans. Heck, maybe it’ll stem the high divorce rates too. Haha! So now Mayu has come back, I am not sure if Shiho is willing to bury the hatchet. From her expressions, it is not likely. As I can see, she won’t be satisfied till Mayu is out of this industry. But let them settle their battle and differences on stage.

I shouldn’t be touching on this subject but I thought this series was going to have fanservice when the first episode shows the girls flashing their panties in their debut concert. Here I am watching the episode and pondering if this is going to be a boring paced anime when suddenly, pantsu! Different coloured panties!!! WTF?! It’s like this stunt was bait to catch viewers’ attention and make you stay. You’re watching this show nice and quiet and suddenly the flashing makes you stop and go “Woah!” and you want to rewind that scene just to make sure that your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. But take note, this is the only panty flashing fanservice you’ll ever see for the rest of the series. If you don’t count that sleazy swimsuit one, that is. So it’s like teasing us with that first episode and the rest of the episodes are void of any fanservice whatsoever. In this sense, I guess they’ve done it well just to capture our attention. So sorry ecchi fans. Idols are supposed to be pure, remember? So don’t get your hopes up if you want to see some slips.

One thing that is a minus point for this anime is the art and drawing. It just feels plain and simple and sometimes uninspiring. WUG and the girls of I-1 of course look like your bishoujo idols but other minor characters like WUG fans and Minami’s grannies look plain. I did mention that Shiraki looks like a certain Three Stooges character, didn’t I? I guess it is for realism. Sometimes it is odd when you have pretty girls in the idols (maybe that is why they stand out) but the normal common people are somewhat ‘ugly. Of course if you compare to AKB0048 and Love Live, these animes are much flashier and vibrant in their colours whereas WUG is just, well, dull. Sometimes I get confused between Mayu and Yoshino because they look closely similar with nearly same hairstyles but thanks to their slightly different hair colour which makes them ‘distinguishable’. This anime was jointly produced by Ordet and Tatsunoko Productions. Maybe the art is plain because animes under them like Fractale, Senyuu and Black Rock Shooter have their art styles so. As for Tatsunoko Productions, they have been in the anime industry for quite a long time so they have many old titles (Tekkaman Blade series, Time Bokan series and Metal Fight Beyblade series) as well as new ones (Sket Dance, Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream and the new Yozakura Quartet series).

Just like the idol animes I have seen, the seiyuus of the characters in this anime are based on real idols in real life. Prior to the production of the anime, there was an audition held to find potential members of WUG. Therefore, the characters are named after their real life counterparts, at least their first name maintained and with all of them making their debut in voice acting in this anime (a handful did voice acting in one or two other animes). Some also looking close like their anime character. Duh? The other supporting characters are voiced by veteran seiyuus like Kana Hanazawa and Haruka Tomatsu as Anna and Karina respectively. Kenichi Suzumura as Hayasaka feels so much like his other sadistic anime character, Sougou from Gintama. So I thought he was really at home voicing this talented songwriter. Other casts include Yuka Ootsubo as Shiho (Kyouko in YuruYuri), Noriko Hidaka as Tange (Akane in Ranma 1/2), Shintarou Asanuma as Matsuda (Tsuda in Seitokai Yakuindomo) and Minami Tsuda as Megumi (Tsubaki in Ro-Kyu-Bu SS).

Music plays an important role in such genres as well as in real life. Honestly, although sounding like typical idol songs (cute, lively and filled with dance choreography), I just find them okay. I won’t go so far to say that they don’t sound appealing but it is one of those songs you hear for a while before you move on to something else. Enjoyable for the time being. Obviously the cast of WUG sings all the opening and ending themes with Tachiagare being the first opening theme while 7 Girls War as the second opening outfit. The ending theme felt a bit out of place. Kotonoha Aoba is a slow ballad and sometimes I thought there was some sort of high school graduation ceremony or maybe a funeral (touch wood!). Perhaps it is good that idols bring in a variety of music styles into their mix so it isn’t always the sunshiny cheerful type where you can dance and fans screaming their head away in support. On a trivial note, the real seiyuus and idols of WUG are seen reading their lines for the next episode preview. While a couple of them are reading at the might, a few of them behind would be doing some funny signs and gestures like as though they’re just fooling around.

As said, this idol anime may not live up to its flashier counterparts but at least this anime shows us some of the real life difficulties and issues faced by idols wannabes. Nobody said being an idol was a bed of roses. Just like anything else, it takes hard work and perseverance to reach that height. The real idol unit itself may have difficulties in maintaining as a group or stay relevant for a long period of time. Sometimes I feel being kawaii isn’t just really enough. Just like how having the passion to sing and dance aren’t enough although theoretically those are what is essentially and fundamentally needed. After all, idol groups are a dime a dozen and they come and go so fast that you hardly ever notice them. Some becoming one hit wonders and then turn into a distant memory of the past. I’m not sure if I have the right to say that since I am not really an avid idol fan. Maybe WUG in the anime did reach some sort of success but I am not too sure about that translation in real life. Can they sustain in the long run? I certainly hope that after rising and waking up nice and fresh, they won’t fall back to sleep again. Worse, an eternal deep slumber.

The boy band phenomenon hasn’t died out yet! Actually, it is more like the idol sensation. Can’t we ever get enough of them? So many idols today. A dime a dozen. So many idols come and so many go. But how many do we remember that leaves a lasting impact for the rest of our lives? How many of them have hits that will be evergreen? It’s testing times for our idol boys in Uta No Prince-sama Maji Love 2000%. Now that they have graduated from school with their superb debut concert, they will be making their debut in the real world. This is where the real challenge starts. Can they maintain their momentum and etch and leave an impact in the hearts of those who hear their songs? Well, even if their songs don’t make it, I’m sure that with such good looks, the girls will have their hearts melt like a hot knife through a hot butter. But seriously, they have such melodious voice, that it will be double treat for their fans, visual and aural candy. Looks good, sounds good and even act good. Wow, if this really was a reverse harem romance story, it will be a race to see which girl can marry any one or all of their ideal prince. Since this is not, let’s just enjoy the musical and adventure in store for them.

Episode 1
What a better way to start the series with Starish having a performance to their screaming fans. And it’s not just the 6 of them! Why, Cecil is part of Starish and that makes the boy band idol group to 7! As narrated by Haruka, they have already graduated and are taking their first step in the working world of show business. To support fresh graduates, Shining Agency has a system to support them called the Master Course. Haruka, Starish and of course her best friend Tomo are all under this programme. Haruka gets lost on her first day to the dorm she’ll be staying but I guess it is fated because it is somewhat an opportunity for her to meet the other Starish guys along the way. So people. Do you still remember Otoya, Sho, Natsuki, Tokiya, Masato and Ren? They still cherish our sole female and they are looking forward to work together again. Despite Starish will be living in the same dorm with Haruka and closer to her, the rule of forbidding idols to fall in love is still enforced. Haruka surprises everyone when she has written songs for each one of them to sing! That’s 6 of them! But our eccentric Saotome had to make his usual flashy grand entrance to remind them that even though they did well, reality is that many bloom splendidly but fade like fireworks. So in order to help them continue shining, he will be introducing someone important for this. And boom! Herald senior idol professionals as they dance their way and charm our newbies. It’s like magic, no? Hey! I thought there were 4 of them? Suddenly when the show ends, there are only 3? The trio will be assigned to Starish. Reiji Kotobuki gets Otoya and Tokiya. Ranmaru Kurosaki assigned to Ren and Masato. Ai Mikaze will have Sho and Natsuki. Guess what? The seniors (with the exception of Reiji) are not happy to have juniors and even view they won’t get far if they start relying on others. They don’t care about them. But our juniors tell them they aren’t doing this half hearted and are serious. Of course they won’t be a pushover and will work hard themselves too. All the seniors need to do is to observe them. Also, the seniors will be living with their assigned juniors and this means the latter’s space and all are reduced to a miserable corner. That night when Haruka unpacks and sees the clover leaf memento she got from Cecil, she heard the sound of Kuppuru meowing outside. This leads her to meet Cecil again and he is pleased they have reunited as he kisses her hand.

Episode 2
Cecil thanks her for saving him. Her songs she writes did so. He’s been waiting for a day like this to come. Before things can get steamier (Cecil touching her all over), Haruka wakes up from her dream. She is called to Saotome’s office and he requests her to write another song like Maji Love 1000%. Haruka says she didn’t really come up with that song herself and a prince in her dream who taught her. Well, would Ringo believe that? Ah, such a romantist. Outside, Haruka and Starish hear a very nice and warm singing voice. It leads them to Cecil hanging out on a tree branch. And this is not a dream. Because Cecil is touching Haruka like a romantic, our jealous Starish rush to pull him away and protect their Haruka. Yeah. Who needs the extra competition, right? Again, Saotome barges him to introduce Cecil as the Prince of Agnapolis, the land of music. A real prince, huh? And starting today, he will be a member of Master Course! Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. So some of our Starish guys are not so happy to welcome this dude. Cecil is like playing fortune teller because he can tell their personality and what awaits them in the future. All good readings, though. Haruka reveals that Cecil was the one who advised her to choose all of them during that graduation audition and thus the person responsible for forming Starish. They won’t be here if it had not been for him so she hopes they could have some faith in him. However Cecil isn’t interested in becoming an idol. All he wants is to combine his poetry with the music she writes and sing. His family have been serving the Muses for generations and her music has guided him here. He shocks everyone by confessing he loves Haruka! No shame in doing that? Yeah well. Starish was so reserved in saying those magic words and this new guy just comes along and easily says it right in her face? Before he could get close to her again, Starish pulls him away.

Count of the Silk Palace, Camus makes his frosty entrance. He has been assigned to be Cecil’s senior. Cecil rejects him but Camus reminds him this is necessary if he is to stay in this course. Plus, can an amateur like him compare himself to a professional? Cecil is confident that the Muses are smiling on him and can sing better than everyone. Everyone! Wow. Such confidence. They have their first special idol training. It’s some sort of twisted and bigger version of karuta. Shouldn’t they be battling with songs? As Camus puts it, they’re too inexperienced for that and must start with the basics. Cecil vows to win and prove his love for Haruka so this gets Starish motivated to win too. Haruka will read the cards and the juniors need to run and grab the correct cards. Cecil outruns everyone. Man, he is fast. But because of his unfamiliarity in kanji, he picks the wrong cards. The final card seems to be hanging on a tree. Cecil gets there first. Sho shakes the tree and this throws him off and falls into the river. Seems this guy has a fear of water and fish! Well, the water is only ankle deep… You can stop pretending to be drowning now… He runs away after he sees a fish out of water. To the horror of everyone, Cecil is seen napping inside the dorm. He still doesn’t respect Camus so he drags the prince away to make him learn some respect. Starish comments they have an unbelievable kid among them but couldn’t have imagined what would have happened had he won the training. That night, Cecil visits outside Haruka’s window. Because he lost to Camus, he will obey him. He was also told romantic relationships are forbidden here and laments she saw his embarrassing side today. Though the song he sang today was wonderful, singing to him is as natural as breathing. All he wants is to sing the song she writes.

Episode 3
Sho is happy that he has been selected to play a big role in Ryuuga’s movie. Don’t worry, he won’t be cross-dressed like a girl again. A real manly role this time. Saotome comes in. He heard they rejected their seniors and reminds them about that fading thingy again. In that case, he wants them to claim this title called Utapuri Award that is only granted to brilliant new idols. This title will open their path to be a true idol. Tokiya notes what Saotome is saying isn’t entirely wrong because Starish is not as popular as they think. The quickest way to be an established idol is to get that title. Of course it won’t be easy or just about CD sales. Everything in what they do is taken into account and each individual will also affect the overall performance. Sho is at the movie set and is excited to be co-starring with Ryuuga. He profusely thanks him that his dream came true. However Ryuuga tells him off to stop acting like an amateur because they’re already professionals. They should be rivals instead. This jolts Sho’s confidence but this doesn’t stop him from doing his best. Till the ultimate scene that he needs to jump quite a distance. Because Ryuuga’s words are still ringing in his ears, he fails. Sometimes I think that it is partly of his short stature… He tries again but fails. The only option is to use a stuntman but Sho pleads for another chance. Ryuuga talks to the director. Sho works hard as the rest notice how hard he is pushing himself and not relaxed. Next day, Natsuki brings Cecil along to the movie set so they can help Sho relax. The training continues but Sho is still unable to meet that required distance. At the end of the day, Cecil takes Natsuki away because there is nothing more they can do for him. That night, Haruka comes looking for Sho at the set to bring his new clothes. I don’t know how she ended up on the wrong high end of the set. She realizes it is too high and almost lost her balance. However she wants to save the bag she brought for him! WTF?! She would risk her life for that?! Because of that, she is hanging precariously for her life! Sho’s desire to protect her makes him do the impossible. The leap of faith! Manliness! He manages to jump across and pulls her up. He hugs her and is worried if anything should happen to her. Haruka’s words later calms Sho and made him realize something. Next day, the shooting continues. Everyone rejoices when Sho successfully jumps and reach the other end. Ryuuga then shakes his hand and apologizes for pushing him away when he was admiring him. He is a true man now. Sho is grateful he learnt a lot. Later Sho talks to Haruka and tells her he was singing the song she wrote for him during the shoot. It calmed him and thanks to her words, she is able to be his usual self. Nobody understands him better than she does. He will be an idol who doesn’t forget what it’s like to be a fan. Haruka wants to join his fan club (if he forms it) so he gives her his hat as certificate of membership.

Episode 4
Masato will be auditioning for a historical musical play and thinks of using Haruka’s song. If Masato is successful, Starish will be one step closer in obtaining Utapuri Award. The rest of Starish start fantasizing their own period drama. But the most hilarious one has got to be Tokiya acting as Masato’s lover! Yup, that is going to be the main scene. Masato needs to embrace passionately. Obviously he has problems of hugging a girl he will just meet despite this is just acting. He doesn’t think he needs help but he looks obviously troubled. He visits his grandpa’s grave and remembers some of his words about performing arts. It is not something to be done alone but to be made together with those performed with, being supported with and those watching. Camus visits Haruka’s room and gets all clingy over her. Could have gotten steamier had he not spot that clover memento. Haruka treasures it a lot so this prompts Cecil to ask what is so great about them. They sparkle and make her want to watch them forever. Cecil thinks she is their prisoner. When Masato returns, he finds the rest of Starish preparing to help him out in his practice. Tokiya willingly dresses up as a lady for that embracing part since he has the most experience in acting! Cecil is brought in to watch the practice. Masato of course still has problem with the hugging scene, so much so Tokiya even starts doubting if his own acting was perfect. If it was, Masato would have embraced him, right? Or maybe too perfect that Masato sees him as a woman! Or don’t want to gay? Cecil suggests asking Haruka (since she is a girl and they can use her instead of a guy to act) and would you believe it, nobody thought of that? But Masato doesn’t want to bother her and will think of something himself. That night, Cecil talks to Masato and the latter explains how a fateful meeting with a certain girl led him to this path. Cecil says if he imagines the other actor as the girl she likes, he will easily embrace her. Masato remembers grandpa’s words that a good actor enters the world of dreams with his audience and enjoy the fleeting dream together. Masato’s mind is clear now and knows what to do. It is Masato’s turn at the audition and he performs so brilliantly and ends the clincher with the passionate hug (he uses visualization of Haruka as his motivation). The judges are so impressed that they are moved! Needless to say, he passed. Haruka congratulates him as he thanks her. He wants her to come watch the play once the date is decided. Cecil realizes that Haruka is the girl he loves but is puzzled he won’t confess his feelings to her despite being so close. It’s not because of the forbidden idol love thingy but because those feelings are important to him, he cannot say them. He is connected to her through the bond of music. By singing her songs, he believes he is firmly bound to her.

Episode 5
Cecil somewhat ends up in the same variety show as Otoya. He does an impression of Saotome, which sends the female audiences bursting into laughter. He’s so spot on! Haruka got lost on her way home from an errand. But this causes her to stumble upon an orphanage whereby she sees Otoya being flocked by the kids. After introducing herself (to dismiss accusations she’s a suspicious person as the kids pointed out for sneaking around), Otoya explains that his mom died when he was young and never knew his dad. This is a place he called home so he sometimes stopped by here. He tells her they’re going to do a bazaar for the festival. Also… A haunted house. Can this work? The kids tease Otoya and Haruka as an item. Flustering time. The duo stay behind and help the kids setup their haunted house. They also become their first test subject. Couples must go through the haunted house together, right? So young and they already know these kind of stuffs. It is somewhat a little emotional roller coaster ride. One moment Haruka is scared to be in the haunted house, the next she flusters to be next to him. But when he holds her hand and takes her through the dark corridor, she felt calm and warm. At the end of the passage, the room turns into a bright, colourful and happy place. There is a note from the kids expressing their thanks. Haruka notes Otoya has always been their family since he is kind, cheerful and warm. She is glad to have come here and felt she has understood him better than before. Otoya wanted to confess something but it’s taking too long so the puppet ghost Cecil made sprung down and scared the daylights out of them. I guess that scream is proof of success. Cecil too had lots of fun and hopes tomorrow there’ll be lots of customers. However come tomorrow, not a single soul at the bazaar! Turns out there is a flea market nearby. To cheer the depressed kids up, Otoya starts singing. And what do you know? His lovely voice attracts customers to the bazaar! Wow! Hey… Noticed most of them are females? Otoya thanks Haruka for the song she wrote for him but she credits it to his singing power that gives everyone strength and energy. The rest of the Starish guys soon drop by to help out. Dressed in coloured bear outfits? Later, Haruka hands Saotome several songs she wrote. But instead of choosing one of them, he wants her to write more because this is a battle of numbers. The more she writes, there is one that is bound to be a hit.

Episode 6
Ren has been invited to participate in a famous fashion show, Japanese Boys Collection. It is a show that not only has professional models but singers and actors taking on the catwalk featuring real clothes for young men. However Ren is not too thrilled because the sponsor of this event is his family’s conglomerate and his older brother whom he is not seeing eye to eye right now, Seiichirou is the CEO. Of course Ren’s pondering has him stumble upon Haruka writing her songs. Their usual talk. Thanks to their meeting, they changed and would not have become the person they are today. Haruka notes how his song heats up her heart. I hope he doesn’t get the wrong idea about this. Once the show is over, he wants to sing it to her and give it back with full of love. Did Haruka understand that? Ren also bumps into Cecil and he tells how he was forced by Seiichirou to join Saotome Academy to become the company’s poster boy. Haruka meets up with Tomo at the fashion show. Ironically, all the audiences are females… Cecil is also there and he knows a lot about Tomo because he knows everything about Haruka. Get it? Tomo got the wrong idea and warns him not to do anything funny to Haruka. As the show starts, the girls are already screaming. And when Ren takes the stage, the screaming decibel just increased. It’s a scream fest! The more he poses, the louder! Suddenly the place blacks out. As the people are starting to panic, Ren remembers Haruka’s words and calms the crowd down. He is going to sing for them and light up their hearts. I hope it’s not a pun because it is dark or something. Haruka instantly gets the message so she rushes down in hopes she can play his CD but was stopped by the guards. Seiichirou happened to be there and when he learns she is Starish’s composer, he immediately takes the CD and dashes to the hall’s operator room, the only place where the other PA is still working. It looked like a funny scene, him trying to run there but tripped (how the heck this happened? I thought girls only look cute in this) and how he slam dunked the CD into the player once he reaches the room. Ren begins singing and it’s like everybody had some sort of automatic candle in their hearts as it lights up the dark hall! Wow. Magical. At the end of the day, Ren thanks Haruka and was even going to kiss her. But seeing her so innocent, I guess he isn’t going to spoil her and wait till she grows up. Seiichirou comes in to talk to him. Ren notices he hurt himself trying to play his song. But Seiichirou didn’t do this because he is CEO. He did it for him because he always loved his songs. It wasn’t his parents that supported him but his songs. They have the ability to draw people but that isn’t the reason he wanted Ren to become the company’s poster boy. As he was rebellious back then, he couldn’t think of any other way to tell him about joining the academy. Ren realizes he has been watching him and his grudge for forcing him to join the academy subsides.

Episode 7
Natsuki gets an offer for an advertisement. The kind that needs to be strong and manly. Natsuki? Strong? Manly? Unless you’re talking about… SatsukI! Fearing this might happen, Sho and Haruka reveal to the other guys about Natsuki’s dark alter ego. Since Sho is busy on the shooting day, he has Haruka accompany him. Natsuki shows her the lyrics he wrote for the song. She is impressed that it is overflowing with lots of strength. However he doesn’t feel so and it’s like there’s someone protecting him all his life. He wants to grow stronger. As the shooting starts, Natsuki doesn’t seem to be in the groove. During the break, Haruka encourages him that he could do it. He gets a little motivated and thinks of taking of his glasses like the cameraman suggested. No, wait. Oh sh*t!!! Hello Satsuki. He’s back! He didn’t hesitate to get rough with Haruka and claims he will protect Natsuki especially from people like them whom he considers as most dangerous. Flashback reveals some teacher gladly wanted to help Natsuki write a song but when he does, she stole it and disappeared. Satsuki was born out of his despair and will stand in for him. Satsuki wants to force kiss her but Sho and the rest come in to check on things. Upon seeing him without glasses, they go into alert mode trying to put it back on him. His piercing stares are deathly! You’d get scared the moment he looks back at you! Satsuki is like a monkey. In terms of agility. Nobody can put the glasses back on him. Not even calling Ren and Tokiya as back up. Not even their hot guy combo can do it. Now it’s Haruka’s turn. When Satsuki tries to go back to the shoot as Natsuki’s replacement, Haruka tries persuading him to have faith. Then she shows the lyrics Natsuki wrote. These are his feelings and she hopes he could protect them. He is trying to change and become stronger. Satsuki is puzzled that he is trying to change without him looking and always thought he would be fine as long he is around. So happen, Cecil just came in. Wearing cool shades. Satsuki now understands why Natsuki likes her and takes Cecil’s sunglasses and put them on! The shoot continues and Natsuki is oozing with hot and wild pheromones! That’s not the sissy boy we know! But he’s cool! In the end, Natsuki thanks Haruka for her help and the shoot was a success. The other guys wonder if he has changed. Fundamentally, no. Haruka thinks Satsuki must have understood Natsuki’s strength and hence the change affected the latter. Lastly, though it may be late, Haruka hands Cecil her personal she song she wrote for him.

Episode 8
The gang are brought to the agency’s villa for some respite. Last time it was an island of their own, right? Now we’ve got a cabin kingdom in the lush jungle! How big is Shining Agency? But Haruka continues to work on writing more songs but feels something is still lacking. Haruka gets some motivation when Starish leaves a card with words of encouragement. Starish finds out Haruka has written a song for Cecil and gives him support and to ask them for anything should he need help with the lyrics. But Cecil feels lost. Viewing Haruka as always important, she gave him lots of love and saved him. He was freed from his curse by the power of her music. He wants to return the favour, the reason he entered Master Course. So when Haruka happened to pass by, Cecil instantly hugs her! He can’t hold back his feelings anymore. He came here to make her happy but he can’t forget the smiles of other people too. He wants to see all kinds of smiles and not just hers. He wants to be an idol and make people happy. Did I hear that right? Haruka relays this good news to Starish and though they are surprised of his turn around, they are glad he has finally decided to become one. Cecil uses the power of the Muse to write him the lyrics. Seeing Starish in their work made him realize how wonderful it is to be an idol. He feels grateful to them and starts singing. His beautiful voice echoes through the area and everyone heard it. Starish even joins in the singing. At the end, they notice how good they sound together. That’s when Cecil realizes the Muse’s lyrics contain a hidden meaning. It wants him to sing with others and not alone. Haruka also realizes it was Cecil’s voice that is missing from her songs and hopes he could join Starish so she could write more wonderful songs. The rest agrees seeing they want to find out if this harmony is indeed genuine. When Cecil returns to his cabin, he sees a letter from his king. He has learnt Cecil’s curse has been lifted. He wants him to return to Agnapolis now since he plans on passing the crown to him. Camus sees Cecil alone leaving that night.

Episode 9
Morning comes and everyone is so excited that they couldn’t sleep last night. However they are shocked when Camus tells them Cecil has returned to Agnapolis. But they feel something odd. Why did he leave behind his music sheet and pendant? Is he trying to forget everything that has to do with music? Starish starts thinking the good fellow Cecil is (cue for some previous episode clips). No point feeling sad about it so Haruka pounds her piano away to compose a new song. She completes it and gives it to Starish. They really want to sing it but can’t do so without Cecil. While they believe and wait for his return, they will write their share of the lyrics. All that is left is Cecil’s portion when Saotome makes his flashy entrance. He has decided the song Starish will sing from the bunch written by Haruka. Haruka wants him to hold his horses and mentions about the newly composed song that would sound good with Starish and Cecil. However Saotome says Cecil has returned to his kingdom and is living a new life. So forget about him. Even if Cecil is here, Saotome won’t accept it because Starish have been nominated for the Utapuri Award. He won’t allow anything to jeopardize that so any further crazy request from them, he will decline their nomination. They remain stubborn and will believe in Cecil. Saotome is about to announce the unfortunate news of making them spectators for the award when Cecil skydives from a plane! WTF?! With a loud speaker in hand, he tells Saotome to listen to this beautiful harmony otherwise he will regret it. So our gang starts singing this song (which is the ending theme) and this sends everyone listening being wrapped in some harmonious wave! Such ecstasy! Such happiness! Guess what this song is called? Maji Love 2000%! But of course. At the end, everyone is amazed how good the 7 of them sound together. Cecil expresses he wants to continue singing with them and bring more smiles to others. He also admits he was jealous about the bond Haruka had with the other guys but the rest are cool with it. Cecil requests Saotome to make him part of Starish. Since Saotome has heard this happiness and can’t let this chance slip, he makes Cecil part of the brand new Starish. Rejoice! He is about to get down to work for some diplomacy thingy but no need for that because Cecil has brought a scroll as proof from the king himself, permitting him to be part of Starish! How? Reiji sent the music sheet to Agnapolis out of curiosity. Wow. Snail mail so fast? I believe he didn’t send it via internet either. Suddenly an announcement is made. There are 2 idol groups who will be vying for Utapuri Award. Of course Starish is one of them and the other half is the 3-member group, Heavens.

Episode 10
The live broadcast is switched over the Heavens’ concert. When asked about their nomination, Eiichi Otori becomes arrogant. He is not pleased that they are being compared. The rest of the group members include taciturn Kira Sumeragi and cutie brat Nagi Mikado. Just hear the girls screaming in the background… Of course Starish also gets their live broadcast. Right now? I guess that’s why Ringo and Ryuuga tag along with Saotome. Soon Saotome hijacks the interview and introduces Cecil as the new member of Starish. Wow. I think they might have raked in a few new fans seeing how some of them are already swooning over this new guy. I never noticed this but with Cecil completing Starish, it seems their initials are the ones that make up the group’s name. Now it’s Raging Otori’s turn to barge in. He is the big boss of Raging Entertainment, the industry’s greatest agency and Heavens’ creator. He is also Eiichi’s father. You can tell Raging and Saotome are big rivals. Saotome throws down a challenge that their groups will sing the same song written by the same composer. That’s right. Haruka! He throws him all the songs Haruka has written and gives them the freedom to rearrange or do anything with it. Is that why he asked her to write so many songs? Raging agrees to do it so as the expose their differences and also announces that if Heavens lose, they will disband. Because his agency doesn’t need losers. Saotome also agrees that if Starish loses, they will disband. What?! No way! Think of all the fan girls out there having a heart attack now. What happens if you’re fans of both?

Due to this shocking announcement, the media makes big changes in their schedule to do special focus on both the groups. Tomo sees Haruka and Starish to give her support. They talk about Raging and Saotome’s rivalry that goes back a long time ago. Raging was the top idol before Saotome came along. Haruka spaces out due to the dilemma but Starish is confident they will win. Cecil thanks Camus for everything and though the latter feels he doesn’t have anything to do with this, Cecil disagrees since he was the one who taught him the basics of becoming an idol. Had it not been for him, he would never have been one. Also, Cecil didn’t abandon his throne, he is merely postponing it. Starish just finish their recording and as they exit, they come face to face with Heavens. Nagi didn’t mince his words to mock them all. So arrogant this little guy that it’s just annoying. After learning Haruka is their composer, Eiichi riles up the guys by putting his hand on her and wants her to become their composer. Eiichi loves to see those upset faces of Starish and wants to see more of their expression. He is bloody confident both the award and Haruka will be theirs. This motivates Starish to do better to protect Haruka. Meanwhile Tokiya is still having problems with his ‘assignment’. I take it as the song Haruka wrote for him. So he is practising singing it outside in the gardens late in the night so he can make it a song he can be proud of. He sees Haruka ahead but with a gloomy expression.

Episode 11
Saotome wants Tokiya to appear in an advertisement so as to draw in as many fans. Meanwhile Haruka is burning the midnight oil just to pen and arrange her songs. Not hitting anything, isn’t she? The guys know Haruka is trying to shoulder everything herself and wish there is something they can do for her. Haruka has written a bunch of songs and shows them to Ringo. Although she is impressed she feels it lacks some sort of excitement. Seeing Haruka gloomy, Tokiya wants her to come to a certain place where he will sing his song. That place is in the streets where she first met Hayato. And soon Tokiya starts singing on screen. All the girls just went wow over his new song. Because of that, they didn’t realize he is disguised among the crowd as he takes Haruka away to a nearby festival. So they have fun and she feels better. Later Tokiya reveals the need to change something to sing that song. As he has always been curious of Hayato, he was born within him and needed to accept him as part of himself just to sing this song. Haruka is amazed he has been working hard all this time (hasn’t everybody else too?). Though Haruka is determined to write a song that will beat Heavens, Tokiya calms her down. He says he loves the music of her true self. Those words were what Haruka once said to him. He took those words to heart and promised to use his voice to make others happy. Thanks to her, he is now here. Haruka breaks down upon realizing she lost sight of her goal (to write songs for the happiness of others and not to beat somebody in some competition). Great chance for Tokiya to offer his words of comfort-cum-encouragement and to also not shoulder everything by herself. So as not to make Tokiya hog the limelight, we have the other Starish guys start their group singing for Haruka. It’s the only way they know they could do for her. They wanted to let her know how much they care for her. This time Haruka breaks down into tears of joy. She will put all her feelings into her arrangement. And to top off the night, we have a lovely fireworks display. Isn’t this just perfect?

Episode 12
Haruka has written great songs for Starish and now it’s up to the guys to put in the lyrics. Ringo and Tomo have made costumes for them too. As Starish begins their dance practice, it seems Cecil only knows how to spin around. It’s the sacred dance called Agnadance. Apparently princes are taught how to dance when he is old enough and it is to pay tribute to the Muses. It’s the only dance he knows. Just great. They have no trouble sounding good together but they didn’t foresee this problem. Don’t worry. Sho will personally teach him. To think that he is the one most loggerhead with him to be teaching him dancing. We take a side distraction to Starish’s seniors. Camus talks to Ranmaru about Ai’s strange behaviour. Ever since they heard Maji Love 2000%, they have been acting strange especially Ai who is watching Starish practice without orders from Saotome. He never cared about others before. And Reiji, he is already quite carefree and he is even more so while believing in Starish. Though Camus stops short of saying he is affected. Oh, really? He also notices Ranmaru also acting strange. Not wanting to admit? Anyway, he thinks back how the band he was in broke up despite being friends. Haruka and Starish come to peep on Cecil working hard on his dance. Looks like their worries were for nought. Next day, it is the final showdown for Utapuri Award. As Haruka makes her way back from the studio, she bumps into Heavens. As arrogant as ever. They force her to follow them so they can show her their rehearsal and a fantastic dream. They are put a stop by Ranmaru who tells them to settle it via their songs. They are confident the match is already settled. Ranmaru asks her what friends mean to her. People who feel each other’s passion up close. She’s not talking about sex, right? Whoops! Sorry, my bad. The performance gets underway but first without the big bosses of both agencies laughing like mad men. Heavens kicks off the night with a sterling performance. I wonder if they are singing a musical or doing some action adventure fantasy because the effects must be so superb that a blue dragon is blowing flames to everybody! And the girls just go wilder and wilder! In the end, everybody is amazed at their performance. Even Haruka and Starish themselves. Oh no. Looks like they’ve got an uphill battle.

Episode 13
Eiichi is cocky in his after-performance comments. He thinks this competition is a waste of time since the outcome has been decided a long time ago. Counting his chickens, eh? He revs up the crowd and wants to perform their own concert right now. I guess those screaming girls don’t mind. Meanwhile backstage, Raging is thanking Saotome that because of this, it empowered Heavens a lot. On the other hand, Saotome is also grateful that his experiment worked out. He wanted to see if Haruka’s song would disappear when others arrange it but it didn’t. It proves that Haruka is one of those few who possess the Happy Pulse. Those who hear her music will be sent into the kingdom of happiness. Saotome has been experimenting and trying to capture this wave and although he only has a little, it was enough for this experiment. Raging thinks he has gone mad and no longer views him as a threat. While Starish is worried if they can match up to Heavens’ act, here comes Heavens just to further mock them and claim Haruka as theirs. However Haruka asserts she will always be Starish’s composer no matter what. She believes they can sing her songs more wonderfully than anyone else. Wow. So much confidence. If that doesn’t move Starish, I don’t know what. In short, Haruka rejected Eiichi. And so Starish vow to do their best and sing for their fans and deliver their music to them. Starish bursts onto stage with some kung fu and acrobatic moves and just like the opening scene, Maji Love 2000% has the fans screaming along. At the end of the song, everyone is suddenly engulfed in white lights! Those are the happy waves?! Even the enemy can’t contain their happiness! It feels so gay… Everyone spinning to the stars while they are wrapped with white lights that ecchi fans would think it’s some sort of light censor.

So happy that everyone has been brought to the edge of the universe! It’s resonating throughout the universe!!! Will the aliens here it and be brought to their knees too? JUST WOW!!!!!! Such shocking happiness!!! It’s a miracle!!!! Even Starish couldn’t believe how much happiness and warmth their song brings. And with everyone recovering from the happiness, it’s time to judge who is the winner. While the votes are still counting, Raging then hops onto stage and I thought he was going to admit defeat. He didn’t. He’s just here to tell his Heavens about the desire to make others happy with music. The results should be obvious after seeing Starish perform. The final votes are in and Starish wins! Heavens can’t believe they lost. That’s what you get for being arrogant. Raging announces their disbandment. But wait! To show how angelic our Starish guys are, they plead not for Heavens to disband. Because in music there is no winning or losing. Besides, can you hear all the fan girls screaming and crying not for those hot trio to disband? Saotome comes in and he says that the winner also has other ‘prizes’. One of them being any wish will be granted for the victor. This means Heavens need not disband! Hooray! Raging accepts Saotome’s proposal because he doesn’t want to owe him anything and will return the favour to him one day. Of course Heavens doesn’t think this is over and Starish says the same too. It’s just the beginning. Starish also wants to do another performance. This time they sing the song that started it all! Oh yeah! Maji Love 1000%!!! Not only is Cecil is singing with them this time, the entire audience. And this includes Haruka, Tomo, Ringo, Camus and the rest, Heavens and Raging with Saotome. Just everybody! Wow. That song brings everybody together. Oh yeah. People, are you ready? I said, are you ready?! Let’s sing along!

Sing, And The World Sings With You!
And so as expected, Starish becomes the most famous idol band around. They even defeated their main cocky arrogant bastard rivals and at the same time show mercy. Isn’t that great? Yeah well, like they said, it isn’t about winning or losing but in reality, that isn’t really going to happen. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and you need to stay on top if you are going to be relevant in the hearts of the people for a long time. Because you know, even despite the millions of female fans screaming Starish or Heavens’ name, I bet that if there is some other hot idol group that pops out, they would quickly shift allegiance. Well, I won’t totally say that they would be abandoning Starish or Heavens for good but they’ll just be thrown into one dusty corner while they focus all their screaming attention to the new one. Yeah. I think it’s like that. The only thing that I tried predicting for this season’s ending and didn’t come true is that Heavens didn’t join Starish after their defeat. Woah. That’s like 10 hot guys in a group, right? That’s nothing compared to Super Junior… In the event if they do join up, I think fans of both divide will be very pleased. Overjoyed in fact. Now they don’t have to pick which one is superior and they can love them both the same as one. And while at it, I think I have come up with a new name for them: Starry Heaven! Haha!

I felt that the seniors for Starish are somewhat redundant. The only reason I can think of is to add more handsome and good looking bishonen to the list. We don’t really see them act like seniors since they don’t really enjoy working with others. Heck, they don’t even have any decent screen time besides their debut as we mostly see Starish left to their own devices. Maybe they did something together in the background but from the way I see it, Starish and Haruka made it by their own efforts and the seniors have nothing to do with it. So when I thought that these seniors in the fray, maybe they will have a dedicated episode each just like how Starish have theirs with Haruka last season and also for this one. But nope. Just hanging around, watching their juniors, not very pleased. What’s the point? Even if Saotome assigned them to it but since they didn’t do much, it feels like they’re wasting their time, right? With the exception of Reiji, the rest are just snobs and arrogant. They don’t even work with each other so it bugs me how come they are successful idols. Unless they’re just putting up a façade in front of their fans and return to their sullen mood once it’s over. That’s not good right? So with the penultimate episode, just to show us that they are totally not jerks, we see them changed after hearing Starish’s new hit. They started caring and although if it is just a little, it is better than they never did in the beginning. Yeah. Even the seniors eventually learnt something from their juniors. Heck, even Cecil too started changing. From someone who boldly gets physical with Haruka and stating early intentions of never wanting to be an idol, looks like even a prince can grow up and do things for the sake of other people’s happiness. Is this the miracle that is Haruka? No. I think this is Haruka and Starish together. You could say she changes the lives of others that she touches. An angel? It depends how you want to view it all.

The only reason I can think of that the guys in Heavens (Eiichi and Nagi in particular. Kira feels like a robot…) are being made so proud and spiteful is to make us viewers support for Starish. This is after all their anime series. Imagine if these set of trio are nice guys like their counterparts, I’m sure viewers would be torn as to who to support. With their boastful and overconfident outlook, it only makes the victory for Starish at the end sweeter. Their downfall teaches us never to count your chickens before they hatch and also to be humble. After all the confident boasting and what they said, it’s just a big smack in the face that they lost, right?  But something in me tells me another reason why their bad behaviour is a blessing in disguise for Starish. In order to improve oneself, you need to have a villain to push you forward, right? So did Heavens unwittingly play the villain part so that Starish could get all the will and determination to do their best? I am sure they will even if they weren’t but with Heavens being such a$$hole$, there is that motivation to do even better because you know, Haruka is at stake. Of all the characters, the best still goes to Saotome because of his colourful and flashy expressions. There is never dull moment when that guy is around and despite his playful appearance, he has got a deeper and serious intention behind it all. Raging could have been on equal eccentric with Saotome but when you see a guy in shades, fur coat and smoking a big bad cigar, the owner of a cocky idol, well, you’re going to think he is the big bad boss for this anime. Well, even he too was humbled. Nobody stays at the top forever.

As usual the story and flow of this season is somewhat predictable and the challenges didn’t really feel, well, challenging. Like how Starish was first assigned to seniors but as mentioned, they didn’t really play an active role in their development even if they were just told to observe them so it was forgettable. Thus for the first half of this season, we see the usual Haruka and one of the Starish guys having their focus episode (also to showcase the individual songs that Haruka wrote for them). Seriously, I don’t really feel the impact that their relationship has deepened because from the last season they have gotten really close enough and we know their relationship is like that so with such focused episode, the impact isn’t just there. Of course this time Cecil has got his own episode but by that time, I was wondering if they forgot to put in Tokiya’s because of the little issues that cropped up such as Cecil leaving for Agnapolis and the Utapuri Award that pits them against Heavens. Of course eventually they can’t really forget about this guy that Haruka once loved as Hayato but even so, I feel his focus episode wasn’t anything much. In fact, it might be the weakest among the members of Starish. I suppose Tokiya doesn’t really have issues like the rest such as Natsuki’s alter ego or Ren’s family business problem so he doesn’t have that much to tell. Even Sho’s acting or Otoya’s orphanage adventure wasn’t so bad. Tokiya cheering up Haruka at the festival might bring lots of relief to her (isn’t that the case with every other guy in Starish?) but somehow I feel that doesn’t cut it as compared to the rest.

So while Haruka is a true blue composer of Starish and her new rare ability of Happy Pulse is revealed, I thought it was really silly to see how everyone was engulfed in the light of happiness. It felt cartoonish and funny. Really. I think they want to show us the ultimate greatness of Starish and that they have reached the maximum of putting all their love, heart and soul to sing the songs to their fans. What can be the only thing that beats out of this world? Out of this universe, of course! Next I think they’ll try to envision something godly. Yeah. I can’t really imagine that. Maybe people will just die and go to Heaven! Haha! And it’s not Heavens who are sending them there. Imagine a song becoming a murder tool just because you are too happy and died. Hmm… Murder, she wrote? But I suppose that is not too bad since you can die happy. Seriously. It’s better that than a painful and ugly one.

Therefore in terms of this season, I would say that everything is just okay as there is nothing really groundbreaking besides Cecil being added to the team and Haruka’s improvement in her song writing. You just see this season for the hot looking guys and probably if you’re a reverse harem fan. Speaking of which, the romance just like last season doesn’t feel really the romance type. The guys are so close to Haruka that it is unthinkable to see which one ends up with her. That would make fans of the other guys green with envy. That’s why I still feel that the rule of no romance allowed, whether they were in the academy or under the Master Course, it serves as some sort of ‘barrier’ so that our main guys don’t compete for Haruka’s affections. Heck, you would even forget there is such a rule. So I guess for now their first true love is making music for people and making them happy. Yes people. It is music that makes people happy. Not money, material wealth, fame, power or even Haruka x (insert Starish guy’s name here of your choice). If only the real world was this easy. If only such singing can bring such happiness and stop all the wars. Oh Haruka, we need you! If she only really existed in real life…

With last season’s seiyuus maintained for this season, as usual the best one still goes to Norio Wakamoto as Saotome. You got to love the way he speaks with passion. I couldn’t recognize Tomokazu Sugita as Raging because he was putting on a scruffy voice instead of his trademark Gintoki from Gintama or Inu x Boku SS’ Kagerou. Adding to this seasons casts include Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Ranmaru (Yuuji in Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu), Shoutaro Morikubo as Reiji (Shikamaru in Naruto), Shouta Aoi as Ai (Matsushita in Kimi To Boku), Tomoaki Maeno as Camus (Junichi in Amagami SS), Hikaru Midorikawa as Eiichi (Lancer in Fate/Zero), Daisuke Ono as Kira (Sebastian in Kuroshitsuji – speaking of which, don’t both characters look and sound similar?) and Tsubasa Yonaga as Nagi (Tsutomu in Chihayafuru). This season’s opening theme is also sung by Mamoru Miyano (voice of Tokiya). However I find Kanon somewhat almost similar to the first season’s Orpheus as they both are the dramatic rock piece. As we know, the ending theme is of course by Starish, Maji Love 2000%. Personally, I think Maji Love 1000% sounds much better as I find this one a little gay. Maybe they’re singing too much with their overflowing love so to me it sounds one kind. Full power full throttle we love everything about you 1000%. Ba-bang. Ja-jang. Love you. Yeesh… Almost got my hair standing on end. Despite still being the energetic idol group pop song, I don’t find it as catchy as the previous season’s one.

So what is next for Starish? Taking on the world? Maybe landing Utapuri Award already made them an overnight sensation. They’ll be in the top spot for a long time to come until the next new sensational idol comes in. But that is looking at things too far. For now, let’s just all basked in the glory and all the songs that Starish has to offer us. They are the voice of happiness so won’t you lend your ear and hear some? Oddly, it didn’t make me over crazy about them or go into K-pop. Maybe I didn’t hear enough of them singing because when everyone in the anime was sent to Heaven, I certainly wasn’t. I was here, sitting at my chair, laughing at how ridiculously good their song could send others into. Whoops. Last time I said if we are ready for a new music revolution. Now, are we ready for a new form of happiness revolution? I guess we’ll have to check it out then. Are you ready for it?

Can’t get enough of idols? Don’t worry, there are lots of them going around in Japan to fill your idol craving. So many of them that it’s just scary to think of its magnitude and effect it will have. Thank goodness I’m not idol crazy. Anyway, after my stint of AKB0048, an idol themed anime based on the world’s biggest idol unit, here am I once more trying my hands at another idol themed anime. Don’t get the wrong idea that I am starting to have a thing for idols. But what makes Love Live! School Idol Project different from AKB0048 is that this is more grounded to reality. Yes. No futuristic setting. No hi-tech equipment and tools. No magic. No missiles and gun fires. No idols kicking butt. And most important, no oppression and ban from government on anything idols! Wohoo! Idols are free to perform wherever and whenever they like.

So, if there is nothing that threatens the sanctity of idol groups, what kind of storyline will the anime take? Will it be interesting? That depends on how you like to look at your idols. For our group of idol girls in this anime, they need to stop the closure of their school. Heh. How can that be interesting? I’m sure many of us do not feel any more connection with our school (like yours truly and guilty as charged) but for our girls here, they love their school and despite still in high school, they don’t want to see its future shut down just because of low enrolment numbers. Welcome to the real world. Money talks. Numbers are everything. Logically if many people start enrolling, the school can’t shut down, right? So what better way than to attract people to their school by becoming school idols and sing their way into the hearts of the people, right? Everybody loves idols, right? It’s the current craze now, right? Right?! And so, this is the basis for what this anime is about and the reason why they sing and dance, aiming to become top idols.

Episode 0
In this preview episode, we are given an introduction to the series such as the seiyuus that voice the main heroines of this show, the various and numerous promotions and events that led to the inevitable production of this anime and also clips of some of the featured songs and their dance moves. We also have a glimpse of their live concerts whereby the seiyuus of the anime characters and have been voiced by the same person ever since this project’s inception. Talk about lots of consistency, dedication, hard work and perseverance. Not only their voices have been the same but the moves and dances have been also identical in the anime. Lastly, the final promotion of each of the heroines about the anime itself. That’s 9 times over, right? So if you are a very big fan of female pop idols, yeah, there are lots of events, activities and merchandise to grab. So are you ready for the love of your life?

Episode 1
Otonokizaka Academy will be shut down due to the low enrolment number. Honoka Kousaka fainted when she realizes this is not a dream. There goes her high school life she is looking forward so much. In denial, she really thinks it is a dream. Till she sees the bulletin board again. There, depression once more. She is concerned that because she has not studied, the closure of this school means she has to take an entrance exam for another school. That’s bad, right? But as her friends, Umi Sonoda and Kotori Minami put it, the school is staying put till all of them graduate. Even so, they feel bad that the first years will have no juniors below them. The student council president, Eri Ayase and her vice president, Nozomi Toujo ask Kotori if she knew anything about this beforehand since the board chairwoman who announced Otonokizaka’s closure is her mother. She knew nothing. Honoka feels it is wrong for the school to just ‘disappear’ so she thinks if the school’s enrolment increases, it won’t have to shut down. What is it that this school has to attract students? Well, their long history doesn’t seem that great. What about their past clubs’ achievement? Nothing great either. In fact, there is even one scandal of disqualification… When Honoka returns home, she is disheartened her little sister, Kotoha is applying to a different school. Throwing a tantrum won’t get her anywhere because Kotoha too knows it’s a waste of time trying to apply into a school that is going to shut down. Honoka is adamant she will stop the school’s closure. Yeah. Then pigs will fly. Early next morning, Honoka surprises everyone by getting up early and leaving on her own. Actually she is going to scout UTX High School (the school Kotoha is going to apply) and is enthralled to see why so many are flocking over. It has a group of female pop idol, A-Rise doing the promo. Astounding. That’s when an idea hits Honoka.

In class, Honoka tells her friends about this idea of forming a pop idol group to attract students and thus preventing its shutdown. Because based on her minimal research, schools with popular idols attract more students. Umi is not fond of this idea despite Honoka’s persuasion they get to wear cute costumes and shine brightly but negative Umi is not convinced. Being an idol is out of the question for her. Meanwhile Eri and Nozomi see the chairwoman. They too voice their displeasure of the school’s closure. She tells them instead of worrying about trying to prevent the closure, they should focus on efforts to improve the quality of time remaining for the students. In short, there is nothing they can do. Honoka is attracted by the piano and singing of Maki Nishikino. Instantly she asks if she is interested to become an idol. Instant reject. Umi couldn’t concentrate on her archery club because she kept thinking about the possibility of becoming an idol. It really throws her off her target. And balance. So Kotori talks to her and then shows her how Honoka is trying to learn some dance moves by herself. It’s tough but she’s not giving up. And so the trio hand in their application to Eri to form an idol club. Eri is sceptical of them forming one since they are in their second years. Besides, they need 5 members to officially form a club. Borrowing words from the chairwoman, hastily throwing in ideas to prevent the school‘s closure won’t change its predicament and they should be focusing on their time left here. Despite the disappointment, Honoka won’t give up yet.

Episode 2
Honoka hands in her request to Eri for permission to use the auditorium for their concert after the entrance ceremony. Eri remains sceptical but Nozomi takes the trio’s side. They just want to borrow it and not use it for club activities, thus the student council have no right to object. Kotori designs their outfit but Umi objects because she feels the skirt is too short. Besides, she thinks her legs are too fat. Honoka suggests they go on a diet then. But the first order is to come up with a name for their idol group. Let’s say they have a bad naming sense that would make them sound like jokers. So Honoka gets an idea to put a survey of what their group is to be called. It will also garner interest in the group as well. Next is to find a place to practice and since every place possible is filled with people, the rooftop is their only option. But they can’t get started because they don’t know what song to sing! Heck, they don’t even have one! Hanayo Koizumi sees the idol poster and is interested but this shy girl is taken away by her tomboyish friend, Rin Hoshizora.  Niko Yazawa also looks at the poster but with a contempt look on her face. Umi visits Honoka’s home and is appalled that the duo have forgotten about dieting since they are munching away the snacks. Are they serious about becoming idols? Honoka tells them about Maki and her piano and wants to invite her. Then they try to persuade Umi to write lyrics since she used to write poems when she was young. She is forced to because the rest sucks. Yeah. That puppy dog eyes really did help convince her. In exchange for doing this, she will be in charge of their practice schedule. Showing them a clip of A-Rise’s dance, they have lots of stamina and are able to smile while prancing around. She makes Honoka do some push-ups. Easy? Now try doing it while smiling. Tough, no? And so Umi becomes a Spartan in training her buddies to build their stamina by running up the stairs of the shrine. They see Nozomi working here part time as a miko priestess.

Honoka looks for Maki and once again tries to persuade her. Same answer. Not doing it. Why? She just doesn’t want to. Then Eri steps up to talk to Honoka. She wants her to stop this. Their school has never had an idol group before and if this plan backfires, what will others think? That’s why she wants her to stop acting as though saving the school is easy. This throws Honoka off her feet and she starts feeling gloomy that it is not fun and games like she thought. They are running short of time and have not begun on the many preparations. Honoka’s confidence receives a major boost when her other classmates agree to help her out whenever they can. She is even happier when she sees a suggestion in the survey box. It is the Greek alphabet of muse. And so it is decided that they will be called Muse (because writing this alphabet would be a pain for this blog). Honoka goes to look for Maki again and once more she is awed at her piano playing. Again she tries to persuade so Maki tells her reason why she doesn’t want to join because it feels the kind of music they sing isn’t serious and lacks depth. She is more into classical and jazz. Of course Honoka says being an idol isn’t easy either and has her do push-ups while smiling. Then she gives her Umi’s lyrics and wants her to read it. If she is not convinced even after reading it, she will stop bothering her. Honoka praises her singing, the reason why she would love to have her composing songs for them. That evening, Maki sees the trio doing their stamina training and realizes their resolve. She sends them a CD of a song she wrote and the trio are very impressed. They also note their online idol ranking has gone up a notch with a vote. They can thank Maki for that. Yeah. Rank 999. Only 998 more spots to the top.

Episode 3
As the trio continue their training, they spot Maki spying on them and ring her in. Although she is still in denial mode, they let her listen to the song they wrote that they have recorded themselves. In school, a couple of girls recognize Muse because of the video uploaded on the internet. Honoka is happy and is going to give a little sneak peak demonstration but she finds Umi suddenly ‘missing’. Seems she is hiding because she has a fear of performing in public. The best way to overcome her phobia is to let her help them out handing flyers for their concert tomorrow. So they think. She’s more scared than ever. Just think of them as vegetables. Looking weird, eh? It might be demoralizing that nobody is interested in taking a look at their flyer but Umi hits the first one: Hanayo. She thought of taking the short cut and giving all her flyers to her. There’s not short cut to success. Back at Honoka’s home, Kotori shows the dress she has made. To Umi’s dismay it wasn’t what she expected because the skirt is still short. Umi pulls out of the group and says they only have themselves to blame. But when Honoka starts spouting about the hard work and effort they put in, blah, blah, blah, Umi feels bad and changes her mind. Next day after the school entrance ceremony, the trio continue to hand out flyers. But it seems to be tougher than thought since many of them are interested in joining other clubs. Just before the concert, the trio put on their idol costumes. Honoka and Kotori are appalled Umi is wearing track bottoms. Looking very odd. They pull down her pants and make her look in the mirror. And then psycho her how cute she looks. Hanayo wanted to attend the concert but pushy Rin takes her to go look at some sports club to join.

Moments before the curtain rises, Muse is ready to give their best performance yet. And they are going to go all out before the sell-out crowd… Oh… Nobody… Not a soul! Man, this is very disheartening. Honoka is on the verge of tears but tries to put up a brave front. Her classmates feel bad for her because they did all they can to help and yet nobody turned up. Suddenly Hanayo runs into the auditorium. She is puzzled because she thought there is supposed to be a concert. Did she enter the wrong hall? Muse gets their confidence back and to perform even if it’s just one spectator. But that number won’t stay for long because as they perform Start:Dash!, they are soon joined by Rin who came rushing in to look for her friend and is amazed at the performance. Nozomi is listening outside and also catches Maki doing the same but hiding behind a corner. Eri is watching from the broadcasting room while I do not know if Niko has been hiding within the seats of the auditorium all this time or just snuck in. At the end, everyone is awe struck by their performance. But Eri had to pour cold water on their efforts because she doubts continuing this would make a difference. But Honoka insists they will keep singing and dancing. She hasn’t felt like this before and wants to keep believing. They’ll keep trying and do everything they can to get this feeling out there. This feeling in their hearts that brought them here.

Episode 4
Hanayo would love to become an idol as it is her childhood dream. However she feels she can’t as her voice is too soft and shy. Honoka and co are at the alpaca stable and see Hanayo as the caretaker. They remember her as one of the audiences at their concert. Honoka becomes pushy in asking her to join. Or desperate rather. I hope she doesn’t scare her off. When Rin asks Hanayo what club she wants to join and can tell she wants to join the idol club. Hanayo doesn’t have the confidence and asks about Rin herself. Rin considers herself tomboyish and thinks she won’t fit in. Later Hanayo sees Maki secretly taking a Muse recruiting flyer but notices she dropped her student ID. Meanwhile Eri goes to see the chairwoman about wanting permission for the student council to save the school because she thinks the idol group would just make the school more unappealing. The chairwoman disagrees and shows Muse starting to gain popularity because somebody uploaded their video on the internet. Hanayo arrives at Maki’s big mansion to return her student ID. Bringing up the topic of Muse causes Maki to be clumsy as she bumps and crashes into her furniture. Is she interested in joining the idol group? Maki says it is impossible because it is decided she will go to a medicine school so music is over for her. But she did hint that if Hanayo becomes a group member, she’ll help her out once in a while.

Hanayo then goes to Honoka’s home. She opens the room door and sees Kotoha trying to make her breasts big! Oops. Wrong room. In the next room, she sees Umi in her delusion performing to the crowd. Hanayo thinks she is done for when the girls corner her. Can she really forget that embarrassing scenes? Once everyone gathers, they see the uploaded video and wonders if Hanayo will join them. She is still unsure so the rest tell her about their own flaws and would have easily failed in becoming professional idols. But as long they have motivation and a goal to aspire to, they can keep trying. They don’t expect an answer from her now and hope she could take some time to think about it. Although Hanayo tries reading aloud in class, she embarrasses herself by biting her own tongue. Later Maki talks to her and practises with her to speak up her voice. When Rin enters the scene to pester Hanayo to join Muse, I don’t know how it becomes a competition between Rin and Maki to be the one who will take Hanayo to them. WTF. Does she have a say in this? Apparently not because they drag her there while arguing about it. At the rooftop, Rin and Maki give all the encouragement to Hanayo to join. In her own voice she finally expresses her wish to join Muse and they gladly accept her. Why are Rin and Maki crying like as though they are seeing their daughter growing up? Anyway they are not to be left out and Muse extends their recruitment to join them. Care to be part of the idol group? For them to be so defiant at the start, suddenly they just accept? As Rin and Maki wake up early for the training (this is going to be a daily affair), they see Hanayo casting away her spectacles and using contacts instead. She looks cuter and less nerdy this way.

Episode 5
Kotori thinks someone is stalking them. It turns out to be Niko but she tells them all to break up! Muse prepares to practice at the rooftop but it is rainy season. Bummer. Honoka and Rin thought they can practice in the rain but wouldn’t that make it more slippery? Unless you’re as athletic as Rin, maybe. At the fast food joint, Muse tries hard to think of a proper place to practice. And then Honoka just remembered. It takes 5 members to form a club and they have 6! Unknown to them, Niko is spying at the next table and she is appalled Honoka only recently thought of that. The rest realize she is the one who is stealing their fries and burger! Honoka is more concerned about her fries but Niko reminds her to break up as they are a disgrace to real idols before running off. Honoka takes her club application to Eri but she turns it down. Seems the school already has an Idol Research Club and it only has a member. Although it takes 5 members to form a club, once formed, it doesn’t matter how many members are left. Due to the school closing down, they want to discourage the formation of clubs and as long as this one exists, she won’t approve it. Nozomi suggests talking to the sole member of this club. Guess what? Yeah. Niko is the president of this club. Surprised Niko first locks herself inside the clubroom. Then she makes a run and escapes via window. Rin chases her but she ultimately bumps into the alpaca.

Muse is let into the clubroom and they are astounded to see Niko an avid collector of anything school idols. She even has the rarest Legendary Legend of Legend Idol box compilation. Suddenly Hanayo becomes miss-know-it-all. Getting down to business, Niko knows they are here for the merger talks and rejects them instantly. Although they don’t want to disband her club and just need a place to practice, Niko won’t listen. It is not that they practice and train hard every day. It’s because they lack persona. What persona? Niko demonstrates her cutsey Niko-niko smile move. Cute? Or just embarrassing? She believes such persona is to give fans what they want, idols need an appropriate persona. After that she kicks them out. Nozomi has anticipated this so she tells Muse that Niko was once the school’s idol. However she set the bar too high and everyone quit. Niko envies them and since her criticisms prove she takes an interest in them. Niko continues to stalk Honoka and friends and doesn’t believe how close they are. But she herself feels lonely like she’s missing out on something she wanted. One day when she enters the clubroom, she is surprised to see Muse waiting for her and eagerly awaiting her consultation of the next song they will sing. Wait a minute. Did Honoka just include Niko as part of Muse? I guess you can say Niko accepts being part of the idol group because she mentions that training from now on will be tough. Her first advice is that idols aren’t there to show people their smile, but make people smile! Remember that! And so Niko begins training her peers and starts off by doing the Niko-niko smile. She’s strict but she looks happy.

Episode 6
Nozomi goes around helping Muse with her interview to increase their publicity. Honoka is all for it while Umi is against it. Eventually she has to agree… The secret video of Honoka dozing off in class and being lazy… Is this what she bargained for? Feels more like invasion of privacy. We know what Eri will say if she sees this. Niko tries to put up her cutie idol act but what Nozomi wants is to film them in their natural state. Well, I thought Niko’s natural state looks pretty artificial too. I guess nobody is interested and left her to act all by herself. Nozomi continues to film and interview Muse but the way some are shy, uncooperative or just fooling around, it doesn’t seem it will give a good impression. So Nozomi films them while they are at their best during practice. One hour of hard dancing and singing without complaining. Nozomi visits Honoka’s house. Honoka’s mom tries to frantically put on some makeup seeing the student council is here. Honoka wanted to introduce Kotoha but they see her trying to fit into her belt. Just one more hole… Nozomi talks to Honoka about her contribution to Muse. Since the songs, lyrics and even dance steps come from other members, what mostly Honoka does is lazing around and getting wowed from watching other idols online. This makes her wonder how come she is the leader of Muse. Is she? And so Niko calls a meeting with Muse to decide the group’s leader. I thought Niko was the self proclaimed one since she is the president of the club, right? Apparently not. Niko gets all passionate in telling the traits of a leader. Get the feeling she is hinting herself? Why the sudden emphasize and need for a group leader? Because the leader will take the centre position. The rest ignore her and continue to be split in either Umi or Honoka as the leader. Honoka has no qualms if Umi takes over. She doesn’t care if she is no longer the centre since they’ll still be working together as Muse. As everyone is split, Niko tries to hint herself but is completely ignored. Does she want it that bad? Then why not just say it?

And so looks like Niko takes the hard way in determining the leader. First, a karaoke competition whereby the one who scores the highest gets to be it. Niko has already chosen the songs she is confident and will do well and tells those who aren’t interested to not participate since less rivals, better her chance. Guess what? All of them scored above 90 points. Good thing those practices paid off, eh? And they didn’t even take it seriously. Next is the dancing at the arcade challenge. Niko has the same confidence she can beat those amateurs at this game. Guess what? They all did well on their first time. Good thing those practices paid off, eh? Lastly, the aura test. Say what? Whoever finishes handing out their flyer means they have an aura to attract others and thus the winner. Niko is confident since this is her forte. But Kotori finishes first and Niko in dead last. Good thing those… Uhm, never mind. In the end, nobody really stood out and are more equal in the overall score. I see Niko, your chances of becoming the leader is pretty slim. So do they still need a leader? Honoka doesn’t think they should have one as they have been practising and singing just fine without one. She suggests they all take turns. Everyone gets to be the centre. This sits well with everyone and Niko even agrees (she has to). Of course, everybody knows that Honoka is their unofficial leader because she doesn’t let things get in her way, does what she finds most interesting and does it without hesitating. A video of Muse singing is uploaded. Nozomi shows it to Eri who remains sceptical. Nozomi just told them what she feels and hopes Eri would acknowledge them. They will be better if she helps. But Eri tells Nozomi to help them herself. She can’t because her cards state that Eri is the person they need most. Hanayo rushes to the clubroom to tell everyone some big news.

Episode 7
The big news is that there is going to be a Love Live event. The top 20 school idols of the nation will compete to find out who is the best (it will be streamed online too). Hanayo is thrilled that she wants to attend all those concerts but doesn’t have confidence about Muse’s participation. What’s more, Umi says their position is too low for them to qualify. To their surprise, checking their stats again it seems they have been picked as a rising school idol group. There are lots of encouraging comments on their video. Even Maki has fans from other schools waiting outside the gates. As a condition to participate, they need permission from the school so they head towards’ the chairwoman’s room. She agrees but Eri is against it since she herself said they shouldn’t sacrifice their school life for the school. But the chairwoman doesn’t see any harm for them to enter. Eri then demands that she too wants to help save the school but was turned down. Eri thinks she is siding them and leaves. The chairwoman has 1 condition for them to participate: All must not fail any of their subjects. Easy, right? Well, Honoka, Rin and Niko don’t seem to look so good. This is going to be tough. Honoka is so bad in maths that she thinks 7×4 = 26. She took 5 seconds to calculate that. Not good… Rin is weak in English but doesn’t feel the need to speak a foreign language since they’re Japanese (excuse, excuse). Niko asserts she doesn’t fail anything. I don’t think she can fool anybody on this one. So Kotori and Umi will help Honoka while Maki and Hanayo will help Rin. As for Niko, Nozomi will do the honours. Because if she fools around, she’ll give a breast rub she’ll never forget. I never knew Nozomi could be this scary. She might be enjoying it too. Umi sees a girl, Arisa watching a video of Muse that wasn’t uploaded before. Arisa is a fan of Muse and it was recorded by her sister. Who? Eri.

Umi talks to Eri and finds out she is the one who uploads all Muse’s videos. Never crossed her mind she would be the one since she is so against it. Without it, Muse would never have gone this far and got lots of viewers. But Eri doesn’t want her to get the wrong idea. She uploaded those videos to prove Muse wouldn’t get to their fans. However it backfired. She still thinks they are not cut out to represent the school and won’t acknowledge them. Even if they get more popular. Because she views all idols as amateurs, including A-Rise. Umi wants to talk to Nozomi (catching her in the act of molesting Niko’s boobs for fooling around) and wants to know why Eri isn’t fond of idols despite seeing them dance and sing. Umi is shown a ballerina clip of young Eri dancing gracefully. The shock is too deep for Umi as she understands why Eri said that. It made her think what they have been doing all the while. She heads to the student council’s room and hope she could request her to teach Muse to dance at least half as good as her. But Nozomi says that will have to wait and something more important comes first. The exam is in 5 days. If Nozomi wasn’t a demon making the idiotic trio study like hell, Umi becomes demon instructor number 2 because she is going to stay at Honoka’s house till the exam. Not letting up. The exam results are out and thankfully all of them pass (Honoka just barely but a pass is still a pass). It would be tad sad if such lovely girls won’t get to compete in Love Live. Muse is now motivated to seek the chairwoman’s permission but they hear a shocking statement. Outside her office they hear her telling Eri that the decision is final that Otonokizaka will stop accepting student applications next year and will shut down.

Episode 8
Honoka can’t believe it and pleads for more time. What the chairwoman meant was, in 2 weeks’ time they will be having an Open Campus. Middle school goers will have a look around their school and if it is poorly received, Otonokizaka will shut down. Eri will be taking action to ensure events for the Open Campus. But it seems the suggestions suggested by her fellow members seem boring. Is there any other attraction? Yeah. The school’s alpaca.  Oh, she got spit at. As Muse practise, Umi thinks this won’t do and their dance lacks impact. They discuss about Eri who is a great dancer and if you want to compare their dances, of course theirs look amateurish. Honoka feels she wants to get Eri to help train them to dance. Though some are against it, I guess there is no harm in trying. Eri reads her practice speech to her sister but Arisa finds it boring. Is this what she really wants to do? Honoka asks Eri to teach them to dance and she accepts seeing they are popular enough and thus willing to help out. Eri remembers the heartbreak of failing to be selected despite her magnificent dance. Of course she lost out to someone better but the bitter feeling still remained. Eri starts her Spartan training by making them do basic muscle training, stretching and balancing. Rin looks like she is having trouble. She’s in trouble. Shows how unfit some of them are. At the end of the day, she feels they aren’t up to it and tells them if they can’t keep up with it, just tell her sooner so she doesn’t have to waste time on them. Honoka thanks her and hopes she could continue to teach them.

Eri’s dilemma continues. She hears Arisa listening to Muse and enthralled by their efforts and it cheers her up. On the next practice, Eri has doubts whether Muse will improve or not so Honoka says they’re doing it because they want to and they want to save the school just as much as her. Eri leaves but Nozomi confronts her to ask what is it that she wants to do. She always thinks about others but never herself. She’s only trying to stop the school because she feels it’s her duty as student council president. Perhaps that’s the reason why the chairwoman won’t let her. Eri blows her top. She says she would have done something if it could get her somewhere. She starts crying lamenting it is hard for her to join the group now. As she sulks in her classroom, Muse comes to extend their hand for her to join. They heard from Nozomi and should’ve just told them sooner. Though Eri still has her pride, Nozomi knows how to work her way around to convince her. And so, Eri becomes the eighth member. There is even more delight in store because Nozomi becomes the ninth one and Muse is now a whole. Why is she joining now? She’s going according to her cards. Muse as the name suggests refers to the 9 signing goddesses. She is the one who came up with the group’s name. Muse puts up their performance in front of the middle schoolers on Open Campus and they really love their performance.

Episode 9
Due to the welcome response, the decision to shut down the school is postponed. Remember. Just postponed. Another good news is that Muse now has got a bigger room for their club. Thanks to Eri joining them, their popularity skyrocketed and sits at 50th in the rankings. But lately Kotori can’t join them for practice and always leaves early. A new shop selling memorabilia of school idols opens in Akiba. Muse is surprised they even have their own. Is this legal? But Niko seems to be frantic she can’t spot one with her own face on it! And when she does, look how happy she is. They see a picture of Kotori in a maid outfit on sale. And then Kotori comes by in a maid outfit to request that photo be taken off. Once she realizes her pals, she pretends she doesn’t know them and makes a run. She can outrun the rest but she can never beat Nozomi. She knows where she is and threatens a breast rub if she resists. That always works. As explained, she is known as the legendary Akiba maid Minalinsky. It’s mind boggling they don’t even know. She started doing this part time maid café job around the time Muse was formed. This is to change herself. She still feels she can’t do anything compared to her friends although they know very well Kotori has done her fair share of things. Eri notes it is normal that one usually feel they have no talent. But in a way it makes them work harder and improve themselves. Soon Eri announces they will hold a live performance in Akiba. Despite being the stronghold of A-Rise, they’ll get good publicity if they pull off a great performance. And so she entrusts Kotori to write the lyrics of their new song since she knows the place better than the rest. Since everyone is having high hopes for her, she reluctantly accepts.

We see Kotori write… Cute words… But it doesn’t make sense or at least connect. I know she’s trying but… Chocolate parfaits are delicious… Crisp Crepes I want one… Five toed socks feel nice… If you lay out lots of macaroons it is all colourful and makes you smile… Because of that, Kotori has a hard time concentrating in class and at this rate she might go crazy. That’s when Honoka decides to do brainstorming together. So our trio of second years work part time at the maid café with their other Muse members as customers. What better way than to find those words by experiencing the place itself. Kotori shows why she is the legendary maid with her gracious service. I want to be served by her too! Umi who is still afraid of meeting people is doing a more traditional maid’s job: Washing dishes at the back. Aren’t maids supposed to do this kind of jobs? She gets some encouragement from Kotori. She’s like a whole new person when she dons the maid outfit. Honoka gets an idea that she should just use the words that she talks with her friends or anybody in her lyrics. With that, Kotori’s mind flows better as she pens down the words. Muse then puts up their live performance with all of them in a maid outfit and it is a success. The trio also gained lots of experience being a maid. At the end of the day, Kotori wonders how long they’ll be together. She’s sad everything will end in 2 years. Honoka assures her that they’ll always be together. It makes her feel so much better.

Episode 10
Honoka thinks it is too hot to practise. Excuses, excuses. So she comes up with this idea of having a summer camp. She suggests having it at Maki’s villa. Since Eri gives the green light, I guess Maki has no choice but to seek her parents’ permission. Before they depart, Eri has them practise calling each other casually and do away with the senior-junior thingy. Maki’s villa is bigger than everyone thought. Who’d knew she was this rich! Umi has come up with a very rigorous training schedule. 10km swimming followed by 10km running? Wow. Is this Spartan training? I know they’ve got less than a month for the Love Live competition but isn’t this too much. So our lazy trio (that’s Honoka, Niko and Rin) try to worm their way out and they manage to get everyone to have in the beach. Eri approves of it since it will help bridge the gap between them. Nozomi films them as part of the PV. Nozomi notices Maki not mixing with the rest so she goes talk to her despite she is being herself, she actually wants to get along with everyone but just can’t bring herself to express it. Why is Nozomi sticking her nose in her business? Because she knows someone who is very similar like her. Niko surprises everyone that she can cook (despite saying earlier on she has a chef who cooks for her and thus doesn’t know a thing). After that wonderful curry meal, they want to go watch the fireworks. However Umi wants to practise after that. Still giving excuses not to? Since everyone is divided, they go soak in the hotspring before going to bed. It’s going to be a long day of practise tomorrow. However nobody can sleep. Except Umi. She’s already out. They hear something munching away and it turns out to be Honoka. She thinks eating snacks can help her sleep better? Maybe put on more weight, yeah. Nozomi initiates a pillow fight and blames Maki as the source. In no time, it’s every girl for herself. I can’t believe Umi can sleep through all that racket. Till the pillows hit her face. Now she has awakened into a demon! Regret waking her up? Her supersonic pillow throw is enough to put out unfortunate souls into deep sleep! Scary! She is taken out by Nozomi-Maki combo. Nozomi notes Maki is more casual with everyone now. The first light of morning comes. Maki wakes up and sees Nozomi looking over the horizon at the beach. Nozomi tells her how she loves Muse a lot and doesn’t want any member to fall back. Although it was the second years who created Muse, she has been watching them since and has an emotional attachment to the group. The rest of the girls wake up and watch the beautiful sunrise together hand in hand.

Episode 11
Muse has climbed their way to 19th and they are ecstatic if they keep it up, they’ll qualify for Love Live. Of course they can’t rest yet with the many school idols below 20th place not giving up yet since they are approaching the home stretch. This means more practice. Also, Eri suggests to do more performances (since doing something special won’t cut it at this point in time) and to use the upcoming cultural festival as their platform. Because Niko wanted to do something so badly, she ends up being the one who will pick the auditorium for their performance. She didn’t know it was via lottery style. Muse watches in baited breath as she spins. Can her luck bring it? Well, no. No auditorium for them. So depressed. Like it’s the end of the world for some. And some blaming Niko for screwing up. I hope that’s just a joke. They start thinking about other places to hold their performance and the only viable place is the rooftop. Although people down there can’t see them, Honoka suggests they sing out loud and this will attract people to come up and watch them. Great idea. And so the rooftop it will be. Kotori seems to be having her own dilemma. She has received a letter and asks her mom for opinion. She says it is up to her to decide. In another discussion, Honoka suggests of practising a new song that she heard Maki wrote. Do they have time to practise new moves? Honoka just wants to do her best. This means extra solo night training by her own initiative. She even comes up with new moves and works the hardest. Umi is concerned about her for practising up till so late and hopes Kotori would talk her to her senses but she says it’s up to Honoka to do what she wants. That night, Honoka and Umi call each other and think Kotori is acting strange. But Honoka thinks she is just excited for the performance. Honoka continues her midnight jogging even if it’s raining. Subsequently Kotori calls Umi about her dilemma. On the day of the festival, Honoka wakes up a little late (thank her mom for that, otherwise she would have slept through the day) and finds she is sick. Oh no. To make the day worse, it is raining. Honoka hides her illness (seriously, her friends can’t tell?) as Muse gets dressed up. They can’t back out now after they’ve come this far. They are only here because they kept pushing themselves and all they have to do is their best. Kotori doesn’t want to shock the group and will wait after the performance to announce. I wonder if it’s a wise idea for Muse to go out and dance in the rain. I hope the platform is not slippery. You know what can happen with all that dancing, jumping and moving about. Too bad you won’t get to see the effects of idols’ clothes being heavily soaked. Get what I mean ;p. Right after the first song ends, Honoka collapses. Though everyone panics, weak Honoka still won’t give up. She wants to sing the next song. The show must go on.

Episode 12
Muse cannot carry on with the performance and some of the audience start leaving. The girls pay Honoka a visit at her house and she’s recuperating fine. But Eri informs they will not be participating in Love Live. The chairwoman told them to reflect on this and what their original goal was. After discussing, Muse decided to abstain from participating and withdraw themselves. They are no longer in the standings. Eri also says it is no use blaming things now. Everyone is to blame. Honoka didn’t manage herself better and everyone else for not noticing. I bet they didn’t even notice this one: Kotori is seen packing her things at home and is sure she will tell Honoka about it tomorrow. Honoka is depressed back in school so much so Kotori doesn’t have the heart to tell her. Niko couldn’t bear to see it and sends Nozomi to do her breast rub. It always works. As they are out of the running for Love Live, they can take their practice easy and still perform, though they are not in a hurry to do so. They receive the good news that there is an increase in applicants for next year’s intake. Which means the school won’t be closed down for at least another year. Happy everyone? Yeah, but why isn’t Kotori? Umi advises her the longer she puts it off, the harder it gets. Niko celebrates with the rest of Muse about their school’s revival. She’s making a speech nobody wants to listen. Because Kotori continues to be indecisive, Umi decides to tell everyone on her behalf. Kotori will be leaving to study abroad in 2 weeks to study costume designing. She didn’t want to break their spirits and decided to tell them after the festival. Once she leaves, she won’t come back at least after she graduates from high school.

Honoka is upset she never told her. They’re friends, right? But she told Umi, didn’t she? There were many times she wanted to tell her but Honoka was so focused on Love Live. She wanted to tell her after the festival but she collapsed. She wanted to discuss it with her to make a decision since she is her first friend. Kotori runs away in tears. Umi says she may not actually want to go and struggled so long to make a decision probably she was thinking about Honoka. She wasn’t trying to keep it a secret either. Later Honoka mails to Kotori to apologize she never considered how others felt and only thought about herself. But it’s too late now, huh? Though Honoka continues to be depressed in class, Eri calls her up to the rooftop. Muse plans to do a final performance together for Kotori’s farewell. But Honoka blames herself if she had only took note of others, this wouldn’t have happened. Eri chides her for taking all the blame. It won’t do them any good now. Getting depressed won’t get them anywhere. Besides, there’s always next time for Love Live. But Honoka’s morale is so low that she wonders what is the point of competing since they’ve already reached their goal. Besides, they’ll never beat A-Rise. This upsets Niko because she joined them since she took this seriously and believed in her. If she is serious in what she just said, Niko is going to beat her up (only to be restrained by Maki). Is this alone enough to make her lose all her motivation? Eri asks what Honoka will do now. She will quit being a school idol. Umi won’t allow her to have her way and slaps her. Where has the Honoka she knew gone to?

Episode 13
Kotori and Honoka has not talked since and the latter continues to put up a gloomy facade. Eri has put Muse on hiatus and this does not sit well with Niko. Umi goes talk to Kotori and from the way she says things, it is too late for her to turn back now. Oh, really? With so much free time, Honoka hangs out with her friends and at the arcade while playing a dancing game, she is reminded of her times practising and dancing as Muse. After parting ways with her friends, she meets Niko, Rin and Hanayo practising by themselves. Though Muse is on hiatus, nobody said they should stop being a school idol. Don’t you remember? Niko loves idols, the reason she is doing this. She loves the kind of idols that motivate everyone to work hard and asserts her love is different than her half-hearted one. The rest love to have her back since she was the one who started this. Later Eri visits Honoka’s home to apologize about putting Muse on hiatus. Eri talks about herself. People view her as strict and calm but she finds herself hesitant, indecisive and always wanting to cry. However she hides her weak side and wishes she could be like her who is not afraid to show what she feels. Honoka thought her the courage to move on without fear of change because back then, her hands saved her. Kotori’s mom sees her daughter off alone at the airport. It’s better this way she doesn’t see anybody or else she won’t stop crying. Umi sees Honoka at the school’s auditorium. Honoka is here not because of Love Live but her love for singing. She admits being awkward and selfish but wants to keep going. Umi starts laughing. She says she has always been causing them trouble. They can never get her to listen to reason. Take a good example how Umi was forced to join this idol thingy whether she likes it or not. However due to that, she always takes them places. Great places where they can’t go on their own as they lack courage. She is mad not because she didn’t notice how Kotori felt, but rather she was denying how she truly felt. After a short song, Umi tells Honoka to get Kotori. Didn’t she decide to leave? Just like Umi, Kotori wants her to be selfish and wants to be led by her. She found favour with a famous designer and no one would tell her to stay. The only one who can be selfish with her is… Honoka rushes her way just in time to the airport to grab Kotori. She wants to be a school idol with her even if they end up pursuing different dreams one day. Easy as that, Kotori goes back with Honoka just in time for Muse to put on a concert in front of a full hall. At the end, Honoka makes an announcement of Muse Music Start.

OVA
This one only lasts 15 minutes. It begins with Hanayo being freaked out after hearing Maki’s weird dream of being chased through the dark corridors and getting trapped. Later when Maki goes to play the piano, she notices a key without any sound, as she tries to take a closer look, she is scared out of the daylights when she sees a little girl standing by the piano. Because of that, she becomes absent from Muse’s practice the next day. That scared that she turned ill, huh? The girls think of visiting her after practice. When they leave, Eri remembers she forgot something and returns to her classroom to retrieve it. Suddenly it turns dark. Colourful stage lights fill the path as she chases after silhouette of that little girl. When she comes out, Eri is reunited with the rest of her friends, they are surprised that the day has become night! They think they are inside some dream. Then that little girl pops out to confirm it. She is Maki in her young age (Niko is devastated she is cuter than her!). She says they are all interesting as they are very close together. She also says this is a never-ending party. As the fireworks light up the sky, she adds that she has known them for a very long time even before they became Muse. Before she could complete her sentence, she transforms into her high school self. She herself is surprised to find herself here but the rest are amazed of this magic she pulled. Did she? They are certain this is her dream. As for what little Maki wanted to say, it was that she always liked them all. Now we have a full length song and dance video of Muse. WTF. I don’t get it. What’s this OVA about? Unless it’s just a prelude and introduction to this song Music Start which happens to be their sixth and latest single.

S.O.S. (Save Our School)!
Guess I had a feeling it had to end this way. There is no way that a group with cute girls would just disband and end of a story. There is no way that a member would go far away and be separated from the rest of her friends. How else would they make a second season then? It would be impossible to be an idol unit via long distance relationship. It just wouldn’t work. By the way, a sequel has been scheduled to be released somewhere in mid 2014. Fans of the group would definitely rejoice on this news but for me, just like my stint with AKB0048, I’ll still be hanging around to see how far they will climb and eventually become top. The sequel is like giving them a second chance to participate in Love Live since they totally missed this one out due to a little ‘internal misunderstanding’. Maybe it is a good thing too that they didn’t get to participate because it gives them more time to practise and hone their skills. So for a big part of this season, we mainly see how Muse gathers all its members and from what it started as an idol group to save the school (and have already achieved it), they turn their sights to a bigger goal by becoming the nation’s top school idols. So that’s why I have this feeling that the sequel will see Muse take on all-time favourites A-Rise and even if they don’t take the crown from them, at least they will make it known that they have put up a good fight and letting the A-Rise trio that there is another idol group who isn’t so far behind.

Each of the characters has their own personality and with a variety of them, it is easy to see why they shine. A mix of different types of personalities has a great impact in the diversity of the group. You may have fans liking a certain character but in the end, they still love the group as a whole. Honoka is unofficially the leader because of her cheerful outlook and not afraid to let her feelings known. Some may say she’s selfish but I won’t say that it is to a point that makes her a dictator. Even if she seems pushy about it, eventually it is the other girls who agree to her ways, right? So it’s not totally her fault. It’s just that moment of weakness she had in the end that knocked her balance off a little. Because she has helped those in need, now it is their turn to help her back. Out of all the girls, the most amusing one is Niko. If I should say, she is more like the group’s joker. Not to say she is always like one but because of her child-like tendencies, the way she acts and thinks-she-knows-it-all makes her an amusing girl. But her passion for idols is genuine and you can’t pull a fast one on this area. She knows her idol stuff like the back of her hand. Nozomi acts like the big sister of the group, watching and keeping an eye out for them. Her breast rub technique makes her a character that has extreme sides. We can do it the nice way or the hard way…

Eri is one character whom I feel has undergone the most change. Before Muse was a whole, she was always playing the strict no nonsense student council president, not please with what Honoka and co are doing. It’s understandable that she has an image to put up with. Deep down in her heart, she perhaps had always wanted to be part of Muse but because she keeps delaying, the cold image of hers becomes harder to shake off. When she has cast away all that and become part of Muse, she becomes a better person. Heck, I think she looks prettier when she constantly smiles! Better than that serious frown she always had. Umi has also changed because she doesn’t fear performing in public as much as she does before. Maki also learns to mix well with the rest of her friends and Kotori definitely looks better if she has that dreamy look instead of that indecisive one. Was it really that simple? She just wanted a friend to tell her not to go and she won’t? Well, this girly thing I really don’t understand but it’s not my place to say. Rounding up the rest of Muse are the shy Hanayo and tomboyish Rin. With such a variety of characters, how can you not love them? Even the side characters are lovable themselves though I don’t think they’ll ever be part of Muse. Kotoha is a funny girl whenever you catch her in the act of some dieting or self slimming down stuff. Arisa exudes lot of moe while Honoka’s friends are truly friends because they help support her through times.

Hardcore fans would already know this by heart since it is common knowledge but since I only knew about this group via anime, I only learnt that the girls of Muse (in reality, the name was picked via handphone poll – heck, many of the costumes, hairstyle and position are determined via handphone poll) are played and voiced by the same people ever since their inception back in 2010. It’s like they’ve planned this for a long time and anticipated this would eventually happen. I guess this is only right since Muse also have their own fan base (and growing). Fans of a certain idol wouldn’t really like it if some character in the anime is voiced by a different person.  Based from the episode 0 I’ve seen, they have put in quite a lot of effort by staging various promotional events, live programmes and concerts to keep fans coming back for more. They’ve come a long way and you could say it is quite a successful project. Some of the members went on to lend their voice in other animes like Honoka’s Emi Nitta, Kotori’s Aya Uchida, Umi’s Suzuko Mimori, Niko’s Sora Tokui, Eri’s Yoshino Nanjou and Hanayo’s Yurika Kubo. Maki’s Pile, Rin’s Riho Iida and Nozomi’s Aina Kusuda only have this anime as their debut in voice acting. As for the rest of the supporting characters, they didn’t use big veteran names of the seiyuu industry since many of them don’t ring a bell to me (sorry) but they’ve got some experience in the industry. The only veteran seiyuu I recognized from the list is Kikuko Inoue playing as Maki’s mother.

Music plays a big part of any idol themed animes. I won’t say that I totally love their songs and moves, I just find them rather okay. I’m not an idol person so don’t hate me for that. Still, I think they sound pretty good and enjoyable. Of all the songs that I have heard and featured in this anime, the one that I like most is the insert song, Start:Dash! Well, at least I thought it made me tap my feet to its nice tune. The opening theme is Bokura Wa Ima No Naka De by Muse (who else?) and sounds like your typical energetic and happy idol song complete with its own unique moves for this piece. Kitto Seishun Ga Kikoeru by Muse (seriously, you’re not thinking it would be some other group, aren’t you?) is the ending the theme and although it is still the lively piece, it feels less energetic compared to the opening theme. Although this is the only ending song, there are many versions of it. I mean, with 9 members in Muse, there are going to be a version which is sung by only one of them or a duet and so on. The combination is endless although hardcore fans would know the ‘permanent members’ when they are not singing together as a whole and when they break into smaller units of 3. In my opinion, I think they sound better if all sing the song. Because some don’t really sound good if they’re singing solo… Whoops. I’m not the one to say…

The drawing and art of the anime is of course vividly bright and colourful. You can’t attract people having dull and monochrome colours, can’t you? In the course of the anime, you get to see Muse performing in some of their trademark costumes and perhaps even more in the next season. To add to the realism of the dance and choreography, CGI animation of the girls is used just like how it was done in AKB0048 too. At first it may look odd since we have been watching the 2D version for quite a while and then when the performance begins, it shifts into 3D animation. The difference won’t be very much but it is noticeable. More importantly, the animation using CGI is smooth so it doesn’t make Muse feel like a bunch of robots dancing on stage. Of course not the entire song is in CGI mode as some parts are still in 2D animation. This anime was produced by Sunrise and Aikatsu, another idol themed anime was produced under them.

Despite this series lacking all the action and sci-fi stuffs compared to AKB0048, this is still quite an enjoyable show. Unless of course if you aren’t into idols and music, then you may have considered a bunch of girls forming an idol group to save their school from closure to be tad boring. If you’re thinking that this show is intended for girls, I have a feeling it is targeted for mainly males instead. I mean, the main gender group that would love an all-female idol group would be guys, right? There would be girls too but don’t you think all that sexy dance moves and sexy outfit are to attract males? Is it their singing and dancing that we are more interested or is it something else? Well, sometimes I feel that for those who can’t make it to their favourite idol concerts (or even afford it), perhaps this is a reason why this anime is created. So you can watch it from the comfort of your room. But then again, which crazy idol fan doesn’t have every collectible and memorabilia of their favourite idol group, know every darn trivia about them and attended every concert or other events they organized?