Sunday, 14 August 2016

Exploring Idol anime: Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls Season 2

Idolm@ster series is my first foray into the Idol mayhem that's been prevalent in the community. Season 1 although little stood out for me in particular (most noteworthy the live concert sequence in epsiode 3) it was a neat and simple introduction to the main characters. I wasn't entirely impressed with the cast or the drama so I wasn't very compelled to start season 2 after watching it but it was out of my own obligation to actually give the series a "completion" that I started it. I am so glad I did that.

Cinderella Girls season 2 has been an amazing ride which hits a conclusion declaring no winners or losers despite how it started off - it was all a matter of perspective, opportunity and authority. The Director moved in her perspective aided by her authority over the production studio just the way Producer moved in his perspective by the opportunity he had to put his plan in action. Both of them had a significance but nothing is absolute. It also thematically fell into the Cinderella story - one gauged the worth of an idol with reference to the gradeur of the castle where the ball is held, the other gauged it with their earnest desires. Afterall we would not have a Cinderella if we only look at appearances. To use a simpler metaphor the director looks for potential from high places while the Producer searches from amidst them.

The series mainly revolves around the idea of fullfilling your desires and more importantly keeping it up. It makes use of the Cinderella theme symbolically and narrative-wise to convey something that's more than a layman's interpretation of a fairy tale. While season 1 dealt with the act of fullfilling your desires by putting their patience and ability to test bringing them to a "start", it was still a long way ahead for them - season 2 ups the ante with much deeper issues, effectively tackling every facet it takes to not only fullfill your desires but also to maintain or go even further than that, as it put: exploring the world of possibilities and acknowledging that they are not alone in what they think or do.

Through out the season there were character dramas that tackled on fear(Chieri, Mio), anxiety(Uzuki), guilt(Rin), self-abuse(Kanako) and existentialist dread(Mika, Uzuki, Rina) within the context of a genre/field or in the industry entirely. It did an incredible job in relaying these stories while also maintaining compelling characters in every situation. The director in particular was an excellent addition to stirring up the show and creating great drama amongst the main cast. She was the much needed entity in season 1 but her appearance in season 2 makes sense. She has also been consistently strong as a semi-antogonistic character through out the show with her sharp gaze and attitude towards her work.

Every story and underlying message is presented neatly which is what I really like about the direction in the show. Everything is made clear not only through words but also through a combination of visuals or presentation. Nothing felt underhanded. Interesting use of perspectives in every episode positioning to implicitly relay the character's feelings or the intensity of the situation and while it is not as frequent as I'd like, the occassional flair of character animation portrayed through dancing is a delight to watch.

My favorite stories were the ones revolving Asterisk and that of Rin's proposal to form Triad Primus. The former taught that your work is mostly what you make of it through Rina believing that her pop idol group was the "rock" idol of her dream while Natuski didn't believe her actual "rock" band was the "rock band" of her dreams. The latter created a very interesting but difficult predicament for Rin but I really loved how Nao and Karen handled it. Karen in particular acknowledged Rin's dilemma but also didn't entirely succumb to empathy citing that they may be unfair but it is undeniable that they have a right to make their desired choice. They do let Rin make the final call. I bloody love that honesty and forwardness, frankly it's something I don't get to see very often and it was incredibly gratifying and moving to witness. Of course there were other great epsiodes on Uzuki with the brilliantly executed scene of her breaking down with anxiety or Mio learning about her acting skills while she relays her sense of self-discovery and exploration to her friends through a stage play rehersal. Not every character had the same lime light as some of the cast but I think the show gave more imporatance to those themes or issues one has to face than the characters themselves which I am in agreement with. I've had much to think and take in for every episode, there were many details to observe and identify, almost everything I saw had a meaning to them which is a great quality for a show.

I really have little to complain about the show, it was great from start to finish. If anything I can imagine people pointing out to being too "peppy", "petulant" or "girly" but I don't think it should bother you if you're just in for great story telling through impressive production quality. I did not find it that way, those are very real issues one can potentially face should the situation arise and the show provides a great perspective on them. Secondly, I highly recommend this if you've somehow dropped season 1 or didn't even bother starting over characters being written as one-off archetypes, season 2 is your savior.

The originial im@s from what I heard is quite different from CG in that it's not a character drama but that it's good in its own way.

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