Power To The Dream! AKB0048 Episode 01

WHY? After much consideration (and wholly ignoring this stupid poll), I conclude that I am a fan of Kawamori Shoji. It doesn’t mean that I like anything he does by default – as even with Macross I have a deep-seated resentment for the shit he pulls. However, I do try to like the projects he involves himself with, and besides, I survived watching all of Idolm@ster (which sucked, no matter how hard I tried to like it). And so, I find myself watching the first episode of AKB0048.

For those who are unfamiliar with this blog, I do not review shows and this is post no exception. The service I attempt to render is entertainment, not taste manipulation. My posts are personal logs that I choose to make public. With these personal notes out of the way, let me get into this episode, which much to my surprise, I ended up liking by the end despite pretty much being filled with stuff I don’t really care for.

And no, I wasn’t too impressed by the mecha battle in the middle of the concert. Slick production values aside, this is not Macross-level entertainment.

But yes, I did like the episode! By what miracle did this show catch my interest and hold my attention? I think more than anything it’s the sharper focus on three (four? WTF happened to Chieri? Will she meet Nagisa, Yuuka, and Orine in the auditions and have turned into this diva bitch? I HOPE SO) leads. At first I was apprehensive about a huge cast, but soon enough I realize that this was a Minmay-esque underdog rise-to-the-top kind of story – only that with real underdogs because the leads are pretty much w/o obvious talent (unlike Minmay, Ranka, Sheryl, etc.).

At the end of the episode, I had to eat up a whole lot of slick-looking fluff, but it wasn’t so bad due to the production values. But let’s consider one aspect of the setting:

Banning entertainment as a means to control a population is sure pretty out there (and by out there, I mean the ridiculous part of Kawamori’s imagination where Aquarion EVOL and the like come from). Entertainment is a great way to control a population, and such provided by the most asinine, inane, saccharine, popular (but not populist) song-and-dance offerings of idols is the least subversive thing a government should worry about.

But no, this is not 20th Century Boys. The political backdrop only really sets up a semi-involved family drama with Nagisa and his Bureau of Censors chief father. The mother supports her in undermining dad’s authority and gives her leave to run away and join the circus. See Yuuka, she’s not a coward. Nagisa grew in character within 20 minutes of storytelling /sarcasm.

Are the girls cute? They are, especially after they did a little growing up. I was afraid for a moment that this’ll be a show of grade-schoolers. Is the music catchy? I didn’t get caught, but if I survived Idolm@ster’s crap I think I’ll be okay. The question I ask myself as I resolve to continue watching this show is whether the charms of the cast (and hopefully the music) would grab hold of me like K-On!! and not piss me off like Idolm@ster. I’m not expecting a Ranka Lee level star especially since Kanno Yoko isn’t involved in this production, but it would be nice for some kind of approximation.

So this will be my personal storyline watching this show. CAN SOMEONE BE LIKE RANKA BY THE END OF IT ALL? C’mon I’m not asking for that much. It’s not like I’m asking for Mylene Jenius or anything.

Ranka wearing Sheryl's most awesome outfit

As is my terrible habit, I will let guests show up and give their thoughts on things. But remember, this show and blog series is a Ranka Lee contest as far as We Remember Love is concerned.  I’ll be inviting judges relevant to Ranka’s own rise to galactic stardom. But you never know who might show—

I don’t think you should be surprised.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in AKB0048, first impressions and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Power To The Dream! AKB0048 Episode 01

  1. Xard says:

    Banning entertainment as a means to control a population is sure pretty out there (and by out there, I mean the ridiculous part of Kawamori’s imagination where Aquarion EVOL and the like come from). Entertainment is a great way to control a population, and such provided by the most asinine, inane, saccharine, popular (but not populist) song-and-dance offerings of idols is the least subversive thing a government should worry about.

    Actually this is one of those instances when Kawamori showcases that as much as he enjoys being goofy (on top of being naturally weird guy) and coming up with bizarre ideas and shamelessly purely entertaining shows he is despite this obviously intelligent and really well-read fellow (in 90s, after mastering speed reading, the man used to read dozens of books in a day, largerly nonfiction too) who has the habit of inserting thematic subtext or references in places where most viewers miss it completely.

    The utter ridiculosity and stupidity of AKB0048’s setup ended up being one of these LOLKAWAMORI moments as well as proof of adage about truth being weirder than fiction:

    “Japan instituted a ban on entertainment during the Tenpō Reforms of the 1840’s. They’re described in the Wikipedia article on the Reform’s architect, Mizuno Tadakuni. “The Reform tried to stabilize the economy, through a return to the frugality, simplicity and discipline that were characteristic from the early Edo period by banning most forms of entertainment and displays of wealth.”

    The name of the setting was also highly amusing to me. The setting is very much a very industrial dystopiaised Lancaster but in kana “Lancaster” and “Ranka star” are identical in spelling giving the name some really goofy allusion quality. The kanji for place 藍花星 in this case is read as “Ranka Hoshi” aka Orchid Star/Planet

    Music being weak can’t be helped since it’s AKB48 and thus embodiment of generic fluffy pop. There’s no composer with Kanno’s incredibly sharp pen for pop gems involved so I’m not expecting much from that aspect of the show.

    Production values and design job really shined here though. I found the setting fantastic with lovely art direction and colour scheme in its drapness and I was kinda sad they had to leave it so soon. CG is all around excellent too, of course.

    It’s placebo-Macross but nevertheless I found it enjoyable and rather good, much better than it has any right to be.

    Hence I’ve nicknamed the series IdolM@across 7 as it is

    ps. I thought character designs sucked when I saw the promo art and all but in actual animation they’re wonderful and cute. Hearts in eyes/hair highlight is wacky on Ranka’s hair level of wacky as far as design quirks come. I

    • Are the entertainment bans across all media or just specific acts of censorship? Most forms is not all forms as is the case with AKB0048.

      LOL Ranka Star. This makes it perfect for my purposes.

      • Xard says:

        I don’t really know more about Tenpo Reforms than is said here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mizuno_Tadakuni

        (fwiw synopsis for series’s plot also references some WWII era stuff as far as japanese history bubbling up is considered)

        but it certainly sounds quite far-fetched. I’m also thinking of East Block and such and what happened with media in some areas, it isn’t really all that far-fetched.

        Here’s the plot synopsis anyway (I don’t know if it helps), it’s really LOLKAWAMORI:

        In an era when entertainment is outlawed, there is an idol group that offers underground guerilla concerts despite the danger. The name of that female group is AKB0048.

        Until just before the annihilation of Earth, AKB48 shined as legendary idols.

        This is the story of the super galactic idol team that inherited that name.

        In the beginning of the 21st century, a world war erupts over interplanetary travel technology. Humanity inflicts large-scale devastation upon the ecosystem and forces itself to make a mass exodus from Earth. In the year Star Calendar 00, a new era begins as humanity migrates to a self-imposed exile in space.

        Before long, the (provisional) “Super Galactic Alliance” institutes a “Entertainment Prohibition Law” to control “entertainment and music which corrupts people’s minds.” Except for certain areas (zones of absolute entertainment defense*), any form of entertainment is strictly punished. One by one, idols disappear, and people’s minds are enveloped in darkness.

        * A reference to Japan’s World War II strategy of “zone of absolute national defense”

        And so, people who were once called “idols” are now thought to be entirely extinct. However, there was an idol group who have arisen: AKB0048. They rise up as “illegal idols” who inherit the light and spirit of those legendary members of AKB48.

        http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2011-12-13/akb48-girl-group-akb048-anime-story-revealed

  2. schneider says:

    GANODA-SAAAAAAAAAAAAN

    Is Ranka in Goddess of War getup official art? Also… hexagonal missile pods are definitely bueno for me.

  3. Cratex says:

    I have to also add that Oliver Cromwell banned a lot of things people used for entertainment in England in the 1600s, probably for a variety of reasons. Obviously governments doing such things have occurred in the past, and may occur again in the future. I’m just not sure I can take this show seriously.

    • Xard says:

      I’m not sure how “seriously” it’s ment to be taken in all respects anyway.

      • Cratex says:

        I’m sure I’m coming across stronger than I intend, but what i mean is from the trailer I’ve watched and the descriptions and a couple of screen shots I’m left with the impression of “candy land meets mecha warriors”. Not sure how else to describe my impression. I’m willing to be proved wrong – I’ve made a fool out of myself over bad first impressions of other shows, and it won’t be the last I’m sure.

    • Take it as seriously as you’d Aquarion EVOL.

  4. bluemist says:

    This reminds me… I thought you were going to write about The Idolm@ster and burn it to the ground? One thing though, you have to appreciate the actually-drawn dance sequences in that as compared to the 3D CG crap all over this AKB0048 anime. 3D CG is starting to feel like laziness to me, we now have the tools to do that in even in low budgets. Call me oldfag maybe.

    Anyway, this should be more right up your alley, looking forward to your thoughts.

    • Xard says:

      3D CG isn’t really anywhere near as lazy and definetly not CHEAP as its reputation sometimes has and this is one such instance IMO.

      I still appreciate The Idolmaster hand drawn sequences more though but that’s because they were of really exceptional quality, not because they were simply hand drawn.

      Well, the anime was pretty boring apart from that

    • I didn’t go through with it because I can’t make the post funny enough. As Xard said, the CG here is pretty good for CG.

  5. lvlln says:

    Civilian control through banning entertainment isn’t actually that crazy and is a pretty well established idea in dystopian fiction. Just look a the classics 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, and the movie Equilibrium which was greatly influenced by those books.

  6. Marcomax says:

    Anti-Idol Missiles …

    No I’m not going to post anything else. I have nothing informative to say. Just Anti-Idol Missiles. I don’t know what blew my mind first.

    A) You have missiles specifically designed for combating stage concerts.
    B) Each Missile has the No-Idol logo painted on it because you need hammer home the message.
    C) Your using explosive weapons in the vicinity of a large crowd. Hate to be the guy handling PR and Damage Control afterword.

    Well logic wasn’t going to help me much here anyway.

    In all seriousness, this was one of the series I’ve been looking forward to all season. I know next to nothing about AKB48 but these sort of celebrity vanity projects always catch my eye. When I was a kid I loved the Spice Girls movie. AKB0048 looked like if someone made the fake “Spice Force Five” for real.

  7. WhatSht says:

    Seriously, I wonder what would happen if Basara suddenly appeared out of nowhere and starts singing.
    Is it me or is Kawamori trying to link his recent shows to Macross?

  8. hai says:

    During the Tenpo Reform in Japan, the country did attempt to ban entertainment with excuses of returning to simpler times, and for people to focus on works. Since Nagisa’s planet have alot of factories and workers, it make sense.

    “The Reform tried to stabilize the economy, through a return to the frugality, simplicity and discipline that were characteristic from the early Edo period by banning most forms of entertainment and displays of wealth. The proved extremely unpopular with the commoners. ”

    Anyway this show is good entertainment and since the soldiers in the beginning used riot gears instead of fatal weapons ie shield, web missiles, water cannons. It make it less serious because they were trying to catch them, not kill them.

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