Stop! You’ll Make Me Start Liking It: AKB0048 Episode 04

[EveTaku] AKB0048 - 04 (1280x720 x264 AAC)[FC361B11].mkv_snapshot_20.44_[2012.05.24_08.25.20]

[AKB0048 Episode 03]

Due to responsibilities in meatspace, I’ve been having trouble keeping up with blogging anime, responding to comments, etc. This is a shame because AKB0048 is getting good. This episode I think, is exceptional. Incredibly dense, in terms of fleshing out the context of the narratives. There’s a lot for me to sink my teeth into.

But whether or not I get to chew on all of this, in this post, I need to say this much: as a piece of propaganda for idols in general, this show is amazing. By the end of the episode even I want to be a goddamn idol. Now to get into the bones of things.

[EveTaku] AKB0048 - 04 (1280x720 x264 AAC)[FC361B11].mkv_snapshot_11.27_[2012.05.24_08.16.58]

Failure

I like how very early on the show established the context for failure. In the previous episode we see candidates culled. The impact for me wasn’t that strong because well, the screening was an absurd fake live combat exercise where infantry idols with AK-0047s fought off giant robots.

This time however, we’re treated to the story of the 75th generation of understudies – the cursed generation. There’s only two left, the others already culled and/or quit. Even better, the last two aren’t successors yet, and it’s been two years. I wonder where the 76th generation is, now I’m really interested to see the dynamics when they’re eventually introduced.

Levels

We’re treated to some idol lore, when the “center” position was featured front and center in a faux-nostalgic way. The narrative presented an entire lineage of a broken tradition of idols who’ve held the position, and then shows us a current generation successor hot-bloodedly declaring the position will return, with her filling it. This is clever stuff, in building depth to the idol experience.

[EveTaku] AKB0048 - 04 (1280x720 x264 AAC)[FC361B11].mkv_snapshot_12.50_[2012.05.24_08.17.56]

LOL Kanata

Utterly without shame, Kanata presents the idol group as freedom fighters, ridding the galaxy of oppression via censorship of entertainment. Her own motivation is revenge for her father who was the kind of freedom fighter who fought directly. Predictably, this single-mindedness is what prevents her from transcending her skills and training and manifesting “true idol aura.”

Chieri knows what this is, and she knows only Nagisa truly has it, or was born with it: a natural idol. Which brings me to:

Newtypes and Cyber Newtypes

If Nagisa is a natural idol, born with true idol charisma and soul, then the rest work themselves into becoming facsimiles of this. They may discover something like this in themselves – as Kanata has begun to – in becoming an idol who sings her love. This kind of transformation is after all the grueling training. Many of these girls aren’t natural idols, but the Successor Program is designed to enable those who survive to discover this in themselves.

[EveTaku] AKB0048 - 04 (1280x720 x264 AAC)[FC361B11].mkv_snapshot_15.13_[2012.05.24_08.19.14]

The Successor Program also shamelessly glorifies those who survive the process and become idols. And why not? Such an individual, at a very young age forfeits many freedoms in exchange for the opportunity to play the role. These people are subjected to militarized training regimens, as well as give up certain aspects of their personality and character to manifest a public persona.

Unlike the utterly inauthentic Idolm@ster where the daily lives of idols only reveal them to be many kinds of moe, this show presents a higher level of inauthenticity – that of the sanitized struggle. Yes I do believe its sanitized fantasy, but there’s actual conflict here, and more importantly, actual failures in personality and character. We know Meanyface will sort things out in the end just like Kanata did in this episode, but the fact that she’s dark not because she’s a victim but rather the source of the negativity/conflict, Chieri makes the show a lot more interesting.

The more you like… the more you love, the better! After all, AKB0048 are the idols who come to see you. They’re the idols who sing their love.

I can only imagine the moment when she turns, it’ll be a bigger production than the theme song power up that got through Kanata here, and me as well.

image

Hey Ranka-chan, how would it feel like if you had a dozen Sheryl’s to hang out with and cheering you on?

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.
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18 Responses to Stop! You’ll Make Me Start Liking It: AKB0048 Episode 04

  1. bluemist says:

    Yes, besides my disdain for the amateurs’ voice acting, this is one of the stronger episodes of AKB0048, and reminds me that there’s Kawamori and other decent staff behind the show, which I totally forgot at some point.

    As an idol propaganda show though? Nope, not for me. Propaganda in my context means that through this show you start to consume AKB48 music and merchandise. Not happening yet, and even if it does, I won’t sink into the abyss and fan over the actual idols like crazy. There are a couple of interesting songs, but nothing’s catchy enough to deserve being added to my sanitized music playlist yet. (Then again, I’m the person who shamelessly bought into Idolm@ster and added 20+ songs to my so-called “sanitized” playlist.) Maybe soon.

  2. Jay says:

    it is, after all, a distraction from whatever political issues we are seeing.

  3. Spoon says:

    Chieri makes the show for me too. Without her we wouldn’t have much of the conflict/drama they series works with.

    BTW, I wouldn’t take what she said about “true idol aura” as fact at this point. We can’t be sure she’s right about this yet. As far as I can tell, the series seems to point out that being an idol is all about mind-set. Nagisa might be a natural just because she has always been a positive genki girl, and not because a freaking idol ghost is inside her or something retarded like that.

    The other reason I think Chieri might be wrong is because if there was only one “true idol”, and the one who is modeled after Atsuko Maeda at that, wouldn’t that be like saying that only Acchan is a true idol? But what about the rest of the AKBs?

    After the last episode I’m entertaining another idea though. What if the “true idol aura” comes from team-work. For instance, even though Chieri think Kirara glowed for Nagisa, the truth is that both Chieri and Nagisa were together at that moment (and it was the same for the second time it glowed). What if Chieri’s and Nagisa’s idol aura exist as an expression of their connection as friends and teammates? And let’s not forget that Kirara has followed Chieri all this time, and still does even now. Would the little critter be doing that if she really didn’t have the “true idol” thing inside her? I don’t think so.

    • Interesting points here. I haven’t taken these details as seriously, or a better way of putting it, is I haven’t looked into these details as closely as you have. But definitely, this teamwork dynamic is a big deal. Nagisa made enough of a point about that in the previous episodes.

    • Digibro says:

      Mind-set is a product of your birth, though. You were born into this situation, which raised you this way, making you this person. That’s what talent really means, and it does dictate all of us. But it’s a thing that we shape constantly. Nagisa was born with the aura, and Chieri thinks she can’t achieve it because she wasn’t born with the same thing. But it’s possible that the avenue for that talent opening does exist. The way Chieri was born led her here, and could lead her to something acceptable as idol material without matching Nagisa. This would still be talent—it would still be the product of Chieri’s birth, ultimately, just a conclusion arrived at later than when Nagisa arrived there.

      And ultimately, this is no different from them both having an idol ghost living inside of them or something. It’s just a different explanation for the same thing. The show may not ultimately rationalize this the way I have, but it will still be true.

      • Spoon says:

        “You were born into this situation, which raised you this way, making you this person.”

        I don’t think that’s what the show meant by “born with it”. I think what Chieri was talking about was something innate, something decided from your birth (literally). Like the actual spirit of an idol inside you, or something like that.

        And I think she’s wrong. And I think that her story in this series is about her realizing that she’s wrong. And realizing that she only needs to stop isolating herself and do her best, and her true idol aura will shine naturally.

        “The way Chieri was born led her here, and could lead her to something acceptable as idol material without matching Nagisa.”

        Isn’t a little premature to assume that Nagisa will be more successful an idol than Chieri? I wouldn’t do that myself just yet. For instance, there has to be a reason kirara followed Chieri all this time and still does. For all we know, Chieri could be a legendary idol or something. Just a thought….

  4. SQA says:

    Producer to Kawamori: “I’d like you to make an advertising send up for our Idol group”.
    Kawamori: “Sure, give me a week or two to mull it over”.
    Two weeks later:
    Kawamori: “So, we’re going to put hearts everywhere and it’s going to be Idols fighting for the right to have entertainment!”
    Producer: “Sounds awesome! And we can work in lots of songs for more exposure!”

    Kawamori, under breath: “I didn’t mention that I’m going to make this a combination of Fame, Macross and Saving Private Ryan. Why? Because I am the Magnificent Bastard of Anime.”

  5. shumbapumba says:

    I must admit, for a topic that doesn’t interest me at all, this shows has somehow sparked my curiosity.

  6. Xard says:

    At this rate IdolM@cross 7 is going to become THE show that’s much better than it should be.

    It’s already way better than IdolM@ster and Macross 7 ever were, nice job AKB no aidorutachi

    • It’s good, but it has 40 episodes more to go to approach Macross 7 levels of goodness.

      • Xard says:

        but IdolM@cross 7 is superior precisely because it doesn’t happen to feature 40+ episodes of filler! 😛

        (I once tried counting all episodes of tv series where anything of actual importance happens and couldn’t make it to ten…)

  7. Pingback: I See What You Did There AKB0048 Episode 05, and We Cool | We Remember Love

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