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