I See What You Did There AKB0048 Episode 05, and We Cool

[EveTaku] AKB0048 - 05 (1280x720 x264 AAC)[5BB9517D].mkv_snapshot_16.00_[2012.05.30_07.45.31]

[AKB0048 Episode 04]

The conceit (or at least, one of the main ones) of AKB0048 is how each idol character in this far distant future is a “successor” of the present day AKB48 idol group. Now I know next to nothing about this idol group, but I’ve been watching anime for 3o years so I know some things about some of the shows I’ve watched, and in this post one of these things came together in a way that amused me a fair bit.

In this episode the highly regimented schedule of the successors and their understudies allowed for a day off. Predictably this is a piece to flesh out character details and personalities, showcase traits, and have characters play off each other. What brings the episode together is how the conceit of successors is highlighted.

The most interesting to me is the case of Itano Tomomi, who is basically succeeded by a human genome project LOL.

[EveTaku] AKB0048 - 05 (1280x720 x264 AAC)[5BB9517D].mkv_snapshot_13.01_[2012.05.30_07.07.08]

The level of commitment to produce successors to Tomochin is such that the family marries men who have a resemblance to the original so that the daughters will more or less look like Tomomi. This blew my mind. Science fiction in the service of pop idolatry – this is why they brought in Kawamori LOL.

Then there’s Yuuko who’s goal is to continue the tradition of the Center; in this case she goes beyond the idea of merely succeeding an original idol, but also performing a role within the group.

Before I go any further, I ask why do the show this way? The easy answer is that the show is in the service of popularizing the current roster one way or another. The other answer is something I find far more interesting. It has to do with the nature of anime franchises.

First, it’s not easy to create original characters that will stick, especially with such a large cast. With the successor conceit each anime character has a base from which to play off from, to fill in, take cues from, and distinguish themselves from. The show doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, it makes variations on the wheel design. Second, this precisely describes how franchises re-release iterations of itself.

I’ll let the images do some of the talking. Let’s take Yuuko and her center obsession:

[EveTaku] AKB0048 - 04 (1280x720 x264 AAC)[FC361B11].mkv_snapshot_09.02_[2012.05.30_02.04.04]

The Center is the leader of the idol group. She holds the song together, if my understanding is correct. Now consider this set of images:

image

The differences are obvious. Fans of each character can clearly distinguish one from the other. The similarities however, are obvious as well and go beyond “teenager who pilots a/the Gundam.” Every time there’s a new Gundam TV show or film with a new story, the role is played by a teenager who has an absent/troubled/dead parent who may or may not have had a hand in making/keeping the Gundam. Except for Flit Asuno, we never see them grow old, just as we don’t know the circumstances of Aachan’s graduation.

We can say that each new show succeeds the original in the franchise, just as each new lead character succeeds Amuro Ray as the pilot of the Gundam. Bright Noa all but validates this in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn (episode 05).

 

On the other hand, going back to Tomochin, the successor lineage is genetic (all in the family). I hesitate to use the Asunos of Mobile Suit Gundam AGE because they’re all in the same show, but there’s a strong example. Perhaps similarly, and distinct from how lead protagonists succeed Amuro Ray in Gundam, look at this:

tumblr_luh87wWzbe1r5aicqo1_1280

The image doesn’t even have Zeheart Galette yet, but you get the picture. There’s a villain in almost every iteration of the franchise that cannot be just a villain. He has to be a masked villain – some version of Char Aznable.

This is exactly what AKB0048 does for the meatspace idol group. It gives them the anime franchise treatment. The originals are not, and should not be replaced. Instead, the narrative builds on the base of their personalities to portray anime-specific characters. It’s kind of like remembering love too.

And who does this remembering love schtick early, often, and well? It’s the guy who came up with these (except Ishtar):

sample-07b8ec697ca56f3875c9e1de13693268

And yes, it’s Macross’ Kawamori who is the primary force behind AKB0048.

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 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to I See What You Did There AKB0048 Episode 05, and We Cool

  1. Lin says:

    “The Center is the leader of the idol group.”

    Didn’t read the whole review yet but I wanted to correct this. The Center is not the leader of the group. The Center is the main figure on stage, the one at the center of the dance formation, hence why the position is called “center”. Another name for this position would be “front girl”. In any case, this role is about appeal, so much so that in the real AKB the Center is chosen by a popularity contest. The current center is Acchan, with Yuko right there in second place.

    The leader, on the other hand, is the group maintainer, the one who looks out for the all the girls and takes care of the group dynamic. AKB’s leader is Takamina.

    Who knows if all this plays out in the same way in the anime though.

  2. Jay says:

    The level of commitment to produce successors to Tomochin is such that the family marries men who have a resemblance to the original so that the daughters will more or less look like Tomomi. This blew my mind. Science fiction in the service of pop idolatry – this is why they brought in Kawamori LOL.

    Oh my God. Seriously? Oh my God. No. No. No. This blew my mind to pieces… and it never came back.

  3. Those fanfics involving Macross and AKB0048 are gonna be hilarious. AKB starts singing, Basara defolds, “ORE NO UTAU KIKE!”, drowns out AKB’s music.

    Is it me or does Aachan have this really scary look on her face?

  4. Pingback: AKB0048: Elegant Idols, For A More Civilized Age | Continuing World

  5. Pingback: A Loving Portrayal of The Hater: AKB0048 Episode 06 | We Remember Love

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s