After a season-long break, The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls is back, and I for one could not be happier. As my numerous posts about this show earlier this year might indicate, I am a big fan of this show, as well as the original iM@S anime. The second half of Cinderella Girls continues right where the first half left off, without even resetting the episode numbers: the girls of the Cinderella Project have all had success in their sub-units and have also made a performance as one big group, and now have notable fame in the idol fandom to their names. Of course, this means that just like in the original iM@S anime, it is time to test the girls’ resolve by introducing an antagonist to threaten their careers.
However, this time around, we do not get a rival idol company with a cartoony villain manager like Kuroi from the first iM@S series. For the girls of 346 Productions, their threat comes from within, in the form of their new executive director, Mishiro. For what it’s worth, she is by no means evil; she does nothing out of malice, only out of her own beliefs of how to achieve success. However, those beliefs prioritize quick and significant results over the feelings of the idols themselves, and lead her to disband all current idol projects in 346 Productions while she personally pushes forward the careers of only those idols she believes will get those results.
Naturally, this announcement does not go over well with the girls of 346 Productions. With CD debuts getting cancelled and the future of everyone’s careers uncertain, the mood at the company becomes quite grim. However, the Producer of our main cast realizes that something is wrong with Mishiro’s approach, and quickly protests against it, expressing his belief that the girls should approach their careers in their own ways so as to protect their smiles. Mishiro’s only reply is to ask him to propose his own plan that can also produce the results she is looking for, and to continue on with her own plans in the meantime.
It’s easy to classify this as a simple conflict between someone who just wants results and someone who actually cares about the people who can bring those results. However, the show does take a slightly different approach toward the matter, looking rather at the different goals the various girls have that differ from Mishiro’s vision. This is the basis for the Producer’s opposition, and it also forms the basis for episode 15’s mini-arc featuring Kaede.
Today we continue our review of the winter 2015 anime season with reviews of Aldnoah.zero 2, Junketsu no Maria, Drrrx2, Dog Days”, Parasyte, and The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls. And tune in tomorrow for a finale that we’re approaching a little differently!
The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls
The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls
stardf29 – 8/10
The original iDOLM@STER anime started off slow but ended up really good; Cinderella Girls keeps up the quality of the original while having a stronger start. The first seven episodes are especially strong, with a good plot line that explores a lot of both the excitement and disappointments of entering the entertainment industry (as well as providing me with plenty of blog material). The character focus episodes that followed were all very solid, too, if not as strong as the show’s first quarter. The development of the producer character is yet another strong point that this show has inherited from its predecessor. Overall, this show looks to be every bit as good as, if not better than, the original iM@S anime and I am definitely looking forward to the second half this summer.
Episode 7 of The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls is an absolutely amazing episode. While the episode itself focuses on the simple matter of getting Mio to return to the Cinderella Project, the situation is explored from various perspectives, mainly with how the Producer handles everything, but also with how Mio, Rin and the other girls react. This means there are a lot of things worth talking about in this episode. I already talked about some of it in my last post on this series, and I will be covering even more in this post.
This time, I would like to look at the episode from the Producer’s and Rin’s perspectives. As we find out, the Producer has had some history with idol production before, which has affected how he approaches the Cinderella Project. Meanwhile, Rin, who had joined in the hopes of finding something to be passionate about, has only found instead disappointment with how the Producer is handling the matter with Mio. Both of them have found out the same thing: that even if it’s just for business, relationship can be a risky thing, and the end result is not always good. After the jump, I will look at what each of them learns in this episode.
In the two most recent episodes of The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls, the focus shifts back to the main trio of Uzuki, Rin, and Mio as they work on their CD debut and prepare for a mini-concert to promote their new CD. Mio is particularly excited about their upcoming concert: she invites all her friends at school and tells them that they should get to the concert site early so they can get good spots. When the concert site turns out to be a stage at a shopping mall, she is worried that all the noise from their concert would disrupt the nearby stores.
Then the actual performance happens, and it turns out to really be just a mall performance: the type of relatively small-scale performance that catches the attention of passersby but does not draw huge crowds or large cheers. And after the concert, there seems to be a look of disappointment on her face, even though as far as we could tell, her performance went off smoothly. (The fact that all her friends were there to cheer for her only made things worse.) As it turns out, she was expecting a major concert, similar to the one she participated in as a backup dancer with established idol Mika earlier in the series. Faced with the reality of her modest debut, compounded with the embarrassment of knowing her friends had been there, she says she wants to quit being an idol.
As much as Mio’s expectations and disappointment are just typical teenager naïvete, I can relate to her feelings, particularly from a perspective of Christian evangelism. Several Christians hear about how God is all-powerful and ready to bring about a great revival, inspiring us to have faith in God to do big things. However, even though God can do big things, reality is oftentimes a lot more modest than we might otherwise expect. In my case, I help out with my church’s young adult ministry. As our church is relatively new–the young adult ministry even more so–we decided to start up a special monthly service on a university campus. Our goal was to reach out to as many of the students there as we could; a group of us even went the day before to hand out flyers. We handed out over a hundred flyers, in the hopes that a decent portion of those people would stop by for a look.
The next day, the people at the service consisted mostly of existing members of the young adult group, with the number of new people from the university around five or so.
This can definitely seem like a disappointing result; at the very least, it certainly was not the great revival we are told God is capable of. This is just one example of a situation that many Christians can find themselves in when evangelizing, expecting something great but finding results far below our expectations. And while one solution is to simply lower our expectations, for Christians, lowering expectations can feel like saying that God is not capable of great things, when we know He certainly is. So how can we deal with this disappointment? Read the rest of this entry
The new season of anime has brought another idol anime (think less heathen idols and more American Idol): specifically, another anime based on the iDOLM@STER franchise of idol-based video games. Cinderella Girls focuses on a new group of 14 girls, in particular focusing on the three newest members of the “Cinderella Project” group at 346 Productions: Uzuki, Rin, and Mio. Shortly after they are brought on board the project, they are put on the fast track to stardom as they are assigned roles as backup dancers for an established idol, and soon after that (in the most recent episode 5) are chosen to have their CD debut (along with two other members, Minami and Anastasia). This is all very exciting for these three, but not everyone is entirely happy with their success.
Miku is probably the most vocally displeased with how these three girls have gotten to have their idol debut already, when she has been with the project longer than they have. She challenges the girls to various games to try to take their place, tries to persuade the producer with her own debut proposal, and when all else fails, she “goes on strike” to make her case (and by “goes on strike”, she means blockading the company’s cafeteria). Her actions may be comical, but her frustration is very understandable: not only has she been practicing for a long time with no sign of her debut coming, but now she sees these three girls enter the project after her and get their debut before her–of course that would be disheartening.
Christians might also encounter a situation like what Miku goes through. They pray to God and seek after Him for something, whether that be a spouse, a promotion, or a special ministry opportunity, but God seems to remain silent about their request. This is discouraging enough as it is, but it only gets worse when they see their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who have been in the faith shorter than they have, get married, promoted, or enter ministry before they do. They know they should be happy for them, but instead they start to feel resentful toward their fellow Christians or toward God. Their faith starts to waver as they wonder, “When will my time come?”
Something More: Pornoviolence in Sword Art Online, Mythology of Tsuritama, and the Kingdom of iDOLM@STER
Nick describes the conflicting issues of pornoviolence in our beloved games and anime, and points to a specific example in this past week’s episode of Sword Art Online. [A Rather Silly Blog]
Click writes about his adoration of mythology and how Tsuritama is a modern take on the Japanese myth of Ryūjin, the water dragon. [Pretense with Glasses]
Omo compares iDOLM@STER and his growing interest in the franchise to Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed. [omonomono]
Shinmaru dives into The Laws of Eternity, a Happy Science anime, for a 12 Days of Christmas post. [The Cart Driver]
As part of the Something More series of posts (formerly Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere), each week, Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality. If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK if you’d like it included.
Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: iDOLM@STER Theology, Tamaki’s War Angels, and Hidamarimpermanent Sketch
A_Libellule discusses the idea of mono no aware and the related Buddhist principal of impermanence in relation to Hidamari Sketch. [The Untold Story of Altair and Vega]
Sean Gaffney wasn’t overly impressed by volume one of Nozomu Tamaki’s work, Angel Para Bellum, which focuses on an apocalyptic battle between the angels of Heaven and demons of Hell. [A Case Suitable for Treatment]
Pete Zaitcev presents some unexpected lyrics from iDOLM@STER, including several lines in which Haruka Amani tells why she believes in God. [Ani-Nouto]
A Day Without Me gives her entertaining take on Superfortress Romanesque Samy: Missing 99, “one of those sad 80′s-era OAVs that is pretty bad, but not bad enough to be entertaining,” and contains just a bit of religious dialogue. [GAR GAR Stegosaurus]
EVE reviews volume four of A Devil and Her Love Song, which features the Catholic protagonist, Maria Kawai. [Anime Radius]
And finally, I hope those of you who attended Otakon got a chance to check out Charles Dunbar’s panels! [Study of Anime]
As part of the Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere series of posts, each week, Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality. If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK if you’d like it included.
Buddhist or Christian, Pagan or Muslim, spiritual or areligious, one thing that connects the readers of this blog is that anime is a medium that stirs something inside of us. Here on Beneath the Tangles, we sometimes explore powerful themes that anime can have in common with Christianity and even how anime can change how we live out our faith.
Not all anime moves us so powerfully, but still, it seems as if even mundane episodes of a show stir our souls. And sometimes, a show will catch us unexpectedly. This is an email I received from a frequent reader, Albert:
A very nice anime that I’ve recently seen is The iDOLM@STER. When I first heard of the premise (12 girls work to get to the top of the idol industry), I figured it would be another fanservice type anime and wasn’t very interested. However, a friend told me otherwise so I decided to check it out. What I got was a heartwarming series with excellent character development and no fanservice in the slightest. I was pleasantly shocked, really. I highly recommend that you guys at least take a look at the series.
After stalling on one episode of iDOLM@STER, I’ve now decided to return to it.
What about you?
What anime caught you by surprise in how much it moved you?
Did it warm your heart? Did it anger you? Did it make you go want to change the world? Did it simply change you?
Please share with us. Feel free to leave links if you’ve written something that gives more details about such an experience.