The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls, Ep. 7: Relational Risk

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.

Those afterimages are not insignificant.
Those afterimages are not insignificant.

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.

The Producer’s Story

In this episode, we learn a bit more of the producer’s history. He had apparently worked as a producer for several girls before, but even though he did things the “correct” way, the girls ended up quitting on him. As a result, he decided to only be a “carriage”, carrying the princesses (i.e. future idols) to the ball (i.e. performances and CDs and all that idol stuff), but without getting more involved than doing all the logistical work. Of course, as we see with Mio, that does not work out too well, either. And when he makes some attempts to reach out to Mio, only to back down when she says she does not want to see him, Rin snaps at him for trying to run away.

As the manager talks to the other girls about the Producer’s past, he talks about how sometimes, even if you do everything the right way, the results will still be a mess. That is an unfortunate truth in our world; even if we do not do anything particularly wrong in our relationships (both personal and business-related) with others, sometimes people still end up hurt and relationships end up breaking down. When that happens, it can be easy to think that relationships are not worth the trouble, and we end up becoming “carriages”, doing all the work we think will help others succeed in their lives but never taking the risk to invest in their lives personally.

Thankfully for the story of Cinderella Girls, the producer decides to no longer run away from the personal work of producing idols, and starts reaching out to the other girls to understand what they thought of their debut concert. And in the process, he figures out a way to reach Mio, and goes after her with renewed determination. He might risk hurting some feelings in the process, but he is not going to run away because of that risk.

When we end up burned by broken relationships, whether personal or business, it is good to remember that every relationship carries some risk to it, and the closer the relationship, the closer to certainty that one of you will hurt the other. This is a risk we have to accept if we want all of the good things that can come out of relationship. We should by all means be aware of which people are “safe people” with whom relationships can flourish even if conflicts come up now and then, and which people we should avoid forming business deals or close relationships with because it will just cause unnecessary grief. Still, if you are looking for someone who will never fail you and will always be on your side… well, that describes Jesus Christ perfectly; other humans, not so much. But while we should definitely put our ultimate relational security in Jesus Christ, there is plenty of good to come out of human relationships, even in a business setting, to be worth the risk.

Rin’s Story

For Rin, when she sees how the Producer was running away from dealing with Mio, she feels like she cannot trust him anymore as her producer, and she quits as well. Of course, the situation with Mio does change, and once Mio has made up her mind to return back to idol work, the Producer’s next task is reaching out to Rin. Her situation is somewhat different, as this time the fallout between her and the Producer is a direct result of a failing of his. As she explains how she is unsure of whether she can trust the Producer to help her find her dream again, the Producer can only say that he will try harder. But is that enough to convince Rin to trust him one more time?

It is here that the show provides one of the most simplistically beautiful scenes I have seen in anime: as the Producer offers his hand to Rin, and she hesitantly reaches her own hand to him, Mio, who is watching this whole scene, steps in and joins their hands themselves.

She's actually just looking forward to singing "Kumbaya" afterwards.
Mio, taking matters into her own hands. Literally.

Mio’s action is significant in a couple of ways. She represents evidence that the Producer has changed for the better and that he is worthy of trust now. As Christians, we are called to love other people, but not necessarily to trust them; if someone has done something that has made you lose trust in him and he has not shown any signs of changing for the better, it would be foolish to trust him again, like trying the same thing twice expecting different results.

Even if someone does show signs of change, though, trusting someone again can still be a scary prospect. Even if they are visibly changing, the change process can take time and the risk that they go back to their old ways and hurt you again is still there. Here, Mio’s action lets Rin know that she is not alone, and that Mio is also there, along with the other girls, trusting the same producer. In doing this, Mio is also saying how she wants Rin there to support her. Relational risk can be reduced with the support of other people you trust. Even one-on-one relationships like dating relationships work best when both sides have trusted supporters outside of the relationship to watch over it and step in if something is going wrong.

Risk and Reward

Risk is something that is naturally in a part of human relationships, and there is no way to completely eliminate it. However, we do not have to see risk as a bad thing. Almost any time we talk about risk, we talk about it in conjunction with some kind of reward. The whole point of risk is accepting that there is the chance of some negative outcome when pursuing a positive outcome, with the question being if we are willing to accept that chance. Usually, if the goodness of the reward sufficiently overshadows either the probability or the severity of any negative outcomes, we decide that something is worth the risk.

In simpler terms, both the Producer and Rin are willing to take the risk because the reward that awaits them is something they really want. Whether it is the Producer wanting the Cinderella Project to succeed, or Rin wanting to find something to be passionate about, they have decided that the risk is something that was necessary to accept to reach their goals. As Christians, we are blessed to be able to trust in God with our lives, something that whether or not you believe comes with risks (though it certainly comes with a cost), the rewards of which are so great that it would be worth any amount of risk. And if you do believe that God will never fail you and will always be on your side, we can use the security of our faith to approach the risks of human relationships and the rewards those can give us.

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