Touma, Hokuto, and Shouta make up the popular male idol group “Jupiter”. After leaving 961 Production because its president is a total scumbag, they have been performing independently with the help of a small theater. While continuing to grow in popularity, they fend off offers from other agencies trying to take them in to make money off of them. One agency, though, while being particularly persistent, seems to be more interested in their passion than their profitability: 315 (pronounced “saikou”) Productions, a small upstart agency with no debuted idols and a hot-blooded president in Takeshi Saitou (whose eyes are perpetually obscured). While Jupiter continues to try to work independently at first, they eventually realize that, without people to help them write new songs or manage fans, they’re making many of their fans sad. Looking to do what they cannot do by themselves, they decide to join 315 Productions, where they meet three other idols-to-be, as well as their producer.
Those who follow me on Twitter or have read my numerous posts on Cinderella Girls know I’m a big fan of The iDOLM@STER franchise. As such, I have a certain amount of interest in SideM; sure, the idols might not be my preferred gender but they still carry the spirit of this franchise. This testosterone-filled spinoff has been around for a couple of years, gaining good popularity thanks to the overall hot trend of male idols. (It’s worth noting, though, that according to reports, SideM also has a strong male fanbase, presumably coming from the rest of the iM@S fandom.) Jupiter themselves already existed as a rival group to the original iM@S cast, and this “prologue” episode even calls back to scenes Jupiter were in during the 2011 iM@S anime. SideM provides a nice holding place for Jupiter to continue to do work, and also gives a place for iM@S to ride the male idol trend, but how does it all work out? So far it looks quite good; iM@S as a franchise overall has been about fighting the cynical side of the idol industry to tell heartfelt stories of idols pursuing their dreams. This episode follows suit, with a couple of idols trying to work independently to avoid the grasp of money-grabbers, but ultimately realizing they still need to grow and they do need an agency to call home. The animation is very nice, too, while the music is solid though nothing too special and dependent on personal tastes as usual. As a warning, though, this was an “Episode 00”, and not necessarily completely representative of what the rest of the SideM anime will be like. In particular, this episode focused on Jupiter, but the anime will expand the main cast to a total of 19 guys across 6 units (and that’s to say nothing of the other 27 guys that belong to this part of the franchise and may make appearances. Obviously that will bring about concerns of balancing cast screentime and development. That said, as long as the show keeps with its theme of pursuing dreams in the face of an industry soaked in cynicism, and give some solid character development in the process, this should be a great show to watch for fans of idols regardless of gender, as well as anyone curious about The iDOLM@STER franchise and how the male side of it works.