Ino Sakura had always dreamed of becoming an idol, and finally gets her chance to move from the countryside to Tokyo to pursue her dream. However, as it turns out, she was assigned to a group of girls that had all dropped out of the entertainment industry: Roko, a former child actor who got tired of being constantly used for her small stature and quit acting, Hayu, an unpopular musician who tends to cause trouble with others, and Nina, an introverted model who is… big in many ways. (More on that later.) Having been reduced to eating curry for every meal, they face the impending dissolution of their dorm, Mouse House, so their manager has a plan: create an idol unit out of these four girls and have them do a variety show every week. Can these girls manage to make it in the idol industry and save their living arrangements?
From the mangaka that brought you HaNaYaMaTa (which was very good) comes another performance-themed cute-girls-doing-cute-things anime, this time just straight-up about idols. And for better or for worse, it’s a pretty good picture of what the Japanese idol industry can be like. At its best, it’s all about the inspirational power of music and smiles, and simply just a cute, good time overall. At its worst, its a focus on exaggerating a person’s traits, whether it be the former child actor’s short stature and kid-like demeanor or, perhaps the most uncomfortable, the aspiring model’s chest size. The ending gag on which part of the girls’ program got the highest ratings (hint: it’s not the smiles) is less funny and more just a depressing reminder of what it’s all too easy to focus on with these types of shows. All this is to say that this first episode was cute and all, but it might make viewers uncomfortable with how it plays out the bad parts of idol culture for gags. It’s not all bad, as it’s pretty clear that whatever the actual results might be, the girls themselves felt most fulfilled when they focused more on smiles and friendliness, and that does give me some hope that this show will take the approach of ultimately allowing the girls to shine by who they are rather than what their bodies are like. That would be nice, but I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to stick around to see if that’s the case.
Side note: I do have to give props to the musical number in this episode (screencapped above): it’s… not what you’d think of for “idol music”, and it’s great.
Dropout Idol Fruit Tart is streaming on Funimation.