First Impression: UniteUp!

Akira may be a bit of a curmudgeon (as far as perky 17-year-olds go), but he’s a good son and devoted friend. He’s just been a little bit on the outs since he failed in his pursuit of baseball. Luckily, his friend, karaoke partner, and former teammate Kacchan is there to tell him like it is. Kacchan is also Akira’s biggest cheerleader, and he’s been cooking up a scheme behind the scenes to help his pal take a leap forward in life. When the two are invited to an idol agency and the fullness of Kacchan’s plan comes to light, Akira is stunned and upset. But could this be the push he needs and the dream he didn’t know was his?

First of all, can we all agree that Kacchan is the type of friend we all need? Seriously, what a sweetheart, and one who gets his due in the ED (which I predict will be changing every week). He’s also a well-designed character, animated with a unique and dynamic look, as are even minor characters in UniteUp!, including the “grandpas” that haunt Akira’s mother’s business. The animation in the series is outstanding. CloverWorks nails the designs but also puts such loving care in virtually all the animation, including scenery and background (see the movement and light in the windows of the subway scene). What a lush series! It’s almost enough to make me forget that joke of a CGI idol sequence that opens the episode. I hate how idol performances are becoming more and more fully animated in CGI. It takes me out of the series and looks ridiculous. Just because they might resemble VOCALOID performances doesn’t mean they belong in anime series. I also don’t really know if I care enough about Akira to continue with the show, and seeing the entrance of the blue-haired, attitude-y guy who is bound to become one of his bandmates has me stressed. Even so, I think that the story is going to be encouraging and could be excellent; I just don’t know if I’ve bought in enough to continue with it. Still, if you’re a fan of idol anime, the production values here are off the charts, and with this studio animating it, the story could be, too.

UnitedUp! is streaming on Crunchyroll.


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