Spring 2012 First Impressions – AKB0048

No, I don't know why I chose this screen

AKB0048 is a Spring 2012 series that, despite being produced by Satelight and written/directed by Shoji Kawamori (every damn Macross you’ve ever watched, Patlabor, Genesis of Aquarion) and Okada Mari (Toradora, Ano Hana) seems to have drawn so much skepticism solely for the reason that it’s based off a pop idol group that everyone forgot who’s behind it. However, because I liked shows like The iDOLM@STER and actually listen to AKB48 and know some of the members (no thanks to one or two fanboys I met in my NS time), I decided to give this show a go.

First impressions? It’s like someone took The iDOLM@STER (them concert scenes), merged it with Macross Frontier,threw in some dystopian elements, simplified the otherwise overbearing setting by viewing it through the guise of a story about friendship (ala Rinne no Lagrange) and then blew the budget sky high.Throw in some decent mainstream pop (this is entirely my opinion, you hipsters and self-proclaimed music critics are completely entitled to think otherwise but constantly topping Oricon charts must mean something) and melodic arrangements of said pop music and it’s a recipe for decency, if not success.

A part of me wishes they had that rocket thing as a mode of transport in real life

Animation

This is, in my opinion, AKB0048’s strongest factor as of episode 1. Satelight pulls out all the stops with one of the best displays of an animated concert I’ve seen in a while, all within the first 10 minutes of the show. While some might complain about 2.5D idols dancing on the stage, I believe it’s fine enough as it is, with bloom lighting and spotlights everywhere that lend the scene the same chaotic feeling as a real concert. Then the mecha appeared and I am suddenly watching Macross Frontier, complete with Macross Missile Massacre to boot. (on a side note, the planet is named Lancaster, but it sure does sound like they’re saying Rankastar.)

By the way, I think 2.5D is an awesome way of reducing budget costs if done properly (as I would like to think it is here), so your mileage may vary and opinions may differ.

Outside of the concert, the scenery is wonderfully detailed. Since it’s set in a kind of dystopian setting where entertainment is banned, everything is brown in that video-game-realism kind of way, which is suited to the theme. Movements are mostly fluid and well-animated, with not much to complain about.

I have this nagging feeling that the name AKB48 being in the title means the most popular and well-earning pop group in Japan is getting involved in the budget somehow, which means this show could possibly reach Budget of Promised Victory levels. That’s always good for us.

One thing I don’t get is those “Kirarara” – what the heck are those? Are they going to be integral to the story? And what the heck happened to Chieri anyway?

Music

All the music, including the instrumentals, are either direct rips or adaptations of past AKB48 songs. The music is easy to listen to and very catchy, while at the same time being rather lighthearted. It serves to lighten the mood of the otherwise quite gloomy show, which may be the intention.

However, being mainstream pop, throwaway-ness is kind of a problem. It’s the kind of thing you’ve heard everywhere so you might have a tendency to forget it.

In conclusion, this show is actually very much deserving of at least a first-three-episode run. Unlike low-budget child-oriented shows designed to sell consumer goods or playing cards, AKB0048 appears to be following in the footsteps of predecessor AKB-based manga AKB49, offering up what could be a compelling storyline along with a high production value, producing a work of high quality that is able to stand on its own. For me, at least, I’ll be following it for a while. Disclaimer, however: It seems a lot of people are having trouble with the premise of the show, but if you’re like me and able to suspend disbelief more effectively and immerse more quickly than most other people, you’ll probably find this quite alright.

Note: Valen doesn’t seem very receptive to this show; his post on it’s coming later. Differing perspectives, take your pick but don’t hate.

Trivia

Mayu Watanabe, who voices Chieri, is one of the more famous AKB48 members, ranking 5th in the popularity polls. The Mayu Watanabe in AKB0048 is voiced by Yukari Tamura. No, I don’t get it either.

Have you seen who’s on the voice actor list for the Senbatsu (AKB team) members? It’s very, very sparkly. Then the main leads are voiced by actual AKB members. No, I very much don’t get it.

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About Carillus

"Any sufficiently advanced application of locupletative language is indistinguishable from writing magic."
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