Anime: Wake Up, Girls!

From left to right, Miyu Okamoto, Minami Katayama, Airi Hayashida, Mayu Shimada, Yoshino Nanase, Nanami Hisami and Kaya Kikuma.

Green Leaves Entertainment was once a well-known production company in Sendai that managed the careers of magicians, photo idols, fortune-tellers, and other entertainers. However, after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, the company fell upon hard times and was eventually threatened with bankruptcy.

In a last bid to survive, the President of Green Leaves decides to create a seven-person idol unit scouted from local and undiscovered Sendai talent: "Wake Up, Girls!". But the girls soon realise that the journey to the top is fraught with low-paying gigs, punishing schedules and hours of practice. Overcoming their hesitancies and doubts, they strive to leave an impact on a saturated industry dominated by the manufactured mega-group "I-1 Club".

Depicting a more realistic side of the idol industry, Wake Up, Girls! aired during the Winter 2014 Anime season. A prequel film, called Shichinin no Idol (The Seven Idols), was released on January 10, 2014, the same day the anime opened. Wake Up, Girls! is directed by Yutaka Yamamoto, and produced by Ordet and Tatsunoko Production. Wake Up, Girls! has its own game called Stage no Tenshi (which is based on the Mobage platform), and the series is available for streaming at CrunchyRoll.

An spin-off featuring the girls in Super-Deformed fashion, wearing animal costumes premiered in the Fall 2014 Anime season under the name of Wake Up Girl!! Zoo. A new movie has been scheduled for early 2015, featuring closure for the TV series.

Wake Up, Girls! provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Nickname: Several of the girls are referred to by their nicknames. For instance, Yoshino is called "Yoppi", and Mayu was nicknamed Mayushi back during her time with I-1 (current fans still call her thus). All of the girls in I-1 girls appear to have a nickname, and Wake Up, Girls itself is affectionately dubbed "WUG-chan" by fans in the fifth episode.
  • Animal Motifs: Each of the girls have a predator motif.
    • Mayu: Lion
    • Miyu: Eagle
    • Minami: Tiger
    • Yoshino: Bear
    • Nanami: Wolf
    • Kaya: Crocodile
    • Airi: Shark
  • Anime Hair: While there are some dark purple and dark blue hair colours (such as Yoshino), this is averted; most of the girls have realistic hairstyles and colours.
  • Asshole Victim: Sudo, who exploits the girls and puts them in a job that requires them to be in a bikini as well as entertaining a bunch of old perverted men. Tange beats the crap out of him, and tells him never to come near them again, or she was going to do even worse things to him.
  • Berserk Button: Despite her irresponsible mannerisms, Junko is concerned for the girls and will not hesitate to beat down anyone attempting to exploit them.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Tange showing back up in episode 2, and beating up Sudo, who put the girls up in a health spa gig which forced them to sing and dance in front of a group of Dirty Old Man.
  • Big Eater: Minami is ever-enthusiastic about eating and is usually seen with a large amount of food during mealtimes.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Besides representation by a predator motif, each girl is associated with a unique colour, which is also present in each of the respective ribbons or ties in their concert uniforms.
    • Mayu: Red
    • Miyu: Orange
    • Minami: Yellow
    • Kaya: Green
    • Yoshino: Light blue
    • Airi: Dark blue
    • Nanami: Purple
  • Conspicuous CG: During the I-1 Club practice scenes, those who stand in the first row are hand-drawn, and everyone else are CG-animated.
  • Cool Big Sis: Being the oldest of the group, as well having a as soft spoken and responsible nature, Kaya plays this role to the other girls.
  • Cover Version: In episode two, Miyu performs a cover of Haiyore! Nyarko-san's opening.
  • Cry Cute: The girls do this from time to time.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Miyu describes herself as having these characteristics.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared with other anime about idols, Wake Up, Girls! illustrates some of the uglier sides of the business, including small-time performances with low attendance and even harassment during some performances.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Mayu's history with I-1 is alluded to in several points, but by episode nine, Mayu finally opens up and shares her story. It turns out that she had joined I-1 Club as a first-generation member. When a close friend and fellow member of the first generation was dismissed for having a relationship, which the I-1 prohibits, she appealed to the producer to let it slide. In return, he gave her the ultimatum to sell more singles with her as the center as opposed to a different one featuring Shiho, or be fired for going against him. Mayu lost and was forced to resign, leading to her parents having a rather messy divorce.
    • Kaya and Mayu share stories of their past with one another, revealing that the former had lost her parents at a young age. Shortly after, one of her childhood friends disappeared when his fishing boat that went missing, leading her to run away from home.
  • Darkest Hour: One is featured in the prequel film, after the Green Leaves Entertainment president disappears with all of the money intended to pay for the debut CD's along with renting a concert hall. However, Maya shows up soaking wet, and stating that she wants to be an idol after all, and doesn't want all the effort the girls put in to go to waste.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • I-1 Club is the most popular idol group in the series' universe and shares many similarities with real life AKB48, being a Tokyo-based group with an iconic red outfit and a dream to perform at the Tokyo Dome.
    • Mayu's story bears resemblance to that of AKB's former centre, Atsuko "Acchan" Maeda. The group's goal is to perform at Kouhaku, the same as Momoiro Clover Z and NMB48. As of the movie, it's been changed to Tokyo Dome, the same as AKB.
    • Yoshino auditioned for Japan Girls' Collection, a parody of Tokyo Girls Style.
  • Elegant Classical Musician: Nanami is trained classically in voice and piano.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In episode 1, Sudo-san arrives late to the talent agency. He is also seen eating pizza from the delivery man standing outside after Matsuda assumed was sent there by accident. Finally, the first thing he does it put a bikini on the table, and tells all of the girls to try it on.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Though Sudo tries to paint it differently, many of the girls, along with Matsuda, have serious doubts about the job at the health spa requiring them to entertain old men while wearing bikinis. They largely put up with the antics, including getting their pictures taken in bikinis and waiting on the customers. But once Miyu is told to kiss an old man, she bolts out of there.
  • Expy: Yoshino bears a resemblance to Chihaya of The Idolmaster fame.
  • Fanservice:
    • Time constraints during WUG’s first performance means that the girls eschew Modesty Shorts, leading to a large number of panty shots.
    • In episode two, Sudo makes the girls perform on bikini in a hot spring, claiming it is the same as gravure work.
  • Genki Girl: Minami and Miyu are generally more cheerful and optimistic than the others in WUG.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Minami and Miyu both sport pigtails.
  • Hime Cut: Yoshino’s hair is styled in this manner.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Despite deserting with the group’s funds early in WUG’s existence, Green Leave’s president, Junko Tange, savagely delivers a beating to Sudo for attempting to scam and sexualise the girls.
  • Idol Singer: This series is about idols and some of the challenges they face en route to the top.
  • Important Haircut: Yoshino has short hair in the 2015's movie promotional art.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Minami is good friends with quite a few senior citizens.
  • Irony: In episode 3, the girls take part in a local news station to report the weather, along with a gourmet section. The gourmet girls expect to have it easy compared to the weather girls group. However, the gourmet's first session ends up outside in pouring rain. The weather girls meanwhile, get to stay indoors, though they have to wear animal costumes.
  • Large Ham: Tange ends up speaking like this at times, especially when she's angry.
  • The Leader: Owing to her maturity and prior experience in the entertainment industry, Yoshino is referred to as “Leader” by everyone else in WUG.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: The girls are told briefly about the origin of their group name in the prequel film. However, as they walk home, they discover a love hotel that has the same name as their group, suggesting the president just lifted the name from that hotel.
  • Mama Bear: Despite her mannerisms, Junko cares deeply for the girls; in addition to delivering the aforementioned beat down to Sudo in episode two, she tries her best to cheer up Mayu at the end of the fourth episode.
  • Meido: Miyu works at a maid cafe and has a strong passion for performing to an audience.
  • Only Six Faces: The girls share similar facial features and eye shape, but can be differentiated by their personalities and hairstyles.
  • Otaku Surrogate: Miyu, who follows idols and idol forums, uses netspeak in casual conversation, loves anime songs, and is quite knowledgeable about anime tropes.
  • Panty Shot: The girls twirl their skirts throughout their debut to reveal their panties while they perform.
  • Perpetual Poverty: The Green Leaves agency starts out this way. They don't have a lot of money, so they can't advertise much, and the office is also rather tiny. Tange also disappears briefly with all of the agency's money, which forces Matsuda to send the CD's back along with canceling the debut. And when they finally get a chance to perform, the girls are just wearing their school uniforms rather than matching outfits.
  • Real Place Background: The show takes place in the Japanese town of Sendai; many locations are vividly portrayed.
  • Refusal of the Call: Mayu in the prequel film repeatedly refuses to audition.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Miyu's response to being exploited in Sudo's job during episode 2. The other girls just barely manage to hang on longer. Fortunately Tange just happened to be in the health spa, and beats the crap out of Sudo for exploiting the girls. Several of the girls, and especially the regulars at her previous job at a maid cafe, changes her mind about quitting the idol group.
  • Sex Sells: Sudo tries to exploit this in episode 2. It doesn't go over well with the girls or Matsuda however, and especially not with Tange once she finds out.
  • Shrinking Violet: At the series’ beginning, Mayu is shy, hesitant and unwilling to join WUG, although as she opens up to everyone, she gradually rediscovers her passion for performing as an idol.
  • Tempting Fate: In episode 3, one of the girls is attempting to hold herself up from falling into a tub of hot water. She tells them not to make her lose her balance. So naturally one of the other girls smacks her butt, causing her to lose her balance and fall in.
  • Title-Only Opening: This is inverted in the movie, where the "Wake Up, Girls!" title card doesn't appear until the final shot, and then cuts to the end credits.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tange disappearing with all of the agency's money in the prequel film. She shows back up in episode 2 in a Big Damn Heroes moment, but Matsuda and the girls are still upset at her for screwing their debut up.
  • You Are Number Six: The I-1 Club director only refers to its members by their numbers.