In 2007, Sunrise adapted popular video game The Idolmaster into an anime. This being Sunrise, they didn't exactly take the expected path, deciding to transplant the characters into an Elseworld Real Robot series.
In the world of Xenoglossia, the moon was destroyed over a century ago by an event known as "Lost Artemis". Because of this, fragments of the moon occasionally fall to Earth and must be destroyed before they can cause serious damage. While most countries use missiles to deal with these "Drops", Japan is bound by the Three Non-Nuclear Principles and must instead resort to empathetic Humongous Mecha codenamed "iDOLs".
Haruka Amami is an aspiring Idol Singer who moves to Tokyo following a successful audition, only to end up Falling into the Cockpit of one of these iDOLs. She then discovers that the audition was a front for a secret task force called Mondenkind, who were searching for compatible iDOL pilots: an iDOL-Master, per say.
While it may seem like the standard fare mecha series at first, it's intertwined with drama from the relationships between the pilots and the mecha.
Has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks in July 2012, marking the Idolm@ster franchise's first official US release.
This series provides examples of:
- Action Girl: There's quite a few of these, but Azusa of all people takes the cake.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: A few of the girls.
- Adaptational Curves: Chihaya (From 72cm to 87cm), Yukiho (80 to 88, making her the bustiest member of the show's cast) and Yayoi (From 72 to 87, going hand in hand with her being at least four years older than her game counterpart). Inverted for Azusa, who was downsized from 91cm gamewise to a more modest 86 cm.
- All Just a Dream: Discussed. In the last episode, one of the characters jokes that the Earth was actually destroyed more than a century ago and they're living in a dream. Obviously, no one is amused.
- Angsty Surviving Twin: Ami, when Haruka first meets her.
- Badass Adorable: Makoto retains this quality from her game incarnation. Haruka gains a bit of this quality as well and Iori steps up to it later on. Yukiho is also revealed to be one.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Joseph Shingetsu, as revealed during the retaking of Mondenkind Japan by the iDOL Team, wherein he uses Good Old Fisticuffs to take out soldiers wearing body armor and helmets... with his bare freakin' hands.
- Beach Episode: Episode 8.
- Between My Legs: Iori in episode 3.
- Board to Death: The Grand Lodge Cats council get smashed by an Epimetheus in the penultimate episode.
- Bond Creatures: The iDOLs.
- Cloning Blues: R.I.F.F.A
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Chihaya, Imber's old pilot, wants to be "one" with him. In later episodes, she goes full on Yandere
- The Dandy: Joseph Shingetsu, director of Mondenkind Japan's iDOL team.
- Death from Above: There is the ever-present threat of falling space rocks.
- Different As Day And Night: The Futami twins, as revealed when Mami returns in the later half of the show. Ami is gentle and reserved while Mami is a Genki Girl.
- Empathic Weapon: The iDOLs themselves sync with a pilot (or two, in the case of Nebula), and their performance depends on how "compatible" they are with each other. However, the pilot has to maintain a relationship with the mecha. Should the pilot treat the iDOL irresponsibly, the iDOL will drop in performance, its trust in the pilot diminished. The iDOLs are even capable of rejecting an irresponsible or untrustworthy pilot.
- The iDoLs are even capable of acting on their own, from small movements to punching another mech in the face to even an old debt.
- Enfant Terrible: R.I.F.F.A., and dialed Up to Eleven with the reveal that there's a whole army of her late in the series and that they seem to love smashing people's heads in with axes.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: There's a whole penguin motif running through the show, and of course, Yayoi's giant penguin suit.
- Exty Years from Now: Averted in the case of "Lost Artemis", the moon's destruction 107 years before the series.
- Evil Is Petty: The reason why Karasu is The Man Behind the Man for Turiavita and is responsible for no small amount of misery during the show's run? The Grand Lodge Cats kicked his father out of the group some time before the series began, thus denying Karasu himself the chance to become a member.
- FaceHeel Turn: Makoto undergoes one following rejection by Nebula halfway through the series' run when she believes that Azusa doesn't care about her.
- HeelFace Turn: Makoto returns to the fold during the assault on Turiavita in the penultimate episode, having sorted out her issues with Azusa right before the latter's death.
- Genius Bruiser: Joseph Shingetsu is a man of intelligence and refined taste who enjoys brewing coffee and collecting laquerware... He's also a master of Good Old Fisticuffs, as revealed during the retaking of Mondenkind Japan.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Nubilum makes his in episode 25, protecting Yukiho and Haruka from Vulturius. Imber and the other remaining iDOLs follow in the finale to save the world from Aulyn.
- Honor Before Reason: In order to deal with the threat of falling rocks from the sky, every other country in the world had equipped themselves with tactical missiles. However, Japan, in order to honor the post-war agreement, decided not to use said missiles, and instead sends girls in giant robots to go up into orbit and punch the rocks into dust.
- Hot-Blooded: This show's take on Iori.
- Humongous Mecha: The iDOLs, and the knockoff Epimetheus units mass produced by Turiavita.
- Idol Singer: Sort of. Musical terminology is used in conjunction with the mecha to remind viewers of the roots of the series.
- Not to mention Yayoi is an idol before the series even starts (as well as Ami Futami, though she isn't introduced until later on in the series), and Haruka eventually becomes one due to trying to cheer Imber up and actually being scouted in the process. She still has this job at the end of the series.
- In Name Only: The show has very, very little in common with the videogame it is based off of.
- Kill Sat: Vulturius. It's a failsafe prepared by the Grand Lodge Cats council in order to eliminate all of the iDOLs before they can awaken Aulyn.
- Killed Off for Real: Karasu and Lo-Wu in episode 24. Chihaya, Azusa, R.I.F.F.A. (all of them), The Omniscient Council of Vagueness and Nubilum in episode 25. Nebula, Hiems, Tempestas and Imber in the finale.
- Like That Show, But with Mecha: Considering the source games have nothing to do with mecha.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Yayoi. Until the last episodes.
- Mars Needs Women: Who says girls and giant mecha can't fall in love?
- The Mole: Yukiho infiltrated Mondenkind on orders from Chihaya to help her get Imber back. Saku on the other hand is working for the Grand Lodge Cats to disrupt both Mondenkind Japan and Turiavita.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Hibiki Saku, an advisor from Mondenkind central command who generally acts weaselly and comes up with increasingly sneaky ways of trying to screw over the iDOL team. This is because he's actually a Hidden Agenda Villain working for the Grand Lodge Cats.
- Older Than They Look: Because of the experiments made on their bodies, Chihaya and Azusa are actually 48 and 51 years old respectively despite looking very young.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Haruka discusses her new job with Yayoi, and her "classmate" who she spends a lot of time with. Yayoi, not knowing said classmate is actually a giant robot, is surprised when Haruka says that her boyfriend let her "ride him".
- Parental Incest: Azusa is revealed to have had a relationship of this sort with her adopted father, Kaien Lo-Wu.
- Posthumous Character: Futami Mami, Ami's twin sister.
- Not Quite Dead — Two-thirds of the way through, we find out that Mami was alive, held inside Tempestas the whole time.
- Puppet Queen: Teru Lo-Wu is nominally the head of Turiavita, and most of its members appear to be aligned with the group out of loyalty to her. However, she's actually catatonic for most of the series and Karasuma is the one pulling the strings.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The correct romanization is R.I.F.F.A, but most people use Riffa.
- Theme Naming: The iDOLs are named after lunar maria.
- Took a Level in Badass: Iori started the series as a Butt-Monkey. By the endgame she's made the Foe-Tossing Charge her personal specialty and kicks seven flavors of ass. To the point where her former rival Makoto acknowledges her skills as an equal.
- Tyke-Bomb: R.I.F.F.A., and all of her many, MANY clones.
- Woman Scorned: Chihaya really didn't take Imber's rejection well.