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Video Game / THE iDOLM@STER: Dearly Stars

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THE iDOLM@STER: Dearly Stars is a 2009 Idol Singer Life Simulation Game for the Nintendo DS, the first spinoff game in the iDOLM@STER series, and also the first game in the 2nd Vision era. Rather than featuring series mainstay 765 Production, this installment focuses on three up-and-coming idols from 876 Production: Ai Hidaka, a young girl who wants to follow in her idol mother's footsteps, Eri Mizutani, a former shut-in and internet celebrity, and Ryo Akizuki, a feminine boy who was signed on as a girl to fill in for a missing idol.

Gameplay alters greatly from its sister franchise: it was the first, if not only, game in the series to have idols as the player-character rather than their producer. Each protagonist has their own story to play, with Story Branching and Multiple Endings; the storylines intersect occasionally. The game was also managed on a day-to-day basis rather than the weekly format of other installments, with the ability to change accessories and songs only available at the start of the week. This game also has the distinction of being the first in the franchise to include a male idol (albeit Disguised in Drag).

Like most of the franchise, Dearly Stars was never released outside of Japan, though you can find some fansubbed scenes on Youtube. There was also a manga adaptation split into three parts: Splash Red, focusing on Ai; Innocent Blue, focusing on Eri; and Neue Green, focusing on Ryo. All three got their own Drama CDs released alongside their respective manga.

The 876 cast would return in ONE FOR ALL as an idol group, working under the name Dearly Stars. They would later cameo as rival idols in other mainline iM@S games, as well as recruitable appearances in THE iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls. Ryo would later make his proper debut as a male singer in THE iDOLM@STER: SideM.

THE iDOLM@STER: Dearly Stars contains examples of:

  • And the Adventure Continues: The epilogue unlocking after getting the Golden Ending of all three routes shows the protagonists continuing their idol careers at an even bigger venue.
  • Beach Episode: Ryo's story features a chapter at the beach, where the 876 idols have a photoshoot.
    • It leads to a Hot Springs Episode when Ryo needs a break from posing in the feminine swimsuit.
  • Breaking Old Trends:
    • To date, this is the only game in the series where the idols themselves are doing the raising rather than their Producer.
    • This is the first game in the series to give its producer characters definitive character designs and identities rather than them being up to interpretation. Additionally, 876 Production is also the only company where all important staff members are female.
    • Gender concealed he may be, but Ryo Akizuki made iM@S history as a male idol in a series that up to that point was focused on the female side of the profession.
  • Butt-Monkey: Ryo's motivation for becoming an idol in the first place is to shed his girlyboy image and become more popular with the ladies. Naturally, his producer chooses to parade him onstage in a pink dress.
  • Clark Kenting: Ryo's female "disguise" consists of boob pads, make-up, and the removal of his glasses.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: At the start of Ryo's route, he's asked out by a straight guy who cites If It's You, It's Okay.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Ai's professional relationship with her mother eventually settles into this, and they remain close as parent and child.
  • Funny Character, Boring Actor: In-universe example: Eri is a charming minor celebrity on the internet, but a Shrinking Violet recluse offline. Her character arc revolves around gaining confidence and social skills.
  • Gaiden Game: The first one in the iM@S series. It focuses on an entirely new set of idols that sign on some time after SP, and even includes some of the 765 idols after they got famous.
  • No Indoor Voice: Ai Hidaka. Some characters praise it as a good quality for an idol, while she herself mentions that it gets her in trouble at school.
  • Stacy's Mom: Ai becomes a victim of this. Her mother, an ex-idol herself, becomes nostalgic for the glory days when Ai makes it big and decides to make a comeback. Ai is shortly overshadowed in the public eye by her still incredibly hot mom.
  • Super Title 64 Advance: Dearly Stars references the system it was originally released on.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Ryo—well, not exactly. He didn't want to crossdress at all, and wants to debut as a male idol, but (through a series of contrived coincidences) could only get hired by crossdressing. Once he gets the opportunity to confess this, he eventually gets to become a male-presenting idol.