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Video Game / THE iDOLM@STER: SideM

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THE iDOLM@STER: SideM is the third mobile game spinoff for the ever-popular The iDOLM@STER series. First released to the mobile game platform Mobage on February 7, 2014, the game had some technical difficulties and had to be temporarily shut down. It was put back up on July 17, 2014, then later released in April 2015 to Android phones and May to iOS.

What sets this game apart is its surprising subject matter — rather than the cute girls and beautiful ladies of the previous installments, SideM focuses entirely on producing male idols. A playable total of 37 idols was initially included in the game, along with the noteworthy return of previous male idols Jupiter of The iDOLM@STER 2 and Ryo Akizuki of Dearly Stars. Like its sister series Cinderella Girls, the game follows a digital card game format with idols and events taking the form of trainable cards.

The series also has several spinoff titles in manga form; in addition to several comic anthologies, they have Dramatic Stage, focusing on DRAMATIC STARS and High×Joker; Struggle Heart, focusing on Beit and THE Kogado; and Wake Atte Mini!, which is a chibi Yonkoma.

In October 2017, the series received its own adaptation to air in the Fall 2017 anime season, and an adaptation of Wakeatte Mini! in 2018. Within the same timeframe as the former, it got a Rhythm Game spinoff of its own: THE iDOLM@STER: SideM: Live on St@ge!, featuring all idols present to date in the game and debuting Jupiter's new outfits. LoS ended its run in 2021, after 3 years of service.

At the series' 2021 PRODUCER MEETING event, the replacement game for LoS, The iDOLM@STER SideM GROWING STARS, was revealed. Further information about the game was released on June 9, 2021, where Bandai Namco would reveal a return to 2D sprite work and a completely new idol group, C.FIRST. Unfortunately, the original game's content ground to a halt later that year, with its last major event being in October and C.FIRST not being brought over. It finally closed down on January 5, 2023, after over 7 years. The successor game would follow not even six months later, with its services ending in July of the same year. Luckily, franchise fans have a sort of salvation in the form of an archive; the SideM official website has all previous events and communes and adds new content every so often.

A stage play focusing on GROWING STARS was announced for a June 2022 release.

SideM provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • The Super Live Fes event and its corresponding popularity pollnote  is all but extinct after Live Fes 2016. They do have the outfit return, albeit for the first Tales of Asteria collaboration.
    • The Idol Discovery Project members haven't been seen since their initial event and heard of since Legenders' ST@RTING LINE CD. Will they ever be accepted into 315? Will they take up another agency? And are they even still trying? The world may never know...The boys saw a couple of references in events towards the end of the games' lives, with Shiraishi getting a mention in 2021 and Mimasaka showing up in 2022, but nothing further has been done.
  • Adaptational Villainy: "The Legend of King Arthur from Another World" has Percival (one of the more loyal Knights of the Round) and Galahad (canonically the purest of the Knights) turn into antagonistic figures selfishly competing for the Holy Grail. Merlin also turns out to be the Big Bad of the movie, tricking Arthur into doing the heavy lifting so he can grab at the Grail himself. However, it should be noted that their attitudes are a result of the world and its story being distorted.
  • Alice Allusion: Alice sees a lot of returning events in both games. The original mobagame had the "Idols in Wonderland" event, which covers an in-universe gender-flipping of the story; while LIVE ON ST@GE features the "Scented Wonderland" event using the book's motifs for a perfume commercial.
  • All There in the Manual: Comes in the form of Magazines, short publications that come with an idol's cards. They're comics that often reveal part of an idol's backstory, what they were doing during an event, and how they mesh with their group.
  • April Fools' Day:
    • Kaerre (Pierre's frog mascot) was given a spinoff movie announcement for 2016's festivities. In 2018 they repeated the joke, this time making the movie a live-action affair.
    • The 2017 celebration temporarily turned the game into Side: Muscle, a special event where Seiji tries to put on a musical about the virtues of muscle building.
    • For 2018, President Saito blows off the 315 building, and asks the player and the idols to help rebuild it however they want.
    • For 2019, Producers could play the fantasy RPG spoof 315 RPG for a limited time.
    • 2020's celebration is a Mecha AU.
    • For 2021, the cast is stuck on a deserted island.
  • Aerith and Bob: A lot of foreign set productions feature characters like this. For example, the "Phantom Thieves Chat Noir" event is a mixed bag for their characters' names; from kind of normal (Leonard Fitzgerald, Albert Hawkwind) to downright ridiculous (Rabita Queenfield, Michael Kerovale).
  • Art Evolution: The card art, and especially the Magazines, went through a lot of growing pains before finally reaching the streamlined style the art has officially.
  • Book Ends: "DIVE A LIVE" is the first group song and the main theme for the SideM franchise. When the original game shut down, its final event was having the original 15 idol groups sing "DRIVE A LIVE" to the Producer one last time before they head off to the United States.
  • But Now I Must Go: The original game ends with the Producer, much like the one in The iDOLM@STER 2, leaving for the United States, and the final scene is of them flying off to their new opportunity.
  • Bowdlerize: The "Rampage" event has Pierre utter the only instance of a swear word in the whole franchise (exclaiming "HOLY SHIT!" in English) other than a few Precision F-Strike(s) in the Television adaptations, though it's a bit of a downplayed case. The rerun of the event in 2020 finally changes the swear into something tamer.
  • Break Up Song: "Sa-Yo-Na-Ra Summer Holiday" is one.
  • The Bus Came Back: After being absent for years, Jupiter and Ryou take on more active roles here.
  • The Cameo: Ai and Eri, Ryo's old group mates from Dearly Stars, appear on his Day Off card sets. Yumeko gets a passing mention, as she's still doing concerts.
  • invokedCasting Gag: There are quite a few of their film roles that make reference to some aspect of their pasts:
    • Minori in "The Budding Flower of Virtue" is a high-ranking yakuza, which fits as he was a delinquent in his youth.
    • Amehiko's casting as Abe-no-Seimei is one in and out of the universe; he comes from a family of exorcists (albeit he's on the cleaning side of it), and he is already based on Abe-no-Seimei as part of his group's historical figures motif.
    • The King Arthur production they put on casts Pierre in the starring role, appropriately highlighting Pierre's own royal heritage.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Only natural for a male idol game. They fall all over the spectrum of attractiveness, from cute like the Mofumofuen boys and Saki, to boyish like Teru and Hayato, to beautiful like Shouma and Rui, to handsome like Seiji and Michiru.
  • Cast Herd: Unlike the other games, this series has always had distinct idol units from the beginning; each idol is part of one of fifteen units of various compositions, typically with a distinct theme.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Each idol is categorized under one of three attributes: Red for Physical, Blue for Intelligent, and Yellow for Mental.
  • Comic-Book Time: Both games run into the same problem of having content that'd ordinarily span multiple years in-universe but have none of the characters age. It's very noticeable in birthday messages, with them commenting on items or events that happened at least one real-time year back but they haven't gotten older at all.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Ryo's initial SR card has him walk past a poster of himself during his days as a female idol. One of his listed talents is even disguise.
    • Another Ryo card has him dressed in an outfit eerily similar to Soichi Takeda's from his home game (both have a black suit, sunglasses, and a patterned red shirt with a popped collar).
    • The whole reason why Chris became interested in becoming an idol was because of the "Blue Aquarium Live" event.
    • The hobby shop Touma frequents now has a poster referencing the Sentai event Dramatic Stars performed in.
    • Kyousuke once mentions that he'd like to be able to work with Kirio in a live. He does get his wish a little later that year, where both of them are not only in the same Lighting Ceremony live event, but they're both the SR options.
    • In the "The Legend of Arthur from Another World" event, Natsuki mentions Jun's role in Cybernetic Wars ZERO and their own work in the movie/event Paranormal Academy.
    • The "Detective Aaron Case Files" event has Touma make President Kuroi's infamous pointing pose in his Rare Card. From the same event, Shouta is shown holding the same file Kanon has from the "Dark Green Gymnasium" event.
    • The anniversary event cards have all of the main participants depicted with something referencing a previous event they were featured in:Year 3 
Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 
  • Crossover:
    • One with Granblue Fantasy in 2015. Teru, Tsubasa, and Kaoru were transported onto the Grancypher (with Elemental Powers to boot), and Pierre was a summon that could send out hordes of tiny frogs. In SideM, Pierre got a special card that dressed him up as Sierokarte, while Lancelot made a guest appearance. The event reran in 2018.
    • With Tales of Asteria during 2017 and 2019. While Shiki and Touma ended up in the Tales universe as optional bosses and cards, Yuri Lowell and Luke von Fabre got special edition cards for SideM. Yuusuke and Minori got to wear the guest stars' clothes for a card, while Kyousuke and the rest of Beit got to wear some of the clothes from the other participants on Asteria's side. In the 2019 event, Zaveid and Raven are the Tales representatives who show up in-game, while Ren and Jiro (who swap with them), Genbu, Rei, and Hayato are the SideM participants. Teru and Hideo take Shiki and Touma's place as the Asteria boss fights and cards.
    • 2023 began one with, of all things, Fitness Boxing Switch. Unsurprisingly Taiga is the primary focus of the collaboration.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: "Drive A Live", the main theme of the game, has a version done by each unit. The anniversary themes, "Beyond the Dream" and "PRIDE STAR", are likewise performed by everyone but also are done by each type of idol in the game. "Reason!" is done by all 19 of the main idols that appear in the anime.
  • Dualvertisement:
    • Beit and HighXJoker participated in one with Taiko no Tatsujin. On the rhythm game's side, "Drive A Live" became a playable song for the series.
    • Sanrio collaborated with the series for a set of merchandise.
    • In 2018, the game Nemo Tomo included some SideM assets as part of a greater iDOLM@STER collaboration.
  • Fanservice: You'll get some events here and there that will focus on the boys' attractive bodies.
    • "Heat Up! Summer Live" is unabashedly fanservice-y, having the very muscular FRAME and Kougadou boys on the beach in swim trunks and serving ramen in fitted t-shirts.
  • Fun with Acronyms: In Cybernetics Wars, the main human force is the K.G.D. The acronym looks similar to how "Kogadou" is pronounced in syllables, referencing THE Kogadou, who originated the K.G.D. roles in the first Cybernetics Wars movie.
  • Japanese Delinquent: You get to see the boys acting like this in some events, such as the "WILD BOYS" event. Some of the boys have delinquent backgrounds, too; Suzaku and Genbu were both teen troublemakers before idolhood, and Minori also used to be a delinquent in his youth, which makes it doubly funny to see him play a gang member in the "Barren Flower of Virtue" event.
  • Jidaigeki: Occasionally the boys will get some events putting them into famous Japanese events of old. Sai and Jupiter reenacted the Genpei War for one movie, while a Shinsengumi reenactment happened with Dramatic Stars.
  • Magical Girl: Well, Magical Boy, rather, but the concept is still the same for Mofumofuen and S.E.M's "Miracle Magic Nozomira Melody" event.
  • Man Versus Machine: Cybernetics Wars and all relevant installments definitely play up the human/machine rivalry with the K.G.D. and a band of rebelling military androids.
  • Meaningful Name: 315 Production can be read as "Saikou Production", which can mean "Best" or "Ultimate" Production. Aside from being a pun on President Saitou's name, it fits in neatly with the themes of passion that its idols exhibit. By titling themselves as the best, it gives the company a goal to put in enough effort to live up to that name.
  • Mythology Gag: The commemorative 2ND ST@GE cards have all involved wear the same stage outfits their seiyuu wore for the live concerts.
  • Phantom Thief:
    • The aptly named "Phantom Thieves Chat Noir" event places Mofumofuen and Beit into the roles of thieves for one event.
    • DRAMATIC STARS' "Moon Night no Sei ni Shite" is about a phantom thief who becomes the subject of a woman's love.
    • LoS has Valentine's event which features Teru, Kamiya, Seiji, and Shiro as chocolate thieves for the 2019 celebration.
  • The Real Spoofbusters: Ghost Snipers and its corresponding Drama CD are very much based on the lovable ghost-hunting crew.
  • Series Mascot:
    • Jupiter and Dramatic Stars take the role for this series. C.FIRST would later join them after GROWING STARS.
    • The SideM Twitter uses Kaerre, the frog mascot from the amusement park Pierre used to work at.
  • Show Within a Show: As idols, all of them have to do some acting work at some point or another. Many of the game events feature their preparing for the performances, as well as give a glimpse into the show they're doing. You can catch them for a limited time in theater315.
    • A few of the series the idols do get multiple installments. Cybernetics Wars was seen all the way to completion, but other stories like the Spectacle Heroes film series or TV shows like Beast Chronicle or Nozomira Melody get focus too.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Meta example, Yuko Sanpei as Ryo is the only female seiyuu involved in the series, so she is this during the live shows. Interestingly, the role she plays in the live shows is sort of an inversion of the role Ryo played in Dearly Stars.
  • Tagline: Wake atte, idol! note 
  • Those Two Guys: As shown in the Magazines, Pierre has two bodyguards that often follow him around. They look after him like he was their kid, amusingly.
  • Trapped in Another World: Pierre's character in the King Arthur event, Arthur Cameleon, was apparently an Ordinary High-School Student who was transferred into the fantasy world the plot takes place.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Shiro Tachibana sounds much older than his age and appearance.
  • Wedding Episode: Like its sister series, SideM does a June wedding event every year. The style of wedding differs slightly; while it's mostly western style, THE Kogado participated with a Shinto-styled wedding. In addition, there are only two exceptions to the usual formula of dressing as a groom for a shoot: 2019's event features HighxJoker as the band playing at a real wedding, and for 2020 Saki is dressed as a bride to keep consistent with his feminine outfits.
  • Yakuza: "Barren Flower of Virtue" is a Mafia vs. Yakuza story. Daigo is also a Yakuza heir.

Live on St@ge! provides examples of:

  • April Fools' Day: All of the idols' heads were replaced by Ken's SideMini chibi's head. This includes the models, but this can be remedied by playing lives.
  • Continuity Nod: The "Universal Treasures" event has a poster from the movie filmed during the original game's "Best Game" event.
  • Costume Porn: Unlike the girls' mobile rhythm games, where the default outfit is uniform with only minor differences, the default outfits in this game are the ones each respective idol uses in their unit, so there's a lot of outfit variety from the get-go. The DRAMA ON ST@GE series especially has some elaborate outfits.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Units that you might reasonably expect to see playing instruments, such as HighxJoker and Altessimo, have songs that involve dancing on stage.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After Kazuki's former voice actor, Tatsuya Tokutake, stepped down, a commu addressed the voice change in the form of a book Ryo read when he was younger. The book centered around three heroes who were loyal to each other and fought together; he still holds fond memories of it and wants to find it again.
  • Obvious Beta: Live on St@ge! is usually accused of this, with 3D models that look cheap (especially compared to the more detailed models found in Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage and Million Live! Theater Days) and glitch out occasionally, and a rhythm system that's way less advanced than the other games. There's also a huge lack of voice acting compared to the other mobile games.
  • Parrot Pet Position: Suzaku's pet cat Nyako and Asselin BB II's Satan plushie are effectively glued on their respective owners' right shoulders whenever they're on stage.
  • The Theme Park Version: The "WORLD TRE@SURE" series has a group of idols representing a given country, usually stripping down to just one or two traits for it (e.g. Spain is primarily dancing and bullfighting, France has a The Three Musketeers theme, America is adventure and exploration, etc.)
  • Vocal Dissonance: Just like the other mobile rhythm games, the vocalist and their position are locked per song, which can result in this depending on what idol is placed where. This can get especially glaring with Welcome Happykira Park! since all its singers are kids and sound like it, while many of the other idols are at least in their older teens.