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Im not normally for Idol Anime, but I was bored and decided why not. And by god am I regretting not watching this sooner.
The characters are all unique in their own ways rather than being stereotypical archetypes in Idol Anime, and theres plenty of good humor to be found, particularly with Kotaro being a Large Ham and Tae in general. I love all the main characters with one exception. Theyre all treated as multifaceted, having sides to them outside of their roles in the group, and are also presented with actual flaws.
And I love that it treats the issues the characters have with nuance, whether it be Lilys identity, Junko being shy, Sakuras depression, or Ai fearing being forgotten. Aesops arent tacked on, nor are issues easily solved. Hard work is a major theme, but the issues of overwork and repeat failures are covered with Ai and Sakura.
The show definitely has its charm. This anime is one of the few where I cry, mainly during Episode 8.
I do have some issues though:
1. Yugiri. Shes meant to be the Team Mom, but shes Out of Focus, and Sakura fits that more as The Heart. Her Running Gag, slapping someone as theyre having an epiphany only to say it herself, isnt funny to me. The second season looks like it gives her focus, so maybe I'll change my mind, but otherwise she seems pointless.
2. Ais fight with Junko. Ai acts like Junko not shifting to the current style is dragging the team down, and comes across as messed up. Kotaro puts it best: just because the era is different doesnt mean Junko has to acclimate. She can just be who she is, she just has to remember that Franchouchou is a team, and that she can open up to them and in turn be there for them. As good as the scene was, I feel it would have been better had there been one more confrontation with them, laying their feelings bare and then leading to Kotaros talk. Instead, Junko locks herself away, and Ai doesnt think about it and instead works herself to second death, which makes it look like she doesnt care about Junko.
3. While the depression is handled well, I feel the way its resolved is hamfisted. Yugiri slapping Sakura and telling her to get over it reads like shes calling an amnesiac with near suicidal depression out for not wanting to help out people she hardly knows at this point and being depressed.
I feel Kotaro and Tae had a much better approach, showing they wouldnt give up on Sakura while trying to tell her that she can do it without ignoring her issues. It would have made more sense had it been them to wear her down since their relationships were stronger than having the Out of Focus character slap and guilt trip her. You can keep Ais speech, just dont make it seem wrong for Sakura to have depression, make it Ai reassuring her that the others will be there to pick her back up. It would tie in to Kotaros talk with Junko and serve as a nice theme.
Still, I love this series, and am looking forward to season 2!
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