With the winter season finally coming to an peaceful end, it was probably none other than AKB0048 that made it rewarding. What once I thought was a joke of series for more insane marketing publicity of the namesake group of idols, became a guilty pleasure among guilty pleasures and ultimately, a every enjoyable and awe-striking title. Out of all the series of the Winter Anime 2013 lineup, it is this one that I can oddly recommend for hopelessly generic reasons, but genuinely loved.
Excellent World and World-Building
Alongside Mondaiji (which stole the cake in this category), AKB0048 would have to be the second best fictionally constructed world of this season. Granted, it was season one that prepared the groundwork, I was still impressed with how much detail and work went into constructing this futuristic space odyssey of idols bringing entertainment back to the galaxy and fulfilling their ambitions. I am still somewhat confused about how the whole Carl Jung’s thesis on “Collective unconscious” comes into play and wonder why did the thematic elements became so emotionally charged and absurd in the finale , but hey, did not dampen my enjoyment. However, I suppose that is to be expected when you have mix of some talented writers, producers, and directors. It contained a little bit of everything that I enjoy from: slice-of-life moments to of course, mecha (attributed by Shoji Kawamori) – so I think that alone was encouraging to keep me watching
Great Music and Cast Of Characters
To be honest, I am not the biggest lover of J-pop/bubblegum pop as I once was. Years ago, I was all about artists like: Tommy Heavenly/February (which is more punk), FictionJunction, Kalafina (I still like and the former), Namie Amuro, Hikaru Utada, and others. However, those days are well-numbered and nearly, most of those names have fallen into the abyss of my memory. Lo and behold, it would be a show that like this to renew my interest slightly. In addition to having infectious lyrics and niceties I once liked in J-pop 9 (tempo especially), the music used just seemed to jive so nicely with the atmosphere itself. A complete juxtaposition of fluffy and inspirational music against a rather moody and stark background. Highly appreciated both, but it was just pleasing beyond compare. The original soundtrack itself (speaking of original non-vocal pieces) was also quite better than I expected and actually find myself humming a few bars.
However, besides the great music, the cast of characters were even better. I am not a big drama fan, but with this show, each week was a personal drama that I absolutely enjoyed. It was specially enjoyable seeing some of the understudies grow and come into their own. Arguably, the central protagonist of the series, I was quite worried they would be overshadowed prominently by Cheiri, Nagisa, and the Successors – but everyone in cast was showcased to their potential. Also peeked my interest of the group a little. Now, if only the real “Mayuyu” was an android capable of shooting missiles, I will be sold.
Animation And Artwork (to some extent)
The visuals, at first, were not exactly my thing. I am not a big fan of gimmickry and all these other “extensive” methods animators are now putting to work in anime, but I would be lying to myself if I did not say that I did come around to liking it – just a little. The 3D (as clumsy and awkward as it was) had its charming points and the animation, with its accented bright and colorful hues added to the “idol-esque essence” the show so cleverly worked into story without being superficial. It grew on me as the series progressed and I ultimately just ignored it (which something I never do), but nonetheless, appreciated it. Certainly liked the rather unique character models. Although, if I could understand what was up with the “hearts design on the eyes and hair” I would be ecstatic. Japan and its attempt to promote the culture of all things cute? I will not even try to guess…
Its is difficult to say if this was some successful market penetration plan or even if it gardened new fans to the AKB name. Despite what it may have been or not, it was one thing and that is one heck of an anime series. Good or bad, that is up to you – but for me, it means good. So, if you can look past the superficial idol anime label and enjoy a genre that is one part drama, another slice-of-life, part music, and another action – AKB0048 might just the series for you. Definitely did not regret watching it, but that is just me. Will be added to my “coming soon” recommendation list…