“Cinderella Girls is a good anime, but a terrible Idolm@ster show.”
The first season of Idolm@ster left a great impression on me and convinced me to continue on with the series and watch the next installment which is Cinderella Girls. This new season has new girls with a new production studio but still falls into the same universe and idol drama as the first, but while I was watching Cinderella Girls, something felt off.
After the first 3ish episodes, I texted my friend about Idolm@ster telling him that I can’t seem to get to like the characters from Cinderella Girls. He reassured me that it will get better and I just had to stick with it. However, as I trudged through the episodes, I found myself losing interest in the story, the characters seemed really boring and got annoying, and I couldn’t find the motivation to finish it. I took a week long break from anime to gather my thoughts about this series and maybe come to a conclusion why I felt so unsatisfied with Cinderella Girls.
During my brief hiatus, I watched some western films and cartoons to pass time. My realization came when I was after my rewatch of the Breakfast Club. I absolutely adore that film, it’s near the top of my favorites films of the 80’s and is a great throwback to that time, but I digress. One of my favorite parts about that film are the characters and their interactions with each other despite their obvious differences. That made me think about Idom@ster. I realized that one of my favorite things about the first season were the lovable characters and lighthearted atmosphere., something Cinderella Girls seemed to lack. Let me explain.
The original series was a lighthearted slice of life show that just so happened to track the lives of the girls from 765 Productions. There were much more episodes dedicated towards the development of the characters and the production team when compared to the amount of episodes dedicated towards the actual idol work. This season also tracks how these girls grow from relatively unknown to massive popularity and how this affects their relationships, something I really liked. We got to see how the popularity of being an idol in Japan is and how the idol industry works. (but of course there are thinks that were most likely left unsaid)
Cinderella Girls always seemed like it was trying to be the first season, but miserably failed in doing so. I never felt like there was a moment when all of the girls got together and had fun, it was all work and felt too “calculated.” This problem became a realization to me when I was on episode 10 and I couldn’t remember half of the names for the characters, something I didn’t have a problem with on the first season. I probably only cared for two or three characters in this series, partially due to prior knowledge with them or bias towards a certain archetype. I never felt like the characters were really a part of something together, and felt as if the author and director calculated equal amounts of screen time for each character.
An anonymous dude on the internet said something along the lines of: “Cinderella Girls felt like it was directed by someones who likes anime, while the first season felt like it was directed by a fan of Idolm@ster.” There was a clear difference in the first season and the second, and the passion from the production side of the anime didn’t feel like it was there. That being said, the songs were much better in Cinderella Girls but that doesn’t make up for the lack of feeling behind them. Everything felt rushed and devoid of feeling, almost cold. Overall, Cinderella Girls wasn’t a terrible anime, but you don’t need to go our of your way to watch it unless your an Idolm@ster fan already.