A Discussion Of Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls

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“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.

 

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Anastasia best girl 🙂

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A Brief Discussion Of Viewing Habits

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Occasionally I browse /r/anime purely to check links to people’s MAL pages. It is truly mind blowing to see some people who hang around the anime community that have seen over 500 shows. But like anything, this makes me feel unqualified to write about anime due to what seems like my lack of background knowledge when compared to other fans of the medium. I’ve also heard other content creators discuss this issue, explaining how there always seems to be another person online who seems to know more about a subject than you, but does that really matter? This idea inspired me to discuss the enjoyment of art over the quality of art in one of my previous blogs which also leads the the core of this blog; does the amount of anime you watch make you more knowledgeable about the medium? I’m also going to touch on some viewing habits that I have, as well as what I have observed by hanging around the community.

Personally, I consider myself to be a bit of an outlier when it comes to consuming anime. When I started watching anime a few years ago, I would watch a few episodes of a particular show each day, and would go a few weeks without watching anything else after completing it. I never was really involved with the social aspect of the anime community up until recently, so I was left to myself to think about the ideas introduced in each series. This inspired me to start writing about anime, mostly rambling (a style I continue to this day) and would just save these pages of text to my hard drive and not really think much of them. After a while, I ceased to be a “casual” viewer when I started getting into more “obscure shows” when looked at from a public perspective. These shows were cult hits of the anime community such as “Steins;Gate,” “Bakemonogatari,” and of course, “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” These were some of the first shows that really pushed my further into the void. Around this time was also the first time I started to do anime binge sessions, in which I would watch around 9 or 10 episodes in one sitting, but this began to change as of recent. Some of my online friends seems to pull of 15+ episode binges as ease which seems unfathomable for me. I by no means have a short attention span but sometimes I like to introduce some variety into my viewing session. Recently I have started to watch two shows at a time, or interrupting my viewing of a series by throwing a film into the mix.

My change in viewing habits have also led to something I consider “Saving Anime.” No, I am not referring to Studio Trigger’s popular release, rather the practice where I save certain anime so they can be viewed at a particular moment in my life. These are usually shows I am fairly certain will be to my liking, so I save them for a special time where I can “maximize” my enjoyment of it. The example I like to discuss when I mention this idea is one of my recent favorites, “Welcome To The NHK.” I will not deny the fact that I’m very unsociable, I prefer to spend my days indoors in front of a computer screen watching two-dimensional anime girls do cute things, so when I first heard about an anime with a main character who was a shut-in NEET, I thought it would be a quality experience to watch it. I was already familiar with the concept of being a hikkikomori, which Satou is in the aforementioned anime, and this was something that I wished not to be but was slowly moving towards. I waited until a lonely night after finals and popped in the first disc of this anime. (I had already purchase this series because I knew that I would like it) Watching this anime was quite the experience, a very humorous approach at the idea of being an outcast to society and not being able to fit in, which I only was able to understand to a certain extent. I’ll save you the effort of hearing me ramble more about NHK by summarizing my time with it as being extremely enjoyable and emotionally impactful. The reason for this is what I credit to my idea of maximizing enjoyment through saving an anime for a special moment.

Sometimes I feel like some people, myself guilty of this as well, to simply watch an anime simply to mark it off as “Watched” on your list. There’s a sense of accomplishment when you stand back and see your list with a few hundred anime completed and the ability to say that you’ve seen the “important” shows that everyone seems discuss all the time. However, I feel like this isn’t necessarily the best thing because this practice doesn’t allow for much personal enjoyment into the equation. Often, people tell me that they feel like they’re less of a fan because they haven’t seen a big show like “Cowboy Bebop” or “Serial Experiments Lain,” but I reassure them that they have just as important of an opinion as a “well-cultured” who’s seen those shows. I feel like anime should only be seen if you genuinely want to watch them, and you should never watch a show because “everyone seems to talk about it” or because you want to add them to your completed shows. This may come off as a bit “preachy” but I value the importance of personal enjoyment over the ability to seem like a knowledgeable fan. Because of this, I go through an expensive process when picking a new anime to watch which usually involves a few hours of research online by looking through ANN articles, youtube videos, fanart and sometimes listening to some songs from the OST. I like to get invested with the anime which, I believe leads to my ability to enjoy is much more.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you consume anime because it is your decision. I just wanted to bring to attention that sometimes you don’t have to watch a certain series because the anime community seems to condemn you for not watching it, rather, watch shows that make you happy. Additionally, maybe try the practice of “Saving Anime” and let me know how that works out for you, or maybe you have already been doing something similar for years and love it. If you have, I’d love to hear about a show that was more impactful because of this. Anyways, thanks for reading my incoherent thoughts, have a nice day.

Go enjoy some anime!

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The Value Of Quality Over Enjoyment

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One of my problems with the anime community are reviews, and that may seem a bit hipocritical, but it’s true. Reviews are subjective opinions that are written by people with an agenda. This usually causes people interested in a show to have their own opinions to be altered or influenced after reading. Why are reviews even a thing then? Simply put, the anime community is a community that relies heavily on recommendations. Recommendations, at their core, are what a single person thinks is good for somebody else. Sometimes recommendations may help the other person find a new favorite show, but they also influence a person’s tastes and future opinions about that specific medium. Recommendations aren’t necessarily bad, but I think they should be done indirectly to minimize the influence. By indirectly, I mean a generic recommendation the provides a summary, your score and some various thoughts about the series as a whole to keep bias to a minimum by offering different viewpoints. This still doesn’t solve our predicament, but attempts to solve on problem.

Another issue I have encountered while reading and writing anime reviews is the importance of quality over enjoyment. Don’t get me wrong, I love anime with high production quality, but enjoyment is what is important. This argument attempts to question why some people enjoy similar shows that are critically acclaimed. However, they might not necessarily “like” the show.

In order to understand this, one must analyze what makes up a review, and what constitutes quality. Quality is judged by previous experiences in the medium. That’s why newer fans gravitate towards “popular” shows, because in their eyes they see that show as great. But veterans look at the same shows and compare them to other shows they’ve seen and denounce it as average. Quality can only be judged with experience. After watching anime for a long time, you will start to notice what is good animation, or what is great writing and what isn’t. The problem is that everyone doesn’t watch the same shows so everyone can’t compare one specific anime to their past experiences with anime and expect to have the same results with someone else. But that doesn’t stop people from writing critical reviews about anime. The keyword being “critical.”

What constitutes a good anime review? Analysis, criticism or opinions? Let’s analyze what’s in a review. I’ll be using my own review of Kids on the Slope for this example. Most reviews such as myself you have upon 5 things when writing a review: Story, Characters, Sound, Animation and Overall Opinions. Let’s break this down a bit more. The story category is usually a copied and pasted Mal or Wikipedia summary about a show. Here’s the first example of bias. Summaries are flawed because the person writing them include what they believe to be an overview of the show. However, they are including details they like or deem to be important, while they may be omitting details they didn’t remember or don’t like. In my review of Kids on the Slope, I wrote: “Kids on the Slope has its own fair share of drama and romance, which keep the show moving, but it really shines in the tale of friendship though music.” My own opinions are leaking from this sentence. Using phrases like “really shines” and including the statement about what I believe the show to be about- friendship and music- really shows my bias. This isn’t a bad thing, but it starts off the review by already convincing or discouraging the reader. The Character section being very similar. But in Animation and Sound is where things start to get interesting. Earlier I attempted to explain quality, and this is where that aspect is most apparent. Ones opinions about music or art differ, so why even bother trying to discuss them and use them as a point of criticism? The quality of a piece of art is subjective so there is no point in assigning a numeric score to decide it’s worth. The overall thoughts category is what is important. This shows the reviewers true colors as they attempt to tie together their opinions about enjoyment and thoughts on quality. This category may differ completely from what the review seemed to point towards. I find this category to be the only one worth reading.

But now we’re faced with a new problem- is it fair to judge an anime critically based on quality, or enjoyment. It is important to enjoy what you are watching, but sometimes reviewers sacrifice enjoyment for quality. A certain anime might have amazing animation, sound and writing but be boring to sit down an watch. However, a review would judge the anime based on quality and give it a great score for checking all the boxes that makes a show great, but fails to admit that it wasn’t necessarily enjoyable to sit through. This is why I believe reviews to be flawed. Numeric scores aren’t necessary, but are accepted as a part of our community to the point where it’d be impossible for one person to change it.

So what should yourself from all this? Remember that all reviews are based on the quality of a show and are filled with bias, so take them with a grain of salt. Never forget to value your own personal enjoyment over the thoughts of others (which is somewhat ironic here since this entire essay is biased) but don’t forget that quality matters in anime, but sometimes shouldn’t be a deciding factor in wether of no you rate a show highly or not.

Thanks for reading, have a nice day!

Originally Written 12.24.16

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