Warning: The following review may/will contain spoilers for IDOLiSH7. If you wish to stay clear of what happens in this show's story, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched said show. Or, you know, you can take that warning with a grain of salt, and still read on anyway. Whatever floats your boat.
Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:
Though I should extend that invitation to everyone. Just because this show is primarily catered to a female audience doesn't make it wrong for anyone else to want to watch it.
With that PSA out of the way, it's time to review another male idol show. IDOLiSH7 was one of my most highly anticipated anime series of this year. There is always a section of my heart that squeals with glee at a male idol show, though Uta Pri's decline made be shy away from some of them. I was worried about how they were going to turn out, especially when the characters felt one-dimensional or the drama turned from juicy to overblown really quick.
This show was not one of them, though. Based off of a rhythm game for Apple and Samsung devices with original character designs by Arina Tanemura (I read the first volume of The Gentlemen's Alliance Cross, though some of you may be more familiar with her through Full Moon wo Sagashite or Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne), it sounded appealing and I was into it. I held off on watching the first two episodes when Crunchyroll posted them (as they were previewed at an event in Japan) until the series itself officially premiered, but that didn't stop me from seeing snippets.
Let me just say I was impressed. Not only was the lead writer of this adaptation the writer of my favorite Uta Pri episode (the Ranmaru one, of course), but the studio producing it, the composer, and the story itself looked very promising. It was time to go back into a genre I had left for a time, but I didn't truly forget.
Did IDOLiSH7 prove to be successful? Or did it sour beyond those first few glimpses?
It proved to be the former in spades. Though not perfect, IDOLiSH7 has set the stage for the quintessential male idol anime. The stuff I've seen before is QUAKING in its boots. With an easy to follow story, amazing tension, characters you want to hug and protect, great animation, plus a top notch soundtrack and voice acting to boot, B-Project wishes it was IDOLiSH7. I'd like to do a rewatch one day to pinpoint what went wrong there outside of what I've brought up before, because the problems I encountered in the former didn't really occur in the latter outside of some not as strong character development.
Also, this show brought back the feeling of watching America's Next Top Model in its glory days, and I was LIVING. Thank goodness the drama was built in reality and not over something petty like a girl or unrealistic sabotage.
Let's move on to the story before I combust after revealing my best boy (some of you will be surprised):
Tsumugi Takanashi has been hired by her dad, Otoharu, to work for his company, Takanashi Productions. He has recently scouted seven boys who are all in the running towards becoming members of the next big idol group. Each represent a different color of the rainbow with their aesthetic (because there are seven candidates. Get it?) and also bring something unique to the table. Tsumugi first assignment is to hold an audition where four boys must be sent home. Otoharu only wants three in his planned group, and the rest will have to sashay...away.
After tryouts, Tsumugi believes that each member is important to the ensemble. Whether it's in their singing, dancing, or stage presence, cutting four of them might waste what the group has to offer. Because of her dedication to making this group the best it could possibly be, Otoharu reveals this was a test, and there will be no eliminations. The seven boys discovered will be the seven boys in the group. Their name: IDOLiSH7.
However, this group is recently established, and unlike other shows where guys have worked for years (or are at a school for promising talent with imminent success after graduation), becoming famous isn't going to happen overnight. These boys have to work to put their names on the map, and it's not going to be easy.
Whether it's their rivals, TRIGGER, an idol group formed two years prior to the story (and who are very successful) showcasing their talent, or their boss, Sosuke Yaotome (whose son, Gaku, is in TRIGGER), doing anything he possibly can to throw these new shining stars to the ground, or things not working out how they're supposed to work out, such as concert mishaps, lost gigs, and stolen music, or secrets that could tear down the foundation of what you thought you knew about these boys, being an idol is hard work.
Can IDOLiSH7 reach the point where they can consider themselves on equal footing with TRIGGER? Or is all this chaos going to get in the way of making their dreams come true? One thing's for certain, though:
I was not expecting to be so entertained by IDOLiSH7, not because of what it did wrong, but because of what it did right. It's interesting following an idol series from the ground-up. Uta Pri did that too in a way, but not like this series. These boys aren't going to a school to be trained at becoming performers. They have to do it all on their own because that potential just can't go to waste. Everything isn't going to fall into place. There will be setbacks. Yes, they will be painful to watch.
Another thing an idol series hasn't given me yet is MASSIVE ANXIETY. This did. This series is really good at motivating you to fall in love with these boys. They are each given a chance to have the spotlight and finding out about their backgrounds is fascinating. When something bad happened to them, or everything was crumbling to shreds around them (damn tabloids pinpointing their weaknesses), I became mega stressed. These boys are precious and deserve to be loved and protected. Why must there be pain, show?
Oh, right. Sometimes it creates drama, and OH BOY did this show have drama. There were so many secrets I didn't see coming and was shocked to find out. Part of what makes this entertaining is my exposure to other male idol anime and reality TV. What makes the "tea-spilling" here more engaging and less manipulative is how it's grounded in reality.
There were a few inner conflict arcs I really enjoyed, because it took me back to the beginning of Uta Pri where the only things the boys had to worry about was Tokiya's other identity, Natsuki's other personality, and Haruka shutting down whenever faced with performing in front of her classmates or making it big with STARISH, baby. Nothing revolved around wooing the girl. Nothing revolved around silly pissing contests of who was the better idol. Nothing revolved around silly sabotage where the reasoning behind it came out of nowhere. And finally, nothing revolved around a band member going MIA to be anticlimactically found. It's so refreshing to finally watch an idol series and not have to roll my eyes so hard I see Mars whenever something dramatic happens (it's typically pretty implausible).
Going back to the secrets I mentioned earlier, prepare to be surprised. This series does not hold back when it comes to the dramatic reveals. Whether a pivotal point in characters' arcs or referenced once, they gave me so much life to the point where my breakfast went cold while watching Episode 15 and I didn't even care. Drama in my personal life? Sorry, can't talk right now. But drama in anime and TV shows that isn't forced or manipulated to make you feel a certain way? YAS sign me up. I love when a show brings me back to the good old days when my primary source of entertainment was America's Next Top Model and Big Brother.
Well, without the tendency to make certain girls and guys look bad or underlying racial tension that was both editor manipulated and very real (looking at you, Big Brother 15). The only rivalries in this anime are healthy ones. No need to bicker over the lead, boys! Your music careers are way more important and it's fun once in a while to have healthy competition when it comes to award shows!
If there is one thing I would have liked the writers for this show to work in better, it would be the formation of the duo unit MEZZO". After an underwhelming performance at Music Festa, Otoharu decides to hold off on a group debut until all of the members have enough confidence to survive the big, bad world of the entertainment industry. Instead, he decides to debut Sogo and Tamaki due to their popularity within IDOLiSH7. Iori comments about how their fans weren't the happiest with this decision, but like with some books, the show tells us this rather than shows us. Where are the angry comments, the disappointed reactions? It's delicious seeing the two members who can't get along work together and grow to like the other's company, but we've seen bits and pieces of IDOLiSH7's fanbase. So why not for this?
Regardless, I was having the time of my life when watching this series. It's nice to see an male idol series take a direction I haven't seen before in terms of set-up, building its own path along the way, and tackling gripes I've had with these kinds of shows in the past and making them work SO much better. Seeing this precious group grow and evolve made me so happy because these babies deserved it. Sadly, the road to fame isn't crystal clear yet. We have far more bumps in the road to come, and I am SCARED.
Since fans have commented about this franchise's foreshadowing being so damn good, there are going to be more plot twists that will shake me to the core. I just have this hunch. If this gets another season, you know I'll be there to watch it.
Much like with my harem/reverse harem anime (even though THIS ISN'T A REVERSE HAREM, GUYS), I will be talking about the lead girl and all of the boys in the two respective groups. Be prepared for fanboying, massive GIF use, and the usual long AF descriptions that will totally not contain spoilers.
First up, Tsumugi:
I don't think I can talk about Tsumugi without bringing up Tsubasa from B-Project. While these two are very similar characters, how the writers handle them are very different.
Tsubasa, though technically a lead character, struggles to stay relevant despite being the A&R of all three groups, and essentially, B-Project. She's not really given anything to do aside from showcasing her keen observation to parts of music and nature. Her personality is very bare bones for the genre, and the one sign of something that could be used as development comes out of nowhere and doesn't click with the narrative, especially when you realize the writers never brought it up beforehand.
Meanwhile, Tsumugi may wear similar shoes, but IDOLiSH7 paints her as a much more competent person. She doesn't have composing skills of the gods like Haruka and she doesn't have the ear to find something off beyond the obvious like Tsubasa, but that doesn't mean she should be dismissed as a Special Snowflake. The further I got into the show, the more I realized Tsumugi wasn't shoved face first into any situation the boys founds themselves in. Her role is natural, supportive, and a clearly defined side character.
As much as B-Project tried to shift focus towards the boys, it didn't do it smoothly. It also doesn't help when your female lead has about as much personality as a paper sack. Tsumugi is such a breath of fresh air because it's not so much her story as it is the boys. She's just helping them along the way (so is Iori, but shh. Don't tell. It's a secret), whether it's by long nights working or promotion. I understand majority of the planning came from Iori's mind and not her own, but her care for these boys is so palpable and strong you just want to hug her. Otoharu believed his daughter could do this job, and she's doing a dang fine job of it right now.
Plus, you don't want to piss her off. That, in itself, is a win. More characters like this, please. It can only go up from here.
Time to move on to IDOLiSH7's established center, Riku:
PRECIOUS SMALL CINNAMON ROLL #1 MUST PROTECC
This boy is just too damn cute for this world, enough said. Praised for what he adds to the group in terms of vocal ability, Riku is hard-working, ready to take on whatever comes his way, and has a fraternal twin brother who may or may be not the center of TRIGGER. Yeah, it's awkward.
Aside from that bombshell, though, Riku also has a respiratory disorder. When he pushes himself too much when performing or gets extremely nervous, his body begins to shut down to the point where he passes out. Because of this condition, Riku was not allowed to eat candy or other food loaded with sugar when he was younger or participate in gym classes and clubs at school. He was also a regular in hospitals to the point where he hates the smell of them.
Since he was doted on throughout his life, Riku doesn't want to be a burden to IDOLiSH7 and vows to keep his health a secret. It works until he collapses after performing in the rain for a few hours in Episode 5. Worried the other members will look down on him, Riku is surprised to find the very opposite reaction. Since then, Riku has tried to not push himself as hard to avoid going back to the hospital. With more practice and training, this seems to be working, and hopefully his illness doesn't come back and bite him where it hurts at a very important moment later on.
I loved Riku, primarily because he was so damn adorable and I wanted to hug him whenever he was on screen. He's very naive when it comes to the outside world due to his time indoors or in hospitals, so I liked seeing him navigate the inner workings of the group and become a fierce standout star. Part of his arc is to show his brother he can become a idol despite being held back, and at times where it failed, I was like, "No, my poor baby." This guy deserves all the bear hugs in the world and is such a good performer that I'm excited to see where he'll go from here. He is truly a star. If anyone hurts him, I will be sad until the end of time.
Next is Iori:
Iori is VERY smart. One of the two younger members of the group, he is also the younger brother of Mitsuki despite appearing older at first glance (this is due to the latter's height). Not only is Iori smart when it comes to planning and making sure everything falls in line, he is also selfless. He wants the group to do well as a whole to the point where at Music Festa he accidentally forgot to come in at a certain point during IDOLiSH7's performance.
Secretly a lover of cute things, Iori is almost always calm and collected except when things don't go the way they're supposed to. He doesn't overreact about the fallout, it's just more that the salty side of him will come out and it typically likes to target Riku.
At first, Iori initially joined IDOLiSH7 because it's been Mitsuki's dream to become an idol since he was little. However, through helping Tsumugi manage the group and working with them, he realizes it's his dream too. Discovering something you're passionate about is always a breath of fresh air, and it'll be interesting to see where Iori's development goes from here since the him helping Tsumugi secret is out.
Even though Iori is my least favorite out of this group, I still liked him as a character. I remember being shocked when I found out he was seventeen because he doesn't act like it. The way he composes himself plus his occasional sass doesn't make a person cocky if they are also a sweetheart. And deep down, that's what Iori is. I would have liked to see a bit more development in regards to his background since research is giving me something quite interesting, but at the end of the day, these characters aren't one-note and won't do anything for the sole sake of impressing the girl. That's all I need.
Time to talk about Mitsuki:
PRECIOUS SMALL CINNAMON ROLL #2 MUST PROTECC
Mitsuki brings the most energy out of anyone in IDOLiSH7. This helps detract from the fact he's only 5' 4" (like Shoyo Hinata) and isn't the best dancer or singer, which has prohibited him from getting work in the past. Inspired by Zero, a powerhouse musician who went missing after rocking Japan to its core, Mitsuki has been aiming to become an idol for so long. Finally in a group with his younger brother by four years, Mitsuki occasionally questions if he deserves to be in it in the first place due to his past failures. Iori is stronger than him, and it does lead to tabloids latching on to the fact that if Mitsuki didn't have Iori by his side, he wouldn't have been accepted in the first place.
Ignoring the hate, though, it's clear Mitsuki has a place in IDOLiSH7. His personality can help fix or set the mood, he is a big brother figure to several of the members, and is literal sunshine himself. Be careful, though; he gets irritated just as easy as he can become happy.
A user on YouTube has made compilations of Mitsuki's lines throughout the episodes, and it boggles my mind they only hit about one minute and thirty seconds. Despite not having as big of a development arc as some of the other boys, what makes me like Mitsuki so much is his presence. Much like in the group itself, this boy lights up the screen whenever he appears and deserves about ten thousand hugs. He's always optimistic, wants the best for everyone, and at times can be a total goofball. Never forget the time he demonstrated the art of writing your name out in the air with your butt. ICONIC!
Above all else, Mitsuki's level of optimism is something I'd love to see in other people out in the world and from myself. Sometimes it's easy to be too negative about events going on in our lives we don't often look on the bright side. Mitsuki's looking on the bright side for the majority of his life and I love that. I do my best with being a ray of light in others' lives, but this boy makes me want to try more. That's always a good thing.
Nagi's turn now:
How do I best describe Nagi? This and this are all you need to know upfront before you dive deeper into his character. He is, upfront, a complete and total WEEB who is a big fan of anime and the fictional series Magical Kokona in particular. Half Japanese and half Northmarean (which is located in northern Europe in this world), he can not only speak eight languages but is a big flirt. His love for women is rivaled by his love of Japanese animation, but it's the latter that seems to win out in the end.
Underneath the grandiose, however, is a young man who deeply cares for his group members, as they are the closest friends he's ever had. He wants everyone to love what they do and make amazing music, which makes his secret all the more interesting. When still in Northmare, Nagi met Haruki Sakura, the composer and songwriter for Zero. As the latter grew ill following a still unsuccessful search for the famous performer, he gave his unreleased songs to Nagi, knowing he would find a home that could bring them to life. This lead to Nagi travelling to Japan and being scouted for IDOLiSH7.
Gotta love those twists of fate, huh? This bombshell is built up slowly throughout the anime, and it makes for an amazing reveal. What's also amazing is how fleshed out Nagi's character ended up being. Not only is he another boy who deserves the world and should never be hurt, he is iconic AF and comedic gold. Some have found him to be annoying until his development, but I've always thought he was art. Nothing takes me back to the good old days of weebdom like Nagi and puts a hilarious spin on it when all I want to do is cringe. What's nice is that this doesn't define him, and as such, he is one of the many reasons why IDOLiSH7 is as close as they are. I like the Nagi with a big heart just as much as the Nagi who EMBRACES THE WEEB.
Interesting story: Nagi started off this series as my favorite boy from the group. But over time, that changed. Which one out of the next three do you think it could be? Let's find out.
All right, it's now Sogo's time to shine:
Sogo is IDOLiSH7's Appointed Mom who reminds me of another famous anime mother who I LOVE, Koushi Sugawara from Haikyuu. He prides himself in following instructions and being organized. Despite being calm and collected most of the time, there is a limit. If you make Sogo mad, you will likely get this:
Or get this. Either way, the first screenshot is even funnier to me considering Sogo says he isn't mad and it brought me back to this ICONIC moment from ANTM.
Anyways, Sogo grew up in a family which valued absoluteness and order over anything else. His uncle was shunned due to working in the music industry, a career his relatives didn't approve of. However, Sogo held a lot of great respect towards his uncle that festered in his childhood and was made known following his death. Despite being the heir to a powerful entertainment company, Sogo decides to pursue his passion of becoming a musician, which led to his family becoming distant and the former dropping out of school.
Because of this history, Sogo feels the need to repress his desires and fears so that everything runs smoothly. This gets complicated around the time MEZZO" begins to relentlessly work alongside debuting with IDOLiSH7, which chips away at Sogo's stability until he breaks. How Riku finds Sogo curled up in a ball in his dark bedroom is a chilling ending to the twelfth episode.
Sogo's backstory was something that shook me. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but when he brought up abandoning his family in Episode 3 (though the opposite is true), cue the jaw dropping.
It was an interesting turn to an idol's backstory, and I was happy the writers didn't ignore this plot point. Some backgrounds regarding family disputes or tension have often been pretty vague, but IDOLiSH7 didn't let this go. It does disappear into the background, but like any juicy plot points, it doesn't stay hidden for long.
As for Sogo as a character, I really liked him. I think I'm just a fan of the mom types, because not only is he a radiant beam of holiness, but getting on his bad side is something you will regret. I like that a lot. What I also liked a lot was how he and Tamaki had to work together once they became a duo unit. At first, these two are like oil and water; they just don't seem to get along. This partially has to do with Sogo's tendency to follow the rules by the book while Tamaki is more lenient on them, just as long as it works out okay. But as the two spend more time together and Sogo experiences that mental breakdown, those flames are sent packing.
How did this anime know I like seeing two people who can't see eye-to-eye being forced to work together? I don't like it when it happens to me in real life, but I eat that s**t up when it comes to my media. Well, unless one of the people turns out to actually be awful, then nope, goodbye.
The point is, I saw these two characters were being shipped quite a bit while watching this anime. And after seeing it, I totally understand why.
Gotta love the power of friendship and, in the fanfic world, a burning romance!
Let me end this section by saying Drunk Sogo was the entertainment I didn't know I needed this year and I highly appreciated it.
Onto Tamaki now:
ULTIMATE SMOLE CINNAMON ROLL MUST PROTECC AND DEFEND AT ALL COSTS
Yup, here's my best boy. Not only is Tamaki the youngest member of IDOLiSH7, he is also the tallest at 6 feet. His main passion is King Pudding, which is, you guessed it, pudding. Not only does King Pudding keep this guy going, but his dancing skills are above and beyond. However, Tamaki isn't the easiest to work with. His age definitely fits his personality, because at times he can be lazy and a brat. More likely to go with his gut than put more thought into his decisions, Tamaki is also good at sensing changes of emotions in other people. He can take critique whenever he does something wrong but does not take it well when it is served with a side of anger.
Growing up was rough for this boy. Born to an alcoholic father and a mother who passed away when he was three, Tamaki and his younger sister, Aya, were raised in a orphanage for the majority of their lives because the former parent couldn't support them. Two years prior to the start of the series, the two got separated, and Tamaki has been looking for her ever since. Becoming an idol did seem like a good plan. After all, he would be on TV a lot, and Aya could be able to track him down from that.
It doesn't take long for other people in the industry (and outside of it) to latch onto this bait after it has been cast. Sosuke Yaotome uses it to try to get the almost formed MEZZO" to work for him, a producer promises Tamaki that he and his company will find her for an upcoming special, and a young girl lures him away from going to a photoshoot (which he was already late for to begin with) by saying she knows where his sister is. Because Tamaki is willing to believe/do ANYTHING in regards to his sister, he is gullible enough to fall into these traps every single time.
If anyone wants to cause Tamaki so much stress to the point where he makes this face:
OKAY, moving on.
I was not expecting to love Tamaki as much as I did. At one point, he was tied with Nagi as my favorite once his backstory was starting to come out. It was around Episode 12 where my feelings began to shift, and slowly but surely, the color blue jumped ahead of the color yellow. My heart went out to this boy so hard. Not only is his backstory easy to emphasize with in regards to how he is now, but I saw bits of myself in him like I did with Nagi. He's at time a bratty child who is quite stubborn and not easy to work with, and yup, I remember a time where I acted exactly like that. Now, growing up has made me look back on life with a new perspective, and it's clear Tamaki wasn't granted that due to his upbringing.
Also, can we just talk about how cute this boy is? He deserves everything in the world because he looks cuddle-able, is extremely bad at explaining things (me AF sometimes), gives everyone nicknames (those characters always give me joy), and has a kind heart underneath his rough exterior. His determination to find his sister made me happy, but working together with Sogo without exchanging a few choice words made me overjoyed. Tamaki isn't the smartest tool in the shed, nor is he the most likable, but if you can make me drawn to a character who needs care and love and SUNSHINE while also developing him well, you create a winner.
Bonus points when he can scream "Shut up" into a microphone, which causes feedback, and it makes me laugh.
Last but not least for the I7 boys, Yamato:
The Appointed Dad and leader of the group, Yamato became an idol for one reason only: revenge.
The show has done a great job teasing us about going into depth on this, but it hasn't happened yet. My guesses are the reasoning is related to the show business or a rumor that came out alongside the rest of the tabloid fodder.
Regardless, Yamato is the eldest out of the boys, being twenty-two. Referring to himself as the big brother (oniisan), he presents himself as relatively easy-going and relaxed but is actually quite passionate about IDOLiSH7 once he gets himself further involved with it. At first, Yamato was very close to walking out of the audition once it was revealed four guys would be axed, but after being convinced to stay, it's clear he enjoys it and is liking his position as leader.
However, he still holds a dislike towards the entertainment industry due to something to his past, which makes him wary to accept a request to guest star in a drama. While he later accepts the job, something seems ominous when the show focuses on him watching it alone in his room, his glasses off and the top half of his face shadowed as he takes a sip of his drink. His own personal cleaning robot, Musashi, is even running while he sees himself on TV. Where will this go from here if we get a Season 2 or we read the next part's story?
Much like with Iori, I didn't like Yamato as much as some of the other characters, but he was still entertaining. At points, he can seem like a dirty old man (like when he jokes about buying Riku an adult magazine to celebrate after they sell out the concert venue they had their first performance at), yet at others, he's nice, sensible, and a good leader. After all, who can effectively lead the group huddles without him? I liked all of the teases of his past, when he dismissed his motive, or when he'd hint at what went done, but then go, "Oh, it's nothing."
C'MON, WE ALL WANT TO KNOW WHAT WENT DOWN IN YOUR PAST! STOP BEING SO SECRETIVE AND START SPILLING THE TEA! Your fans will appreciate it, I'm sure.
Or maybe it'll just make me anxious? IDK.
These writers are just so damn good at making me want to hear more about these boys and getting me invested in all this DRAMA. I've never felt so alive for an idol series in my life.
We're going to jump over to TRIGGER now, starting with their center, Tenn:
Tenn has three layers. We have one for public appearances, where he's as kind as you'd expect a celebrity to be anywhere. We have one when he interacts with IDOLiSH7 pre the former's debut song getting stolen by a songwriter for Yaotome Productions for TRIGGER where he prides himself on being as much of an asshole as possible. It's like he wakes up every morning and declares to himself:
But underneath that is a heart of gold that just needs coaxing to come out. He cares for both his group members and for Riku. However, he'd prefer to treat the former as a business partner rather than as a friend. As for the latter, he simply thinks Riku isn't ready to enter the entertainment industry due to his illness (however, if Episode 4 is any indication, I'd bet my money on the fact Tenn has the same thing, yet at the start of this series, he has better control over it). He cares for him and is jealous he didn't get to grow up alongside him.
Remember that twist with Riku I was referencing earlier? Well, here it is. Tenn is the one who is Riku's twin. While they initially lived together, Tenn was scouted by Yaotome Productions and asked to work for them. Without looking back, he accepted, abandoned his surname of Nanase and changed it to Kujo, plus eventually became a member of a currently successful idol group. Riku is bitter about this because he still doesn't know why Tenn left home and slipped out of his family's life. As the series goes on, this cold blows through, but what does the scene in the ending credits for the final episode tell us? Only one way to find out.
I loved and hated Tenn at the same time. He is such a tough cookie and quite complex for a character in this kind of show. He has a variety of different sides and it's hard to know which is the real Tenn Kujo because like a snack cake he's got SO MUCH FILLING. There were points where I wanted to slap him, points where I was terrified of him, points where I liked him, and points where he showed off his embarrassed side and I was like, "Aw, aren't you adorable?"
You see what I mean about layers? The characters that stick with you sometimes aren't the ones you adore, but the ones who are complicated. That, my friends, describes Tenn Kujo. Not that I hate it. His icy stare is gold and can be used to cut just about anything. Tyra Banks is gagging.
Then we have Gaku:
Me Reading Fan Posts: Wow, a lot of people think Gaku is attractive. I can see why, but I don't think he's my type.
Me After Finding This Photo:
Okay, Gaku stans. You were right.
Gaku is the son of Sosuke Yaotome, the president of Yaotome Productions. He was named the "Number One Man I'd Want to Hold Me Tight" by fans despite having a cold exterior. He's so serious to the point where the gossip train wonders just how bad the son of Sosuke really is. However, son doesn't match father in this case. Gaku is actually quite humble and wants to be more than his dad's son. He is the leader of TRIGGER, and in a sense, is part of the glue that holds them together.
I should also mention Gaku is a secret fanboy of IDOLiSH7 and wants to see them succeed, going behind his father's back to recommend them as a guest during Music Festa. Because of the tense relationship with his father, he values strong family connections and doesn't like those who dismiss their worth on their childhood. If there's anyone to ship Tsumugi with in this series, it'd have to be with him. It's canon that he has a crush on her, at least according to IDOLiSH7's Wiki and the source they got this information from.
While this boy was my least favorite in TRIGGER, this is IDOLiSH7. I can't hate any of these boys because the writers develop them with better care than other shows in this genre do with similar types of characters. Gaku was a bit boring to me when the series started, but that was because I didn't know about him. After all, who thinks this man with a Why So Serious disposition will get any meaningful development?
Surprises are in order once the hostility between Gaku and his father is revealed. From there, we get to see Gaku in more relaxed environments and cheering IDOLiSH7 on from the sidelines. Let's not forget he works for a soba delivery service (which is his favorite food), even though he insists he doesn't. You can lie all you want, darling, but the screenshot above proves otherwise. He's another inner softie you don't think is a softie. No wonder his fans want to hug him.
Last but not least, we have Ryunosuke:
Ryunosuke's image is much different from his personality. While he is presented as a total sexbomb, this man actually is quite innocent. I remember being so startled by this beer commercial he was in that when I saw it in Episode 11 (its one and only appearance), I was like:
Another interesting fact about Ryunosuke is that he's originally from Okinawa. Warned by Sosuke that his accent would cause people to not take him seriously, this man has worked hard to repress it, only reappearing when extremely angry, extremely drunk, or in his head (Vibrato's first (and at this time, only) episode showed this).
Ryunosuke's naivety comes from growing up with his brothers and in the country. Due to this, he is the Big Brother of TRIGGER, making sure Gaku and Tenn don't torch the house down whenever they get into a heated argument (which happens occasionally). He doesn't really seem to believe in his sex appeal, which leads to him trying to convince people (subtly) that he isn't the manboat of their dreams.
I feel so bad for Ryunosuke sometimes. He's very attractive as far as male idols go, but the gap between what he's actually like and how he's presented in the media is comically large. Sometimes it's funny, but other times I pity him. I have never seen an anime character contrast as big as this before, but it helps draw me in. Ryunosuke is a sweetie who not only has charm but also has heart. He has some infectious enthusiasm and I liked how he was the nicest outwardly TRIGGER member (since Gaku has a front and Tenn has LAYERS). His interactions with his group members were often entertaining in a comedic or dramatic sense, and I appreciated how his Okinawan dialect slipped out on a few occasions (if you watch the main series, it only happens once, and it is GLORIOUS).
Other characters include Otoharu Takanashi, Tsumugi's dad and the president of Takanashi Productions (like I mentioned earlier) who is kind, patient, and trusting of IDOLiSH7, Banri Ogami, who works for Otoharu and helps support IDOLiSH7 and its endeavors, Kinako, the mascot, Kaoru Anesagi, TRIGGER's manager who we don't see a lot of but is known to snap ball-point pens when angered, and finally, we have Sosuke Yaotome, our main antagonist of this arc.
Now, Sosuke is driven primarily by money to get what he wants, so much so this GIF comes to mind when I think about him:
I was curious to see if he could redeem himself after trying again and again to smear IDOLiSH7's reputation since he and Otoharu were involved in a love triangle with the latter's wife (*eats popcorn*) and using his group as scapegoats, but nope. He's still evil. To that, I say:
Ah, I guess the journey didn't bother him anyway. You were responsible for so many things, Sousuke, so you've got some learning to do about how to treat your clients fairly.
Oh well, at least we have this:
ARINA TANEMURA, STOP TRYING TO CONVINCE ME SOSUKE'S A DILF! THAT SHOT ON THE BOTTOM RIGHT IS TEMPTING ME TO LOOK UP NASTY FANFIC! DON'T MAKE ME GIVE IN TO THE SIN!
Better move on to the animation before I, again, overstimulate myself.
The animation for this series was produced by TROYCA, who are also known for their work on series such as Aldnoah.Zero (which was co-produced by A-1), Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation, and Re:CREATORS.
I loved how colorful this show was. I'm sure I say that about almost every show, but I mean it for this one. TROYCA's art style for this anime is very slick and polished, almost on-model all the time with gorgeous character designs which retain the charm of Tanemura's originals. The CGI used during performances isn't distracting or a jarring jump from standard animation, I liked the scenery and lighting, and how they captured emotion, either with the second screenshot in Tamaki's character section (accompanied by a shaky camera), or with more subtly. It made for a more entertaining experience. Let's not forget the occasional cute chibis!
If there was one episode I wished looked better, it would be Episode 9. It was obvious the staff was different on that episode, because the animation wasn't as good and the characters lost their distinctive looks on more than one occasion. Hopefully it got fixed post-broadcast, because while it wasn't horrible (worse episodes from A-1 come to mind), I still found it to be unnerving when characters shifted off-model every few minutes.
Still, for it being the first series I saw in full from TROYCA, it was pretty impressive. Now I'm more curious for how Re:CREATORS is going to look.
The score for this series was composed by Tatsuya Kato, who is also known for his work on series such as the Free: Iwatobi Swim Club franchise, Future Diary, and both seasons of Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere.
I've only seen one show in its entirety with Kato's composing (though I've seen him around a lot), being Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. In those reviews, I mentioned that while his pieces seem messy with a lot of influences, I still enjoyed what he brought to the table.
The same could be said for IDOLiSH7, but the ambiance didn't felt as jumbled. I felt like I was watching a reality show with this score. With ground-shaking electronic bops, funny comedic tunes, sad yet uplifting piano arrangements of insert songs performed by the idol groups, and dramatic pieces which gave me goosebumps, this score has it all and delivers every step of the way. Icy Smile, one of the tracks, is my s**t and I can literally imagine it in the context of a Top Model series. It's chilly, ominous, and plays whenever something shocking happens. It's everything I didn't know I needed once again and I was here for it.
Onto the insert music, which, okay, THIS IS WHAT I WANT FROM IDOL SHOWS! The production isn't cheap or flat, the lyrics aren't boring, and they stick in my head long enough to care about them. I screeched off-key on purpose when WiSH VOYAGE was sung in the opening, I did dramatic motions when the electronic synth breakdown came in during the main ending, HEAVENLY VISITOR, and I was enjoying myself when SECRET NIGHT came on (and when I listened to it on my own, though nothing will compare to hearing it in concert in Episode 4). It gives me incentive to look up more of this franchise's music because GODDAMN is it good.
Here's the music video for DIAMOND FUSION, animated by the studio behind Pop Team Epic. It's homoerotic AF and you should totally watch it.
The voice acting is also great. Most of the seiyuu featured here are ones I've enjoyed from past anime or I've heard of but have heard little of in media. It made for a great combination since not only are they good actors, but they can also sing with minimal auto tune. Good news all around! Takuya Eguchi easily steals the show with Nagi's accent and how he pronounces the characters' names is beautiful (Iworee always leaves me with a stitch in my side). But I also really enjoyed Tsubasa Yonaga and Wataru Hatano as Mitsuki and Gaku respectively. Their voices match their characters very well and they bring something to their respective groups that never failed to make me smile. Nonetheless, I enjoyed mostly everyone here, which is always a good sign.
Let's also talk about the fact that Susumu Chiba is in this franchise. I've heard him in Sukisho (he played Matsuri, the other childhood friend), and I know he was in Papa to Kiss in the Dark (a yaoi OVA produced by the first studio behind Highschool DXD), but I haven't seen anything else where he had a role in. I'm sure he's in other shows, but holy moly. That's not something I see every day.
Highlights include Satomi Sato, Kensho Ono, Toshiki Masuda, Tsubasa Yonaga, Takuya Eguchi, Atsushi Abe, KENN, Yusuke Shirai, Soma Saito, Wataru Hatano, Takuya Sato, Susumu Chiba, Kazuyuki Okitsu, Katsuyuki Konishi, Mikako Takahashi, and Akari Kageyama.
IDOLiSH7 is a miracle in a field filled with shows that are getting too predictable or too stale. It isn't perfect, but it was still entertaining enough that I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. The drama wasn't blown out of proportion, the characters had more than one side to them, the animation was pretty awesome (minus one episode), and the music kept me enthralled. It was everything I wanted from an idol show these past two years.
Currently, the series seems to be doing well in Japan, so I hope it leads to another season getting greenlit. There are so many directions this series could be going in, but I'm excited about these boys and what they'll bring to the plot:
Fleshed out characters.
Too many precious small cinnamon rolls.
Awesome insert songs.
Stands out among its competition in its genre.
MEZZO"'s incorporation into the plot is tell, don't show.
Episode 9's broadcast animation.