The season before this show aired, there was Black Rock Shooter, (BRS) an infomercial aiming to sell via name to its established audience. AKB0048 (AKB) was doing the same thing, made to cater the fans of the homonymous teen idol group. Another thing both of them had in common was how they were trying to have a pseudo-serious premise for attracting the unsuspected.
The story is of course completely retarded and no more than a piss-poor excuse for some conflict, other than cute girls doing cute singing, to exist. No matter how much they tried to spice it up by making the pop-idols a resistance group waging war against an intergalactic oppressive government that hates entertainment, it still plays out as your typical moe-flick where nothing of importance ever happens … even when it is supposed to.
Normally, I would have liked this show more than your typical pop-idol garbage because the stakes are higher than “Oh no, people didn’t like my singing, I guess I will have to find a different job now”. And yet I like it even less because everything is an afterthought. There is no actual tension since nothing dangerous ever happens to them, thus the dark setting is going to waste, and the premise becomes pretentious.
It’s the same problem I have with other titles such as Idol Master Xenoglossia and Bodacious Space Pirates. I love space adventures and giant robots blowing up shit, but when they become background decoration for generic moeblobs, I am angered by this disservice. There was so much they could have done with the premise. What if some of them where occasionally getting injured or killed? What if the girls realized they are sacrificing everything without an actual pay-off?
And none of that happens, it’s the same old coming of age nonsense where they spend most of the time training how to dance and sing about love, than trying to liberate the universe from the dystopian government. All you get is a bunch of cutely dressed pretty girls hovering in the air and singing J-pop songs, while the army is trying to capture them with nets and firework missiles.
Do I even need to point out how this is dealing with an industry that thrives on the dreams and hopes of young people by making it look like they are the saviors of the universe? Just look how they treat the girls in the show as if they are spare parts in a huge emotionless machine. They are not allowed to sing their own songs; they must learn the established songs of the past pop idols and they must dance in the exact same way as they did. They are not even allowed to have their own personality and name, the goal is to replace the older generation of AKB instead of being individuals. Not to mention that mysterious leader figure of their planet. It looks like a demon who has absolute control over everybody’s lives. For all we know pop idols could have been banned to prevent the demon from taking over the galaxy by brainwashing people with cute girls.
That is what I loved in Looking for the Full Moon; the heroine there refused to sing the cheesy lyrics others wrote for her and was dead set on doing her own song. She had only one pop idol and yet she had a million times more characterization than these 47 cardboards. She was being active and was trying to change things. There is none of that here, it’s just girls singing shallow music before turning 30 and are kicked out for fresh blood. Or in the sleazy context of the show, they mysteriously disappear.
And it’s not like I hate everything about pop-idols; you can have a good dark story about the perils of escapism. Perfect Blue, and Millennium Actress are great with the theme. Hell, the very director of AKB is the same guy who directed the original Macross. The way he mixed singing with giant robots and space battles was amazing. Unfortunately he then sold out to the otaku industry and made this garbage, before moving to completely killing the Macross franchise with Delta. It’s sci-fi first and j-pop second, not the other way around. How hard is that to understand?
Anyways, this is not a show of mass appeal despite trying to make it seem like the fans of space adventures will like it as much as fans of coming of age. It was made specifically for people who dig pop idols; most won’t even give it a second glance because of the stupid story, and no amount of good visuals can change that.