Lemon Angel used to be a popular band in Japan, until a year ago; at that time, all of the members of the band, except for Miki Suwa, mysteriously disappeared. In the present, Tomo Minaguchi is a first year high school student who was friends with Lemon Angel’s song writer, Yui Kono, before she passed away. When music producer Ryuuta Kogure approaches her to audition for a new Lemon Angel group, Tomo agrees in order to fulfill Yui’s wish. The competition is fierce – will Tomo have what it takes to become the newest member of Lemon Angel?
StoryOver the past several years, I can say from experience that musically themed anime series have jumped in overall appeal. From mature series like BECK and NANA among the modern rock titles to idol pop series like Chance Pop Session and Lovely Idol, the series explore the makings of a group trying to make it in the limelight while highlighting their day-to-day lives.Lemon Angel Project, for a 13 episode series, is one of the better ones in terms of idol based series, revolving around a girl named Tomo who idolizes a group called Lemon Angel Project, a group that her friend Yui helped create. Things become complicated when the members of the idol group disappear, and Yui is nowhere to be seen, or heard from. Further, when a new installment of the Lemon Angel Project is formed, Tomo finds herself at the forefront of a new girl group, struggling to make it for their big debut. Granted, Lemon Angel Project has potential with some rather shady revelations, but it progresses with too much filler to really develop the characters in an interesting way or plot properly. This is infinitely better than Lovely Idol since it actually works well with its humor and can be funny in places as you get to know the girls. It's also much better on the musical side, with engaging performances, though limited in presentation. I wouldn't say it's as strong as Chance Pop Session, though one could say that this is a similar thematic in terms of an idol competiton with some bad apples who make it hard for the girls to go through, while others deal underhandedly in a deeper plot, which is ultimately revealed as the series progresses to its conclusion.Not a strong idol series, but it's a decent one and worth watching once. I came to like the characters, and I really enjoyed the soundtrack. The music works very well in the series and while you don't always see the full performances in series (i.e. Gravitation and Full Moon wo Sagashite), it provides enough variety in performances to keep those who love J-pop engaged. AnimationVery nice animation on the part of both character design and cel production. I loved the colorization of the characters and settings, particularly during the performances in the progression of the show. Lighting and sequencing didn't feel awkward, and none of the motions felt forced or reused in any part of the series, something I was glad to see. For the most part, everything stayed consistent and up to speed with contemporary standards. SoundI actually would have ranked higher on the sound category if judging on the basis of the music the series had to offer-it's quite strong in this category with catchy J-pop played throughout the series and enough variety in performances to keep one engaged throughout. "Angel Addict," the opening theme, is performed by multiple voice actors and usually central on the character that's focused most in a particular episode. One episode would be Tomo, the other would be Miki, or one of the other five girls (or all five of them, as performed in the final episode). It's a catchy, romping pop number that's likely to be stuck in your head for days. The ending theme "Girls in Love" is quite average, but still enjoyable on the ears. My favorite performances, however, lie in the insert themes peppered throughout the series, the strongest being the catchy "Evolution"-just a nice anthemic song that captures the spirit of the series not only in sound, but also in premise. What made me grade down on the sound category actually had nothing to do with the music...and everything to do with the voice acting. Some of the voice actors I felt were very odd choices, such as Tomo's leading VA...she sounds like she's slightly overemphasizing her role a bit, making her character sound more like a little kid than she should. I did eventually grow into her character, but for one watching this series intially, it may take some adjusting to get used to. My pick for best VA in this series would be either Saya's character (Ami Koshimizu of Code Geass and Myself, Yourself) or Erika Campbell (portrayed by Minori Chihara of Minami-ke and Venus Versus Virus). Both really came into their characters well for the series: Saya was the rather enthusiastic, serious, yet sometimes commandeering member of the group, while Erika Campbell is the lively, funny, and sometimes klutzy girl who speaks frequently in spurs of English. CharactersThe characters of Lemon Angel Project aren't exactly far from your typical cookie cutter idol girls: you have one that's the awkward leader (Tomo), one the commandeering wish-she-could-be-leader (Saya), the shy, idolizing girl (Miru), the shy klutz (Yumi), and the lively foreigner (Erika). Add to that an overprotective member of the former group (Miki) and a well-meaning-but-still-overzealous manager, and the cast of Lemon Angel Project is rather standard. They don't really tug at your heart strings or give you much to remember, but they're admittingly fun to watch as you see them bond and come together as they attempt to attain their dreams as a group.There are quite a few antagonists here, some ranging on your jealous girls who wish to get ahead in order to make their dream work, while others are distinctly from the side that's trying to stop the birth of the second coming onf Lemon Angel Project. The underhanded natures and dealings of the latter is what really builds the tensions in the series and something you don't see coming until the end of the series, but at a certain point, it becomes clear who does what and who ends up eating their own words. Still, I couldn't complain, characterization has been done much worse in some idol based series. I actually came to know the girls and identify with their plight, abeit cheesy in some areas. OverallLemon Angel Project, for those who like well-animated musical series, would be one to watch once at the very least, but I wouldn't recommend it for those looking for too strong of a plot. It's enjoyable, but doesn't quite go over and beyond. If you're just looking for a strong music series, this offers much to the table for decent, catchy J-pop.
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