Studio: A-1 Pictures

Current Length: 1 season (25 eps) + 1 movie(Beyond the Brilliant Future)


The anime follows the journey of the 765 Productions office, an unpopular agency which holds a cast of 2 staff members and a total of 12 girls with chaotic personalities who are looking for a future as professional idols.The agency is about to go under due to understaffing, only to be saved by the recruitment of a new Producer, who does his utmost to get to know these characters as well as help them achieve their ambition… But little do they know, this journey isnt easy…Aside from hard work, the agency as well as the cast is faced against numerous hardships which includes personal conflicts as well as sabotage and being undermined by the more successful agencies…So in general, this anime is about the journey of 765 Pro, as well as their idol cast, the 765 All Stars, going from being nobodies to popular figures, while overcoming their pasts, hardships as well as rising above the people that want to see them buried


You ever had that one anime that noone has heard of, which is so good that you just ask yourself, “How is something this amazing, getting forgotten or ignored?”… The first iteration of the Idolmaster series is one that exactly fits that bill…from it’s masterfully written narrative to some of the best character portrayals I’ve seen in anime, it’s a jack of all trades that almost gets everything right…

Now…I know what a lot of people are thinking…“An anime focusing on bubbly characters with a focus on nothing but music? LAAME”…but just like books, not judging them by their cover is something that also applies to anime…
Out of the many in the Idolfest genre, The Idolmaster(excluding it’s lackluster side series) is one of the very few that doesn’t pride itself on tossing as much as tropey half-baked characters at you while wrapping it around ecchi and cheesy writing…Instead, it’s focus is on realistic and more behind the scenes approach while shining the spotlight on the heart of it all, the cast that go through the trials and hardships in their nobody to somebody journey.
Even the start of the anime is unique in it’s own right…the whole first episode is in a first person perspective following a cameraman during his first introduction to 765 Productions and and everyone in it… from the office staff of Ritsuko and Kotori, to the ones who are being supported by them from the easy to approach Haruka, to mischievous Futami twins and many more…the point here is, that the first person perspective in the first episode made getting more familiar to the setting much more easier…

After that point onwards, the anime’s true format shows, where a handful of episodes are dedicated to present and develop one, or at times, a group of characters from the bunch…where each character focused segment balances itself with one part goofiness and the rest being a show of each character’s vulnerabilities and how they overcome them either on their own or with the support of others…and each character arc, is unique to each character and it makes them feel more human than created…at one time, it’s riddled with comedy whether it be Ami and Mami’s laundry list of pranks, Makoto’s levelheadedness failing her at the most unexpected of moments, at other times, it’s something more personal like Yukiho’s fear, Yayoi’s motivation or even Chihaya’s more darker story later on, it all felt believable as their personalities are ones that are moulded by their past experiences…there are a couple of outliers like Hibiki’s animal magnetism or Takane’s shroud of mystery, but that still doesn’t make their characters inferior, as the way the anime follows up on them is as good as the rest.

And speaking of characters, the Idolmaster is one of the only animes I’ve watched so far, that has a completely unique cast which doesn’t rely on typical character tropes you find in anime nowadays…It’s so good in fact, that if I had to choose one weak out of the entire combined cast, including the nameless “Producer” and the 765 Pro supporting staff, I wouldn’t be able to pick one that I could say was inferior to the rest of them.

A-1 Pictures might have been known for titles like Sword Art Online, but in the visuals and animation department, this ain’t no slouch either…The visuals are truly impressive for an anime made in 2011 and the fact that it doesn’t rely on the shortcut route of using overly-saturated CGI for even their most movement heavy of sequences, speaks volumes of how much care A-1 had truly poured in to adapting this.

The writing deserves as much praise as well, where usually this genres puts it’s focus on the performances at the end most of the time, The Idolmaster is one that focuses more on the journey, rather than the destination, and that is apparent, since nearly all of it’s songs (excluding it’s fantastic 2 opening themes, endings and their final performance in the epilogue movie) are only shown short previews of…and while most of the performances are skipped, it always manages to capture what made it shine, in turn, every bit of popularity or support that the cast builds up in their uphill battle feels deserved…Only downside in a narrative perspective however, is the completely one note and relatively unnecessary villain who only wanted to see 765 Pro fail by pulling off cheap tricks,fortunately however, his presence is relatively short-lived…
But what makes the narrative truly shine however, is how with each successful endeavour, their relationship with each other starts to change as well…like how the once working together group, ends up being more isolated and how fame changes people they once thought they knew and how these changes affect both people around them and themselves as individuals…morals like success comes at the price of accepting harsh realities they forge, are examples of what this narrative presents and what it makes you sit through, and by the way it makes you perceive that on a personal level, it’s fair to think yourself as one of the characters in this setting…and after all that is wrapped up after an extended run of 25 episodes and a full length epilogue movie which was as great, it left me feeling the same way as someone would when they change schools after being with a group of friends you know so much about for years…

The iDOLM@STER is a hidden masterclass for both it’s genre and for almost everything it attempts to do…from it’s grounded and masterfully written story that hold you on a personal level and never lets go, to it’s cast of characters that is bursting at the seams with personality and likeability which keeps constantly developing through it’s extended runtime…and backed up with some of A-1 Pictures most impressive visuals for the time, this is a one of a kind anime that I couldn’t do justice to no matter how much I talked about it…it’s an anime that stole my heart years ago and even till this day, I still don’t want it back.

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