We’ve seen the ins and outs of being a Japanese idol. We’ve seen idols saving the universe from boredom. We’ve seen idols saving schools from shutting down. We’ve seen idols become professional wrestlers. We’ve seen idols fighting the undead and many more larger than life situations. But what about idols whose goal is not to aim for the top but simply to “help the little people” in a sense? Find out what I mean as we take a look at Locodol (The actual title is not worth remembering and Googling Locodol is good enough.).
Genres: Comedy, School, Idols
- Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol Yattemita
- We tried being local idols
- Normal High School Girls Tried Being Locadols
Number of episodes: 12, 1 Special and 2 OVAs
Plot Summary: In the town of Nagarekawa, Nanako Usami, an ordinary high school girl, is approached by her uncle to become a local idol or “Locodol”, partnering with upperclassman Yukari Kohinata to form the idol unit, Nagarekawa Girls. As the girls use their talent to promote Nagarekawa and their businesses, they are joined by other teammates who help them accomplish their goal of improving Nagarekawa’s tourism and filling its denizens’ lives with joy.
It has been established in the world of anime and manga that idols are one of the most powerful entities in both universes, second only to lolis. This means they’re capable of doing almost anything. This time the latest idols Nanako and Yukari take on a more “down to Earth” approach to spread happiness and help everyone around them. Basically they are government funded local idols who work as public servants with the main objective of promoting Nagarekawa as much as possible to attract more tourists and increase the local economy’s revenue. To put it simply they’re similar social workers who also happen to be idols, complete with a town mascot…who also happens to be one of the most badass mascots I’ve ever seen. From experience I know that a social worker’s main objective is to assist the community as much as they can from basic odd jobs to advocating their rights in court.
But that’s part of the show’s appeal, how the idols’ main objective is not superstardom or world saving but rather doing their part to make their town a better place. As King Kai ‘s coverage of the show in his Modesty and Selflessness editorial stated, the Nagarekawa Girls (as they’re eventually named) spread kindness through their modesty and selflessness and are repaid by the town’s support of their noble actions. It’s kinda complicated to explain as other idol shows also have their idols “be themselves” but in Locodol it is more evident. Let me put it this way, being idols is secondary to our heroines. They think it’s cool but superstardom is not their main focus. Besides, what other idol groups can say they have “disposing of hornet nests” in their resume or other low paying jobs? “They do it for the smiles, man.”
The show’s fanservice is like the rest of the show, casual and not forced. One could even say it helps move the plot along at times. My passion for swimsuits is occasionally fulfilled and (believe it or not) the courage to expose one’s gifted beauty to the audience also helps with our leading ladies’ growth at times.
Like other idol shows the center of its entertainment value comes from its lovable cast of characters. I’ve mentioned a couple of times how I enjoy shows where not a single character feels pointless or added in solely for the sake of a fetish. Everyone in Locodol has a role and they follow it to the brim. The characters also develop at a steady pace, some receiving just enough for the audience to relate with their progression while others get some flashbacks. In a sense the girls and their coworkers grow stronger together with the town of Nagarekawa thanks to their hard work and occasional glimpses of the town itself and its surprisingly rich history.
Like the feel of the show its animation quality and soundtrack are both casual and laid back, great to listen to after a hard day’s work.
As always in anime with female leads and no male love interests it is time to discuss the show’s yuri goodness and Locodol has plenty of that. But before we get there let us discuss our two leading ladies, Nanako and Yukari.
Nanako’s main draw is how REAL she feels. She’s the kind of performer a viewer cannot help but love to cheer for because of how earnest she is. She never puts on an act when she’s performing. She is literally a “A for effort” type of character. A minor spoiler, she is told how little monetary gain there is to being a government funded locodol but she still goes through with it because she loves the job, loves helping people/making them smile and enjoys working together with everyone. That’s why she’s so beloved.
Yukari on the other hand has all the tools to be a professional idol. The brains, beauty and the charisma. However, like Nanako, she does it for the love of the job (especially one person in particular) and helping others. Although Yukari may look like she’s always in control she too is as much of a rookie to the idol as Nanako is and though she does not make as many mistakes as her partner she still has much to learn.
Now let’s get back to the yuri and its driving force, Yukari. While covering he show I once described Yukari as an inspirational human being. See, her love for Nanako is clearly romantic in nature but she knows full well how to play the game and not take any unnecessary risks, choosing instead to play the subtle game. In fact her main strength is that “she’s subtle, without being subtle”. You see, while Yukari does not take unnecessary risks she also does not hold back at all. Her advantage is that all her advances are perceived more as showing respect and admiration for Nanako rather than her true motives of showering her precious Nanako with love and affection. The show even adds that extra touch of eventually showing viewers how Yukari fell in love with Nanako. Want more? Stay tuned after the ED and viewers will usually be rewarded. As for how Nanako responds to Yukari’s “respect and admiration”. Let me put it this way, there are some viewers who believe Nanako is not as oblivious to Yukari’s feelings as she lets on but I personally think she is. Viewers are free to speculate as they watch the show.
Overall Locodol is an idol anime whose strength lies in how relaxed of a show it is and how little it focuses on becoming an idol. The cast is awesome, the presentation is laid back and the yuri is much stronger than anticipated. I cannot say idol detractors may change their minds with this one (highly unlikely as their hatred is absolute) but SoL and idol fans will most certainly get a show that feels different from what is regularly expected from idol anime. Whether they’ll like it or not depends on the person’s expectations of what idol shows need to be in their eyes.