In this review I will be referencing The Idolm@ster to show the similarities they share on the surface rather than comparing them to see which one is better because it is better to see the show as a separate entity than a follow-up to the previous show. This is The Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls.
Here’s my review of the predecessor:
Genres: Idols, Music, Drama, Comedy
Number of episodes: 25 + 1 documentary special.
Plot Summary: A girl aiming to become an idol named Uzuki Shimamura is informed that she has been accepted into the Cinderella Project, a new project that collects girls and polishes them to become idols. After meeting Rin Shibuya, Mio Honda, and the other eleven fellow members of the group, the girls begin their journey at the 346 Pro talent agency, overcoming many trials and hoping to one day stand on the same stage as their senior idols.
Here’s the thing about this show. It is very easy to rip apart for its flaws are visible without needing to squint. More on that in a bit.
As far as the concept goes it is similar to its predecessor. CG like OG (Original Gangsters) covers the basics on what the life of an idol is like: Who they are, what they do, what they need to do to become popular etc. Another similarity is that CG also has its idols rely on the four key questions needed to get over with fans:
- Who are you?
- What’s your gimmick?
- Why are you here?
- What are you hoping to accomplish as an idol besides becoming a top idol?
So as far the show’s content goes it is very similar so there is not much to add that I have not in the OG review.
Once again I am making comparisons between the idol and professional wrestling worlds. The main difference between the CG and OG groups is that OG consists of several main event players and one or two mid-carders who simply need an avenue to shine and show the world their greatness. CG on the other hand has one or two potential main eventers, several mid-carders and some rookies. Basically OG‘s full of goddesses while CG‘s a bunch of underdogs. Throughout the show it shows that very few of the main 13 have what it takes to become mega stars in short time.
The following are noticeable flaws that I personally was not too bothered by them but others, especially big OG fans will find infuriating.
First up I will discuss the character issues which will be split in four parts:
The first issue was that while first half centered around the main 14 with a 15th frequenter in Mika Jougasaki, the second half introduced many other members of 346 Productions that it soon became crowded to the point that after some much appreciated character episodes the majority of the main 14 were background characters most of the time. Also the other characters introduced left viewers, who did not know the Cinderella Girls branch of The Idolm@ster franchise has a lot more than 15 girls, wanting to learn more about “Girl L” or “Girl O” but not getting episodes revolving around them. It is like 5pb, Mages and the Oracles from Hyperdimension Neptunia TV. They show up but either they are there for a couple of seconds or if they show up again later they hardly get enough time for viewers to get to know them. That is what the other idols outside of the main 14+1 felt like.
The second issue with this was that even though some of the main 14 did get some good character episodes, others did not get enough. One example that came to mind was the Candy Island character episode that tried to cram 5 character development segments in one. For some of them it was fine as more of their characters were shown throughout the first half but for others like Kanako it felt like a missed opportunity. It was too brief.
The third issue is that because most of the main 14 are either mid-carders or rookies they do not have much going for them before their respective character episodes show viewers more. Furthermore, for the characters who have the potential to become main event players like Ranko and Anastasia, they do not get much time to shine, especially Ranko (My #1 idol in this group). After her glorious character episode she sometimes got to shine was for the most part both underused and misused. For wrestling fans she is like Cody Rhodes, aka Stardust. Other girls who did not have stellar gimmicks had a harder appealing to viewers, which brings me to my last character issue.
The fourth issue, and this is most likely the big one for CG detractors, the show’s main focus was on three specific members, New Generation’s Uzuki, Rin and Mio. See, for viewers who like other characters and want to see them more of them in action besides their character episodes it is hard to say whether they got enough. In a way this season came off to many as a story about these three rather than everyone as a whole. So for viewers who do not find these three entertaining they are out of luck. The show was split in two halves and guess which trio got a strong focus in both climaxes.
The second big issue is that there were no “themed” episodes. For myself it was disappointing because in a show where there are girls like Mika, Rin, Kirari, Kanako, Anastasia, Minami, Miku and Ranko, not having a swimsuit episode was a missed opportunity. At least Mika had a sexy style to her so yeah. No holiday themed episodes either though Ranko’s fit Halloween I suppose. Okay so this was more of a pet peeve but it was worth mentioning.
Third big issue up is the drama. In most idol anime a bit of drama is to be expected, especially in the last batch of episodes but CG has more drama than usual for idol shows and unless the story gives off mega serious vibes it will not be well received, such as here. Wake-Up Girls (Which I will discuss in the future) is an example of a show where the high drama is understandable. Here it can leave some bitter. I personally did not mind. I admit that I was annoyed by some of it at first but when I thought about it, this show being called CINDERELLA Girls, it made sense.
Maybe the reason I got invested in all the girls, even New Generations, was because they all felt like underdogs who were genuinely struggling to make names for themselves despite some of them having what it took to be top idols. Again, OG‘s members are goddesses so their struggles were more about finding the ultimate goal. Here it was like they had no idea what kind of goal they were looking for. That and I could sympathize with the last arc. Yup, another final arc that I greatly enjoyed despite it centering around 3 rather than 14.
CG‘s Producer surprisingly had a more fulfilling role. Heck he even gets his own development. He has the experience but lacks social skills which he develops by helping guide the girls. In a way the roles are reversed here. Instead the girls already having enough experience and the producer having a degree but still being a newcomer, this time the girls are the newcomers and the producer has the experience.
As for the antagonist this time, Director Mishiro’s better than Kuroi because she had a “best for business” motif and not and out of place revenge. Mishiro has a “My way is the best and if everyone wants to succeed they will do as I say. What the employees or some fans say does not matter. All that matters is success.”. So yeah, the desire to see her proven wrong was the highlight of her character and not “get out of the screen already”.
Once again the animation quality, performances and musical numbers are pretty good with the expected hiccups here and there that can be fixed in the blu-ray.
CG‘s yuri ships are less subtle than OG‘s. Four obvious ones with a couple that are hidden.
Overall The Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls tried to be bigger than it was resulting in easily noticeable flaws. However, despite said flaws the show is still pretty good and does not deserve the flack it gets from enraged OG fans or viewers who simply like OG more. It is unlikely that viewers enamored with OG will enjoy this as much but who knows? Maybe there are others who can appreciate it for what it is and hope the next Idolm@ster series will do better so as to make more fans happy and not end up being controversial.