The following show is an interesting one. From the get-go people could tell right away it would have a hard time grabbing people’s attention for long. There were two major factors working against it, which I will get to in a bit. However, despite said factors I firmly stand by the belief that this show if it is not financially successful it would be a shame because it is a hidden gem in the world of idol anime similar to Wake Up Girls! I will explain why as we talk about the television anime adaptation of Ongaku Shoujo.
Alternate Title: Music Girls (English)
Genres: Idol, Music
Number of episodes: 12
G-Rating: 8/10 (Personal), 7/10 (Overall)
Plot Summary: Hanako Yamadaki encounters the obscure, low-selling 11-member “C-list” idol unit Ongaku Shōjo. Their producer Ikehashi thinks the unit needs a new member. Together, Ongaku Shōjo and Hanako strive for the top of the music world.
Before we get into specifics let us first get the aforementioned negative factors out of the way. First up is the low budget animation. Not as good as that of the OVA before it. Personally I thought it was fine for the most part with the girls looking quite lovely though as the show progressed the low budget thing reared its ugly head as the show dipped a bit in quality in a few episodes of the third quarter. Nothing horrible like the Maerchen Maedchen disaster but it became noticeable. One thing that was particularly noticeable (maybe it only happened during my viewing) but at random points the flow of the animation felt jittery, similar to how frames per second in some games dropped at random intervals. Again nothing terrible but noticeable at times. Just stuff that can be fixed on the Blu-Ray release. The overall soundtrack was decent though I quite enjoyed the OP, ED and insert songs. However, there is one noticeable blemish, which brings me to the second factor going against the show. The songs are not composed by the people associated with the Ongaku Shoujo brand. Put simply it is a matter of brand loyalty, meaning some viewers who adore the brand songs would feel like it is a betrayal watching a show that does not feature songs, familiar and original, by the brand composers.
What I just mentioned I did not personally consider deal breakers but for some they can be so keep them in mind as you continue reading the rest of the review.
Moving on let us get talk about the show as a whole. The first thing people will notice about the show is it going in a different direction than most other idol anime, similar to what Wake-Up Girls! did. In fact, they share a similarity in this regard. Both are low budget animation idol anime with a twist. Where WUG’s twist was it delving into the dark side of the idol world OS’ twist is that the lead girl is NOT the lead vocalist or team captain who brings the group together. After the surprise ending in episode 1, lead girl Hanako chooses to instead be the girls’ receptionist/assistant manager, or something like that. Basically she can be seen as a female producer. Quite rare seeing female producers getting the spotlight for the entirety of an idol anime featuring one. She is a spunky lass with tons of energy and a positive outlook on life. As the producer said she is the daughter of a music friend of his, mainly a very famous musical couple. With that benefit she learned many beneficial traits related to music and she is also interested in physical activities. Her hereditary traits combined with her own capabilities should have made her a shoe in to become an idol, right? As I mentioned above, something happened at the episode 1 that stopped that idea in its tracks.
Instead she helps the Ongaku Shoujo as best as she can, be it through cooking, listen to their problems (or try to get them to open up about them), helping organize their schedules, maintain order etc. Speaking of the girls, despite them showcasing familiar traits found in idols and other anime girls they are still able to stand out from the crowd. Unsurprisingly what makes them interesting are their character episodes. The show meshes the ongoing story with each girl’s personal development. The development ranges from a personal obstacle each girl must overcome to getting a glimpse of their worldview or life approach. This can range from the power of meat, how a girl views the people around them or even hereditary traits similar to Hanako courtesy of the girl named Shupe (favorite girl by the way with Hanako 2nd and Miku 3rd). Then there is the girl with health problems and the token “most difficult” of the group, meaning the girl who has the most complicated character arc and the one that is resolved last. Regardless of how simple or complicated the developments are most of the girls are fun to watch overcome them and just being themselves. It is a journey where Hanako and the gang grow stronger bit by bit as they take part in familiar (by now) idol activities like composing new songs, variety/game shows, commercials, photo shoots, social work, etc.
Before we get to the usual part most readers look forward to around here let us talk about some familiar girls. I am of course talking Haru and Eri. The stars of the OVA that made us all clamor for a TV anime. Viewers were assured they would also be part of the show and they were. Only this time they are veteran idols and part of the trio called H.E.S alongside fellow veteran Sasara who is like the peacekeeper whenever they have their token arguments as we saw on the OVA. Sadly they do not share the same kind of lovely chemistry from the OVA. Instead they are experienced idols who interact with the other girls and combine their obstacles with others, such as a predicament of Haru’s being connected to Shupe’s. Although I must admit I did not like H.E.S.’s own character episode much because it was the least interesting. Probably was a nod to the OVA but it did not go as well as the others in my opinion. What is cool about the trio is that despite already being super popular they still want to help their kouhai’s low tier group become top tier.
Next up we have the surprise yuri. There are a few ships such as Shupe X Hiyo and Roro X Kiri (At least I like to think so) but compared to them there is one couple whose story develops subtly throughout the show and when the time comes…BOOM! I will not spoil which couple it is but if the viewer is familiar with how certain anime romances develop it is not difficult to figure out who the two lovely ladies who get together are.
Overall Ongaku Shoujo is the sleeper of 2018. It may look familiar at first glance and because of that along with the low budget presentation and songs not being from the original composers it is not an idol show everyone can get into but viewers willing to give it a chance can discover and possibly appreciate its uniqueness. It is a journey worth experiencing for fans of idol anime. The last two episodes were wonderful.