Every so often an idol show comes along that features stuff I am familiar with but does it in a way that blows me away after most episodes. Winter 2020 had two such idol shows. The first was OshiBudo and the second we are about to go over right now as we take a look at 22/7.
Alternate Title: Nanabun no Nijyuuni (Japanese)
Genres: Drama, Music
Number of Episodes: 12 + 1 OVA
Plot Summary: One day, Miu Takigawa suddenly receives a letter notifying her that she has been chosen as a member of a brand-new project. Half in disbelief, she heads over to the location stated on the letter. There, she finds seven other girls summoned there in the same fashion. The girls behold a giant, top-secret facility. They stand in bewilderment as they are told they are going to debut for a major record label as an idol group. A new kind of idol, never-before-seen, is about to be born here.
After the first episode I saw the show as “another idol drama” anime. I was right. I think some people misinterpreted my words back then as me saying the drama was related to the girls having a hard time being idols. No, I was referring to their personal hardships. The idol stuff was secondary. Sure they participated in activities and events longtime viewers of idol media would expect to see in idol shows (concerts, TV shows, photo shoots, interviews, charities etc.) but the drama had more to do with the girls’ off stage personal struggles prior to becoming idols. Did all the girls dream of becoming idols prior to getting the “black letter”? Some but not all. Singing and dancing in public was the last thing some saw themselves doing in the future.
So what about the personal drama? Without giving anything away let us just say they all went through A LOT of pain and anguish. Be it family, love or people around them treating them badly they are commended for enduring many hardships. Perhaps some viewers will see a few girls not having suffered as much as others but to me they all deserve praise for eventually overcoming most of it. Naturally what they went through had an effect on whether they could fulfill their jobs or not. Speaking of jobs…
This brings us to the 22/7 company and its staff. Goda/Gouda and most of the staff are awesome. It can be missed by viewers who do not pay close attention but it cannot be understated that the work he and his coworkers put into ensuring the girls’ success is as praiseworthy as the girls’ courage, strength and hearts. They are unsung heroes behind the scenes. From Goda himself to the props people and the girls’ dance instructor. Thumbs up to all of them…except the boss.
Yes. Let us talk about the boss of the entire project. Without giving anything away I will sum up the boss as a douchebag. I can easily see some defending the boss as ultimately helping the girls grow stronger and “their” story purpose. To that I say there were far too many coincidences and reliance on luck. TOO MANY THINGS went “according to plan”. Bull crap. The boss should be counting their lucky stars things went as they hoped. Symbolic purpose aside the boss sucks, period. The only reason “Nice Bird” from Zombie Land Saga is slightly better than the boss was because he had his entertaining moments. Both are jackasses.
It is not all sad and serious though. The ladies have lots of fun when not focusing on overcoming their personal struggles. Like other idols girl teams it is like seeing a group of girls who share very little in common (at first) coming together and learning that aside from loved ones (The ones they have to be exact) they are like a second family to each other. Some of them even finding love with each other…
I mentioned the narrative. This is one of those anime that not only gives each girl their time in the spotlight, one character driven episode each, but their backstories are tied to their assignments and jobs. While going through their backstory viewers get to see how the jobs are tied to what they went through and how overcoming personal obstacles helps them become better at the assigned job and being an idol.
The presentation is straightforward. Not much to say about the animation. It is solid. What I can say is the girls all look wonderful. The smol ones are very cute, the big ones are drop dead gorgeous and the middle ones a balance of both. This being an idol show one would expect the songs to be pretty good. They are. In fact, similar to Akuma no Riddle each character episode has the girl in the spotlight sing a solo song during the ED. will definitely collect them as soon as they become available.
Let us finally talk about the girls in the order they are standing. Although my descriptions of their personalities are brief they are huge hints.
Sakura is one I often described as the “Kotori” (for Love Live fans) of the group. She is cute, has a nice body and a sweet voice. Very supportive and usually the most reassuring of the group. She is usually close to or beside Miu. There is a very important reason for this.
Jun is the youngest member. She gave off a cowardly first impression but that was because gorillas initially scared her. She is the most energetic and optimistic. Has possibly the most noteworthy flashback in a show full of hard hitting ones.
Miyako is both the funny one and a the “cousin” of the group. She has a Southern accent and in her own way does what she can to lighten the mood. She has a lot of experience after all.
Ayaka is part of what I like to call the Atomic Trio. She is the most aware of her beauty and is often carefree or cool.
Miu is one of the best main idols in idol anime history. She is a shy to a fault, having great difficulty speaking up or standing up for herself. She lacks confidence…unless there is a specific trigger…While Nicole was the first to push a button Sakura was the first to truly help her grow stronger. When not in the spotlight she is very observant of her teammates. A nice extra is her having a deeper voice than most idol protagonists courtesy of her seiyu, Nagomi Saijo. Helps her stand out a lot.
Nicole is the grouch of the group (Eli and Kanan for Love Live! fans). She is the most gifted and devoted to the idol cause. For the longest time she is the only one to not question the boss’ orders. For some reason is especially strict toward Miu.
Akane is the second member of the Atomic Trio. She analyzes everything in a robotic tone. Can be mistaken for a sexy android. Is OG’s favorite member.
Reika is the third member of the Atomic Trio. She is the most responsible of the group. Tries to act mature but due to her tsundere-ness her true feelings are easy to figure out.
I already gave some hints so no need to go over the yuri.
Overall 22/7 is a fresh take on idol dramas seen in shows like The Idolm@ster franchise and Wake-Up Girls! It is also one of the best idol shows I have ever seen. The idol stuff is important but secondary compared to the girls’ personal struggles. They come from different backgrounds but share common ground. The main group and staff are all wonderful but the boss sucks. The presentation is simple but effective. The songs are excellent and the yuri fluffy. Recommended to open-minded idol fans who do not have specific wants or needs in their idol media. Even readers who found what I had to say interesting can give it a look.
PS: The show hints having supernatural elements at first but there is none, not really, although there is one noteworthy case of a miracle.