This is one of those rare anime where enjoyment really does depend on who one asks. I do not mean in “I do not like this genre” or “the girls all look same-y”. I am referring to people who watched it from start to finish. I will go into more detail as we take a look at Gekidol.
Themes: Stage Girls, Yuri
Number of Episodes: 12 + 1 OVA (Alice In Dead School. Also included as part of “Episode 0”)
Plot Summary: Five years after a mystifying disaster decimates cities across the globe, Seria Morino receives an invitation from a mysterious woman to join Alice in Theater, a small stage troupe that takes it upon themselves to brighten the world through their performances using 3D hologram technology. As Seria settles in, she begins to uncover unexpected truths about herself and the world around her.
The thing about this show is it telling two stories at the same time. One is a stage girls x idol hybrid and the other is a sci-fi epic of sorts. While the main draw at first was the mix of “stage idols” in what appeared to be a post-apocalyptic world as the story progressed it became clear overall enjoyment would depend on what viewers were more invested in, the sci-fi stuff or the stage idols stuff. I will say right now I was in the stage idols camp, meaning I was more invested in the girls’ stories than what happened that left the world in its decrepit state. Over the course of the story little by little details are revealed about the sci-fi story until eventually it mostly took over the show in the final quarter. While the two sides are connected it ultimately felt like one side was tacked on over the other. The writers got to tell their story, yes, but in the end it felt like both sides would have been better off as their own separate anime.
To be fair to both sides let us take a look at what each has to offer, starting with the sci-fi side. Without giving too much away it was admittedly interesting, employing several traits viewers familiar with the genre as a whole may enjoy, including a certain divisive trope that is not the fault of the show. What the show does a solid job of is build up intrigue in how the world ended up the way it did and what other forces are at play. There are times the story delves into some unsettling sci-fi horror, which I personally enjoyed. Good, creepy stuff.
Next is the stage idols side. Stage girls and idols seem to mesh well because despite their differences they both are about performers working hard to sing, dance and put on a great show for the viewing audience. The character episodes, some girls sharing development, are all interesting with a few that really stood out. One in particular I was impressed they covered this often overlooked alternate side of female performers that not all go through in life but I am aware of some who do/did. The girls’ stories, personal obstacles to overcome with help from each other or their special someone and the shows they put on are what I enjoyed most about the show.
As I said, both sides tell interesting stories but would have benefited being their own separate anime than combined into one.
The presentation is solid. The effects are nice, the performances cool and the several of the girls have nice figures but for some the girls may look “same-ey”. While most of them are not hard to tell apart later on there are two who look nearly identical to some of the leading ladies. Whether it was by design or a cost saving measure I cannot say. For the sake of consistency I will say with it being a bit of both. The soundtrack was serviceable.
The show hints at the primary surprise yuri being a love triangle but in reality the main development is between two lead girls, Seria and Airi. There is some extra goodness on the side but these two get the most interesting personal and romantic development on the show. Again, if only it focused on the stage idols stuff because, to be blunt, as the time for the big reveals drew closer and we got info dumps on what was actually going on the stage idol stuff kind of felt like an afterthought, including the yuri. There were several great yuri moments for sure but as the end approached I worried it would end with a whimper rather than a bang. Long story short, despite the writers telling the story they wanted to tell it ultimately ended on a whimper, I feel. Without spoiling anything it is different from the usual “hopeful future together” season finales. I am cool with those. This ending felt unsatisfying.
Overall Gekidol was an interesting experiment combining stage girl drama, idol drama and sci-fi drama. The stage girls and idol stuff meshed well with each other while the sci-fi stuff ultimately felt out of place. They tried connecting story threads with each other but both stories would have been better off being separate instead of jumping from one thread to the next. I do not think it was a failure but I would not call it a success either. Without spoiling anything let me put it this way, I do not like relying on fanfiction to get a satisfactory conclusion.