Final Review: AKB0048 (Season 1?)

I would photoshop this to only have Chieri, but I’m lazy…


DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

AKB0048 is an original work by Shoji Kawamori and Satelight utilizing a very small portion of the real-life AKB48 members as the basis of the story. The story tells the tale of a few girls attempting to become the next generation of AKB0048 members despite a galaxy wide entertainment ban. The show features actual AKB48 members voicing a number of the characters, particularly those aspiring to become the next generation idols. The anime aired during the Spring 2012 anime season and was not simulcasted nor licensed by a US licensor. A second season or adaptation was supposedly announced at the end of the final episode with a date only stating 2013.

So let’s start with this story, which just happens to obviously be the weakest point of the series. The show’s start-up premise as a post-apocalyptic world where entertainment of any form is banned is poorly developed let alone explained. We never find out the reason behind why entertainment was banned aside from being told that “AKB48 almost destroyed the world with their music.” If you’re willing to accept that fact, the rest of the premise is basic but okay: a bunch of girls aspiring to become idols despite the ban…think [email protected] The sci-fi concept is a bit far-fetched and wacky but a nice touch even though Idolmaster XENOGLOSSIA has already done this to some degree. Speaking of XENOGLOSSIA, here’s what separates the two: AKB0048 is far too tamed for it’s own good. It refuses to really do any sort of “killing” despite a number of death flags set up all over the place. It executes far too many things in a half-hearted manner by attempting to pass the series off as a tragic and serious show while attempting to maintain a high level of fluff in the atmosphere. I wouldn’t say it does a terrible job at this balance but there are times when the show really needs to follow through once it starts something. Now, as for the rest of the “story” and its buildup, it does a bit of what [email protected] did by doing some character development as to how these new girls grow to become idols. Unfortunately, the show does a pretty poor job as to HOW they become better. For the most part, they magically become better with only a little bit of training and practice, making it far from believable and thereby difficult to relate. The pacing for the show is difficult to comment on given that there’s a second title coming in the near future but prior to its announcement, pacing was awful even though a sequel was obviously needed to hopefully make the series better. Lastly, the conclusion tried to resolve to many plot holes in one go. It certainly resolved many but not in the most elegant way. I should also note cheesy.

Art is pretty solid for backgrounds. Character designs were fine but lacked in matching the background CGI and general scenery. The colorful aspects of the characters are a nice contrast though as they could be interpreted as a type of symbolism in this show, namely the “glimmers of hope.” On another note, it still puzzles me why EVERY AKB girl (both understudy and successor) had to have a heart outline on their hair as well as in their eyes. It wasn’t bad per say but certainly distracting and, to some extent, unnecessary. Animation wise, the show is pretty solid. Mecha are well designed and animation is rather fluid. There were a number of poor facial expressions though.

Now, for music. As expected, music is the strongest point for this show. With OP/ED being done by actual members of AKB48 as well all inserts being released AKB48 titles, it’s no surprise to see a strong soundtrack. Background music is also rather solid but sound effects remain average at best. As for seiyuu choices, I found it very odd at first for AKB48 members not voicing their respective selves (e.g. Mayu Watanabe not voicing Mayu Watanabe but instead Chieri). Over time, however, it made sense to have more experienced seiyuus voice the AKB0048 successors instead of the actual AKB48 members as it showed a better transition of the less experienced becoming developed idols.

Enjoyment? It’s got a semi-interesting concept and I definitely enjoyed the watch more than I had expected. It’s definitely not a gem as Idolmaster Xenoglossia has done this similar sci-fi concept with idols as a while ago, not to mention The [email protected] itself getting an anime adaptation last year. The presentation is sluggish and basically gave away that a second season was coming though. What will the second season contain remains unknown but hopefully it will at least resolve a number of the loose ends in this show.

Overall, it’s not a “must watch” type title. In fact, you could barely call this a catering to the otaku/AKB48 fan base as there’s little of AKB48 themselves aside from the various inserts and miscellaneous references. The plot isn’t a big mess but it really just leaves a lot of things open ended without going into too much detail. For an original work independent of any source material, there was a lot of potential here that the show didn’t capitalize on. Maybe Kawamori and Mari Okada should just stick with more wacky Aquarion-like shows as they definitely did well in that regard. It’s an easy watch nonetheless and as for what the second season will bring next year…well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0.5/1): Semi-interesting. Nothing we haven’t seen in [email protected] or XENOGLOSSIA.
  • Character Personalities (0/1): Too monotone. No emotion
  • Character Development (1/2): It’s definitely there but incredibly shallow. For example, we never learn anything about Chieri’s family despite the emphasis on DES’s relation with her family as well as her general status.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1.5/2): Large cast but keeps a bulk of it quite memorable and useful. Not as big as the actual AKB48 but sizable enough from an anime perspective. Actual AKB0048 successors seem to be generally forgettable.
  • Pacing: (0.5/1): Rough overall. If it didn’t have a sequel, it could have been much much worse.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (0/2): The show refuses to explain things. Fails to execute on “death flags.”  Why is there an entertainment ban? What did the original AKB48 do to the world? etc…
  • Conclusion (0.5/1): Ties up a few loose ends but really cheesy with a bit of rushed “plot”
  • Total: 4/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (2/2): Very detailed.
  • Character Designs (1/2): Characters feel out of place from backgrounds. Odd heart shaped outlines on hair and eyes but not really a negative.
  • Fluidity (1.5/2): Solid overall. A few terrible facial expressions.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (2/2): Very nice and good color contrast to bring out the darker atmosphere of the series.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (2/2): Strong for Satelight. Much better than what Mouretsu Pirates or Aquarion EVOL received. Little recycling is a big plus.
  • Total: 8.5/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (3/3): I would give this higher if I could. They really brought in most of the appropriate AKB48 titles in this show and the OP/ED themes are fantastic, especially the OP theme.
  • Background Music (2/2): Strong and very fitting with the series.
  • Sound Effects (1/2): Average
  • Seiyuu (2/3): Odd idea of switching AKB48 seiyuu roles. AKB48 seiyuus are not really good at voice acting…dull and monotone for most with the exception of Sayaka Nakaya and Amina Satou, both whom had prior experiences in the industry. Mayuyu also did a great job as Chieri.
  • Total: 8/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1/2): Easy watch
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1/2): Surprisingly I found myself glued even though I came in with a very pessimistic attitude.
  • Presentation (1/2): Easy watch but a lot of events only done halfway.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): Not really. Idolmaster XENOGLOSSIA is more rewatchable. I guess if you’re in for the music.
  • Recommendation (1/2): Music is great for AKB48 fans/otaku. [email protected] has a far better story if you want to see girls becoming full fledged idols. XENOGLOSSIA does better if you’re watching for the sci-fi aspect with idols.
  • Value (0.5/1): Certainly underrated but nowhere near a gem.
  • Total: 4.5/10

Preliminary Score: 6/10

Final Score: 5/10

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