Final Review: AKB0048 -Next Stage-

AKB0048 -Next Stage- is the sequel to 2012’s AKB0048. The series is an original work by Shoji Kawamori based off the AKB48 singing/idol group. AKB0048 -Next Stage- aired during the Winter 2013 anime season, was simulcasted by CrunchyRoll, and licensed by Sentai Filmworks. As this is a direct sequel to a title within the last year, I will presume those of you reading this have seen the first season and therefore require no further introduction.

AKB0048 left viewers with an interesting conclusion last year. A cliffhanger that suggested the series was over yet that it wasn’t. AKB0048 -Next Stage- kicks off immediately from that conclusion with a fair bang by introducing numerous plot elements to make the story more interesting and eventful than its predecessor. However, like its predecessor, the additional can openings lead to deus ex resolutions as well as numerous unresolved plot elements at the conclusion of the series. The General Elections was a nice touch to the series but dragged on for far too long for its own good. Furthermore, there were a number of irrelevant character episodes. While the character development is certainly appreciated, it didn’t add value to the overarching “plot.” In fact, the characters that were “developed” on ended up being shafted at the end anyways. Overall, the story, while conclusive in some sense is certainly unsatisfying, leaves much to be desired, and a huge disappointment.

Art and animation are the same from the previous series though I feel it’s a bit more inconsistent than its prequel. I could just be delusional though.

OP/ED themes are nowhere near as good as its prequel songs. The new OP is okay but not astounding. The ED was okay and fitting with the series. Of course, I’m sure most people’s favorite remains as “Kibou ni Tsuite” from the first season given the number of times it was played in the second season. Voice cast remains the same.

Enjoyment? AKB0048 was one of my more anticipated titles coming into the Winter 2013 anime season. With only Bakuman S3, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Shinsekai Yori being the only three shows I really cared about from the prior season and winter not having too many choices (barring Chihayafuru 2) AKB0048 really had a chance to shine after showing some potential in its first season. Unfortunately, things didn’t really go this way for the series and I generally became bored with the show’s random developments and obvious results.

Overall, I originally expected AKB0048 to be like Idolmaster XENOGLOSSIA. Luckily the show didn’t do that for the most part. However, what the show consistently failed was following through with flags they set, particularly death flags. In the second season, I wasn’t expecting the show to break the stereotype of “these kind of shows are bad/average.” Unluckily, this show failed to do that. It had a lot of potential and simply failed to deliver on too many regards. It’s conclusion isn’t bad but certainly not one I would call an ideal one. The disbandment of the actual “No Name” group also implies that we’re not getting any follow up or a “Last Stage” for the series.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (1/1): Strong start to the series.
  • Character Personalities (0.5/1): More emotional this time around. At least they learned.
  • Character Development (1.5/2): It’s definitely there but incredibly shallow. A lot of season 1 questions are answered along with bonus character episodes (albeit useless)
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): Large portion of the cast gets shafted.
  • Pacing: (0.5/1): Rough overall. Was hoping to say excellent here this time around but it’s definitely a no go
  • Reasonable/Plausible (0/2): The show continues to refuse explanations. 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): Multiplying Chieri is always good isn’t it?
  • Total: 5/10

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 (1/2): More inconsistencies than the first
  • 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” (1/2): Greater amounts of recycling this time. Animation is not as good as the first season.
  • Total: 7/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2.5/3): OP is certainly good but not as good as the prequel. ED is average. Very strong insert themes.
  • Background Music (2/2): Strong and very fitting with the series.
  • Sound Effects (1/2): Average
  • Seiyuu (2.5/3): Odd idea of switching AKB48 seiyuu roles. AKB48 member’s voice acting is much better this time around.
  • Total: 8/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1/2): Easy watch
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1/2): The opposite of the first series.
  • Presentation (1/2): Easy watch but a lot of events only done halfway.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): Not really.
  • 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. Macross franchise if you want both elements in a more serious setting.
  • Value (0/1): Can no longer call this underrated with those deus ex moments.
  • Total: 4/10

Preliminary Score: 7/10

Final Score: 6/10

 

Season 1: 5/10

Season 2: 6/10

Overall: 5/10

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