It’s about a year since I began the journey through The Idol Master kingdom, where everyone is a producer and Columbia/Bamco makes $ hand over fist. I’m pretty content on the fact that I’ve spent more money on DLCs than on the game, or that I probably spent even more on figures. You wonder why I spend so much on figures? This is kind of why. Speaking of which, I’m working on a figures sale so hopefully I’ll post that stuff soon.
I posted a ranked list last year in my year-end writeups, so you can take a look here. So what has been the big changes since then? Seiyuu and music. I have to prop my friends for putting up with all this–both for me borrowing their stuff and subjecting them to bad game/anime idol pop. Overall, my opinion of iM@S music is still not overwhelmingly positive. A main driver to DLC purchases was exactly that many of these songs suck, and those that don’t wear out pretty fast, demanding infusion of new blood. I think my tolerance for them has improved over the past year, but it’s still something I listen to only because I want to laugh at it and to learn the voices, not so much because I like it for what it is. It also helps to get the desire to play the game out of my system, without having to spend the time to play it. Well, it’s entertaining either way.
- Makoto – It’s not only because Nekopuchi, but I feel that despite her one-dimensionality as a character, Makoto appeals to me the best as an idol. By this point I’ve ran the usual 13-crew through all the iM@S 2 S4U songs that I own and I even think she sounds pretty good most of the time. It’s funny to say this but I think Makoto as a concept exceeds her characterization via the canon. She’s not unlike Miki in some sense.
- Miki – Since I’m still no better than any of you. As an aside, I think visually she is appealing largely because of character design reasons. I get the feeling people just do a better job drawing her for one reason or another. This is why I asked Ryu Moto to sketch her over all the other girls. And of course, she is an interesting character, to say the least.
- Mami – I think as far as on the strength of characterization, Mami quickly distinguishes herself from not only Ami (who is actually…still not that different than Mami), but every little chibi-runt in the group. I guess she’s an early bloomer or some such, but they manage to portrait her as this girl-becoming-woman state, and that’s very attractive and emotionally appealing.
- Takane – From the seiyuu side, I’ve been really digging Yumi Hara, so that helps. I also think that kind of hurt in terms of seeing Takane as someone mysterious. To me, though, she’s probably the #1 singer in the group. I like her more or less the same I guess, as a year ago.
- Azusa – Think what you may, but Chiaking is one talented lady. She can struct that body and struct that full-body voice of hers. Pretty sure she’s got the best range in the group, too. The great thing about it is that as a member of iM@S, she plays to her character and she’s all demure-like, which is kind of like her character in terms of that contrast. Anyways, a top-notch seiyuu entertainer crosses over to her character, making Azusa both kind of a fun gag but just fun to watch and listen.
- Hibiki – Nuuuuuu. Appealing from the seiyuu side again, she is probably the one thing that makes Hibiki any good. In the anime there’s a lot of interplay between Hibiki and her animal friends, but that’s kind of besides the point overall. I guess she’s one of the lucky ones who got boosted via the anime.
- Ritsuko – My opinion of her hasn’t really changed.
- Yukiho – The more I approach iM@S from the seiyuu side, I see this interesting bipolar-ness between how these girls put on their acts like idols versus how their characters are suppose to be. I think Yukiho might be the most extreme case to me, even more so than Azusa/Chiaking. But I like the new Yukiho, she’s good at singing even if she’s not all that special (even for seiyuu). At least both are pretty girly.
- Iori – Based Kugyuu. No hate, all respect. I definitely liked her a lot more now than last year, probably because she brings…base seiyuu tones to the various tracks. Not to mention I do respect this all-star tsundere player for who she is, and who she plays in this case–a tsundere all-star-to-be.
- Haruka – I appreciate Nakamura Eriko a lot more now, and what she brings not only to Haruka, but also to the tonal quality of the average iM@S master track. She really makes a good “main character” in a lot of ways.
- Yayoi – The more I see her voice actress, Mayako Nigo, the more I’m impressed by the human spirit of projecting oneself as something else. It’s quite impressive. And to be totally honest, Yayoi can be cute. I just find those moments exceedingly rare.
- Chihaya – Lots of respect but the more I look into this character the less I like it, thus the huge drop in the ranking. I think the problem has more to do with her limited vocal range than anything, because I don’t particularly enjoy her vocals (and I don’t think Mingosu is even that good).
- Ami – Since I decided to break out Ami and Mami, I really have no place to put her besides towards the end of the list. I guess in terms of character design she is slightly more attractive than Iori but I put her down as I am still unable to really see Ami for who she is and what she has that Mami doesn’t do better. I guess if Mami is the adolescent, Ami is the child. Which, well, if that’s your thing. Musically she sounds almost identical to Mami, too. A note for Asapon: I think she’s probably one of the more charismatic girls on this cast, but it doesn’t come off that way. She harmonizes very well with this crew, almost blends in too well I’d say.
- Kotori –She’s only bottom because, well, she isn’t really a true iM@S idol. Except she kind of is! I really enjoy her live show appearances, and what little spotlight she had in the anime. I would actually pay money for a Kotori DLC (FWIW I haven’t yet for any of the Dearly Stars or Miku versions). I probably should rate her higher… But bleh. I guess I do forget her in listing the cast half the time.
PS. Seiyuu XCOM is in progress. Nothing really special to report besides that Classic mode is a multitude harder than Normal, which is just what I wanted (normal is way too easy). So far 8 excursions in, five slain voice actresses were recorded in the memorial (plus one from the very first mission that I didn’t get to rename). I decided to use female names for all of them, since it’s what rolls off my head the easiest and I didn’t want to use OnoD or Shiraishi Minoru multiple times. The highest ranked in the memorial is Sq. Yumi Hara with 4 kills, meeting her end when a floater rained death from above. On the opposite end, lowly Sumire Uesuka didn’t even take an alien with her when she got gunned down by a lucky crit on the third mission. On Operation Bloody Giant, the only one who got bloody (on the good guys’ side) was Rk. Hisako Kanemoto, while Rk. Aya Hisakawa and Sq. Aki Toyosaki both died in similar ways: inside a cloud of smoke. These damned smoke grenades must be defective. And I wouldn’t be surprised–Cpl. Yuu Asakawa was hurling them after all.