If I was a mild IM@S fan before going to Japan to watch the IM@S movie and their live show, I am no longer such a thing. Arguably I could not have been a mild IM@S fan given somewhere between 20-50% of my motivation of going to Japan this time was to see these two things, which can appear as an irrational behavior in most normal contexts. I say fan’s gonna fan, right?
Thing is, when I first watched the IM@S anime not-so-long ago, it didn’t appear to me as some top-tier anime made to advertise the franchise. I thought it was competent, featuring sparks of brilliance but overall typical A-1 Pictures late-night anime fare. Well, that actually says a lot, given this became one of the first anime that Studio Trigger that we now know worked on?
Discussing with some friends about Sakuracon tonight, I found that the Seattle-based con managed roped in two relevant animators as this year’s guests: the always amusing Koji Masunari, and sakkan and designer Toshifumi Akai, as a part of Magi’s promo at the con. Immediately my eyes honed into their contributions to Anim@s. It’s just that state of mind. And it’s not just that–I whipped out episode 23 from Crunchyroll right there and then and watched it. Despite the jetlag (or because?). Despite that not 5 minutes ago I was about to go to bed because I was tired, and it’s almost 1 AM.
The funny thing is, the entire episode kept my attention. Just a few minutes before putting my sleep schedule out of whack, I was watching an arguably inferior anime. I was close to zoning out while watching the show, so it was a good time to stop for the night I thought. But nope, that IM@S bonfire lit under my butt keeps me warm and going. What started as a freaking seed has blossomed into something more, perhaps something a little bit scary now. We’ll see where this takes me.
Episode 23 of The Idolm@ster anime is probably the second most depressing episode, and it’s depressing in a “Lost in Translation” kind of way. It’s got the Masunari touch. The way the scenes show the upper body motion. The way Yukiho sits in the green room, meditating to the music. The way Haruka camps out in front of her computer in her room. I totally forgot Little Match Girl made its anime debut here, and it becomes juxtaposition and yet somewhat touching in a very different way to what was going on in Haruka’s mind. And this is because the Yukiho we all love to hate or hate to hate has come so far along.
Everything comes together in this nub of an episode where Haruka doesn’t fall to the ground. It’s both the cause and cure of insomnia.
PS. If I was more motivated I would’ve pulled out their individual pieces from the Backstage M@ster book and look at the paw prints Masunari put in there. Of course, what ended up happening was that I googled the book and it turned up a couple “unboxing” type videos where the youtuber just go through the book, and what I found was that there are now a print run of this book that doesn’t have the Ogi Star Memories add-on. And for fact-checking purposes I got my copy out of the shelf anyway. At any rate, beware. Don’t get that version, if you want to buy the most definitive print reference for Anim@s. Get the one that has the Ogi Star Memories (the obi will indicate so). I am pretty sure that particular doujinshi is still over $100 street price-wise. Maybe you can get it less if you shop around?
All the more amazing when I just found it lying on A-Button’s counter a week ago.
PPS. The full sheding from Yukari’s SSA show can be found here. He goes into way more details than I can remember, and I sat next to him for the 2/15 show anyway!
EDIT: See the comments, but also https://twitter.com/digikerot/status/440942124369190912 for the first and subsequent editions of the book.