It’s actually fair to say Idol Jihen, or Idol Incidents, is similar to an Aikatsu arc. The story are as similar to children’s cartoon (or my stereotypical understanding of such) as late night anime gets. It is just a framework or vehicle to put some database, database, in your anime.
But I think it’s better to look at Idol Jihen as a headtrick. The fact that idols are your congressional representatives, and sometimes they solve problems using idol powers, are the trick. The teach is how to be active politically, and what it means.
If your President was an idol, would you support him or her? Would his or her political opponents be old and fat men and women dealing shadily in the night inside expensive eateries? More importantly what otaku character traits will your President have? Is he or she a Honkers or Kasumi? Or an Amami Haruka? Or Shimada Mayu? This is what most of us care about, but this is also the part that’s not really important in the larger scheme of things. I think I speak for all the lolicons in the world that the weaponized feelings of children is a great plot device that we can use more of, at least in moderation. It makes for a great distraction, to not let yourself engage the material critically.
[This is similar but different than Akibastrip anime, which is using social involvement and caricature of Akiba’s socio-economic problems to identify, well, stuff to market? I think? I’m most likely wrong but can someone explain to me how Akiba’s Trip isn’t just a giant Earphones plug (along with all their guest musicians/seiyuu), sponsored by Maidreaming?]
Idol Jihen, for example, doesn’t solve episode 6’s ghostly problems with magic of Aomori Ringo Powers (they are delicious) but flat out is making a stance on dreams of space (a very otaku-friendly position) being chipped and kicked to the curb by more pedestrian monetary concerns. It would be pretty true to life to say that people in national lawmaking bodies bicker about how to spend pork, that is a summary of episode 6 in half a sentence. In that way, Idol Jihen is extremely convincing because the narrative is akin to low-effort propaganda. Just talk to people who care about NASA and NASA’s budget over the past 50 years and this is basically their position in a nutshell, but the way that narrative came about in Idol Jihen is rather, what’s the word, romantic yet pragmatic?
I could go on in detail about the issues in Idol Jihen, but I just want to point at one more thing: the sense of principled governance. One of the best shield behind criticism in politics like this is that you are advocating for your constituency. Sure, everybody says this, even if s/he is outright wrong and knows it. Which is why every villain in Idol Jihen breaks that trust as an elected official, and when it isn’t (such as episode 7), the point was about having internal consistency and being a person of principle. It’s a strong and clear signal. This is good, in that the stories in Idol Jihen honors the core tenant of government by principle, and the vilification is about the kind of behavior that people typically vilify in governance–cronyism, autocracy, putting the power grab before the common good.
PS. If you want to go one more meta up: Idol Jihen is as blunt as a trout, because nuance is a losing strategy in politics. If you are explaining, you’re losing.