This video is pretty strong, so watch only if you are not a faithful hardcore fan I guess lol. I mean, you would know what it already is if you were.
As usual, just going to collect some thoughts here. Might not have an overarching point in this post.
The 15th Anniversary celebration for IDOLM@STER series happened this past weekend with basically two really long live streams. It started actually the days leading up with some promo art on Twitter, but more importantly there is a website refresh (the new domain is now idolmaster-official.jp) and the launch of a dedicated IDOLM@STER channel on YouTube (and another twitter account, @imas_ch). The new site is much more modern (more circa 2016 I guess, instead of the peak 2000s machine with a blog on the side) and has actual reference data built in, mostly in this idol list subsite. The main things we used the old site for: event subsites and scheduler, are now prominently displayed on the header and the schedule is easier to read with a franchise filter. And the news pages are also filterable. Anyways, poke around there and see how much better it is than the old home page.
The anniversary streams are really not a big deal–they streamed animas, moviemas, MOIW2014 second day on Saturday. On Sunday it was MOIW2015 both days, SideM 1st and Shiny 1st. To cap off the weekend there was also a 2-hour live stream (actually live) of the performers giving us the full wax-nostalgia of the last 15 years in IM@S world. We got 4 big-ish news item out of it, so there was still that. Surprisingly, there was no new news on Starlit Season.
The big news, aside from 1 free ten-pull in every IM@S game today onward, is that there will be a CGSS x MLTD collaboration this winter. Considering the commonly accepted start of winter of 2020 is December 21, we have a long, long ways to go for something that hype. Two “longs” because, well, 2020 is that kind of a year.
And 2020 is that kind of year, where in lieu of a guaranteed, tear-jerking Shiny Colors 2nd live (featuring Noctchill 1st and in some ways, also Straylight 1st); Million Live 7th live (featuring actual fireworks, and an anime announcement); and the first big solo 765AS live since January 2018 (to go with the new console game), we got like…32 hours of live streaming over a 40 hour period or so? It was a 4-day weekend in Japan so I guess it worked.
But yes, these substitutions for our unbearable outpouring of love and nostalgia is easier to kindle than ever. The tearjerker music video is good, even, and I suspect the desired effects could have been had for less.
And let’s be clear–the streaming stuff and the news are just the carrot on the stick. The real value is the donkey walking forward. You know, it really is the case where fans pull the series forward. It’s not just a commercial activity, but that Bannam hears us and what we want. Once the bargain between the seller and buyer, consumer and provider, patreon and artist, whatever, is set, it is a virtuous cycle of capitalism where we throw money at them and they provide us with goods and services. Both of us go home happy. That does not, however, speak to the competence. Yes, the tearjerker music video is good. The new 15th Anniversary song is pretty good. But so what? IDOLM@STER, as my hindsight have it, is successful despite of its numerous failures. It isn’t because mistakes weren’t made, but because what came through, what people focused on, what worked, the overall sum of that is greater than all the limitations and suffering people had to put up with. It is a bit of a heartless calculus for something arguably by definition fun and fluffy. And it is with this lens I see IDOLM@STER in 2020.
That is also just to say, the fandom on fire is way more rewarding than anything that came out of GamiP’s mouth last night on the anniversary livestream. Seeing my twitter TL full of outpouring for IDOLM@STER is therapeutic and moving. People recalled the better times with animas and moviemas. People saw for the first time how these cast members were 5-6 years back, or even for the first time. People told the stories of great memories lived as Producers. It needed to happen–just once a year or something is okay, but it needed to happen on the regular.
Maybe the Corona Era enhanced this kind of thing more, maybe not. But it is what makes fandom worthwhile.