Category Archives: Idolmaster

THE IDOLM@STER M@STER SPARKLE Series Review

I’m writing hot takes for all the songs from THE IDOLM@STER (Million Live!) M@STER SPARKLE series! The 8-CD series ended last month when the 8th and final disc shipped. I bought all of them in some form or way, but what I can say is it’s nice to not have to tag the rips since Mora does that for you when you buy it there… I listened to them a lot over the past 8 months or so, via a variety of headphones, IEMs, speakers, car speakers, what have you. I’m writing this post while streaming hires flacs from my phone to my home theater system. Welcome to the 21st century I guess. It’s an incredibly easy way to control the music lol.

General takeaways:

Sparkle is the third solo go around for Million Live, not including the two new members. This time, the OG 13 idols are omitted. There are some themes as follows:

  • More of the same. Some are better polished than before, YMMV.
  • Musical ~DIVERSITY~ in that specific genres or themes are being aped for character reasons – Nao’s and Noriko’s are the obvious examples. But really, guys.
  • Produced by Lantis artist:  Some tracks are pretty much specific Lantis act’s thing. Aside from SasakiP of nano.RIPE, at least. Those who went to see Lisani this year would have an idea what I mean. But there’s also a very fhana track in there.
  • Introductions – Being the first series for Theater Days, some songs do a more obvious job explaining the characters.
  • Playing to live performances. Some songs feels like they can go straight to a live, plug-n-play. Star Trip in particular, when you consider the acoustic guitar part.

The CD series started back in August 23, 2017. We are about 4 months away from its anniversary. So the first couple discs already sound very nostalgic, where as the last couple are still too fresh. My mind is still working on them.

The covers reflects a seasonal or holiday theme correlated to the month of that CD’s release. Check out this youtuber lol. Meanwhile I linked to the CD sample playlist off Youtube in each of the sparkle titles for your easy access.

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Game Saves World Billions in Productivity with Region Block

[Below is parody content?]

Popular movies and video games have long since been correlated with productivity loss. For example, popular science fiction franchise Star Wars has been the lead in this category, when its blockbuster film launches lead to countless students and employees to call out to go to the theaters on release day. Similarly, the recently launched Japanese video game, THE IDOLM@STER: Shiny Colors, cause millions of dollars in loss productivity, following its recent launch last week.

In a stroke of genius, the developers of Shiny Colors limited the game for play to Japanese internet users only. By region-limiting the HTML5-based game platform, Bandai Namco has saved an estimated $50B USD in productivity loss, experts say.

The free-to-play video game platform is the latest entry in the popular franchise, THE IDOLM@STER. The Japanese-gamer oriented properties started in 2005 and has spawned countless video games, TV shows, movies, and tie-ins of all kind, such as a mixed-reality VR theatrical show. While domestic audiences still beared the brunt of the damage in loss productivity, the prudent business move limited the damage to just Japanese domestic businesses.

“It is a noble sacrifice,” said financial analyst Akihiro Nakamura from UBS. “The joke was that the devops were going to all call out sick and play during launch, but the region blocking already saved us millions across our Americas and Europe branches. Despite their best efforts otherwise, Bandai-Namco is still going to boost their prospective stock price for this fiscal year just on the preliminary revenue projections.”


Forever Million Live

Today is the last day of operation for the GREE-published version of Million Live, which is the original IDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE game. Ps call it “greemas” for short. It is the core product of that IP and it is now shut down as of this writing, just moments ago.

There are so many things I want to say so I’ll just keep it short and in bullets. Think of it as a way for me to commemorate this occasion.

This game was how my “gacha cherry” was popped. This meant my mental barriers were rationalized away and since then I spent good money on games I think that are worth it, which is namely just the other two major IDOLM@STER SNS games, Deresute and Theater Days. I also spend money on games that I think have entertained me a lot, just much less. (For example, I already spent maybe $160 in Pricone Redive but I probably will stop there. This is not even 10% of what I spent in Greemas.)

This game was occasionally very fun, but usually more a chore. The saving grace is that the chore part is pretty light, unless you wanted to do a crazy amount of ranking. In the finals stats page the game provided during its shutdown period, I was able to get the “IDOLM@STER” achievement 11 times, which is just to say I was able to produce at least 1 idol in the top percentiles. I forget exactly. But it’s little things like that which makes this game fun.

The thing I will miss the most about Greemas is how it is a game that really went to creative places. Like a Star Wars inspired event. Or taking traditional idol torture to the next level. Or the Namasuka Sunday events. Or Tokugawa’s Castle, literally. There were various sports meets. There was TGS. There was the live on the space station. It was nuts. Theater Days so far has not even came close to scratching that itch, although it does seem things might move in that direction finally…

Million Live might be the first time where the game and the live events were closely integrated, to the degree that you can have producer support walls and even ticket lotteries in the game. Will this tradition continue? I hope so.

It is definitely the first IM@S game where recorded lines from the live were delivered into game as content, days just after the event. It’s a great way to energize your hardcore eventing fan base. It also points at the live events as a part of the game. It is the kind of thing that makes me think that Million Live is an IP where the content revolves around the live events.

This is all besides the core community on Greemas. During the Theater Boost [idol voting for Theater Days] people were communicating on the idol boards on Greemas. Greemas also has a dialog engine where you can create commu screens and it ran contests on the best fan-submitted entries. On top of the basic player communication and lounges, there are no easy replacements for them.

Thank you Greemas. Million Live will continue without you, but it will never be the same and we will never forget the good (and bad) times!


Million Live! 4th Anniversary, Take 2: The Story of the Missing Hoshii Miki

So the Bluray for Million 4th came out last week and I’ve been devouring it since I got it on Thursday. Somehow I squeezed in 2 showings of Mary and the Witch’s Flower in the same time, given the 4-disc set has 12+ hours of material, not counting the commentary tracks, but here goes.

Million 4th was probably the most important live I attended last year, at least on a personal level. It might rank only 4th overall but it was number one in terms of emotional wrecking that it did on me. I was a mess, because, as now I see from the backstage features, it left the performers in a mess too. Like, yeah, I get it, I know how it works. The feelings crossed not only stars, but oceans, cultural and language barriers, through the dance, music, and hard work of cast and staff. It sounds corny only because it’s what happened.

Million Live has a lot of songs about silly things, and it’s got a fairly diverse set of songs, but the most common category of songs are about friendship, hopes and dreams. Sometimes these songs felt like they are speaking to the audience and listeners. Sometimes these songs felt like they are speaking to the performers. And in the Million Live cast, that’s actually exactly what happens.

I’m not going to details to explain, because it will take a long time and my JP is just nonexistent for these kinds of purposes. But man, that Hoshikuzu no Symphonia on day 2 is a great example of what I’m talking about. Kokochan (Koiwai Kotori, who plays Tomoka) joined twitter publicly just the other day and she tweeted on her first day on Twitter about reaching for her dreams.

In short, Koiwai watched Animas in 2011 just as another P and an aspiring seiyuu, but in 2018 she has Mingos and Nunu tweeting with her. We don’t know what the future holds, so live on as such. Like, there was no guarantee that Mingos was ever going to remember the password to her Twitter (LOL).

I bring this up because watching Million 4th reminded me of her performance as part of Milky Way in Hoshikuzu no Symphonia. And you can watch the part in the backstage on the LE Bluray box to see the conclusion… It was a touching moment in that during the bridge, each of the four performers had a phrase to say that puts together the story of Milky Way, the unit that was detailed in LTH09. In truth, Milky Way has 5 members–Hoshii Miki being the one missing. The way the song connects the four Millionstars to Miki and to each other seemed to did Kokochan in as she started visibly crying during the performance, and thus yelling out from her heart that one line during the lead up to the climax of the song.

Notice how the first word in each of the 4 phrases they said during the bridge spell out “Hoshii Miki” and then they say to connect it together? LOL. Here are the relevant lyrics (tl: project-imas), and I bolded that one line Kokochan yelled out:

好き勝手BPMはハートビート
たどり着いたゴールは次へのスタート
胸の予感 高鳴らして
Ima datte nari yamanai PURERYUUDO
Suki katte BPM wa HAATOBIITO
Tadoritsuita GOORU wa tsugi e no SUTAATO
Mune no yokan takanara shite
Even now, the prelude won’t stop ringing
The BPM heartbeats whatever it pleases
Finally reaching my goal to start the next
My heart’s premonition keeps pounding
過去から今日まで まっすぐここまで
予想もできない偶然を分かちあって
刻んだ足跡 きらめくから
さぁ行こう 最高の仲間で
Kako kara kyou made massugu koko made
Yosou mo dekinai guuzen o wakachiatte
Kizanda ashiato kirameku kara
Saa ikou saikou no nakama de
Straight up here from the past until the present
I didn’t expect you to share them unexpectedly
From the engraved, sparkling footprints
Come on, let’s go with my best friends
がむしゃら未来へと 一途な明日へと
軌跡を繋いだ 絆で勧め
心のタクトが導く空
輝き 忘れないでいて
この想い 忘れないでいて
Gamushara mirai e to ichizu na asu e to
Kiseki o tsunaida kizuna de susume
Kokoro no takuto ga michibiku sora
Kagayaki wasurenai de ite
Kono omoi wasurenai de ite
To the reckless future, to the earnest tomorrow
Move forward with these bonds connecting the trajectory
I won’t forgot that heart’s baton
Guiding through the shining sky
Nor I’ll forgot these feelings
遠く長い道 めぐり逢う未知
果てしない道
君と
Tooku nagai michi meguriau michi
Hateshinai michi
Kimi to
To the far, long road… Stumble across the unknown,
Endless road
With you

There are other instances of this playing out in the years leading up to ML4th. There are other instances of this still playing out today. It’s why when Aikotoba wa Startup played during Hatsuboshi Enbu, MillionP eventers were in shock. Or like hearing Addicted or Just Be Myself or Tsuiyoku no Sandglass. It’s a bit heart wrenching if you are a fan, in that both you’re suffering only because Bamco decided their lives to become this way, and that you’re pining for a thing that will probably come eventually, and it’s more beautiful because of it. It’s a mixed feeling of happiness and regret, that reality of the industry comes in and stir things up, with a distant hope, at least personally, that everything, all together, will be better off because of these complicated circumstances.

I would say it’s a cheap shot except it takes so much to even build up to begin with. A long cheap shot, maybe. A road within a fandom that’s got a significant barrier of entry, yeah. But I guess some producers have no choices here!


The Hardest Things to Animate, Fall 2017

Are cute girls cooking.

Before my mental gear switches into “all retrospectives, all the time” for the rest of the month, let me just talk about this season’s slate and other related things. As a bonus for each episode I will give it two ranks, how much I want to watch the episode as it airs, followed by how often I do end up watching the episode as soon as a new one is available. For both values, 1 is the highest/soonest and 5 is the lowest/slowest. The goal is to give a numerical representation on how competing time and interest factor in how I view these shows. Some week/weekends I’m out all day and have to prioritize my down time, you know!

THE IDOLM@STER SideM – When I returned from Japan after attending IDOLM@STER 10th anniversary event, I felt that the franchise has become a “home” where my “heart” returns to. SideM’s Jupiter-focused episodes are a great summary of this concept, this past week and from the start. In some ways this show is exceedingly watchable for a male-idol franchise, for a more general audience. Watchability rating: 1, 2 – Because I want to be in a good state of mind when I watch it, so I don’t always do so ASAP.

Wake Up Girls Shinso – The franchise reboot without Yamakan now gains Yamakan as the most annoying cheerleader. I think the series does feel different without his involvement, and it unfortunately suffers from some severe production issues. The focus on MayuC is okay, as with the introduction of RGR (Ranga…neo ranga…) and looping in the large I-1 cast and all the spinoffs. It’s still WUG and it’s still something channeling the ideas presented from the original, but more tightly written because it doesn’t have to couch itself with depicting a post-311 Tohoku. As a fan I have a lot to say about this show but nothing is really important? LOL.Watchability rating: 2, 2 – Too many live action episodes that don’t get streamed on CR, because of production issues, throws off my timing on these.

Imouto Sae ga Iire ba – I know it’s written by the Haganai guy, and I found Haganai generally disturbing and at times offensive. ImoutoSae is like the same pivot the Oreimo guy did to bring us Eromanga Sensei, and I am really enjoying it. It feels like instead of debating politics of shooting people and blowing up things, it’s much more interesting to debate video games where players shoot people and blow up things, as an analogy? This is the meta level take on an already really meta thing, which is “that database” I occasionally refer to. It deserves its own post later. Watchability rating: 1, 1 – My favorite this season.

Kino’s Journey is good for just being something very easy to watch, can’t say the content is good or bad…probably because it’s a mixed bag. Watchability rating: 3, 2 – Easy to watch does mean I end up watching it sooner rather than later.

Food Wars is always a delight, a modern shonen battle story. Not much to say besides this new turn of event is kind of meh.Watchability rating: 2, 1 – Not top of my list but such a page turner, plus I can watch this with company.

Netjuu no Susume is a ton of fun in a good J-drama kind of way. I call it the soul food anime this season.Watchability rating: 2, 1 – What happens next? LOL.

Just Because is good on a technical level, but a little hard to watch. It’s great once you can get into it though, and I like how it manages around the typical pitfalls of adolescent romances. And that animation…Watchability rating: 2, 2.

12 Taisen is a fun, filtered Nisioisin thing. The upside is people die, the downside is that it becomes a guessing game, and not a story? The high production value makes it not that annoying, with somewhat a toned down Nisioisin-ness? Watchability rating: 3,2 – I kind of dread watching it, but once I start it goes down easy.

Blend-S fanservice is top notch, but I hope they lean into that shipping stuff which made Working compelling. It’s doing it so very slowly… Watchability rating: 2,1- Mostly compelled due to social networks.

Girls’ Last Tour – I picked up this show from SNS word of mouth. I am slightly biased against this seiyuu cast, but the story is a little compelling and it’s a good show to relax to. Also, I’m not up to date on it, LOL. Watchability rating: 3,5 – 5 because I’m behind by like a month plus.

Urahara – Another show high on concept and I like it for that, but execution is lacking–not in the way you think. It’s just the fully lack of tension makes it a little hard to follow. And it isn’t because nothing drastic happens in this show…well, maybe nothing is really that drastic. Like when aliens invade earth in Kekkai Sensen versus when aliens invade earth in a Barbie movie? I don’t know. Watchability rating: 3,4 – I’m a little behind.

Kekkai Sensen – It’s going into “same o same o” territory which means it’s great for fans but so so for everyone else. Still fun animation, as TV anime go. Watchability rating: 3,3 – I just don’t feel the compulsion to watch this, and at the same time you can pick up or drop this series at any time in any fashion, it’s so easy to get in and out.

Magus’s Bride – Sleigh Beggy? More like Slight Boring. When people hyped this up in the early goings of this season I was interested. Now I’m just letting out some giant yawns. It’s not even a let down, I expected this too self-important of a show to miss the mark, if the 3-episode OVAs are any indication of the story. So far it hasn’t really deviated much, if anything, it was better when the story came and went without all this magic-setting pretension. Maybe the manga is better. Maybe people should have just not hyped this show. Watchability rating: 2,2 – For healing type anime it works pretty okay, a little more upbeat than your usual variety.

Konohana Kitan – I like it but more for seiyuu and for cute being cute, otherwise this story of otherworldly hotspring hotel run by foxgirls is sort of just okay. Tho if it can produce episodes like episode 8, consistently, it would get promoted. Watchability rating: 2,2 – Maybe 1.5, 1.5 rather?

Houseki no Kuni would be higher tier if not for the most uzai Kurosawa Tomoyo ever. This is one of those cases where while I appreciate the acting, having pre-animation dubs removed some limits on how annoying she is. Also the story is just kind of silly even half way through? Like, yeah I know Phos is different later I still cannot take this show seriously. It’s not even a matter of the visual language (eg., oh noes she’s gonna go Kizuna Ai on us), but just the attempt at tonal shifts in the show is not something I can take seriously. Watchability rating: 2,3 – I end up getting to this later because it’s not on CR so I have to pirate it the old fashion way, sigh.

Anime-gatarisBig bang theory the anime. It’s full of really peak jokes, so just for those I can say I am glad Anime-gataris exists. But it’s got a taste of what I remember from the late 90s when Japan makes anime with a western audience in mind. Now it’s China, I guess. Watchability rating: 3, 2 – I end up watching it because it’s on CR and I tend to have more free time on Sundays, after all.

Two-car is by no means bad, but yeah who would watch this show? Other than me? Or yuri fanatics? Or people actually into the sport? It could be more of a comedy I think, and that would really make this show ring. As is, it’s got a mandatory low-conflict tension every episode and I’m not sure if anyone should care. It’s kind of an elaborate exposé, maybe. Watchability rating: 4, 4 – It’s not bad, just hard.

Ousama Game: LOL what is this trash. I guess it’s fun but it sits at the bottom of the “I have no time to watch anime” ladder of shows to cut. Watchability rating: 3, 5 – I’m a month behind I think.

Fate Apocrypha – A bigger yawn than slight yawn. To be fair I’m only halfway through and haven’t watched any in a couple months. Watchability rating: 3, 5 – This is an Anime Strike show, and you know how that is.

Mahoujin Guruguru – I’m still like, just 1/3 of the way into the series. Probably because I want to marathon this and have not had the time. Watchability rating: 2, 5.

Some other random stuff this season:

Pri Pri Chi-chan still delivers. The Rietion anime is really fun and even not totally stupid always, just sometimes. I don’t think I would watch this show not for seiyuu purposes, but I can see myself doing so if it’s something I end up watching on regular TV for some reason. Watchability rating: 1,3. – It’s short.

Cingeki S2 is fun. More of the same from the first set of episodes but I like how it gets awfully meta. Watchability rating: 1,1. – It’s super short.

Osomatsu-san S2 – When I saw that first episode I knew it was time to call it quits, and the subsequent episodes played out my expectations. You can’t go over the top the same way twice. Open to coming back to this show if it gets better though… No rating for shows I’m dropping.

Welcome to the Ballroom – It’s a good show but I think I’m going to drop it, despite the delicious interaction between the dancers. I’m not opposed to catching up but I don’t like this particular angle they’re going with in terms of the sports and character development. No rating for shows I am dropping.

I watched that Blade Runner anime. I would not dissuade anyone from watching it but it’s just okay. No rating for movies and one-shots.

Man I wanted to watch Heaven’s Feel but missed the local show dates. It’s still going to be in theaters when I go to Japan though, so lol. I guess the new Garupan movie series will start this month as well, so that’s something to look forward to. No rating for movies and one-shots.

I finally got to watch Genocidal Organ, despite missing it earlier this year (twice?). It looked good. It is a bit neutered compared to the book, not for graphic violence but for the implication it makes at the end. Also, the effect of the plot device doesn’t really come across to me that well, which is unfortunate. Otherwise it’s a solid action vehicle for animation? For all the fun we make of the verbose expositions you see in Type-Moon works, sometimes that is exactly what’s good about the thing and it’s nice to have a heavy dose of it as long as it doesn’t ruin the film. No rating for movies and one-shots.