Category Archives: Idolmaster

Gakuen Idolm@ster has Dropped

Everything that needs to be said about Gakuen Idolm@ster can be found on Twitter/X. There’s also this wonderful thin slice on the visual contents side from Sakugabooru–feeding us 9 proper music videos will do this. I personally enjoy the music, not only because “Hajime” is the most IM@S song I’ve heard since Starlit Season, but also because each of the 9 felt like some Asobinotes persons took each one and ran.

Between QualiArts lifting IDOLM@STER into the 2020s, that we are onboarding into an official Discord server, or that ultimately the game still isn’t available in another language besides Japanese, there’s a lot to be said of the game that is both a content delivery platform that Ps are familiar with, and idol-slay-the-spire strapped on top of a gacha game engine. The first banner and event already dropped, 1 week into launch. I spent a lot of Acen avoiding to play it, and a lot of Animazement playing it….which speaks more to which con is more laid back than the other and less about how compelling the game is.

I have not much else to say than, again, finally IM@S is a game that is new. It is so hard for Japan to create something new but still maintain what was great about the original, yet they are able to do it from time to time in spectacular fashion. I ate up the pre-launch promo like a child in a candy store, waking up early for each character reveal. The rivals, the Chokaigi streams, the daily video drops, it was a lot of fun. This doesn’t even mention the curve ball like Apple Music’s regular show. Or Chihaya.

So yes, the Famitsu in-depth interview confirms that the lead creatives are otaku influenced by works from the 00s, which explains why the vibe feels like the 00s. It answers many of the questions.

As for the game… it is a card game roguelike, in terms of getting the performances/practices. You raise the idol by using P items and building the deck, and gaining stats (ViVoDa) by achieving a certain number of points during audition or practice. There’s the full uma inheritance thing with 4 cards you can bring with you each produce trip, plus stats/bonuses from those previous runs. Support and P gacha cards add more special cards or items (persistent artifacts/items) plus other bonuses to stat/health to your game.

It’s also a lot of fun. I know some might want to have a more long-form roguelike experience (closer to STS) but I like this shorter format where you can really grind in small chunks. Each run takes about 30 minutes. The SSRs gate the songs for each idol in this game which is an unusual trick versus the previous games. The idol performance, as you roguelike your way each time, improves until you get to the True End.

Gakumas is all clicking and firing on all cylinders. Shiny Colors anime or Miriani may be for “existing” fans, but so is Gakumas in a way. It’s so fun to see how this game came into existence and to me it isn’t how different it is as an imas game, but how much it took from the past and made it its own that seems amazing to me.


IDOLM@STER Shiny Colors: The Animation

This is really a first-impression piece. I’m talking about my own impression but more like how a nice meal tastes, but with the right wine pairing.

You can now catch the TV anime streaming on Crunchy, after I guess some kind of exclusivity period. I would think none of this matters given how the entire series was pre-screened in theaters in Japan already. I have this story in which I could have caught the first segment during ML10th Act3 in Fukuoka, but time didn’t allow, and due to some snafu of not his own making, my hotel roommate during that weekender wasn’t able to see the show on day one. Instead, he went to catch this pre-screening.

Here are what I think are the relevant “filters” coloring my experience after 1 episode in, some personal biases if you will. In the interest of time I’ll just bullet them.

  • Miriani. Everyone likes to compare children of the same family, and while I am not any less guilty of this, I don’t really think about it. Rather, it’s an unconscious effect where before seeing the show I can see how people make these plot, writing or direction comparisons and it makes sense (to support their points about one being better or worse than the other). Or rather, Miriani is unimpeachable? I don’t think it’s that good (but I don’t 100% agree with those hankering for the A-1 days, FWIW) in the grand scheme of things, and after seeing Shinyani I don’t think it’s as bad as people make it out to be, if comparing it to Miriani is something that happens either consciously or not. Ultimately, Shinyani is not some 10-years-worth of tears pouring into something or another, like Miriani was–that is more like pulling teeth since 2015, for an anime that would have been better suited in 2018. I guess this means I’m consciously ignoring that obvious comparison.
  • Visual novel anime titles from the 00s. There is one specific title I have in mind, which is one of my all-time faves. That title, ef, is taking the same vibe in which we are telling a story, mostly not with plot, but with vibes, or whatever vibes were called in the 2000s. It’s a common focus in many postmodern narratives, and visual novels tend to have this going on back when. Visual novel anime basically derives, in a figurative-mathematical sense of the term, the same feelings and storytelling techniques, in order to express emotions. I don’t know how well Shinyani will carry this concept that the OG Shinymas game kind of prides itself on, but I guess we’ll see. Generally though this takes a lot of time, and Shinyani has to deal with a lot of idols in a cour, so it’s probably not going to be a strong point. Anyways, all throughout episode one, I think of the sky, the feathered wing, the scene as set by the rhythm of the sun (note all the sunset scenes…), and all colored by simple piano chords. This is EF.
  • Gakumas visuals. I realized my impression of the Shinyani visuals before Gakuen IDOLM@STER is different than after Gakumas. In fact that realization prompted this post. Looping Rinami’s 4K intro clip countless time probably made me even more damaged than I was? Joke aside, this is because the IM@S 3D art style has shifted. I would say this is also kind of a subconscious impact of Miriani, in which we are now in a new territory where the A1-licensed artwork is ancient history, that MLTD is kind of a transitional visual artifact, almost, and Gakumas is the future. Or the present. Shinyani actually pairs well with the graphics coming out from those brave folks at QualiArts. I mean, when I saw this unveiled, it reminds me of someone saying something about courage.
  • Who I am as a Shinymas Producer. As someone who dips in and out of Shinymas game-wise, I’m really following it for the overall meta-story, the fandom, the songs, and the performances. Having been with the franchise since the start I know what I’m looking forward to, to put it in the same like as Gakumas as we’re doing weekly new-character-reveals, the overall progression of the franchise as new units are added to the series. The anime is not something I’m dying for–it’s clearly an onboarding for the payday pinata that is the Shinysong game that launched just months earlier. That reminds me, I should write something about it… but I guess you can guess how I feel about that game. Anyways, Your Mileage Will Vary here because I’m not sure how big my cohort size really is–probably not that much in the English-language speaking sphere.

So far, the anime is at least good enough to carry on the branding of IDOLM@STER from a production point of view. I’m not really sure how the story will take its turn at the end of the season, as they have announced S2 (completely with at least Straylight and Noctchill), but are they going to “progress” at that point on? I assume so. To say it feels kind of bad to announce and tease the new units of S2 before S1 even aired is putting it mildly. Unfortunately, speedy is the Otaku’s Sword of Judgment, errors and nuances be damned, and we know the cohort that knows Shinymas purely from zako illustrators on the internet and erodojinshi is much larger than the cohort for me, LOL. Anyways, I guess I’ll continue to watch this show, as if I had any other choice.


Million Live 10th Tour Act-4 Recap

The feeling seeing Machico randomly confessing to Ueshama. The chill of the Tokyo Bay wind hitting your face as you’re teeing up GenP for a friend behind you doing English. The exhilaration of hearing Todakun telling us to “get down.” Nansu wiggling her butt because of the button tail on her outfit. Mocho and Koroazu crying. And countless other moments this past weekend. This is the “hyakuman power” that was sleeping under the sheets with a JUNGO face printed on it, and woke up for a weekend. This is Million Live.

The story of Million Live isn’t just that they are the sub-brand of IDOLM@STER that carries the torch of 765PRO ALLSTARS, but that it is a refreshing of the IDOLM@STER franchise with some of the top seiyuu performers of that generation. That generation is now 11+ years into its existence. Everyone has been through a lot. If I had time maybe I can dig into each one of them, including the two new ones that joined the team half way. Long story short, their success as individuals, or lack there of, speaks volumes to the “refresh rate” or how hard it is to make it as a seiyuu idol in this day and age.

The result of 10 years of hard work is this extremely emotional but also extremely fun, awesome, and fulfilling two-day concert. Unlike what happened during 4th Live, which is the accumulation of promises and wishes, Act-4 of 10th Tour is the result after fulfilling those things. Or at least partly.

  • We now have an anime
  • We have had more concerts where 765AS sang with the Million (Hotchpotch…and Hotchpotch 2 on the horizon)

I literally left 4th with big-time brain fog, but I left act4 with clarity of mind and purpose. So much have changed. Kokkochan’s chant to summon Hoshii Miki may have summoned something else, perhaps more delicious. Anyways, Act-4 was the true real Million Live anniversary decennial! Or rather, Acts 1-4 all together? But this was the one.

I have more thoughts than time to write them down cohesively, so this is more a recap than a review post… I think Kasshi did a great job with GenP on the second day so please watch that, and day1’s recap.

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The IDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE! Anime!

Here is another topic that I have a million takes and I have to time box to get this out. And I did it in only three hours. Anything is possible.

Kotoha chasing after Chupa with large knife (ML ep7)

In the overall context of 21st century Japanese media-mix content mills, we have to judge things on a sliding scale. By that I mean here is a media property (the Million Live anime, or Miriani henceforce) that is probably best described as a way to on-ramp new players into one sub-brand of the IDOLM@STER family. By players I mean there’s an ongoing (F2P) mobile game which is I think best described as a way to engage with content that is regularly updated. That in its own is a major context with its own baggage, many long-winded blog posts, et cetera. You can find some of them on this very blog, for links to a thin slice of these here.

Yes, gacha games fund all these extravagances. As a Umamusume player (and fan) there’s another blog post-to-be (or a draft to be discarded) about the interaction between Uma and IM@S content and fandom, because with Million Live I see the parallels right there. There is also the oft-unspoken backdrop of children’s entertainment and just how much Aikatsu I see from Miriani, and why there was a big exclamation on top of some folk’s heads (like mine) when they said it was “nichiasa” or “Sunday morning cartoons” when they first announced it.

It is a long journey from the smokey Japanese arcades of the 00s to Sunday Morning TV Tokyo 10am time slot in 2023, but that’s not what this post is about. That said, being a Sunday Morning Cartoon means more than just the time slot, but also that the show fits that time slot. This is to the detriment of many English-language internet viewers that you can find, like this reviewer. These are the (cloth in which you cut a ChihayaP from, but I digress) type of people you’ll most commonly see. To them idol anime is not just Love Live and IM@S, but things like Selection Project or (I shudder to think) Chance Triangle Session. Those are fine shows, but on this “sliding scale” those are all the way at the other end of the scale, the irrelevant otaku bait end of things. Where are all the Precure, Pripara, and Aikatsu people? Do the average proto-ChihayaP understand there’s more to IM@S than emo-emo vibes?

Which is to say, unfortunately you can, and should, still square Million Live with the original IDOLM@STER TV anime and the subsequent Movie, both which are celebrated and officially marketing material used to promote the Million Live anime before it started the theatrical run (what). And as someone who was able to enjoy that “golden era” e? tempore… I don’t think it is the best decision, but it still made all the sense in the world.

Which is just to say, a Million Live anime in the nichiasa form with its 3D anime style (lovingly crafted I might add) completes the rehabilitation of the property from Mami singing Agent Yoru o Yuku on NicoNico Douga to, uhm, Asterism singing dear… It may still be performed by someone U149, but it’s actually rehabilitated? All I am trying to say is, the more things change, the more it stays the same. It’s like the IDOLM@STER stuff, but in a different packaging, probably one that’s less suitable for the average adult anime viewers from the west.

Over the years since Million Live Theater Days has gotten from this weird “baton-passing” game where the 765PROAS team getting to chill off from their 10 years worth of hard work to the 37+2 kouhai members, it has gotten more, I think anyways, female-player friendly, more trendy, and more mainstream-sensible. Maybe that also alienated more players who liked the older stuff, and players who might find one of the other IM@S franchises more to their liking, but that carved out the niche for Million. I think this will come to the fore even more when Shiny Colors anime come out very soon… But comparing that with the U149 (as in the unit) anime which stuck closer to the original animas formula (because there are few enough of them) it’s pretty obvious Million Live anime is going somewhere else.

Unfortunately, this means unless you are already on the bandwagon for awhile, Miriani might be surprisingly not-your-taste. And that’s fine.

Again, to zoom out a bit, IDOLM@STER as a franchise is going to be 20 years old in about 2 more years, which by any reasonable measuring stick, is way too long for an otaku property given that it is active this entire time. Do you consider Gundam an otaku property? Or Macross? We are getting to those franchises’ level. Million Live is its marquee “glue” that connects 765Pro to, uh, Profit, I guess, so it really has to walk a high wire act that is the high road.

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Takes: THE IDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE! 10thLIVE TOUR Act-3 R@ISE THE DREAM!!!

I probably left my AX2023 writeup in the trash somewhere, and between then and now was a very fun AWA2023, but let’s not let it get in the way. Million Live’s 10th tour part 3 in Fukuoka just commands my mind right now, so thus the needs to get it written down.

Yes, it’s Next Life O’Clock.

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