Category Archives: Idolmaster

Framing IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls U149

As I was watching the final episode of U149, I thought back to how a lot of the core concepts of Cinderella Girls come down to pretty silly, bare-bones ideas but taken to the extremely-real. To use a metaphor, when the fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a horse carriage in the Disney rendition of Cinderella, it was literally a pumpkin that morphed magically and gained the functions of a carriage. When you think of the tomboy 5th grader, maybe you can conjure up Haru. When you think of a gal 5th grader, maybe you can conjure up Risa. These acts of speaking into reality through the power of imagination is underneath all of that.

Much of this show is about fleshing out not just these character ideas, but depicting the unreal origins of these ideas with the reality of what the IDOLM@STER brand is about: idol production and all that jazz. It both sells that fantasy but it still have to tip the hat to all of the rest underneath, to use the madly-peddling swan metaphor. What’s also unreal, in the sense that this is an anime about the following topic, is that children signed under a major idol agency are child laborers. Granted, this is probably the kind people don’t look down upon in general (although many still do), but playing heavily on the “child vs adult” themes (Arisu is the child idol who wants to be an adult but is too childish to do so, in a nutshell.) all of those comes into play. It is a weird feeling to think of U149 in those terms, yet every time these kids bump into those types of workplace problems, it’s hard to not think of it.

So many scenes in the series, we see the U149 Producer working hard, putting his money towards his charges, not to mention spending all his time working for their projects. The U149 Producer displays plenty of childishness as depicted by societal norms, but is overall quite a normal adult dealing with the usual adult problems (in a work setting). He is the foil for the U149 idols.

It gets amusing and a bit confusing because the children themselves also take care of each other. One of them produces costumes, another cooks well. Some of them demonstrate emotional maturity and others have leadership skills. Some are stronger than others. In as much as U149 is a team or a unit, in demonstrating a satisfactory level of respect, or attractiveness, the kids also loses some of what makes kids kids I think.

Maybe that is why I really enjoy this aspect when Miria brings that standard kid-energy and that shadow of fear underneath her steel-woman-child visage during the live stream. Miria episodes are all so good because there’s this obvious internal conflict in which she out-matures it.

But as it were, why do people dote over Arisu…? Rhetorically, yes, I get it, I’m just saying every bratty snot in the 3rd Division has a surprising amount of inner qualities that makes them admirable as people. Maybe those qualities also make (at least some of) them attractive as idols, but it would be safe to say it is quite too early for that for the majority of them.

PS. Ever since COVID, Cinderella Girls shows all use smart/digital tickets. It means for oversea Producers, getting tickets require jumping a different set of hoops than before. It also means it’s harder than ever to proxy. Yet we see them draw in these paper tickets into the show and it just make me shake my head in disbelief. Go on, magical anime about little kids who tries to sing, dance, and behave like amusing little things. This is also amusing (in a not-so-great way).

We’re Going to Master of Idol World 2023

For long time readers of this blog, you might recall back in 2013-2014 I did some stuff to prepare for Master of Idol World 2014. After that I wrote something like, 13 thousand words to try to sum up the experience. I am doing nowhere nearly as much this time. Why? Because I don’t have to. Flower stands are not allowed, and instead we have these Bandai Namco-sanctioned flags that you can fund, and there are at least several oversea Producer ones. I joined probably the most popular one of those, which looks great by the way.

I don’t have to plan a big meet up after the show, because charitable Japanese and Oversea Producers are doing it, so I am just going to theirs. It is definitely a different world in 2023 versus 2014. I might even have multiple things that I could go do, I don’t know, just not too focused on it.

The difference to me, I think, is mostly on me–I just don’t have that much time and attention span lately to spend on this stuff. I play some mobile games…and it’s already too much. I guess I only seriously play Theater Days, and even then that is a very light load. I sorta-serious play JP Priconne and semi-casually play Global Priconne, but those combined is still a light load. JP literally runs 5-10 minutes a day and up to 30 for CB, while Global is not much more. I’m so behind on those games too in terms of commu and what have you. I have a love-hate relationship with Blue Archive still, but I think I have to shed this game despite it being occasionally fun and frustrating. And it’s a light-weight game as these things go, being largely a Priconne clone.

All this is to say I still watch a bunch of anime, but even then that’s always kind of the struggle, since as long as I have been watching seasonal anime. I guess we are in February, where I don’t have any Baseball to watch and there’s just 1 game left in the NFL schedule. Speaking of which, is there a bar or somewhere in Tokyo where I can crew up to watch the Superb Owl and all the dumb ads? I guess I can do it in a hotel room (or, more likely, at the airport) thanks to unplugged television services, but it isn’t the same (at 8am).

When the NFL is the only main thing on my mind during MOIW weekend, is a good thing. There are other logistical items to note, at least some out of many:

  • The buppan (goods sale) area spans 3 separate locations this time–Tokyo Dome, The Science Museum (near Budokan), and Kanda Square (about 10-15 minutes walk from the Museum). Looks like Tokyo Dome won’t have all of the stuff, and the heavy lifting is going to be at Kanda Square. The music CD stuff will be at the Science Museum. Along with the lottery on ticket time, this could be tricky for folks wanting to pick up stuff. I haven’t had much time to look through the goods list, but there are a few things I want.
  • I’m going to an Asaka concert on Friday, just to get the juices going. Also Asaka with a live band is always a fun time.
  • I’m going to Lonesome_Blue’s first show on Saturday, so this is going to be tricky trying to get tickets out before MOIW lol. I hope I can make it from Shibuya timely and meet everyone. Ideally the day before.
  • Tokyo Dome has an amusement complex attached to it. There’s a MLB cafe. There’s the JP Baseball Hall of Fame museum. There’s a Ferris wheel…? A lot of stuff there. There is a collab with IM@S that weekend at the various shops there. This means I can literally line up for Shake Shack and get, I don’t know, an imas sticker or something. The details are all online.
  • After MOIW weekend I am going to have a proper vacation while shepherding my folks around town in Japan. That’s also on my mind.
  • And on a similar note I have to go to l-tike and buy tickets to Ghibli Park on the 10th, for May. Sigh.
  • For fandom extra-curriculars, besides the meetings after the show, there are some producers doing a display at a rental office/meeting space, and the usual call guide handouts at several locations.
  • At some point I should at least learn all the group songs, especially the SideM ones. Pretty sure I got 765Pro All Stars and Million down pat. For Cinderella Girls, I watched their show from November on live stream, so that’s something. I don’t know any Deremas calls for anything 2019 and onward, though. Now that calls are unbanned, Ps are gonna yell out loud. Do Shiny Colors even have calls besides Urya-Oi LOL. I’m pretty much up to date on Shiny except maybe just the latest series.

Did you know that same weekend has a ton of other events? It’s the weekend before Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t really matter to the Ps out there I guess. Worse comes to worse, there’s a stream and an archive viewing.

I think going to see all the IM@S happening in Tokyo is exactly the kind of escape and relief I need. I hope to see some of you there? This is like a very perverse victory lap.

THE IDOLM@STER Million Live! 9th Live Impressions, Thoughts

After the missing years of COVID, I was able to return and attend a Million Live solo show. Before 9th, I attended stops of 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 2 stops of 6th.

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So, You Want to Go See Masters Of Idol World 2023?

Back around 2013/2014 we knew IDOLM@STER series will do a splashy show for the 10th anniversary year. We sort of got together to get something organized, and for the most part it went as well as things could have gone. With MOIW 2023 now in the horizon, maybe it’s time to review a few things.

For starters, the ticketing situation in Japan has gotten much harder than just “walk in and apply.” There are a bunch of factors to understand. For one, after COVID, many anisong shows have a big drop in attendance. Most concerts in Japan are still on their way to recovery in terms of attendance in 2022, but to put it into perspective, the summer big show, Anisama 2022, only really had packed seats on Saturday. Day tickets could have been had at the door on all three days, and those days don’t even have 100% seating utilization. The stands were at 50% on Sunday and both stands and arena were 50% on Friday.

Anyways, this is the biggest factor because fundamentally, some things have changed. Thankfully, it’s not that much.

Because of COVID, ticketing has largely moved to digital. There are still physical tickets for many shows, but some companies have completely moved to digital. For our purposes Bandai Namco has, anyways. Specifically, between eplus and OnlineTicket/Smart Ticket, it means ticket holders needs to map to account holders, for the most part.

No thanks to scalping laws pre-COVID, many ticket sites require verified JP phone numbers to even open an account now. This is probably the biggest barrier for oversea Producers trying to get tickets. The upside about this restriction is that you can get a sim card or perhaps even a rental phone, even as a tourist, in Japan, that can be used for this purpose. The downside is that there are few ways to obtain a permanent number that works oversea for this purposes, and no real way at all for most people outside of the country (or at least non-Japan residents).

The second barrier to going to see MOIW is the actual obtaining the ticket part. Besides having tickets within your ownership, you will need the same account if you want to apply to buy tickets, which means having a JP phone number at some point and having to register it with the account. In other words, to apply for the lottery, you need to rely on people who are already in Japan, or people who have already figured this out from overseas (due to being grandfathered in or something). Thankfully, the MOIW 2023 Asobi Store round ticket lottery allows each account to apply up to 4 tickets, both days (or up to 4 per day and there are also “through” tickets that include both days). Well, all the aforementioned barriers plus the smaller problem of that currently, there are no easy way to pay for it using oversea credit cards.

Enterprising Ps should be able to find someone who has an eplus account and have that person apply and get tickets for your fam for now, during the lottery rounds. Then worry about sending out the extra tickets to each person once you land in Japan.

These ticketing barriers are not exactly new, as some of these things were already pretty hard in 2018-2019 trying to get tickets via eplus. Either you had to figure out a payment system (like what used to work such as Mixi M), or had help from someone local. What is definitely harder is trying to get a phone number, as Japan really locked down the prepaid sim process and requiring residency proof.

So first thing everyone should do is flag themselves as interested for those who want and can go next Feb. Then people can organize lottery pools to at least get the right number of tickets.

If that falls through for you, the next step is to plan the next (and future) rounds of lottery. There will likely be direct ticket sales for this, as there were for MOIW 2015. And if things are as “bad” as they are, odds are good there will be even at-door ticket sales. It should not be too hard to get tickets to this show, much like how it wasn’t hard to get tickets for MOIW 2015.

I realize a Japan trip is hard to plan on these vague chances, but that’s the reality today. I hope at least the fan groups can get together and communicate and at least lower that uncertainty a bit. It could be a good thing or it could be just getting the bad news sooner so you have a chance to do something about it.

IDOLM@STER Streaming Picks

[LAST UPDATED 12/16/2022]

Now that each branch’s streaming plans are set, it’s time to make public my big IDOLM@STER streaming music rec post. I had to update it to change some selections from 765Pro and CG because Columbia decides to not stream a lot of the catalog or not in full. I also removed some from Shiny because Lantis aren’t streaming the back catalog yet for some reason. And since it’s not quite 12/28 yet some of these may be subject to change. I probably won’t be updating this further though, when new stuff get added eventually from the back catalog. Anyways, for the ones I removed between when this was first written and mid-December 2022, I will try to add some other picks, which wasn’t hard at all.

For the ones not included in the streaming

Shout out to @AngryDaenjangny for goading this P into writing this and it was a great idea. I hope this was all useful to you in the end, and even if not, I found the exercise helpful.

IDOLM@STER music runs the gamut. On one hand you have the most standard fair otaku property image songs. On the other hand, you have literally K-POP. The large IP spans several sub-brands and two record companies. It employs whole hosts of musicians and creators, not to mention 100s of cast members. There are the music games in which we associate IDOLM@STER with in 2022, but to me it’s also about the big concerts and performances where the cast perform all the songs. Everything comes together for those moments and this franchise orbits around that idea.

765 Pro All Stars: I’ll keep the new stuff and the tangent stuff (radios etc) out to keep this short. That said, Puchimas music is now also streaming so I’ll fill in the excluded picks (strikethrough) with them.

  • 自分REST@RT – one of my all time favorites and a hype song in the concert setting.
  • 自転車 – It’s a simple little song but super powerful in the concert setting. I mean who does not like to yell “suki da yo” at the idol you like?
  • è¿·èµ°Mind – A classic from the first Master Artist series back when Koji Nakagawa still wrote character music for this series. Nakagawa is now the music producer for 765Pro and the IDOLM@STER franchise overall.
  • tear – Yes I am a Makoto P, can you not tell? Secretly this was one of my biggest FOMO when Hiromi Hirata performed this at 9th tour Osaka stop, and back then I wasn’t able to go…
  • THE IDOLM@STER 初星-mix – a nice twist on a classic, the mix itself is getting on in years as well, from 2018, but I think it’s going to wear the years well. There is a long intro to the song that sets the mood well.
  • Kosmos, Cosmos – For YukihoPs over a certain age I think this song means a whole, whole lot, but personally it’s just a great hit from IDOLM@STER SP, in 2009.
  • Little Match Girl – My first full blown introduction to IDOLM@STER was around the animas/IDOLM@STER, and this one stuck the landing the hardest. It doesn’t hurt that so many years since, it’s still a massive banger both on recording and in live shows.
  • Colorful Days – This kind of idol songs is what 765Pro sounds to me, and I’m glad things hasn’t really changed all these years? I mean the music has evolved–most successful major artist pull this off, and maybe things are easier for a totally produced group like IDOLM@STER. Still, it’s good to go back to the OG vibes and hear the same sound.
  • エージェント夜を往 – Agent Yoru wo Yuku is the classic Nico medley content. NicoNicoDouga and IDOLM@STER go a long way back and that sure was late Aughts on the Japanese internet.
  • LOST – There’s something about a certain trilogy. I will just say that these are music from the past that still resonate with me. What is even more shocking to me is how it becomes doubly so when Million Live hijacks such things to make it work for that series.
  • DREAM – There’s something about a certain trilogy, but again this sound is what mainline IM@S sounded in the late 00s and early 2010s.
  • arcadia – I always liked this song over its subsequent variants (lol), but it does get a bit overplayed maybe. Perhaps in 2022 we can listen to this 2009 hit again?
  • 隣に・・・ – If you are familiar with Kaede Takagaki’s Koikaze, you might find Chiaki Takahashi (Azusa) putting on a big deal for Tonari ni… in the same way. This was always memorable to me because there used to be a thing called Eminence Symphony Orchestra, who produced a concert with IDOLM@STER, in Australia, and this was the big epic song for that show. At least, my FOMO of such a thing keeps it memorable…
  • Pon de Beach – This one is from M@STER Artist 3…and it’s 7 years old as of 2022. Time flies. The joke goes that during the Master of Idol World 2015 concert, Manami Numakura went on stage with her backup dancers for this song, all armed with super soakers, and sprayed the crowd. That split the world in two: those who were sprayed, and those who weren’t.
  • 全力アイドル – A 2010s throwback to maybe the late 80s? I’m not sure anymore. Iori sure is cute.
  • トリプルAngel – I was one who never took up the earlier whacky Ami/Mami songs, but Triple Angel is so good.
  • SMOKY THRILL – Aside from the actual jazz remixes, old school 765Pro music can be kinda hybrid like this. The controversial IM@S2 unit is my jam though, so here we are.
  • 99 Nights – Another Inotak contribution, for me this is about the bass and drum track. It’s an OFA DLC song, and OFA being a game I racked up the hours in, I don’t associate any singer with the song particularly.
  • チアリングレター – Songs like Cheering Letter are like amber with a mosquito from the past, it’s magic to a fantastic time for a boomer like me.
  • choco fondue – You want some Chihaya music that’s not serious or depressing? Here it is. It’s fun and catchy just like its source material.
  • Princess Snow White – Similar to above but more upbeat. If Takane was a magical girl, maybe this is it.
  • ねがいひとつ – Yukiho is a Christmas idol after all, and it continues in this series.
  • “HELLO!!” – The Dearly Stars tune makes it to streaming in full under the 765PRO GRE@TEST+BEST series, so I’m including the one song from that series here. It’s the series main theme and still stands the test of time.

Cinderella Girls – a good bet for total newbies into this series is to listen to the set lists from 10th tour. It’s all great. I’m not really into Deremas much these days but the bangers of Cinderella never stop. What is disappointing is that outside of the main songs from the Cinderella Girls TV anime, all the solo and game songs are the short/game versions. About 4% of the total Deremas discography are in full. Thankfully, a huge percentage of them are available as short versions, including almost all the Deremas songs from the game.

  • S(mile)ING! – Having lived through Cinderella Girls circa all that leads to the TV anime and years after, this song is just full of emotion for me.
  • 純情Midnight伝説 – When you want a “big band finish” there is none better than this from IDOLM@STER.
  • Fascinate – Idols often go well with metal. The two new cast members in the unit VelvetRose also come across oddly spot on for a metal song.
  • ガールズ・イン・ザ・フロンティア – Girls in the Frontier is a test: which proposition makes the most sense? (Isn’t it “on”?) It’s also a declaration that Starlight Stage and Cinderella Girls in general is here to fight for a space for itself in the post-idol-war era, in the mobile gaming space, and in the greater cultural context of anime, comics and gaming. Despite being the massive franchise that holds concerts in baseball stadiums nowadays, it was always about, well, people who are Cinderellas.
  • Love∞Destiny – Probably my favorite “early” era Deresute song. I am probably biased in that the M@STER version (which is the recorded version for CD release) has Mayu and Miho in it.
  • メッセージ – Really like the melody of this song. It’s also an old song with a unique flavor which succinctly is connect with a certain feel, a certain franchise in a particular space and time.
  • オルゴールの小箱 – Orgel no Kobako is like that slow ballad that we need more in 2022.
  • Palette – nope I’m not biased or anything.
  • Romantic Now – Not only I had a great memory with this song at MOIW 2015, it’s also just a totally fun song from a series that doesn’t take itself that seriously. Tomoyo Kurosawa plays the best kids yeah?
  • Twilight Sky – Lowkey one of the best Cinderella Girls solo songs, it’s also very emotional to see over the years in the live shows.
  • Trancing Pulse – It’s a unique sound that is an endangered species these days.
  • Hotel Moonside – “The Hotel” is the one first big Taku Inoue song that made this “subgenre” of Cinderella Girls songs popping, if a thing at all. Have to say while the follow-ups are great, nothing beats the OG.
  • Sayonara Andromeda – Probably the tail end of this great thing but also my favorite out of all of that.
  • Trust me – Yuyoyuppe brings a bit of hip-hop to an anniversary rock piece is always welcomed.
  • あらかねの器 – The “Chihaya power ballad” guy writes this song for Hajime and it sure is out there.
  • 毒茸伝説 – This is the other metal x idol deremas song that completes the spectrum.
  • è–„ç´… – It’s on this list because it’s a great song, and I fell in love with it because of this guy’s cover.
  • always – The Deremas ballad of choice in the COVID era.

Million Live – Nowadays, my main jam. This brand is known for being all over the place musically. 765Pro members also sometimes have songs under this brand, and that leads to some fun collaborations. I mean, there’s a song about Costco (not licensed). Everything goes in this series. For songs up to 2016 I have separately posted before, which overlaps with many below. At start, 490 songs are available with exception of a handful not yet available or omitted for unknown reasons. A few of the songs attached to the Gessan manga serialization are also available!

SideM – I don’t really know SideM. Going to be looking for other people’s recs once streaming is available. Like Million, most of the catalog is on streaming at full size.

Shiny Colors – Compared to other brands, there aren’t as many songs. Makes this job no less easy perhaps. It also doesn’t help that I’ve fallen off this bandwagon a little. About a quarter of the songs are on streaming, which is mostly the latest series of group songs and one of the character solo albums. They have already announced that more old songs will be released over time. I’ll just cross out the affected ones for now, because it’s the majority of these and there isn’t much I can make up for; I’ll also add something streaming in the cases where it applies.

  • OH MY GOD – Yep, it’s time for an all new era. Shinymas has the ability to flip the page on the entire music meta every so often by dropping a new group, and we still haven’t recovered from the first SHHiis reveal back in 2021.
  • Shinography – Hige Driver’s masterpiece contribution to the franchise makes it its best group song I think. Just as good is the c/w, Dye the sky.
  • 太陽キッス – Still one of the best all around songs from this series to me. It’s also a towel song, and a lot of fun.
  • Alstroemeria – Alstroemeria (the unit) also started with a nice punchy song from the get go to set up the image of the group. Since I love cheeky pop love songs, I enjoyed all their songs, but still this one stands out the most to me.
  • Wandering Dream Chaser – Let’s goooooo. Also Straylight unveil was just one of the overall most epic marketing thing the series has done and this song is front and center for that.
  • Destined Rival – Let’s go, but harderrrr. Tracing Defender is an equally worthy alternative if you want something streaming.
  • We can go now! – Hilarious fun song
  • トライアングル – There’s a meme about this song but let’s just enjoy the fun song about tomorrow’s weather for once.
  • Black Reverie – It isn’t l’Antica without the double bass drums, but I think this one has everything come together musically the best. Maybe try 浮動性イノセンス for something streaming?
  • 幻惑SILHOUETTE – This is one of the songs that made me really curious about the creators of Shiny Colors. Yeah let’s write a song based on Plato’s Cave? Okay… The other thing you can try is 愚者の独白 which has a nice chorus too!
  • SOS – Fuyuko is so good in the concerts!
  • 相合学舎 – School units are the strongest together
  • 神様は死んだ、って – Luca’s digital single dropped during Shiny Color’s Christmas concert in 2021 as a surprise encore. Killing god on his birthday became a legendary present from the game to all the producers out there, and it remains a banger a year later.
  • ラブ・ボナペティート – Love Bon Appétit is a natural next step with the image of the Alstroemeria unit, but it still gets Shiny Color’s retro-future vibe. Try Give me some more… for a taste.
  • Love Addiction – Also see above. Also hmm I wonder which unit I produce…
  • いつだって僕らは – As a unit that debuted during COVID, noctchill had a rough time. Itsudatte Bokura wa is the main unit song, and their first public performance of this song was a bit of that mixed-feel tear-jerker that really hits home the restless and depressing ennui of the early 2021s.
  • Fashionable – Imitation is flattery but it’s oddly appropriate in a song about being fashionable from a seiyuu-idol project catching today’s trends.

Others & Covers – crossed out if they’re not being streamed.

  • ハッピース – It’s a fun song from the Dearly Stars DS game unit.
  • VOY@GER – One of the latest entry at year 16, but it’s a new type of song for 765Pro. The all-unit version is great, but the individual units all have their take of the “rapping part” which results in all kinds of fun. The unit-based versions of the songs are available from each branch’s streaming library except Cinderella Girls (game size only) and 765PRO All Stars.
  • VACATION – Wild cover from way back. Not to be confused with this also-ancient thing.
  • 空 – Strictly speaking it’s a 765Pro song but that list got a bit long, so Kotori’s song is going here. There is also the recent spiritual sequel/prequel in 翼 from the Asayake wa Koganeiro manga which is oh so good also (but not yet streaming). The other Kotori songs on streaming are also great.
  • Dance Dance Dance – This is from the recent console game Starlit Seasons, which features not only all 765Pro idols, but select ones from Shiny Colors, Million Live and Cinderella Girls. Pairs well with Kaede. Inotak makes a return here.