Anime Idol Movies
When people think of anime idol, they may see it as simply music-themed slice-of-life series with cute girls doing cute things. However, the genre has much more to it than meets the eye.
Rather than following conventional Music Stories, these shows bring a more realistic view of the entertainment industry and its pains and rewards. This is a refreshing take that can appeal to many more people than traditional idol anime.
Zombieland Saga is a smart deconstruction of typical idol anime tropes. It’s easy to get drawn in by the girls’ tragic backstories and their struggle to become a genuine idol group.
Despite her desire to be a singer, Sakura Minamoto’s first steps towards success end up being deadly. In her hurry to make it on time to her performance, she’s hit by a truck.
The resurrected girls are brought together by shifty producer Kotaro Tatsumi, who recruits them for the zombie pop group Franchouchou to revitalize Saga Prefecture. But they don’t quite understand what he means when he says the girls must save their region from dying out.
As the girls work to overcome their own issues, they learn more about themselves and each other. For example, 1980s idol Junko and 2000s pop star Ai clash over their different conceptions of what it takes to be a famous singer: where Junko believes in maintaining a flawless image, Ai has grown up with social media and feels she needs to be more open to her fans.
Wake Up Girls!
Wake Up Girls, or WUG for short, is about a group of seven voice actresses that are trying to become idols. While they aren’t particularly talented musicians or dancers, they have a lot of drive and the determination to not give up. The prequel movie explains how they were selected to join the team, and then the show chronicles their struggles to be successful. They are held back by the lack of talent, and their resolve is only bolstered when former I-1 Club idol Mayu Shimada joins the group to keep them from becoming just another group of lost souls.
It’s not as light and fluffy as other idol anime, and it shows a more realistic side to the business where hard work and dedication are required for success. While it may be a little bit too mature for younger viewers, it’s an enjoyable watch with likable characters and a solid plot. It also has pretty good music from both vocal and non-vocal tracks.
White Album is a drama that centers on the Japanese idol industry. It’s a visual novel that requires very little player interaction and instead relies on text appearing on the screen to represent either dialogue or the protagonist’s inner thoughts. The characterization is fairly good and some of the characters have major voice talent behind them including Hirano Aya (Yuki) and Suara (Utawarerumono).
Most idol stories revolve around high school drama and the relationships between three or more students. Oftentimes these conflicts get bogged down with juvenile, childish arguments that only serve to irritate the audience rather than propel the story forward. White Album avoids these traps in two key ways.
First, the protagonist Haruki doesn’t seem to be all that interested in his love for both Setsuna and Kazusa. He is a fairly intellectual student and his sexuality seems to play a very minor role in the plot. This is a far cry from the protagonists in most other idol anime which are nearly all driven by their sexual desires.
The Seven Idols
The brash president of Green Leaves Entertainment in Sendai is determined to save her struggling agency by producing an idol group. As the movie opens, she dispatches manager Matsuda to scout raw talent. His fateful encounter with Shimada Mayu leads to the formation of IDOLiSH7.
The plot is straightforward enough, although the characterization isn’t as solid as it could be. The girls all have their moments, and the music is catchy enough to be a good gateway into the genre.
The real star here is Tenn Kujo, the eldest member of the group. He seems aloof but has a true passion for his job and cares deeply for the other members of the group. He entered the industry to get revenge on someone but has since realized that the world of idols can be a wonderful place. He’s a big brother figure to the others and has a firm yet kind heart. His music symbol is a triangle.