idols

Summer Stock: Love Live! Sunshine

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“In this moment, I had the greatest epiphany!”

-Honoka Kousaka, Love Live!, Episode 1

Unlike The Idolm@ster, which already had a legion of fans from the original arcade game prior to the anime’s 2011 debut or the 2012 series AKB0048, which drew on the pre-existing AKB48 fanbase, Love Live! was still a relatively new multimedia project when the anime aired in early 2013.

Love Live! has always operated on a few different conceits than other idol series, even back in its first season when it was this weird and corny thing with janky computer generated animation. The Idolm@ster poked a bit at the exhausting lifestyle of an idol and AKB0048 prodded at the creepiness of it all while both sold their respective products and tie-ins, banking on the fact that audiences would resonate with one or two girls — or in the peculiar case of AKB0048, support them because of their real-life counterparts.

Meanwhile, Love Live! wants to charm you from the get-go, in the same vein of a hammy musical production. The latest iteration of the series, Love Live! Sunshine, is no different.

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Freyja Wion the First: Walkure and AKB0048

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In the wake of Macross Delta‘s spring debut a rush to identify its spiritual predecessor has cropped up. While a line of progression can be drawn from Super Dimension Fortress Macross‘s Lynn Minmay to Macross 7‘s Fire Bomber, it’s reframed a bit with the advent of Delta‘s Walkure: a highly-specialized military tactical unit. Song in Delta is unabashedly weaponized, not used as a surprisingly convenient source of confusion, or a reckless and unsolicited effort.

One of Macross creator Shoji Kawamori’s properties between Macross Frontier and Delta was AKB0048 — for all intents and purposes, a Macross series without variable fighters, solely focused on idol competition and wielding music as a weapon.

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The Musicbox Mechanism of Samurai Flamenco

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“And start to feel mortality surround me.

I close my eyes and think that I have found me.

But life inside the music box ain’t easy.

The mallets hit the gears are always turning.

And everyone inside the mechanism is yearning to get out.

And sing another melody completely”

– Regina Spektor, “Musicbox”

When speaking of Samurai Flamenco, there is a clear turning point that demarcates where the show aims to go. The series’ seventh episode – titled quite literally as “Change the World” – introduces Guillotine Gorilla and suddenly everything you knew about Samurai Flamenco changes. Your heartwarming, cuddly, and cute buddy-cop friendship becomes something else entirely, and you’re not quite sure what to do.

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A Me-Colored Sky: Aikatsu! and Artistic Inspiration

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Creativity springs from familiar and unlikely places. As an artist, of any medium, one can fluctuate between immediate compulsive reactions to life experiences in addition to falling back on a comfortable style or source of inspiration. In painting, and additionally while writing for this blog, there are times where I work on crafting the familiar, and other times where I see something and am suddenly compelled to produce something.

Aikatsu! is a series that assigns inspiration to each of its characters fairly neatly, while accounting for both of these sources. Main heroine Ichigo Hoshimiya is a perfect example of this. She carries with her the love and support of her mother, represented by a rice paddle from her mother’s bento shop that Ichigo often brandishes, along with her own love of food. Initially, Ichigo is influenced after attending a Mizuki Kanzaki concert, but later finds out that her mother was also an idol prior to opening the bento shop. This revelation allows her to move forward with her own idol career, now using her mother as an additional source of motivation.

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