Review 77: 5 Reasons Why You Should (Maybe) Watch Idol Project

idol

No, not that one

idol 2

That one.

Hello world! We at RishRaff Reviews have been brought out of our deep slumber once more, all because of a little OVA series called Idol Project.

Now, you may be wondering: Does this mean that Idol Project is this hidden masterpiece of anime, so influential that it made us finally get back to blogging?

No.

Summary: “Mimu Emilton is a cute fourteen-year-old who has come to the annual Starland Festival to become an idol, just like her role model, Yuri. It is the most celebrated event on a united Earth, and Yuri, now the President of Earth, has encouraged people to join the ranks of Excellent Idols. Unfortunately for Mimu, she can never seem to make it to her audition on time, as misadventure after misadventure lands her in situations (usually involving undergarment exposure, I might add) that she escapes with the help of the current Excellent Idols, whom she befriends. Just as she makes her place on the stage and begins her audition, though, an unknown group of aliens kidnaps her and the Excellent Idols. It is only the beginning of a wild interdimensional goose-chase that places Mimu in the position to save the world, if only she can believe in herself.” -MyAnimeList

You see, not too long ago, RishRaff and I were at a local DVD store. As referenced in our Anime Appliances blog, we tend to look for weird and ridiculous shows to force each other to watch while at places like this. Well, we saw Idol Project, and for whatever reason we decided to watch it all the way through.

To be clear, this is kind of a bad show. The plot teeters between cliche and nonsensical, the characters are extremely shallow, and the overwhelming ecchi elements present throughout make me feel worse the more I think about it. But still, it’s an interesting case, and we were pretty entertained watching it. So here are five totally serious reasons why you should maybe give this show a shot.

1. It Presents a Prime Opportunity to be a Hipster Idol Fan

Have you ever wanted to follow and show your devotion for an idol group, but are too darn hip to go for any of the actually popular (or even real) ones? Well look no further than Idol Project! Liking something before it was cool is so old hat, so imagine how important you’ll feel when you get to say “I liked something that was never cool”? While I can’t speak for its popularity when it came out in mid 90’s Japan, I feel that I can safely say that this show never gained any real traction internationally.

But what does an idol fan do? I honestly don’t know, and a quick Google search didn’t yield too many results… So I searched for fan art, AMVs, and other fan type stuff for this show. While I did find a few interesting examples, it’s certainly not too saturated, which means it’s the perfect environment to get creative and stand out!

But who should you focus the fan art on with so many characters? Well, we at RishRaff Reviews have a possible solution with our next reason:

2. The Soon to be Brewing Best Member Debates

That’s right, since this show really isn’t very popular (at least not today), this is a prime opportunity to let your voice be heard in discussing which member of this Idol Group is the best.

Idol Project has a diverse list of characters. Do they have a lot of depth and development? No. Is there fanservice? Again, yes…

But if you can look past that (and I honestly understand if you don’t want to), chances are that you’ll like at least one of them. I won’t count Yuri in this debate, since being characterized as a perfect Idol and President of the World is being slightly OP in my book. With that being said, I now declare this war open!

Choose Your Fighter:

Mimu Emilton

f_mimu

Motto: Dream!

The main character type. Everyone loves an underdog that is ultimately revealed to have way more power than anyone could have anticipated right?

Layla B. Simmons

f_layla

Motto: Guts!

Layla is armed with a guitar and not one, not two, but THREE rock music references in her name (at least as far as I can tell). Bonus points if you can guess all three.

Extra Kaidou

f_extra

Motto: Dignity!

The foil to Layla, and the glamorous type. Plays a mean piano, but not before having a glass of orange juice (I’m doing a pretty bad job at selling these characters, aren’t I?)

Corvette Hiyards

f_corbet

Motto: Rhythm!

Corvette is a stage dancer in waitress attire, and is in a lot of the more ecchi scenes. According to the fansite for this show (and shoutout to that site and Wikipedia for having a lot of this information), her hobby is to collect trays and she loves turkey sandwiches. The more you know I suppose.

Ruka Essenpolka

f_ruka

Motto: Smile!

The loli in the group, because you knew they had to check this box… She does have plenty of funny moments though.

Palpurin

f_palpu

Motto: Relax!

The outgoing action type, and one of the more memorable of the bunch in my opinion. Look for her in the upcoming Street Fighter 6, but I’m still holding onto hope that she’ll be announced for the new Smash Bros.

Shion

shion.gif

Motto: Heart!

The super cool ninja idol. Not really sure what else to say…

So yeah, there are your choices. For my vote, while I appreciate the triple music reference with Layla, I’ll say Shion, because ninjas are cool I guess…

What does RishRaff think though? Well, his vote is actually for Layla, but I’ll let him explain why when we get to his review.

So there’s the first two votes in this soon to be heated battle! B-Ro hasn’t seen Idol Project yet, but I’ll add his vote if he does.

3. It is Prime Screenshot Territory

Do you like anime? Do you like taking screenshots of weird, out of context moments in anime and sending them to your friends? Then boy do I have a show for you!

Idol Project is pretty off the wall crazy. While I have certainly seen stranger shows, there were quite a few bizarre moments that I just had to screenshot. Here is a sample of them from the first two episodes alone:

10-billion.png

happiness

im a piano

tropical

I assure you that I’m only scraping the surface here. This show is a great way to confuse your friends and loved ones in the near future!

4. Some of the Jokes are Actually Funny?

Surprised? I was too. Despite all of the baggage attached to this show, it was at least self-aware, and that led to some pretty funny moments. There was a gag at the end of the first episode that played on the “hopeful rising star finally gets the chance to prove herself and show her hidden talent” moment in a way that was genuinely hilarious. There were a few other lines of dialogue that gave me a good chuckle and a few instances of slapstick humor that didn’t completely revolve around fanservice. The two screenshots below are from the same scene, where other Idol wannabes in the contest are introduced. The way these contestants are introduced seems to show a self-awareness to the superficiality of Idol Culture and show business as a whole. Is that giving them too much credit? It probably is.

kids.png

ai.png

However, a lot of the heavy fanservice doesn’t have that same level of success in self-awareness. While there are shows like Monster Musume that are so over the top with their fanservice that it was humorous (in my subjective opinion), Idol Project just felt awkward to watch for a lot of the runtime. Just wanted to clear that up.

5. It’s an Interesting Throwback to the 90’s

The 90’s certainly seemed like an interesting time for anime. Of course, we have a lot of classics from that time that people still talk about today, but what about the random shows that have seemingly been forgotten? Idol Project is an interesting example of what non-classic 90’s anime was like, though it’d be foolish to say that it’s an accurate representation of that era of anime as a whole.

Idol Project reminds me a lot of another anime from the 90’s, that being Di Gi Charat (though it should be mentioned that Idol Project came first). Like Di Gi, Idol Project has a very interesting style that somehow feels nostalgic despite me never seeing it as a kid. Perhaps it’s the older animation, which is surprisingly good. I love the somewhat washed out aesthetic, the rays of light, the interesting structures in the backgrounds, and the way certain colors really pop. Check out how dream-like the screenshot below is, how cool the tower and zeppelins look (as well as that crescent moon), and how light and calming the sky is in the background.

background.png

And now see how the sky pops in this second shot, the gorgeously colored sea, and how cool that multi-headed turtle structure is. It’s honestly really beautiful to look at.

bananaan.png

(Just ignore the text, it’s hard to explain)

So, did I convince you to watch it yet? No?

Well, let’s see what RishRaff thought of Idol Project.

RishRaff’s Take:

Greetings everyone! RishRaff here!

Idol Project was unlike any anime I had previously experienced. Its over the top randomness made it feel in the same vein as FLCL or Di Gi Charat, but without the underlying seriousness of the former or absolute surrealism of the latter. This was the first “off the wall” anime I actually enjoyed. There are a few things I credit that to. First off, the animation, while not the best, does hold up fairly decently and is a very classically 90’s anime style. This also translates over to the character design, despite them being quite cliche in general (at least humans), I still thought they were nice to look at. He animation in general is also very colorful, which I liked. The humor was probably the best part, as it was varied enough in style and delivery to elicit some genuine laughter. There is a good mix of slapstick, references, word play and just general weirdness to make you laugh at least once.

Despite my enjoyment of it, Idol Project is far from flawless. As I say with every “weird anime” this show is definitely not for everyone. The overarching plot makes very little sense, and episodes are only tied together by the last five minutes of action for each episode. Otherwise, each episode is relatively self contained. The character development is about equivalent to that of your standard 13 episode harem series. However, since this is only 4 episodes, it is significantly more bearable. The most confusing thing about the show is whether it is trying to promote or criticize the idol culture of Japan. This is especially true of the final episode, though I won’t give any spoilers. It very easy to interpret the plot both ways and the rest of the series does not clear up what the correct interpretation should be.

Anyway, I suppose I should state my favorite idol. While Mimu was my favorite character, she was not really an idol so I’m not counting her. Also her idol philosophy of “dream” was kind of dumb and cliched. That being said, my favorite idol had the philosophy of “guts,” which is arguably even more stupid. Other than that, I think Layla was probably the best idol. She received more character development and focus than everyone else, bar Mimu. This made her easier to watch and enjoy her interactions. Since she was minimally more complex as well, I enjoyed her responses to many of the odd situations, in which she generally reacted the most appropriately. Other than her levelheadedness, since she seemed the most rock-n-roll/metal and that would be my preferred genre to listen to, Layla also had the musical style going for her.

(LowKev Here: I’m glad RishRaff brought up the last episode, because it is a pretty interesting one. Without spoiling too much either, it’s probably one of the most convoluted ways I’ve ever seen the simple moral of “just be yourself” play out.)

Conclusions

Despite a lot of that list being sarcastic, Idol Project actually has a few things going for it. I still wouldn’t call it a great show, but it’s not a total loss, and I didn’t feel like I wasted my time with it.

When I watch/listen to/play something new, I tend to try and find something I like about it (with a few exceptions, of course). It’s easy to nitpick things into oblivion, but looking for at least one positive helps me better understand what I look for in types of media and art, and makes me try to see what a piece of work is saying or going for. This certainly wasn’t a super in-depth analysis, but it was still interesting to look at a show I would have dropped otherwise and find something good in it.

This still gets a 5.5/10 from me though.

Thanks for reading! This is certainly a departure from our previous reviews (if you could even call this a review). I didn’t want to steal RishRaff’s review format, and felt like doing something fun. So did I convince you to watch this strange show? If you have seen it, what do you think? I’d love to hear from you.

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