Edit: Temporary note, as I changed the layout of my blog, the post’s layout ended up getting screwed up, even though I tested it beforehand. Please be patient until I have the time to fix it.
Everyone and their cat knows how Shinkai Makoto’s Your Name revolutionized anime cinema in 2016, breaking through Spirited Away‘s records. What few knows however, is that another movie made anime history the same year: KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm.
As you may know, the KING OF PRISM movies are spin-offs of the Pretty Rhythm franchise. The first movie, KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm (shortened as Kinpri) was initially released in 14 theaters on January 9th 2016. Three weeks after release, it was only screening in 9 cinemas, and the staff was preparing for the worst. However, the movie ended up earning more than 800 million yen, and by May 2016 it was in over 100 cinemas across Japan. All thanks to dedicated fans’ word to mouth and the movie’s “Cheer Screenings” (応援上映 in Japanese), screenings where you can come in cosplay, use glowsticks, scream and sing along during the movie, or dub lines during subtitled scenes specifically made for it. The movie had a nine months run in cinemas, and its final screening was at Shinjuku Wald 9, on September 2nd 2016, even though the movie was already out on DVD/BD since June 17th. KING OF PRISM was a huge success in South Korea as well. The first movie released there on August 11th 2016, and broke the record of longest screening period for an anime film, a record previously held by Love Live! The School Idol Movie!
The sequel movie, KING OF PRISM -PRIDE the HERO-, ended up releasing simultaneously in Japan and South Korea on June 10th 2017.
However, the Kinpri movies has a hidden history unrecorded even on Japanese anime sites. In the first place, how did a kids franchise spawn movies geared towards adults? Why are the movies gayer than actual Boys Love anime? Why does what seems to be a Yuri on Ice! ripoff with Shinji and Kaworu clones is a big enough deal to be screened at Los Angeles Anime Film Festival???
Note: While similar, I’ve added a lot of things compared to the French version of this article I published back in May. This is basically the XX+ Reloaded Definitive edition of the “Pretty Series History”.
An introduction to Pretty Rhythm
First of all, I should get this out of the way: Pretty Rhythm is completely unrelated to Toei’s Pretty Cure and with no relation whatsoever. The Pretty Rhythm franchise started as an arcade game by Takara Tomy and SynSophia. The 1st version, Pretty Rhythm Mini Skirt, launched on July 15th 2010. It’s a rhythm game for little girls. The characters in it are called Prism Stars, and perform Prism Shows: a sport which merges together singing, dancing, fashion, ice-skating and Prism Jumps, basically super moves. As you play the game, you get Prism Stones, heart-shaped collectibles stones, each containing data for a piece of cloth or accessory, allowing you to customize your character. You can save your progress with a card.
Pretty Rhythm’s arcade game is heavily inspired from another arcade game by Sega: Oshare Majou Love and Berry, which released in 2004. Just like Pretty Rhythm, it was a rhythm game where you could fashion your characters. Oshamajo was extremely popular and even had shops IRL selling clothes and fashion accessories for girls. Pretty Rhythm inspired itself from this as well, and there are multiple Prism Stone shops in Japan selling clothes and goodies related to the franchise. Oshamajo was even more popular than Pretty Cure at some point in 2005-2006. Toei’s Washio Takashi talks about it in an article dedicated to Pretty Cure, in AERA issue no.14 (March 26th 2018), which was translated by @Deem939.
Oshamajo was referenced in anime as well, like with Kanbaru in episode 14 of Bakemonogatari.
On April 9th 2011, the first anime adaptation begins: Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream (shortened as AD). It’s animated by Tatsunoko Production, in collaboration with Dong Woo Animation, a South Korean studio.
Spanning 51 episodes, the anime stars Aira (main character, voiced by Asumi Kana), Rizumu (at the right, voiced by Hara Sayuri) and Mion (at the left, voiced by Enoki Azusa). The story follows their progress as they aim for the Prism Queen Cup, a yearly tournament whose winner is recognized as Prism Queen, the best Prism Star.
All three of them end up in a Prism Star agency led by Kyoko (voiced by Hayamizu Risa) and Jun (voiced by Shiba Susumu). The same agency also holds boys unit called Callings. They’re very different from the girls, as they’re both Prism Stars and idols.
We’ve got Shou (voiced by Kondo Takashi) who is the unit’s leader and also a women fashion’s designer for Prism Stone, as the shop also appears in the anime. Then there’s Hibiki (voiced by KENN) and Wataru (Okamoto Nobuhiko).
Our heroines will also meet rivals: Kaname (Itou Kanae), and the two girls we can see with Rizumu on the Pretty Rhythm Mini Skirt logo: Serena (the blonde one, voiced by Yonezawa Madoka) and Kanon (Akesaka Satomi). Rizumu, Serena and Kanon were the only characters already present in Mini Skirt. Back then Rizumu was the main character and was voiced by Itou Kanae.
The first thing you’ll notice with Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream is how the animation quality is quite mediocre. Most notably, every single background or non-important character is represented as a silhouette, even if they’re actually voiced:
You may have noticed by now, but the original character designer of AD is Watanabe Akio, except for Rizumu, Serena and Kanon as they already existed in the first version of the game. As I like his drawing style as a fan of Bakemonogatari, this is part of why I started watching Aurora Dream in 2011, even though I’m actually not into idol anime. And it was one of the best decisions in my life, as in fact, after a few episodes, you realize Pretty Rhythm isn’t a true idol anime, but a sports shoujo anime straight out of the ’80s. Pretty Rhythm‘s got strong heroines, hot-blooded fights and romance. It’s a huge mix of classic shoujo titles like Glass no Kamen, Ace wo Nerae! or Attacker You!. Every season is masterfully handled, and while it follows the typical patterns and story developments of these works, it adds its own spice in order to surprise watchers accustomed to the genre, like the importance given to adult characters.
Aurora Dream‘s second part introduces Kei, a character clearly inspired both in design and story by Glass no Kamen‘s Tsukikage Chigusa.
Pretty Rhythm anime as a whole deals with many themes unexpected of most anime: parental abandonment, suicide, how fictional heroes always resort to violence, whether sports should be purely treated as a form of entertainment or not, the relationship between Japanese and Koreans, plagiarism, the lack of originality in current Japanese pop-culture, or the idol industry. Keep in mind everything is always dealt with in a subtle way, in order to avoid scarring for life the kids watching.
The Pretty Rhythm anime also perfectly mixes comedy and serious moments together, such as works like Slayers or Full Metal Panic!. Jun speaks most of the time in poems, and is a reference to Sailor Moon‘s Tuxedo Kaman, played both straight and in a parodic way. He ends up becoming the best Tuxedo Kamen clone I know. Serena and Kanon form a Manzai duo “Serenon”, and will make even Manzai haters laughy. The anime also includes many references to other classics such as Versailles no Bara, Saint Seiya or Hokuto no Ken, or current pop culture icons like AKB48. Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream ended up being my favorite anime of 2011-2012 because of these reasons, along with another big one:
Just with the arcade games, the anime has the characters doing Prism Shows. In AD, male characters’ Prism Shows are in 2D, while female characters’ Prism Shows scenes use 3DCG. The CG’s quality in AD isn’t great and looks jarring, but has a main asset, the Prism Jumps which the characters do.
I honestly think Prism Jumps are among the coolest things ever, only rivaled by things like the coolest attacks in Super Robot Taisen games or Persona 5‘s stylishness.
Hibiki can jump through the sun because ‘”not even the sun can melt his feelings”, and the point when Pretty Rhythm outEvangelion’ed Evangelion.
Prism Jumps go beyond a simple mix of peculiar, crazy, ridicule and cool. Terms that all describe very well one’s feelings when seeing the “reactions” in Yakittate! Japan. (Or Shokugeki no Soma if you’re too young)
Prism Jumps go beyond the stage where things try so much to impress they in turn leave you completely unfazed. This is exactly how I feel when watching some of the techniques in Inazuma Eleven. (I apologize to every Inaele fan who may read this, especially Era** and Maria****)
Prism Jumps manage to reach a new realm of comedy, cheesy, and yet genuinely cool and impressive. All the while staying 100% serious, as they’re always linked someway to the story and characters’ developments. If you love this kind of over-the-top things, like Segata Sanshiro, Prince of Tennis‘ “Tezuka Killed The Dinosaurs”, Garupan or Symphogear, you ain’t seen nothing yet before seeing Prism Jumps.
At first, most Prism Jumps are tame and include things like making fruits, chocolates or meteorites appear, but as the story goes on they get crazier and crazier. I could give some examples, but one of the most enjoyable things in Pretty Rhythm is discovering a new Prism Jump, thinking they’ll never be able to exceed it, and be in awe when they actually do, every single time.
As a quick side note, Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream is also the anime marking the debut of Uesaka Sumire. She voiced a random girl appearing in episode 25, along with Jenya, a russian girl who sometimes does seiyuu work. If you’re a fan of Ueasaka Sumire, Pretty Rhythm is a must watch.
Pretty Rhythm also has Mahou Shoujo influences in it, with the characters having a short transformation sequence before their Prism Shows. They need to access a parallel world to do so, called the Prism World, and give out their Prism Stones containing their clothes to Akaii Meganee (voiced by Itou Kanae).
Akaii Meganee is a character present in all Pretty Rhythm related anime so far. She always has a new design but keeps her red glasses namesake. Pretty Rhythm is also a must-watch if you’re a fan of Itou Kanae.
The core of the team in charge of Pretty Rhythm‘s 3DCG is made of Pretty Rhythm and Kinpri‘s director Hishida Masakazu, the CG director Otobe Yoshihiro and last but not least Kyogoku Takahiko, who later became the director of the first two anime seasons of Love Live!. Otobe and Kyogoku first met when working together on the Love Live! CG music videos produced before the first anime. Pretty Rhythm wouldn’t exist without Love Live, and Love Live wouldn’t exist without Pretty Rhythm. The same could be said for Houseki no Kuni‘s CG anime adaptation, which was directed by Kyogoku Takahiko, who learned these amazing CG direction skills thanks to Pretty Rhythm. In fact, he was even allowed to reuse some CG assets from Pretty Rhythm in Love Live!, like the CG white feathers in season 2’s ending animation.
Hishida, Otobe and Kyogoku are also in charge of creating new Prism Jumps, along with Katou Daisuke, the SynSophia producer of the Pretty Rhythm related arcade games, as some of the jumps first appeared in the games. Some of the Prism Jumps’ names or concepts also comes from the scenarists, to go with the story developments, but also from staff completely unrelated to the CG or writing teams.
This brings us to one of the biggest reasons behind Pretty Rhythm’s strength and why it is such a masterpiece: when working on it, Hishida Masakazu and the team of scenarists would constantly discuss ideas or even have heated debates among themselves. This is something completely different from the usual anime making method, where the staff simply follows the director’s orders without a real opinion exchange. Moreover, the old-school feeling permeating Pretty Rhythm comes from the fact Hishida Masakazu and Iuchi Shuji, one of the scriptwriters, wanted to make Pretty Rhythm into “an old-school drama that no one makes any more”, and “an anime that aims and speaks to everyone, not only children.” Hishida often said on Twitter how he hates the fact that many anime fans, and many anime industry professionals as well, look down on children anime and consider them as “ads to sell toys”. When writing Pretty Rhythm‘s scenario, the staff never ever told themselves they shouldn’t include certain elements in case children wouldn’t get them, and instead thought it’s fine if they get them later, like when thinking back about it or watching the anime again when older.
Before joining Tatsunoko, Hishida Masakazu started his animation career at Sunrise, and worked on Mashin Eiyuuden Wataru, which was directed by Iuchi Shuji. Hishida Masakazu considers Iuchi Shuji as one of his masters. And as both of them worked on Gundam anime under Tomino Yoshiyuki, they both consider him as their master as well. (Many anime professionals consider Tomino that way, needless to say)
In the foreground, Hishida Masakazu, and Tomino Yoshiyuki in red, during a dubbing session for Gundam G no Reconguista. Hishida was co-director of G-Reco episode 13 with Tomino.
Hishida and Iuchi worked together on many anime, often with either one of them holding the position of director, until the Pretty Rhythm anime seasons from 2011 to 2014. As such, Pretty Rhythm and Kinpri contain many references to these anime series, mainly Mashin Eiyuuden Wataru, Onmyou Taisenki and Gekito! Crush Gear Turbo.
Another writer of Pretty Rhythm, Akao Deko, also worked on Wataru, though in a very different way. She was the singer of some of its opening songs, under her real name Mieno Hitomi.
Unfortunately, Iuchi Shuji passed away at 66 on December 2016. An homage ceremony reserved to anime professionals was held on February 25th 2017. Many of his co-workers attended. The photo above is from Yamamoto Yusuke’s twitter, director of Keroro Gunsou, one of the many Sunrise anime Iuchi worked on.
(This is speculation on my part, but I strongly believe the inclusion of Wataru in the 2018 Super Robot Taisen game, Super Robot Taisen X, was partly decided as an homage to Iuchi Shuji. SRT producer Terada Takanobu said many times in the past how it’s a series many fans wanted in the game and yet it never made the cut. Wataru plays a heavy role in the story too, and the game’s promotion heavily emphasized Wataru in its commercials and trailers.)
Pretty Rhythm‘s second season, Pretty Rhythm Dear My Future (DMF) started on April 7th 2012, immediately after Aurora Dream ended. The series has the same staff. Spanning 51 episodes, the story takes places three years after AD’s ending. The heroines of Aurora Dream are now young adults, acting as mentors for the new heroines in DMF.
The first original idea of DMF is how these new heroines share the same names as the members of real-life idol groups Prizmmy☆ and PURETTY. These groups were respectively created by Avex and DSP Media. At the end of every Pretty Rhythm episode, there are real-life segments with the “real” Prizmmy☆ girls. When AD was airing, we could see them training until their group’s debut.
The second, big original idea of DMF is how PURETTY was a sister group of KARA, a well known South Korean group. As such, all the PURETTY characters in the anime are South Korean.
Note: only the first names and nationalities of the anime characters are shared with the real girls. Their age or personalities have nothing in common.
We’ve got many characters in DMF. First off is Prizmmy☆ on the bottom row, with from left to right:
Karin (voiced by Tsuda Minami)
Mia (main character, Ookubo Rumi)
PURETTY on the middle row, with from left to right:
So Min (Miyake Marie)
Shi Yoon (Kim Hyangri)
Hye In (main character with Mia, Itou Kanae)
Chae Kyoung (Akesaka Satomi)
Jae Eun (Yonezawa Madoka)
Lastly, you can see Mion, Aira and Rizumu at the top.
Multiple characters in DMF share the same seiyuu:
Serena and Jae Eun are both voiced by Yonezawa Madoka.
Kanon and Chae Kyoung by Akesaka Satomi.
Akaii Meganee, Kaname and Hye In are all voiced by Itou Kanae.
While all the South Korean characters speak Japanese, DMF might be the only anime I know of where multiple main characters are from South Korea and where it’s an important detail. At the same time, the show is very careful with how it handles them and avoids any case of stereotypical racism.
Pretty Rhythm Dear My Future is an extremely ambitious anime series, with a big sized cast, as every main character from AD is still present. The PURETTY girls aren’t the only South Korean characters either. There are even side characters from AD who get promoted to main characters playing big roles in the story, like Aira’s little brother Itsuki.
DMF is also the season with the slowest start. Along with the first Kinpri movie, it’s the Pretty Rhythm anime which encountered the most problems during its production. Long story short, while the PURETTY girls are immediately introduced during the first episodes of the anime, the staff would have rather waited until the second cour of the anime, to make it so the cast is less bloated at the start. This wasn’t possible however as the anime needed to advertise the real-life PURETTY group as fast as possible.
The second cour of DMF was also supposed to take place in South Korea, but for various reasons, it couldn’t be possible.
Much like AD, the animation quality is below average at the start with heavy use of SD characters. However, as DMF is normally watched after AD, one would know how extremely better AD gets in every aspect, and that it would be the same case with DMF. DMF also had very talented staff working on it, like Nabeshin who storyboarded around 1/3 of the episodes.
Shou, Aira and Yun Su (voiced by Hatano Wataru), a fashion designer from Korea who becomes Shou’s rival.
As a whole, the season is similar to AD, with an excellent story and high-level comedy. Some returning AD characters like Kyouko may seem badly handled at first, but all their actions have very good justifications. DMF answers the unsolved mysteries of AD and manages to bring a satisfactory conclusion to all characters. DMF also unleashes some mind-blowing twists and very original developments for anime, like how one of the AD heroines gets married, long before the anime’s end. Speaking of which, the finale is one of the best endings I know all fiction considered, and was mostly written by Tsubota Fumi.
Tsubota Fumi is a scriptwriter who studied at the Nihon University College of Art. After graduating, she formed in 2002 a women exclusive theater troupe with her ex-classmates, named KuukanZerii, and is in charge of writing all of the troupe’s scripts.
In 2008, she starts writing for TV Dramas and anime, and she joins Pretty Rhythm’s staff right from the start, with Aurora Dream in 2011.
Tsubota Fumi is currently the main scriptwriter on Hugtto! Precure, which many Japanese fans considers the best Purikyua season in years. Needless to say, scriptwriters aren’t the sole decision makers of an anime’s story, and the credit doesn’t solely belong to her. But I’m sure Tsubota Fumi will be even more recognized as time goes on. Pretty Rhythm director Hishida Masakazu also worked on episode 8 of Hugtto! Precure, and I think he might work on it again before it concludes.
As you may have guessed now, Pretty Rhythm Dear My Future is the season which deals with Japanese-Korean relationships. Again, everything is done in a subtle way, like with the third opening song, which includes lyrics such as “Everyone on Earth is from the same family”. Don’t expect the characters to suddenly criticize the Japanese government. Though this is actually what Director Hishida once did when Pretty Rhythm ended and he tweeted tons of exclusive info on the series. He said the Japanese government should stop always putting oil on the fire when it comes to South Korea, and that he regrets the only thing he can do is make anime where Japanese and South Koreans get along. The Korean dub version of Pretty Rhythm Dear My Future is also fully officially available on Youtube, but is missing the opening and ending animations.
In my case, while I like all of them and consider them all among the best art pieces of all time, Dear My Future is my favorite Pretty Rhythm season by far. Sadly, it’s also the least popular Pretty Rhythm season by far. Because of its massive cast of character, and thus underdeveloped characters according to some. Because of its limited animation at times and extremely laborious start on a first watch. And lastly, simply because it’s the least accessible season. You can’t expect to get anything unless you’ve watched all of Aurora Dream first.
Dear My Future is also the season with the least fanart. The Dear My Future characters are the only one in the franchise who didn’t have defined birthdays, and so there wasn’t any fanart boost on Twitter on birthdays. This finally changed in August 2018, as official birthday dates for the Prizmmy girls were shared. The PURETTY girls sadly remain birthday-less.
The third season of Pretty Rhythm, Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live (RL) started on April 6th 2013, right after DMF.
It still has the same staff as the previous two seasons, with a few exceptions. Akao Deko stepped down as a scriptwriter and now only handles song lyrics. The original character designer switched from Watanabe Akio to Okama. However, the male main characters have a different original character designer: Matsuura Mai, an animator who mostly worked on JC Staff produced anime in the past. This is her first time handling this position. She’s also in charge of the anime’s global chara design.
The events of Rainbow Live take place in a different universe than AD and DMF, with completely new characters. While director Hishida himself said in 2013 it’s fine to start watching Pretty Rhythm with Rainbow Live, having seen AD and DMF before helps a lot to understand some plot points, especially the multiverse aspect of the franchise which is introduced here. RL taking place in the same multiverse encompassing the previous seasons, and thousands of years after DMF if you take this multiverse’s timeline.
Rainbow Live‘s story makes us follows multiple groups of characters:
From left to right, An (voiced by Serizawa Yuu), Naru (main character, Kato Emiri) and Ito (Mikako Komatsu), three girls who end up working together at a Prism Stone Shop. They also need to take care of Rinne (on top, Sakura Ayane), a mysterious girl who lost her emotions and memories.
From left to right: Otoha (Gotou Saori), Bell (main character with Naru, Tomato Haruka) and Wakana (Uchida Maaya), three girls attending an elite Prism Star school named Edel Rose.
Kouji (voiced by Kakihare Tetsuya), a boy who wishes to become a professional composer, spending most his time alone playing guitar or making songs for the 3 girls working at Prism Stone. He’s also an excellent cook.
Hiro (Maeno Tomoaki) a boy who attends Edel Rose. He’s the school’s best student, and works both as an idol and as a Prism Star. For some unknown reason, he’s also obsessed with Kouji like a yandere. He can be considered as the third main character after Naru and Bell, and many fans of the franchise consider him as one of the best anime characters ever.
Kazuki (Masuda Toshiki), Kouji’s childhood friend. He does Street Style Prism Shows. Unlike the normal, “Academy” style, Street Style Prism Stars do Prism Shows freely and anywhere, unbound by rules, and don’t actively participate in tournaments. While Prism Shows Battles between two Prism Stars exist in both styles, those who do Street Style have much more intense and direct Prism Show Battles.
Lastly, we have multiple adult main characters:
Juné (voiced by Shishido Rumi), the current Prism Queen (it’s officially spelled June but I never cared about official spellings, and using June would make people think it’s pronounced like the month)
DJ COO (Morikubo Showtaro) who works at Prism Stone with Naru, An, Ito and Rinne.
Jin (Miki Shinichiro) the director of Edel Rose, the school which Bell, Wakana, Otoha and Hiro attend.
Hijiri(Toshihiko Seki), the president of the Prism Show Association, the organization taking care of Prism Show tournaments and the promotion of Prism Shows in general.
Like the first two seasons, Rainbow Live is 51 episodes, its story spans over a year and the heroines end up participating in the Prism Queen Cup, which is held every 4 years in the Rainbow Live universe. (Just like the Olympics, as director Hishida is a huge fan of the Olympics).
Rainbow Live is a very different season compared to the first two in all aspects. Serious themes are still touched upon in the story, but in a much more direct way, with a few scenes so powerful it can be hard to watch. As such, while comedy is still there, the season has fewer instances of full-throttle zaniness than the first two seasons, especially during the first half, where basically every character hates each other. There are however some serious scenes voluntarily directed in overly dramatic ways, for those who can detect this kind of humor to enjoy. Many scenes with Hiro are like that, giving the season a self-admitted afternoon drama, telenovela side to it.
Rainbow Live is also the most popular season among the three and the most popular entry point in the franchise along with the first Kinpri movie. A lot of things happen right away in its first cour, keeping watchers engaged, and the animation quality is good right from the start of the show. There’s also many popular veteran seiyuu in the show compared to the first two seasons, except for Serizawa Yuu, part of the idol group i☆Ris, as An was her anime voicing debut. Almost every seiyuu who voiced a main character in the first two seasons are present in Rainbow Live as well, mostly voicing the main characters’ parents. The CG sequences for the Prism Shows were greatly upgraded, with much better 3D models that almost look like 2D at times. Some of the Prism Shows in Rainbow Live use motion capture too, a method that will be used for every single CG performance later in the franchise, but I’ll get back to that later. Seeing the first episode of Rainbow Live in April 2013 was the first time in my life I thought CG in an anime looked absolutely beautiful.
The final difference between Rainbow Live and the previous seasons is the importance given to the male characters. While they already had important parts in the story of AD and DMF, the boys in Rainbow Live are extremely important.
Starting Rainbow Live, male characters’ Prism Shows are in 3DCG as well, and a Prism King Cup also exists in Rainbow Live‘s universe, held every four years. Jin being the current Prism King.
Rainbow Live also has a new Mahou Shoujo-like transformation sequences for its characters, both male and female.
Another important point is how Prizmmy☆, since their debut, handles most of the anime’s opening and ending songs. And most of these songs are covers of songs by TRF, a group made by Komuro Tetsuya in 1992 and for which he composed every song.
Rainbow Live‘s DJ COO is, in fact, an homage to TRF member DJ KOO. TRF’s songs BOY MEETS GIRL, EZ DO DANCE and CRAZY GONNA CRAZY are used as Rainbow Live’s first, second and third opening songs respectively.
As a side note, Rinne wasn’t designed by Okama, and initially already appeared in the game Pretty Rhythm My☆Deco Rainbow Wedding, released for 3DS on March 20th 2013, before Rainbow Live started. This is Rinne’s early design draft, which was shown during the Pretty Museum event in 2018. As such, at first, the anime staff didn’t know much what to do with her. Rainbow Live had very few parts of its plot planned from the start, with Tsubota Fumi mostly handling the Edel Rose’s girls story, and Iuchi Shuji mostly handling the Prism Stone’s girls story. One of the only things already decided from the start is the fact that a certain character would start going out with another certain character, not naming them to avoid spoiling.
Right after Rainbow Live ended, a fourth Pretty Rhythm season started on April 5th 2014, titled Pretty Rhythm All Star Selection (PRASS). Lasting 13 episodes, this is in fact not a “real” new season but re-airs of episodes from all three seasons. The beginning and end of each episode, however, has new short segments, with the main heroine of each season, Aira, Mia and Naru, represented in SD format and chatting together, along with Laala (pink twintails), the main character of PriPara. PriPara (made by shortening “Prism Paradise”), is Pretty Rhythm’s spiritual successor. PriPara‘s anime and arcade game launched in July 2014, after All Star Selection finished airing. Most of the animation staff moved on to work on the PriPara anime, the CG team is the same most notably, but Hishida Masakazu isn’t director anymore. I’ll explain more about PriPara further below.
And finally, we’ve got KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm, officially shortened as Kinpri, announced on October 3rd 2015, and released in Japanese theaters on January 11th 2016. Kinpri‘s story starts one year and a half after Rainbow Live‘s end and focuses on the male characters.
Kinpri‘s concept is very similar to Dear My Future. After the events of Rainbow Live, Kouji, Hiro, and Kazuki are now students at Edel Rose, with Hijiri as the school’s new director. We follow them as they train for the Prism King Cup, while acting as mentors to new characters who attend Edel Rose and live in its dorms:
Yukinojo (voiced by Saitou Soma), born in a family of Kabuki actors. He plays female characters in Kabuki.
Taiga (Hatanaka Tasuku) a childhood friend of Kazuki who greatly admires him and does Street Style Prism Shows as well. He’s extremely shy around girls.
Kakeru (Yashiro Taku) the eldest son of a giant multinational corporation. He’s supposed to inherit it but some of its executives aren’t seeing it that way.
Minato (Igarashi Masashi). Everyone gathers to eat together when he’s on cooking duty in the dorms. He learns his recipes from Kouji.
Yu (Uchida Yuuma), Ito’s little brother. Just like Kouji, he wants to become a professional composer. He can be quite overconfident, and calls himself “Zeus”.
Shin (Terashima Junta). The first Kinpri movie is mostly told from his point of view. He decides to enroll in Edel Rose after witnessing for the first time a Prism Show live. We also have Jin, who returns as the main antagonist and now leads a new school named Schwarz Rose.
Two Schwarz Rose students are main characters as well. At the left, Louis (voiced by Shouta Aoi), a mysterious boy who seems to know Shin. At the right, Alexander (voiced by Takeuchi Shunsuke), nicknamed “Alec”, he performs Street Style Prism Shows like Kazuki and Taiga.
KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm is definitely one of the best movies you’ll see in your life, with some really iconic scenes and one of the craziest Prism Show Battle in all of Pretty Rhythm. Objectively speaking however, it’s quite a lackluster movie. While the movie lasts 50 minutes, around 10 minutes of flashbacks from Rainbow Live are included. The movie’s story is extremely rushed, and most of the new characters only have a handful of lines. Some of the character information I’ve written above is in fact not even told in the movie itself but comes from their descriptions on the official website. Except for Shin and Alec, none of the new characters has a Prism Show scene as well. Lastly, the movie is titled KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm, but actually ends before the Prism King Cup happens. In the end, it feels like everything is only a prologue for something bigger. And yet it’s so rushed you’ll get the impression to have seen 13 episodes condensed into one movie, and that’s not entirely wrong. But I will soon enough talk about the movie’s production.
And then we have KING OF PRISM -PRIDE the HERO-,(shortened as Kinpra or Kinpri 2) the second movie which was released on June 10th 2017 in Japan and South Korea simultaneously. It continues the story from the first movie and shows the Prism King Cup. In my case, it’s the best anime movie I’ve ever seen, exceeding all my expectations. With much higher production values thanks to the explosive success of the first movie, it is a culmination of every Pretty Rhythm related work that came before it. As such there are many references and subplots one wouldn’t get if they haven’t seen all these things, but the movie is still easily understandable. Except for the Shin Louis subplot, which is presented in a mysterious way and unexplained on purpose, so don’t worry about not getting it. The director had already announced it would be that way before the movie released.
Now that you know what the Pretty Rhythm franchise is about, we can move on now.
Are the targeted audiences of Pretty Rhythm and Kinpri truly different?
Let’s recapitulate. Strictly business-wise speaking, Pretty Rhythm targets little girls from elementary to middle school, while KING OF PRISM targets older people, especially people into male idols anime and Boys Love anime. There are multiple reasons for this.
First off, it’s simply because a sequel of Rainbow Live focusing on its male characters fits in perfectly with its story. This is something that sadly cannot be explained without spoiling so here goes: One of the biggest themes in Pretty Rhythm is young people forgiving adults for the mistakes they did in the past. In all three Pretty Rhythm seasons, it always turns out that there’s a secret “true” main character among the adult characters, around which everything revolves. In Aurora Dream and Dear My Future, it was a woman and her fate was tied-in with the female main characters. However, in Rainbow Live, the “true” main characters are the male adults Hijiri and Jin, and are linked to the boy characters. As such, it’s important to realize Kinpri is a “true” sequel to Rainbow Live, is part of Pretty Rhythm and not a simple “spinoff”, even if the staff often use “spinoff” themselves. It reflects how director Hishida and the staff always wanted to make Pretty Rhythm/Kinpri into an anime “for everyone” instead of children/male idols and BL fans. It’s important to note though that some elements similar to BL were already present in all of Pretty Rhythm before Kinpri.
The second reason is PriPara‘s launch in July 2014. A hypothetical sequel to Rainbow Live couldn’t be for children as well, or both would compete against each other. Even more so as Kinpri itself was green-lighted much later after PriPara started, and Pretty Rhythm was supposed to stay dead forever with Rainbow Live‘s end. Even if the final episode of Rainbow Live has a cliffhanger-like scene with Jin, no sequel was actually planned at the time.
Before the success of the 1st Kinpri movie, the Pretty Rhythm franchise was never truly popular. Be it the arcade game, the CDs, the goodies, or everything. The staff themselves said that as well.
LISP, a group with the seiyuu of the 3 heroines in Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream: Aira/Asumi Kana, Rizumu/Hara Sayuri and Mion/Enoki Azusa, was launched by Avex in July 2010, at the same time as the very first arcade game. This was before Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream started airing, Their first CD, which released in April 2011, was used as the first opening song for AD. However, LISP announced on June 16th 2011 they would cease their activities, and did a one year anniversary+ farewell live on July 31st 2011. LISP ended up stopping before even half of AD finished airing. The group was extremely unlucky. They used to have a monthly show on Niconico, but the April 2011 one was canceled because of the Touhouku earthquake. They were supposed to reschedule it, but it never happened and the show was terminated. Asumi Kana was also sick in 2011 starting May and ended up canceling a lot of her work activities, including LISP related things.
PURETTY, the south-Korean group that was launched with Dear My Future, made its debut in Japan in 2012 with the anime. They were supposed to make their debut in South Korea too but it never happened, and the group was stopped in May 2014. All of them are still in the entertainment industry though. The “real life” Hye In is now an actress. Chae Kyoung is part of the group APRIL. Shi Yoon is still at DSP Media. So Min is part of an extremely popular group called KARD, made up of two men and two women herself included. The group and So Min herself has more than one million followers on Instagram. I’m not sure what the real Jae Eun is doing nowadays.
Prizmmy☆ became much more popular when PriPara started, as they kept providing some of its openings and ending songs. The group stopped in April 2017 after one last concert. Each member is still in the entertainment industry. The real Mia and Karin are mostly in stage plays. Karin most notably plays Sailor Saturn in the latest Sailor Moon musicals. Reina is a singer. Ayami is a regular on Wide na Show, a Fuji TV show widely popular in Japan.
Another very important thing to know is how when Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live started airing in April 2013, director Hishida revealed on Twitter it would be the last Pretty Rhythm anime he’ll be the director of, and that he didn’t know if Pretty Rhythm would continue. He added he’d try his utmost to make Rainbow Live the best season among the three, to end with a bang. At the time, Takara Tomy and SynSophia were actually already working on PriPara internally and were already planning to end Pretty Rhythm. Rainbow Live‘s higher aspects like the high animation quality can be mostly explained by the staff putting in their all for it as the last season. It indeed has things like its vastly superior CG, but that was actually the testbed for PriPara, which reuses the same CG technology.
The fact that Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live had already been decided to be the final season is also part of why director Hishida, Iuchi Shuji and Tsubota Fumi had more freedom when working on Rainbow Live’s story. Rainbow Live even includes a scene directly showing two characters kissing each other, something implicitly forbidden in children anime. A popular example is how the Pokemon anime didn’t directly show cute hat eyebrows girl kissing Satoshi at the end of Pokemon XYZ. Rainbow Live overall has also less “plz buy the toys” blatant scenes in it compared to Aurora Dream and Dear My Future. In fact, after three months of working on Aurora Dream, director Hishida was actually thinking of quitting, because of how pressurized the staff was. They constantly needed to think about how to advertise the arcade games, the game adaptations on consoles, the CDs, the toys, the real-life groups like LISP, the clothes for IRL Prism Stone, etc. Partly because of this, it’s worth mentioning Pretty Rhythm has some questionable content depending on your culture or morals. At the beginning of Aurora Dream, Aira sometimes acts as if girls who don’t follow the latest fashion trends are trash. You’ve also got lyrics like “We’re gonna steal mom’s make-up and go out without dad noticing”.
I don’t have definite proof, but I always thought all of the above pushed Avex to change their music marketing strategy. When Rainbow Live started, no real life group was launched to tie-up with it. And Avex instead made a male group, Over The Rainbow(OTR), at the end of Rainbow Live, with Hiro/Maeno Tomoaki, Kouji/Kakihara Tetsuya and Kazuki/Masuda Toshiki. They never did concert events and wasn’t a full-fledged group, but were mainly used to advertise CDs with the boys’ songs in it, do interviews and posters in magazines. These CDs sales were extremely important in order for Kinpri to be greenlighted, but I’ll get back to it later.
Furthermore, when PriPara started, instead of launching a new group, an already existing group was used, i☆Ris, which Serizawa Yuu, who voiced An in RL, is part of. Each girl in i☆Ris also voices each of the six main characters in PriPara. Seeing i☆Ris had done one of the ending songs for Rainbow Live, it’s highly possible Avex planned to use them to voice all main characters in an anime one day right from the start, when launching them in 2012.
There’s many other small tidbits which more or less show how unpopular Pretty Rhythm was before Kinpri: Every Pretty Rhythm seasons, Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream, Pretty Rhythm Dear My Future, Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live and Pretty Rhythm All Star Selection were broadcast on Saturdays 10AM on TV Tokyo. It seems the franchise failed to make the best out of this prized timeslot. Luna, a blogger who also translates Pretty Rhythm related things, once wrote in 2012 how she worked as an English teacher for kids in Japan, and yet none of them knew about Pretty Rhythm.
Like with most children anime, a lot of anime fans underestimate Pretty Rhythm and refuse to watch it simply because “it’s a kids show”. It’s a vicious cycle because seeing there’s no interest, some of these shows are never licensed or simulcasted outside Japan. Some seasons of Pretty Rhythm did air in Spain and Italy however and were also popular in Hong Kong or South Korea. Some of the arcade games have English versions to be used in South East Asia places like Hong Kong too. As for English fansubs, Aurora Dream was completely fansubbed around 2013. Dear My Future was only finished in 2016, thanks to dedicated few fans. The only season which had fansubs regularly while it aired was Rainbow Live, thanks to a really nice group.
Starting DMF, I would often read the few Japanese blogs about Pretty Rhythm, and especially blogs archiving 2ch and the like, to check the series’ threads. These were actually pretty empty most of the time, and the people there didn’t even know things like how director Hishida tweeted production information of the series, like storyboard covers. A good example is how one episode of Rainbow Live had a newspaper stating Hiro is 18 years old, while he’s actually 16. Director Hishida tweeted that was an error that would be corrected on disc release, but none of the people on the thread knew about it.
Most English anime fans I knew didn’t really know or watch it either. I remember in the around 10 IRC servers I was a regular on in 2012, I only knew 2 people who watched Pretty Rhythm as well, though that slowly grew up as at least 3 people picked it up after I kept spamming about it. Random Curiosity, which was the biggest English anime blog back when people didn’t microblog anime on Twitter yet, would do a poll on favorite anime each year. I remember being the sole person on more than 1000 people who voted for DMF in 2013. Rainbow Live in 2014 had something like 3 votes though.
The overall lack of English information on Pretty Rhythm and my desire to know more about the series after seeing how amazing Aurora Dream turned out to be, is what pushed me to start looking for info related to it and share it for those also interested. I was also inspired by the old Pretty Rhythm wiki, whose owner back then was really dedicated and regularly updated the wiki with precise information.
Another fun way showing Pretty Rhythm‘s obscureness back then: especially when Rainbow Live was airing, it was really interesting to see I had some readers from many different countries because Pretty Rhythm lacked information in their own languages as well. Chinese, Korean Thai, Spanish or Italian anime forums and even Japanese fans would sometimes refer to my blog when talking about Pretty Rhythm.
Aikatsu! and PriPara
This is another important subject to better understand what comes next. On October 2012, Sunrise and Bandai launches the Aikatsu! franchise. “Aikatsu” is a Japanese word made from shortening “idol katsudou”, meaning “idols activities”. Aikatsu! becomes Pretty Rhythm and its spiritual successors’ direct rival. The arcade game is a rhythm game for little girls, where you can customize your idols using cards representing clothes. The Aikatsu! anime started airing on October 8th 2012, and the arcade game launched on October 25th 2012.
Aikatsu! has many similarities with Pretty Rhythm, as they more or less inspire themselves from the same things. Especially, the story of the first season of Aikatsu has many similar points with the story of Aurora Dream, but again its simply because both franchises have roots in classic shoujo.
Just like in Pretty Rhythm, the Aikatsu anime uses 3DCG for its performance scenes. The CG is quite ugly at first, with the characters having horrific faces and twigs for limbs. It slowly gets much better, as you can see in the comparison video and montages above.
Aikatsu‘s idols also do “Appeals” during their performances, basically super techniques. They’re shorter and not in the same vein as Prism Jumps though.
However, a few of the appeals in the Aikatsu game&anime were pretty much copypasted from some parts of Prism Jumps in Pretty Rhythm, in a blatant case of plagiarism. In short, Aikatsu! partially used Pretty Rhythm as a stepping stone.
Besides this, Aikatsu! is a very good anime. The series reveals itself to be extremely different from Pretty Rhythm and most idol anime as it goes on. The first season of Aikatsu! was particularly great and even people not necessarily into idol anime can enjoy it.
Aikatsu is also one of the most realistic idol anime in existence, with many details on the lives of idols, some episodes making you feel as if you’re watching a documentary. I wouldn’t be surprised if some little girls actually felt discouraged from becoming an idol after watching particular scenes in it.
Aikatsu! has many adult fans who play the arcade game as well. As such, the term “Aikatsu Ojisan/Obasan” was coined to refer to these adult fans. Many game centers staff and the like are accustomed to seeing them as well, and even created stories to tell children so as to not alarm them, like “adults who play games for kids are all nice fairies in disguise”. Near the end of 2012, a Pretty Rhythm fan tweeted how they saw a yakuza-looking guy playing Pretty Rhythm. That tweet got retweeted by Director Hishida, and thus adult Pretty Rhythm fans started calling themselves “Pretty Rhythm Yakuza/Prism Yakuza”, with Director Hishida as their “Oyabun”. This is a private joke that still lives to this day, and the staff sometimes use it as well. Dedicated and/or early-day fans of the franchise are now officially called “Prism Elites”.
Once Aikatsu happened, SynSophia and Takara Tomy decided to react. A few months after PriPara was announced, the 63th shareholders meeting of Takara Tomy was held, on June 2014. At the meeting, Takara Tomy’s CEO at the time, Tomiyama Kantaro, actually called Aikatsu a ripoff of Pretty Rhythm, and said PriPara was their counterattack.
PriPara (made from shortening Prism Paradise), is Pretty Rhythm’s spiritual successor, with the same companies behind it. Takara Tomy and SynSophia taking care of the games, Tatsunoko and Dong Woo making the anime, and Avex taking care of the music. PriPara, in turn, copies many concepts from Aikatsu, throwing away ice-skating and Prism Shows to adopt the term “idol” for its characters. A card-like system is also used for the game, the Purichike and Tomochike, short for Prism Ticket and Tomodachi Ticket.
Tomochike are the detachable part of Purichike, which you can exchange with your friends. This exchange idea, along with the possibility of putting your own photo on the tickets, gives little girls the impression they’ve really become idols.
After its launch in July 2014, PriPara rapidly becomes much more popular than Pretty Rhythm and Aikatsu ever have been. Thanks to its Purichike system, the anime adaptation, and its rhythm game system that even professionals commend.
Professionals of the arcade game industry esteem a game is successful if it manages to reach more than 300 000 accounts. During the run of the Pretty Rhythm arcade game from 2010 to 2014, the highest amount of registered accounts was 400 000. PriPara managed to reach more than one million accounts only 6 months after launch and generated 7 billion yen in 9 months. And it never stopped. In January 2018, PriPara had more than 4.4 million accounts, with over 100 million tickets printed in total since launch by the machines across Japan. The Prism Stone shops, who were renamed Prism Stone PriPara Shop, got more popular than ever. Of course, many “PriPara Ojisan/Obasan” exist as well. In summary, PriPara is the most popular arcade game of this type that ever existed.
In 2017, for Tatsunoko’s 55th anniversary, a character popularity poll was organized in homage to Tatsunoko Vs Capcom, from April to May 2017. As you can see, Laala ended up winning and is actually the only Tatsunoko character in the top 3. While the poll was ongoing, they also published temporary results, and she stayed on top position during all of the poll’s duration. If a Tatsunoko Vs Capcom 2 ever becomes a reality, Laala and some other Pretty Rhythm related characters will definitely appear as playable characters. I wouldn’t be surprised if Laala appears in Smash Bros Ultimate either. (Please God make it happen)
Another worthwhile point is how Laala’s design was clearly inspired by Creamy Mami. In fact, on October 2016, a collaboration event with Creamy Mami was launched. An official illustration of Creamy Mami and Laala wearing each other’s clothes was revealed and Creamy Mami’s clothes were added to the PriPara game.
The heroine of Aikatsu‘s first series, Ichigo, is clearly inspired by old school anime as well. She has the typical blonde hair+red hair accessory design that has existed for decades, examples including Lavinia in Princess Sarah, Candy Candy, or Ashita no Nadja.
While PriPara inspires itself a lot from Aikatsu, the anime ends up very different from both Aikatsu and Pretty Rhythm.
The PriPara anime follows Laala as she does idol activities with a big emphasis on friendship. As I said earlier above, all six main characters in PriPara are voiced by the six idols of iRis. The PriPara anime takes place in a new universe, but still has many references to Pretty Rhythm and is part of the same multiverse. Akaii Meganee is still present as well and even has a 3DCG live scene for the first time. A gimmick slightly similar to Prism Jumps exists in PriPara as well, the “Making Drama”. While some of them are pretty cool, sadly they don’t follow the same insane logic as Prism Jumps and are much fewer in number, most characters always using the same one for really long periods of time.
Starting PriPara, the CG staff also started using Motion Capture for all CG scenes. This webm above is from PriPara School, a special program that aired after All Star Selection ended but before PriPara started. Before then, Motion Capture was only used for certain shows in Rainbow Live. All Prism Shows in Kinpri and later Pretty Rhythm related anime are made using Motion Capture as well.
It’s capital to realize the Pretty Rhythm anime and the PriPara anime are extremely different, and it’s foolish to use one to judge what to expect from the other. The biggest difference in PriPara is how while adults can enjoy it as well, it’s been 90% made for little girls in grade school. Other differences include no focus on romance, no regular adult characters except for Meganee/Meganii, no ice-skating/Prism Shows/Prism Jumps, almost no male characters, and a huge dose of “catchphrases”. Almost every single character in PriPara has a particular word or sentence they repeat all the time, mostly at the end of their lines. They’re exactly like characters of the first Di Gi Charat anime-nyo. Laala’s catchphrase being “kashkoma”, made from shortening “kashikomarimashita”.
Ever since PriPara was announced, it was clear how different from Pretty Rhythm it would be, so Pretty Rhythm fans at the time all realized it as well. The transition went smoothly though, and I can’t think of a Pretty Rhythm fan I knew back then who didn’t become fan of PriPara as well. This is the same for me as well, though I often think PriPara isn’t ambitious enough, especially in its comedy. While I wouldn’t call the first PriPara season downright bad, it’s also important to note PriPara becomes a thousand times better starting its second season. In my opinion, it still retains some big problems in terms of writing though, the biggest one being how underused side characters and even main characters are. They can disappear for multiple episodes whenever the story doesn’t focus on them.
PriPara‘s second season also introduces Ajimi, an extremely peculiar character who deserves her own mention. She’s an art teacher who can’t speak one sentence without making a thousand references and wordplays related to arts in it, and end it with DA VINCI, as you can see in this compilation video. She sometimes speaks so fast she’s voluntarily undecipherable and I’m sure her seiyuu Ueda Reina doesn’t know what she herself says at times. Ueda did an incredible job with Ajimi despite her short experience in the industry. Whether you end up loving or hating Ajimi, she’s one of the most original characters I’ve ever seen in anime, and I think PriPara is worth watching just to see her in action. Similar to Pretty Rhythm, both the PriPara anime and arcade game were released in South East Asia countries like South Korea, but as far as I know the PriPara anime hasn’t been aired in USA or Europe. It actually had a dub pilot video at some point in 2017, but it seems the project didn’t come to fruition. (Thanks for telling me this Peg) . PriPara is fully fansubbed, with some parts like the final episodes of season 2 only receiving subs recently. English speaking fans of the franchise often joke about how this happened because fansub groups couldn’t handle Ajimi.
PriPara’s anime director is Moriwaki Makoto, who is also the director of Milky Holmes, an anime series with a lot of absurd humor, and some scenes in PriPara has the same flavor to it (though Pretty Rhythm had that kind of humor too). Moriwaki Makoto is one of the most respected veteran directors in the anime industry. She is part of the “Shitenou” who worked on the Doreamon anime for years. Except for the director, PriPara has mostly the same staff as Pretty Rhythm too. Most animators are the same, the CG Director is still Otobe Yoshihiro as well. Hishida Masakazu worked on some episodes too, as well as Tsubota Fumi, who even partially wrote the final episode of Idol Time PriPara.
Idol Time PriPara is the name of the fourth and last season of PriPara, which aired from April 2017 to April 2018. It introduces a new main heroine along with Laala called Yui, and a male idol group called WITH. While it remains impossible to create a male idol in the game as your customizable avatar, the 3 boys idols of WITH were added as playable characters. Idol Time PriPara started one year after Kinpri got popular , so one could think they decided to make WITH after Kinpri‘s success, but as far as I know, WITH’s creation has nothing to do with Kinpri.
One thing worth noting is how unlike many other anime nowadays, Pretty Rhythm related things aren’t the kind to constantly tease characters of the same sex loving each other, never either confirming or denying it either, to please girls/boys love fans. If they actually love each other, they’ll say it, if they don’t don’t, they’ll say it. (There’s one lesbian couple in PriPara that’s established with no doubt possible. Though depending on who you ask, some would say there’s more than one.)
It’s also different from shows like Love Live, who refrain from showing the slightest hint of its characters’ opposing sex existing, so the most delusional otaku doesn’t get angry at the slightest hint of the girl they like interacting with a male, other than themselves. LGBT characters in Pretty Rhythm/PriPara aren’t characterized by it either. It’s different from lots of random US shows, who will have a black gay character and their whole story will constantly be about how they’re gay and black(I’m caricaturing but you get the idea).
Though, I’m of the opinion Pretty Rhythm related work shouldn’t be regarded as ambitious or praised solely for that, as they’re just copying what other shoujo works did in the past. (But this is nowhere near as bad as people claiming Madoka Magica or Doki Doki Litterature Club are revolutions/deconstructions/whatever. I’m not saying they’re bad, just widely overrated. This article is already long enough, or else I’d explain how DDLC is a typical example of a cultural work being praised mainly because Americans/white people did it, while Japanese games have been doing the seemingly cute story with dark twists for decades but people won’t play them and go EEEW JAPANESE THINGS)
Idol Time PriPara ended in April 2018 and a new spiritual successor has launched: Kiratto Pri☆chan. (officially shortened to Prichan). Once again, the director has changed, but the CG director and most of the staff is unchanged. Prichan has a different vibe to it from Pretty Rhythm and PriPara, but is close to PriPara overall. The characters are idols like in PriPara, but the main originality is the fact that they’re youtuber idols streaming themselves. The world of Prichan, set in yet another new universe but still part of the same multiverse as everything else, has an online platform named “Prichan”, a shortening of Prism Channel, which is a fusion of Youtube, NicoNico Douga and Twitch. People stream themselves trying out various things, playing games, or doing idol activities.
As for the arcade game, unlike the transition from Pretty Rhythm to PriPara, where every arcade machine had to be replaced, Prichan uses the same machines as PriPara + a new machine needing to be docked to it. As such, they only had to dispatch these new machines and update everything, something easy as they’re all linked in a network. Furthermore, all characters created in PriPara are transferable to Prichan. The player rankings have been reset however.
Akaii Meganee as she appears in Prichan
Seeing PriPara is still extremely popular, latest concert events included both PriPara and Prichan seiyuu. The WITH seiyuu even got their own special concerts in June and July 2018. A Pretty Rhythm+PriPara+Prichan movie was also released in theaters on May 5th 2018, titled PriPara&Kiratto Pri☆Chan ～Kirakira Memorial Live~, which as always with these movies, is a compilation of various CG performances.
Another project was simultaneously announced with Prichan in December 2017, titled Pretty All Friends. It is supposed to be a project made to celebrate the franchise’s tenth anniversary in 2020, as then it’ll be ten years since the very first arcade game, Pretty Rhythm Mini Skirt, released. The main visual for Pretty All Friends features all of the main heroines so far, Aira, Mia, Naru, Laala and Yui. Takara Tomy still hasn’t communicated on what PAF will turn out to be, either an anime or movie or something else, and only use it to merchandise adult-geared goods for now, like perfume, jewelry, etc. The only real Pretty All Friends content we’ve got so far are short stories in text form published around once a month, there are 4 “episodes” out in total as of September 2018.
Pretty All Friends was also in the center of a controversy about which you can lengthily read about in another article.
Since Prichan and Pretty All Friends‘ announcement, Takara Tomy started using the name “Pretty Series” to refer to all works so far. Pretty Series includes Pretty Rhythm, PriPara, KING OF PRISM, Prichan and Pretty All Friends.
(In my opinion “Prism Series” would have been more logical, but sadly I do not work at Takara Tomy)
You can use this handy guide to quickly check on the various works. It’s a bit old and doesn’t feature Prichan and Pretty All Friends though. It also mentions some various info if you can read Japanese. Rilu Rilu Fairilu, Jewelpe’s spiritual successor, is mentioned because the director of the anime’s first 2 seasons is Hishida Masakazu using an alias, Gojou Sakura.
Let’s review what happened so far:
In 2004, Sega launched Oshare Majo Love and Berry. It was really popular but declined after a while, and stopped in 2008.
Seeing there was a demand to be satisfied for this concept, Takara Tomy launched Pretty Rhythm in 2010. Bandai launched Aikatsu in 2013.
Aikatsu becomes much more popular than Pretty Rhythm after inspiring itself from it.
Takara Tomy in turn launched PriPara, inspiring itself from Aikatsu.
PriPara becomes the most popular arcade fashion rhythm game of all time.
Aikatsu renewed itself with Aikatsu Stars but probably wasn’t enough as that only lasted 2 years, and now has been replaced with Aikatsu Friends.
Right now Aikatsu Friends and Kiratto Pri☆chan are rivals, though Prichan probably has a whole lead ahead.
In the end, seeing how popular PriPara became, there was no reason to revive Pretty Rhythm, and yet that’s what happened with Kinpri.
The thorny path between Pretty Rhythm‘s death in July 2014 and its resurrection with Kinpri‘s release on January 9th 2016
Let’s go back in time a bit. In April 2014, during the staff-only, wrap-up party for Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live, Director Hishida told Kouji, Hiro and Kazuki’s seiyuu he would like to make “something new” with their characters one day, without knowing if it’ll ever be possible. When Rainbow Live ended, the anime staff was exhausted after 3 years of non-stop work, the only time Pretty Rhythm didn’t air was New Year’s weeks. (Random fact: TV Tokyo is widely known for almost never interrupting their programs no matter what happens, see during the 2011 earthquake.)
As I said before, working on Pretty Rhythm, especially during the first two seasons, was exhausting according to Director Hishida. They always had to keep in mind everything related to the franchise and how to advertise it, the CDs, games etc. As they knew Rainbow Live would be the last season before it even started, they constantly gave their all while working on it to make it great in every aspect, from the animation to the story. As director Hishida was constantly at 200% during Rainbow Live, he said multiple times in the past he would’ve died if it lasted more than 51 episodes. He also said working on PriPara was much easier because at that point all companies involved had more synchronized views on what to promote.
Sendai, which was terribly hit by the 2011 earthquake, is the hometown of Director Hishida. Seeing how busy he was with his work, he could only visit his family in summer 2012, when DMF was airing. One of the aliases he uses since 2011 is “Aoba Jou”, referencing Aoba Castle in Sendai. Aobajou was also his username on Twitter. He made his Twitter account on July 2011, but close it down in December 2017. Nowadays he instead uses Instagram. The reason why he started using the Aobajou alias was to show his support to Sendai. Another alias he used to work as Director of the first two seasons of Rilu Rilu Fairilu, is “五城 桜/Gojou Sakura”. 五城 is the name of a middle school in Aoba, Sendai. (Nabeshin, who worked on Fairilu’s storyboards, already confirmed Gojou Sakura is Hishida Masakazu).
The 4th Pretty Rhythm season, Pretty Rhythm All Star Selection, was made out of reairs so the staff could focus on PriPara’s first episodes instead. Anyway, the point is, Rainbow Live had no sequel planned out of cut content from the show or similar rumors which I’ve already seen. And even if it did, it wasn’t physically possible to make one right away with the same staff.
There are many elements thanks to whom Kinpri was born. First off, the Kinpri project was thought up by four people:
From left to right:
Avex producer in charge of Pretty Rhythm: Nishi Hiroko
Rainbow Live‘s character designer, and original character designer of the male characters: Matsuura Mai
Director Hishida Masakazu
Tatsunoko producer in charge of Pretty Series: Yoda Takeshi
Nishi Hiroko joined Avex Pictures in 2012 (probably in April) and started working on Pretty Rhythm when DMF episode 33 aired, so in November 2012. (She’s also the Avex producer of the Osomatsu san anime, which the first season became an even bigger success than Kinpri.) When joining the staff, she was anxious and didn’t know if she was suited to work on a children anime. However, she immediately became a fan of the franchise and realize how exceptional it is, especially after seeing DMF episode 33 with its Prism Show where a wedding ring gets out of an omelet. Whenever she would successfully convince someone to watch Pretty Rhythm, they’d end up becoming fans as well (this is true for me as well). She also noticed the series’ striking unpopularity and thought how much of a shame it is, as wide-minded anime fans who don’t dismiss children anime do exist. Together with Yoda, they strongly believe in director Hishida’s talent and that he will definitely make a masterpiece if he gets the opportunity to. Both of them were very disheartened when Pretty Rhythm‘s termination was decided.
Yoda Takeshi, Nishi Hiroko and Hishida Masakazu, for one of the many interviews they did after Kinpri’s success.
During a meeting at an undisclosed date(around April 2014) Nishi and Yoda proposed to their superiors a new Pretty Rhythm project. It would be a TV series, focusing on the male characters of Rainbow Live, would air late at night and last one cour (10-13 episodes). Sadly, their plan was rejected. They reworked the plan into a movie and once again submitted it at a later time, but it was again rejected. However, they were told it could be approved if they brought evidence the project would work. Thus, the four of them embarked on a long journey, trying as much as possible to make Pretty Rhythm live on.
Once Pretty Rhythm ended, Director Hishida had the occasion to answer a few interviews in anime magazines. In those, he stressed out the importance of the male characters in Rainbow Live, and revealed new information about them as well. One example is Prince Animage Spring 2014, which had 6 pages focusing on the male characters of Rainbow Live. Kakihara Tetsuya, Maeno Tomoaki and Masuda Toshiki also participated in many magazine interviews as Over The Rainbow, including Otomedia, Animedia or Dengeki Girl’s Style. The various 2014 issues of these magazines also contained things like OTR posters.
In April 2014, the first Cheer Screenings for the PRASS movie, Pretty Rhythm All Star Selection Prism Show☆Best Ten, started. The film was out since March 8th 2014 but these screenings were important successes. Many fans went there in cosplay, with glowsticks, and sang along the performances in the movie. Director Hishida even went to some of these screenings to meet the fans. The last Cheer Screening was on April 25th 2014, and it was announced there the movie would release on disc on July 18th 2014.
From May 10th to May 23rd 2014, some Tsutaya shops did a short collaboration event with Rainbow Live, where they aired short audio messages of Naru.
On May 10th 2014, an event was held to celebrate the end of Pretty Rhythm, the Pretty Rhythm After Party. It was a talkshow event with Director Hishida, Matsuura Mai, Tsubota Fumi, and Nishi Hiroko. Around 300 people attended. The event was held at Machida’s Tower Record shop. This isn’t a coincidence, as this particular Tower Record shop’s staff were huge fans of Pretty Rhythm.
The shop’s staff even made their own decorations and illustrations for the event. During Pretty Rhythm‘s run, they were one of the only shops who would promote the CDs on Twitter.
Tower Record Machida is also one of the only shops which had a Pretty Rhythm corner will all the CDs and merch released so far. Usually, shops only do corners like that for the most popular franchises. Avex even gave them a special limited edition to sell for one of the Rainbow Live CDs, with an exclusive illustration by Okama.
The Pretty Rhythm After Party was also one of the first events which showed the motivation of the Pretty Rhythm Yakuza and the staff’s acknowledgment of it. Multiple yakuza made a semi-official art for the event, and many of them brought decorations and gifts.
As Pretty Rhythm aired and new songs were played in the anime, new CDs would release as well. At the time of the event, the upcoming CD was the Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live Prism Boys Collection CD. It contained the song “Athletic Core” which is sung by Over The Rainbow, the group the male characters form at the end of Rainbow Live, and a new song called “Flavor”, which wasn’t in the anime. “Flavor” was directly created by Avex, all thanks to Nishi who worked very hard to make it happen. The anime staff and director Hishida didn’t even know about the song and it was a surprise for them as well. The 2nd DVD Box of Rainbow Live was also about to release soon, on June 20 2014, and had as a preorder bonus a longer version of Over The Rainbow’s Prism Show.
They showed a sample of it during the After Party Event, and everyone was really hyped.
You can read a lengthy article about the Pretty Rhythm After Party here.
On July 4th 2014, an ultimate Cheer Screening was organized for Pretty Rhythm All Star Selection Prism Show☆Best Ten , for the movie’s disc release. It was again a huge success. Director Hishida and Tsubota Fumi appeared as well for a stage greeting and Q&A with the fans.
On July 18th 2014, the release date of the movie on disc, an event for the release and for Jin’s birthday was held, the “Norizuki Jin Birthday Party” event. 40 people, who won a raffle, were able to attend and chat with Director Hishida and Tsubota Fumi. Jin may be the antagonist of Rainbow Live and Kinpri, he’s also one of the most popular characters.
On September 3rd 2014, the aforementioned Pretty Rhythm: Rainbow Live Prism Boys Collection CD was released. It had 1600 preorders before release. You should keep this in mind as it’ll be important later.
On December 13th 2014, a PriPara christmas event was held, titled PriPara&Pretty Rhythm Christmas☆Party. The first xmas event of the franchise was in 2013, with the event Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live, Live in Christmas, and the tradition has been going since then, with PriPara and now Prichan having a xmas/december event every year. At that 2014 event, while it was mainly dedicated to PriPara, they also showed a brand new Duo Prism Show of Kouji and Hiro. It mostly recycles elements from Hiro’s Prism Shows in Rainbow Live, but has new parts as well. These new parts were made by CG Director Otobe Yoshihiro, alone, during his free time. What happened exactly is that after working on one of Hiro’s Prism Shows in the anime, he started making a duo version of it with Kouji on his own. He finished it specifically for this event. When Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live was airing, whenever it was one of the characters’ birthdays, he would also tweet an exclusive picture made using the character’s CG model. He still did it with PriPara and now Prichan too. Matsuura Mai too relentlessly kept drawing Pretty Rhythm art on Twitter after Rainbow Live ended.
On March 7 2015, the first PriPara movie released in Japanese cinemas, titled “Gekijoban PriPara Miinna Atsumare! Prism☆Tours“. Just like the Pretty Rhythm movie, it’s a compilation of various CG scenes from the anime, with a few comical scenes here and there. Seeing Moriwaki Makoto was already busy with the PriPara TV anime, it’s Hishida Masakazu who directed this PriPara movie. Furthermore, this movie was initially planned to be a second Pretty Rhythm movie, but seeing the huge phenomenon PriPara had become, it was changed into a PriPara focus movie with a few bits of Pretty Rhythm in it. The film is one hour long and features CG idol scenes from PriPara and around ten minutes of Prism Shows from Pretty Rhythm, dispatched in four different “routes”. Each route shows different Prism Shows, and each week during the movie’s screening period, a different route was shown. That way, people kept going back to see the movie every week.
Furthermore, the fourth route would be shown at random during screenings, and is made of male characters’ Prism Shows from AD, DMF and RL, along with two brand new Prism Shows: a 2D animated Prism Show of Over The Rainbow with the new song Flavor, and a 3DCG Prism Show of Hiro and Kouji. The later was actually recycled from the exclusive Hiro x Kouji Prism Show they showed during the xmas event, they only changed the CG models’ clothes. The 2D Flavor one was supposed to be in 3D as well, but they didn’t get to do it. In fact, route four was almost canceled during the movie’s planning, as it’s the only route with new content and thus actually costed money. The staff had to fight to make it happen.
The movie also has a hidden meta scenario, with self-derision on Pretty Rhythm‘s death, but at the same time gives hope to fans, as route four shows a message from OTR promising they’ll return one day. It also gives hints on how the multiverse containing all of Pretty Series works.
(Director Hishida further developed this in an interview as well. He said that while Aira Mia and Naru appear in PriPara, they’re basically parallel universes version with no relation to the original ones. And that the Aira, Mia, Naru and Cosmo who appear in the movie specifically are virtual copies of the originals. Prism World is unique and linked to all the other universes, and has a Matrix-like system which copies some people’s data. And since Cosmo once went to the Rainbow Live world, her data was copied as well with Rainbow Live specs, allowing her copy appearing in the movie to do Prism Jumps. If you’ve been reading my blog for years, in the past I mistranslated that as “the Aira Mia and Naru both in the movie and in the Pripara TV anime are virtual”. Back then the movie wasn’t out on disc yet so I ended up mistranslating as I didn’t see it yet)
(However, Hishida added that this was purely his own interpretation, and as he doesn’t participate in PriPara‘s anime scenario, the PriPara anime might bring a different explanation at some point. While Idol Time PriPara has PriPara’s world Mia as a regular character, the anime never confirmed or denied Hishida’s theory.)
Back to the PriPara movie, after a certain point, the random rotation of route 4 stopped, and screenings where Route 4 was announced in advance started. These screenings’ tickets sold three times more than the others. And the majority of Pretty Rhythm fans went to see it multiples times, some more than 30 times. According to Nishi, superiors from Avex and Tatsunoko would go to these screenings as well, to check for themselves the fans’ enthusiasm and try out the Cheer Screenings.
It’s after all this that the KING OF PRISM project was finally approved, in August 2015. At the start of the meeting where Nishi once again submitted the project, she screened Over the Rainbow’s Prism Show in the meeting room, showing it to her superiors to relax the atmosphere. They liked it and understood Prism Shows have a special something to them, something never seen before. By piling up all the various results from the events I listed above, Nishi managed to demonstrate the project will definitely have an extremely motivated audience and fanbase. One of the arguments she used, was how seeing the Over The Rainbow CD had a total of 1600 pre-orders, it meant that 1600 fans were ready to buy a Pretty Rhythm product no matter what and that each of them would definitely go see the movie at least ten times. It’s mainly thanks to these dedicated fans that the movie was greenlighted. Obviously, though, there was no guarantee that fans would indeed go watch the movie multiple times, and even if it happened, nothing guaranteed that the movie would manage to bring in new fans, something absolutely vital. This was the new bet the staff had to win at all costs.
Because of that, the movie had no guaranteed minimum return on investment, so it got greenlighted, but with an extremely tight budget. The “production committee” for the movie was made of Avex, Tatsunoko, and Takara Tomy. According to Nishi, the three companies had no disagreements at all about the movie, but three different companies participating also caused synchronization problems, not to mention each one of them only put in the minimal amount of effort and money in the project. Kinpri is a huge risk Hishida, Matsuura, Nishi and Yoda are taking in the career and they’ll pay the price if the project fails.
The movie KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm is officially announced on October 4th 2015, at Akihabara Convention Hall, during an event called “Edel Rose school entrance ceremony”. That event was announced to promote the Over The Rainbow Special Fan Disc, a new OTR CD which was scheduled to release in December 2015. As such, the announcement was a massive surprise for the fans.
(Be careful to not check recommended videos to avoid getting spoiled).
Right then we could already see how limited the movie’s budget is. They had no real trailer for the reveal, which starts at 1:30, and it only shows the name of the new characters who will appear in the movie,. The only actual new thing was the movie’s key visual, shown for the first time. Everything else shown actually comes from Rainbow Live and the famous route 4 of the first PriPara movie.
It’s interesting to note how the cries of joy intensify again when the name 涼野ユウ Suzuno Yu appears among the new characters. Yu already appeared in Rainbow Live and is Ito’s little brother. It’s also a nod to Dear My Future, which featured Aira’s little brother Itsuki as a main character. This actually became a tradition in the Pretty Series franchise, as the third season of PriPara also has Non, Laala’s little sister, becoming a main character.
Note the second scream intensifications when Jin appears, confirming we’ll finally see what happens after Rainbow Live, the scene shown being from the final episode.
After the trailer was shown, Director Hishida Masakazu spoke to the fans present, explaining the movie may seem like it will take Pretty Rhythm into a different direction but is, in fact, identical and will keep Pretty Rhythm‘s soul. He concluded by saying something I’ll always remember: “When planning this movie, we were often told that it would definitely fail, especially seeing how crowded the male idol anime market is nowadays. However we didn’t give up, because we’re not making an anime about idols, we’re making an anime about Prism Stars.“
On October 26th 2015, pre-sale tickets for the movie are announced to be sold starting November 7th 2015. The pre-sale tickets has 2 versions, each with a different illustration. It has 5 detachable tickets to use, for a total of 10 tickets if you buy both. They bet on every existing fan buying both tickets and going to see the movie multiple time or bring friends with them.
One of the tickets has the characters naked. The primary objective the staff had was to promote the movie. They used the tickets themselves to promote it, and set up a trap so tons of people say stuff like “wow look!! they’re perving up an anime for kids to get fujoshi’s money!!”. They wanted to remove the initial handicap Pretty Rhythm had handicap which was how most people didn’t even know about it. This was a huge success, as even English news sites who didn’t really cover anything Pretty Rhythm related except when new seasons were announced wrote about it as well. While it’s true Pretty Rhythm never had that much sexualization, some was already present in past seasons, with some of the coords, song lyrics or prism jumps. And boys characters especially had some instances of sexual fanservice or BL vibes. This ticket and the upped sexual fanservice in Kinpri actually fits perfectly with the over-the-top side of the franchise too. The slightly upped male sexual fanservice is the only thing which differentiates Kinpri from the rest of Pretty Rhythm, so I think it’s sad a handful of fans didn’t appreciate it and rejected Kinpri without even watching it. It’s a real shame as they’ll never see the end of the story started in Rainbow Live and Kinpri 2, which is the “culmination of everything Pretty Series related before it.“
(You should think twice about watching this if you haven’t seen Rainbow Live yet as it spoils a lot)
Still with the film’s promotion in mind, a trailer gets released in November 2015, titled “Everything you need to know about Over The Rainbow in 90 Seconds”. Narrated by Maeono Tomoaki/Hiro, it quickly retells the story of OTR in Rainbow Live.
On December 22th 2015, another event was held, “Edel Rose’s second entrance ceremony”. It was the first time a Pretty Rhythm related event was streamed live. The event’s purpose was to promote the movie, with staff Hishida Masakazu and Nishi Hiroko, along with the seiyuu Terashima Junta/Shin and Uchida Yuuma/Yu. (Yuuma often jokes during Kinpri events he has two sisters because in the anime he’s the little brother of Ito, and in real life he’s the little brother of Uchida Maaya, who voices Wakana.)
Some excerpts of the movie are shown along with some new information. It was a really fun stream. However, when the event was about to end, Director Hishida surprised everyone with a speech he had prepared. Not even the rest of the staff knew beforehand. You can watch the speech here.
That’s when for the first time, all the production problems I’ve talked about have been revealed. Director Hishida started by saying that since the male characters in Rainbow Live have more focus compared to the previous seasons, you could think they planned to do this sequel focused on them from the start, but that’s not the case at all. If you considered Pretty Rhythm‘s economic results until now, a sequel should have never happened. How they have an extremely limited budget for the movie, with no backup from TV Tokyo like with the TV anime seasons, no sponsors, no tie-up songs with popular singers, no collaborations, or no mobage, unlike every other idol anime. Their only weapons were their own dedication and the fans’ support. He jokes that it’s “thanks” to that they got the idea to make the tickets with the characters naked, symbolizing the state of things. Director Hishida also answered to criticism that happened since the movie was announced, like the people saying he’s only planning to make a movie for male idols fans, or that they’re planning to sideline OTR and focus on the new characters. He answered that by saying you should ask yourself if they ever tried to please only a certain category of people, or if they ever sidelined characters or added characters for no purpose in Pretty Rhythm so far.
He also explained how when the project was approved as a 60-minutes long movie, Nishi, Matsuura, Yoda and himself lengthily debated on what to do with it. The unique and ultimate chance they were given. They often thought about just giving up, make a CG compilation movie with no story, do big Cheer Screenings so everyone has a great time and then it would be goodbye. To minimize risks, the other option they had was making one movie, but cut into two:
A first movie with 30minutes of flashbacks from Rainbow Live to explain the story to new fans, and 30minutes of new story.
A second movie releasing later, made up of the second half of the first movie, and another 30 new minutes, to end up making a new 60minutes long movie.
In the end, they thought it would be a shame to go with any of these plans, that it wouldn’t satisfy themselves and the fans who supported them so much until now. So they decided to take all the risks and put their careers in the line and actually went over budget, with a first movie having only 10minutes of flashback, and a second movie later finishing the story. And the movies would have new characters, not added to be popular with male idols fans, but simply in order to make them stand together with the already existing ones and make the best story possible.
Director Hishida then spoiled the first movie, saying that it was impossible to make it any longer, and as such, the movie ends before the Prism King Cup actually happens. If the first movie isn’t a success, the sequel will never be made. He apologized about the small number of cinemas across Japan screening it, some big cities having no cinemas screening it at all. He begged the fans to go see the movie and bring their family and friends together with them. He remembered everyone one last time that you shouldn’t judge the movie by its cover, that he worked on it until the very last second and there’s not a single useless dialogue line or scene in it. Whether you only watched a single Pretty Rhythm season, whether you only know about Prism Shows, or even if you don’t, you will definitely enjoy the movie. And of course, Pretty Rhythm fans who saw everything will definitely be able to enjoy it greatly. He ended by saying this is the first and last time in his career he’s swallowing his shame to do something like this, and concluded with a line evoking Gunbuster: “Miracles are something people can make themselves. I hope that together, we’ll be able to create one.”
Trailer: KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm
The Kinpri Phenomenon
KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm released on January 9th 2016, in 14 cinemas only. The first screenings on the first week were full, and some of the new goods sold at cinemas even sold out in a few minutes, showing how motivated pre-existing fans were. As planned, many of them went to see the movie multiple times. Even more so as at every screening, you’d obtain a ticket allowing you to vote on the official site. As the movie doesn’t contain the Prism King Cup, they let fans decide by vote who among the new characters would get to participate in the tournament alongside Hiro and Kazuki in the hypothetical sequel. At the beginning of screenings, there was also short messages, one for each character, where they would introduce themselves and ask you to vote for them. There were also freebies goods distributed to the audience, like hand fans or bookmarks. There was 48 bookmarks in total, each with a different scene of the movie as the illustration. Last but not least, the movie has many hidden things in it and has a story as deep as the best moments of Pretty Rhythm, so thanks to all this many people went to see it multiple times.
Still, you can only do that much with the small pre-existing fanbase, and once the first week was ending, a lot of screenings were already getting empty. Except for the Cheer Screenings. The first Cheer Screenings were the weekend of January 17th 2016, and they were fully booked. A first trailer promoting the Cheer Screenings was published on January 21st:
Starting the week of January 18th 2016, some special Cheer Screenings are organized, showing multiple episodes of Rainbow Live before the movie to better understand it. On January 23rd especially, Shinjuku Wald 9 did two of these simultaneasouly, lasting all night from 23:45 to 05:00 during which they showed:
Rainbow Live episodes 6, 8, 18, 31, 39, 45, 51.
First PriPara movie with Route 4.
KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm
(There were also breaks so people could rest or chat with each other and make friends.)
These two screenings on January 23rd were massive successes, so much that in the Mini Theater Ranking of the TV Show Ousama no Brunch on TBS from January 30th, the film got first place, with all 830 seats of that weekend sold out. It was the first time ever KING OF PRISM by PrettyRhythm was mentioned in a TV show, and soon enough many others will follow.
At the start of third week since release (January 25th 2016) the movie only earned 30 million yen and is only in 9 theaters now. However the Cheer Screenings keep being fully booked, and a second trailer promoting them is released:
As soon as the movie released, Prism Yakuza organized themselves to promote the movie as much as possible, mostly using Twitter. Concerned about screenings being empty, a lot of them would check the seat reservations of all screenings using the online cinema ticket reservation service Kinezo, and would make itineraries using Google Map to go to screenings which were empty, publishing messages such as “if you live near A, you should go to the screening at B, it’s around 40minutes by train” etc. Furthermore, many Twitter hashtags were created to promote the movie and used both by the staff and the fans:
“#キンプリへようこそ”/”Welcome to the world of Kinpri”
“キンプリを見てください”/”Please go watch Kinpri”
“キンプリはいいぞ”/”Kinpri is deeper than life”
Tweets with these hashtags were often coupled with a link to the speech Director Hishida did during the December 2015 stream. There was even this hashtag ” キンプリ初見の人向けのプリリズ解説” created by older fans to explain all the references, links to past seasons, some of the Prism Jumps’ origin and even the private jokes between the old fans and the staff.
Even more private jokes and memes are born too, like tons of people bringing celery to screenings, because of Minato. At some point during a stage greeting, Igarashi Masashi/Minato even brought himself some celery from his hometown.
Thanks to the dedication of the Prism Yakuza on Twitter, in early February, more and more people who didn’t know Pretty Rhythm start watching Kinpri. They’re so shocked by the movie, and so unaccustomed to its levels of over-the-topness, many of them fail to describe their experience with words, and start doing drawings and manga instead. This started the “Kinpri report” trend, where many people drew a manga to retell their experience with the movie, and urged other people to go watch the movie and do the same. You can find hundreds of manga like this on Twitter if you search for things like “キンプリレポ”. Thanks to their unimaginable-until-you-see-it manga & descriptions, like “I also want to go from Tokyo to Holywood using Galaxy Express 999”, many of these Kinpri report tweets become viral and many people go see the movie in order to understand them. Some elements, in particular, are recurrent in these report manga: the Prism Show Battle with EZ DO DANCE, which is also shown in the two trailers above. And the scene where “There’s honey coming out of the ass of one of the characters“, which refers to Kouji using the Prism Jump called Hachimitsu Kiss.
Hachimitsu Kiss actually already appeared in past seasons, with Mion doing it in Aurora Dream episode 28. Nothing changed since then and the jump has the exact same execution. It’s true one could think the honey comes out of their butt, but before Kinpri happened I never ever saw someone making that remark, and I never thought about it that way either. This again shows just how unknown Pretty Rhythm was before Kinpri. While it would be false to say things like “Kinpri only became popular thanks to fujoshi” this is one thing that maybe wouldn’t have happened without fujoshi/fudanshi and their 100% BL thinking minds. (Speaking of that, the ration of male/female Pretty Rhythm fans when Rainbow Live was airing was actually at around 50%/50% according to Nishi, and even after Kinpri it didn’t change that much. Which is natural as Pretty Rhythm/Kinpri is made with everyone in mind, not a particular audience. The Kinpri movies especially have some of the most incredible shonen-like battles ever in anime.)
— サブ@アレクの女♂ (@kk_sub) June 9, 2018
The jump was even in Pretty Rhythm Mini Skirt in 2010 as well, and one of the official descriptions did say “honey comes out from around their butt”.
Because of the movie’s growing popularity, more cinemas start screening it. In mid-February, 47 different cinemas were screening the movie, with at least one in every prefecture in Japan, except Okinawa. Starting then, the staff organized special screenings too, there were some for Valentines and other for February 29th 2016, as it’s both Shin and Louis’s birthday. These were all last-minute planned because the staff didn’t expect the movie to get this popular. The number of cinemas screening the movie just kept increasing then:
March 13th 2016: 53 cinemas
March 25th 2016: 62 cinemas
until reaching more than 100 cinemas across Japan in May 2016.
Many TV shows start reporting about the movie and its incredible popularity, and do “What is KING OF PRISM and what are Cheer Screenings?” documentaries. They include interviews with fans, some saying they saw the movie more than a hundred times. Many extremely popular TV shows of Fuji TV made documentaries on the movie too: the Wide na Show that aired on April 3rd 2015, the Mezamashi TV that aired on April 12th and the Wide na B-Men that aired on April 24th 2016. Many other channels did too like TNC’s Momochihama Store!! of April 28th 2016. Kinpri and its Cheer Screening become a social phenomenon. Sociologists, anime experts and the like comment on the movie on these TV shows. Some think the movie and its Cheer Screenings are so addictive because it’s a great way to remove stress. Others point out how it’s incredible Cheer Screenings removed the taboo that one must not make any noise at cinemas. One popular sociologist, Furuichi Noritoshi, often tweets about how good the movie is.
Following the movie’s growing popularity, many shops start restocking on Pretty Rhythm related CDs and even make corners for the franchise. These photos show the Animate shop in Nagaoka on March 17th 2016 and Animate shop in Yamagata on March 16th.
Staff members who worked on Kinpri start getting more and more interview proposals, even staff who usually don’t get interviewed, like Kojima Nobuto, who is in charge of sound mixing since Aurora Dream. Seeing how over the top the movie is, one question often asked to director Hishida is if the Kinpri movie is actually supposed to be taken at face value or is a huge intended joke. Needless to say, the director always answers that everything is serious. It’s important to understand when they say they didn’t expect it to become this popular, they don’t mean “lol we made a random movie with tons of naked guys but people actually liked it”.
After the first Kinpri movie’s success with Cheer Screenings in 2016, pretty much every movie in Japan now does Cheer Screenings as well, including movies that have nothing to do with idols. Avengers Infinity War had Cheer Screenings. Baahubali had Cheer Screenings and is very popular among Pretty Rhythm Yakuza I know (because Director Hishida recommended the movie). There are other franchises, especially those popular with women, who started producing movies specifically made for Cheer Screenings just like Kinpri. The Prince of Tennis franchise is the best example, as after organizing Cheer Screenings in December 2017 for the Prince of Tennis Futari no Samurai 2005 old movie, they announced the Prince of Tennis Best Matches new OVAs, which are all getting Cheer Screenings.
Unlike saying Madoka Magica revolutionized the Mahou Shoujo genre, it’s not far-fetched to say KING OF PRISM revolutionized Japanese cinema. Other movies tried doing Cheer Screenings in the past in Japan, most notably Frozen and Sengoku Basara The Last Party, but none of their Cheer Screenings managed to reach Kinpri‘s popularity, probably because unlike Kinpri movies, they weren’t made with Cheer Screenings in mind in the first place. Some small cinemas in Japan even thanked Kinpri fans, saying their cinemas might have closed down if not for them.
During a Kinpri stream event in mid-2016, Tatsunoko producer Yoda Takeshi said they don’t really remember who among the staff had the initial idea to do Cheer Screenings. The first time they did them was for the Pretty Rhythm All Star Selection movie. However, he said if the idea was his, he definitely inspired himself from the first Lyrical Nanoha movie in 2010, which did something very similar. It seems the first Nanoha movie is the first anime movie ever who has done Cheer Screening. I’m not gonna write too much about this event as you could just read the summary about it later, but they also revealed when Tatsunoko’s superiors pertinently refused to greenlight the Kinpri project, Yoda Takeshi was actually thinking about quitting his job at Tatsunoko and make his own anime studio to produce the movie with Takara Tomy and Avex. This shows how much he was dedicated to the project, as he’s got a pretty good position at Tatsunoko, he’s one of the producers for all of Pretty Series and currently works on Prichan.
Last but not least, the final reason why the first Kinpri movie became so popular, is the fact that many popular Japanese personalities promoted it. Mangaka, Talents, Idols, Seiyuu, Authors…
The first person I know who promoted the movie, was Mizu Asato, mangaka of Denkigai no Honya-san. She tweeted on January 12th 2016, 3 days after the movie released, that’s it’s the best thing ever and you should definitely go watch it.
Bkub, mangaka of Pop Team Epic, tweeted “Only idiots won’t watch Kinpri”.
He’s actually a huge fan of Pretty Series. They even let him draw a still shot of the characters with his unique style in Idol Time PriPara‘s penultimate episode. After Kinpri released, multiple Pop Team Epic chapters had cameos of Kinpri characters. In 2017, collab goods between PriPara and Pop Team Epic were released as well. And not many people realized it outside Japan but the final scene in the Pop Team Epic anime with Shouta Aoi skating was a direct reference to Louis, the character he voices in Kinpri.
Mangaka Yokoyari Mengo, becomes a fan of Pretty Rhythm after seeing Kinpri in February 2016. Later in December 2017 after KING OF PRISM -PRIDE the HERO- released, she tweeted above, “These are my Top 3 Movies of 2017”.
Many anime journalists and specialist praised Kinpri as well, including Animestyle Magazine’s editor-in-chief Oguro Yuuichirou or Mantanweb writer Koarai Ryou. (I like her a lot because she’s among the few who said G Reco is a masterpiece)
Popular comedian and radio host Iwai Yuuki extensively promoted Kinpri on his Nico Nico radio show. Yyou may know him as nowadays he’s often MC on Atlus streams for P5, PQ2, Catherine, etc.
There were also the members of idol group Denpagumi, Nakanishi Yuuka(SKE48), Chelly(EGOIST’s singer), Kurosaki Maon, Sakuraba Kazuki(Gosick’s author), Mikanagi Touya(Karneval’s mangaka), Tiv(Masamune kun no Revenge), popular veteran mangaka Tanaka Keiichi, Toboso Yana(Kuroshitsuji’s mangaka), Imamori Hisayo… I made a full list you can check here.
The final influential person who greatly promoted the first Kinpri movie is Sugita Tomokazu, one of the most popular voice actors, which most people discovered with Kyon in Suzumiya Haruhi or Gin in Gintama.
The first time he tweets about the movie is on February 29th 2016. The same day, he finished work pretty early, so he was really happy he could go see the movie “Doukyuusei” which was currently screening then. He thought it was a movie related to the classic dating sim Doukyuusei by Elf and was super excited as he played the Saturn version and loved it. Except the Doukyuusei movie that released in 2016 is actually an adaptation of a BL manga by Nakamura Asumiko, and doesn’t have anything to do with Elf’s Doukyuusei. At first he did think something was wrong when he only saw girls in the cinema, and when the movie started he was pretty disappointed.
However, the movie was actually pretty good and he liked it a lot. So when he went out, he randomly saw the ad for Kinpri and thought “That BL movie I just saw was actually pretty good, I’ll go check out that BL looking thing too, maybe it’s good”.
And then he went home, and tweeted a really weird summary of the movie, using references to things that don’t make any sense unless you’ve seen the movie, like Darun Mister’s Indra Bridge attack in Street Fighter EX. He also says the EZ DO DANCE Prism Show Battle is so awesome you could go watch the movie solely for it. And that it’s impressive how well Takeuchi/Alec sings the song, despite being a song from before he was even born. Last but not least, he says he went to eat at Mcdo after the movie, and they were selling “honey lemon shake” at the moment so he couldn’t stop thinking about the honey from Kouji’s butt. (EZ DO DANCE released in 93, Takeuchi was born in 97. Sugita is friends with Takeuchi. Sugita and Mafia Kajita even offered him a PS4 for his 18th birthday in 2015)
Starting that day, Sugita would constantly promote Kinpri, telling this whole, full story on almost every single stream or radio show he appeared in, including a Persona Stalker Club V stream(sadly didn’t write which one), in Super Robot Taisen’s radio show Umasugi Wave (episode 476, March 8th 2016) and on his own radio show Anigera Didooooon!! where he brought up the movie many times.
Along with Iwaii Yuki, Sugita Tomokazu is the personality who promoted Kinpri the most, to the point that once Kinpri’s second movie was greenlighted, the Kinpri staff contacted his agency, Aoni Production, and decided to create a character specifically for him in the sequel movie: Takadanobaba Joji, one of the top Prism Stars at Jin’s Schwarz Rose school and leader of a team called The Shuffle. When this was announced, Sugita was really surprised, as while he heard he would voice a character, he didn’t pass an audition and was expecting to voice some random guy, not one of the Prism Stars. (Sugita san didn’t sing for the role though, and Joji’s singing voice is by Kobayashi Tatsuyuki, who also voiced Asahi, one of the WITH boys in Idoltime PriPara)
Takadanobaba is the name of a subway station on Yamanote line, and all 5 other members of The Shuffle have identical family names to station names on this line. Their given names are references to trump cards, just like their team name.
As far as I know, this is in reference to an old private joke: Director Hishida once said at an event that while working on Rainbow Live, he would often take walks near Hirokoji station. Hiro and Kouji weren’t named after it and it’s a simple coincidence, but fans kept bringing it up for fun. So he actually decided to name characters after stations this time.
All of the above is why starting end of February 2016, Kinpri‘s popularity exploded. On March 9th 2016, exactly 2 months after the movie’s release, the staff announced during an event it reached 250 million yen of earnings. They affirm they now have a clear, visible weapon called numbers, which will make getting the sequel project more of a reality. New hand fans distributed at the event included a videogames-like “AND YOU!” thanking the fans for their support.
On March 17th 2016, the movie gets past 300 million yen with 150 000 tickets sold.
On March 21st 2016, the OST and DVD Bluray release of the movie are announced on Twitter and with giant posters in stations like Shinjuku station, Osada station and Umeda station.
On March 23rd, a new trailer talking about the Cheer Screening’s popularity is published. The trailer is narrated by Takeuchi Shunsuke/Alec.
Starting March 30th until April 5th 2016, the same trailer is shown on multiple giant screens: The 4 giant screens in front of Shibuya Station, the giant screens on the Yodobashi building in Akihabara, the giant screen on LaOX building in Akihabara, and the giant screen on Cinema Sunshine building in Ikebukuro.
On April 1st 2016, for April fools, the official site is modified into “KING OF PRINCES” with a new visual showing all characters wearing the same clothes as the girls in Rainbow Live. The website explodes that day and is nearly inaccessible. The KING OF PRINCESS joke stayed until April 4th.
Frontwing, the company developing the Grisaia Visual Novels, does a parody of Kinpri‘s official site for April fools. Probably because Watanabe Akio, who worked on Pretty Rhythm, is also the illustrator of Grisaia. Mangaka Daiamon’s official site parodies Kinpri as well.
In April 2016, the Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live Official Guidebook (which some of the quotes in this article are from) suddenly gets propelled to first place on the “comic&graphic novel literary criticism” category on Amazon Japan, as more and more people are starting to watch previous Pretty Rhythm works after seeing the first Kinpri movie, and are interested in past interviews of the staff.
During an event on April 27th 2016, the staff announces the movie reached 530 million yen, and a new big event is announced for September 11th 2016, with the OTR seiyuu. This is the first time since Kinpri’s launch that OTR will participate in an event. And it’s at that event that KING OF PRISM, PRIDE the HERO was later announced.
On May 10th 2016, Pash Magazine June 2016 is released. Featuring Kinpri characters on its cover, as far as I know, it’s the first time ever Pretty Rhythm was featured on a magazine cover. Since then, there’s been many interviews, posters, and even short stories in many magazines.
Lastly, the September 11th 2016 with Over The Rainbow happened. The event was divided into two parts, a Cheer Screening of the movie, and the talk show with OTR. The talk show part was streamed live not on the net, but in multiple theaters across Japan, and one theater in South Korea. KING OF PRISM -PRIDE the HERO- was announced, with 20 000 people watching. Compared to Kinpri 1, which was announced in a room with only 200 people, it makes you think a miracle really did happen.
Note: The tickets for the September 11th 2016 event had a lot of scalpers, and the staff took into account fans complaining about it. Ever since then, there’s always various systems used to prevent scalping whenever there’s a big Pretty Series event.
While Kinpri 1’s results were much higher than expected, getting the sequel movie approved was also a struggle for the staff. While the sequel’s planning started in March 2016, it only received the final approval on September 7th 2011, so only 4 days before the event. Right after the movie’s announcement, Tatsunoko even launched an exclusive recruitment drive to get experienced animators to work on the movie, showing once more a sequel wasn’t scheduled at all. This is also why the first Kinpri movie has a preview at the end that shows a bit of what would happen next, that way fans could have imagined the rest of the story if it never released.
The recruitment announcement says: “Tatsunoko is doing an emergency recruitment for the next KING OF PRISM work announced on September 11. Limited to people who already have experience working in the animation industry. We’re looking for people with a burning passion for animation and a deep love for Kinpri. For one year now, Tatsunoko is currently overhauling their way of working to create a friendlier work environment. Starting this year, we’re also engaging a plan that will last 3 years to switch to full digital. Do you want to draw the dreams of children around the world with us?”
KING OF PRISM -PRIDE the HERO- was initially only announced for “June 2017” during the September 11 event too, showing they were taking into account possible delays. It’s only a bit later they revealed the precise release date, June 10th 2017.
One last thing worth mentioning is the impressive amount of stage greetings the staff did, especially director Hishida, who had already attended 17th stage greetings as of 9th March 2016, I stopped counting after that. He even went to Okinawa too. And he again participated in many stage greetings to meet the fans with Kinpri2 when it released. Most fans are aware of how much the staff poured their souls into Kinpri, to the point that at all stage greetings with seiyuu and director Hishida, it’s actually him who gets the most cheers.
While KING OF PRISM -PRIDE the HERO- released on June 10th 2017, multiple advance screenings of the movie were held. The first one was on May 17th, with a stage greeting with Director, Terashima/Shin and Takeuchi/Alec. Iwai Yuuki also appeared as a special guest and they thanked him for advertising the first movie so much.
On June 10th 2017, the first movie was also shown on TV, along with the first 8 minutes of the second movie. Soon after release, NHK World did a documentary on the movie as well, explaining Cheer Screenings.
Before moving on to the final part, you should read this message Director tweeted on June 7th 2017, three days before Kinpri 2 released. Click to enlarge. (I translated that in a hurry back then so it’s a bit weirdly phrased, and I don’t have the time to retranslate it)
The Future of the Pretty Series franchise
Kinpri is now very popular. Starting late 2016, many different collaboration projects appeared. I’m not going to list everything, but we’ve had collabs from Joysound Karaoke and Animate Café. The characters appeared in gacha games such as Million Arthur and Yume 100 Prince. There was a collab with the Cocktail Prince franchise. There was the Kinpri x Ooedo Hot Springs collaboration event which lasted from April 28th to July 2nd 2017. The collaboration with Bay Hotel in Akihabara, a women-only capsule hotel, which initially launched in September 8th 2016 but was revived multiple times since, and was even featured at Anime Japan 2017. The collab with MOW ice creams. The collab with drug brand BUFFERIN, which even had its own augmented reality app.
Kinpri also had a fantasy-themed booth at Animate Girls Festival 2017 in November 3rd and 4th 2017, selling goods re-imagining the characters in a fantasy RPG setting. Fans could even play a short 8bit RPG styled game. This year AGF2018 will feature Kinpri again, this time with the theme “No Rain No Rainbow”.
Another favorite of mine is the collab with Best Limousine, a company using limousines to advertise events, products and such. During all of October 2017, fans were able to rent a one hour ride on the Kinpri limousine for 8500 yen, tax and glass of champagne or juice included.
I didn’t bring up Korea much till now, but the fans there greatly contributed to the second movie getting approved too. Later on, one particular project they did for Hiro’s bday (October 10th)in 2017 after Kinpri2 released, is a crowdfunding to rent a big ad space, and put on it a huge picture of Kinpri2.. It spoils a bit so you can see it here.
The official visual for Tatsunoko’s 55th-anniversary published in October 2016 features Aira, Mia, Naru, Laala and Shin. The official visual for Anime Japan 2018 shows Hiro among many other popular and historical characters, showing how recognized Pretty Series and Pretty Rhythm became.
Since release, Kinpri also had a VR photography game, a radio show, and multiple concert events, including an appearance at Anisama 2017 with DJ KOO. A mobage titled KING OF PRISM Prism Rush!LIVE(nicknamed プリララ/PriRaRa) was released too, and it celebrated its first year anniversary in September 2018 by adding Joji as a playable character.
A stage play adapting both movies, KING OF PRISM -Over the Sunshine!- officially nicknamed Butakin, was made as well. (Yes, the official nickname really is “Butakin”/”pig money”. Made from “butai” and “kinpri”. specifically decided by the director because of how funny it is to call it that).
Some cinemas like Aeon Cinema in Ebina kept showing Kinpri2 for more than 6 months after release as fans kept going. In December 2017 especially(maybe even before, I’m not sure) they were showing the movie every day. The only reason they stopped screening it was because they weren’t legally able to anymore once the movie released on disc in January 2018. Nowadays there are still special screenings from time to time, mostly for the characters’ birthdays.
One funny anecdote is how there’s a Johnnies group called “Mr. King Vs Mr. Prince“. In the past their name was abbreviated as “Kinpri”, but when Kinpri started being ultra popular in mid-2016, you’d only find Pretty Series‘ Kinpri instead of the Johnnies group when googling “Kinpri”.
So on January 17th 2018, the group announced their debut(they were still in “training” all these years) and that they changed their name to “King & Prince” and won’t use the “kinpri” shortening anymore. “Kinpri” has in fact since then been copyrighted by Takara Tomy.
A lot of Yakuza actually pitied the group because of that. Last funny thing is how when they announced their name change, they also announced their debut single, titled “Cinderella Girl”. Because of that, for a few minutes on Twitter, there was a huge confusion, with people thinking Takara Tomy’s Kinpri was doing a crossover with Bandai Namco’s Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls.
During the Rose Party 2018 event on June 10th, celebrating KING OF PRISM -PRIDE the HERO- ‘s 1st anniversary, the next Kinpri project was announced: KING OF PRISM -Shiny Seven Stars-.
Scheduled for Spring 2019, it will be a 12 episodes long TV anime and four movies. Each movie will be made by stitching 3 episodes, and the first movie covering episodes 1 to 3 is supposed to release before the TV anime starts airing. Years after the staff thought up the Kinpri project, they finally managed to realize their initial goal, which was a TV anime.
Prichan is currently airing and is heading through its third cour. Prichan’s universe Aira appears in it and seems she’ll play a role in the story later. Similar to previous cases of alternate versions of characters appearing, she has no relation with her original character in AD DMF, but still has similar traits. At this point its clear Takara Tomy wants to make Pretty Series into a franchise that keeps reusing old characters with self-references, so people who have seen absolutely everything from the start can enjoy it more.
While we love Kinpri, many older fans hope one day we’ll get a new TV anime directed by Hishida that focuses on both male and female characters like the three Pretty Rhythm seasons. OTR seiyuu said they wish the same thing too during a stage greeting on August 15th 2017. A crossover project between all of Pretty Series would be great too.
There’s still no new particular information about Pretty All Friends, they just keep releasing different goods and doing collabs, and the Text Episodes. For now, Pretty All Friends‘ text episodes added Mion and Rizumu to the team and all of the mascots, so by a certain point all the female characters will be added, but many wish they would add the males ones too.
Nowadays, PriPara has the biggest fanbase, followed by Prichan as most PriPara fans moved to that. Then there’s’ Kinpri, with Pretty Rhythm being last. However, as Kinpri is inherently part of Pretty Rhythm, more and more people who got into the franchise with Kinpri or even PriPara started watching past seasons as well.
To answer this enthusiasm, starting February 11th 2017, every Saturday for 4 weeks straight, Wald 9 showed a cour of Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live. Bluray versions. They called it the Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live All Night Event. Director, Yoda, and Tsubota were at the first night for a stage greeting too. Every Saturdays before the episodes started, there was also a new message recorded by Katou Emiri as Naru, thanking the audience. Each time, cards drawn by Okama were distributed to the audience, and getting all four would form an exclusive new illustration with all the girls.
In November 2017, Animate Café also organized the “Rainbow Live month”, where they would show some episodes every week and sell goods related to it
In 2018, goods shop Dash Store did 2 collabs with Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live, releasing brand new goods with Okama illustrations.
2018’s Pretty Series Christmas event, “Mi~nna de Kiratto Pretty Live 2018” was recently announced for December 9th 2018, featuring seiyuu from PriPara and Prichan. One weird thing is they advertise it as the “biggest Pretty Series concert event so far”, but there’s a lot of seiyuu from PriPara missing(WITH will be there though) and especially no one from Pretty Rhythm was announced. Though they teased three more people, who might be Asumi Kana/Aira, Ookubo Rumi/Mia and Kato Emiri/Naru. Edit: The there have indeed been confirmed now.
I highly doubt they’ll make a spinoff on WITH, like a KING OF PRIPARA, at least not for now. At first, I thought they would, but at the WITH only concert events in summer 2018, they did surveys asking stuff like “which WITH do you like? Why? What would you like to see next?” so they probably don’t have anything planned for now. One thing they could do is alternate between new boys PriPara and new boys Pretty Rhythm projects.
Tsubota Fumi is getting more and more recognized, she worked on many big things this year. The Galaxy Express 999 stageplay Galaxy Opera. The drama version of Kounodori. The movie adaptation of Ie ni Kaeru to Tsuma ga Kanarazu Shinda Furi wo Shiteimasu. The movie Neko to Jiichan. Kaichou Shima Kousaku‘s drama adaptation. And of course, she’s still working on Hugtto! Purikyua. I hope to see soon on ANN an article titled “Legendary Anime Screenwriter Fumi Tsubota“.
Nowadays, almost every weekend there are groups of cosplayers who rent a studio and do Pretty Series related photo shoots. (The one I’m looking forward to the most is a DMF finale themed cosplay shoot scheduled for November, I hope nothing will go wrong with its organization).
The absolute majority of Japanese fans, whether they only like a particular season/series, or all of Pretty Series, all get along with each other. There have been very few cases of elitism/gatekeeping etc from older fans too. Director and the staff have been condemning this sort of behavior too. Director once said that while he differentiates the people who started watching Pretty Rhythm from the first three tv seasons, and the people who started watching Pretty Rhythm with the Kinpri movies, he obviously loves everyone and don’t discriminate.
At Comiket 93, the stands for Pretty Rhythm, PriPara and Kinpri were all near together too. That wasn’t the case at C92, where for some reason back then, the comiket staff decided to separate circle registering for Pretty Series in two categories: “Pretty Rhythm+PriPara” and “Kinpri, male characters only”, which is absolutely stupid. You can do “Kinpri” doujin goods but only use the girls with their new designs from the movie. You can do “Pretty Rhythm” doujin goods but only feature the male characters. After the fans complained about it in the Comiket survey, the separation stopped and all stands were together at C93. For some reason, however, the stands weren’t together again at C94. Other series that has both many male and female fans don’t get this treatment either, I’m not sure if the Comiket staff doesn’t know about Pretty Series, thinking it’s like some fanbases where some people would get mad for seeing doujin goods with male and female characters interacting with each other, or if there are logistic issues, or whatever.
Nowadays, Prism Stone Shops and Game Centers with kids arcade game reinstalled old Pretty Rhythm arcade games. For example, the Prism Stone in Harajuku has machines running the Dear My Future final version, the Rainbow Live/All Star Selection final version, PriPara‘s final version and Prichan. No one could have imagined this in July 2014, when almost every Pretty Rhythm machine was replaced with PriPara.
I will end this article with this tweet of Nagasaki Yukio from May 2016. Nagasaki Yukio is a veteran Sound Director. He worked on all Pretty Series, all of Love Live, or Houseki no Kuni. He’s also the sound director for the upcoming new 2019 City Hunter movie, which is the movie I’m looking forward to the most along with Kinpri SSS movies.
After doing multiple interviews following Kinpri 1′s success, he tweeted that while Pretty Rhythm already had 3 TV seasons, anime magazines never really cared about it, and he was always sad about the series’ unpopularity. So he has a hard time believing Kinpri managed to become this popular. He asks himself what happened. Maybe it’s the 5 years worth of luck they’ve never had suddenly hitting them in one go? Or maybe people finally realized how good Pretty Rhythm is? He thinks It’s weird he’s getting interviewed for Kinpri like if he did some magic on it, since he worked on Kinpri the same way he always worked during his career. And that it’s not like Kinpri is different from Pretty Rhythm either.
I watched Your Name pretty late, at the end of 2016. One thing shocked me when I saw the movie. The fact that from a thematic viewpoint, the movie is the exact same thing Shinkai Makoto already did multiple times: love story between a boy and a girl. They end up separated because of supernatural things. At the end, they may or may not get back together, Fin.
Before seeing the movie, I used to think it got ultra popular because he did something different than usual, while that’s not the case at all. What happened is, people simply finally realized he’s a good director who makes good movies. That’s exactly what happened with Kinpri. People finally realized Pretty Rhythm is the anime of the decade.
End note: This article doesn’t have any sources
because I’m not a real journalist (Ooh my God I just realized if things go right I technically won’t be able to say this anymore) because I’m lazy. I don’t want to brag, but my blog is literally the only source for most of the quotes or info, as Director deleted his Twitter account. This article is a summary(lol) of all the posts I’ve done these past years. That way, all the info explaining Pretty Series is in one place. If you want to recommend Pretty Series to someone, please share this post.
If you want to read more, you can check this page with all the posts and translations I’ve done on Pretty Series so far. And you can follow me on Twitter for regular coverage of Pretty Series news.
This page is literally me when looking for Pretty Rhythm fanart in 2011. Manga is Shinozaki san wo Otashika ni. An extremely fun manga I reccomend.
Special thanks to:
All the Prism Yakuza. The best fan community I’ve ever seen, always helping the fandom by doing stuff like writing event reports for those who can’t attend them. Without them, I couldn’t have written this article or many of the other previous posts. (I’m also very grateful they never gave me the cold shoulder, despite the dumb things I did in the past, like reposting their art without authorization on my blog for the news posts. Even if you properly link to sources, you should remember it’s not a good thing. Pretty Rhythm art was so scarce back in those days it was hard to resist)
Rida, Siveruu, Salty, Erasu, Sentai, Sakucchi, Zamzeed and all my online friends including those I’ve never seen again like those on old IRC channels I was on (RandomC, Foolz etc)
YumeAyonie and everyone who organized and participated in the AX2018 Pretty Series gathering(I wish I could’ve gone too).
Chibitech and her friends.
Everyone who participated in Animint Sama Awards 2018, thanks to whom I got the motivation to finish the french version of this in May, after procrastinating on it for months.
The sub groups for Pretty Series anime and Aikatsu anime and all of each series’ fans, like everyone on /ai/.
My hypothetical future wife.
Everyone who read this and everyone I’m forgetting.