I love Aikatsu! , yet I have a strong unwillingness to watch other idols shows. The currently airing ones I know about are Love Live and AKB0048. The main reason is that I’m not into idols, be it 2D or 3D. And yet I love Aikatsu, because it doesn’t have the kind of otaku pandering present in Love Live or AKB0048. That’s the simple difference that changes everything. Aikatsu is simply about girls who tries their best without any fanservice.
Maybe I’ll sound like a fanservice hater saying this but I am not one. In fact, I always find sad that some people judge books by their covers and won’t give something a chance simply because it has big boobs. It’s also sad that people dismiss Aikatsu! simply because it’s target audience is kids and that they use cards to wear their clothes. Target audience doesn’t mean anything. I just watch it and have fun. Aikatsu! is also really realistic for a kids show.
Episode 1 was mediocre, episode 2 was better, episode 3 & 4 were great. I was comparing it to Pretty Rhythm, but now, besides their background of both being adaptations of arcade games for little girls, Aikatsu! already detached itself from Pretty Rhythm. Pretty Rhythm is a Nekketsu sports show, Aikatsu! is a realistic idol show. Pretty Rhythm is Virtua Tennis, Aikatsu! is Top Spin ( I played Top Spin 4 at a friend’s place this weekend).
The plot is similar: the reveal in episode 2 about how the school’s director in Aikatsu! is a previous top idol, who used to be part of a duo until her partner mysteriously vanished, immediately made me think about Kyouko in Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream, the manager of the girls, who used to be a top idol, until her rival mysteriously disappeared. Seems like Aikatsu’s plot in the end will revolve around this just like Pretty Rhythm. I’ve even willing to bet the 3rd heroine who has yet to join Ichigo and Aoi will be the daughter of either the director or the vanished idol.
However, when you stop looking at the plot, then the similarities end. When I watched episode 3 of Aikatsu! I really felt like I was watching a documentary about an idol’s daily work routine in Japan. It was really amazing in a sense.
Aikatsu!, is a contraction of “Idol Katsudou” or idol activities.
Aikatsu! is an anime adapted from an arcade game by Bandai. One of sunrise’s animation studio is doing it. The game is aimed towards little girls and is about making your character the best idol there is, using collectibles cards representing clothes to customize her. The game is quite recent; it was launched this October, right before the anime’s start. I was really interested when hearing about it as it reminded me of Pretty Rhythm. I’m pretty sure Bandai is trying to rival Takara Tomy with their own idol arcade game and ride on Pretty Rhythm’s success.
About the anime, it’s typically the kind of show most people will call crap without even watching it. Now doesn’t this remind you of anything? The comparisons with Pretty Rhythm doesn’t stop here as the first episode is pretty much a copy paste of Pretty Rhythm’s initial plot. We have our heroine called Ichigo who is helping her parents run a bento store. In Pretty Rhythm, Aira helps her parents with their bakery. The basic plot is the same. The clueless heroine who becomes an idol and has some hidden talent. Both shows also uses CG for the dance scenes. The CGs scenes in Pretty Rhythm are rather well done and fits in (then again I’m a huge fan of it so my judgement is biased) while I have to admit the ones in Aikatsu! just look weird. Unlike Pretty Rhythm, the choreography isn’t interesting, and the girls’ CG rendition is too different from how she looks outside CG scenes. They become way too skinny, among other things.
I’ll probably keep watching Aikatsu! because I want to know how it will turn out. I consider Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream the best show I’ve seen in 2011 & 2012, not only because it exceeded my expectations, but also because it was genuinely awesome. I mean, I don’t only like it because it was better than what I imagined, the show IS great. It would be great if Aikatsu! manages to transcend being an anime directed toward little girls and incorporates great and touching story elements like Rizumu’s issues with her mom in Pretty Rhythm.