Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wake Up, Girls! Review

I believe there are three ways to make people happy. There are those who make many people happy throughout the world. Those who make those around themselves happy. And those who make themselves happy. There’s one other thing I learned about happiness. It’s that you can’t make anyone happy if you’re not happy yourself. That’s why I think I might be able to make someone happy now.

Wake Up, Girls! is a film and 12 episode Slice of Life series from Studio Ordet and Tatsunoko Production with director Yutaka Yamamoto for the Winter 2014 season. As of this review, this series has not been licensed, however it is up for legal streaming, film included, on Crunchyroll.

Green Leaves Entertainment is a tiny production company on the verge of going out of business in Sendai, the biggest city in Japan's northeastern Tohoku region. The agency once managed the careers of magicians, photo idols, fortune-tellers, and other entertainers, but its last remaining client finally quit. In danger of having zero talent (literally), the president Tange hatches an idea of producing an idol group. On the brash president's orders, the dissatisfied manager Matsuda heads out to scout raw talent. Matsuda then makes a fateful encounter with a certain girl...

First things first, this series is in no way supposed to be bright and cheerful every single second of the time, and it shows. The animation and color scheme are kept as realistic as possible with the most colorful moments pertaining to actual performances. Studio Ordet, oddly enough, doesn’t have many works under their belt with WUG being their fourth TV series they produced. For being relative newcomers, though they did form in 2007, Ordet has created something really wonderful! But more on that in a moment. As for the soundtrack, a majority of the time we get typical background music whenever we don’t have anything idol related going on. But, once we get into idol mode, the music is so upbeat and fun to listen to that I am currently looking for some of the songs while writing this. My favorite, in case you’re curious, has got to be “7 Girls War,” the second opening of the series and the final song WUG sings in the series itself.

Uhh.... Is that what idols are supposed to look like?

If you didn’t get the chance to read my Impressions for the Winter season a few months ago, I’m going to let you in on a little secret that you may not know of yet. If you want to catch the story from the beginning then there is a Wake Up, Girls! movie which shows how the group was formed. My advice, watch the film first (it’s only 50ish minutes long) because if you jump directly into the series then you will miss quite a bit. The majority of the story involves the girls working their way towards a mainstream debut, with bits and pieces of their struggles here and there. From a sketchy producer having the girls perform at a spa in bikinis to the personal war between Mayu and the I-1 Club.This series makes being an idol into a crazy and scary business, and WUG captures this really well. Previously, the only other music related series I completed was Nana and there wasn’t too much about the industry itself in that series. So going into this world and seeing different parts of the industry is really interesting to me. Plus the characters and the mini arcs we have throughout the series is a nice touch in order to keep the main characters real and human. As for the end of the series itself, I was left really satisfied and still cheering for this amazing group of girls!

There are seven members of Wake Up, Girls! plus many additional characters so I’m going to cover them as best as I can. Throughout the entire series, each member of Wake Up, Girls! has their own moment to grow and develop which is really nice to see! Granted, Mayu has the biggest development due to her former involvement with I-1 Club and that does come up many times during the series but the other six members still get a moment of their own. Being able to get to know the WUG members through their own moments of development gives them a sense of realness. Mirror that with the moments we see of the I-1 Club and their daily training and you can’t help but cheer for the underdog. The industry the series portrays is scary and to be able to capture that really well can make or break the show as this is a part of what the characters work through. There are a lot of fun side characters in the series as well, from I-1 Club members, to producers, to songwriters, and the families of the WUG members. Each one more encouraging then the next, in their own way.

The Japanese cast did an amazing job as far as I can tell! Each voice actor gave realistic performances that I enjoyed a lot.... Well almost everyone, but that I-1 Club manager is supposed to be a dick anyways so it’s ok! Mayu Yoshioka, Yoshino Aoyyama, Kaya Okuno, Airi Eino, Miyu Takagi, Minami Tanaka, and Nanami Yamashita all give outstanding performances as Mayu, Yoshino, Kaya, Airi, Miyu, Minami, and Nanami. Though I do have to say Kaya was my favorite for her spunky yet motherly attitude. Credit is also very much due to Noriko Hidaka and Shintaro Asanuma as Tange and Matsuda! They worked off each other really well and were both fun performances! Overall, I couldn’t help but love each and every performance this series had, and it certainly trumps the other recent anime I’ve been reviewing lately! But do you wanna know something pretty freaking awesome that you may not have known about? You think this anime is completely original and just happened, right? Notice how the names of the actresses are similar to the names of the characters? What if I told you there is actually an idol group called Wake Up, Girls! in Japan? Don’t believe me? Check out this little clip I found online and you be the judge!

By the end of the concert, Wake Up, Girls! isn’t just all sunshine and rainbows as it shows a different side of the idol industry that few may have seen before, at least in the states. The story has some depth to it, the characters are so much fun, and the music makes it all the more wild! If you’re interested in a more real depiction of the entertainment world, then WUG can be your appetizer of sorts. If not, then you’d probably be more interested in more pure positive musical series.

Next time, we head into the sea for all of the feels. Until then, otaku on my friends!

Final Rating 8/10 - Here we go! We can do it! Wake Up, Girls!

1 comment:

  1. Perfect summary. You really did this show and the girls justice. Tank you very much!