Idoly Pride – Episode 1

By: Meru Clewis January 12, 20210 Comments
Up and coming idol Nagase Mana wins her first competition under the Venus Program.

What’s it about? Nagase Mana has dreams of becoming an idol and once she’s recruited by Hoshimi Production, her dreams are closer than ever before. On the other hand, Makino Kyouhei -Mana’s deskmate and a typical high school student- is pretty average. Yet when Mana asks Kyohei to become her manager and he agrees, their lives change radically as Mana becomes and instant hit and starts to rise in the Venus Program.

The Anime Feminist team wasn’t kidding when they wished me luck with Idoly Pride, which might be one of the most outrageous premieres of the Winter 2021 season— and I say that knowing Ex-Arm and Mushoku Tensei premiered this season (and this week) too. 

Idoly Pride, which is stylized in all caps on the poster as IDOLY PRIDE, is an idol-themed anime debuting this wonderful Winter season. Shockingly, it’s also a bigger, multimedia franchise which I’ve honestly never heard of, and I’m the resident Idol Lover. Safe to say, I was low-key very happy to cover this for AniFem.

Then I watched the episode. But… we’re not to that point yet.

IDOLY‘s anime adaptation is being co-produced by CA Animation and Lerche studios. CA Animation has only a few titles to its name, most notable being Mr. Love: Queen’s Choice, a Summer 2020 anime. Lerche, on the other hand, is quite a notable studio, having produced Winter 2020’s Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, Summer 2019’s Given, and Fall 2018’s Asobi Asobase.

What a combination, right? That said, the one majorly positive thing about IDOLY PRIDE is that it’s actually quite nice to look at, though the art style is decidedly a bit generic.

Meet the ten idols under Hoshino Production: Kotono, Sakura, Rei, Nagisa, Suzu, Saki, Chisa, Shizuku, Haruko, and Mei.

Staff for IDOLY PRIDE includes Kinome Yu (Classroom of the Elite) as director, with series composition being handled by Takahashi Tatsuya (And you though there is never a girl online?). Character design for the series will be handled by Kinoshita Sumie (Dropout Idol Fruit Tart), with editing by Miyazaki Naoki (Boruto).

Once again, I’d list some voice actors, but just like I-Chu, there’s too many girls! Heck, the premiere drops ten girls on you all at once, and they barely get a word in edgewise. Once more, I beg of thee, idol anime: stop giving me a glut of characters!

Episode one kicks off in media res with the girls of Hoshino Production—Kotono, Sakura, Rei, Nagisa, Suzu, Saki, Chisa, Shizuku, Haruko, and Mei—pre-idol performance. Their manager, Makino Kyouhei, gives a rousing enough speech as the girls put their hands together in a huddle and head off to the stage to go perform.

Viewers don’t yet get to see this performance: instead, the next scene cuts to five years ago when Makino was a high school student.

Makino and Mana sit down for a chat with Mana's recruiter to decide if he'll become her manager.

Makino meets with his classmate Nagase Mana, a high school girl who wants to debut as an idol. After chatting together, Mana (and she demands to be called Mana) asks Makino to be her producer and help her achieve her dream. It comes off as quite genuine, even though Mana’s already been scouted by a famous recruiter. In fact, this opening might be one of the more genuine scenes in the entire premiere.

Mana holds Makino in confidence about her dream, in large part because she seems to like him, though she claims it was “pure proximity” as they happen to sit next to one another in class. It’s a bit unrealistic, but it’s still quite sweet.

Naturally, the good times don’t stop coming as Mana continues to find win after win, landing her in the finals. As I said before, Mana is an incredidlby character: she’s a genuinely nice character that you want to root for. While her win feels almost scripted, it’s still not scripted enough to be off-putting.

Up and coming idol Nagase Mana wins her first competition under the Venus Program.

The next scene cuts to Makino and Mana chatting before Mana heads off to the finals. She gets in a car, the music drops a bit, and the rain-filled scene fades out, slowly desaturating itself as it transitions to the next. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Oh, Mana’s definitely gonna die, right?” Well, ding, ding, ding! That’s right: IDOLY PRIDE decided to get twisty with it, and kills Mana in a car accident.

This is where I kind fell off of IDOLY PRIDE. This is where I started to get genuinely angry because why?Why kill the most likable character in the series? What was the point of this first episode? What was the goal? Why did you make me like Mana and then just off her like this?!

Also, when did she become a GHOST!?

Rather than building up a genuine story about Mana and her rise to idol glory, the story flips to this new set of idols under Makino and Ghost Mana. It’s a real “throw the baby out with the bathwater” kind of scenario, and it comes right out of left field. I rewatched to see if her death was ever hinted at, but like… it’s not.

It just happens.

The worst part is that I—and presumably other viewers—don’t even care about the ten girls we get very briefly introduced to in the beginning and the ED. I just care about why we spent twenty-two minutes with a GHOST.  Toss these new girls into the trash: I want Mana back!

Makino reminiscences on Mana's idol career in their old high school classroom.

Y’all, I have to admit that I’ve been quite burned on idol anime this Winter. I’m loaded full of idol arrows, and feel as if I can’t go on liking these shows. Somehow, I know I’ll find my way to a good series, but for right now, I’m feeling pretty sore. This is my third idol anime review of the season and y’all: they all suck in different ways. 

 IDOLY PRIDE’s “twist” really ruined what could have been a solid first episode for me. It’s a shame because this had the potential to be a simple anime about a girl achieving her dream. Instead, I’m laying here with my computer in my lap, just gobsmacked at this series and its decisions.

While it wasn’t horrible, it just feels like a waste of time once you get past the flashback and into modern day. I’m not invested in those ten idols from the beginning like I am in Mana: knowing that the series will shift to characters who aren’t here doesn’t feel great.

a dark haired girl grasping the hand of a blond girl with pigtails

I low-key hate myself, but like… it also was kind of good y’all. I don’t know what that says about me as an idol fan: perhaps it means I’m just easily pursued into B-grade idol anime. I’m hoping that Mana and Makino will continue to be as fun as they were prior to her going ghost, though… I’m not sure how this series will ultimately shake out.

I’ll do my three episode watch because I can almost guarantee I’ll be the one covering this series in the three-episode check-in, but also because I’m a bit morbidly curious about how Mana will continue to factor into a series that’s literally haunted by her. I’m curious how she’ll influence Makino’s work with this new idol group. I’m curious how she’ll “live on” through Haruka, her rival who’s also a part of this new group. 

I would really like to come to like this show. I would really like for my ire to be soothed by a genuinely good idol series. But honestly, killing Mana off kind of ruined any excitement about this series. Time will tell if IDOLY PRIDE rises to the occasion: for now, consider me a cautious viewer as I continue my watch.

About the Author : Meru Clewis

Meru Clewis is a Queer Blerd JP-EN translator, transcriptionist, and writer. They're also a big fan of the manga Complex Age, the Etrian Odyssey series, the visual novel Raging Loop, and iyashikei/healing anime and manga.

You can follow their work as a professional Blerd at Backlit Pixels, read their thoughts on video games on Medium, support their work via Ko-Fi, get snapshots of their life on Instagram or keep up with them on Twitter.

Read more articles from Meru Clewis

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