Idol Incidents – Episode 1

By: Amelia Cook January 9, 20170 Comments

What’s it about? Schoolgirl Natsuki Hoshina is singing in her village when the leader of the Heroine Party invites her to join the party and run for office – via auditioning for the Idol Dietwomen, a group of women who enter politics as idols. While training for the election, she practises with the well-respected Idol Dietwoman Shizuka Onimaru and deals with mudslinging from her opposition in the election.

There was a way to approach this concept as pure satire, making fun of both the current state of politics and the idol industry. Instead this show is a straight idol anime with a tone-deaf take on politics in the current climate.

A male political candidate wearing a suit and a sash speaks into a microphone from the top of a van covered in speakers and a board with the words: "Sagimiya - Rougai Party - Justice - Representing you in government" written on it. Subtitle: "You mustn't let yourselves be deceived by flowery shows."

This is Natsuki’s political opponent. He says that politics needs might, competence, stability, and asks “What good are Idol Dietwomen when all they can do is sing and dance?” He is the voice of reason villain.

Sachie, with long blonde hair and blue eyes, smiles as she speaks to her worried assistant, a man in a white shirt, waistcoat, red tie and glasses, dark hair in a ponytail. Subtitle: "But an idol's main asset is her body."

This is Sachie Kondo, perhaps the least feminist possible character you could imagine as the leader of a political party. We don’t see any political activity from her, or actually a display of any idol skills; just an unshakeable belief in Natsuki’s political potential based on the fact that she was the only one to pass the idol audition.

A flashback to Natsuki in her interview, looking shocked as she sits on a chair in gym clothes in front of Natsuki and her assistant, who has a giant sweatdrop. Subtitle: "Japan doesn't have a president?!"

This is Natsuki Hoshina. Probably a middle schooler, based on her school uniform in the opening sequence, unless that was just to get all the rice farmers in her village worked up. Her sole qualifications for the job of politician: holding a tune and running up a hill one time.

Sachie sits at her desk examining the nails she has just painted as her assistant stands behind her and snaps at her. Subtitle: "Could you please take this more seriously?"

I don’t even know this guy’s name, but he’s Sachie’s assistant and I agree with everything he says. By the way, she’s painting her nails in this picture and tells him to stop worrying about such silly things as their upcoming election, because he’ll go bald. Nice.

Shizuka looks angrily at her former idol colleague speaking to her. Subtitle: "Your aura is a double-edged sword that will always clash with others."

This is Shizuka Onimaru, an Idol Dietwoman recently dressed down by a colleague for her “double-edged” aura which apparently hurts others, even though her performance was technically perfect. Shizuka is perhaps the closest character to being able to make a statement about politics and idol culture. She is an exacting and hard-working professional who was criticised for being too polished (sound familiar?). If she actually shows political nous too, she could be a genuinely interesting character. She is the only positive I can find in this show.

Natsuki stands outside to campaign for the election, wearing a political sash and holding a microphone as a male passerby leers at her and speaks. Subtitle: "Hey, miss. You gonna do something special for us if you win?"

The problem isn’t that an anime has combined idols and politics. The problem is that it doesn’t use this to make a commentary on anything, despite multiple opportunities in the opening episode alone. In one moment that felt particularly striking to me, a character mentions that idols aren’t allowed to be in relationships. This is a standard principle of the idol industry in Japan, in order to promote an image of innocence and give the impression of sexual availability to their fans. Pretty much the opposite of politics, right? The characters make no comment on that clash of PR ideals whatsoever.

There was an opportunity here to make a satirical, political anime with idols, and it could have been amazing. They wouldn’t even have had to change much. However, by stopping short of that and playing it straight, this is just a frustrating show with uncomfortable moments of young girls being sexualised by middle aged men. Pass.

About the Author : Amelia Cook

Amelia is the editor-in-chief of Anime Feminist and a freelance writer for websites and magazines on film, television and anime. She has a degree in Japanese Studies and is working towards a master’s degree in film and television.

Read more articles from Amelia Cook

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