What’s it about? Struggling idol trio TiNgS is facing a hard deadline: either they fill a 2,000-seat theater by their one-year anniversary concert, or they’re going to be broken up. Fortunately, the company president has given them an ace: the super manager Hinase Naoki. Unfortunately, she neglected to tell Naoki this, and he’s determined to quit managing permanently.
Idol series are a bit on the wane right now, compared to a few years ago when it felt like we saw multiple fairly interchangeable entrants per season. Not so, this summer. If you’re not watching the return of Love Live! Superstar!!, then SHINEPOST is your only other big option for female idol stories. But y’know? It feels like it’s got more shine (heh) on it as a result.
While intellectually I know that this is a polished product from start to finish, the latest arm of a mixed media project that includes light novels, manga, and a video game, this premiere manages to sell a sense of oddball charm. Manager Naoki basically has Phoenix Wright powers, in that he’s able to see a nebulous “shine” around people when they speak, and the episode manages to pull some actual surprises out of that quirk despite how patently absurd it sounds on paper. I did roll my eyes a bit at the fact that he’s trying to leave managing because he’s simply too talented (a gift! a curse!), particularly since the other managers we see him compared to are both women, but I think the show means well with its observation that sometimes, especially in a competitive field, you’ll hurt people without meaning to. There’s a lot to explore there with the idols themselves, if the show remembers to come back around to it.
Speaking of, our main trio of girls get a good strong introduction here. The show hints at members of some other groups, but it smartly keeps its focus on the members of TiNgS, who have at least two character traits apiece and a few scenes of pretty good comedic timing. One scene of huffy tsundere Rio trying to tearfully bribe Naoki with her pudding snack while sounding about six left a bad taste in my mouth, but otherwise the episode is blessedly free of the stink of infantilization. The girls’ own desires to push for their goals is what drives the episode because of Naoki’s reluctance, and the fuzziness around some of their motives is left as a hook for later.
The concert sequences look damn good, too, enough that I had difficulty telling whether the show was working from hand animation or extremely well-integrated CG rigs. It’s smooth and compelling and avoids the plasticky look that some less technically sparkling idol series run into, though the biggest dance routine in the episode only involves one central performer and a bunch of back-up dancers—hard to say if it’ll be feasible to keep up that level with groups where multiple performers need spotlighting. I do sort of hate how the girls’ silhouettes are drawn—something about the prominent thigh gaps makes the TiNgS girls look vaguely bowlegged and like the crotch of their pants come to exaggerated points, which is one of those tiny uncanny details that really started to bug me by episode’s end.
If the series can keep from falling into the Too Many Girls problem and avoid sinking all of its dramatic importance into Naoki’s angst (or have Naoki magically provide the answers to every problem while leaving the girls without much to do but follow orders, a problem last season’s Ya Boy Kongming! fell into), this could manage to stand out in what’s admittedly a bit of a weak season. I don’t know that it’s going to convert non-genre fans, and I have to admit I enjoyed but have already forgotten the episode’s big number, but if you’re a fan of idol series this one might be some very nice summer fun.