Now that the girls we've been following have reached the safe haven of the AKB0048 auditions, we should be all set for a happy, sparkling world of song and enjoyment, right?
Well, you might think that, but it seems that the first task for these wannabe idols (including stowaway Sonata) is to learn how to defend themselves using assault rifles - not quite the kind of idyllic training any of them had in mind. Exhausted and demoralised at the end of their first day, some of the girls set off to find the group's manager to demand an end to this crazy training regime, while Nagisa and Yuuka get a chance to witness the tough training the existing AKB0048 members have to put themselves through to be their best, and what it means for them to work as a group.
Odd though it may seem, there is an ultimate goal for this training of our young hopefuls - to protect the group themselves using any means necessary during their next guerilla concert against any forces that might choose to attack them in the name of preventing entertainment. Thus, our group of kids are thrown into the midst of what quickly becomes a warzone, with disastrous consequences for most of them which puts paid to any dreams that they might have. In the midst of this, Chieri's attitude comes to the fore, as her self-centred actions look set to be anything but the correct way forward.
If you were expecting AKB0048 to be dumb and formulaic, then this episode might just hit the pause button on such thoughts - okay, it was ultimately all a cleverly crafted setup to have you thinking that the series was "doing a Madoka Magica" before turning on the lights and revealing the trick behind the curtains at the last moment, but it still made for a surprisingly dark episode of an anime which is ultimately a big advertisement and marketing vehicle for an idol group. Once you get over the surprise of what the episode seemed to be trying to do for a while, admittedly there's nothing particularly exciting to be found here - lots of platitudes about teamwork and how to get along with others, some whiny wannabe popstars and not a lot else - but if it can pull some more stunts like this one then it might manage to be at least somewhat more interesting than many (myself included) expected.