After all of last week's build-up, the start of this week's AKB0048 sees our new stand-ins make their début in concert - and it isn't just them who impress, as it seems that all of the other newcomers have been hard at work practising and learning new songs alongside those stand-ins despite not being selected for the gig.
This hard work hasn't gone unnoticed either, and those involved soon find themselves "rewarded" (if you can call it that) with a place in the line-up at the next AKB0048 guerilla concert. The reason for those inverted commas is that said concert just so happens to be at a planet which currently has a complete ban on entertainment, which clearly marks it out very specifically as one of the most dangerous places in the galaxy to go about your business as an idol group.
Of course, this does little to dim the excitement of the girls, nor does it extinguish the anger of the generation of understudies which came before them as they remain oblivious to the reasons why they've been overlooked. This is particularly true of Megumi from within that group, who clearly has a chip on her shoulder against anyone who has advanced their career further than her - an attitude that even a head-butt (yes, a head-butt) from Suzuko won't dislodge. Speaking of the reasoning behind who gets chosen and who is left behind within the group, the current Takamina's knowledge of the selection process and the dark art behind it continues to haunt her, as she's caught between following her own dreams and making way for those of Kanata - not the best distraction to have in your mind when DES forces attack the group's spacecraft with vicious force.
Having toyed with various aspects of its story and structure during its first half, it seems as if AKB0048 is finally settling down into its groove - an unspectacular groove, admittedly, but one that largely works for it as it puts its own spin on the hardships of this idol group and the system its individuals are brought up in. It's certainly more entertaining than the entirely saccharine and happy, airbrushed series I was worried it might be, so although it isn't likely to live long in the memory (and it's certainly no Macross Frontier) I'm not sorry that I've been watching it. Besides, where else can you see cute anime girls head-butting one another?