Things are looking rosy for Chieri as we hit the second episode of AKB0048 Next Stage, with her appearance at the anti-entertainment trial that was broadcast across the galaxy making her the girl of the moment and seeing her taking part in a blaze of publicity, photo shoots and the like.
There's little time to dwell upon this for the other understudies however, as they're quickly requested to take part in their very own TV variety show - a cavalcade of stunts, talk shows and various dumb games, the likes of which you'd only ever see on Japanese TV (or, it seems, TV across the galaxy in this entertainment starved future). Given their inexperience in this particular form of media, trying to impress the viewers proves to be a decidedly tricky task for all and sundry, with initially disastrous results.
Eventually though, Nagisa and company find themselves spurred on and motivated to give it their all even if they'd rather be taking part in concerts, and ultimately it seems as though they get the hang of things, particularly once they learn that their variety show is likely to be broadcast in places where they couldn't even hold guerilla concerts. Come the end of it all, the first wave of general election results are announced to add some further drama to proceedings - needless to say, Chieri features in the top ten; it seems as if this is exactly what the Zodiac Corporation run by her father wants too, intriguingly enough.
Considering how much fun other shows such as iDOLM@STER had with their variety show segments, AKB0048's efforts felt rather stale in comparison - sure, they were trying to make the point that our understudies sucked at doing it, but surely they couldn't have mined their inability to perform for more comedy potential? Still, a decidedly mediocre episode was saved to some degree by the tension of those early general election results, and the whole story as it pertains to the Zodiac Corporation looks likely to be one of the more interesting things that this series has done, so perhaps more exciting times are right around the corner.