Tuesday, 29 January 2013

AKB0048 Next Stage - Episode 4

It's election night, but can David Cameron win a second term in office?  Wait, sorry, wrong elections...

The introduction to the AKB0048 General Elections already threw up a major surprise in tenth place in the voting, but not to be cowed by that piece of drama this entire episode is dedicated to running down the rest of the rankings while doing its darnedest to depict the drama and tension as events unfold.  Of course, while all of this is going on much of the tension is actually swirling around in Chieri's head, as she tries to come to terms with her father's influence over the election and voting towards her and what she should do in its wake.  Should she quit the group?  Would that mean letting down her genuine fans?

Ultimately, this question seems to answer itself on her behalf as Chieri finds herself occupying the number six spot in the rankings - a moment which she's built up to such heights in her own mind that by the time her name is read out she's a hyperventilating semi-conscious mess who barely manages to stumble on stage.  Rather than quit however, it seems that the entire experience as merely strengthened her resolve to reach the top - and she isn't the only one either, as even the normally meek Nagisa seems to have gained a fierce competitive streak from watching events unfold during the course of the night.

While this week's episode of AKB0048 is largely as far removed from the show's "space opera" setting as it could possibly hope to be, it actually proves to be all the more fascinating for it, shining a light upon the General Elections partaken in by the real AKB48.  Looking at it as an outsider on this particular group and their world, the obvious initial reaction is "wow, this is fucking weird" - a crazy and intense scenario that somehow manages to mix together friendships and rivalries, selflessness and hard-nosed ambitious into a single, heaving madhouse that contains enough tears to fill the oceans a thousand times over.  Then again, is this really any different from any reality TV show?  No, it isn't, and although that kind of thing isn't for me you can't deny that it isn't a piece of hugely smart money-making without compare in its sphere.

Anyhow, all of that is by the by when it comes to discussion of this episode in its purest terms, but it does speak to how this series has managed to capture at least some of the essence of its inspiration, and I think that's an important (and positive) feather in its cap that also managed to wring some decent emotion and drama from the midst of its relative insanity.

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