Friday, 17 January 2014

Wake Up, Girls! - Episode 2

The Wake Up, Girls have themselves a new producer, and it seems that there are going to be some fundamental changes as a result.

And by that, I mean fundamental clothing changes.  It seems that Sudo operates a strict "swimsuits only" policy when it comes to idols in his charge, and before we know it the group are booked to perform at a health club in the kind of getup that only Super Sonico would wear without shame.  Inevitably, the customers at this live performance are less interesting in the music and more interested in the... visual aspects of the performance, in perhaps some of the most creepy exploitation of an idol since Perfect Blue.

Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if this was the end of things but no, Sudo seems to have signed the group into a whole chain of ever-more cringe-inducing performances at the club, all of which involve swimsuits and leering men.  Once it comes time to play the King's Game, things quickly boil over to the point where Miyu ups and walks out on both the event and the group.  With company president Tange returning out of the blue, this phase of the Wake Up, Girls' career seems to be over as quickly as it's become, but it's still uncertain whether Miyu will return until her fans back at the Maid Cafe help her to come to a decision.

Having tried to walk the line between fan service and admonishing the viewer for taking any interest in said fan service in an unconvincing way, this week's Wake Up Girls perhaps did a better (although equally forced) job of making its point.  Watching the girls performing, posing, getting groped and generally treated like pieces of meat in swimsuits was hugely uncomfortable viewing, and Sudo's point that this is effectively no different to a gravure photo shoot drove the point that the episode was trying to make home unquestionably.  The biggest hole in the show's efforts (ignoring some moments of terrible animation) along these lines are still its flat, bland characters that don't evoke empathy aside from in the broadest terms - again, perhaps this is one of the points the show is trying to make about idol culture, but it still deadens some of the impact that the events shown here could have had when you can't even remember most of the cast's names.  Perhaps this will come in time, but having absolutely nailed its colours to the wall this week, there's no doubt that I'm very interested to see where Wake Up, Girls intends to take its story next.

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