Friday, 10 January 2014

Wake Up, Girls! - Seven Idols

While an idol group known as I-1 Club blaze new trails in the Japanese entertainment industry, a small and struggling talent agency in Sentai looks on with envious eyes.  If you can't beat them, join them, and thus the Green Leaf agency begins the unlikely task of creating an idol group of their own.

The result is a ragtag group of girls - everything from a waitress at a maid cafe through to a model, creating an uneasy mix of talented individuals and less talented girls who nonetheless have a fire in their belly when it comes to be an idol.  Understandably, the early weeks of the group - unfortunately named after a local love hotel as they seem to be - are decidedly scruffy, but more importantly something is missing... someone to take centre stage and stand out from this crowd.

It seems that the answer to this missing link is right on the group's doorstep too, as it becomes apparent that a former "centre" for I-1 Club who has since left the group is now living in the area; what's more, she's even a friend of a member of Wake Up, Girls!  However, Mayu Shimada is adamant that she wants nothing to do with the world of idols ever again, and no amount of asking or trying to persuade her will change that fact.  When the agency's president seemingly does a runner, taking with her the company's money and leaving the group's first CD and concert unpaid for, it appears that the group's brief foray into show-business is over - the cause of much anguish and upset for all concerned.  Having witnessed this first-hand, and with her own frustrations brought back into her mind as a result, this is the impetus that Mayu needs to join the group and lead them to their first, and perhaps only, concert, panties on show and all.

So, there you have it - a fifty minute movie chronicling the formative steps of this idol group as a lead-in to the TV series proper.  As such things go, it's definitely a competent effort, but little more - none of the idol group themselves has any kind of discernible personality at this stage (although hopefully the series will handle that), and even Mayu's past is too vague to really gain any apathy or understanding from the viewer.  On the plus side, this does feel like a franchise that can sit between the likes of iDOLM@STER (where being an idol is fluff, happiness and success almost all the time) and AKB0048 (where being an idol involves... well, flying through space blowing shit up) - it at least alludes to some of the less pleasant aspects of both the entertainment and idol industries, and it resides in a place where gravity is indeed in full effect when you're jumping around in a skirt, which is perhaps to be commended in some weird way.  Onwards to the series proper though... more on that in an hour or two!

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