Monday, 10 March 2014

Wake Up, Girls! - Episode 9

Given their current difficulties, it seems like an opportune moment for the Wake Up Girls to take part in a team-building training camp, and with Kaya offering up cheap accommodation (and lots of saury) on account of her aunt running a hotel in Kessennuma there are no real obstacles in the way of making this a reality.

Thus, it's off to this town we go, where we're faced with a striking reminder of just how devastated the location was by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011 - an event that destroyed lives as well as locations.

In fact, it's Kaya's experience of this that becomes the key to unlock the story of Mayu's time at I-1 Club, as Kaya begins by admitting that her proposal of this trip to her hometown was really a way of facing up to returning having left for Sendai three years previously to escape from the horrors and the persona cost of the aforementioned tsunami.  Having spilled the beans about this in private to Mayu, she looks for reciprocation and duly receives it, as Shimada talks of her history with the formative days of I-1 Club as they rose to stardom, and as the sense of fun which came from breaking new ground turned into a depressing chore as the idols were increasingly dehumanised and treated merely as numbers rather than people.  With this out in the open (and the other girls in the group secretly listening in on her telling her story, perhaps its time for the Wake Up Girls to step up and move on - it suddenly helps Nanami to make a decision on her future, if nothing else.

Although Mayu's story was hardly a shock given how it had been set up from the start, it's certainly nice to have that tale out in the open at last - even if it does try a little too hard to depict I-1 Club's manager as a moustache-twirling villain), it does hit some of the major problems with the idol industry head-on, and in an episode that also deals somewhat frankly with the suffering born from 2011's earthquake it makes for a relatively powerful instalment that certainly stands out from a lot of what the series has done to this point.  It'll be interesting to see where the story will head now that this major hurdle has been overcome, and although I doubt it can make Wake Up, Girls a memorable effort as a whole it does at least deliver some moments and ideas that can be appreciated.

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