I’ve always had mixed feelings about Japan’s idol industry, and AKB0048 First Stage [Satelight, 2012] is kind of the perfect review of everything I find enchanting about the system and everything I find terrifying and troubling about it. Like many anime shows that heavily feature music, I seriously believe in the unitive and uplifting abilities of music and, perhaps even more than just music itself, performance. Having been a part of a show choir for three years in high school and one year in college, the similarities between idol performances and show choir performances have always struck me. (Don’t know what show choir is? Here’s a video of a nationally renowned high school show choir from California.)
So, the trouble comes when I have to compare the affection for the past and resonance with my own experience generated by these shows to the dark side of the industry such shows sometimes tackle, but often gloss over. But before that, have some tunes!