The sad truth: not all idol shows can be Macross. On the other hand, this is in defense of Love Live! and Love Live! Sunshine.
The question is: are idols born, or are they made of the circumstances of their universe? In Macross, you might say it’s a little of both.
It’s important to the thesis of this piece that I note I tried to write the entirety of this post while listening to “My Boyfriend is a Pilot” on repeat. I couldn’t do it. “My Boyfriend is a Pilot” is incredibly awful writing music.
The point upon which all of this hinges is: humans are not built to be idols.
Love songs are a weird thing. By nature, they’re an expression of the most intimate of emotions, but the majority of the time they’re conveyed at a distance—sung from a radio, through headphones, or on a stage—and as a performance object to be heard by many, not one, thus stripping them of the personal emotion they ought to host.
But, for a little under two minutes in the middle of Macross Frontier, a love song connects.
Following up on last week’s post on the characters in idol anime, this week I lay out my thoughts on the Big Three Idol Anime—Love Live!, THE iDOLM@STER, and AKB0048. I had a lot of fun writing this one up, and it’s definitely up there among the posts for Aniwords that I’m most proud of. Let me know what you guys think about it! Kind of like that post about “anime that are important to you,” this is kind of a stepping stone post towards an inevitable huge post on a subject I’ve been thinking on for a while (aka AKB0048). Maybe if I write enough of these littler ones, someday I’ll actually write the big ones…
A brief summary of my history with the Love Live! franchise: some months back, very soon after I started writing for the Crunchyroll Newsletter, I got tapped to do a little review of Love Live! 2. Now, at this time I had barely heard of the franchise, but I wanted to get writing, so I wrote the piece. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Skip to the present and I’ve watched all of season 2 and spent countless hours with Love Live! School Idol Festival (the franchise’s mobile rhythm game), but I still hadn’t seen season one. Until now.
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!