Since I ended up with two part-time jobs, a majority of my weekday free-time has been taken away from me & tired evenings have become very apparent in the time I have been doing these work hours, so I needed to find something that would keep me relax, videos games for the most part help me with that, but you get to a point where that doesn’t cut it on a daily basis.
So I somehow came to the conclusion of “I need to watch a long anime series to help me chill a bit more”, I mean, this helped when I watched Hajime No Ippo years ago, picking it was difficult but due to discussions and twitter talk. I settled on a show that I haven’t really taken any notice to and that was Aikatsu.
The best way to describe my past on the idol genre is what I’ve already looked at, the closest I’ve come close is the Love Live franchise which like Aikatsu, is made by Sunrise, while being the more successful of the two, I’ve liked certain characters from the show rather than the idol music itself, the only track that comes to my head as I’m writing this is “Snow Halation” and that’s about it, I much prefer the goofy activities that both Love Live & Love Live Sunshine have to offer. Neither have I fully committed to checking out Idolm@ster or any other popular title in that vein, so Aikatsu had a lot to prove to me.
The premise of Aikatsu is simple, Middle School student Ichigo lives & works with her family at a bakery shop and helps her mother with certain chores, it’s that one day her best friend & idol fan Aoi, comes to her with some tickets to see the idol Mizuki at a concert, she agree to come and is entranced by the performance of the main act, Aoi after the concert suggests Ichigo & her apply to transfer to the Starlight Acadamy, a school for idols. While she makes a few stumbles in there application both of them pass & thus there true Aikatsu can begin.
I think the best way to process my thoughts on Aikatsu is to divide them into season runs, I mean there is a total of 178 episodes I’ve had to watch and I’ve been able to watch all of them including the 1st movie. So lets make a start:
Aikatsu S1 (Episodes 1 to 52)
Aikatsu made a bit of a wobble in ways I wasn’t expecting, I actually dug the music instead of the characters at first, Signalize & Calendar Girl are very catchy tunes & provides me and reassures me that the music in Aikatsu will be something I’d like, it’s the production values that had me worried at first, when I saw Ichigo’s Idol CGI design, I thought “Well surely that can’t bad throughout the show” and while I was obviously right (it’s gets a lot better) there was a moment of the 3 episode rule kicking in.
Thankfully the show started to hit it’s stride as it introduced characters like Ran & Yurika and the progression of Ichigo’s idol activities began to blossom, as all of the characters start to find what there best at, getting to know the designers which normally leads to them getting a premium dress and sprinkled in is some fun side episodes, like the Alice In Wonderland episode.
The biggest problem with this season is pretty much the top idol of the school and that is Mizuki, at first having her be so passionate about Aikatsu & a rival to Ichigo for almost all the season is not a bad idea if done correctly but she gets to a point where she wins any Aikatsu event she chooses to enter, making her severely uninteresting, it got to a point where I had to think of her as some kind of attitude complex, like saying “I’M MIZUKI BITCH, NO ONE TOUCHES ME, I’M INVINCIBLE” and unfortunately that doesn’t change through all this season.
However, the energy of the main/side cast & the surprising ending gave me enough reason to continue into the next season, maybe some major changes could happen.
Aikatsu S2 (Episodes 53 – 105)
With Ichigo leaving Starlight at the end of Season 1, Mizuki left Starlight, went into the Aikatsu business & formed the school with a random backstage employee of past popular idol group ‘Masqurade’ and formed a new idol school – Dream Acadamy, since then most of the Starlight idols are in there 3rd middle year, Otome being Starlight Queen (how!?) and there is no sign of Ichigo since her trip to the USA.
It is in this 1st episode of this season where Starlight & Dream have a face-off competition with upcoming idol Sera & Aoi who is feeling the pressure of being the top idol to face-off this Dream Acadamy Idol but no fear, Ichigo returns from America just before Aoi’s preformance starts & takes over from her, which leads the face-off to a draw, so with Ichigo back & a new rival school ahead.
Dream & Starlight are treated more as a friendly rivalry which Aikatsu has stuck with throughout it’s run & for the show to stick with that is actually really nice. The Dream Academy idols are a bunch of hits & misses, Yuu is by far the best in my view, which her “Ok, Ok, Ok” being my favorite idol catchphrase, Sera has the same problem I have with Ichigo & isn’t really that interesting, Sora I ended up liking due to her friendship with Ran and Maria is the worst for being forgettable and mentioning her cow a bunch which seems to be her boring quirk.
Season 2’s first half is mostly focused on Dream Acadamy while having some episodes for are core cast from Starlight, it’s a season where all of them start to mature to there Aikatsu strengths, Yurika has probably my favorite episode because you can see how much see has changed since Season 1 and how she has incorporated her vampire persona into products that you wouldn’t expect her to do.
This was also the time my Magic The Gathering fandom somehow ca,e into action & I started #MTGAikatsu on Twitter, providing custom made cards from me & old cards from MTG past, it’s been a fun thing to do & I hope to start an actual twitter account once I reach a certain amount.
Second half of the season has some of my favorite moments in Aikatsu – Ichigo, Aoi & Ran are chosen to become Aikatsu judges for the Idol caravan show, think X-factor without any of the drama, Akari who appears on stage who in a state of extreme nervousness, calls herself Ichigo and ends up giving a heartfelt speech on how amazing her favorite idol is, then comes the CGI performance.
Compared to the early stages of Season 1, the CGI Idol performances have come a long way, the show does a decent job showing that Akari’s performance is both vocally inept and all over the place but her never give up attitude is admirable & Ichigo sees that in her, it’s enough to see her get a place at Starlight Academy. That doesn’t mean that she automatically gets a free pass on becoming an idol, Akari really does struggle in nearly all these episodes & to that makes her extremely relatable to a point where I can say that she is one of the best characters in Aikatsu, because of this and future development.
Mizuki once again betrays and leaves Dream Acadamy to not only get back into Aikatsu but sets up her new company & forms a duo group with flower otaku Mikura and once again becomes a unstoppable idol throughout these episodes, it’s until the last episodes that Ichigo & Sera 2wingS group beats Mizuki’s group in the finals, which will I admit, felt pretty satisfying.
It all ends in Ichigo & the rest of the 3rd years graduating and moving to there new school, well, it’s actually another part of Starlight Academy, still season 3 could of done anything and it ended up being a bit of a surprise.
Season 3 (Episodes 106 – 158)
If I had to rate seasons, S3 is perhaps my favorite overall, it provides a new fresh of paint with new idols for Starlight Academy that I connected a lot more while also providing some of my favorite Aikatsu music. Akari is now the main character while Ichigo provides more of a supporting role, Sumire & Hinaki the best friends to Akari this season and are extremely solid characters, I like Juri a whole lot although her catchphrase “[Spanish], in other words …” is a little overboard, great Jojo poses though.
I think because of the amount of experience the Aikatsu producers have had, most of the episodes provide depth while also giving us some really fun episodes even if the first half of the season hints of beats that where shown in Season 1.
If there is some criticism that I can give this season overall, is that Dream Acadamy is treated as if it never existed, accept for one or two episodes which really is more of a comedy episode, it’s really strange that a major component of Season 2 & the Dream Academy idols were disposed of. Instead Season 3 uses the school exchange program to bring over two idols through the season, 1 decent the other…..well, I’ll talk about her in a future article.
The other 2nd half of the season once again introduces new characters to the Academy, one being Rin, who is known for her street dancing & Madoka who is the grand daughter of Angely Suger designer, Madoka is fairly forgettable overall but Rin is amazing, not only is she in the idol groups Dancing Diva with Sumire, she’s in Vanilla Chilli Pepper as well which both contain some of my favorite music , she also allows and is apart of Johnny Bepp (a long time tutor to Starlight Acadamy) backstory, which was nice to see, since for most of the series, he’s treated as more of a joke character but gets some much needed depth.
The enjoyment factor was hitting all sides really, it was a great overall, I was just hoping the last season would continue that.
Season 4 (Episodes 159 – 178)
I was a bit worried at the start of Season 4 due to the reduced number of episodes & the introduction to the Potato Girl Idols, question was will it all be rushed & sadly yes, those new idols do get maybe a select few of episodes around the 1st 13 episodes, it’s the last 13 episodes where Aikatsu seems to ramp up it’s finale and in unexpected ways.
Firstly I was fully expecting every single idol from the whole of Aikatsu to get some kind of spotlight & then one big festival celebration with something like a Aikatsu 8 performance . However that wasn’t the case, instead most of finale focuses on the years Starlight Queen tournament, which ends up being much of a big deal this time, making it look like it’s an Olympic event & with the majority of the S1 & S2 cast out of it, it provides the new idols with an equal playing field.
The build up to the Starlight Queen tourney was good overall, I kinda like how Mikuru is reintroduced to Aikatsu, I feel like the writers did a decent job on making her a bit more likeable compared to Season 2 and everyone getting there ultimate Cords was entertaining enough.
So yes, the big event happens, our main idols do there performances & most of them get top rankings, it’s all a bit predictable until the 2nd to last episode, which was one of the biggest gut punches Aikatsu has provided, it’s very debatable if this was forced drama to spice up the ending but I feel that moment makes Aikastu feel a bit more realistic & makes the characters more human, things like this happen and for that I feel like this will be an unforgettable moment for me.
If I had a tiny nick pick, it made the ending even more predictable but regardless, it was well deserved and really sweet as well, it was a satisfying send off to a series that had a bit of a rocky start but it pulled of some really entertaining & uplifting episodes, if I had to score it then I’d give it in-between 7 and 8, but I have become a fan of the show, which I never expected due to my lukewarm feelings towards Love Live.
So I’m planning to do one more article on Aikatsu before I start writing about Aikatsu Stars, hopefully I can catch up with Stars before the year ends, so yeah, here is my recommendation to watch the show.