Upon first glance, IDOLiSH7 seems like a typical and generic uninteresting anime, catering only towards “idol” geeks in terms of service. The genre isn’t necessarily anything new to the industry, as thanks to the wild success of Love Live!, iDOLM@STER, and other shows akin to them it’s no surprise that other studios would hop on the bandwagon. My problem with idol anime, however, is that for such a great setup for storytelling–newly founded idols attempting to rise to the top of the industry–they never seem to fully capitalize on it within each show. Instead, focusing on unnecessary tension between characters, along with breakouts into songs as if this were a Broadway performance. Going into IDOLiSH7, I expected to experience the same frustrations of a lacking storyline. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case, as what I got was what I had craved for from this type of show.
As stated previously, the plot follows the idol group IDOLiSH7 and their struggles as they rise to stardom. This isn’t exactly anything groundbreaking, but what makes the story stand out compared to other idol anime is the execution. Each of the seven idols’ features have distinguishable personalities and struggles that enhance the drama and story in a way that’s not overbearing. What’s especially impressive is that, for a such a large cast and only a handful of episodes, it always felt as if each of the characters had their moments to shine without overshadowing each other. The story itself was very character-driven, rather than following a structure or series of events. It felt as if the format of the episodes simply followed the circumstance characters were put in, and how they reacted. The seven idols are:
From left to right: (Nagi, Mitsuki, Iori, Riku, Yamato, Sogo, Tamaki).
Riku Nanase– The center of IDOLiSH7. His strong capabilities as a singer place him as the center of the group; however, he struggles with a heart condition, which makes it challenging for him to perform for long periods of time. He joined the idol industry to understand why his brother left the family.
Iori Izumi– A perfectionist when it comes to everything. Because he’s known not to make many mistakes, he guides the idol group to success behind the scenes alongside the manager. He was scouted by the industry, but only joined under the condition they accept his brother as well.
Tamaki Yotsuba– The youngest member of the group, he has great reflexes and his dancing is at a professional level, but he moves at his own pace and is a little loose when it comes to keeping promises. He’s the most popular member of the group, joining the industry in order to search for his lost sister.
Sogo Osaka– The most stable member. He’s calm and well-balanced when it comes to both singing and dancing. He joined the idol industry to prove his family wrong about the industry.
Nagi Rokuya– Being half-European and half-Japanese, his good looks and charisma naturally earn him popularity as an idol. He’s known as the playboy of the group, and is often seeing hitting on women. His reasons for joining the idol industry seem to be a mystery.
Yamato Nikaidō– The oldest member of the group and consequently the leader. He’s known for being a very expressive person. He joined the idol industry for revenge, but his motivations for why remain unknown.
Mitsuki Izumi– Iori’s older brother, and the most energetic member of the bunch. Although he’s been very passionate about being an idol, his natural ability pales in comparison to everyone else. He’s auditioned for many agencies but was only accepted into IDOLiSH7 due to his brother.
Notice how for every character, I stated their reasoning for wanting to become an idol. This is because one of the major themes the anime explores is the motivation that drives the characters to do what they’re passionate about. I said this was a character-driven story, meaning that if the characters aren’t engaging and interesting, the entire show would fall apart. Thankfully, this isn’t the case, as each character has a distinct personality that makes them stand apart. Essentially, that’s what makes this show so much fun in comparison to other idol anime. The chemistry between the characters felt raw, and there was never a moment where anything felt “plastic” for the sake of plot convenience.
Alongside IDOLiSH7, there’s another idol group called Trigger who serves as the rivals for the main group. The three idol members from Trigger also get quite a bit of focus, and although they all initially seem like douchebags, they become likable characters. For a cast balancing ten idols and one manager, each having their own sub-plot revolving around them, I was initially concerned that the creators would be compacting too many ideas. Yet as I watched the anime, I was especially impressed by the directing of the show. There was never a dull moment, and not a single second felt like filler. Each subplot was carefully connected to another, and the personal struggles the group went through felt very real and not melodramatic.
In particular, I found the character Tamaki’s struggles throughout the anime to be the most interesting, and I was constantly surprised at the direction his story was headed in. I’m not gonna lie, my cortisol hormones went off at a high rate when I first saw Tamaki, and he annoyed the living crap out of me. He starts off with trust and motivation issues despite being natural, but throughout the story, he develops into a person that cares about his group members, specifically Sogo. His development throughout the entire show was executed in a raw yet believable way, and without giving much away, out of all the sub-stories, the story concerning his search for his sister was my favorite.
I do have some gripes with the show, although not an overall hindrance to the show. The first and last episodes felt very generic, you could tell everything that was going to happen in these episodes. I also wish they put more emphasis on the storyline behind Mitsuki, because although it’s constantly addressed, it’s kind of pushed aside. Another storyline that was pushed aside as the anime progressed was the storyline concerning Riku’s heart problems. It begins with a huge dilemma for the show, but it felt as if the creators and characters all forgot it existed towards the end. Nevertheless, the show was still quite an enjoyable ride, and if you’re looking for a fun engaging story about rising to the top, then this anime is for you. The anime does what it sets out to do and never tries to be anything else, it’s directing, character chemistry makes it especially enjoyable to the casual watcher looking to be engaged.
Personal Enjoyment: 8
You can check out IDOLiSH7, as well as thousands of other anime at Crunchyroll here: http://www.crunchyroll.com/idolish7