I Suppose I’ll Say Something about Cinderella Girls #1

Posted by DiGiKerot in Cinderella Girls, idolmaster at January 10, 2015 on 12:13 am

This is an obligation post, to a degree. I figure that people would think it would be weird for a new iM@S cartoon (or just a new late night otaku idol anime) to air without me passing some kind of comment on it, but, as I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t really DereM@S. This isn’t really my territory, and I can’t really tell anyone anything that they couldn’t pick up just as quickly by skimming the fan wikis instead. I mean, whilst I’m the kind of guy who knows about most of the surreal Uedo Suzuho cards purely by cultural osmosis, I’m really not equipped to pick up the apparent use of Nation Blue, instrumental or otherwise, in the soundtrack.

In that sense, I do somewhat wonder if my experience of watching the shows opening scenes are somewhat like a watered-down version of what it’s like for a non-Teitoku trying to watch Kantai Collection. The show cuts between the stage performance and all these other girls in various situations. I can recognise about half of them – I mean, Ranko’s brolly is pretty iconic, if nothing else – but the rest are a little lost on me right now.

It’s a relief, though, that it doesn’t really lean into jokey references to the game all that heavily, or at least not to a degree that you would pick up on if you aren’t familiar with the source material itself. The episode only really introduces two of the girls the show will be following in this particular episode, and as a result, it avoided the problem that KanColle had in places with introducing much of it’s extended cast in it’s opening episode, in so much as there isn’t anyone of immediate significance who came across largely as one-note reference gags.

Although speaking of references, I am rather appreciative of some of the little, subtle call-backs to the previous iM@S anime, cementing the fact that this theoretically takes place in the same universe, even if that’s not particularly relevant. Things like the Takane poster in the police station, calling back to her late-series character episode, got a laugh, and the blink-and-you-miss-it appearance of the sadly forgotten Shinkan Shojou in a magazine article was much appreciated as someone who was disappointed that apparent plans to do more with the characters never really panned out.

But even some of the small callouts of Cinderella Girls content are pretty well-considered as well. You don’t need to know a damn thing about Suzuho to find her costumes hilariously odd, but the fact that jokes plays on the patent ridiculousness of some of Cinderella Girls greatest excesses in a remarkably subtle and naturalistic way is pretty great, and well directed, in itself. The joke is that Uzuki is trying to remark about how wonderful it is to be an idol, using the cool-looking Kaede displayed on a rotating advertisement as an example, when it rolls over to Suzuho in typically goofy attire mid-statement. It doesn’t do anything excessive to draw the attention of the audience to the fact it’s supposed to be a gag, with no musical cues or exaggerated reactions, rather it just holds on it long enough it to start to feel awkward before acknowledging it in an subdued fashion and continuing onward. It’s respecting of the audiences intelligence and their ability to “get” it.

In general, though, it’s probably a more intelligently made show than many will immediately give it credit for. She’s not a name which generally garners a lot of attention, only really having Saint Young Men to her name in terms of being in the main directors chair, but series director Takao Noriko has had a remarkably solid career building up to this, from acting as Nishigori’s right-hand woman on the original aniM@S, to having worked on a significant number of key KyoAni works (including storyboarding parts of the Haruhi movie, and acting as episode director on a number of particularly significant, and well regarded, Clannad episodes). She is clearly putting her expertise to work at full-throttle here, as there’s very little here what comes across as lazy or meaningless in terms of layout and framing. Aside from some cute recurring visual gags, some so subtle they’re entirely possible to miss if you aren’t paying attention, there’s some really smart utilisation of scene composition to evoke a certain mood or point. The use of spacing, for example, in the scene where Producer and Uzuki discuss her selection and their future plans is masterful, as they effect an expanse between the two as Uzuki starts to question things that conveys their emotional separation, only to bring the camera in closer to narrow the distance as they come to an understanding.

The real, and rather unexpected, star of the show has to be Producer, though. As with the main iM@S TV show, they played their cards rather close to their chest in terms of what they were doing in regards to the producer character, but rather than playing a little coy with it throughout the whole first episode, they just straight-up introduced him early on.

He’s pretty great as well. He’s blunt, persistent, and perhaps rather socially oblivious. To a certain degree, I do wonder how much of the way he ends up coming across is supposed to be subversively representative of the actual game experience of the player of, not just Cinderella Girls but, pretty much any of these social games with some kind of random collection element to them. The persistence and repeated failure of the producers attempts to court Rin as poor Uzuki does little but practice probably calls back horrific memories for anyone trying to craft submarines (or get an I-19 drop from 1-5) in KanColle, or slowly accumulating love gems to throw at trying to get specific character cards in random School Idol Festival draws.

Regardless of that, though, the deadpan, overly-serious but weirdly sweet way he handles himself is quite dryly funny, and it’s quite possible that Producer-san will end the series as the uncontested most moe character in the show.


As far as the actual heroines introduced in this episode go, I’m not sure I have much to say other than that I generally like them. Uzuki is the kind of cute and upbeat girl that you expect to be the emotional core in this kind of show, and Rin comes across as cool without falling into that stereotypical tsundere pigeonhole. It’s getting back to the direction, and perhaps a little on the subject of them trying not to alienate Cinderella Girl newbies, but it’s interesting that, whilst working in the part of the franchise known for having some of the daftest characters amongst it’s cast, they have, at least in the initial episode, produced something that’s actually more subdued than the first episode of the original aniM@S, despite the fact that the previous show was holding back by formatting it as a documentary. Admittedly, we know we are getting the likes of Anzu joining the main cast in fairly short order, but, again, it’s a smart decision in terms of luring the audience new to Cinderella Girls. It’s not throwing Naka straight at the viewer and hoping they’ll swim (though, to be fair, KanColle has a bit of an acceptance hump regardless of what characters you introduce at the outset, given it’s about warship girls).

Rin is probably a smart character to introduce right at the start as well. I have to admit, Uzuki was a bit of an unknown for me, as whilst I apparently own her character CD, I didn’t really know much about her going in. Rin, on the other hand, even if you don’t know much about her personality, was essentially the poster girl, as much as any one girl in a game with a cast of a hundred can be, for the game at launch. She was one of the most popular characters for the games early life, and continues to rank highly even in recent polls. If you know one of the Cinderella Girls in any sense, it’ll probably either be Rin, Anzu, or one of the really silly gag characters. Starting with someone so relatively iconic is a really effective anchor-point.

Fuwafuwa mofumofu

Also, she only appears briefly, but Kaedes hair looks real fluffy, so it’s got one over on KanColle already.

In conclusion, though, whilst genre bias certainly comes into this in a significant way, I’m not sure if Cinderella Girls could really have gotten off to a stronger start. This episode is real good stuff.

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