Idolmaster Xenoglossia – Anime Review

The Essentials

Idolmaster XenoglossiaName: Idolmaster Xenoglossia
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Comedy
Episodes: 26
Released: April 2, 2007 – September 24, 2007
Based On: Inspired by The Idolmaster Playstation game
Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai
Produced By: Sunrise, Bandai Visual
US Distribution By: N/A

Major Japanese Cast

Haruka Amami: Yuka Iguchi
Yukiho Hagiwara: Yui Horie
Iori Minase: Yukari Tamura
Yayoi Takatsuki: Ami Koshimizu
Makoto Kikuchi: Eri Kitamura
Ami Futami: Kaori Nazuka
Mami Futami: Momoko Saito
Azusa Miura: Tomo Sakurai
Chihaya Kisaragi: Kaori Shimizu
Ritsuko Akizuki: Mai Nakahara
R.I.F.F.A.: Yukana
Joseph Shingetsu: Kazuhiro Nakata
Hibiki Saku: Takuma Takewaka

Major English Cast

N/A

Scores

Animation: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Story: 8/10 (x 4 = 32 pts)
Music: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Coherence/Story Arc: 8/10 (x 2 = 16 pts)
English Dubs: N/A
Gut Score: 8/10 (x 5 = 40 pts)

Total: 160/190 (84.2%)

Review

Idolmaster Xenoglossia is about a girl – Haruka – who travels to Tokyo under the impression that she was selected to become an idol after attending an audition. However, upon arriving in Tokyo, a giant mecha breaks out of the ground and, through the help of gravitational control, plops Haruka down in it’s cockpit. After this event, Haruka learns that the company that recruited her is actually a multinational organization named Mondenkind, who is looking for girl to pilot giant mechas – called iDOLS – in order to help protect the earth from falling meteors. These meteors are left over from the mysterious destruction of the Moon 107 years prior – an event known as Lost Artemis. On top of this, the iDOL which Haruka encountered upon arriving in Tokyo – whose name is Imber – will only operate if Haruka is it’s pilot, and rejects anyone else who tries to pilot it.

Soon Haruka discovers that, beyond protecting the earth from falling meteors, they also must protect the earth from a secret organization named Turiavita which has an iDOL if it’s own and whose goal is to collect all 5 iDOLS (Mondenkind has 2, and 2 are M.I.A.) in order to trigger an event called Auryn, which is feared will bring about the end of the world. Haruka ultimately has to balance her friendship with a real entertainment idol, Yayoi, her relationship with Imber, her relationship with her new friend at Mondenkind, Yukiho, her battle with Chihaya, a member of Turiavita who despretly wants to be able to pilot Imber, as well as the internal struggles and battles within Mondenkind, including an ongoing fued between the two girls who rotate as pilots on Mondenkind’s other iDOL, Nebula.

One of the things I’ve found out about this series is that it is very difficult to exactly pin down my thoughts about it. There are several good things about Idolmaster. To start off, it is entertaining. There are aspects of the show that are, I think, rather unique, including the whole deal with Lost Artemis and Auryn. I also think there is ultimately quite a bit of depth, both for many of the characters and the in the backstory. I also think the shows is able to mix different genres together pretty successfully as well.

However, there are some aspects which I didn’t necessarily like. Some aspects of the show have already been beaten to death: mechas which only girls can pilot, and which also choose their own pilots, rejecting anyone else. The mecha battles get pretty old pretty fast. There seems to be only so much these mechas can do to battle, so they just do it over and over. The basis of Mondenkind – flying up into space and blowing up meteors – seems kind of lame. Not that it’s an important job, but at the start of the series, you’re sitting there like “so this is a show about blowing up rocks in space?” Also, the show seemed to give the animators an excuse to perhaps go a little overboard in the fan service category, though it wasn’t anything too terribly excessive.

I think, as a whole, the story works pretty well. I think it ultimately has more positive points than negative points, and the fact that I found it overall entertaining is a key. Flying through this series in 4 nights and not really becoming bored or tired of it seems to be a good sign that it can at least hold my interest pretty good.

As far as technical aspects. I think the animation, overall, was pretty good, which sharp character designs and good animation quality, though I think some things could be a little better. I also thought the music was pretty good as well.

Overall, I think this is a show that quite a people could enjoy, though it may be a little hit-or-miss.

First Watched: May – November 2007
Do I Own: No
Do I Recommend: Yes

Top Anime of 2007

I thought I would wait until 2007 was over before compiling this list. This list was drawn from all anime series that I watched that aired in 2007. This includes series aired entirely within 2007, series which started in 2007 and are carrying over to 2008, and series which started in 2006 and carried over to 2007.

By my count, this totals to 23 anime series for me, and I’ve narrowed it down to a list of 10 (actually, narrowing it down to about 8 was the easy part. Tacking on 2 more shows was the hard part). So, without further ado, here is the Top Anime of 2007 (warning – spoilers may lie ahead):

#10 Genshiken 2

This is a series that I watched most of (I think I got through episode 10 before it got licensed) and was a pretty solid 2nd-tier show I thought. It’s pretty funny from start to finish (heck, even the opening is) and I think would be enjoyable for most people who saw the first series.

#9 Mokke

Another pretty solid 2nd-tier show, Mokke is a pretty, shall we say relaxing, watch. It’s not quite as jello-inducing as sketchbook, but it has much more of a laid back feeling than most shows do. Toss on top of this a nice story about a pair of sisters who have to deal with supernatural spirits and solid storytelling and you’ve got yourself a good show.

#8 Myself; Yourself

The first of two “out of nowhere” series, Myself; Yourself is a series I almost didn’t watch, but ended up doing so since the fine people over at m33w were subbing it. This ended up being a surprisingly good show filled with twists that keept you on your toes. There may be some loose ends in this series, but it is overall pretty good.

#7 Idolmaster Xenoglossia

Idolmaster tops off a rather lackluster Spring season for me, and is the only show from that season that cracked the top 10 (granted, I only watched 4). I’m not one for mecha anime, so to see one which actually held my interest through 26 episodes is a pretty good feat. I think one reason is because this show seemed rather unique, at least to me. Yes, it’s similar to Evangelion in the sense that the machines have some sort of soul, but it’s more softer in Idolmaster than harsh like in Evangelion. Also, I think that the characters, and not the mecha, also helped drive this series forward and up.

#6 Minami-ke

The second “out of nowhere” series, the first top-tier series, and another series which I very nearly didn’t watch, Minami-ke ended up being a good random-hilarity series. There aren’t many series that can utterly lack a plot line and be successful. Azumanga Daioh tried and succeeded. Lucky Star tried and, for the most part, failed. Now, don’t get me wrong, Minami-ke is quite a different animal from Azumanga, but it’s still a good laugh from pretty much start to finish.

#5 Blue Drop

The top 5 in the list get into the heart of the top-tier shows of the year, and Blue Drop was certainly a treat to watch. One of two Greek Tragedies on the top 10 list, Blue Drop was great to watch, seeing how the main characters, Mari and Hagino, expand their relationship (both romantic and otherwise) under the backdrop of an eminent alien invasion. Probably the big thing that separates this from the top 4 is that I think the animation is kind of lacking from Blue Drop, but the storytelling makes up for it.

#4 CLANNAD

The only show on the list which may grace the 2008 list, CLANNAD has thus far been great to watch, as we’ve gotten through the story arc of 1 girl and are well into the story arc of a 2nd girl as we continue to unwind the mystery in this series. Add on top of the great storytelling by Key the fantastic animation of KyoAni, and you have one of the best shows of the year.

#3 ef – a tale of memories

Ef was clearly the prize of the just-concluded Fall season shows as it presented a story which is somewhat unusual for anime based on visual novels: multiple stories involving multiple males. In fact, three separate couples come out of this show, which each girl having her own unique and compelling story. A mysterious and well told (and well animated!) story gives ef the third spot on the list.

#2 Kanon

Like it’s fellow Key-KyoAni show, Kanon is a cross-year show. This one started in 2006 and finished up in 2007. Kanon quite possibly embodies the perfect visual novel-turned-anime show, with nearly perfect animation and a compelling story from start to finish. This would easily be the #1 show of the year, but only if one other show hadn’t aired, and that’s…

#1 School Days

Could any other show finish in the #1 spot but School Days? This show made waves in so many ways. First off, you had the male lead in the running for lamest male lead in an anime ever. Second, it’s rare that you actually get a harem show where the guy actually scores, much less which no fewer than 8 girls. Third, they creators of the show actually went through with the bloody ending, and we didn’t just get one, but two bloody endings, and memorable ones at that (“there’s no one inside” anyone?). Finally, this show will forever be remembered with the Nice Boat incident.

Yes, School Days must be the clear top show of 2007.

Also, did anyone else notice that all the top 4 shows are all visual novel-turned anime series?

Late Season Episodes

I can tell that I’m going to be driven crazy now that all of these spring and summer series are heading towards their conclusions. The two shows that I think I’ll go craziest over are School Days and Idolmaster Xenoglossia, as all hell as now broken lose in both of those series.

Luckily for School Days, we now have what looks like a very reliable speed sub group taking it on, and they appear to at least know how to write English, so that’s good. That means less waiting time to get more of that.

Idolmaster is, well, behind but not as behind as they used to be. Serin is still 2 episodes behind on getting it out, but once again it took 10 days between releases. I’d download the raws, and if this were earlier in the season I might, but I don’t want to be half-spoiled about what happens by watching the episode but have no idea what people are saying.

As for other series, none of them are really heading towards any sort of major ending as far as I can see. Nagasarete Airantou has the potential for a significant ending, but we’ll see what they do. Lucky Star will probably just end with graduation. As for Seto no Hanayome…well, well see. Doujin Work will probably have some sort of cute ending. Sky Girls is supposed to be a full season I think, so we’ll have to wait until December or January or thereabouts before seeing how it ends. For Moetan, Nanatsuiro Drops, and Umisho – I don’t really give a flying flip for the most part.

Yui Horie is everywhere!

Ok, I know that Yui Horie is a fairly popular and a pretty prolific voice actress by now, but I didn’t realize how many shows I’m currently watching that she does a voice in.

I already knew she did the voice of Suzu in Nagasarete Airantou, just because she’s using her signature voice that basically only she can do. But I didn’t realize that she was both Yukiho in Idolmaster Xenoglossia (START SPOILERS – yes, the traitor bitch sabotager girl. – END SPOILERS) as well as Nanae Fujieda in Sky Girls (the communications girl who looks like Cousin Yui from Lucky Star).

Of course, this is on top of the multiple series that I’ve already seen that she’s done a voice in. I think the first I watched was Angelic Layer.

Fansubs

Maybe this is standard operating procedure and I just don’t know it since this is the first anime season that I’ve downloaded fan subs for several shows, but it seems to me that fansubbing groups are rather, well, slow.

I’m probably not one to talk, but it would seem to me that, even if you take up something like fansubbing which is volunteer work, a group should at least try to stay on schedule (ie, get an episode out before the next episode airs, or at least before two more episodes air). The primary reason for this is that there are people who are waiting to watch, and the more behind you get, 1) the less likely they are to watch your shows later, and 2) the more likely they’ll just read about what happens elsewhere.

Given the range that I’d kind of expect an episode to be out, that’s basically an episode weekly, so between 6 to 8 days, give or take on any given week. However, most groups seem to be way behind, at least as far as the series I’m watching.

In any case, here are how the fansubbers are doing by series, with days since the last episode released, and number of days since the next episode they need to release has been aired:

School Days
Conclave: Last release yesterday; 14 days behind next episode

Nagasarete Airantou
Ayako – Last release 4 days ago; 6 days behind next episode

Seto no Hanayome
Ayako – Last release 22 days ago; 30 days behind next episode (at this rate, might have dropped)
gg Fansubs – Last release 5 days ago, 9 days behind next episode
Otacon – last release 5 days ago, 2 days behind next episode
Your Mom – last release 8 days ago, 2 days behind next episode

Idolmaster Xenoglossia
Serin – last release 10 days ago; 29 days behind next episode

Lucky Star
JEEB – last release yesterday; 9 days behind next episode
a.f.k. – last release 10 days ago; 9 days behind next episode

Sky Girls
Ayako – last release 11 days ago; 12 days behind next episode

Umisho
Ayu – last release 9 days ago; 7 days behind next episode

Moetan
FSH/MugiMugi – last release 16 days ago; 16 days behind next episode
Kedex – last release 9 days ago; 9 days behind next episode

Nanatsuiro Drops
Kedex – last release 18 days ago; 15 days behind next episode
Aquastar – last episode 3 days ago; 15 days behind next episode

Doujin Work
Spoon – last release 6 days ago; 7 days behind next episode

Ok, so ten series, and only 4 which are on time, if you consider 7 days behind still on time. Given the best group for each show, the average lag time is currently 11 days, and even if you take out the month behind Serin is on Idolmaster, it’s still 9 days. I guess actually looking it up, it’s not even as bad as it feels, but 3 series are now a full 2 weeks behind (one is 4 weeks behind) and another is at 12 days.

Also, there doesn’t seem to be any groups which are always good or bad. Ayako is on time with Nagasarete Airantou but almost two weeks behind on Sky Girls, and may have abandoned Seto no Hanayome, for example. For six series, it has also been more than a week since any group that is subbing those series has released an episode as well.

Then there are groups like Devil’s Lair which seems to just be taking up random episodes here and there, and while they’re quick, they’re not consistent on what show they’re subbing.

Also, am I the only one infuriated that 6 of the 10 series I’m watching only has one group which is taking up the series, yet 5 groups are doing Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai. Ok, I know that it’s a sequel to a pretty popular show, but come on, we don’t need 5 groups doing the same series when we have other series who have only one group doing them and is behind.

Spring and Summer Anime – Thoughts so Far

I thought it was about time for my thoughts on the current anime in Japan that I’m watching. I’m currently watching 10 series currently airing in Japan, 4 from the spring, and six from the summer. Here are my current rankings for all 10 shows. Number of episodes I’ve seen are in parenthesis:

1. Idolmaster Xenoglossia (15 episodes)

Idolmaster has seemed to be a very interesting show to me. Of course, I can’t ignore some of the parallels to Evangelion, but the story has seemed interesting so far, with interesting characters and excellent animation. I wouldn’t necessarily rate this as a fantastic series because it does have several weaknesses – lack of actual action being one (knocking down meteors gets boring after a while – but compared to the other shows I’m currently watching, I think this is easily the best.

2. Sky Girls (3 episodes)

Moving from mechas that wanna-be-idols are piloting to quasi-mechas that lolis are piloting, Sky Girls seems to be one of the better shows that started in the summer season. I’m hardly a fan of loli-themed anime series, but the story has been able to overcome this so far. I saw somewhere that this was going to be a full 26 episode series. I’m not sure if this is true, but I kind of hope it is, though. After 3 episodes we haven’t even had a whiff of the supposed villains in this series, and if it’s only a half-season, that’d mean we’re a quarter of the way through and we haven’t even established the conflict yet.

3. School Days (4 episodes)

School Days is a series that is kind of plodding along right now, but it is rather different from your normal harem anime. First off, I think the two main girls act more natural than in most harem series: they’re unsure of themselves and of what to do next. There is always the fact that we may get one of the messy endings from the game it’s based on concluding the series. And finally, there is the main “protagonist” himself. Most boys in the center of harem anime are usually clumsy or otherwise classified as a loser, but well meaning. Makoto in School Days is not only clumsy, but he’s a jackass as well. Basically all he wants is some T&A and, whether he realizes it or not, he’s basically taking advantage of the girl’s feelings to get towards that end. Usually in most harems you want to beat the center boy for just being clueless. In School Days, you want to beat him because he’s being a jerk. It sets up a situation where I think the series can go off down some unpredictable paths.

4. Doujin Work (3 episodes)

Doujin Work airs as half-episodes of between 13 and 14 minutes each. This story is about a girl who, after losing her job, decides to follow the path of one of her friends and create Doujinshi. Of course, this is rather humorous since this girl is hardly perverted at all, and seems like that type who has had little or not experience of her own. Her friend has her do “research” such as buying porn and and playing erotic dating sim games. It’s still early, but I think this has good potential of being a pretty good comedy.

5. Lucky Star (16 episodes)

Ah yes, now we’re getting into some series that fall into the “what could have been” category. Lucky Star, which started out pretty well, now seems to just be dragging on. This is a series that is meant to be carried almost completely by it’s comedy ala Azumanga Daioh. Unfortunately, while it does have it’s funny moments, it’s hardly enough to carry the series by itself. With minimal character development and virtually no actual plot, this is a series that, unless it can revive itself, may end up dying a rather gruesome death in the end.

6. Nagasarete Airantou (16 episodes)

For those who have read my episode reviews of Nagasarete Airantou as it’s aired, you already know my general feeling about this series, and that is that this series can’t decide whether it wants to be good or bad. It has good episodes which are of quality and explores the characters, but at the same time has some rather brain-dead episodes and moments as well. It’s humor is sometimes pretty good, and sometimes over the top. It’s a series that isn’t painful to watch, but is clearly stuck in mediocracy. I keep expecting for it to make a movement either upwards or downwards, but it’s kept riding the fence through almost 2/3 of the series so far, so I’m not sure if that will ever change.

7. Umisho (4 episodes)

It’s time to move from those series that “could have been” into the series that “never were.” Umisho is about a girl who moves into the town of the same name. She loves swimming. Naked. And she joins the swim team, and is a great swimmer, and all the other girls want to know her secret. You can already see where this is headed. We haven’t had an episode yet where just everyone starts swimming naked, but we’ve been close, and I kind of feel like it is inevitable. There is some back story that is yet to be revealed, so the series may get more interesting over time, but so far it’s largely just been a boob-fest.

8. Seto no Hanayome (16 episodes)

Sinking deeper into brain-numbness is Seto no Hanayome. In this series, a boy, Nagasumi, is saved from drowning by a mermaid, San. Unfortunately, if a mermaid is ever found out, either both the mermaid and the person who saw them has to die, or the witness must join the mermaid family. Well, the choice here is obvious as to what to do. When Nagasumi goes home from vacation (where he saw San), San goes with him along with, unbeknownst to her, the rest of her family, the head of which is her father and hates Nagasumi. We meet a collection of, shall we say interesting, characters along the way. Most of the humor in this series ranges from over the top to way, way over the top to the point of being just plain dumb.

9. Nanatsuiro Drops (3 episodes)

Finally, on to the final two shows, which transcend just being brain-numb and dive into the realm of full brain-deadness. In Nanatsuiro Drops, Masaharu accidentally drinks a potion that turns him into a stuffed sheep at night. The only way he can turn back to normal (other than it never being night again), is for a classmate of his – Sumomo – to collect the 7 stardrops. However, collecting these stardrops seem to be a rather simple task, and these stardrops also appear to fall at random, and there appear to be 7 types of drops rather than 7 drops period (from what I can tell). Yes, an opponent showed up in the 3rd episode, but I’m still trying to figure out, considering the situation, how this is much of an obstacle. On top of this, the main male character is someone that you can hardly sympathize with. There just doesn’t appear to be much if any appeal to this show at all.

10. Moetan (3 episodes)

However, the winner of the brain-dead anime show of the year so far goes to Moetan. Basically take Nanatsuiro Drops and change the magical girls into lolis and make the magical creatures that go along with them complete and utter perverts. Just add a dose of Engrish to the top and you basically have Moetan. About the only funny part of this show is laughing at it because of how horribly bad it is. And exactly how dense is the main guy in this show. You have a short loli girl in your class called Ink Nijihara who is good at English. Then suddenly a magical girl shows up who is good at English, looks just like your classmate except with blue hair, and is named Pastel Ink. The boy either is less aware than a rock, or he knows and just hasn’t revealed it yet.

So that rounds out the 10 series I’m watching. I’ll probably start watching Baccano! soon, and the Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan 2 starts airing in a little more than a week (and I’ll be doing episode reviews for that one). After that, I’m not sure if I’ll start anything before most of the shows I’m currently watching end. It depends when and what starts up in the fall.

When anime gets creepy

Ok, I know that just last week I listed Idolmaster Xenoglossia as the 2nd best show (out of 4) that I’m currently watching in the Spring ’07 anime season in Japan. Well, that was before episode 8 (ok, it’s probably still #2, cause the other two were that far behind).

In any case, the basic jist of the story in Idolmaster Xenoglossia is that there are these mecha robots that are used to blow up asteroids before they come crashing to earth (most of them drop from a ring that orbits earth created when the moon went boom sometime in the past). In anycase, these machines appear to be alive (unique idea I know) and they only take to females (again, unique), and they seem to only work with certain operators they like (once again, unique).

In any case, the main character – Haruka – has always seemed to have a sort of admiration for the iDOL (thats what they call the mechas) that she operates (named Imber). Well, through 7 episodes one could probably explain it away by her just being interested in something that appears to be alive and “chose” her to be it’s pilot and all that.

Well, in episode 8, it gets a bit weirder. Basically it’s the obligatory beach episode all girl-filled anime are required to have. In any case, Haruka learns more about Imber (namely that he’s alien made) and what not. Well, they take a nighttime, er, flight together, and at the end, she blathers on about not knowing much about Imber. So she’s like “I’ll shore you more about me first then” and then flings her shirt open and shows Imber her bikini that she’s wearing (one that she refused to show anyone else, even on the beach). Meanwhile, after this Imber starts recording her and the stuff she says about herself afterwards after this semi-stripping moment.

Ok, so we have a double-dose of creepy here in a sense. The first one is that Haruka is basically teasing Imber like she would a boyfriend that she was two steps away from sleeping with. I was about ready for her to just get naked and start humping the thing somewhere.

The second creepy part is that the machine is like “oh! half-naked teenaged girl! RECORDER ON!” I mean, even if you could concede that a machine made by a certain species may be attracted to members of the species that created it, humans didn’t create Imber (or at least, I’m assuming they didn’t), so what is Imber getting all hot and bothered – or whatever happens to giant robots when they get horny – by seeing Haruka in a bikini.

I’m just waiting for them to somehow have hot, steaming teenaged girl-to-alien mecha sex or something in some episode. I mean, human-robot sex was basically implied in Chobits, and I’m sure in many other words inside and out of anime (hell, think Data from Star Trek), but at least they look like humans and have human, er, equipment.

Even though I was planning on watching all 4 series till the end anyway, I’m still curious how far they’ll take it. They rarely actually show – or even imply – sex in series like this, so in the end there may only be some way for Haruka and Imber to “be together” if thats where the show wants to go.

1/4 Report

Even though the only series I’m doing episode reviews on is Nagasarete Airantou, I’m also watching three other anime series this spring: Seto no Hanayome, Idolmaster Xenoglossia, and Lucky Star.

Now that we’re to the episode 7 mark – a quarter of the way through the season -it’s time for a report card.

I’d say, out of the four series I’m watching, the best one so far is easily Lucky Star. Lucky star definitely has it’s issues – it’s essentially an Azumanga Daioh wanna-be, but I think it fails at being quite as witty as AD. It’s pretty humorous, yes, but I don’t find myself rolling in my chair laughing as much as I did with Azumanga. Nevertheless, Lucky Star is still the best series I’m watching.

Next on the list is probably Idolmaster Xenoglossia. Perhaps because I haven’t seen all that many mecha series, this series still seems interesting to me. I don’t think it’s fallen into any real holes yet, despite chances to do so. One interesting thing about this series: it’s based off of an X-Box 360 Game called Idolmasters, which apparently helped boost 360 sales in Japan quite a bit. The game itself is what it sounds like – you’re a manger of a prospect idol. The anime throws a twist in, however, making the idol competition a cover for a secret government program that uses young girls to pilot mechas which help intercept meteors (the remnants of a destroyed moon) before they strike earth.

Well, ok, so we’re seven episodes in and we still don’t know either why or how the moon was destroyed or why the project has to be secret, but hopefully that’s coming.

Third on the list is probably Nagasarete Airantou. As you can see from my reviews, I find this series fairly mediocre. It can’t decide what it wants to be or where it is going, but it is at least keeping itself from falling in too deep of a hole.

Finally there is Seto no Hanayome. If I get tired of writing reviews for Nagasarete every week because I find it boring, I’m glad I dropped Seto no Hanayome as a project due to no one fansubbing it initially. This series has made me want to claw my eyes out several times while watching it, both because of it’s near substance-less plot and radical shifts in animation style, apparently just for the heck of it.