Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls Episode #24 Review

I'll sing with all of my love!

What They Say:
The idols from 346 Production's "Cinderella Project" are back, and this time they have more work than ever! Following the success of the summer idol festival, the girls have gained an incredible boost in popularity. Their first group album has even launched. There's just one problem though -- the new executive at 346 Pro, Mishiro. This mysterious new boss is now planning on dismantling all of the company's idol-projects. ALL OF THEM. What could possibly be in store for our beloved Cinderella girls now?!

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)

Okay, so I was wrong. The Uzuki problem didn't end after last week's exchange of tears. In fact, it might have even gotten worse. It's time for the New-Gen Christmas reunion show and Uzuki is still being consumed by her anxiety. And what's even worse is that Mishiro is losing her patience with Producer-san. Now he has to find a way to turn Uzuki back into a smile-robot before Mishiro takes it upon herself to fire the damn idol and get it over with. So think of this week's episode as a typical sad episode of Cinderella Girls, but with a time bomb attached to it that states the problem needs to be solved within twenty minutes (Which normally wouldn't be a problem for this show).

So the good and bad part of episode #24 is that it's another entire episode dedicated to the inner struggle of Uzuki Shimamura. This is bad because, well, it's exactly what we watched last week. However, it's also good because this time around it feels a little different. Instead of isolating herself, Uzuki [reluctantly] surrounds herself with the rest of the Cinderella Project, creating some emotional relief for her as all of the other girls reminisce and look back on when they were all starting up six months ago. This scene is also great because it allows us to see what was going on in the minds of some of the other girls back when this series was basically all about New Generations. For example, Miku stated at one point that she was always acting out early on because she was afraid that the other idols were going to overshadow her. And, I mean, that's basically common sense if you take the time to deeply analyze the emotions and psychological states of each girl, but who has the time for that. That quick validation from each girl gives the audience a break from exclusively experiencing Uzuki's emotions.

So, it comes time for the concert and Uzuki is still not ready. In fact, she's basically crying in the back of Producer's car. That is, until he brings her to a venue that she worked at before she was even an idol so she can have a look around and basically see how far she's come. After a quick tour and a few "We might have crossed paths" from Uzuxi x Producer, we have another one-on-one feelings-session where P-Kun tells Uzuki that he would still choose her because of her smile. He extends his hand to her and essentially gives her a choice: "Stay here and cry forever or try to move on." Surprisingly enough, Uzuki chooses the latter and the two pack up and head for the reunion show.

Rin and Mio have been sidelined for most of this episode so they can wallow in each other's misery. But when Uzuki arrives, that misery transforms into anxiousness, seeing the huge leap that Uzuki is about to make. And that anxiousness turns into jubilance when she finally takes the stage and (After a few Uh's and Um's) busts out in an emotional comeback performance that sends the crowd into a burst of excitement. This scene was actually kind of reminiscent of Chihaya Kisaragi's "Aoi Tori" performance back in regular iM@S. It's actually become quite interesting to see just how many of these situations from original iM@S translate back to Cinderella Girls. In the end, Uzuki wins over the crowd, the rest of the idols, and even Mishiro as her performance is simply too heartfelt to overlook. It was actually kind of a tearjerker seeing how hard she was trying to change her outlook on her career.

Best/Favorite Part:
The comeback performance easily takes the cake as the highlight of this episode. This is the first time we get to hear Uzuki's voice isolated from New-Gen and it's actually quite wonderful. This was a great first way to experience that. Having the last two episodes, and even some chunks of episodes earlier than that, come to a close in this one song was one of the most powerful parts of this series. Uzuki might even be in my top 5 Cinderella Girls after this. Hmmm...maybe that's foreshadowing another potential countdown?...(Ominous music/Fade out).

In Summary:
This is one of the best episodes of the series so far. The much needed set-up from the episode prior to it created a feeling that was both familiar and intriguing. This is one of the few times where viewers actually get a satisfactory conclusion to a problem that is above-average for a show like this. It is also one of the few uninterrupted solo-performances that fans of the actual iM@S music get to witness. It doesn't matter whether or not you care for Uzuki, this episode is one that you absolutely can not skip.

Grade: A

Streamed By: Daiuki/Hulu

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