Genre(s): Idol, Drama, Comedy
Aired: Jan 2017 to Mar 2017
Also known as: Idol Incidents, アイドル事変
Summary: Currently, Japan is going through tough times. With so many politicians ensnared by vested and personal interests, the government is unable to solve growing problems and quell the widespread discontent. It’s during these troubling periods that idols emerge to save the country!
The Heroine Party, Sunlight Party, Starlight Party, Bishoujo Party, Wakaba Party, Subculture New Party, and SOS Party. From these seven idol political parties, these idols who are also National Diet members and prefecture representatives, also known as idol dietwomen, will reverse the stagnation enveloping Japan through song and dance!
Review: There’s meaningful messages to be found in this series, admittedly. However, a variety of factors, including the overly ridiculous presentation, prevents these from shining as brightly as they could.
I have to praise the setting in Idol Jihen, first off. The Land of the Rising Sun has certainly seen better days as seen in the plethora of problems the idol dietwomen attempt to correct. In fact, viewers may see Japan’s situation (as depicted in the show) to parallel the real world’s circumstances since the modern world is also struggling with increasing environmental pollution, lack of funding for certain facilities, and repeated instances of corruption within governmental positions.
Unfortunately, I’m not so fond of how many of the solutions are done via (or at least supplemented with) song and dance. I understand that the point of the series is that there’s politicans who are also idols (which is a novel and unique idea, I admit). But half of the series showcases the main character, Hoshina Natsuki of the Heroine Party, trying to fix a problem, befriending fellow idols, and then winning over the antagonist of the episode by putting on an idol performance. While this does allow Natsuki to make connections with other idol dietwomen so they can all unite and bandtogether against the belligerent Ryougi Party during the later episodes, the series ends up seeming rather formulaic.
I would argue that the show is at its best when the Ryougi Party, a major political party that is against idol dietwomen for some reason (perhaps they’re upset that young pretty idols are snatching up their positions), gets serious towards the latter half of the show. As a result, the actions and choices Natsuki and her fellow politicians are shown to not have been undeniably positive as previously thought due to unforeseen side effects, which I found both relatively realistic and cynical. And then these developments are revealed to be just lies cooked up by the Ryougi Party, which is followed by the show re-entering idealistic and outlandish territory.
The characters as a whole are largely flat and one-note, but a few of the minor antagonists do grow past being just comically evil baffoons. Something that’s worthy of praise is how they handled the relationship between Natsuki and her partner, Onimaru Shizuka. Natsuki initially is absurdly idealistic and confident in her own ability to inspire change whereas Shizuka is cynical and not much of a team player. Gradually the two girls switch places on the idealism-cynicalism scale and they both realize there’s limits to working alone. I’m admitedly a sucker for that sort of character development, but that’s definitely something the show handled well, in my opinion. The same can’t be said for the other idols, however, since they simply get much less screentime and are left unexplored in comparison.
As for the animation, it’s often of low-quality and accompanied with off-model faces. I mean, somehow a beauty mark is larger in size than a nose…? What’s going on here? The show is also frequently excessively flowery. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the show exceeded by tolerance for sparkles and flashiness despite not looking all that well-animated.
There’s a variety of insert songs, but they’re simply not too memorable. I did enjoy listening to the OP and ED, however.
Finally, the yuri vibes are subtle but definitely there. The biggest shiptease happens between Natsuki and Shizuka but there’s a few moments between other girls, too.
While the concept of idols who are also politicians is novel and the story touches upon meaningful messages (needlessly polluting the enivorment is horrenous; being sexist against working mothers is despicable; etc), the premises itself works against its own credibility. Sensible solutions are often presented, yes, but the show seems to really want to supplement most of these answers with singing and dancing. It’s just hard to take a show seriously if the main characters are making the antagonists realize the errors of their ways through song and dance. It’s possible that this show is actually a satire of sorts, actually.
The series does get better after half of the series is over since their primary enemy finally starts taking things seriously and the episodes seem much less formulaic, but is that what you really want to hear about an anime? Perhaps you would want to give this show a shot if you’re really a huge fan of idol shows with morals tied into the story, but the aforementioned life lessons is strangled by its own manner of presentation.
I would recommend watching Love Live! instead. While the stakes the girls of LL are playing for are considerably smaller, the characters are much more endearing and the audience actually gets to learn more about them compared to the idols in Idol Jihen who got shafted compared to Natsuki and Shizuka. The animation for the live performances in Love Live! initially aren’t excellent, it should be noted, but they do get better and better (and the animation outside of their songs is of a higher quality overall).