AKB0048 1

I’ve just had two exhausting work days in a row. Normally, if I watch and write about anything at all, it’s going to be something simple, like Polar Bear’s Cafe. But tonight I couldn’t resist looking the season’s last new show and arguably its biggest curiosity. I don’t know if it was a good idea in my tired state or not. AKB0048 is bonkers.

A shot from AKB0048's top-secret performance.

The crazy stuff happens at the start. We meet four little girls who are sneaking through sewers to watch AKB0048 do a clandestine performance on their planet, where entertainment is outlawed. There’s no reason given for why it’s forbidden, or how they expect to keep a performance secret when literally thousands of people have congregated in the open air and the performers do their thing from floating pods and discs operated from a hovering spaceship, but for a show like this you have to shove reason aside in order to enjoy it. For the opening sequence I had no trouble doing that. The little girls watch in awe as AKB0048 dance, sing, and swoop about on their flying stage. The performers’ group shots look a little robotic compared to the IDOLM@STER‘s, but it’s still fun to watch. Then the government sends in flying troops attack the group, and it becomes even more fun. Silly fun, but fun nonetheless. It’s a battle between future high-tech thuggery and singing, dancing girls “who want to make love,” and have some explosive weapons of their own, not to mention hair bows that act like tasers! Hooray!

And I didn't even write about this section.

There’s no way to describe the early scenes adequately, so we’ll come down to earth (or the planet Rankastar in this case) and jump four years, where the little girls are now adolescents dreaming of becoming idols. Luckily for them, AKB0048 escaped the goons and are recruiting new friends for their group. Naturally, the girls make an audition tape … well, three of them. Orine has quit school and got a factory job (she’s doin’ all right), and seems happy. Most of our time is spent with Nagisa. Her father is the new head of the DDAE, whatever that is, and that means he frowns on fabulousness and entertainment (the two are not the same, but are linked). It’s a basic “Mean parent won’t let me go for my dreams,” setup, except with the government thrown in.

In fact, sacrifice seems to be a major theme in the episode. It looks like Orine has sacrificed her dream, Yuka, the grouchy blonde, loses a narrow-minded boyfriend to achieve hers, and Nagisa might lose her family if she catches that rocket with her friends. And all for a dream they haven’t achieved yet: to be fabulous interplanetary idols bringing entertainment even to worlds where it’s banned. Maybe the sheer ridiculousness of the setup is distracting me from the trite personal stories, or maybe it was the wild concert scene, but I enjoyed this first episode. Plus, there are a lot of fun, silly things they can do next.

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