The future will be saved by cute, singing girls with spaceships.
What They Say:
Following the trainee’s successful debut concert, AKB0048′s manager, Tsubasa, makes a shocking announcement. She intends to revive the New Single General Elections – as well as the Central Nova.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having no experience with the whole AKB48, previous incarnations or anything else, AKB008 – Next Stage serves as my first real introduction to the material and concept. With anime, music and science fiction being big parts of my whole experience since the days of old, having something with flavors of all three is certainly appealing. Introducing nus to a world in which humanity has moved out to the stars is fairly standard, though the idea of banning art in that process is kind of bizarre in a big way since it just doesn’t flat out make sense. That brings us to the group that brought music and song out there, which we get to see in the group that’s the main focus of the series.
While there’s a brief, and I mean brief, nod towards what came in the past, the show wants to set things up for the here and now, which means we get a big song and dance number almost from the start, which shows off the mix in style that it uses between the traditional and the CG animation. While it may not blend perfectly, i’ll admit that in this form I really find that it’s pretty appropriate. The visuals for it all really do reinforce what a concert of this nature could be like with all that it entails and it pulls it off quite well, making for some striking sequences and really great fluidity to it that sells it all the more. Thankfully, the songs are subtitled, which was going to be my main fear with the series based on some past music subtitle license issues that have come up for simulcasts.
While the concert goes off well, things change quickly when their manager, Tsubasa, arrives on the the scene and sets a new stage for the group, setting up for general elections to it and something called the Center Nova being brought into play. There’s a lot of silliness to it all and the competitive side has some more concerned than others. But there’s also the bigger problem that comes into play when a few of the girls are kidnapped and taken into space. They’re being taken to a particular planet that has a High Court on it where their enemy, the DGTO, intends to rig a proceeding in order to take them down in a creative way. The conflation of the anti-entertainment ban and treating them as terrorists is amusing, but it’s something that’s taken very, very seriously.
Well, at least within the show. I can’t help but to chuckle at it and just enjoy the visuals and performances. When it gets serious, it does it as best as it can and doesn’t skimp on the location designs or anything else, making it feel as well thought out as it can be in this kind of seat of the pants way, There’s a fair bit of in-show kind of jargon thrown around here with what they’re doing, which may make sense if you’ve watched the previous material, but it just kind of washed over me like the technospeak in the Star Trek universe. The show goes for the big action well here in a flashy way with an attack from the rest of the AKB0048 group and it presents some technically interesting and likely mostly plausible elements as they work to rescue their friends. Mixing it all with song, pushing back against the anti-entertainment ban, did manage to make me smile even as fluffy and empty as it feels.
This show makes me feel confused. I mean, I get the structure of it and what they’re doing story wise and with the larger themes, but something about it just feels like it’s not coming together well here. It does force the music into it in some scenes, but that’s one of the big selling points here so I’m certainly not surprised. Though the story hasn’t really come together well here, it’s showing off the basic ideas of what it wants to be about and the foundations of this spacefaring version of humanity. What kept me watching in the end was the animation itself, the fluidity of it when it does the stronger CG scenes, and the simple fun of how big it goes with so much of it, be it the music or the attack sequence in the later half. In a way, this is a show I come away feeling bad for enjoying on some level, especially since I can’t really pinpoint why.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.