Anime News Network’s recent announcement that WAKE UP, GIRLS! NEW CHAPTER will premiere this October has sealed the deal: fall anime 2017 is officially the season of anime idols.
Sequels and spinoffs to some of the biggest idol anime titles will begin airing this fall. These consist of what many consider some of the most popular of 2-D idol franchises — THE IDOLM@STER, LOVE LIVE!, and WAKE UP, GIRLS!.
For those unaware, idol anime is exactly what it sounds like: anime that follows the lives of fictional idols. The idea of an “idol” isn’t too well-known in the Western world. The closest concept we have to it is a “celebrity.” However, in Japan, idols typically take on a range of media roles. Put simply, they’re a combination of singers, dancers, models, and actors all at once. Idol anime just puts a two-dimensional layer on all of that.
It isn’t uncommon for anime of similar genres and premises to air in the same season. However, it is rare for franchise rivals to compete as openly as this. Admittedly, fans of one title are usually fans of the others. But it remains a bold move to have so many big names contending for viewers and ratings at one time.
Still, despite sharing a core genre, the idol anime airing next season do have their differences to set them apart. These differences lie in their presentations of daily idol lives. From school idols to real-life work, each show is unique enough to stand alone and garner its own fanbase. Check them out below!
THE IDOLM@STER is the largest of the idol franchises. Although it started as an arcade game, it’s since expanded to video games on all kinds of consoles, a handful of anime series, quite a few manga spinoffs, and more. When you combine all the characters from the original game and its sequels, the number easily surpasses 300. Luckily, all these characters are split into “generations,” and each generation largely stays in its own storyline (usually separated by game.) Fall anime 2017 will include two different IDOLM@STER generations: Cinderella Girls and SideM.
Cinderella Girls already had its own fully-fleshed anime series back in 2015. Following that, its webisode series, CINDERELLA GIRLS THEATER, aired last spring. This fall will feature the second season of that series. Usually only a few minutes long, the shorts focus on comedic skits and the cutesy antics of these anime idols.
SideM is the more unorthodox IDOLM@STER anime of the season. Although the franchise built its name on the premise of young girls aspiring to become idols, SideM is a generation completely made up of boys. Male-oriented idol anime, such as UTA NO PRINCE-SAMA (eng. PRINCES OF SONG) or B-PROJECT, certainly exist, but their popularity is a far cry from that of girl idols. Nonetheless, IDOLM@STER seems confident enough to produce a series focused entirely on male characters. At the least, it lets SideM stand out from an otherwise female-saturated idol spectacle. We don’t know much about the storyline yet, but it will likely follow past IDOLM@STER anime beats. That is to say, the classic story of trainees aiming to go pro — only with guys.
LOVE LIVE! SUNSHINE
LOVE LIVE! is probably the most well-known idol anime in the West. Its original series was two seasons long, ending with a movie in 2015. Its sequel series, LOVE LIVE! SUNSHINE, aired its first season in the summer of 2016. LOVE LIVE! differs from most other idol anime in that it’s entirely focused on schoolgirls forming an idol unit together, rather than an agency scouting girls.
Like with the IDOLM@STER franchise, SUNSHINE features a new generation of idols entirely different from the original’s. The first season saw great success both locally and abroad. The quick announcement of a second season is likely hoping to capitalize on that success. With the biggest Western fanbase of all the three franchises, LOVE LIVE! SUNSHINE S2 might be the most highly-anticipated idol anime of the fall season.
WAKE UP, GIRLS: NEW CHAPTER
WAKE UP, GIRLS! is considered the most “realistic” of all idol anime. This is due to its subdued color palette and more serious depictions of the Japanese idol industry. The show features a group of seven girls who form the titular idol unit. A prequel movie, twelve-episode season, and two sequel movies depict the unit’s formation and growth as they climb their way up the idol rankings.
The second season of WAKE UP, GIRLS! has been a long time coming. The sequel movies released in 2015, and since then the franchise has remained largely quiet. WAKE UP, GIRLS: NEW CHAPTER is a sudden announcement, but a welcome one. Unlike the other two franchises, it will feature the same original cast. However, it will take place four years after the last movie, which is an interestingly large time-skip. Nonetheless, fans are looking forward to this long-awaited sequel.
Get Ready for the Idol Fest!
The franchises may be competing, but idol anime fans everywhere are rejoicing. All three popular titles are getting continuations, which in and of itself is pretty big. It’ll also likely revive static fandoms, like that of WAKE UP, GIRLS!, and boost newer ones like SideM’s. No matter which series you follow (or best case scenario, you’re a fan of all three) fall anime 2017 is bound to be a fun time filled with good-looking anime characters and catchy new songs. We may not know the exact premiere dates for each show yet, but one thing’s for sure: October’s gonna be a blast.
Featured image screenshotted from YouTube.