Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Lovely Idol 5

My previous reviews have mainly focused on a few characters: Tomohiro the manager, Ruri his sister, and Mizuki the girl who sings for vengeance, but there are actually a few more girls. We start off this episode with Miu, the tall brown-haired girl, still trying to make a dog noise. Remember that last episode in the studio, instead of barking, she meowed. Turns out she still doesn’t know what a dog sounds like, as she keeps meowing. She’s even animated with a cute cat face and all that. The other girls are astounded, either by her obstinacy or stupidity I’m not sure.

Tomohiro suddenly bursts into the room, without even knocking. The girls have been asked to appear in a commercial with Sayuki one of the members of the original group of girls. There’s going to be dancing and bikinis on a beach and some kind of suntan lotion. It’s all very provocative, but I hear that’s par for the course in Japan. Harrison Ford once appeared in a bikini in a Japanese commercial. The girls assume that Sayuki demanded that they star in the commercial with her. They have no basis for making that assumption, but I think it’s sound.

Miu meows in pleasure and starts to practice the dance moves. Mizuki looks over the storyboard of the commercial with some anxiety. Tomohiro assures her that she, too, will be dancing in a bikini on a beach, and she becomes even more anxious. Tomohiro looks puzzled, because he’s a guy, and guys simply aren’t capable of telling what a woman is thinking. Besides, what girl doesn't want to appear in a commercial in a bikini? Miu grabs everyone and they start practicing their routine. They’re terrible, uncoordinated, and but there are plenty of shots of them in their tight outfits. Mizuki looks especially bad, and you can actually see the terror on her face as she’s moving around. I was actually pretty surprised, just this once, as most anime characters can either just scowl or smile. This show has real emotion depth, let me assure you.

They all arrive at the beach for the filming. Miu keeps meowing. Mizuki stares at the ground and sighs a lot. Off to the side Sayuki and Aneeki (the other manager) are sitting at a table covered with a big umbrella. We find out, finally, that Aneeki is Tomohiro’s sister. And also, I suppose, Ruri’s sister. Maybe there were clues about that earlier. Excuse me for not knowing Japanese. I mean, Ruri and Aneeki even had a scene together in the last episode, and Ruri didn't call her onee-sama or anything. Maybe Ruri hates me, just like I hate everyone. Anyway, it turns out that Aneeki is the one who demanded the new girls appear in the commercial, not Sayuki. I don’t know why. Now do I know what this is important. I probably could have just edited this part out. Tomohiro walks over and Sayuki gets all tongue tied. Aneeki puts him into a devastating choke hold of some type. Sayuki says that she hopes that he enjoys her work today. I think there’s something more going on here.

The new girls, meanwhile, have changed into their bikinis. They’re all different, and we get good, long, lingering shots of how they bend and pose. We zoom in on Mizuki’s ass and she looks a little horrified. One of the younger girls, Mai I think, complains about her childish one-piece. Suddenly, all the male crew members start cheering and running over, but they pass all the other girls and head straight for Ruri, who, while also wearing a one-piece, is built like a brick house. The other girls are in awe of her. Oh, and while all this is happening, Mizuki is nowhere to be seen. She’s probably off crying somewhere.

The girls watch Sayuki practice her routine a few times. They’re amazed by her professionalism. The director calls them all over to get ready. Tomohiro goes to Sayuki and tells her that she was wonderful. She looks disappointed and says, “That’s all?” Being a guy, he’s confused, but then he smiles and adds his thanks, for helping out his new girls. Now Sayuki looks like she’s about to cry.

The girls line up to show off their routine before everyone. Mizuki notices all the guys staring at her and clamps her eyes shut, but they don’t go away. They're real, Mizuki, looking at you with their eyes. Aneeki tells Tomohiro that if they don’t dance well there’s going to be big trouble.

The music starts and the girls begin to dance. The following scene is so ridiculous that I have to stop and watch it a few times. I think I cackled a bit. They’re not in sync, they look terrified. Miu is making up moves that aren’t in the routine. Mizuki is flailing about like a beached whale. She falls down. The director stops everything and berates everyone for wasting her time. She’ll just use Sayuki. Tomohiro runs over and bows and begs for another chance. The director looks like she’s about to agree, but Sayuki suddenly comes over and stabs Tomohiro in the back: the girls aren’t good enough. A woman scorned, eh?

The girls retreat to a dark shack where they sit, wallowing in their terrible shame. Mizuki stands apart because this is all her fault. Tomohiro comes and reassures them that even in failure there is a lesson to be learned. They go to watch Sayuki and the actual filming of the commercial. Soulful background music plays while Sayuki dances and talks about suntan lotion. The director says good job and they all start to pack it up, but Sayuki suddenly starts to feel guilty about what she did. Sure, Tomohiro is a clueless boob, but do the girls need to suffer because of him? I say yes, but Sayuki disagrees. She says that she wants to film using all of them. The director says sure (because she must not be on a budget). She gives the girls one hour to practice.

They run off to improve their coordination. As usual, Mizuki is the worst. Miu goes to check her out. There’s this weird scene where Miu is trying to watch her and Mizuki is sort of dancing and squeaking at the same time, turning away so Miu can’t see her. They finally stop and Mizuki admits that she can’t dance if someone is watching her; she’s embarrassed. The other girls note that she’s never embarrassed when she sings, but Mizuki says that it’s different. Then, the other girls, pretty much one-by-one, also admit that they’re embarrassed. Ruri admits that she’s a terrible dancer. Mai imagines that everyone is a pumpkin. Another girls (Tomoho? Tahoe?) pretends to write “person” on her palm and then swallows the word. Mizuki agrees to try. Then they all turn on Miu for being so crazy and exuberant. She agrees to be a part of the team. They start to get all weepy and reflective, but Mai screams that they need to practice.

Back in the shack, Tomohiro thanks Sayuki for giving the girls another chance. She says, “Don’t you have something else to say to me?” He looks confused again.

Everyone lines up on the beach. Mizuki concentrates and begins to see everyone with a big green pumpkin head. I didn’t know they come in green. Looks weird. The music starts, they dance, and at the end we see the director, scowling. She suddenly smiles. Excellent!

Everyone really does pack up now, and the girls bow to everyone in thanks. Sayuki keeps asking Tomohiro if he has anything else to say to her. Aneeki comes and beats him up, and she takes Sayuki away. Sayuki looks back over her shoulder and thinks that she wanted Tomohiro to tell her that she looked cute. I’m actually kind of disappointed that they added that last part. One of the “strengths” of the show is that it relies a great deal on things that are unsaid. I hear that women communicate nonverbally a lot, maybe one of them writes this. Except for that last scene. Some guy animator probably kept being really obnoxious about not knowing what Sayuki really wanted Tomohiro to say, and I bet the woman writer just added that last part to shut him up.

Final scene, the girls get a dvd of the commercial. They gather around to watch. All they see is Sayuki. They’ve been reduced to tiny background dancers during the final shot of the spinning, shining suntan lotion bottle. How disappointing. Oh, these girls. Will they ever get their big break?

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