The Idolmaster: Cinderella Girls, S2 – Review

Unsurprisingly, my journey back through Cinderella Girls’ first season was swiftly followed by a run through the second. And as it turns out, Cinderella Girls is actually a pretty great show! The show certainly lacks the easy humor and aesthetic brilliance of its predecessor, but it makes up for that with a set of dramatic conflicts that actually work. The corporate vision stuff that underlies the show’s entire second half is legitimately engaging, and even Uzuki’s final personal conflict feels very earned and dramatically effective. Cinderella Girls starts off very shaky, but it comes together quite nicely in the end. It’s not a personal favorite, but it’s a fine show.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my episodic notes below!

Cinderella Girls

Episode 14

The villain lady appears. A very serious person, and also apparently the daughter of the company’s president

Their group album has arrived. It’s been a month since the idol fest

Executive Director Mishiro

She’s going to become the general director of the idol division

Someone’s lurking around the studio. And Producer actually gets freaked out by it, which is nice. He really needs more scenes humanizing him, considering he’s more of an active player in this show

So the girls go hunting for a ghost. This episode already seems more engaging than the previous stuff

I like that they’re taking advantage of the ridiculous catalog of gimmick idols for this episode’s conceit

Rin is concerned the media’s noticed their silly detective games. Her character is so grounded compare to everyone else

Rin runs into Nao and Karen, two other new idols with the studio

The show seems to kind of need to bring in all these other idols

Riina runs into an actual rock idol, who can play guitar and everything. Idol overload this episode

Rin seems to like the idea of inspiring other idols

They pinpoint Mayu as the stalker suspect, who has a letter for Producer

This is quite an atmospheric sequence. Really great colors, too

Her question is harmless. Everyone’s kinda affectionately bullying the producer

Rin makes friends with Nao and Karen

Aw dang, Mishiro says current projects are disbanded and they’re starting anew

Episode 15

And now Mishiro’s going to choose idols herself to unite for one project in the hopes of making major stars

Producer defends the individuality of the current process

“Individuality is fine, but this process is too slow to produce results”

“I won’t let the project be disbanded. I’ll present an alternate plan, and we’ll manage.”

This is good. In contrast with the last show’s scrappy but wholly self-owned studio, this one’s all about surviving in the face of heartless meddling from above

All the other idols of the studio are worrying, too

Karen and Nao’s CD debut was cut

We’re getting an arc that actually emphasizes the fact that to their employers, idols are commodities with no rights

Mio asks Uzuki what to do, and Uzuki’s stammering response reminds Mio that she has to be strong for Uzuki

Kaede gets spotlighted, and the producer thinks of a new project

Oh dang, Kaede actually turns down the director’s proposal. IDOL SOLIDARITY

Miku doesn’t want to sit around, and so Manami gives her work to do to keep their spirits up. Both of them being themselves nicely here, with Manami still taking the leadership role

Kaede takes control of her own event, which inspires the New Generations girls

“Even though Kaede is a big star, she does the same things we do.” Emphasizing Kaede’s humanity and humility

“It’s gloomy in here. That’s why I have to light up the room.”

“This is the stage where I had my first performance”

“No work is major or minor. This concert is at a place that means a lot to me. I want to take the next step together with my fans.”

Kaede essentially states her responsibility is to her fans, no one else

Episode 16

Producer’s event emphasizes individuality, the opposite of the director’s plan

“Idols will draw out smiles with their own power. That becomes their power.”

She gives him the okay, but demands results

Nana Abe seems to be getting some focus this time

The Bunnyears characters. Miku is inspired by her. Contrasting the director’s switching of the tone with the girls who’re directly affected by it, whose careers hang in the balance

Yep, they have to rethink the show

They’re going to reduce the variety show-style work, because the director wants them all to come off like classic movie stars. Which will obviously reduce the significance of their individual quirks, the things they feel define them

“If they take away our laughs, what’s left?”

“So singing will be our main job?” “But they don’t like character idols.” This is really, really good stuff

Nana Abe’s segment gets cut

“I hate bearing bad news.” “Decisions from upstairs. We don’t have a choice.”

The girl who inspired Miku is being cut for being a gimmick character. If their heroes are getting fired, what are they supposed to think?

I also really like Riina trying to break this to Miku gently

“My dream was so close to becoming true…”

“If the company tells me I can’t wear them…”

Miku’s disappointed in Nana, of course

“You and I will make them accept what’s important to us”

Miku asks Producer if they can include the TV show girls in their project. It’s essentially becoming a shelter for these idols

Episode 17

These episodes are focusing on idols outside the core group, but it’s actually working really well – it’s letting them tell compelling little dramas that reflect on whatever central characters are also involved

“I’ve always done gal-style fashion!” “I know. But I’m afraid of what will happen to our division if I don’t comply.” Other producers are doing more to accept the corporate shift

The overall company president thinks this reform is too sudden

Hah, this shot of the barred gates to the ball

Producer gets them a weekly variety show, again challenging the general corporate climate

Rika wants her image to be sexy, but the variety show frames her as a little kid

Miria can’t get attention at home, and Rika lies about her unhappiness with the show to keep Producer from worrying

Both sisters are struggling with the image the company expects of them. “I can’t just make demands”

And again, Rika takes inspiration from her sister, who’s also struggling and being forced to compromise. How can they lift each other if they’re no longer able to take inspiration from each other?

Mika lashes out at her sister

This drama works much better in general because it’s grounded and because it’s tied to the core themes/conflicts. It’s not random dead siblings, it’s “this is a tough job with changing circumstances, and it’s difficult to manage that”

Anzu: “No matter what you wear, you’re still you”

Kirari: “What’s important is whether what you’re wearing gets you excited or not”

And Mika and Miria just go out and have fun together. Sometimes that’s all you have or need

Great scene of the two of them bonding as big sisters

They don’t “win” – they find ways to express themselves within the roles they’re given

Episode 18

Totokira Academy, their variety show, is popular

Anzu and Kirari get tapped by an executive for their own dedicated show segment due to their chemistry

And the two shy girls Sweets and Clover will be doing taped interviews, which the Producer is likely using to help them get over their issues with public speaking

Everyone has a central goal now, making the Cinderella Ball a success

Haha, great Anzu face here

Nice character animation for the girls’ nervous interviews

Kanako and Chieri are their names, but they have not yet earned names

Some really nice shots in this episode

“We’re not going to fail today…”

“We’ll do our best!” Great faces

Really great intimate scene with Kirari and Anzu

“Idols should always be facing forwards!”

Not quite as strong of an episode as the last couple. Kanako and Chieri are still pretty one-note, though some of the shots were quite nice

This season’s kinda lower on the insert songs

Aw, they warm the glassmaker’s heart. IDOL POWER

Episode 19

Uzuki seems a little insecure about Rin singing with her two friends

And the director hears them

The show now seems to be switching to a style of contrasting a couple of narratives against each other in each episode

Natsuki Kimura, the rock idol, is getting an idol band formed around her. And Riika’s struggling with her image

Natsuki even rides a motorcycle

Riika getting grilled on rock music again. Uh oh

“What am I doing?”

Riina gets distracted, and Miku is worried about her

A great sequence where neither of them can be honest with the other, so neither face is shown

The new idol programs are making everyone nervous about how solid their position is, and if they want to change it themselves

Natsuki’s group would be entirely managed by the director. No control of the band image

Riina and Miku knock each other over on stage. No communication

There really aren’t many impressive performances or bits of animation in this season

“So you’re glad to be in this unit, I have to do my best to make it awesome!” Miku has it tough

Really nice ending performance here. This married couple really is something

Natsuki declines the rock group invite, and teams up with Asterisk plus Bunnyears

Episode 20

“Project Krone,” starring idols chosen by Director Mishiro. Lol

Anastasia and Rin are picked to be part of the project – Rin in a new unit, Anya as a solo artist

Mishiro throws the Producer’s own words against him, saying he should respect the girls’ individuality and let them decide. But it’s a misleading argument – the huge power difference here and fear of losing future opportunities means they can’t honestly decline

Corporate meddling due to differing priorities mean even the Producer’s “big chance” is being undercut

Anya keeps having this opportunity framed as “challenging herself” or the “next step”

Rin is being seduced by these tricksie new idols!

Producer being very supportive of Anya’s new ambitions

“Up until now, I have not made one decision myself. If I’m going to change, I should start with that”

Mio and Uzuki don’t take Rin’s feelings well. And then Mio decides to a solo artist. Jeeeeez

Episode 21

Nice contrasting of Mio’s announcement and the Krone project video

Mio is impulsive and insecure and selfish and that’s just how it is. That’s already interesting, but I wonder where they’ll go with it

The group kinda struggling to stay positive and pick each other up

All this poaching of talent is leaving the whole group uncertain

Ah, it seems like Mio sees this as her way of keeping up with Rin as far as finding new perspectives on the group goes

Uzuki trying to keep the group together

These flower motifs are unstoppable

Mio’s character acting is pretty nice

This whole play sequence is quite strong

Producer encourages Uzuki to find her own projects

Episode 22

The fall concert has arrived

One of the Krone girls is sick, so Mio improvises to keep the crowd entertained

They’re definitely avoiding much animation here

And Mio gives a pep talk to Rin’s new teammates. Mio really owning it this episode

Some nice animation for Triad Primus’ performance

“It seems you saved your division.” The director acknowledges the value of Producer’s rescue

“I’ll do my best!” Uzuki pushing down her own concerns. Uzuki is a natural follower, which makes this hard for her

“I’m sorry. I just keep repeating ‘I’ll do my best,’ huh?” She’s losing it

Episode 23

“I’ll be back on track tomorrow.” This is definitely relatable. Ignoring the root of the problem, just pretending you’re fine to avoid causing trouble, which only leads to more trouble

She’s thinking of taking a break from work to work on her stamina through core lessons

Back to training, the one thing she’s sure she knows how to do

Producer schedules a New Generations event to hopefully pull her back to herself

But Uzuki has no confidence, and she doesn’t realize that that itself is her problem

The girls working to cover for each other in spite of their conflicting groups and priorities

“Maybe I became an idol a little too early”

“Valuing the feelings of each and every idol. Is this what it gets you?” The director sure does know how to make her employees feel valued

“Say something, Shimamu”

“What should I do if I’m the only one who doesn’t find anything?” She sees her friends take flight, and she’s terrified

“Smiling, laughing… anyone can do that. I’ve got nothing…” jeez this is strong

And again, a much more grounded conflict than the first show’s

Episode 24

“Passing is passing.”

“Even a girl like me could become a cute idol.” Kirari is pretty great

“What if I try my hardest one more time, and nothing’s there?”

“Doing my best wasn’t good enough”

“I’m scared of myself”

“Even if you don’t have faith in yourself right now, I have faith in you. Without your smile, we would never have made it this far.” A perfect summation of the carrying each other theme

Oof, this performance is a killer. And that pushed-up smile, what a great image

Episode 25

The gimmick idols show off their stuff at the Cinderella Ball

The director thinks Producer’s too soft, that his dedication to making sure every idol makes it would eventually reduce the prestige of the company

“What’s most important is whether they’re smiling or not. That’s how I produce.”

“We’re not on the same wavelength. I focus on the castle. Ash-covered dreams are most important to you.”

Very nice final performance

One thought on “The Idolmaster: Cinderella Girls, S2 – Review

  1. Glad to see you enjoyed the second season. I have little to add, other than the fact that the choice of execution for the songs seems to be more of a cameo-usage than anything else. Anyone who’s played the games will be familiar with them, so I believe they used that opportunity to focus on the conflicts rather than the songs, themselves.

    Personally, I think this was a good option. More of a bonus if you could identify the songs, and it avoids derailing the drama more than is needed. You could say the drama isn’t as emotionally charged as the original iDOLM@STER, but is grounded enough to be believable (and probably even relatable).

    Speaking of cameos, there are many cameo idols that also appear in the last few episodes. More bonus points to those who have played the games, and for me, more reason to be more immersed into the wide-ranging implications of the choices made by the idols. There are more than 100 idols alone in iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls (yes, I know), but given the execution, I was quite satisfied with how they were still able to include some of the important idols into this production, no matter how small a role they may have played.

    Otherwise, great review. People might find you praising iDOLM@STER a little weird, but it’s actually not that surprising when you come to realize what charm the show has aside from cute idols and gimmicky songs.

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