Alright everybody, let’s get back to our Aikatsu. The show’s last episode wasn’t really a highlight, but it did do some reasonable work in integrating Ran into the main trio. Both Ran and Aoi have gotten recent focus episodes, so I’m guessing we’ll be getting either group conflicts or more Ichigo stuff this time. That’s fine by me – Ichigo seems closest of the main three to what I associate with the “spirit of Aikatsu,” the kind of nonsensical positive attitude that leads to stuff like painting your signature with a giant car-sized brush. More of that bullshit, please. Let’s get right to it!
OH GOD WHAT HAPPENED THESE AREN’T THE PASSIONATE IDOL ACTIVITIES I WAS LOOKING FOR
Okay. Whew. Apparently I need to update my video player or something, but I’ve got VLC as a backup. I’m sure we can get through this without having to suffer Horror-Ichigo again
Alright, things are already looking better. Passionate idol activities, go!
Looks like we’re pretty much skipping any synopsis this time, which kinda confirms my suspicion that we’re moving into a more steady platform for episodic adventures
And Ran is now solidly part of the gang, joining Ichigo and Aoi on their morning runs. Full character-developing episodes and arcs are important, but equally important is demonstrating how characters have grown in their time off. Seeing Ran here makes her feel much more like an accepted remember of the group than watching her accomplish some big dramatic goal with the others
“I told you, I’m not a demon. At least not yet.” Ran’s keeping her options open
“The Special Audition really is special, huh.” Ichigo’s a bright one
Ichigo’s lack of knowledge once again lets her be the audience avatar as Aoi explains Special Auditions
Looks like my first guess was correct – the Special Audition is a group test, assessing how well all the members of the class are doing
They’re fighting for a “Mastery,” which is apparently meaningful in some way
Yep, they’ll all be performing together, and need some damn Premium Cards
“Premium cards are premiere” goddamnit Bepp not you too
Bepp has a holographic display of different Aikatsu brands, because Starlight Academy apparently has an insane endowment
Apparently they need to be personally approved by a brand’s top designer to use their Premium Rare cards. That is pretty goddamn premium!
Ahaha, this transition from Johnny’s triumphant “Who do you think I am” to him groveling in front of the headmistress. Their relationship is probably the show’s most consistently funny running gag
“We need to decide what song we’ll perform at the special audition.” You could just flip a coin, considering only two songs apparently exist in your world. Though I guess this ultimately implies we’re finally getting a new song. I’ll be happy if I never have to hear “love goes shoot-shoot” again
Oh goddamnit, they’re gonna sing that one song Miyuki sang. Curse you, Monkey’s Paw
Ran being tsun tsun about their group chants
Time for some Rocky montages!
Aoi discussing the gap moe of another idol group
Of course, Ran is friends with even the famous idols of Starlight Academy
Both Ran and Aoi get to meet with their top designers, but Ichigo’s is held up. A reasonable conflict dividing the three
“Angely Sugar was established 180 years ago.” Angely Sugar was not established 180 years ago
Please tell me Ichigo is going to have to journey into the high mountains to meet with the Angely Sugar designer
“If she can’t make it back in time, she won’t be able to compete in the audition.” YES. THIS is the kind of very stupid, totally improbable idol conflict I’m here for – Ichigo must rush off to meet a top designer in order to win their favor, secure mega-rare idol cards, and then speed back to compete in her audition
Oh no, she walked through the wrong Angely Sugar gate! Thank you Aikatsu for being so very silly
“Where is Angely Sugar?” “It’s on Angely Mountain.” Of fucking course it is
TIME FOR MOUNTAIN CLIMBING
I really like the top designer’s, uh, design
“Only those who try their best to shine will be blessed by an angel.” Angely Sugar lady expressing her belief in idol objectivism
Aurora Kiss coord, get!
A continuous timer by Aoi as Ichigo and Bepp rush back. This is definitely the show’s most dramatically effective episode yet, and also its most effortlessly silly. Really happy to see the show doing so well
“If we believe in each other, we’ll be fine.” I’m also endeared by how this show kinda halfheartedly tries to slot in lukewarm morals at the end, but they never really follow from the episode’s actual contents. I love it when a show like Ojamajo Doremi can actually articulate coherent themes through storytelling, but I also don’t mind Aikatsu pulling this halfhearted bullshit. It’s charming in its own way
Alright, Ran actually joining in their cheer is character development. It’s not hard! You just have to actually seed this stuff
Tiiiime for bank footage!
I don’t really have the heart to tell Aoi her Future Girl outfit looks really stupid
Ichigo’s outfit is extremely Ichigo, though
You know, this future girl suit actually looks better than the last one. You can rock it, Aoi
And Ran with some kind of stylish flamenco ensemble, the only legitimately reasonable outfit of the three
Ooh, a new stage. I like this a lot better than their weird pink dream cloud
Mizuki’s song sounds like it could be in Katamari Damacy, which is tremendous improvement over “love goes shoot-shoot, sometimes it’s cute-cute”
I can’t tell if all these floating butterflies and whatnot are supposed to signify the girls have become stronger idols, or if it just means Aikatsu invested in some new particle effects. Wasn’t summoning things when you performed supposed to be some kind of rare idol power?
The three idols combine their energy orbs and start spinning into the sky. I assume this is good
“The Mastery is just the first step. There are still five left.” Yeaaah, challenges!
That was a great episode! It mostly just rode on the absurdity of Ichigo’s quest to acquire a rare outfit, but that quest was propulsive and funny enough to put this at the top of Aikatsu episodes so far. The show does seem to be getting more comfortable with itself, and the main three all feel very natural together. Things are Aikatsuing along nicely!
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