Before the first Idolm@ster anime adaptation aired in the summer-autumn anime seasons of 2011 I knew extraordinarily little about the franchise, but the adaptation totally and thoroughly roped me in. I began to look at other anime adaptations of the franchise too, and while I was thoroughly disappointed by Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia I enjoyed the movies, the OVAs (like Shiny Festa and Live for You) and other such works. As a result, when I heard that there was to be an adaptation of the Cinderella Girls branch of the franchise I was filled with anticipation, and was quite happy to hear it would begin airing in the otherwise kinda bleak looking Winter 2015 season.

To be honest I had not heard much about the Cinderella branch of the franchise either, though, so I began to read up on it and was quite surprised at the sheer numbers compared of the Cinderella Studio (346) as opposed to the “original” ones (765). Still, after a day or so I finally felt like I had a handle on things. As I mentioned in this post there are two useful sites for beginning to wade through the ponderous collections: a wiki page and a tvtropes page. I also wrote up a little something about episode 1 when pondering whether or no to blog the series as a whole, little did any of us know then that the series would become a split cour.

The premise of the anime (at least the first half) is rather simple. Essentially a certain Idol studio (Studio 346) is embarking on a project they call the “Cinderella Project” and hold lengthy auditions for 14 girls to fill the slots for the project. The story opens with initial auditions being over, but suddenly one of the girls who was tries out and did not pass is contacted personally by the man in charge of the project and asked to join as three of those who initially passed the auditions … left? Decided not to follow through? (It is not discussed in detail … though I suppose it could come up in future episodes.) Well the young lady, whose name is Uzuki, accepts and the Producer begins to gather the other prospective members who will complete the number for the Cinderella Project, eventually settling on the calm, cool and quiet Rin and the energetic and fiery Rio. The new trio arrives at the headquarters for Studio 346 and the viewers meet the other members of the Cinderella Project proper.

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Cinderella Girls - 01Cinderella Girls - 04

This all lasts for the first four episodes, and then the last eight focus on the various members of the project releasing their CD singles and generally debuting, whether as individuals or as part of a unit. As of episode 10 not all the girls have had CD Debuts yet (there are still 2 left who have yet to do so) and they have formed musical groups that go by the names of New Generations, Love Laika, Rosenburg Engel, Candy Island and Dekoration. In the course of the various idols involved in their Debuts we get the opportunity to get small glimpses into a bit more of what makes these likeable young ladies tick, and to be sure that is one of the strengths of the series – it moves the viewers to want to get to know and understand the various characters better than they do on first appearance.

Another aspect of the series that should be mentioned is that in contrast to the Producer in the 2011 Idolm@ster adaptation the Producer in this one is a much stronger character, and in many ways. And this is not just my own opinion. Many of those also following the series have stressed how excellent a character he has turned out to be for them.

Cinderella Girls - 03Cinderella Girls - 05

Cinderella Girls - 08Cinderella Girls - 06

Thus far for me the series has been extremely successful, and it’s strengths have been in the character development, the music and singing and especially the mini-arc story writing as the various CD Debuts take place (the most recent one for Dekoration in ep 10 was especially successful, I thought). Of all the idol based animes that have come out I must confess that only Idolm@ster (both this one and the 2011 adaptation) have been able to really charm me with its music and singing. Even with all these excellent points, though, it appears that A-1 Studios stretched themselves a little thin, though, and recently announced plans for a split cour series rather than two seasons one after the other. And while it may be inconvenient for some I must admit part of me is glad that they are willing to put things off a bit to spend more time focusing on making the series a good one. While the series itself thus far has not quite been up to the standards of the 2011 anime adaptation of the Studio 765 Idolm@ster stars (to be fair that was an incredible work in so many ways) it has nonetheless been pretty good overall.

Cinderella Girls - 12Cinderella Girls - 10

Cinderella Girls - 13Cinderella Girls - 11

One thing I am wondering is where the story will go once all the characters have been introduced and have their debut? In the 2011 anime difficulties began to arise, and some of the main characters found themselves facing very difficult drama in their personal lives – drama that in both cases (I am thinking here of Chihaya and Haruka in particular) were resolved quite nicely, I thought. I have been wondering whether or no the Producer himself may be the subject of some of the drama in the story though. Whatever may come, and whatever complaints one might have about the visual aspects of the series (especially when comparing it to the magnificent production values of the previous adaptation), Cinderella Girls has certainly delivered, and delivered well on many, many fronts, even becoming one of the more solid series for me during the season. I am definitely looking forward to the second half of the series when it airs in Summer 2015!

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Currently the “oji-san” of the staff members age wise (in his mid 40’s) yet the most recent addition, he is also a Japanophile from his teen years while not quite an “otaku” who lives in the United States. Came to actively following anime late in life (in 2008), but in general loves the traditional arts, history and culture of Japan as a whole, both ancient and modern.

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