AKB0048 is a two season long 2012 Japanese anime based on the popular JPop music group, AKB48. All of the characters in the anime are named after and voiced by the actual members of the pop group. I watched it because I heard someone say they were cosplaying as a girl from the series. Being home alone for weeks on end without my husband I intended to watch as much anime as I could, and always being woefully behind on the anime scene, I thought, “Hmm. It’s newish. It’s cute looking. It’s apparently cosplay worthy. Let’s give it a go.”
The basic story starts like every futuristic multi-world story begins: At the start of the 21st century, an interplanetary war broke out. Earth’s ecosystem was severely damaged, and humanity was forced to flee the planet. (So far I’ve just described Firefly, Trigun, Treasure Planet, and a bazillion other futuristic sci-fi flicks.)
The gimmick with this series is that in several planets of this new society, things that “disturb the heart” like music and art are forbidden. Think Footloose, but with anorexic Japanese pre-teens and robotic mecha warriors. Anyway, to combat the “no entertainment” ban, the legendary pop singer group AKB48 is resurrected as the all new interplanetary troupe AKB0048, made up of girls who carry on the title and spirit of the original members. Held as heroines by some and labeled as terrorists by others, they must take up arms to bring their music to their fans.
The first season follows a group of young hopefuls as they train to become the next generation of AKB0048, right as the Deep Galactic Trade Organization [DGTO] have stepped up their attacks on entertainment. The girls have to learn to fight while learning to sing and dance and be perfect little pop stars. It’s cheesy, feel good fun where thousands of bullets are fired and no one actually dies.
The second season gets a little… weird. As all Japanese animes eventually do. The story culminates in the pop stars transcending time and space with their power of music, and converting the hearts of the most cold-blooded anti-entertainment warriors through song and dance. In a classic Captain EO rainbows and sparkles finale, the girls sing to angry soldiers pointing guns at their heads, and the guys collapse into shudders of overwhelming love because the music is just too irresistible. Or something like that. Anyway.
Overall, I enjoyed watching this anime. Mostly because I really enjoyed the music and the animated choreography. I ended up downloading most of the soundtrack onto my iPod, especially the song “Beginner” (YouTube video of the song is posted above.) I got that stuck in my head for longer than I’d like to admit. And the marketing behind this anime? Genius. By modeling the anime pop singer group after a real, current JPop group, it’s a perfect blend of nerdtastic synergy. And it was all advertised prior to the anime’s release through four manga publications leading up to the pilot of AKB0048. So they’re selling the manga, the anime, the singers, the music, and the performance group, all at once.
Not gonna lie, I wouldn’t even call myself a fan of this anime, but if I hear that AKB48 is going to be playing at a stateside anime convention, I’ll most likely show up with glow sticks and pretend to be a member of OTA (a group of fans that fight alongside AKB members, using glow stick swords).
Will I cosplay from this series? Probably not, though the outfits are redunkulously cute. Would I rewatch it? Maybe. But not likely. There has to be a bit more romance or twincest to trigger my re-watch impulse. Will I be listening to the soundtrack? Absolutely. I already have the soundtrack on my iPod and have infected others with the songs that are stuck in my head.
So between the music and this anime not sucking as bad as the last few lemons I’ve been unfortunate enough to watch, I’m pleasantly surprised with this series. I’d recommend it if you’re into the girly animes.