AKB0048 – Anime Review
Japan’s biggest jpop supergroup meets Kawamori Shoji and Macross in what I can only describe as “fantabulous”.
For those not in the know, AKB48 is an idol supergroup from Japan that the word popular doesn’t even begin to describe. AKB48 holds the record for most records sold in Japan by a female group, and their last thirteen singles have topped the Oricon charts (Japan’s version of Billboard). Of course, a huge part of these idol supergroups is marketing tie-ins, and with a group as huge as AKB48, an anime tie-in was not a question of if but when. Even as a big fan of AKB48, I was skeptical when I first heard about AKB0048. Often times popular idol groups will reach out into anime voice acting by having a mediocre series made around them. Last year’s Natsuiro Kiseki, which was built for Sphere (who I am a huge fan of), fell flat and left a bad taste in my mouth. Thankfully, Satelight went all out. If you enjoyed Macross Frontier, you’ll love AKB0048.
The plot of AKB0048 is admittedly pretty silly, but it sets up context for an interesting narrative. The short version is that we’re in the far future, and mankind has colonized many planets across the galaxy. Many of these planet’s governments ban “things that disturb the heart”, such as music and art. From this artistic oppression rises AKB0048, an idol group that uses guerilla tactics, mecha, and what can only be described as “adorable martial arts” to put on illegal concerts and bring hope to the downtrodden people of these planets… though they’re probably making some pretty sweet money on merch as well. 0048 has existed for centuries, with new girls replacing older ones as time goes on. The main characters are a group of girls from different planets that escape their homeworlds and join AKB0048, hoping to become the next incarnation of the intergalactic supergroup.
Still reading? Good. While the plot may sound somewhat shoehorned, it works surprisingly well. The characters are well written, even though a few of the minor ones fall into common anime tropes. The animation is topnotch, coming from the team that did Macross Frontier and Aquarion. AKB0048 is an absolute visual treat, with colors exploding off the screen. I can’t gush enough about how well Satelight has done with the visuals. Obviously, there are many AKB48 songs that the characters sing in this series, as well as several new ones. Personally, I can’t get enough of 希望について (Kibou Ni Tsuite), the new single written just for the show which you can check out in the clip at the bottom of this review.
If it isn’t obvious by now, I highly recommend AKB0048 to any anime fan out there. Even if you’re not a big jpop fan, this series is very entertaining and an absolute visual treat to enjoy. Satelight’s animation department, which cut its chops on visual treats like Macross Frontier, really shows off some of its best work. Crunchyroll is currently simulcasting the second season of AKB0048 on Sunday mornings. However, you need to watch this series from the beginning, and unfortunately the only way to get your hands on season one right now are through fansubs (I recommend EveTaku). However, I still highly recommend that you check it out. If you’re still on the fence, here’s a clip from season one that showcases some of the beautiful visuals I’ve been gushing over.