AKB0048 Next Stage Episode 1 [First Impression]: Pioneer
“I will definitely save Chieri.”
Time has passed since the first kenkyuusei concert, in which the efforts of Nagisa and Chieri combined resulted in a Kirara glow as bright as one given off by the 13th Acchan. After a concert in which an announcement for the return of the Center Nova position is made, the DES mount a surprise attack and manage to kidnap Yukirin, Chieri and Sonata, leading to the rest of AKB and Yuuko in particular taking a passionate stand towards rescuing their friends.
Welcome to the Winter 2013 Anime Season! Kicking us off we have the much anticipated sequel to the AKB0048 series, which is similar to Marmite – you either love it, or it’s not your cup of tea. And I love it, to the point that I couldn’t wait to take a look at this second season, despite it being a webrip and completely raw. This is a release that’s about two weeks early, so I hope this will compensate for both my meagre translation and these meagre screencaps.
I think that beginning scene was very much representative of what it means to be an idol, both within the anime and in the real world – though it’s a dream for Nagisa, the road is a long one full of hardships, and at any time the steps up can collapse completely, with many idols around her failing to proceed and giving up on their dreams. For an idol to succeed, hard work and perseverance is required to climb up that long and winding road, and despite the darkness you have to stand strong and overcome it yourself, instead of falling back on the Kirara to light up the area for you, as said by the ghostly image of Acchan she encountered. This shit is deep, man.
I thought it was a pretty good quality webrip, up until the concert started – then I felt apologetic for not being able to take any screenies of what would have been badass aerial manoeuvres and the Kenkyuusei in their shiny new outfits blazing a rainbow across the sky. Yes, it sounds rather cheesy saying it now, but it was cool when I watched it, I swear! xD The concert was like a trip down memory lane to the first episode of Season 1, where I still remember watching the Senbatsu members sing Aitakatta and me getting really into it for some reason. Shonichi and Niji no Ressha were the songs featured in this concert instead, and it was a nice change of pace to have a concert where everything is peaceful, and there’s no danger of getting shot down by bullets or having giant mecha come after you while you sing.
Tsubasa’s announcement after the concert that the Center Nova position would be brought back wasn’t entirely unexpected, and with all the drama last season over the mystery of what happened to the 13th Acchan and the fate of the Center Novae it would actually be pretty disappointing if they never brought up the topic again. Well, Yuuko is happy, which is always a good sign – with the return of the Center Nova position, she actively has something to work towards now, and is even more fired up at the thought of being able to surpass the AKB idol she looked up to the most, Acchan. A Kirara glow on the scale of the Center Novae being given off by both Nagisa and Chieri marks them as possible contenders for the next Center Nova, especially now that anyone – even the Kenkyuusei have the chance to earn the position, as it will end up being who it’s bound to be. Yuko seems to have marked Chieri as her main rival though, and with good reason too, as the later part of the episode proved. Bringing back AKB general elections, which is a slightly different issue to the Center Nova position will only increase the competition between the senbatsu members and the kenkyuusei – the recent 4th AKB48 general election IRL having been won by Oshima Yuuko.
So much for the fanservice =/ I was enjoying it as well, until the Mayuyu radar went off, the windows exploded and a DES mecha stole Yukirin (or Kuroki Ayako, apparently), Chieri and Sonata, who is still 11 years old by the way. It’s pretty significant that the DES members knew that Chieri was the daughter of the Zodiac company’s president, as well as that last scene where Chieri’s father seems to be planning something malicious regarding the Kirara Effect, which results in inter-dimensional travel – it’s likely that in his eyes, she’s no longer considered her daughter, which is not good news especially if Chieri still feels guilty about running away in secret.
That rescue mission turned impromptu concert was…utterly ridiculous, but the FEELS at the same time were massive, and as with all of these episodes featuring concerts, I really got into it! Pioneer was the AKB song featured this time, though what I felt was really symbolic was Chieri making the Kirara shine through standing up for AKB0048 and all the values it holds, as well as Yuuko’s determination towards rescuing Chieri not only as a rival, but also as a precious friend and fellow member of the group. As usual, this show is good at bringing out the feels in me, and hopefully throughout this season we get more challenges and trials for our kenkyuusei to overcome, as well as maybe a few more clues on the system itself and secrets behind the group. Amidst the inevitable drama and angst that is to come, who will be the pioneer to a new AKB?
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