AKB0048 Next Stage Episode 11: Beyond the Door
“Go on, search for an invisible door. A staircase is hidden nearby. At the end of the journey, we find…”
Nagisa and Chieri arrive at Sagittariusstar, where they are taken to Chieri’s mansion to avoid the DES/Zodiac troops and rest while waiting to get in contact with Chieri’s father. When Zodiac’s secret police arrive and escort the 00 members to Zodiac HQ, Chieri offers to become a Center Nova for her father, under the condition that he leaves the rest of AKB0048 alone. After Chieri exhibits her radiance through an a capella rendition of Hoshi no Mukougawa, a gunshot is heard, and Chieri sees her father lying in a pool of blood.
Well, I must admit, Nagisa and Chieri got a warmer reception at Sagittariusstar than I thought they would, for a planet that’s fully under the entertainment ban. As Chieri said, she’s a 00 member as much as she is the daughter of Zodiac’s CEO, though it’d make sense to head back to the mansion she used to live in. Like Nagisa, I was pretty impressed with the huge place Chieri lived in when she was younger – but thinking about it, it must have been extremely lonely growing up like that. Her father’s focused on work to the point where he doesn’t even have time to mourn the death of his own son or wife, leaving his own daughter to her own devices as she grows up without much parental influence. Sure, she might have had Yasunaga and a bunch of tutors, but they’re no substitute for friends her own age, which would have been unlikely anyway, with her mansion in the middle of nowhere. That’s why discovery of AKB and entertainment made such a change to her life – ironically it all started because of her father, but despite sensing it was against the rules she loved it with enough passion to want to join, spurred by that guerilla concert on Lancastar she secretly attended. I can imagine being denied the one thing that brightened up her life, while being unable to do anything about it – hence why it was so painful listening to little Chieri try to sing Hoshi no Mukougawa and slowly break down instead.
I don’t know what to think of her father, I really don’t. It’s true he didn’t react with complete outrage to her proposal (or engage in any violent domestic disciplines) but to be honest, he hardly even classifies as a father. He’s hardly ever home for Chieri (when he is, he’s poring over his 5 desktop monitors) and gives her the cold shoulder when she tries to talk about AKB. Yasunaga, her butler probably knows Chieri better than her father does – though I don’t know where that guy’s loyalties lie either. He seems to be loyal to Chieri to an extent, yet prioritises the wishes of her father more, and is willing to defy Chieri to do so. Anyway, that one fond memory Chieri has of her father is all that’s stopping me from marking him as a heartless bastard – maybe under that plastic exterior of his, there’s a bit of compassion there. Just a bit. He’s lonely, according to Nagisa’s father. But here’s where he differs from Nagisa’s father – the latter sees Nagisa as walking down a different path, yet they’ll remain family. With Chieri’s father, he’s using his family as tools to carve out his own path – of controlling the Kirara’s power of time and space through the radiance of a Center Nova.
Chieri – or rather, her seiyuu Mayuyu is a really good singer! AKB48’s music has always been very group-orientated, so I was glad to get the opportunity to hear a high-profile AKB member sing solo, even if it was through Chieri. She sung confidently and with passion there, trying so hard to get her emotions across and beyond the door to where her father sat watching. It was actually rather cold having that metal door there – in the end, Chieri never did meet her father face-to-face. As for who shot him…I honestly don’t know. Tsubasa and the Flying Get are preparing to take back Akibastar, so it can’t be them…besides, I don’t think they’d do anything that horribly underhanded. Chieri’s father is practically the only proper antagonist in the show, so to have a last boss on an even higher scale than him is definitely very intriguing. Either way, it wasn’t fun watching Chieri despair. She may hate her father, and she may decide to never forgive him – but that hatred didn’t stretch to wanting him to die. She’s still hoping that their father-daughter relationship can somehow be salvaged…but at this rate, we don’t even know whether her father’s even alive.