Episode 2 thoughts - July 19, 2014
Way to give in to bribery man! This is turning out more interesting than I thought it would. After first half of the ep was spent in the theater learning more about the theater's past, hinting about the President's past, cleaning and practicing fake attendant lines... The second half we get a more introspective perspective with the main character.
All the talk about being fake and being original was critical in this ep! On the one hand this idol group is sort of a replacement/fake/replica of the previous Shonen Hollywood. Maybe the President was previously an idol in the Shonen Hollywood group, and he wants to recreate his success with a new group. By subjecting a group of young guys to the same/similar experiences he had as an idol? I guess most teachers have similar sentiments, they want their students to succeed, so they try and teach others what they know. But then some teachers are unfairly biased to their own discipline, since that is what they studied..
The manager came across as quite obnoxious. He also seems to have a fairly selective memory, or maybe he's just faking having bad memory to get out of saying too much. Says he's been around for roughly 18 years, that would make him what 40 years old? Yeah okay... Also his character perpetuates the 'flamboyant performance instructor' stereotype, ugh. Anyways they did a great job of making the rehearsing and repeating of lines feel extra fake and 'put on'. I wonder if the main character will eventually get brainwashed into becoming an idol, and what reasons he will grab onto for doing so.
Maybe the other guys in the group are having similar doubts about being an idol, but they just do a better job of hiding it? I mean, we only get to hear the main character's doubts in his introspective soliloqus. The pained expression on main character's face at the end after hiding his sneakers from his friends was well done. At this point it does not seem like being an idol is for him... but we'll have to see.
Episode 3 thoughts - July 26, 2014
This episode was the most nostalgic episode so far as we get the first real glimpse at the former Shonen Hollywood. You can't be an idol forever, huh? You also can't live forever. =\ This anime has a way of being lightly melancholic.
I was not a fan of the light owl abuse in this episode. Does the owl serve any story purpose other than looking unimpressed and cute? I found it ironic that one of the guys tried to make the owl say 'shonen hollywood' like the owl is a parrot. When they, as idols, are basically parrots, how they rehearse lines and gestures all for the purpose of bringing hope/joy/entertainment to others. Then when the owl at the end finally says "hoo", it's anti-climactic because you wonder, well even after they rehearse all these lines and put on this play, what does it matter? Or you could look at the "hoo" more optimistically and say "well okay, if the owl practices more he can say holly, and then work his way to saying shonen hollywood", but the same question still pops up, the "what next?" question, and "why bother?" I guess in this sense Shonen Hollywood is oddly existential, as takes a slightly more sobering look at what it means to be an idol.
Anyways, it was nice that we got to learn about another character, this time the blonde Tommy. I found it unsettling that the former Shonen Hollywood member that Tommy is replacing, and who also inspired him in the first place to become an idol was named Tommy. Why would you want to be a carbon copy of someone else? I guess this is a comment on how various idols and idol groups are so similar, and the idol industry is a kind of industrial churning out of certain types of people, who often become sex symbols and role models. You start to wonder whether the guys are just wasting their time trying to be idols, or if they could be doing something more 'productive'. For example in this episode they had that scene where Kakeru tells his parents that he will be performing in a play. Then his dad goes "you want to be an actor? Haha, well you can do anything while you're a kid!" In some sense, Kakeru is still just 'going with the flow' of things, since he treats being an idol like having another job.
I also found it unsettling that former Tommy referred to the manager as "God" at the end. Like the manager is playing with these young men's lives, trying to make them into idols, or making them have certain shared experiences. To what end? Iduno. The manager is still a mystery, I guess, while the flamboyant stage manager still has the depth of a toothpick.
The OP and ED are growing on me. It's weird because they are both VERY upbeat, while the story itself is more downbeat. I guess it's the difference between practice and rehearsal. With the OP and ED we see the final result, the perfectly rehearsed performance. While during the story, we see the little life problems and issues they deal with, or see them practicing lines in the bath... For example, when the guy was trying to teach the owl, his voice was just grating! I was about to skip ahead, but thankfully it didn't last long. xD