From the look of things, the reasons I dropped AKB0048 didn’t satisfy some people since I was full of rage after watching the second episode. After taking some time to let it settle in, I would like to share some thoughts on why I dropped it and my thoughts about the idol craze in East Asia that is going on in the past few years. (Image Source)
Note: Added additional thoughts regarding Idol Production Companies taking full control of the girls’ lives. (Originally published May 19, 2012)
Aside from the obvious reasons like the outrageous premise, the main problem I had with the show is the characters. From the two episodes I watched, the girls were flat and uninteresting. There is nothing special about them. This is mostly contributed to the characters representing the idol’s personality in some shape or form. Not only that, I hated Nagisa since her personality is just annoying and hearing her voice is like scratching nails on a chalkboard. However, my rather negative view towards idols also contributed to the lack of enjoyment for this show, especially with the voice acting and singing.
One of the main issues I find with idols these days is that they aren’t good at anything, except for their cute looks. I noticed a similar type of problem with American pop music since most of the songs released today are all about partying, drinking and having sex. Not only that, most of the artists today relies on Autotune rather than on pure talent. As a result, I actually started to hate western music for that reason. At the same time, eastern music isn’t any better because the idol place is taking all the attention away from everything else. Sure, Japanese singers and composers tend to be more creative as seen with Nana Mizuki, Maaya Sakamoto, Yuki Kajiura and Yoko Kanno as examples. However, they often get obscured because idol groups like the AKB48 always take top position on the charts. Go figure…
The problem I have with idols is that their works are too commercialized and manufactured. Although it’s a very lucrative business since males like cute girls and they will buy their merchandise. Also, the same applies with male idols, which targets a female audience. Unlike the traditional music process with the singer and composer relationship, the idols has no say in this creative process. They are just given the lyrics and sing them while the technician Autotunes the voice to make it sound good. No wonder why you see them lip-syncing at live performances while they dance rather than performing authentically. This kind of stuff makes my blood boil as they achieved fame by faking rather than actual talent.
On the other hand, by admitting that I hate idols, I’m being a hypocrite because I like Sphere and The Idolmaster. The truth is, the voice actors behind it actually have talent even though they are somewhat related with the latter being fictional. Sphere has been an exception to this since Minako Kotobuki, Ayahi Takagaki, Haruka Tomatsu and Aki Toyosaki has established a lot of credibility through their talents rather than on looks. In The Idolmaster, there is some great music since some of the composers who worked on the game’s music have composed other Namco games like the Tales of Series. Not only that, some of the voice actresses has great singing talent as seen with Imai Asami, Chiaki Takahashi and others in addition to other well-known voice actresses like Haruka Tomatsu and Kana Hanazawa.
The point I’m trying to make is that I celebrate good music and not mediocrity. Since music plays a big role in my life from playing various musical instruments. I feel that good music is being drowned out by mediocre or bad idol pop even though a few might be good in some rare cases. Even so, I think AKB0048 would have been better if it didn’t focus on the AKB48, but instead a fictional idol group backed with some talented voice actresses. To me, this is a desperate attempt to enter the anime industry just to make money with no regard in making something that everyone will enjoy. As a result, I can’t continue watching since I don’t have an idle mind.
Several weeks later, when I read Omo’s response to what SDB had to say, I realized that I forgot an important point when I wrote my thoughts on Eastern Asian Idols. In that post, he mentions that production companies like the AKB48 and SNSD as the main problem since they take full control of their lives. That is an issue for many girls who want to become idols because most have to sacrifice their freedoms such as having a boyfriend just to live their dream. I think the main reason why they force this upon the girls is to maintain the purity image. At the same time, this contradicts that reasoning as the producers of these companies sometimes dress the girls in provocative clothing or make them do things to cause controversy. This is a big contrast to something like playing sports, taking on a part time job or participating in clubs.
I think the girls should have control of their own career and also their lives as we only experience the teenage years only once. For that, this is another reason why I tend to dislike Eastern Asian Idols, not just for the reasons above but the way they treat them.