REVIEW: ‘Idoly Pride,’ Episode 1 – “From This First Step”

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Idoly Pride Episode 1

Idoly Pride (stylized as IDOLY PRIDE) is a brand new Winter 2021 slice of life idol anime. It comes amidst a Winter anime season jam-packed with various idol shows, each trying to stand out above the rest. Will Idoly Pride Episode 1 be the proverbial cream that rises to the top? Or will it spoil like milk in the sun? That stands to be seen during its twelve-episode cour!

Idoly Pride is a co-production between CAAnimation and Lerche. The former, CAAnimation, is known for only two other anime: Summer 2020’s Mr. Love: Queen’s Choice and Fall 2021’s upcoming PuraOre! Pride of Orange. On the other hand, Lerche is a very well-known studio in the business. They’ve produced Summer 2019’s Astra Lost in Space, Summer 2019’s Given, and a personal favorite, Summer 2013’s Danganronpa The Animation.

Now let’s talk about some staff. Idoly Pride is being directed by Kinome Yu (Asobi Asobase) with a series composition by Takahashi Tatsuya (The IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls). Two people created the original concept for Idoly Pride. First, by Hanada Jukki of Yozakura Quartet fame. Second, by Adachi Kaoru, who’s done loads of work on the globally famous Love Live! franchise, as well serving as producer for Sword Art Online: Alicization

Additionally, the original character design is credited to QP: flapper (Girlish Number, Magia Record). Kinoshita Sumie is handling the show’s character design. Kinoshita is known for Dropout Idol Fruit Tart and Forest of Piano. Finally, Miyazaki Naoki is handling editing on the show.

Here’s Idoly Pride’s plot.

In Hoshimi City, a new star -and rising star- of the idol industry is born: one Nagase Mana, a high school girl whose voice rocks the world. Fast forward a few years later, and Mana’s sister, Kotono, decides to follow in her sister’s footsteps. The same happens to a girl named Kawasaki Sakura, whose voice is just like Mana’s own.  All of this is backset by the girls trying to follow in Mana’s footsteps as they put their pride on the line to become better than Mana ever was.

Engaging, right? At least, I think so. It’s certainly enough of a hook that I was fairly excited about Idoly Pride Episode 1. But first, let’s go back to the beginning. Really, back to the start of Nagase Mana’s career as an idol.

Idoly Pride Episode 1 focuses on Nagase Mana, a second-year high school idol from Hoshimi High School. At the beginning of the episode, Mana’s not an idol. She’s just a high school girl aspiring to be one. However, that quickly changes as the episode picks up. I should also say that Idoly Pride Episode 1 also focuses on Makino Kouhei, a second-year student at the same school who sits next to Mana.  Unlike Mana, Makino is just your average student.

They meet when Mana declares her intent to become an idol to Makino after school. He’s fully supportive of her dreams and even their brand new, somewhat unusual friendship. There’s just one problem: Mana needs a manager. Thankfully, Makino believes in Mana’s dream and, after a bit of goading, becomes her manager, not knowing what that fully means. Thus, their uncanny relationship brings them together as manager and idol, both aspiring to greatness.

A lot of Idoly Pride Episode 1 is focused on bringing Makino and Mana together as she grows her career and proves to be an incredibly dynamic idol. She quickly rises through the ranks of newcomers, performing to packed halls of lightstick-waving fans crying her name. Credit for Mana’s voice goes to voice actor Kanda Sayaka. 

Kanda is, notably, the dub actress for Frozen in Japan. Regarding her performance as Mana, I genuinely found her singing charming and really pleasant to listen to. In many ways, she sounds like a lot of idols in Japan. However, I found that Kanda’s slightly down-range voice provided a warm, honeyed tone to Mana’s singing. 

Idoly Pride Episode 1 does contain a late episode twist that I’ll leave for viewers to discover. What I’ll say in regards to it is that its only downfall is how guessable it is. Even new fans of anime will probably see the plot coming from a mile away. I won’t say it’s predictable, but… I felt as a seasoned viewer, it really was.

I’ll admit that I’m a big fan of Japanese idols, particularly female and feminine performers. Because of that, I tend to watch at least one idol anime a season. Last season -in Fall 2020- the idol show I followed was Dropout Idol Fruit Tart, a show that was… less than satisfying. In many ways, it set my standards quite low. Maybe that helped me with this show’s premiere episode.

That being said, I think there’s a lot of potential in the show based on Idoly Pride Episode 1. The premise and the twist are strong enough that I’m willing to give Idoly Pride the good ol’ college try and continue my watch. I’m even pretty enthusiastic about doing so. I’d even go so far as to say that I’m excited enough to write about it.

Where Idoly Pride will go, well… I’m not so sure. However, what I can say is that there’s plenty of room for growth. Hopefully, Idoly Pride will rise to the occasion. I’m certainly rooting for it.

Idoly Pride is now streaming on Funimation.

 

Idoly Pride Episode 1
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

That being said, I think there’s a lot of potential in the show based on Idoly Pride Episode 1. The premise and the twist are strong enough that I’m willing to give Idoly Pride the good ol’ college try and continue my watch. I’m even pretty enthusiastic about doing so. I’d even go so far as to say that I’m excited enough to write about it.