REVIEW: ‘Idoly Pride,’ Episode 2 – “The Reason We Stand Here”

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Idoly Pride Episode 2

Idoly Pride (stylized as IDOLY PRIDE) is a brand new Winter 2021 idol anime. The show combines idols with a supernatural touch to spin a pretty realistic story about idols trying to reach the top. Last episode explored Nagase Mana, a popular idol who reached great heights… only to fall from them when she died in a car accident. In the wake of her legacy, dozens of idols have joined the industry. This includes Nagase Kotono, Mana’s younger sister. Now, Idoly Pride Episode 2, “The Reason We Stand Here,” fully shifts viewers back to the present with an older Kouhei who’s trying to start a new unit at Hoshimi Productions. 

The episode kicks off with Nagase Kotono, Mana’s younger sister, following her steps as a wannabe idol. Immediately, it’s clear to the viewer and Kouhei that Kotono is doing this deliberately because of her sister. She even meets with Mana’s former hiring manager and demands that they guide her in the same way. Her dedication has no room for errors or hesitation. No matter what, Kotono’s going to live for her sister.

But… at what cost?

Post-audition, Kouhei interviews Kotono, informing her that she’ll be living in company dorms if she’s selected. Assumably, this is to help her and the idols in her unit bond so they can perform better. Kouhei tacks on the simple fact that it’ll facilitate learning together.

This is a thorn in Kotono’s side. She had planned on being a solo idol, just like her sister. A unit was never in her plans. Still, it’s clear that this hiccup won’t stop Kotono from achieving her dreams. It’s just a bump in the road, though it’s clear Kotono… isn’t happy about it. Still, as an idol, she knows she has to be agreeable to achieve her goal. 

With that, and with her passing marks, she joins Hoshimi Production’s new idol unit and begins her training.

However, Kotono’s not the only idol in her unit, remember? Idoly Pride Episode 2 introduces Kawasaki Sakura, a… flighty, whimsical girl. Silly as she may be, Sakura has a truly earnest heart. While she initially struggles with training, it quickly becomes clear that she’s dedicated in her own way and more than willing to go the extra mile to achieve her own dreams as Mana’s junior.

What I really liked about Idoly Pride Episode 2 was the emphasis on how brutal the idol industry is. Many idol anime deftly avoid the horrific reality that idols -especially female idols- often face a huge amount of sexism, physical and sexual abuse, and mistreatment during their career. In reality, being an idol means putting your entire identity -body included- at risk. It means becoming an object of public consumption more than an individual.

It’s really critical to explore this darker side of the idol industry, particularly because it’s very real for the women and girls who work in it. Truth be told, I think most anime avoid this because it’s not good for the plot. It’s not a fun topic. Further, I think many fans -both inside and outside Japan- don’t want to necessarily confront that dark side. Yet it still exists, and not talking about it in media -especially anime- doesn’t make it go away.

While Idoly Pride Episode 2 didn’t delve into anything deep, Kouhei and Kotono clearly understand that this industry is brutal. There’s a clear understanding that this industry can love you one moment and hate you the next. It’s going to take everything they have to reach the same heights that Mana did. That means blood, sweat, and tears… perhaps, even literally. That instantly set Idoly Pride Episode 2 and the series as a whole, apart from the slew of idol anime this season.

Overall, Idoly Pride Episode 2 is an excellent follow-up to episode 1. It starts to lay the foundation of the new idol unit without being boring. In fact, I found Kotono to be a really relatable character. She struggles with her sister’s untimely, unexpected passing chafe as she tries to become an idol. Her desire to live up to her sister’s legacy, and maybe even surpass it, feel intensely authentic.  I look forward to seeing her and her fellow idols grow across this cour.

Still, one major question stands: will all of Idoly Pride idols be following in Mana’s footsteps? Or will they chart their own path to stardom? Time will tell, though I’ll say it’s interesting to see idols living in their senior’s shadow. It provides a lot of room for growth, especially if Kotono and her fellow idols somehow surpass Mana’s legacy.

Idoly Pride Episode 2 is just the beginning of Kotono and Sakura’s story. After all, there’s a long road ahead of Kotono and her fellow idols. In fact, it’ll take all the blood, sweat, and tears they have to make it to the top position. A position that Nagase Mana still holds. Yet, I find it easy to get behind these girls and get invested in the plot of Idoly Pride.

Idoly Pride is now streaming on Funimation.

 

Idoly Pride Episode 2
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Overall, Idoly Pride Episode 2 is an excellent follow-up to episode 1. It starts to lay the foundation of the new idol unit without being boring. In fact, I found Kotono to be a really relatable character. She struggles with her sister’s untimely, unexpected passing chafe as she tries to become an idol. Her desire to live up to her sister’s legacy, and maybe even surpass it, feel intensely authentic.  I look forward to seeing her and her fellow idols grow across this cour.