AKB0048 next stage

AKB0048 next stage Type: TV Series
Episode Count: 13
Genre: Sci-Fi / Drama / Idol
Vintage: 2013

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 01 May 2014

Grade: B+

AKB0048’s mission continues, and things are changing within the group as well.

Plot Summary
Changes are in store for AKB0048, as it has been decided that the position of “Center Nova” is to be reinstated, even with its potential risk. The dynamics of the group may be changing, but the fight to bring entertainment to those who are denied it carries on.

The Review
The second season of AKB0048 has a much different feel than the first. While the previous arc was more story-oriented, this batch of episodes is more about the inner workings of AKB0048, which of course mirror the operations of the actual AKB48 to a certain extent. AKB0048‘s function as an animated extension of the real-life AKB48 is reinforced in this installment, which almost feels like a behind the scenes look at the actual idol group at times. For those interested in this aspect of the series, it should be a welcome turn of events. Those in it more for the sci-fi aspect of the story may find it to drop off a bit, but shouldn’t give up on it yet. More on that later.

For me, I find that using AKB0048 as a window into the workings of AKB48 makes for a very unique series. If the goal of the series was to attract more fans to the idol group, I’d say that in my case it’s “mission accomplished”. Prior to watching AKB0048, I only had a passing familiarity with AKB48, getting my first real taste through Wreck-It Ralph; by halfway through the first season of AKB0048 I felt that I should start investigating them to hear more of their music. Watching how the fictional AKB0048 operated turned out to be much more interesting than I was expecting, and that interest translated into wanting to find out more about how the real-life version of it works. And as you can see, I can no longer tell if I am describing AKB0048 the series or AKB48 the idol group. Time to get back on track!

While most of the focus of AKB0048 next stage is on the inner workings of the group, including new aspects not explored in the first season, the science-fiction part of the story makes a return to help close the series out. Those watching AKB0048 for the sci-fi aspects of the story should not give up on it when the idol story takes over for a while; AKB0048 is an idol series first and foremost, but the different aspects of the narrative do blend nicely to give the series balance.

As AKB0048 next stage draws to its close, the two forces driving the story collide and combine to give a high-energy and satisfying conclusion. Sci-fi drama meets idol drama, and fans of both should find themselves fully taken in by how the story ends. The story doesn’t particularly challenge any conventions, but it is given a solid presentation, and the characters are varied and likable. The music of AKB48 is once again featured in the performances of AKB0048, so the series continues to work as a good introduction to the idol group. Part space drama, part AKB48 biography, AKB0048 is much better than it had to be, and for that I am glad.

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