It’s a great time to be an anime idol fan. The idol anime genre is really exploding, more than I ever could have dreamed of even just five years ago. Who are your favorite anime idols? Some of my friends have been using this site to help them sort their favorites: http://kouhi.me/idol/
Here are my top 5:
1) Chihaya Kisaragi (THE IDOLM@STER) – Chihaya will forever be my anime idol queen. Her voice is incredible and she has many beautiful and powerful image songs. But did you know she is also one of the best dancers? Her skill level is so high, even her weakness (visual) is stronger than some of the other idols’ strong points. Unfortunately she is so focused on singing, we rarely get to see her dance. She is calm, serious, and extremely hard-working, but if you can get her to open up you can see a little of her cute side.
2) Yoshino Nanase (Wake Up, Girls!) – Apparently I go for the “cool” types. I think personality-wise I can identify with Yoppi a little more than the other “cool” idols. She’s a little cuter and less…. severe. She’s mature, determined, and takes her job seriously, but she’s also not afraid to share her doubts and feelings. She just wants to be the best she can be, as an idol and a leader. She has a nice voice too~
3) Rin Shibuya (THE IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls) – Another blue idol, thankfully this time with brown hair. I knew I would like her from the moment I saw her, so I’m really excited that Cinderella Girls is getting its own anime. She looks serious and unfriendly but is actually a very nice girl. I look forward to seeing how she grows as an idol.
4) Ichigo Hoshimiya (Aikatsu!) – Ichigo is everything in an idol that I wished I could be until I realized I was more of a “cool” type. Aikatsu may be a crazy over-the-top magical girl series but I think if you put all the magic and goofy outfits aside, Aikatsu really captures the heart of what idols are, and Ichigo is “The Idol”. She’s pink, cute, energetic, passionate, pure-hearted, and just seems to sparkle. The whole idol-aura thing may seem silly, but I have seen it in real life — a idol with a presence so strong that they just seem to shine and you forget everything else.
5) Miyu Okamoto (Wake Up, Girls!) – I was immediately drawn to Miyu’s design — tall and curvy with brown pigtails and cute outfits, finally a cute-type that isn’t a little girl! But when I heard her voice, I thought oooooh no… she’s a little too ditzy for me. She’s still really cute though. Appearance-wise, she’s exactly what I like, and though she may be air-headed, she’s caring and passionate, and in a way she can be intuitive as well. She seems to really understand what it means to be an idol. She also works at a maid cafe, which I can identify with.
It’s worth noting that I put Takane Shijou in sixth place. I really love Takane and had a hard time deciding between her and Miyu, but in the end Miyu won because she’s more natural. I could do without Takane’s silver hair and strange personality, but I love her voice and her style. Takane was another character that I latched onto as soon as I saw her.
As for series as a whole, THE IDOLM@STER is still my favorite. It was really the pioneer of the idol genre. There are so many good songs, dances, outfits, and characters, there’s really something for everyone. Wake Up, Girls! is a close second for me. WUG is a more realistic take on idols, and I love that it shows some of the hardships that idols face and explore what it really means to be an idol. I also love that it takes a jab at AKB48 — if you want to know why I don’t like AKB and its sister groups, just watch WUG.
No matter your preferences, idol anime has really come a long way. The first idol anime I watched was Lovedol ~Lovely Idol~ in 2006. It was terrible. The songs were awful and the animation quality was poor, so the “dancing” consisted of maybe a two-step and maybe raising their arms at the end of a song. The girls also looked like anime characters rather than idols. After this disaster of a series, Idolmaster: Xenoglossia was released, in which they took the characters from the IDOLM@STER series and rewrote them into a mecha series. I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t even watch it (but I do kind of want that Chihaya figure, she looks cool…). It was a while before THE IDOLM@STER got a real anime series, and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. It had all the voice actors and songs from the game that the fans already knew and loved. The anime also introduced a bunch of great new songs. It brought a lot of new fans to the series and really raised the bar on the idol genre. There used to be an obvious difference between anime music and Jpop, but these days it’s sometimes hard to tell. Also, 3D technology has greatly improved and has made it possible to animate complex dance routines that would otherwise be difficult and costly to draw. Now there are many idol series such as Love Live!, Aikatsu!, Wake Up, Girls!, and even AKB0048.
As a huge idol fan, I’m really happy that the idol genre is doing so well these days. But before idol anime, there were still anime idols. When I think back, who were some of my favorite anime characters who were idols? Lynn Minmay from Macross, Key from Key the Metal Idol (even if she never really became an idol), and even Rei Hino briefly during Sailor Moon R. Idols always had a special place in my heart, no matter where they came from, but I’m really glad that I have so many people to share my fandom with now! I’m looking forward to seeing how the genre will continue to grow and what new series there may be. Maybe someday Morning Musume will even get an anime. One can dream, right?