Back in 2005, Namco would create the popular arcade video game known as "The Idolm@ster". Based on the career of a fictional producer for a production studio, many games have been released for the XB360, Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3 and its characters would appear in other Namco Bandai video games.
In 2007, the first anime series titled "Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia" is based on the video game series and was created by the anime studio, Sunrise (best known for their Gundam and mecha series).
And why not combine the idol-factor of "The Idolm@ster" and Sunrise's mecha themed series? But taking the characters that were popular from the video games and putting them in a brand new mecha-themed storyline? And sure enough, you get "Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia".
The anime series begins with Haruka Amami, a teenage girl who dreams of becoming an idol. She's shy, not so confident of herself but during an audition, she captures the attention of the staff.
And next thing you know, Haruka receives a letter that she has passed her audition and will become an idol and must leave to Tokyo to start her new career and meet with her new agency.
While she and also another girl named Yukiho Hagiwara who has also been invited to the agency are excited for their new singing careers, other members such as the very hotheaded Iori Minase, the tomboyish but proud Makokoto Kikuchi await for Haruka to arrive. So they can begin training.
But as Haruka and Yukiho arrive and enjoy the scenery of Tokyo and see the fragments of what was once the moon (a.k.a. "Kompeito") before meeting with their agency Mondenkind, the two are caught in the middle between a skirmish between member of Mondenkind and Turiavita. Mondenkind trying to protect the world, while Turiavita are more determined to find and acquire all IDOLS.
The fight gets so rough, that Haruka's communication device awakens a mecha known as Imber, a mecha that has been dormant and non-functional for a long time. But somehow Haruka has awaken it, to the surprise to the members of Mondenkind and Turiavita. When the Turiavita attacks, the mecha Prometheus-1 Imber comes to Haruka's rescue and places her into its cockpit. And the skirmish between both groups, comes to an end.
When Haruka arrives to meet with the agency and ask about the idol position, she is informed that she was auditioned to become an idol. But not a singing idol, but an IDOLmaster who can pilot the the mecha to save the world from drops.
A drop is the remnants of the moon, after its destruction 107 years ago that is falling towards Earth. It's up to the IDOLmasters to pilot their IDOLS to destroy the drops. It's also important to note that IDOLmasters can only be female and the IDOL must pick out their IDOLmaster. And in this case, Imber has chosen Haruka to be its IDOLmaster.
But Haruka's naivety and inexperience, she makes up with determination and persistence. And as her relationship with fellow IDOLmasters begins to strengthen, as wit her bond with her IDOL, what happens when she gets attacked by the rival agency who try to kill her?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia" is presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen and in Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles.
When it comes to anime series, "Sunrise" is one of the longer running, well-known anime studios in Japan. And "Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia" manages to keep the look of the characters as seen in the "idolm@ster" video game series but also feature beautiful background art and mecha design. The background scenery is well-painted and well-detailed. Fans of the "Idolm@ster" games will no doubt enjoy the look for the series and for those who expect the quality from Sunrise, they deliver with so many different locations and scenes, characters design featuring different outfits and also use of technology.
It would have been great to see an anime series such as "Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia" in HD via Blu-ray but for the most part, the series looks very good on DVD!
Subtitles are in English and are in yellow with a black border and are easy to read.
"Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia - Collection 1″ comes with the following special features:
SHORTS 1-5: Featuring a total of five comedy shorts (on disc 2) that are about 5 minutes long.
As a fan of the "Idolm@ster" video games, at first, I was curious about "Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia" because the anime studio behind the anime was Sunrise. Typically, with Sunrise, I'm use to watching mecha or sci-fi anime related series, so I found a bit odd at first.
But with "Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia", you get both idol and mecha together in one anime series.
Fans of the video game series will be happy to see characters like Haruka, Yukiho, Iori and Makoto (to name a few), appear in the series. And the characters and their traits are somewhat carried over to "Xenoglossia".
The series pretty much focuses on one girl for the first half. Haruka is naive, a bit clumsy and thinks that she is going to be an idol pop singer. But in reality, she's going to be an IDOLmaster that pilots mecha known as IDOLS. Through the series, we see how she gets along with her fellow IDOLmaster teammates.
Haruka was the primary character of "The Idolm@ster" and for the first few episodes, she is the primary focus. But then the series starts to focus on the actual team itself.
Unlike the video games, Yukiho is not a cry baby but more of a person who sleeps a lot, more of the cheerleader of the group and also is often looked at special because her breasts are bigger than the other girls. Iori's snobbish behavior of the video game also extends to the anime series. Thinking she is the best, she is not afraid to speak her mind. And Makoto, who was seen as the "pretty-boy" idol in the video games, has the tomboyish appearance in the anime series and these young women all represent Mondenkind.
And like "The Idolm@aster" which pitted Studio 765 vs. Studio 961, the anime series pits two organizations against each other...Modenkind vs. Turiavita.
So, fans should be happy that "Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia" does retain the character styles from the video games. And while music is not the focal point of these idols, there is quite a bit of music featured in the series soundtrack.
But this is a mecha anime series. Plenty of action and emotional angst, while "Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia" can be comparable to other mecha-related series such as "Bubblegum Crisis", the camaraderie of "Strike Witches" and even a little "Gunbuster" thrown in. But then for your antagonist, you have another side of female pilots of Turiavita with their IDOLS who don't seem too evil or bad, but because they are enemies, we see how the Turiavita will do all they can to hurt the Mondenkind pilots.
With the first half of the series, as mentioned, the series focused on Haruka but manages to integrate the other team members. While Haruka is able to treat her IDOL Imber with compassion, Yukiho is unable to have that similar connection. Meanwhile, Makoto who is Mondekind's best pilot does not have any emotional feelings towards her IDOL. She sees them as mecha to be controlled not as beings or like Haruka tries to have an emotional connection with them.
And because of this, the series storyline ends with her being at her most vulnerable when she needs the power of her IDOL, Prometheus-2 Nebula. And what happens because of that lack of connection to her IDOL.
And will definitely lead to a more chaotic second half because who knows what will happen to Mondekind without their best pilot.
As for the DVD, as one can expect from Sunrise, animation compliments the video game series while the art background and mecha design are trademarks of the studio. For a TV series, the art backgrounds are well-detailed and painted and it's one of those series that you wish was released in HD because it looks very good for an animated TV series. You do get five comedy shorts included as special features as well!
Overall, the first half of "Idolm@ster: Xenoglossia" is quite promising. For fans of the video games, the characters are given new life in this alternative world storyline and as a mecha anime series with its fair share of action, the series also is fascinating, action-packed and a lot of fun!
If you are looking for an action-packed mecha anime series with upbeat characters (primarily all-female), definitely give "Idolm@aster: Xenoglossia - Collection 1″ a chance!