WHELP, WE’RE FINALLY DONE. I can’t believe I’ve managed to muddle my way through this series without losing all of my sanity. But I’ll save most of my feelings for the final impressions. In any case, I’ll start off with that while I had my gripes with this episode, it wasn’t terrible. It was decent for what it set out to do, which was to end the series. It wasn’t the most grandiose finale, and the ending was completely obvious because of course Trickstar was going to win. I’d be shocked if they didn’t. I’ll admit that this episode flowed a lot better than the finale to the first half of the series.
Subaru is having his breakdown over some jerkwads who thought it’d be fun to try and pin a crime on him just like his father. Apparently Subaru’s father committed some sort of crime in the past despite it being completely without true evidence. A fan had forced her way onto stage but I assume she lost her footing and fell, being killed in the process. SHEESH. However, that one seed, planted doubt throughout the public and the man’s career was completely destroyed and even sent to prison, leaving his family to be shunned by society. And while I’m not a Trickstar fan, it was still very touching to have the other members try to comfort and support Subaru. Made even better when ALL of the different units, even Eden, stepped up to protect Subaru, not even once thinking he was a criminal. Again, I have to give my kudos to Ryuuseitai for being the first to always step up when Trickstar is in trouble. THEY ARE THE REAL BROS.
Now, this whole thing went by really fast and I’m not sure if I have the correct impression of it all, but it sounds like Subaru’s dad didn’t even do anything wrong. It sounded like an accident where the fan fell to her death and somehow this spun itself into having “evidence” that Subaru’s dad was involved with a ton of shady things. But how the sub were written made it sound like there was evidence? But then later said he didn’t actually do those things? Unless the investigation made up the “evidence” and it was only confirmed later that there really was no evidence that supported that Subaru’s dad was unrightfully put in prison. Confusing, but sure, okay. But then I was even more confused when Nagisa said he made an admirable decision and I couldn’t help but think, “what did he even do???”
I did think it was very sweet and touching that Subaru wanted to be an idol because of his dad despite the bad rumors surrounding him. It’s actually very brave for him to want to follow his dad’s example as an idol, fully knowing that the same people who attacked his father would come after him. I’m actually surprised that Subaru was even able to go out on stage again after all that. That had to take a lot of courage and so much mental and emotional strength to continue on like that. Especially when he even manages to go up and talk about his situation with the entire audience.
My problem with this whole drama is that it happened and was resolved way too fast. If this is what the wanted to end the season on, they should have used the entire second cour to build up the situation. And while I did enjoy having one off episodes showcasing all the different units, I think this series would have been a lot stronger if they focused on one or two major plots. Yes, they could have still had one off concert things happening, but they could have used those scenarios to build upon the “ending scenario/arc” and spread out between the episodes more rather than throwing EVERYTHING at us in the last two episodes. Not to mention they kept telling us how Subaru’s dad was involved with Nagisa’s dad but never really told us WHY. It just felt like they kept shoving random information in our faces that ultimately never goes anywhere.
I am rather happy to learn that Eden had nothing to do with the sabotage and that it was actually the top brass in Cospro that was orchestrating all of this. Especially since what happened was a lot lower than I would expect them to stoop. I also had a feeling that Ibara was somehow trying to stop Subaru from going on stage because something like this would happen, but I was unsure at the time. It was definitely confirmed in this episode though since he seemed disgusted with the turn of events. Which is surprising since he’s a pretty slimy fellow but I guess even he has standards. He’ll stoop to levels of low, but not in a way to destroy a rival’s image it seems. However, his declaration that it’s easier to be a villain cracked me up. This guy is so stupidly “evil”, it’s hilarious.
I also liked how a bunch of different units stepped up to lend a hand to Trickstar. I was really surprised to see even Valkyrie help them out since they had no prior interaction with them before this. But it seems like they wanted to have ALL of the characters have at least one speaking line in the episode. And I admit, they spaced out their dialogue well that it didn’t seem misplaced or rushed. They all had their moment to speak and share their thoughts without it feeling completely shoehorned in. So kudos to that. Even Eden stepped up to help Trickstar smoke out the people who were discrediting them.
And after much complaints, we finally get an episode with TWO decently done performances. We didn’t even get this pleasure during Trickstar’s fight against fine so at least we get to compare performances this time around. Though to be honest, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which one was better since both were decent. But none of them were THAT amazing. They were cool in their own right, but Trickstar definitely had more emotion going for them. Also, why do the final performances done by the main group always sound so soft sounding? Personally, those never really feel like the winning songs to me (yes, Idolish7 included). But those are just my feelings and it was no surprise when they won. And this time it was a clean win, without that weird “the votes were so close we have to do it again” kind of thing. Also, unlike their previous victories, this win did feel a little bit more earned due to all the build up and them working through this trial. So there’s that.
Overall, this episode was okay. Wasn’t the best, but also wasn’t the worst this series has given us. So I’ll be thankful for that. It showcased a bunch of the other units lending a helping hand, which I have always loved, but in the end, it was Trickstar that pulled through to the end this time rather than it feeling like they hadn’t earned their win. So good on them… finally. At least they ended the series decently enough.
My gosh… I can’t believe it’s over… my suffering has finally come to an end! In all seriousness, I enjoyed this series to an extent. However, it was way too of a bumpy road for me to fully enjoy. There were A LOT of problems with this series as a whole, such as terrible pacing, WAY too much telling and not enough showing, too many characters and not enough runtime, wasn’t able to focus on one thing and development was rushed and unsatisfying.
I know I should stop, but take the Idolish7 anime for example, I have rewatched this series so many times and each time I rewatch it, the more things I catch on rewatches. They sprinkle very vague hints about future events early on and then slowly build upon those hints until it leads to the conclusion of what those hints were alluding to. With Ensemble Stars, they sprinkle hints here and there and then drop EVERYTHING all at once. There is no build up just all the information right here and now, no time to show the progression, just take all of it right now! They leave hardly anything to think about or try let you try and piece things together on your own. So when all the information hits you all at once, it doesn’t feel satisfying. And while I feel bad for Subaru, his situation didn’t hit me like it should have. We weren’t shown Subaru’s emotional build up to this point. It just sort of happened. And I think that’s a big problem with this series. There were a lot of emotional moments that should have hit me, but they just didn’t have the necessary build up to really hit home for me.
Let’s take Sogo from Idolish7’s situation for example. Early on, (even earlier in the game) you can tell something is off about him. He even drops a pretty big bomb about his situation as early as episode 3. However, he only gave you a piece of what is going on with him. We didn’t have the full picture. And as the episodes continue on, you can see that a lot of things are starting to chip away at him by how he responds to certain things. Such as Tamaki’s attitude and the amount of responsibilities he has to shoulder on his own. These things were slowly breaking him down until his inevitable collapse. And after that happens, we FINALLY get to hear his full story in episode 13. There were 10 episodes worth of build up between the first bomb to the conclusion and that was only ONE of the character driven plots in that show. At most, we got one episode of build up and then a rushed conclusion in the second episode in Ensemble Stars. We weren’t given enough time to get to know the characters very well, see their development to a satisfying end. Heck, NOTHING came from Madara’s introduction in this adaptation. It felt like they were building him up to be something big, but then gave him absolutely no focus. Unless they’re gearing up for a possible second season. Don’t think I didn’t miss that random cameo character in the audience that the camera focused on for a brief moment. Though because I have no prior knowledge of the series, I have no idea what significance he has lol.
All of the characters were very quirky in their own right. However, I can’t say I particularly felt THAT strongly for any of them. While I did like some of them, namely the Essentrics, Keito and Nito, I wouldn’t really place them as my favorite characters of all time. I liked them within the vicinity of this anime, but no further than that. I’m sure I’d love them a lot more if I were to get to know them within the game, however, there definitely wasn’t enough time to get to know ALL of them within the two cours. It feels like all of the units could have an anime of their own honestly. There was just way too many of them and too little time to get too deep into any one’s story. Which is a shame since I was really interested to get to know Leo and Keito more.
And Anzu… you all know how I feel about her by this point but they definitely utilized her very poorly in this adaptation. She seemed to stand out better when she wasn’t interacting with Trickstar, strangely enough despite the fact she’s supposed to be closest to them. However, none of their interactions made me feel like she should stay by their side more than the others as Sakuma so bluntly puts it. I honestly just started yelling “SHE’S BUSY, SAKUMA. SHE CAN’T ALWAYS BE BY TRICKSTAR’S SIDE.” Not to mention she HARDLY EVEN SPOKE in the first cour. She didn’t even feel like a character until the second cour. The strongest she felt as her own character was during the Ryuusetai episode where she studied and worked together with Chisaki to help put their performance together at the amusement park. Not to mention she even interacted with the other members of the unit, which was nice to see. There was so much they could have done with Anzu, but chose to sideline her interactions and development for most of the series if not all. So to say I was disappointed with how they handled her would be an understatement.
And while I gripe on them all the time, I feel like the anime could have been a lot better if they just chose to follow Trickstar’s story all the way through. At least it could have made a more cohesive story overall and not have to spread itself thin like it did. Now, I’m saying this as someone who has not played the games and just looking at this strictly as if this were an anime only adaptation. I’m looking for a good story and after seeing how well Idolish7 handled its anime adaptation, I had high hopes for it. And I really had high hopes for David Productions as well considering how well they produce the Jojo anime. However, they seemed to have dropped the ball here in the writing department and it’s sad because I’m sure with the interesting content this series had, it could have been so much better.
And before anyone accuses me of just liking Idolish7 better, which is true, but I had a lot against it going into the anime at first. One look at Idolish7 and my immediate thought was that it was an Utapri ripoff. I had no prior knowledge of the series (besides some random information about the characters I saw people talk about from time to time) so I went into it being ready to be indifferent towards it like all the other male idol shows I watched after Utapri. Instead, I got a well thought out plot with wonderful characters who set themselves apart from just being typical idol characters. Ensemble Stars failed to captivate me the same way and instead just bomb rushed me with a ton of information that I had no hope in remembering. All the while throwing in as many characters at me in as short amount of time as they could. Also, let’s not forget the travesty they performed by throwing in TWO EPISODE LONG FLASHBACKS at the most inopportune time that completely messed up the overall pacing of the scenarios happening.
Would I recommend this to anyone? No. Definitely not. As an adaptation, it fails as it had very poor execution with both story direction and pacing and it honestly doesn’t inspire me to go play the game or look into it further. Some of the performances were fun to watch as I was already a fan of some of the songs. However, there simply wasn’t enough positive things about this anime and I think people would be better off just playing the game or finding the stage plays (as I’ve been told).
So I will have to give this adaptation a 5.5/10. I didn’t hate the series, but it definitely wore me out after a while. I had some fun watching and covering this, but if it were to come out with a second season, I’m not sure if I have the patience to cover it. I’m sorry you all had to accompany me on my ranting tirades about this series every week. Thanks for sticking with me to the end!