Eva’s First Impression
Just wow, ever since I’ve started watching Idolish7, a lot of idol shows have really struggled to leave a strong impression on me. But then comes along UniteUP, a title I almost glossed over when looking over the shows for the Winter 2023 Season, and man, I was NOT expecting this show to have this strong of a start!
Right from the get go, UniteUp! came out swinging and successfully me hooked within the first five minutes of the episode. Actually no, it was even sooner than that. The kick-off with Anela performance was absolutely spectacular to watch and the song slapped! I was blown away by the quality of the CG, it was so fluid, and it didn’t look weird or anything, it was just super clean! Honestly it kind of blows my mind considering I have a habit of being notoriously picky about CG in general– and I loved this! Seriously, it was a genius move to start with that performance.
But what really reeled me in was actually the unexpected focus in Kiyose Akira’s personal life, ranging from the relationships with his mother, his childhood friend Yoshikazu Ogawa and the people who come to his family’s bathhouse. It was a great pleasure to see all these characters interact with each other, creating a true feeling of community, but also breathing life into Akira’s world. More often than not, Idol shows choose not to focus on the characters’ more personal life and relationships such as friends and family unless they want to have it more integrated into the plot. So that’s how we end up with these shows that just basically focus on their lives of training or going about their days as idols.
For Akira’s case, the interpersonal relationship was a key stepping stone for entering the idol world. It was thanks to Ogawa, who has been secretly recording him singing covers while they went out for karaoke, and then put in a lot of love and passion into making videos he’d upload onto the internet under KIKUNOYU (the same as Akira’s family bathhouse name). Thanks to that, Akira received an offer to meet from sMiLea Production agency, and while Akira had absolutely no idea what was going on, Ogawa was dead-set on making sure that Akira didn’t just blow off this opportunity.
Although Ogawa did this with good intentions at heart, I think we can all agree that Akira was more than justified to feel frustrated and annoyed even that his friend had done this in secret all this time, and had just tried to secure him into an agency so he could begin training as an idol. After-all, it’s his voice, and Ogawa should have asked permission first, but at the same time, the reason why he didn’t was because he knew that Akira would refuse due to having lost his spirit after quitting baseball.
The reason why Ogawa did this was while he wanted to continue making videos, what was actually the most important to him was that he wanted Akira to be happy again. He knows all too well of how lowly Akira thinks of himself, as someone who doesn’t have any special qualities, but Ogawa sees something special in him, and that’s his voice. Whenever he listens to Akira sing, it cheers him up, in a way that it feels as though Akira is sharing some good energy with him. That’s why he wanted more people to hear it, because he felt like many others would feel the same. And sure enough yes, it turns out many people love his voice. So it was thanks to Ogawa opening up about how his voice touches him that gives Akira that push to at least give becoming an idol a shot. The whole conversation really struck me in the heart, because it highlights just how precious their friendship is.
And for that reason, I really do hope that they find a way to keep Ogawa present throughout the show, and maybe he’ll even find a role of his own within sMiLea Production (though I wouldn’t hold my breath for it). It would be a darn shame to see him fade into the background and be forgotten when he played a crucial role of shining the light on Akira’s voice in the first place.
As for sMiLea Production, I must say I am also I’m also quite excited to learn more about Tsujidou Maoto and Ootsuki Lin. Before they retired as idols, they were a popular unit called Anela. It seems Maoto the representative and appears to also be a composer, who makes the songs for the agency, while Lin is the producer and vice representative. They created this agency for training young idols with potential. Currently they have two flagship groups, LEGIT, a dance-vocal unit who used to be back-up daners, and the other is JAXX/JAXX, a band. Both units debuted at the same time last year. So it’s a still a young agency waiting to bring in more talents. We did hear about a unit called EVAN, but we don’t know whether they are part of any agency yet, if not perhaps may a potientially end up being a rival one.
Overall, this was a fantastic premiere. It had everything I really needed to want to come back for more, from the entertaining and organic character interactions (Akira’s mom is an absolute riot, I love her), and really good music and performance CG. I am looking forward to seeing how Akira will grow and gradually become more confident in his abilities, as even now he isn’t really sure if he wants to be an idol yet. But, but at least he’s taking a leap of faith to see if maybe, just maybe this is his calling.
With that said, I can’t help having a really good feeling about UniteUp, and I feel like it would be an absolute mistake to pass up on, so this might be my Wild Card Pick-Up of the season! Next week we’ll be meeting two other recruits– and I’m not going to lie, the mask and glasses guy had me burst out laughing with the extent of his cover! Looking forward to meeting the other two, and see how these three will interact!
Possibility of Blogging: High – UniteUp, show us what you got!
Possibility of Watching: Guaranteed