I’m not gonna lie, the last three episodes were not very good— which was not a great way to end the show. Episode 10 was fine… up until they decided to drop a Daiki Scandal to stir up trouble before their big joint-concert. I could’ve lived without it, mainly because it felt not only forced, but a super weak source of conflict. While there has been build up in a sense showing Lin’s backstory of him struggling with his injury that ultimately forced him to retire sooner than he would’ve liked, and how he was thankful for Daiki for filling in for him. However, it was precisely because we already knew that which made the truth behind the scandal to be clear as day. So not only was the whole ‘Did Daiki really shove Lin off stage?’ scandal a waste of time, but it was also really stupid when you have characters like Kanata who had moments when they said, “Maybe he did?” like come on! Let’s see these character use some COMMON SENSE HERE! First of all, if that had really happened, do you really think they would’ve hired him into their agency? Hell no. So the whole bit of some of the cast expressing some self-doubts was a total waste of time, and I wished they had used it towards something more productive and meaningful. And if wasting time with that wasn’t bad enough, then comes along the baseball match which Daiki and Akira were dragged into by their teacher who didn’t have the patience to wait for them to be finished with their supplementary stuff, and lo and behold Gakuto was on the other team they’d be facing. That too basically, nothing. Akira and Daiki have a talk, a bit about why he had quit baseball, and how Daiki inspired him to become an idol during the time his mind was clouded with uncertainty.
And then don’t get me started on how of course, after Daiki’s nomination, everyone hopes on to the Akira should be center bandwagon. Like what??????? Look, I have nothing against Akira’s character, but come on! You have got to be kidding me! There had to be a better way to make this decision actually convincing! Unfortunately, we really didn’t get that because the show has been broken up into pieces between the groups. They were unable to really flesh out any of the characters, heck they barely even scratched the surface. So it does bother me how it the center has been handed to Akira on a silver-platter because he’s the “poster boy” for show! We didn’t even get to see them compete to vote– like what the hell? Really? Give me a break. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I just don’t feel like they’ve done enough to show us that he qualifies for that position yet. So yeah, it left me feeling miffed.
Literally, the only good thing about episode 10 was filling in the remaining gaps of Lin’s backstory of his injury. Daiki was the one who found him trying to take care of an injury (which later escalated into ruptured a ligament in his leg) and helped him bandage it up so he could carry out the encore. And because he knew about his injury, he was keeping a close eye on him, and was the first to respond to try to catch him when he stumbled off stage. While Daiki blames himself for not telling anyone about Lin’s injury prior (as Lin had asked him to do), we already knew Lin was thankful they had Daiki with them then. The split-second decision to throw himself into Lin’s role in order to to make sure the fans wouldn’t panic, and ensure that their encore, (though no longer flawless), was able to be completed properly. Later in Episode 12, we see Lin make that sentiment public as he clears the air of what transpired in what ended up being AneLa’s final concert. On that note, it was nice to see Daiki get the credit he deserves for being able to do that, because by no means, was that an easy decision.
But I think it’s because of Daiki’s backstory and seeing the strength to make the decision and see it through is why that this episode actually made me feel like Daiki was actually the one who deserved to be center. Unfortunately due to the way they arranged the series, we’ve only seen the bare minimum from the characters, but of them all, Daiki is the one character we have seen put an insane amount of effort to get where he is now. While Akira did grow and work hard too, it just didn’t have the same impact– mainly because I feel like the show didn’t spend enough time to really flesh that out, so I just don’t understand why the characters think he’s the most qualified for it– hell they didn’t even do their auditions among themselves! They were supposed to vote based on each performance, but somehow… everyone decided they’d vote for Akira?????? What?????? Alright then.
As for the finale: the entire episode was mainly devoted to the concert. While I have my gripes about the previous two episodes, at the very least I did enjoy this part of the finale. Though I must confess, it was rather frustrating to see how short the songs were, I wished they had made them a bit longer. While the switchover to each unit was fun and all, I really wanted to hear more from all of them. Well, that’s what their youtube page is for right? Time to go and find the full version! Hahahaha~! But man, every single one of them have such great voices, UniteUp! really has some great new talent to keep an eye on and forward to!
In the beginning of the season, UniteUp! was a show that I almost glossed over, and boy am I glad I didn’t. While this show ended up being fairly average, at the very least it did what most music shows (apart from Idolish7 which we all know is in a class of its own) fail to do, which is hold my attention beyond one or two episodes. Take Technoroid for instance, I watched two episodes of that and then I never went back to watch more, and nor do I care to.
What kept me coming back was pretty simple, I liked the way they took their time with PROTOSTAR’s debut, as well working out the newly formed relationship between its members. Sure it wasn’t super deep or anything, but the characters were likeable enough and their interactions were equally as fun. It also helped that the quality of their Music Videos were really good– in fact it was so good, that AneLa’s stage in the premiere was the ultimate hook and it worked (at least for me anyways, heh). They went on to show that they really had that in the bag, because apart from LEGIT (which are the only ones who I felt their first MV models were a bit rough) JAXX/JAXX and PROTOSTAR’s performances were all a treat to the eyes. I really loved the way it was directed, and I appreciated the approach of treating it as proper Music Video. And for that reason they were able to easily post it on their official youtube page so you can just go there and rewatch it however many times you want without having to pull up the episode. But of course it wasn’t just the music video quality, but the songs and vocals were all equally as good. One of the things I really liked about UniteUp! was we have a huge batch of brand new talents. With the exception of Souma Saitou (Lin) and Yoshiki Nakajima (Maoto) fittingly playing the veterans of the industry role, for the vast majority of PROTOSTAR, JAXX/JAXX and LEGIT’s voice actors, this was their first Anime Role. It makes me very excited for their futures because with vocals like that, they will certainly be the next generation vocals for future or even existing music games and series!
In the end UniteUp! attracted my attention in the beginning because of the fresh and somewhat unconventional beginning. But before long it fell into the same-old-same-old trap that many other music series suffer from, which is sadly don’t make it a priority to really flesh out the characters. As result, I can’t say I am really attached to any one of them. Are they likeable? Yes, but honestly there’s not much more to go by beyond that. It’s a bit frustrating especially when you can see the potential, such as fleshing out the friendship between Akira and Daiki. Now that’s something I really wished that had time to nurture and develop over the course of the show. The friendship between Banri, Akira and Chihiro was fairly well done though! I actually did like the way they were handled in the beginning, and how these gradually opened up to each other. They had a great dynamic and I appreciated the maturity of their characters when it came to communications. As for JAXX/JAXX and LEGIT, I really enjoyed JAXX/JAXX’s backstory and I wished we had the opportunity to have seen more of them. LEGIT however did feel like they got the short end of the stick, especially since Fuuga didn’t get a chance to really flesh out his character besides telling us a bit about how he got started in the industry. Actually, I’d say of all the character he’s probably the one who really left behind in the dust. RIP Fuuga. And finally AneLa, which, honestly I love. I thought their backstory was well handled and appreciated Maoto’s and Lin’s relationship.
I even ship it.
Overall UniteUp! isn’t amazing, nor can I really say it’s a particularly memorable watch to any extent. Of course that’s no surprise because perhaps with the exception of AneLa’s, Akira’s and Daiki’s backstory, the show barely scratched the surface when it comes to fleshing out the cast. So naturally because of that, one of the biggest problems I’ve faced when covering this show is that when it went on breaks, I didn’t miss it, which made it a bit harder to get back into covering it– which is also why this entry was placed on the back-burner when I prioritized other things I was more invested in to finish first. I enjoyed UniteUp!, but I wasn’t in love with it. I did hope it’d get better, but unfortunately some of the things I had hoped to see them maybe play around with didn’t pan out entirely— though I was happy to see Ogawa contribute to salving PROTOSTAR’s debut stage. That was really nice to see. Unfortunately we didn’t see him anywhere in the finale, which is a bit sad to be honest.
Ultimately, I’d say UniteUp’s biggest charm were really the somewhat refreshing introductions to the characters and the music quality. The characters were likeable enough for me not to grow bored while watching, and the songs and music videos were always something to look forward to. For me, that was enough to stick around with till the very end. So I think it’d be fair to say this is definitely one of those shows where you kind of have to be in the mood for it, and would probably be best to binge it– otherwise you might just forget to come back to it. It got good music, cute characters, and when you least expect it, AneLa’s backstory will probably hit you in the feels. But if you’re not too interested in watching it, but is curious about the music, never fear, just check out UniteUp!’s official youtube page! All of their MVs that were featured in each episode has been posted each week after it aired!
But if you ask me if would I watch this again? Honestly, no, probably not. I’ll just stick to subscribing to their youtube page and keep an eye out for updates and their new songs. So with that my final score for this series is going to be 6/10. It’s fine, good enough to pass time if you’re looking for something simple and easy to watch with some good music boot!
Final Verdict: 6/10