Mimu Emilton is a cute fourteen-year-old who has come to the annual Starland Festival to become an idol, just like her role model, Yuri. It is the most celebrated event on a united Earth, and Yuri, now the President of Earth, has encouraged people to join the ranks of Excellent Idols. Unfortunately for Mimu, she can never seem to make it to her audition on time, as misadventure after misadventure lands her in situations (usually involving undergarment exposure, I might add) that she escapes with the help of the current Excellent Idols, whom she befriends. Just as she makes her place on the stage and begins her audition, though, an unknown group of aliens kidnaps her and the Excellent Idols. It is only the beginning of a wild interdimensional goose-chase that places Mimu in the position to save the world, if only she can believe in herself.
Idol Project: an anime made for loser fanboys by loser fanboys.
That's the idea I got even looking at the cover of the tapes of this series, and well, darn it, I was right. There's enough fan service to satisfy the most hardcore fanboy, and plenty of references to other anime, but subtle and not-so-subtle, that will satisfy the nitpickiest trivia geek.
Guess what? I am amused by this show.
Mind you, I have a life, I'm married, and I am most certainly not a Lolicon-obsessed freak. But Idol Project depicts idols and the fans who adore them at their very silliest, and at the same time, at their most benign. The biggest fan of the Excellent Idols, for example, comes off as less scary than encouraging and helpful, and at the same time, he's obviously supposed to be an otaku, especially with the merchandising collection he shows off. It's kind of that Okada Toshio / Otaku no Video mentality of a benign "Otakunization" of the world that seems nowadays to be quaint and amusing more than realistic in light of the reputation "otaku" have attained in their home country.
But could you blame them for making an anime like this? The girls in Idol Project are grade-A cute, and that's including the extras. You can't help but root for the hapless Mimu, and though all the others are great (Layla, Palpu, and Corvette are my other favorites), it's obvious that she's the focus. It helps that she's voiced by Mariko Kouda, one of my favorite seiyuu.
And the in-jokes come flying as fast as the silly action sequences. This series is rife with references to anime as esoteric as Iczelion and End of Summer, though they really don't detract from the plot (what plot?).
Speaking of which, the storyline, while really just an excuse for those really cute girls to get in compromising, yet (mostly) harmless situations while usually wearing next to nothing, is still executed just well enough not to be laughable for the *wrong* reasons. And the music and animation are up to mid '90s standards, and are actually pretty good. Watch for the H-game parody in the first ending sequence - hoo boy.
The animation, while decent for the mid-90s, doesn't hold up so well to today's standards. Newer viewers used to crisp backgrounds and sparkly colors may balk -- Idol Project may be bright, but by today's standards, it may seem more garish than colorful. If anything, Idol Project may seem positively old-school.
What's worse is that the attitude toward fans, but in Japan and the United States, has changed so drastically that many of the situations shown here will seem even more ludicrous and unbelievable than when this thing first aired. Genshiken this is not.
Still, it's amusing to watch, partially because it's a vehicle for a bunch of folks who are now considered part of the older generation of voice acting veterans (Mariko Kouda, Kikuko Inoue, Aya Hisakawa, Mika Kanai, Satomi Koorogi).
If you're looking for anything socially redeeming or cerebral in here, you've really gone off-course, but Idol Project is cute and amusing, if you're willing to forgive some fan service. Okay, a lot of fan service.
You get the idea.
A good many people are going to find this a bit too silly for their liking, so they can take a star down and call it a day. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: This anime has the dubious distinction of having the most panty shots per minute of any non-hentai title I have yet viewed (well, prior to Aika and Najica, anyway). Of course, since there's really only one male character in the entire show, that's a LOT of panty shots. Also a bit of nudity, and Corvette is a bit forward with her affections for pretty young things like Mimu. Preteens or younger, or the prudish should really avoid this. If, on the other hand, you're a 16-25 year old male anime fan...
Version(s) Viewed: digital source; R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (4/4)
Idol Project © 1995 KSS
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