“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” —Arnold Schwarzenegger
To encourage that the girls spend more time together and better learn about one another even as they take on different jobs individually or in teams, Junko arranges for the girls to live with one another in a rental home. Minami and Kaya are assigned to a talk show where they must describe the various dishes presented to them, and while Minami struggles to be more imaginative with her description of the food items, Kaya begins worrying about her weight. She begins jogging and avoiding meals, leading Minami to wonder if Kaya’s come to dislike her, and one evening, Mayu and the others decide to tag along. They learn of Kaya’s situation and come together to support her, encouraging Kaya to eat regularly and be open with her problems. Later, Nanami and Miyu make an appearance on a comedy show, but lack the wit to deliver humour. Yoshino is assigned to a modelling job but is described as lacking the aura of a model, and Airi comes across as being too mechanical in her news show. Despite their difficulties, everyone manages to make the most of their assignments when they learn that Kaya’s taken up blogging to write about her worries. Inspired, Miyu hosts her own web show, and the girls realise they can play to their strengths. Minami begins describing her food in song, and Airi applies her own brand of comedy towards delivering her news segment. Yoshino accepts a photo-shoot assignment and presents the best side of her character, as well. With things looking up for the others, Mayu is offered a role in a television drama with Shiho Iwasaki of I-1 Club.
Despite having had at least two years of experience as idols, New Chapter! presents WUG as still being relatively inexperienced as entertainers. These challenges arise from the group as having come to depend on one another during their performances – until now, everyone’s largely worked together as a cohesive unit and are at their best when they can perform as one. However, they had been somewhat idle in between major performances, as depicted in Shadow of Youth and Beyond the Bottom. Junko’s assignments thus provide the girls a chance to interact with one another at a much more personal level, as well as to take on individual assignments that drive them towards improving their ability as idols. In spite of their inexperience initially getting the better of them, the girls’ resourcefulness allow them to acclimatise and use their strong points to assist their performances. The willingness to introspect and look inwards is a reminder of how far each member of WUG has come, and are willing to go in order to improve: by the end of New Chapter!‘s third episode, most of the team has settled into their positions and have worked out the rhythm that works best for them. Similarly, in Kaya’s case, she is reminded that the team is there to help her, and she can rely on them to support her. The increased cohesion in WUG after three episodes illustrates that New Chapter! is continuing on a good pace, and while the destination might not be clear this season, what is apparent is that the journey in New Chapter! is likely to be a meaningful one to follow.
Screenshots and Commentary
- WUG is back in full swing this season, and while it might be a bit quieter, I will continue with my plans to write about New Chapter! after every three episodes. Having said this, I don’t have any background in the entertainment industry and won’t be able to offer any unique insights as to what WUG experience; posts on New Chapter! will likely remain in the smaller format of twenty screenshots.
- The girls quickly settle in to their new accommodations, with Nanami managing to convince her parents to allow her to live with these arrangements. One of the things about New Chapter! that I will need to look at more closely is just how much time has elapsed since the girls joined WUG; the anime first aired in 2014’s winter season, and it’s presently autumn of 2017, suggesting a gap of roughly three-and-a-half years, but calendars in-show mean that it’s likely closer to two years. So, even Nanami, who was thirteen when Wake Up, Girls! started, would be fifteen now.
- Junko proves to be incredibly well-connected, helping the girls get positions that will bolster their experience as performers, and I can attest to the importance of having people who have exceptional marketing skills and connections. Being able to sell and generate excitement for an idea is essential: having the best product in the world is of limited use if the market is not aware of them. Going through Wake Up, Girls! now, I realise that my perspectives on the world has changed considerably since the days when I began watching this anime.
- After Mayu butchers the cutting of potatoes whilst cooking, the others step in to help out. The dynamics of New Chapter! show WUG as having a very close-knit, supportive dynamic. With their interpersonal challenges largely resolved, one of the questions that remains for New Chapter! will be what new conflicts or challenges await the group. Because Wake Up, Girls! began as an anime, there is no source manga or novel to compare it against, which makes the plot progression a bit more exciting owing to the unknown.
- While many things have changed, one thing in Wake Up, Girls! that has remained quite unchanged is Minami’s enthusiasm for food. One might consider her to be the female equivalent of Man v. Food‘s Adam Richman, although she initially lacks Richman’s talents for describing food. I’ve been a great fan of the show Man v. Food, and at present, Richman’s stopped his eating challenges, citing depression and health risks as the reason for his departure. Since then, he’s lost sixty pounds and have done food shows in other formats. While Minami’s thoroughly enjoying the program, Kaya finds it a little more difficult – although her outburst elevates ratings, the food she eats contributes to weight gain.
- As a result, Kaya takes to jogging by night and avoids meals with her friends. While it’s not quite at the level of a eating disorder, Kaya’s predicament is nonetheless one that she finds difficult to handle on her own. One evening, the others decide to accompany her on a “visit to the convenience store” and learn the truth when they find Kaya with some beef jerky, as she’s succumbed to hunger.
- The second episode thus acts as a reminder to viewers that, in the time that the girls have spent together and performed together, they have come to be supportive of one another and only offer constructive criticisms. Kaya makes a speedy recovery: within the space of a half-episode, her issues have been swiftly resolved.
- Things begin picking up for the girls: Nanami and Miyu are tasked with appearing on a show called “Iwashi Palace”, while Yoshino is assigned to the “Fanfan” photoshoot. Kouhei’s also managed to find a news segment type show for Airi. Each position will test the girls’ resolve in unique ways, motivating the page quote: one of the weaknesses about my generation, the Millenials, is a seemingly-lessened ability to withstand and face adversity. When I asked members of the older generation what resilience is, they simply responded that it’s not giving up when things get tough and continuing to put in an effort with the aim of bettering a situation.
- By my admission, I’ve never really been good as a public speaker until around post-secondary: the necessity of doing presentations for undergraduate coursework in my health sciences degree forced me to learn my own methods for delivering talks. However, it was not until I worked in my supervisor’s lab where I really began developing a signature style. Inspired by his highly visual slides and concise delivery, I gave highly distinct presentations during the final year of my undergraduate program, and that particular approach was refined as I entered graduate school.
- Presently, I am able to give short speeches and talks on-the-fly, with zero preparation time if needed; my usual style is to open up with a comparatively light and fluffy introduction, possibly with a joke or similar, before delving into the material. When practising for both conference presentations and my thesis, I would write a set of notes and then follow those notes, improvising as I went. This approach is inspired by how Jay Ingram gives talks, a consequence of having worked with him on the Giant Walkthrough Brain project. Back in New Chapter!, Nanami and Miyu find their time on Iwashi palace off to a rocky start.
- Itsuka, Otome and Ayumi initially find it difficult to promote WUG at their middle school: female students find WUG to be somewhat uninspired, while male students are more interested in virtual idols, likely a parody of Miku Hatsume, an extremely famous personification of the Vocaloid software. Curiously enough, the software was originally intended for professional use, but the visualisation caught on in the anime community, leading to widespread popularity.
- On a note completely unrelated to Wake Up, Girls!, time seems to be making fools of us once again: October is very nearly at an end, and with it comes the arrival of Halloween. This year, Halloween lands on a Tuesday, one day after my own Battlefield 1 One Year Anniversary; as per tradition, I will spend Halloween handing out candy, gaming and watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. It’s an old classic, and despite technical limitations being apparent in its animation, this holiday special is as timeless as A Charlie Brown Christmas. This year, I will be embarking on my journey through Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus: I caved and purchased it on release day.
- After an unsuccessful photoshoot with Funfun, Yoshino considers throwing in the towel and prepares to decline a second job, but when Junko mentions that Yoshino is to be replaced with a member of I-1 Club, Yoshino reconsiders immediately, feeling honoured that the company handling the photo shoot considered her as a first choice and will only defer to an 1-1 Club member as a backup, as well as the fact that turning down the offer might be to give I-1 Club more exposure over WUG.
- In Wake Up, Girls!, I find the anime to be surprisingly disciplined with its fanservice moments. The only other moment that comes to mind comes from the first season’s second episode, when the girls are contracted to work in a sleazy locale. Junko is on station to pull them out trouble, and later, she continues doing her bit in keeping an eye on jobs to ensure that WUG do not find themselves in similarly compromising situations.
- Inspired by Kaya’s blog and Miyu’s web show, each of the characters will figure out how to play to their strengths. Yoshino’s photoshoot is off to a shaky start when she trips, but the photographers here are more supportive, encouraging her to simply be herself during the photoshoot. Yoshino takes this to heart, and the results show in the photographs resulting, with one particular moment standing out above the rest that captures her enjoyment of the moment.
- While initially presenting her dialogue with a stiff approach, Airi eventually loosens up and delivers her segments with a style she’s more comfortable with. While viewers consider it rough around the edges, they also find it more enjoyable for its uniqueness, leading Ayumi’s classmates to comment on WUG in a positive light. Despite being the most plain and unextraordinary of the WUG, she’s also the most hard-working, understanding the hurdles she must overcome owing to her lack of prior experience, and by the events of New Chapter!, she fits right in with the group, keeping up with even the more challenging performances WUG participate in.
- A part of making an enjoyable food programme is to make a spectacle of the food. The other two fellows seem to have a bit of a stale routine when compared to the likes of Adam Richman, who presents himself in a manner befitting of the food challenge’s theme and otherwise finding unusual metaphors for describing particularly enjoyable foods. Varying between the stylised and direct, Richman’s strength is being able to consistently make his shows interesting. Manami finds her own approach: an enka performer, she’s also got some talent in singing and later turns this to her advantage, impressing the food show’s hosts.
- Things are advancing fairly rapidly in Wake Up, Girls!, with the girls settling into their new routines and accommodations. While Junko mentioned setting up a national tour of sorts for WUG back during the first episode, that’s not materialised as of yet. With upcoming events, one would image that it is probably something that will come to be a bit later in New Chapter!.
- While it’s impossible to speak for other Wake Up, Girls! viewers, I’m feeling that Mayu has been somewhat shafted with respect to screen time, but at the end of the third episode, it looks like that this is about to change on very short order: Mayu is to perform in a drama with none other than Shiho, the I-1 centre who replaced Mayu and was herself replaced by Moka Suzuki. Shiho would be reassigned to the idol group NEXT STORM, vowing to bring the group to prominence to prove her own worth as an idol. Mayu regards her cordially, suggesting that she has no hard feelings towards Shiho, and it will be interesting to see how the two work together in their upcoming assignments.
- With this after three post now at an end, we’re very nearly at the end of October, as well. There is only one more post coming out this month, dealing with Battlefield 1 (mentioned earlier). Looking ahead into November, I’m going to continue writing about Wake Up, Girls!, and in addition, be dividing my time between Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus as well as Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s Hero Chapter, which I have plans to review episodically. Folks interested in hearing my thoughts on Washio Sumi Chapter can do so here. For now, it’s time to sign off and turn my attention towards making my way through The New Colossus, which I’ve heard numerous good things about – if this game is half as good as people make it out to be, it will have been well worth the price of admissions, which I hope will go towards the development of solid single-player titles in a market oversaturated with multiplayer games.
It is likely that I am one of the few viewers out there, both in the English-speaking community and amongst the entire pool of people who watch Wake Up, Girls! that view this anime in a favourable manner. I will continue to say that, while the anime is a little rough around the edges in terms of animation, and that New Chapter!‘s artwork will still take some getting used to, the strength of the underlying messages and journey that each member of WUG undertakes makes the anime one that I find to be worth enjoying. Ever since I began watching Wake Up, Girls!, I’ve taken a gander at other anime dealing with idols. While well-regarded by viewers, giants such as Love Live! and Idolm@ster simply don’t work for me owing to the size of their franchises – the large number episodes is not feasible for me to catch up with, and a large number of characters in conjunction with relatively limited time they are around makes it difficult for me to empathise with anyone, especially where emphasis is placed on music rather than personal growth. Conversely, the more intimate, smaller-scale setting of something like Wake Up, Girls! and Locodol proved to be enjoyable, and at the end of the day, I place a much smaller importance on the idols themselves and their music. Instead, I value character development and enjoy watching maturing responses to challenges as a result of their experiences to a much greater extent. Thus, while I’m unlikely to delve into the idol genre, Wake Up, Girls! (and Locodol) remain exceptions because of their focus on the characters’ path in rising above their problems.