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Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol Yattemita: Final Reflection

“If you’re going to do something, strive to do it better than anyone else. Do it all the way. If you’re going to half-ass it, why bother?” ― Ashly Lorenzana

It’s been three months since my last talk on Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol Yattemita (abbreviated Locodol for brevity), which turned out to be one of this season’s most pleasant series. Nanako, Yukari and Yui journeys through their local promotion program, bringing them onto national television, onto a contest for their city mascots, and even gains an additional member, Mirai, to help them out. Their road leads to the Locodol Festival, prompting the Nagarekawa Girls to write their own song, and despite not coming out first at the festival, the Nagarekawa Girls become closer to one another, helping one another appreciate all of their hometown’s specialities. One will invariably wonder how Locodol compares to something like Wake Up, Girls!, and truth be told, the two anime, besides sharing idols as a common theme, are quite distinct from one another: the former involves much less drama and the pressures associated with being an idol, and moreover, the means through which Yukari and Nanako enter the industry is also a lot more personal. Locodol is a gentle show that allows viewers to ease into the idea of idols; if other anime about idols seem unsuitable for viewers, Locodol is the perfect place to start.

  • Here is Saori Nishifukai, Nagarekawa Girls’ manager. Despite harbouring a secret obsession for the Nagerekawa Girls, to the point of maintaining her own fansite, she’s reliable and has the girls’ best interests at heart, offering advice and assistance to them whenever the going gets tough.

  • The art style in Lodocol is nothing special, being quite minimalistic and bears the subtle hint of a cross-cross etching in the landscapes. Though simple, the scenery in and around Nagarekawa is quite friendly, and here, Yukari and Nakako participate in a promotion for the region’s natural resources.

  • Yukari introduces Yui and Nanako to the world’s smallest shrine in order to pray for good luck during their national appearance. It’s not miniature shrine that’s visible to the left, but rather, the small statue of the person with an orange beside it.

  • Nanako’s tendency to stutter leads her to pronounce her name as “Nanyako” on several occasions, and although she is embarrassed by it, her audiences go with it, finding that it adds a certain charm to her character. Despite her shyness, Nanako can become quite involved in her role and deliver solid performances.

  • There are numerous moments in Locodol that evoke laughter from the viewers, such as when Nanako is under the misunderstanding that Yui plans to leave the Nagarekawa Girls for other pursuits. Such moments add a sense of lightheartedness to Locodol, which is significantly more easy-going compared to something like Wake Up, Girls!.

  • Mirai Nazukari is a first year who was drafted to act as Yui’s backup, and despite being worried about underperforming, she is quite competent as a performer. After she joins the Nagarekawa Girls, Nanako tries to bond with her, and the two eventually become friends, leading Mirai to feel more at home with the others.

  • I’m not quite sure what’s happening here (I think it’s the water messing with Uogokoro-kun’s electronic voice modulator), but I found the effect to be quite amusing. The background music in Locodol, like the music in GochiUsa, is gentle, relaxing and quite suited for the atmosphere. It’s been three months since GochiUsa ended, and no soundtrack with the background pieces has ever been released. I’m hoping the same isn’t the case with Locodol, and that the GochiUsa OST is released in due course. Though unremarkable, the music is well-suited for promoting a calmingatmosphere.

  • One of the more subtle things that makes Yui endearing is her speech, in which she adds す to the end of her words. If memory serves, there was a character in Saki with similar tendencies. I’m not capable of ascertaining the differences in Japanese dialects, so I am quite curious to know if this is an actual dialect, or just idiosyncrasy on the character’s part.

  • After overexerting herself, Yukari becomes sick with a fever. Nanako tends to her, and during the process, Yukari recalls that Nanako’s selflessness was what led her to become a Locodol, after encountering the latter when trying to help a lost girl find her mother. Despite losing her position for her actions, Yukari was moved by Nanako and thus, was pleasantly surprised to learn that Nanako had also become a Locodol.

  • No anime about an idol group is complete without the group receiving a new song to perform. In Locodol, Nanako is assigned to write the lyrics while Yukari handles the melody, and Yui manages the choreography. After the song is finalised, Nanako decides that the song should debut at the next local event, rather than reserve it for the Locodol Festival.

At its core, Locodol is about the discovery of local treasures and gathering the courage to share these treasures with other places. When the anime debuted back in July, Nagarekawa was painted as a city with very little unique points going for it. However, after the Nagarekawa Girls is formed, viewers (both in-universe and the show’s audience) get to know Nagarekawa better. As Nanako and Yukari explore various specalities in their town, they discover that everyday, seemingly mundane things are in fact, special in their own right and carry a unique charm to them that they had previously passed over. Similarly, Nanako, Yukari, Yui and Mirai all attend the same school, but until the Locodol project formed the Nagarekawa Girls, they didn’t know each other. This project brought everyone together, leading to a new friendship blossoming. Mirroring the girls’ discovery of local specialities, being members of the Nagarekawa Girls lead everyone to discover friendship in places they would have otherwise overlooked.

  • While Nagarekawa’s citizens are treated to the song, viewers won’t actually get to hear the song until the finale in episode twelve. The Nagarekawa Girls song (hitherto without another name) may feel like a typical J-pop number, but its lyrics capture everyone’s spirits, reflecting on the experiences each of Nanako, Yukari, Yui and Mirai had as Locodols. Earnest and filled with their honesty, the song conveys everyone’s love for Nagarekawa and for one another.

  • As is typical of many of my posts, the images are quite skewed towards the final episodes. I wound up with some eighty-eight images and had to pick twenty for the review (recall that even the Gundam Unicorn: Over The Rainbow talk only had seventy-five images), otherwise, I would be here for quite some time trying to think of figure captions for everything.

  • Watching Yukari and Nanako’s spiel on the croquettes and soda reminds me of the excursion I took today, which marks a week since the Giant Walkthrough Brain presentation. Although there is an assignment, plus research, lesson planning for my tutorial section and a project proposal (that I haven’t even started yet), I took some time during the afternoon to visit Gaucho, a Brazilian BBQ restaurant, with the research lab. The lunch menu included Brazilian-style Garlic Top Sirloin, Rump Steak, Pork Loin, Sausage, Chicken Wings, and Parmesan Beef served from churrasco-style skewer, which was able to I try all of.

  • The Locodol’s purpose is to promote their town and its specialties, so in this sense, the Nagarekawa Girls do a much better job than do the Awa Awa girls, who manage to move all of their merchandise but are unable to promote their own city’s specialities.

  • Everyone celebrates a success after their merchandise sells out by evening. It turns out that the Nagarekawa Girls had a scheduling conflict, with Nagarekawa’s Summer Festival occurring concurrently with the Locodol Festival, throwing a bit of tension into the story. However, Locodol‘s casual atmosphere prevails: Yukari and Nanako resolve to continue on with their performance at the Locodol Festival, and back in Nagarekawa, Nanako’s uncle pulls a few strings to keep the festival going long enough for them to return.

  • Nanako enjoys sweets in a restaurant in between performances with everyone, with a look of pure bliss on her face that evokes memories of Sora no Woto‘s Kanata, who enjoys a toffee with similar results while en route to the Clocktower Fortress. I admit that, yes, sweets are nice (cheesecake and chocolate cake come to mind), but I’m more of a meat-and-potatoes person. On an unrelated note, readers may have realised that this post has no fanservice images of any sort. This is because once Locodol moves further onwards, focus is less about the fanservice and more about growing friendships and responsibilities.

  • After two episodes, the audience finally gets to see Yukari and Nanako perform their new song, which sounds absolutely amazing. While some might consider it implausible for Yukari and Nanako to have performed as well as they did, given that they had only around three months worth of experience, well, first of all, this is an anime, so some disbelief can be suspended, and second, I was able to learn enough Unity3D over three months to put together the software for the Giant Walkthrough Brain in time for the performances.

  • While the Awa Awa Girls win for the second consecutive year, they encourage Nanako and the others to return to Nagarekawa to perform for their own citizens. Over the span of three months, Nanako, Yukari, Yui and Mirai have come quite a long way, winding up on the Locodol Festival stage. Perhaps more so than any other offering this season, Locodol seems to parallel my own summer as far as the Giant Walkthrough Brain goes, so there shouldn’t be any surprises that this anime holds a special place in my library.

  • After their performance, everyone is wasted. I realised that I hadn’t bothered learning Nanako’s friends’ names. To compensate for that, I’ll identify everyone here. Shouko Noda has short burgundy-colored hair and two braids, Satsuki Kashiwaba has blonde hair, Misato Mizumoto has a pony tail and Sumire Mihara is Nanako’s cousin.

  • The Nagarekawa Girls are welcomed warmly upon their return and sing the Nagarekawa song for everyone to wrap up Locodol. All in all, I found the anime to be enjoyable, acting as this season’s easygoing slice-of-life anime. Although unremarkable and thus, passed over by most, Locodol and anime of its genre appear in many seasons for their serenity. Not all anime need to have complex, involved plots or characters to be enjoyable, and after a long day’s work, such anime is precisely what the doctor ordered.

Ultimately, Locodol leads the Nagarekawa Girls to a major competition. While they do not win, they are able to leave an impression on the festival’s attendees. In the pre-show, Nagarekawa manages to sell all of its local specialities, illustrating how far they’ve come in understanding their town’s offerings and present it to the world. Compare and contrast this with the Awa-Awa Girls, who only sell their merchandise but fail to move their own city’s merchandise. As a whole, the Nagarekawa Girls are able to convey their love for Nagarekawa and showcase the best of their town. Through Locodol, I am reminded of my own city’s attractions; Nagarekawa might have the Nagarekawa Girls, but my city has Beakerhead. As Nanako and Yukari prepared for the Locodol Competition, I was fine tuning the software that was powering the Giant Walkthrough Brain. The opening night was last Friday, and a week ago, I decided to take the Saturday off and took an afternoon stroll at the city centre under sunny skies, before making my way to the La Dolce Vita Ristorante, where I shared a Crazy Calabrese and San Francesco with my supervisor and the Free Radical’s lead vocalist before we made our way to the Telus Spark Science Centre. Our performance turned out remarkably well, and this week, when I watched Nanako and Yukari perform, I was quite impressed to see just how far they’d come since Locodol began. There’s an OVA airing next week that will formally mark the close of Locodol, and depending on whether or not my graduate studies workload overwhelms me, I’ll try to have a talk out for it by next Saturday.

Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol Yattemita: Review and Impressions After Three

As of 2013, tourism constitutes around 1 percent of Canada’s GDP, and this figure is expected to grow in the future. Canada is blessed with an incredibly diverse range of geographical features, ranging from the old growth rainforests in Western British Columbia, to the Rocky Mountains and East Coast; international visitors travel around Canada to experience these landscapes. Besides landscapes, there are also historical and cultural attractions to explore in Canada’s major cities. Canada probably won’t experience a tourism decline to the same magnitude as Nagarekawa, a problem that Nanako’s uncle, one of the municipal officers in the area, is tasked with figuring out how to rectify. He comes up with the notion of “Locodols”, or Local Idols,  thus beginning Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol Yattemita ( lit. “Normal High School Girls Tried Being Local Idols”, abbreviated “Locodol” for short), which sees Nanako Usami’s participation in the Locodol program together with Yukari Kohinata.

  • I’m coming right out of a talk about how K-On! had a non-trivial influence on anime, and to drive that point home, I’ll kick off with a post about Locodol, which fits in with the artistic and stylistic choices that were so prevalent in K-On!. Besides music, the characters have a moé design to them, and their interactions are meant to give them an endearing feeling.

  • Unfortunately, at this stage in time, I only know the names of the Locodols, and as such, I have no idea who Nanako’s friends are. Nanako is characterised by her shyness at times, but when she’s got her mind on something, she can also be determined, as well.

  • Nanako’s mother and uncle are shown here: for the want of a swimsuit so she may attend the local swimming pool’s grand re-opening, Nanako agrees to help her uncle in promoting interest for the Nagarekawa region and kicks off the entire program.

  • Yukari is one year Nanako’s senior and takes an immediate liking to the latter; Yukari comes across as giving off a mature aura not dissimilar to Lucky Star‘s Miyuki Takara and Girls und Panzer‘s Hana Izusu, all of whom have an elegant air about them.

  • Despite getting stagefright and losing her place in a presentation quite easily, Nanako nonetheless manages to make the most of her debut performance. The two successfully captivate the pool’s attendees by singing Nagarekawa’s theme song. Compare and contrast this with Calgary’s theme song, which is one of the few cities I know of to actually have their own song.

  • Yukari and Nanako’s first performance also marks the beginning of a new friendship. Locodol is a four-panel manga that began in 2011, and as such, it is hardly any surprise that it has the feel of a laid-back, easygoing anime. In response to those who believe that moé anime are harmful to the industry, I would say that as long as the four-panel manga format exists, moé anime will exist.

  • This is because the four-panel format is intended to convey a sense of comedy, rather like Alfonso Wong’s Old Master Q comics; the Old Master Q series were largely about humorous situations, but also occasionally gave social commentary on Hong Kong society between the 60s and 80s. Returning to Locodol, Yukari comments that their role as local idols might be better seen as community service, as they are working towards promoting awareness of the Nagarekawa region in addition to entertaining audiences.

  • One of the girls’ earliest assignments after performing at the pool’s re-opening is to review local cuisine; Nanako remarks that this could be fun and imagines herself with Yukari, reviewing upscale steak, before wondering about her relative lack of table manners. On the day of filming, she is shocked to learn that the vendor they’ll be reviewing first is someone she finds scary.

  • Despite her initial reservations, Nanako thoroughly enjoys the sweets the vendor makes, giving him an honest, glowing review and bringing to mind Minami’s (of Wake Up, Girls!) excitement wherever food is concerned.

  • Nanako pays Yukari a visit; because the latter’s never had friends visit before, she decides to go all out in making Nanako’s stay as enjoyable as possible. It is here that viewers find out that Yukari’s family has an affluent background, and during the course of the visit, enjoys conversation with Nanako.

As the first of the new reflections/review format, we consider what Locodol has done three episodes in, rather than immediately after the series starts, and at the end, decide if this is something I will continue following. Insofar, Nanako and Yukari have participated in some of the same things as WUG in Wake Up, Girls!, including reviewing local cusines and acting as the image for services in Nagarekawa. As an idol anime, Locodol plays things with a significantly more easy-going feel compared to Wake Up, Girls!: the latter presented a gritter take on the entertainment industry, but in Locodol, because Nanako’s uncle is the manager and director for tourism, the family and political connections means that Nanako and Yukari get to sing and dance at their own pace without the demands of a cut-throat industry. Thus, Locodol depicts none of the sleeze and challenges seen in Wake Up, Girls!, instead, falling back on comedy to drive things forwards. Between the comedy and propensity towards fanservice, Locodol manages to keep things interesting thus far.

  • This is the owner of the store from earlier; thanks to Nanako and Yukari, he’s seen a boost in business and is immensely thankful for their efforts. Strictly speaking, the concept of local idols would work rather nicely for small towns

  • Uogokoro-kun is introduced in the third episode as Nagarekawa’s mascot, designed to evoke the area’s vast water resources. Despite appearing a little off-putting at first, Uogokoro-kun soon grows on viewers. A problem with the voice module means that the individual in this suit will sound a little funny, but on their first appearance, Yukari manages to pass it off as a cold, giving the children a solid impression of both the idols and Uogokoro-kun.

  • It turns out that Uogokoro-kun’s operator is eighteen-year-old Yui Mikoze, who wishes to be an idol despite her fear of facing an audience. To this end, she prefers being in costume, entertaining audiences with her flips and later on, break-dancing.

  • Despite being older than Nanako, Yui feels that because she’s been an idol longer, Nanako is the senior, even though at school, Nanako regards Yui as the senior. Upon closer inspection, note the washing-out and light texturing in the backgrounds, and how the characters are coloured normally with a greater intensity. This style could be deliberate to place an emphasis on the characters, who are the stars of the show (as opposed to the scenery).

  • Nanako feels a little locked out of the loop after learning that they’ve now an official group name: “Nagarekawa Girls”. Originally set to be named “Nagarekawa Dynamite Girls”, it seems that Nanako’s uncle managed to talk his higher ups out of that to go with the simpler name. By this point in time, despite having performed at a few events, Nanako still seems a little uncomfortable with seeing her images over the local news.

  • Nanako’s friends do not see her as being an idol: in Japan, idols are manufactured stars who have some talent in music and performing arts, intended to act as good role models for their audiences. However, lacking a uniform and the kawaii personality, Nanako feels more like an ordinary high school student; this is the series’ full title, and I look forward to seeing what the girls perform in the future.

  • With a formal name and uniforms, Nagarekawa Girls finally begins to take shape: I will refer to them as such thence, since it beats typing out Yukari and Nanako’s names everytime; should the group grow, it will become even more cumbersome.

  • The dark conditions do not arise from a capturing fault on my part: on the day of their performance, it’s overcast, and shortly into the show, the rain hits, prompting the audience to take cover from the performance. It strikes me as a little strange, but Yukari, Yui and Nanako have had minimal practise. Despite this, they put on a solid performance that captivates the viewers, at least until rainfall.

  • Spurred on by the moment, Nanako strips to her swimsuit and does the same to Yukari; I’ve opted to choose the screenshots that are the most acceptable provided the blog’s aim to remain family-friendly, and as such, closeups of Yukari’s assets, however pleasing to the eye they might be, won’t typically be included. Readers wishing to see more of that sort of thing are always free to put in requests, and I’ll include more screenshots of such 😉

  • By rising to the occasion, Nanako turns their performance around and raises the audience’s spirits. Even while riding under the stress of being funded by taxpayer money, Nagarekawa Girls nonetheless exceed expectations. Thus ends this post: next up will be talks on Rail Wars! and Deer Hunter 2014, to be completed before the week ends. As it stands now, I’ve fallen quite far behind in the Summer 2014 anime, so I’ll prioritise getting a talk out for Rail Wars! first, since those are pretty rare. Sword Art Online II and Aldnoah.Zero are this season’s heavy hitters and are reasonably well-covered, so I’ll wait until the dust settles before offering my own thoughts on those series. The timeline for those will be early August, which will also see a talk on Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket.

After three episodes, it does not seem likely that the entertainment industry’s dark side will make an appearance here, so Locodol will probably fulfil the role that GochiUsa held for the Spring 2014 season, acting as a friendly, warm series that brings joy to those who are seeking such an anime. Of course, one must wonder what is likely to happen in the future: logically, the scale of the concerts will become greater, and as episode three already sees the inclusion of a new member, Yui Mikoze, it’s also likely that additional idols could join. However, as Yukari mentions, the small size of Nagarekawa Girls is its current advantage right now, giving the group a more closely-knit feeling to it. Moreover, insofar, despite their jobs, Yukari and Nanako still feel like ordinary high school students, so it’ll be quite interesting to see how they adapt to their roles as idols. For the present, though, I’m quite content to continue following Locodol and seeing where things go.