The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Minami Katayama

Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter!- Final Review and Reflections

“I believed there were three ways of making people happy. First, there were people who could make lots of people around the world happy. Then, there are people who could make those around them happy, and finally, people could make themselves happy. But now, I understand: by making others happy, we make ourselves happy.” –Mayu Shimada

With WUG’s National Tour jeopardised by the release of a new V-Idol, which is set to perform at Sendai Stadium and produce a scheduling conflict, WUG nonetheless continue to work hard in their own manner as Junko and Kouhei attempt to sort things out – the girls create mini-concerts in and around Sendai to try and generate interest in their upcoming Sendai performance, all the while continuing to work on lyrics for the song that Tasuku had given them. Miyu decides to feature an idol group she enjoys on her web show, and the girls begin considering a nation-wide Idol performance, leading Mayu to realise that idol groups can inspire one another, much like how each member of WUG had a profound impact on one another. When they present Tasuku with their completed song, “Polaris”, he agrees to give them the music, impressed with their effort and skill. However, problems continue with WUG’s final performance venue, and Mayu also finds herself trying to help Shiho find her feet. Through her advice, things eventually result in Shiho deciding to decline an offer to return to I-1 as its centre and taking up a role with her group, Next Storm. When WUG learn that they are given an open field to perform in, they immediately set about cleaning the site up and setting it up to give their audiences the best possible experience. Meanwhile, Ayumi and her friends, long having watched from the sidelines, are asked to step up and perform alongside WUG at their concert. Taking on the name Run Girls, Run!, they put their best into practise for their segment, which, despite difficulties, goes well on the day of the concert. WUG subsequently takes the stage with their performance, and across the nation, other idol groups similarly enchant their audiences. These concerts across Japan lead Tōru Shiraki to wonder why Tasuku had set in motion all this by encouraging WUG, and he replies that it’s more interesting this way. Following the concert, WUG and Run Girls, Run! continue training to bring happiness to their audiences.

As a proper sequel to Wake Up, Girls!, New Chapter!‘s main challenge was presenting the path that WUG had taken after establishing themselves; Wake Up, Girls!‘ magic lie in showing how Mayu and the others overcame the obstacles on their journey to become idols, and a considerable part of the appeal was how the girls’ persistence and determination led them to make their mark. The second season could no longer wield the same magic, as this story had already been spent in the first. While New Chapter! continues to emphasise that WUG’s strength lay in the group’s unity, the sequel simultaneously took a step in a different direction in Ayumi and Run Girls, Run! – the anime depicts a passing on of the torch from the veterans in WUG to Ayumi and her friends. Having worked hard in their own right, Run Girls Run! was born from the juniors proving their worth to their seniors and managers: they are given a chance to perform. Their journey is not littered with the challenges that Mayu and the others experienced during their start – they start on the shoulders of giants and are working with a group that has paved the way, who have already learned the basics, so they can inherit their lessons. This is not to trivialise the difficulties that Ayumi and her friends experienced – watching them reach a point where they could perform alongside WUG, speaks volumes to just how much they’ve grown over the course of New Chapter!

Beyond Run, Girls, Run!, New Chapter! also deals with the path that WUG take now that they’ve matured as a group: besides looking after juniors and helping them discover the joys that make being an idol worthwhile, they also turn their attention inwards when Tasuku presents them with a song to write. With a blank slate, the girls wonder how their experiences could feed into the song, and the fact that they encountered difficulties in writing illustrate that WUG take their work seriously. While each member of WUG now understand and depend on one another, they occasionally still have their differences, and seeing this is what leads them to realise that this is what best defines their group. With a concrete handle on what makes WUG, WUG, Mayu and the others turn this understanding into a means of promoting idols across Japan even as the V-Idol fad begins taking over. The simultaneous concerts held, in light of the V-Idol reveal, bring people together and hold their attention, as well as rekindling the novelty that human idols can bring into a performance: this is best symbolised during the final performance. When a snowstorm threatens to disrupt the hardware driving the performance, the V-Idol falters where WUG improvise. While it is perhaps a bit optimistic of New Chapter! to suppose that old-fashioned spirit and spunk can hold its own against technology, the message in New Chapter! is a warming one, reminding audiences that in spite of technological innovation, there isn’t quite a suitable substitute for the human touch.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In this finale post, I have the customary thirty screenshots so that a wider range of topics may be covered. As the girls excitedly discuss their performance plans in their tour, I will diverge and address one of the elephants in the room: Tōru Shiraki and I-1 Club are completely absent from my proceedings, as are the antics of Kuniyoshi Ōta. For Kuniyoshi, his vociferous rallies do little in contributing to the themes in Wake Up, Girls!, and while intended to show that WUG has its proponents in cyberspace supporting them, I found Kuniyoshi’s inclusion in New Chapter! to be a vestigial trait remaining from the first season.

  • As for Tōru and I-1 Club, their moments in New Chapter! are present for the same reason they figured in the first season: compared to WUG, I-1 Club follows a highly structured, highly disciplined approach towards performances, and as such, lack the same human attributes as WUG. Here, WUG prepare for a photo-shoot with a photographer who had previously worked with Yoshino: the results are quite nice, fuelling WUG’s excitement in their upcoming performances.

  • Amidst ongoing concerns about ticket sales, WUG nonetheless work their hardest. Over time, Ayumi, Itsuka and Otome begin receiving rudimentary training as well. Unlike WUG, who started from almost nothing, Ayumi and her friends have a bit of a base to work from; WUG support them, and some of the trainers working with WUG are also willing to provide instruction for them. Their start is a bit smoother than WUG’s, attesting to how much of a difference having something to start from can make. Ayumi, Itsuka and Otome thus became the focus for one of the new messages that were presented in New Chapter!.

  • This moment succinctly captures what being in WUG means: a major part of the sincerity that I find in WUG is their resolute determination to see their tasks through. The group is very hands-on with respect to how they solve problems – throughout the first season, WUG persisted through remarkably difficult situations, and by the events of New Chapter!, they take problems in stride, turning negatives around and make the most of things. This theme had already been explored in full earlier, so in the second season, one of the things I was looking for was whether or not New Chapter! could introduce a new message that could only be delivered with a group that has had some experience.

  • In order to drive up interest and sales, WUG begin performing in public venues; this particular endeavour comes from the girls’ own initiatives. Through these free performances, their faces and names become a bit more familiar to Sendai’s residents, and slowly, sales begin to turn around.

  • One of the main challenges WUG faced internally was coming up with lyrics for the new song that Tasuku had offered them, and while this was not presented until later in New Chapter!, the journey that WUG take towards crafting suitable lyrics formed the basis for the second new theme that New Chapter! introduces. Evidently, song-writing is no easy task, leaving each of Miyu, Mayu, Kaya, Yoshino, Nanami, Airi and Minami stumped as they try to work out lyrics that best capture the spirit of WUG.

  • When Miyu meets up with Namahagez, declaring it a “Day of Idols”, it inspires the others to spread the word and put on performances of their own to coincide with the I-1 Club performance. The Namahagez speak volumes to the sort of influence that WUG has in inspiring other units: they remained together to perform after seeing the strength in WUG’s unity. It’s been quite some time since I’ve done any mention of other idol groups, if at all, so to bring readers up to speed, the Namahagez were an amateur group who performed with a unique flair during the first season and originally inspired Miyu to continue with WUG. The group later professed a desire to call it quits, but seeing Miyu and WUG prompted them to carry on.

  • Wake Up, Girlswas originally conceived as a part of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake recovery efforts in Sendai, and while the franchise remains in the shadows of giants, its unique origins and set up has certainly made me a supporter of WUG’s efforts in reality. Imagery of the earthquake and tsunami remain unimaginably haunting. In the time since the disaster, the Sendai area is still struggling to rebuild and recover: while reconstruction is occurring, and jobs are on the rise, the region has seen a drop in population. While Wake Up, Girls! never mentions the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake directly, the lead voice actors in Wake Up, Girls! were brought together by the disaster and work hard to generate interest in Sendai with their performances, which is a contributor to the recovery effort.

  • WUG travel to Tokyo in preparation for their performances here, and Mayu takes the time to find Shiho such that they might meet properly. While Shiho continues to view Mayu as little more than a professional rival, Mayu regards Shiho in a cordial fashion and so, is willing to step up to help out when the need arises. After meeting up with Shiho to discuss her situation, Mayu manages to convince Junko to arrange a meeting between her and Tōru.

  • Mayu’s meeting with Tōru goes sideways: he is unyielding and admits that idols are meant to be perfect entertainers, whereas Mayu considers idols as human beings, first and foremost. This difference in mindset is what allows WUG to separate itself from I-1 Club: while I-1 Club may have branding behind it, WUG’s music is delivered with genuine feelings and sincerity. It is for this reason that each of WUG’s performances are distinct and memorable, and why all of their songs are so enjoyable – in-universe, I-1’s dropping sales are likely the consequence of their content being too manufactured, too derivative and clearly mass-produced.

  • While the meeting might have failed, Shiho calls Mayu and reassures Mayu that she’s alright now, having committed to sticking it out with NEXT STORM. The meeting also had unforeseen consequences when a tabloid runs a bit of what is now called “fake news”, speculating that Mayu was trying to re-join I-1 Club. It speaks volumes to just how focussed WUG are when the girls don’t even flinch to this bit of gossip. They turn their attention to their own problems, and here, I’ve got a screenshot of Junko throttling Kouhei for Tōru’s actions: she’s concerned that the news might negatively impact sales to a much greater extent than the girls themselves.

  • Kouhei manages to secure a performance venue close to Sendai Airport, and having taken a look around the area, there definitely are several empty fields that could accommodate a large crowd. Back home, the Scotia Bank Saddledome is the go-to venue for the sort of concerts that WUG might perform. I’ve never actually been to live concerts at the Saddledome before on account that my taste in music is quite far removed from the sort of thing that is performed there: the Jack Singer Concert Hall and Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium are host to the kind of music that I enjoy.

  • While Junko laments the expense of setting up the location to accommodate an audience, WUG are thrilled at the site’s size, feeling that the empty land will allow them to set up a venue that will best suit their audience. It speaks to WUG’s talents for improvisation and making the most of any moment when this is their immediate impression: adversity has definitely given the girls an adaptive mindset, and when things get tough, they simply respond by getting creative.

  • It was therefore very encouraging to see the girls scatter into the fields, plainly pleased with the setting, and as they begin clearing the field of detritus, Ayumi and her friends arrive to assist, suggesting that WUG rehearse with the time that they’ve got. Ayumi, Itsuka and Otome have come a long ways from being mere fans, and the pursuit of their dreams have led them to become closer to WUG than they’d anticipated.

  • It is through Miyu’s web show that word of a nation-wide performance from various idol groups begin materialising, and the girls feel that, in response to the V-Idol concert, traditional idol groups should deliberately perform. This initiative is the culmination of the learnings that WUG has experienced both internally and from their performances previously: that they are willing to drive disruption is a strong indicator of how far they’ve come, as well as indicating that they understand their identity by this point in time.

  • The amount of sweat and tears Ayumi and her friends have poured into helping WUG, while all the while learning the basics of performance on top of their academics, have not gone unnoticed. While most of this happens off-screen, their inextinguishable zeal to make a difference and do their best is seen in the moments that they are present, and so, wanting to give them a chance, Yoshino and the others decide that Ayumi and her friends have earned a place alongside WUG on stage during their performance.

  • Junko initially feels that the difference in experience between WUG and Ayumi’s group is such that she wouldn’t be able to justify charging for the latter’s performance: there’s a certain level of professionalism involved here. However, when the girls reveal their role in starting the Wake Up, Idol! programme, which is meant to include all idols, Junko relents and assigns them to perform as WUG’s opening act. For her objections, Junko had in fact been planning to give Ayumi and her friends their first song to perform with.

  • Their surprise in this assignment soon gives way to stress, but with WUG’s help, they begin preparing for their first ever performance. Ayumi, Itsuka and Otome become christened “Run Girls, Run!”, after the fact that they’ve always been running around to their destinations, and after setting up their introductions, their unit name sticks. It’s a nice name, and while I’ve chosen to spell their group name out in full each and every time here, if there is a continuation, I’ll likely stick with RGR.

  • On the day of their performance, Run Girls, Run! run into the oft-encountered problem of nerves, and they botch their introduction. However, with some encouragement, they regroup and properly deliver their introduction to the assembled viewers. Prior to their performance, each member of WUG give them the scrunchies they’d made earlier from their old uniforms, symbolic of their act in passing on the torch to the juniors.

  • While they’re not the main event, it was nonetheless a joy to watch Run Girls, Run! perform for the first time. Even though there are imperfections in their routine (they bump into one another, become desynchronised and mis-step), they do their best in spite of all this and impress the audience, both in-show and from my end, setting the stage for WUG’s event. It’s a far cry from the unattended first performance that WUG had in the park during winter when they first debuted.

  • As WUG take the stage and perform their best songs, from 7 Girls War to Tachiagare and 7 Senses, I’m going to share with viewers a bit of a personal story that takes me back to Wake Up, Girls! original run in 2014. This is quite unlike anything I’ve done before, and I remark that this story is why I consider Wake Up, Girls!, its movies and New Chapter! to be a masterpiece despite the highly visible technical shortcomings within the anime. For readers who take the time to actually read figure captions, there’s a bit of an interesting personal story below.

  • While I had been curious about Wake Up, Girls! during the winter 2014 anime season, a glance at my site archives shows that I was following a large number of other series at the time. I was doing open studies at the time, taking a combination of courses in preparation for either a future as a graduate student or for medical school. Mid-semester, I was having what one might consider to be a existential crisis, and amidst decisions of which direction to take, as well as grappling with matters of the heart, things were looking quite miserable at the time: my degree in bioinformatics meant I felt like I had neither enough medical knowledge to meet basic qualifications for medical school, nor did I feel as though I had enough knowledge about computer science to be an acceptable software developer.

  • During this time, I was enrolled in my supervisor’s advanced iOS programming class, and one of the highlights about this course is that there are a large number of presentations from guest speakers. The one that most resonated with me was the talk on start-up companies and what it took to make it as a start-up: my perspectives opened up, and I gained a bit of insight into the sort of mindset that entrepreneurs must have. At the time, I did not entertain thoughts of working for a start-up, feeling that it was a bit of a risk to do so (I’ve never been much of a risk-taker).

  • There’s no correlation between this particular guest lecturer’s moving presentation and my decision to pick up Wake Up, Girls!, but when I did begin watching it, I saw in WUG the sort of drive and determination, as well as the willingness to put the team ahead of the individual, that folks working at a start-up must have as a part of their character. Watching the girls mature and grow was superbly rewarding, and acted as an inspiration for me to do the same. With encouragement and support from my supervisor, I ended up going to graduate school.

  • The Giant Walkthrough Brain project was also announced shortly after Wake Up, Girls! ended, and my supervisor offered me a role in helping with the project. Having been unsuccessful in applying for summer work as a developer elsewhere, I decided to seize the opportunity and be all I could be as a software developer there. Thus, I took up Unity and learned C# on my journey to build the Giant Walkthrough Brain; late in the summer, I began watching Locodol, and in it, I realised that working under my supervisor was very similar to the environment seen in Locodol: Yukari and Nanako both work hard to accomplish their goals, but they work in a controlled environment that allows for failure while simultaneously allowing the two to grow and mature. This connection is why I enjoyed Locodol to the extent that I have.

  • If Locodol represents the environment of university, then Wake Up, Girls! is intended to depict what working in the real world is like. The comparison was very humbling, and I understood that after graduate school, I would be dealing very much with the latter. In spite of that, watching the energy and resolve of WUG proved to be a strong source of inspiration, and today, I’m working at a start-up company with the goal of leaving behind a tangible, positive impact on society with the skill set that I’ve developed over the past several years.

  • I see a bit of myself in WUG and their experiences, so from a subjective perspective, I count Wake Up, Girls! to be a masterpiece for being a positive catalyst, partially influencing the direction that I chose to take in life. It’s bloody hard work, and I admit it is scary when each and every day, I ask myself as to whether or not I’ll still have a job tomorrow. On the flipside, it’s meaningful and fulfilling work to be writing iOS apps for a purpose that will make things better for others, so as long as I can, I’m going to do just this.

  • Hence, while Wake Up, Girls! has shortcomings in each of its seasons, it’s also a bit more of a personal connection on my end, so I’ve been finding ways to enjoy this series in my own manner. For all of the complaints about the animation, there are occasionally some moments where this doesn’t matter, such as during those scenes when the girls perform. In the finale, one subtle detail that stands out in New Chapter!‘s final performance is that, in response to the cold weather, the girls’ fingertips turn a shade of pink during their concert, and their breath is visible.

  • A snowstorm begins midway through WUG’s performance, affecting electronics and even threatening the V-Idol concert. Undeterred by the malfunction in their audio equipment, the girls step into the audience area and begin dancing, showing that they’ve mastered the art of taking things in stride and improvising. This is a curious parallel to the thunderstorm that knocked out power to the Banff Center during the first-ever Giant Walkthrough Brain performance: Jay Ingram seamlessly weaved the power outage into his narrative, and audiences enjoyed the improvisation, which transitioned flawlessly back into the script once power was restored.

  • Because Wake Up, Girls! has a bit more of a personal connection for me, I offer no verdict or final score in New Chapter! because I’ve got my predispositions and biases: I found New Chapter! to be superbly enjoyable even if it was rushed, and sincere even when the animation is not satisfactory. With this, my discussions on New Chapter! draw to a close, and looking ahead to the future, I feel that Wake Up, Girls! has accomplished its initial goals, in both the anime and for the cast providing the voices. The story’s come to a reasonable stopping point: that the final scene depicts a board with the words that “this story is only the beginning” might hint at a continuation, but it also can be seen as saying that WUG’s actions have set in motion many beginnings for many people, bringing happiness to others as Mayu has described.

No discussion of Wake Up, Girls! can be complete without some mention of the visuals, and while it is quite easy to note that Millepensee’s execution of New Chapter! is amateur compared to even that of their predecessors, New Chapter! nonetheless manages to retain the spirit and messages conveyed as effectively as Wake Up, Girls! did during its first season. A solid performance from each of the cast continues to engage viewers even where the visual elements are sub-optimal, and similarly, the sincerity of the narrative offsets the uneven, rough pacing of the story throughout New Chapter!. In a manner of speaking, the execution of Wake Up, Girls! has always been similar to the experiences WUG encountered: although their performances and approach might lack finesse, each of Mayu, Yoshino, Miyu, Kaya, Airi, Nanami and Minami genuinely put forth their best efforts for their audiences. Likewise, the sincerity is evident in the voice actors’ performances for their characters. Wake Up, Girls! is unlikely to become a powerhouse comparable to juggernauts like Love Live! and IdolM@ster, similar to how WUG and I-1 remain in different leagues, but as far as sincerity and honesty goes, there is a certain joy in Wake Up, Girls! that makes the series enjoyable even in light of all of the technical limitations present within. The sequel, New Chapter!, is no different, inheriting the same characteristics as its predecessor; while it’s got the same faults, New Chapter! also manages to continue doing the things that made the first season enjoyable and provided new aspects to illustrate what ultimately was beyond the bottom for WUG.

Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! Review and Reflection at the ¾ Mark

“When you are doing something neat, and you’re doing it with neat people, and there is that convergence, something amazing will happen.” —Rony Abovitz

Ayumi, Itsuka and Otome manage to persuade Junko and Kouhei to take them on as idols-in-training. They are initially assigned to menial tasks, such as handing out fliers for WUG. They find the work to be exhausting and consider throwing in the towel, but when Junko reminds them that an idol’s duty is to smile, Ayumi recalls Mayu’s comments about idols working to ensure that others smile, as well. Encouraged, Ayumi and her friends step it up, handing out more fliers and generating interest amongst some of the people they speak with. They later meet up with WUG proper and formally introduce themselves to the group. When Kouhei and Junko learn that their performance was accidentally scheduled for the same date as I-1’s performance, WUG strives to nonetheless put in their strongest to ensure a successful concert. In one of their performances, Yoshino notices some members of the audience distracted by his phone and feels disheartened, wondering if they can truly capture everyone’s spirits, but Mayu believes that they should work on encouraging more viewers to enjoy their performances. Later, Tasuku gets in touch with WUG and announces that he’s giving them a song for free provided that they can come up with the lyrics. While the girls struggle to come up with the lyrics, pressures from their duties cause them to clash with one another. In spite of this, they manage to make up, and Mayu realises that their experiences form the core of WUG, which they can draw upon to convey within their song.

New Chapter! has certainly managed to keep things moving with its concurrent narratives between WUG and the middle school students; by the three quarters mark, the narratives have finally merged as Ayumi and her friends begin supporting WUG in their own manner, learning more about their role models as they embrace the idea of working their hardest to bring smiles to others. As we progress into the final episodes of New Chapter!, it’s clear that WUG is very much capable of taking things in stride – old conflicts that appeared were promptly sorted out, and the girls come to realise that this is the magic within their group. With their national tour coming up, and the groundwork for their new song taking shape, New Chapter! is shifting into high gear as its final quarter appears. Compared to its predecessors, New Chapter! comes across as being a bit busier with its narrative. There’s definitely a great deal going on, and the story flows quite quickly, covering many elements with each episode. New Chapter! feels quite rushed, and it is the case that things might have been better spaced out over twenty four episodes. With this being said, New Chapter! is paced such that audiences might also appreciate the sort of chaos and busy nature associated with being an idol; in this department, the anime is quite successful at conveying this to viewers.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This post was originally intended to come out last week, where the ninth episode was set to release. However, with episode seven being a live-action special in place of the episode, the tenth episode ended up being at New Chapter!‘s three-quarters mark. Offering a commentary on New Chapter! insofar and providing a short quiz show with the voice actors, the seventh episode is counted as such in documentation, suggesting that the series will only have eleven episodes proper if it is following a twelve episode release.

  • Ayumi and her friends’ persistence eventually forces Junko to relent, and she reluctantly allows Kouhei to assign the girls with handing out fliers to promote WUG events. By this point in the series, I’ve come to accept that anything resembling industry-standard animation quality from Millepensee is quite unlikely considering their existing work: New Chapter!‘s strengths come instead from the sincerity in the characters, who alone make this sequel worth watching.

  • Smiling in the face of adversity is what being an idol means, and Ayumi comes to learn this after managing to bring smiles to some children and their parents, who take an interest in WUG’s performances. There’s definitely more to being an idol than a good smile, but at the end of the day, regardless of what occupation one is in, it boils down to one’s resolve, determination to put forth their best and persistence against the odds. Mayu and the others have climbed this path during Wake Up, Girls! original run, and this aspect was the main factor in why the first season was so enjoyable.

  • It suddenly strikes me that I’ve not introduced any of the juniors formally: from left to right, we have Itsuka Atsugi, Otome Morishima and Ayumi Hayashi. Itsuka is a capable dancer and is a fan of I-1, being the most taciturn of the three, while Otome is most at home with singing and is generally fond of idols. I know Ayumi best for being starstruck whenever Mayu is involved: unlike the others, she’s quite shy, although she has a modicum of skill in both singing and dancing. Each of the girls take their surnames from that of their respective voice actor’s.

  • Compared to its predecessor, New Chapter! places a reduced emphasis on interpersonal challenges and instead, focuses on the new difficulties that WUG face even after they’ve made a small splash in the idol industry. Instead of the group working out their internal differences, the goal now is to figure out how to make their presence known and survive in a field that is particularly harsh. Even with their unified wishes to succeed, it takes WUG’s collective know-how and effort to devise means of surviving – this is what New Chapter! places its focus on.

  • I remark that a mark of a capable individual is one who does not see a task as being below them. Instead, people earn respect by doing the simple, often menial jobs well, which shows that they are committed to what they do and thus, are capable of handling the responsibility of larger tasks. At my workplace, while I’m largely a Swift developer, I am also ready to wash the dishes or sweep up as required at my workplace. That Ayumi and the others are willing to take on these jobs similarly show their commitment towards starting out as idols, even if Junko really is just taking advantage of their naïveté.

  • WUG perform a short and sweet song for a local supermarket that I found to be quite engaging and adorable, and I hope this song makes it onto any future WUG albums. The style brings to mind the commercials I saw on television while in Japan – compared to the advertisements back home, Japanese commercials are more friendly and inviting, focusing on the products themselves, while North American advertisements seem to be intended for projecting a certain image associated with a product. It’s why I’m not particularly fond of advertisements, unless they’re movie trailers or for food products: these are the only advertisements that I watch through to completion on YouTube channels.

  • When WUG discover that their ticket sales are lagging, they become discouraged, only for Junko to remind them to focus on their practises and putting on a top-class performance. While the smaller size of Green Leaves Entertainment means that the hierarchy is a bit flatter, similar to that of a start-up. Nonetheless, having a chain of command is important so people can focus on their tasks: management can worry about sales and marketing, while WUG should remain dedicated towards their own assignments. Not shown in this post is Junko kicking Kouhei’s face in.

  • From a distance, the CG is less noticeable, although it still stands out from the traditional animation of the other scenes, having a slightly different frame-rate and texture that is apparent even at lower resolutions. At full 1080p, it feels like I’m playing Enter The Matrix again, a game who similarly was stymied by its weak visuals despite a strong narrative. While it’s difficult for me to say that I prefer New Chapter!‘s animation style over that of the original Wake Up, Girls!, I can say that the animation isn’t so poor that I’ll drop New Chapter! solely because of some uncanny valley moments.

  • While their performance proceeds quite smoothly, Yoshino notices at least one individual who’s on his cell phone during their show, but Mayu reassures her that because their duty is to bring smiles to as many people as they can, rather than everyone in attendance, they’ve done what they set out to accomplish in this concert. Throughout New Chapter!, I-1’s sales are shown to be dropping, and virtual idols are becoming popular with the advances in mobile hardware making it possible to carry digital idols in their own pockets.

  • When Tasuku sends WUG a new song, he sets them the condition that they can freely use the song however they please provided that they can write the lyrics for it. This comes after Kouhei’s persistent attempts to get in touch with Tasuku, who is having difficulty finding the motivation to write songs for his current clients. He flashes back to a time when he left another group, claiming that he didn’t feel like continuing, after fielding the same justification to those he’s currently working with. Perhaps exhausted by the industry, he leaves for America, but his decision to help WUG suggests that he views them as a beacon of hope in a stagnant industry.

  • Writing the lyrics for the new song that Tasuku has sent them proves to be quite a formidable challenge; the girls are struggling to write the lyrics, striving to find time between all of their practices, everyday duties and independent work. Mayu herself falls asleep shortly after arriving home, and the others decide to let her rest, appreciating the effort and committment she’s shown towards all of her responsibilities.

  • I don’t think I’ve introduced them until now; the group Twinkle (Anna and Karina, named after a Danish-French actress), seen in the foreground, are friends of Junko and have been helping WUG with writing some of their songs. When WUG comes to them for advice, they remark that there’s really nothing to teach them and offer that songs written from the bottom of one’s heart have the most impact.

  • My own preferences in music are characterised by a profound enjoyment in music that can tell a story and/or evoke a powerful image in my mind. I’m drawn to a good soundtrack because the music makes me feel a certain way about things, while good vocal songs can paint in my head a vivid picture. In general, I am not fond of pop music from the 90s and later, primarily because these songs use a simple beat and melody that creates repetition, in turn detracting from any messages or imagery the song attempts to convey. Catchy is not what I look for in good music, and hooks are less important to a meaningful song compared to the sound in the entire track, although not everyone will share this particular view of music.

  • Episode ten opens with Nanami announcing that she’s got a new job to work with children, while Minami is assigned to speak with a rather well-known individual. Both face unique challenges in their positions, and a combination of stress, plus miscommunications, lead the two into a disagreement with one another.

  • Having worked with children at a Chinese-language school, I can say that I’m generally a fan of children, provided that they’re well-behaved. Well-behaved children are magic, and it’s always a blast to work with them and watch them engage in their activities, while ill-behaved children are a bloody nightmare to deal with. Nanami is forced to deal with the latter, and I’ve heard that good behaviour in children comes from parents leading by example, providing positive reinforcement and disciplining them when required. When I was much younger, I definitely was a bloody nightmare, but once my parents worked out with my primary school instructors what was happening, they encouraged me to put my energy into reading and learning.

  • So, that’s another tidbit about myself that readers will learn from reading these figure captions. Returning to New Chapter!, the girls begin their practise but find that Mayu is still absent; she’s completed an interview in Tokyo and is listening to Shiho voice her concerns about her group’s proposed disbandment after Tohru Shiraki, I-1’s General Manager and Company President, prepares to shuffle the board around in an attempt to boost sales following several declines. The militaristic, organised approach of I-1 is quite unlike that of WUG: in I-1 Club, their mantra is “Don’t rest, don’t complain, don’t think!”, which speaks to their rigid structuring for success. By comparison, WUG is about supporting one another. The small group dynamic in WUG is one of its greatest strengths.

  • Mayu and Yoshino initially did not get along with one another, and while the two have come a long way since Wake Up, Girls!‘ early days, there are occasions where the two will clash. Fortunately, Yoshino cools off, and Mayu is given a chance to explain herself, rectifying the conflict. Meanwhile, Nanami and Minami reconcile after they manage to help one another off-screen, allowing both to succeed in their work. In the chaos, Mayu has also uncharacteristically misplaced her scrunchy, a testament to just how busy she is.

  • Ayumi and her friends aid in the search, after having spent some time cleaning up the WUG dormitory. Ayumi takes one for the team and endures a cat’s claws, managing to find Mayu’s scrunchy. Taking one for the team, it is here that her spirit and determination is apparent; the girls quickly learn that while their drafted lyrics were accidentally erased earlier during cleaning, togetherness and unity is what defines WUG.

  • As such, the inspiration for the lyrics to the song that Tasuku gave them begins materialising, and the result of this will very likely be “7 Senses”. The song is upbeat, cheerful and befitting of WUG – the album itself came out on November 29, and the next album will release on February 28 in the upcoming year. With this post in the books, I will be returning after the finale to provide thoughts on New Chapter!‘s contributions to Wake Up, Girls! as a whole, and in the meantime, it’s time to get back to sinking ships in Battlefield 1‘s Turning Tides DLC.

I’m not sure if it was by choice or the consequence of production issues, but New Chapter! is missing a seventh episode; in its place is a live action segment featuring WUG’s voice actors, and so, this post actually comes out where the tenth episode has released. With only a quarter of New Chapter! left, I am inclined to say that New Chapter! has managed to capture the nuances and feel surrounding WUG, even introducing a group of new characters in Ayumi and her friends to take the series in a different direction. Limitations in the animation budget are felt quite strongly, but after nine episodes (discounting the live action segment), it’s also apparent that New Chapter! has the same authenticity as the original series and their movies did. Looking into the future, WUG will face the challenge of completing their song and beginning their national tour: I am quite excited to see where this goes, and given that Mayu was already considering naming their song “7 Senses”, it’s likely that the final song will be New Chapter!‘s opening theme, much like how “7 Girls’ War” was both the opening and finale song that WUG performed in the first season.

Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! Review and Reflections At The Halfway Point

“Lighten up, just enjoy life, smile more, laugh more, and don’t get so worked up about things.” —Kenneth Branagh

Mayu and Shiho initially find it difficult to act in their assigned characters for the television drama “The Dreaming Duo”, where Mitsuki and Yoko are share dreams and come to realise their love for the same guy. However, with inspiration, Mayu begins to act more fluidly for Yoko’s role, inspiring Shiho to do the same as Mitsuki. While the two agree on their relationship being a strictly professional one, the distance between the two lessens as the two work on their drama, which finishes shooting on a high note. Later, Junko arranges for a Sendai tour with WUG to inspire local fans. A scheduling conflict prevents Minami from attending, and during a performance that evening, Nanami steps in to substitute for Minami. While she falls on stage, her actions earn her endearment from the audience. After WUG announces their plans to release a new album, Ayumi gets lost at the inn and comes across WUG’s zoo costumes. Mayu accidentally spills tomato juice on one and assumes it’s Yoshino inside, deciding that it’s best to visit the hot springs and wash it off before staining occurs. Ayumi manages to escape, but is inspired by Mayu’s words about idols and their duty to bring smiles to their audiences. The next morning, she tells Mayu of her intentions to become an idol and Mayu wishes her luck. This is where things stand at the halfway point in New Chapter!, a series that has managed to retain its charm owing to its sincere narrative and honest characters.

The past three episodes predominantly deal with Mayu; she’s the most experienced of WUG members and, despite being one of the more soft-spoken members, has numerous insights into what expectations are in entertainment. This sort of maturity and professionalism initially caused her to butt heads with the other WUG members during the first season of Wake Up, Girls!, but time has allowed even the taciturn Mayu to open up. By New Chapter!, Mayu is sharing how she feels about her schedule and is expressive about concerns she may have with her duties, in turn allowing the others to support her in their own way. Similarly, having recovered her sense of purpose as an idol, Mayu sees their duty as putting smiles on the faces of their audiences, and that the WUG’s presence can be projected by each and every member. Capable of reassuring others in WUG, Mayu’s definitely been a source of inspiration to those around her, and also outside of the group; Ayumi is star-struck whenever she meets Mayu in person, and a part of this is that Mayu is remarkably kind, humble and approachable. Having found her joy in being an idol once again because of her time in WUG, Mayu is able to put her heartfelt feelings into her performances that, together with the others in WUG, have allowed the group to retain a loyal following, and from an external perspective, these same aspects within the anime have allowed Wake Up, Girls! to similarly retain a loyal following in reality.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • For the record, if The Dreaming Duo were real, I would likely watch it. In this drama, the normally-quiet Mayu plays the spirited, energetic Yoko, who is on the basketball team, and Shiho, who usually is more forward with her opinions, is Mitsuki, a reserved student fond of the arts. The roles are opposite of their characters, and while they initially have difficulty adjusting, the directors notice the improvement once both begin empathising with their respective characters.

  • The dynamic between Mayu and Shiho is similar to that of Mythbusters‘ Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman: Shiho outright tells Mayu that their working together will not be a sign that their relationship has mended, to which Mayu accepts. I was reading an article about how Savage and Hyneman do not get along with one another outside of work hours, but nonetheless are successful in working together as professionals. Like Savage and Hyneman, Shiho and Mayu respect one another’s work ethic, follow similar processes in getting things done, and value getting the job done well over their own egos.

  • Mayu’s busy schedule means that she misses preparing for breakfast on at least one occasion, but here, her teammates step up to the plate and help her out. The dynamics amongst WUG are give-and-take, and in between her work on the set, Mayu also participates in the other activities that WUG typically engage in.

  • I’m not sure what I’m looking at here; one of the stills shows WUG recoiling from shock and horror after touching something unknown for a television programme. This sort of show is a bit less common on this side of the planet: when I was in Japan, a great number of their channels were running game and talk shows. Japanese shows tend to be a bit flashier and text heavy, giving a much more excited sense compared to similar  shows in North America, which by comparison feel a bit more austere.

  • Shiho is momentarily recalled to I-1 Club when Moka sustains an injury, but as it turns out, the injury was relatively minor, allowing her to return to her usual duties. As the two embrace their roles further, they begin gaining a feel for the characters and occasionally offer suggestions to the directors to create a more natural scene. While the directors are initially appalled, the scriptwriter approves of the changes.

  • When the principal photography is complete for The Dreaming Duo, Mayu has a chance to speak with one of the project’s managers, who admits that the decision to cast Mayu and Shiho were originally motivated by a want to draw in more viewers using well-known names, but they ended up getting more than expected through both girls’ dedication towards their roles.

  • Ayumi, Itsuka and Otome find themselves tiring out on a walk for their physical education class and begin losing resolve upon hearing the distance remaining in the walk, but when Ayumi learns of WUG’s plans to do a bus tour of Sendai, Ayumi immediately gains a second wind. Of the three, it seems that Ayumi is the most interested in WUG, and she runs into Mayu herself while playing an extra in The Dreaming Duo.

  • Minami is tied up with a food show and is absent from the proceedings for most of the WUG Sendai tour. Kouhei does his best to keep the show running, and the day begins smoothly. On board the bus, Ayumi and her friends encounter some high school students from Tokyo who’ve become fans of Minami, and they quickly hit it off with one another. The remainder of the folks on this tour are male fans of WUG, and I will note here that, while their antics are a riot, I usually do not feature the vociferous WUG fans from the family restaurant because there’s not much I have to comment about them.

  • The first event on the WUG Sendai tour is a SCAVENGER HUNT type event, where participants must find each of the girls, dressed up as an animal, and collect a stamp from them. Each of the girls end up encountering difficulties in striking a balance between being out in the open and being well-hidden enough so the event is fun for the participants. As an aside, Wake Up, Girls! Zoo! was a spin-off that I ended up watching a ways back. Light-hearted and fun, each episode was a riot, and I also greatly enjoyed the theme song, as well.

  • Ayumi grows weak-kneed when coming face-to-face with Mayu herself. Her tendency to be star-struck has hilarious consequences within New Chapter!. Today’s post marks a three-streak, one of the longest I’ve had this year; in spite of a weekend packed with activities, I somehow managed to get a post out each day. Of course, this pattern won’t be the norm: posts take at least two to three hours to write, and this is why I won’t be writing about Far Cry 4 as of yet, even though I finished the game just yesterday.

  • Today’s events included going out for dim sum and then taking a short walk under the warmer weather: things have warmed up a little over the past week. The last time I had dim sum at this particular restaurant was back in February, and while dim sum appears unassuming, it is quite substantial – we ordered the usual suspects today (炸蝦角, 蝦餃, 燒賣, 鳳爪, 叉燒包 and 腸粉), plus a sticky fried rice. I’m especially fond of 炸蝦角 (jyutping “zaa3 haa1 gok3”), a deep-fried shrimp that goes great with mayonnaise. Dim sum is, in the words of Adam Richman, a Hong Kong institution, and that one can get Dim Sum in Calgary rivalling the quality of Hong Kong Dim Sum is downright amazing.

  • I’ve seen this technique used before in the Hai-Furi OVAs, and of late, constraints in New Chapter!‘s animation budget have become quite apparent. There are photograph-like scenes such as this, re-use of footage seen earlier and numerous stills while the characters are engaged in conversation. In spite of obvious shortfalls in animation, New Chapter! more than delivers the spirit and fun; from a certain point of view, the choppy animation can be seen as a bit of a visual metaphor for the rough-around-the-edges-but-sincere nature of WUG.

  • WUG performs First Rate Smile, a song that Tasuka wrote for them as their debut piece. Upbeat and energetic, the song is later given to I-1 Club to perform, as WUG is tasked with an even tougher song (Seven Girls’ War, the opening song). For the longest time, First Rate Smile could only be heard in the I-1 Club incarnation, although with the Wake Up, Best! album that released in March 2015, a full year after the first season aired, audiences finally had a chance to listen to the WUG version of First Rate Smile.

  • Upon seeing the disappointment in the audience at Minami’s absence, WUG decide to ask Nanami to perform in lieu of Minami on account of her sharing a similar stature, but Nanami stumbles and reveals to the audience that she’s not Minami. Far from drawing the audience’s ire, this action results in the audience cheering for Nanami, as well. Soon after, the real McCoy arrives, with Junko having exhorted transportation crew to get them to the hotel ASAP.

  • At the time of writing, WUG’s real-world equivalent have released numerous albums for the music of Wake Up, Girls!, and performed at several venues where they became a sleeper hit: their real world performers seem to embrace adversity, and as one article on ANN succintly puts it, the group turns disaster into dreams. Born of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, the project was initially to help with rebuilding Sendai. It was on the verge of failure and turned to recruiting voice talent in the Sendai area. The experiences and tribulations that the production team saw fed into Wake Up, Girls!, and in retrospective, it would seem that the reason why Wake Up, Girls! is so authentic and genuine is because it is inspired by real events.

  • New Chapter! is no Murder on the Orient Express, a recent film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic – Miyu finds Mayu after she accidentally spills tomato juice on Yoshino’s polar bear costume, a consequence of Ayumi hiding inside it after getting lost, and the girls must promptly remove it before the stain becomes a permanent feature. The reason why tomato juice is so difficult to remove is because of the pigment lycopene, a long-chain non-polar hydrocarbon. These molecules are hydrophobic and will cling to other similar non-polar molecules, such as those making up plastic containers or the fibres in clothing.

  • The guide to removing tomato juice stains are numerous, and the precise method will depend on how old the stain is. In the case of a fresh stain, the combination of water and detergent will be sufficient. After Mayu takes Ayumi to the baths, her fear of getting discovered leads her to hide. By a stroke of luck, the other WUG members arrive, and in the chaos, Ayumi manages to escape, leaving Mayu to wonder what really happened, but before she gets clear, Ayumi overhears Mayu speaking to the others about what being an idol means.

  • Future assignments will leave the girls with less time spent performing together, leading Miyu to feel depressed, but when Mayu reminds everyone that they’re WUG regardless of where they are, spirits lift considerably. One of the things about being an idol, then is also being able to help one’s teammates and oneself smile: if the point of the business is to give a bit of happiness to viewers, then those doing so must first learn to find their own happiness. Mayu is able to appreciate this, and her presence in WUG is a reassuring one.

  • The next morning, WUG participate in signing autographs for their fans. The tour ends up being a successful one, and it seems that Mayu is quite unaware that Ayumi was responsible for the previous evening’s escapade. Seizing the moment, Ayumi declares that she wishes to be an idol – from our perspective, we roughly know what idols in Wake Up, Girls! must experience. I’ve heard that Ayumi and her friends will form their own group, “Run, Girls, Run!”: their presence in New Chapter! seem to be about the positive impacts that idols can have as role models.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before, but ever since Wake Up, Girls! first season, Mayu’s been my favourite character. While still relatively off the beaten path, discussions about Wake Up, Girls! that I’ve seen have been quite positive. Time is moving at breakneck speed: we’re very nearly halfway through November now, and we’re rolling into December very soon. This anime season has passed by quickly, and I’ve found the other shows I’m watching to be enjoyable. With this post out the gates, I will be turning my attention towards Yūki Yūna is a Hero: Hero Chapter now – I’m curious to see both whether or not I can make an episodic review work, as well as what Hero Chapter entails.

With the next major goal being the production of a full WUG album, I’m looking forwards to seeing what directions New Chapter! will be taking. By this point in time, WUG has become accustomed to truths within the industry, but their cumulative experiences allow them to appropriately address whatever challenges come their way. The togetherness that is central to WUG’s strengths during performances have become somewhat of a crutch for WUG, and having foreseen this, Junko and Youhei have arranged for the girls to perform and work independently to increase their self-reliance. At the halfway point, this appears to be effective: the girls have definitely become much more resilient and adaptive. Mayu similarly reminds everyone that WUG will be WUG as long as everyone believes in one another, regardless of whether their working alone or performing together. While where all of these lessons and learnings will end up remains open for speculation, one thing is likely to be true: WUG will definitely find a way to overcome adversity that will invariably come their way as the series moves into its final episodes, and it will be enjoyable to watch how WUG goes about solving problems in with their own unique approaches.

Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! Review and Reflections After Three

“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 Chapterthat 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.

We Are Wake Up, Girls!- Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! First Episode Impressions

“In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us.” –Carl Sagan

Since WUG’s successful performance at the Idol Festival, where they displaced I-1 Club in a competition to become the national champions, difficult times forces even I-1 Club to close one of their venues. Without any performances, WUG’s exposure to the world is limited, and the girls have returned to their old duties of being local idols for various media outlets. To break them from this rut, Junko announces that WUG is to produce an album within the next six months and later secures a performance for them at Song Stage. When they gear up, they learn their old uniforms have decayed in condition: Yoshino fashions scrunchies for each and every member to remind them of their origins. At the performance venue, Mayu and the others run into the current I-1 unit, whose centre regards them with hostility. While Airi nearly causes a delay in their live performance by rushing back to retrieve her scrunchie, WUG nonetheless performs well and later, the others reassure Airi that superstition prior to performances is a natural thing, gently reminding her to be more mindful of professionalism at the same time. On the way back home, Junko announces to an exhausted Kōhei that she is planning a national tour for WUG. Meanwhile, a group of students produce fan-inspired versions of WUG’s performances, drawing the girls’ and Kōhei’s attention. It’s been a while since I’ve written about Wake Up, Girls!, with the last time being for the second movie Beyond The Bottom. A series that has held a special place in my heart, Wake Up, Girls! makes a triumphant return to the anime form, with this second season being produced by Millepensee, which collaborated with Ordet on the movies.

Ordet themselves worked with Tatsunoko Production on the first season, and while this first season was characterised by deficiencies in the animation, Wake Up, Girls! and its narrative proved quite enjoyable, inspiring to follow. The new animation style that Millepensee brings to the table is a balance between the old and new: the characters look and sound as they did during the movies and first anime season, but with more fluid animation, it feels as though they’ve been given new life. It is most welcoming to see Mayu, Minami, Yoshino, Nanami, Airi, Miyu and Kaya return in this new form: their first performance is a smooth one, with camera effects and movements that far surpass what was seen in earlier incarnations of Wake Up, Girls!. The improved animation, coupled with new directions of Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter! (New Chapter! from here on out for brevity), means that the second season is off to a fine start – Wake Up, Girls! has always added a healthy amount of realism into its story, and in spite of their successes, WUG has a ways to go in order to sustain their success in a market saturated with idols. By presenting plausible set-backs and challenges, it was remarkably satisfying to see how WUG overcame their tribulations, and New Chapter! appears to be continuing along this path, which corresponds with more surprises in this upcoming season.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • A quick memory test for myself: from left to right, we have Yoshino, Minami, Airi, Mayu, Nanami, Miyu and Kaya. One of the biggest challenges I face when writing for Wake Up, Girls! is recalling who’s who: Minami and Nanami share very similar romanised names, as do Mayu and Miyu. Their character designs have also been quite similar, but with Millepensee stepping up to the plate for animation in New Chapter!, the characters look a bit more distinct from one another without losing their basic designs seen in the anime and first season.

  • As the opening episode discussion, I’ve opted to go with the usual twenty screenshots, striking a balance between details and ease of writing on my end. Here, Junko reads about the declining I-1 Club in a newspaper article before addressing WUG. WUG’s president, Junko handles dealing with partners and associates, and despite her brash personality, she always manages to find ways of helping WUG get started with their goals. Kōhei is WUG’s manager and has the group’s interests at heart, having brought all seven idols together during the prequel movie.

  • WUG is based in Sendai of Miyagi Prefecture. With a population of just south of 1.1 million, Sendai is only a shade smaller than Calgary, which has a population of 1.2 million. Nonetheless, Sendai depicted as a “small” town in Wake Up, Girls!, compared to the likes of Tokyo. The area was damaged during the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake, and I vaguely recall that the anime project was originally intended to recruit voice talent in the Sendai area and promote the region as a part of a recovery project.

  • Itsuka Atsugi, Otome Morishima and Ayumi Hayashi are three new characters in New Chapter! – their family names mirror those of their voice actors (Nanami Atsugi, Yūka Morishima and Yūka Morishima, respectively). Junior high students who’ve been inspired greatly by WUG, they’ve taken to doing their own performances and uploading them to YouTube. At the episode’s opening, Minami and the others dub over the performance while watching it, and Kōhei remarks that the appearance of fan videos are a sign that WUG’s having some tangible impact on its viewers in inspiring them.

  • After practise, Junko announces that she’s managed to get WUG a performance slot in the Song Stage programme, marking the group’s first live performance since the events of Beyond the Bottom. The girls are naturally excited and their first query is whether or not their old uniforms are in any shape to be utilised for their performance. However, their age (three-and-a-half years in real time) means that they’re frayed and otherwise don’t fit all that well, as Kaya quickly finds out.

  • When Miyu inquires further, Kaya suppresses all further discussion. The oldest member of WUG, Kaya, reminds me of Glasslip‘s Yanagi Takayama in appearance and even shares Yanagi’s hobby of jogging. As a result of her age, she’s looked to as the de facto second-in-command after Yoshino, and originally did not take her role in WUG too seriously, but her time with the group has led her to be much more devoted and passionate. By the events of New Chapter!, even Airi has improved to the point where she can keep up with Mayu and Yoshino.

  • Junko authorises new uniforms for the girls, to their excitement. In this first episode of New Chapter!, song producer Tasuku does not make an appearance. It is with his trying approach of management that leads WUG to improve dramatically, and while presenting an oft-indifferent air to the girls’ fates, he grows to respect their tenacity greatly, expressing disappointment whenever they fail and is genuinely happy when WUG’s performances are successful. Since the events of Beyond the Bottom, Junko’s gotten in touch with some old friends to help with writing and scoring music, so presumably, Tasuku will make fewer appearances this season.

  • The page quote for our return to Wake Up, Girls! comes from Carl Segan, renowned astronomer and astrophysicist. While Segan’s dealing with humanity and the need for our species to advance in order to survive catastrophes that could end our civilisation, the quote finds equal applicability in Wake Up, Girls!, where WUG must find ways of surviving and making themselves known before fading into irrecoverable obscurity, and that this process is something that the girls themselves must undertake, as they can reasonably expect no assistance from the outside.

  • Things fast-forwards to the day of departure, where Miyu is very nearly late for their train. The shinkansen line allows folks in Sendai to arrive in Tokyo in around two-and-a-half hours: the road distance is around 360 kilometers and would require a four hour journey by motor vehicle. The relative efficiency of the shinkansen means that one of the challenges I had while following Wake Up, Girls! was ascertaining whether WUG was in Tokyo, where most of their major performances are, or back home in Sendai.

  • Owing to the separation in airing, Wake Up, Girls! is probably the longest running anime I’ve followed outside of OVA series like Gundam Unicorn (four years) and Gundam: The Origin (three years by the time the finale releases): I began watching Wake Up, Girls! back in 2014, and only had the chance to write about the 2015 movies this year. Interest in this series has been generally low, and while folks consider it to be somewhat unrealistic and unenjoyable (hence the lack of discussion), I found the series to be a heartfelt one.

  • After finishing Wake Up, Girls!, I returned to the more idyllic approach that Locodol presented while working on the Giant Walkthrough Brain – Locodol never places Nanako and Yukari into difficult positions as Wake Up, Girls! does to WUG, rather similar to how working on the university project that was the Giant Walkthrough Brain felt a little more comfortable than working in industry at the time. Back in New Chapter!, Yoshino hands out scrunchies that she’s made from their old uniforms, allowing everyone to keep a small piece of their origins: the group’s marching band uniforms were first seen during the regional competition back during the first season of Wake Up, Girls!.

  • While not quite as apparent while animated, the static nature of screenshots mean that the differences in art style are much more noticeable. While folks have criticised Wake Up, Girls! original run for poor animation quality, the art aesthetic was quite distinct and contributed to the rough-around-the-edges-but-genuine nature of Wake Up, Girls!. The new art style is an improvement from its predecessor overall, and it’s much easier to differentiate between the characters now, but it will also take some getting used to.

  • Mayu and the others run into I-1 Club’s team on stage, whose centre meets them with a cold reception. While Wake Up, Girls! formally has no antagonist beyond the characters’ own doubts and internal challenges, the presence of I-1 does much to remind viewers that the business of being an idol is no doubt an unfriendly, competitive one. Despite being a veritable giant, they too are suffering, as their viewership declines forces their Sendai facility to be closed.

  • Airi risks delaying WUG’s live performance when she forgets her scrunchie back in the green room, but with the encouragement of her teammates, she retrieves it just in time to begin the show, where they perform the group’s now-signature “Seven Girls War”. Used as the first season’s opening theme, they’ve delivered fantastic performances of it throughout the anime’s run: in their first performance in New Chapter!, WUG is outfitted with new uniforms that appear much lighter and conducive of movement than their previous ones.

  • Some viewers are unaccustomed to the new character designs and miss the old ones; as I’ve remarked earlier, some time will probably be needed to get used to things. With this being said, one of the design elements that endured from the days of Tatsunoko Production and Ordet’s interpretation are the strangely-shaped smiles. On the whole, however, Millepensee has largely improved on the girls’ expressiveness in New Chapter! and their facial features seem much more natural, rather than forced.

  • Millepensee makes use of CG to animated WUG’s dance sequences – they’ve evidently made an effort to replicate the visual features of the conventional scenes and make a seamless transition, but the differences are still noticeable. I believe Tatsunoko Production and Ordet stuck with traditional animation during their dance sequences, and while video artefacts are visible in Millepensee’s, their execution allows for much more dynamic ranges of motion, synchronisation and camera movements to be present compared to their predecessors.

  • The end result is that the dances are actually quite fun to watch, really capturing the distance that WUG has come since their earliest performance on a December’s night in a park where the audience numbers could be counted on one’s fingers. While “Seven Girls War” is a fun song by all counts, one of the things that I look forwards to seeing in New Chapter! will be whether or not any new songs are introduced into the series.

  • Strictly speaking, while I personally enjoy Wake Up, Girls! and have positive things to say about the series, I understand that this anime is not for everyone for its execution. Further to this, IdolM@ster and Love Live! are much larger and better-known than Wake Up, Girls!, so it is perhaps not too much of a surprise that there is limited discussions of Wake Up, Girls! out there. For WUG, they are faced with rising out from obscurity in-show, and in the real world, Wake Up, Girls! deals with similar challenges: I’ve heard that Wake Up, Girls! initially did not perform particularly well in Japan, but once WUG began finding their feet, reception to the anime warmed.

  • Following their performance, Mayu and the others reassure a worried Airi about her decision to retrieve her scrunchie earlier at the risk of jeopardising the entire group’s performance. The team has had conflicts in the past with Airi, when Takusu forced the team to choose between dismissing Airi or becoming disbanded as a whole to test their resolve. Since then, WUG’s unity has remained unshakable, and the team will do what is necessary to ensure that everyone’s on the same page. When Mayu mentions superstitions for performers, I’m reminded of the rituals that players in the NHL and other professional athletes have prior to a game.

  • En route back to Sendai, Junko forcibly wakes up Kōhei and informs him of her plans to take WUG on a national tour to elevate their presence. My plans presently for New Chapter! will be to write about it after every three episodes. This brings my first talk in New Chapter! to an end, and in the very near future, I will be aiming to watch In A Corner of This World and write about it, along with Girls’ Last Tour.

One of the elements that I’ve noticed about Wake Up, Girls! is its relative obscurity in the English-speaking community – it’s a bit of an irony that Wake Up, Girls! is about overcoming obscurity in their world when in the real world, there’s been very little talk about the series in other blogs and discussion venues. While expectations for Wake Up, Girls! has always been low, and reception mixed at best, I found in Wake Up, Girls! an earnest series about a group of youth pursing their dreams and dealing with setbacks to the best of their abilities. This is why even three-and-a-half years following Wake Up, Girls! original run, I am quite keen to continue with the journey that Mayu and the others embark on in pursuit of their dreams. I will be writing about New Chapter! periodically this season, returning after every three episodes to consider what New Chapter! has covered, as well as where the series is headed. In addition, with the addition of three new characters in the form of students who are also fans of WUG, one of the possibilities include seeing whether or not they will interact directly with WUG at any point in New Chapter!‘s upcoming episodes.