Idolmaster election time

The 7th Cinderella Girl election has begun. Cue mass shilling for votes, intense speculation as to just where everyone is in the rankings and a supposedly accurate gauge of everyone’s popularity, apart from all the unvoiced idols up there and the actual previous winners being nowhere because they’ve had their day in the sun. The catch with this one, is Deresute is now part of the voting process. If the fans are to be believed, this will lead to the utter devastation of every unvoiced character, as casual players get the chance to vote for the characters they’ve actually heard of and like, i.e. the most prominent voiced characters. Also you can pay over £1000 to vote for your favourite another 500 times. There are people willing to do this. And none of their payments will change the fact that the only certainty is a Nana win.

It’s all to do with memes and the number 7, you see. So they’re letting her have this one. And that’s fine if you’re here for the memes. But if, like me, you’re here for the characters in question, you’ll be wanting your favourite to rank as highly as reasonably possible. And there’s 184 that you can vote for at any time you want. So go for it. However, if you’re stuck on just who to vote for, I’m here to provide a list of just which idols might float your boat and, consequently, might just be worthy of your important backing.

Kanade Hayami

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Touhou music: Perfect Cherry Blossom

The instruments might have been much changed for Perfect Cherry Blossom, but the music was just as good.

First things first; is the menu theme any good?

Top class. Arguably the defining Touhou theme. Though that might just be because it’s the first I heard.

Paradise ~ Deep Mountain: Aah, such a lovely, soothing opener. Incredibly fitting of the icy stage it takes place in. It has its epic moments, but on the whole this is about what I reckon a Stage 1 theme should sound like.

Crystallized Silver: I’ve actually heard remixes even better than this original, but they had to start somewhere. This is a strong theme for Letty and I like the composition of it a lot. One of the best example of ZUNpets I know, actually.

The Fantastic Legend of Tohno: Another theme that sets and fits its atmosphere really well, but while it has its interesting moments as a song, it doesn’t really stand up on its own; it’s fairly lukewarm on the whole and I’m not 100% sure about the instrumentation on the most dramatic bit. Still, there are positives to be had when put into the game itself.

Diao Ye Zong(withered leaf): In much the same boat as its accompanying stage song, actually. Really rather fitting of Chen’s battle, but not much cop to listen to all by itself. I suppose Stage 2’s theme aren’t quite pronounced enough on the whole. They’re a little too soft for my taste.

The Doll Maker of Bucuresti: Here’s a song that ramps up the tempo, no doubt. I’m particularly enamoured of the opening section and its instrumentation, the dramatic pianos. The ZUNpets in the next section aren’t too bad either. The second half isn’t quite as notable, though.

The Girl who Played with People’s Shapes: The song is well-composed, but in places some of the instruments do it no justice whatsoever. It starts off well enough, but after the opening there’s this terrible sound that I can’t get behind in any way. I don’t really remember it from any other songs and it’s probably just as well. It’d be perfectly fine if it wasn’t for that. Luckily, we have remixes aplenty to do this song justice. Many thanks to IOSYS, Hachimitsu Kuma-san, Touhoumon, etc.

The Capital City of Flowers in the Sky: One of Touhou’s longest epics, utterly befitting of one of its longest stages of all, Stage 4. The drama is racked up to the max here, wonderfully composed with several notable phases throughout to catch everyone’s attention. This might be my personal favourite in PCB on the whole, but it’s a pretty close run thing. There are some other really good tunes up ahead.

Phantom Ensemble: A nice and upbeat tune for the Prismriver Sisters, a tune which certainly strikes a much better tone than the re-done PoFV edition despite being largely identical. Such is the difference with a change of note. While it’s not the outright best as a song, it’s a pretty well-balanced tune on the whole, again with a little something for everyone throughout.

Mystic Oriental Dream ~ Ancient Temple: Once again the atmosphere shines through courtesy of this song. A slow but sure build-up leads into a terrific first section, and the instrumentation throughout the entire song is almost faultless. Even that noticeable instrument before each drop, while quite overpowering, doesn’t take away from the rest of it. Another superb addition to this game’s collection.

Hiroari Shoots a Strange Bird ~ Till When?: Youmu’s theme really is quite an intense one, certainly so coming off the rather calmer Stage 5 theme. Instrumentation again comes to the fore as a super-dramatic organ defines the main section of music here. This is another strong theme and, considering how well its SWR remix turned out, clearly quite well composed as well.

Ultimate Truth: Among my favourite short Stage 6 tunes, especially given the pomp and circumstance surrounding the stage itself. The instrumentation of the opening is perhaps an acquired taste but once the piano hits it turns into something really very beautiful indeed. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Bloom Nobly, Cherry Blossoms of Sumizome ~ Border of Life: A final boss theme supremely high on drama, right from the start. A truly epic opening leads to a highly enjoyable first section with a superb tone to it. Then the song changes right up to its more light-hearted main section, which is a lot of fun, but quickly reverts to type. And then another drop before the last section leads to another, final crescendo. There might be better sounding songs, but this is one of the most well-done of them all. Simply terrific.

Border of Life: This final spell theme is at its best in the moment. It makes it a truly astonishing thing to go through yourself. The ever-rising ZUNpets are a great signal of the spell itself, and its immense intensity. However, the final bit of it is also really rather interesting, with its unusual guitar sound within. Problem is, Yuyuko’s usually beaten before you get the chance to hear it.

Charming Domination: An interesting enough extra theme, with some particularly interesting instruments within, particularly around the start with that interesting keyboard sound. But the second half is largely unremarkable. And, as you’ll soon see, this is a song overshadowed by its other version.

A Maiden’s Illusionary Funeral ~ Necro-Fantasy: Ran’s theme is an interesting enough tune on the whole, and most notably has some rather unique instrumentation in the second half in the form of that rattling sound. The penultimate section of is probably the best, the bit before the ZUNpets reach their absolute peak. But again, there’s a version of this that does it better…and ends up making Ran’s theme look rather ordinary in comparison.

Charming Domination ~ Who done it!: More dramatic instruments at the start make this better than the Extra version. And the tone it strikes afterwards is just that much more interesting. Even that second half is made much more interesting by the atmosphere the song, and indeed the stage, invokes. Oh, and there’s even a couple of dramatic pauses in there to make you wonder what the hell is going on.

Necrofantasia: An iconic theme, incredibly fitting of the all-powerful Yukari, the only ever Phantasm boss. Yes, this is similar to Ran’s theme. But the instruments are better almost entirely across the board, and the second half is just so much more interesting. In particular, the lower tone struck in the final section is fantastic. Additionally, the first half has a much better tune to it. This is a truly magical theme. And actually, maybe it is my favourite in PCB after all. Just because it’s so memorable to me. Truly symbolic of one of the series’ most magnificent battles.

Touhou music: Story of Eastern Wonderland

The first proper shootup, the first properly toned music, the first properly good hits.

First things first; is the menu theme any good?

I’d say it is. Certainly, the opening is pretty epic.

Hakurei ~ Eastern wind: Ooh, blimey, what a dramatic opener. I do like that slow opening section, and it builds up to something rather epic too. It does go a bit mad in the final bit, though.

She’s in a temper!!: A hectic tune for a first boss who comes at us in a bloody tank. Decent tune on the whole, especially the start, although the bit after doesn’t quite live up to it. Also a short tune, as expected from the Stage 1 boss.

End of Daylight: You’ll notice throughout that ZUN really went out of his way to try and emphasise atmosphere in this game and this is the start of it. From wacky sounds and a nice, intense build-up at the start comes a superb tune. When it drops, that’s the best part of the whole song. But the second half isn’t bad either. My favourite song in this game.

Power of Darkness: Another dramatic build-up at the start, which leads into a typically PC-98ishly repetitive section, but one which is actually really very good. I like the constantly ongoing composition of the song. And the instruments aren’t too bad either, even that one in the background. That’s a little funky and unique. I certainly can’t think of any other Touhou song in which it showed up.

World of Empty Dreams: There’s that atmosphere again. A slow, one-track build-up once again explodes into a song, but alas this one isn’t quite as notable as the ones preceding it. Some of the instruments are a little too high here for some comfort, unfortunately.

Bet on Death: This one goes straight in, and sounds more typically PC-98ish, unlike some of the quite experimental stuff around here. This one seemed to stick better than most, from the repetitiveness to the nature of the instruments to the tempo.

Himorogi, Burn in Violet: This one has the dramatic, instant intro that came to define a couple of future PC-98 songs, but here, it seems to be trying too hard. It settles down into a decent enough tune, though…and then the tempo changes and it kicks right off again. It’s rather short, but sweet enough.

Love-coloured Magic: The original version of the song we all love. It’s got that PC-98 kick of drums to it which is lovely, and of course the composition is lovely. Of course it is; that’s why it got brought back, eventually. The rest of the instrumentation could be better, though. Also, it’s probably a good job they expanded on this later – it is quite short here.

Record of the Sealing of an Oriental Demon ~ A Phantom’s Boisterous Dance: This is quite an off-beat song by Touhou standards, actually. I mean, the tempo and tone it sets are there, alright, but there’s elements here hardly seen since. That predominant instrument after the opening section is perhaps the most notable example. There’s even some considerable tempo changes to behold here, but the instrumentation on the whole really could be better.

Complete Darkness: A hectic final boss theme, and a pretty good one on the whole. A nice, and intense build-up to the song’s main section makes this a good listen from the start, but again the tempo goes a bit mad in places. The final section of the song is perhaps the highlight of it all, though.

Extra Love: The opening notes of this song are pretty interesting. Alas, there isn’t much more to note here. This is a very short song, a sign of the extra stage formula still being worked out, and despite an intense second section it’s not that remarkable.

The Tank Girl’s Dream: Interesting intro…and it builds up nicely enough. Again, some relatively unique instruments to be found here. Then the second half kicks off and it ends up being all typically PC-98ishly repetitive. This wasn’t the only extra stage theme of the era that’d prove guilty of this, if I’m honest. But those ended up sounding quite a bit better than this. But at least it has the nice drum kick towards the end.

And lastly, the one that got away…

Hakurei Shrine Grounds: ZUN wanted this as the Stage 1 theme at first. Given the eventual theme ended up being quite good, it was probably worth it, but then I reckon a theme this good could have been very useful elsewhere. It’s standard affair for this game, a nice intense build-up leading into a magnificent song. Some of the instruments get a bit high but stay just the right side of grinding. There’s also a more low-key ending section here, though. This theme really could’ve done a job somewhere else…the Extra stage comes to mind. It would’ve been more than long enough for such a stage.

Touhou music: Double Dealing Character

Double Dealing Character: pretty good game, much better music.

First things first; is the menu theme any good?

Erm…I’m afraid not. It’s just too boring.

Mist Lake: A calm affair, but not too calm. The most balanced Stage 1 theme on the whole, which is to say, the one that balances their more low-key nature with their still noticeable action. And the atmosphere is set very well here, too.

Mermaid from the Uncharted Land: The first real feature of DDC’s favourite thing; those new guitars. They’re very prominent indeed in this song and serve to spice up the action to this fight, which has a half decent switch between its two parts and two tones. Decent start.

Humans and Youkai Coming and Going at the Canal: Blimey, this isn’t half epic for a Stage 2 theme. If I didn’t know where this was coming from I’d tell you it was a Stage 4 theme, at least. It’s also pretty classic Touhou, with all sorts of familiar instruments coming at us in very familiar ways. It’s a reassuringly good listen, this one.

Dullahan Under the Willows: And now we go straight back to nu-Touhou and in very dramatic fashion indeed. All sorts of fancy instrumentation is going on here, including the ramping up of those guitars, again. And it’s all done in very good fashion in a song that once again seems far more fitting of a stage further in. That’s not a criticism…if anything it speaks volumes of just what great songs Stage 2 has. They just don’t seem like the norm for Stage 2 itself.

Bamboo Forest of the Full Moon: The new style is still on show here, but this time it clashes with the old one. And the result is pretty terrific. That super-intense transitional section between the first and second sections is my favourite bit of the song. The instruments in that bit really do give me the chills.

Lonesome Werewolf: And all of a sudden, the music goes all a bit…shit. There’s plenty of experimenting going on with a new style in this game, I understand, but this one doesn’t work. The instrumentation actually grinds my gears here and the transition to the ZUNpets isn’t the most seamless. Also not sure about composition here either. Or even the upward change in note.

Magical Storm: But then the game gets right back on form with its best song. The dramatic start makes this one great right from the off. Put in time with Stage 4, it becomes even more amazing. The newer style trumpets, which are rather lesser spotted in this game, make a glorious feature in this song.

Illusionary Joururi: But the Tsukumo’s actual theme is a rather less remarkable affair. It’s not quite up-tempo enough, and there’s an unusual effect in there somewhere that doesn’t quite sit comfortably with me. Now I think about it, perhaps they would have been better off swapping this with Stage 2’s themes.

The Shining Needle Castle Sinking in the Air: Stage 5’s theme again gets the songs back on track, but while the composition lends itself very well indeed to, for instance, remixes, I’m not quite sure about the original instrumentation here. At least, not in the opening section (or indeed the extra additions that come when it loops back around). Once that’s over with, we get the debut of the glorious instrument that LoLK would eventually bring the very best out of. But the ZUNpets proceed to overwhelm them in the final section of the tune. Still, there is a very good song in there, somewhere.

Reverse Ideology: Seija’s theme has no such problems with instrumentation and is instead simply a very damn good song indeed. It’s not the most intense Stage 5 boss theme we’ve ever had, but it doesn’t need to be here. It’s just a nice, good dueling theme on the whole.

The Exaggerated Castle Keep: A short preview here, a standard build-up to the final boss as per protocol for Stage 6 songs, except this one also seems to preview the instrument that ultimately ends up in Shinmyoumaru’s song and no one else’s. Otherwise, not that notable.

Kobito of the Shining Needle ~ Little Princess: The low guitars are trying to make things interesting here, but there’s not enough going on here throughout. It doesn’t feel like a battle theme from the off. If anything, it feels more at home as a stage theme. They should have gone a bit more all-out with the battle’s song itself because it never really gets going to me. Not even after the change in tone for the final section.

Thunderclouds of Magical Power: This is quite a short extra stage theme, but it at least seems like it’s trying to be interesting. Even though it ultimately doesn’t end up being anything too special. If anything, it probably ends up being too gentle for an extra stage.

Primordial Beat ~ Pristine Beat: This is definitely a fitting theme for the extra stage boss, though. Raiko’s fight might not be all that, sans time-out spell, but at least it sounds damn good. This is another lovely mix of old and new styles and the instrumentation of the song is, on the whole, absolutely superb. This is a most enjoyable theme to finish up a game which has its peaks and troughs musically, but which ultimately ends up on the right side of good.

Touhou music: Imperishable Night

Touhou’s first big epic got some epic music. Like the game itself though, it’s not all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.

First things first; is the menu theme any good?

Not to start with. But it picks up a little as it goes on.

Illusionary Night ~ Ghostly Eyes: This is a far more intense starter theme than the two games preceding it, perhaps a prologue to the tone the next era of Touhou would set with its Stage 1 themes. I suppose they had to with this, really. It’s far too dramatic a game not to warrant it. Mind you, the tune itself isn’t all that great. Also, the stage is over before you get to hear all of it.

Stirring an Autumn Moon ~ Mooned Insect: This one is a little fun for a simple Stage 1 boss. ZUNpets are in full chat throughout. Decent enough song, but as usual, probably a bit too short to fully enjoy.

Song of the Night Sparrow ~ Night Bird: Suddenly, Stage 2 kicks it right up with a fast-paced, and really rather good theme. Some interesting and pretty unique instrumentation is on show here, and it’s quite riveting to listen to, most especially in the long opening sequence, and the largely identical section following the piano. The section where it drops down isn’t too bad either. This is a hidden gem of a song, largely forgotten amongst most others in this game.

Deaf to All but the Song: Ooh, what drama awaits you here in Mystia’s song. This is a great sounding track on the whole, supremely well-composed, but some bit of it feel a little bit empty. Then again, that might just be me comparing it to the re-done, and extended, version which comes in PoFV. The original is still a strong song, though.

Nostalgic Blood of the East ~ Old World: I like the tone this one strikes, surprisingly intense for a mere Stage 3. It’s at its best though when it really kicks off, with the pianos after the first section. Then the second time round it introduces some extra instrumentation to boot. Another rather underrated song, I think.

Plain Asia: Now back to more standard Touhou affair for Keine’s battle. Dramatic pianos and ZUNpets are everywhere here. This is a lovely and action-packed song for a rather hectic battle.

Retribution for the Eternal Night ~ Imperishable Night: And suddenly the drama is ramped up to 11 for one of the most frantic stages in Touhou’s history. Everything is going on here, and as it happens the tune itself is pretty much the series’ menu theme gone wild. A fitting way of putting it, considering the nature of the bosses that lie ahead. Even if I don’t think they’re the greatest idea in context.

Maiden’s Capriccio ~ Dream Battle: Whoowee. They really do treat Reimu like the most powerful being around with this one. A lovely tune for a lovely girl, and yet also really quite fitting of the fact she hates your guts and wants to pichuun you right the hell outta here. The tempo is relentless from the start, the changes are constant, and it’s all really quite exciting.

Love-Colored Master Spark: Oh look, it’s the one absolutely everyone loves. I can sort of see why, here. The overriding ‘chorus’ of this song really is very well composed indeed. There are remixes around that do it plenty of justice, but here in the original the ZUNpets do fine. Still, if I said some of the aforementioned tunes are underrated, this one is overrated to me. It’s good, but it’s not all that.

Cinderella Cage ~ Kagome-Kagome: Here is a tune that really is all that. Because it’s quite an astonishing turn of drama with composition that could almost have been designed with the ZUNpets in mind. This might just be the greatest use of the series’ most universal instrument in the entire series. It fits the older style of it so perfectly. This is a simply glorious triumph of both song-writing and instrumentation. Absolutely superb.

Lunatic Eyes ~ Invisible Full Moon: And you know the amazing thing? This is even better. Reisen’s theme is, in fact, even more well-composed. I have heard more remixes of this song than any other and not a single one of them has let me down. Not one of them. That says a lot about this wonderful tune. And that guitar-led transition into the song’s ‘chorus’ is just epic. I reckon this might be the best song of Touhou’s original era. It’s one of the best listens in the entire series.

Voyage 1969: Hmm. Not sure about this one, though. A short song, as would be expected of Stage 6, and still pretty atmospheric for a final stage, but the opening isn’t quite intense enough. The mid-section with the rapid pianos is great, but then the final bit isn’t anything special. Maybe a fitting metaphor for the Stage 6s themselves, given how they kind of bottled the concept in this game.

Gensokyo Millenium ~ History of the Moon: Just on the right side of ‘very good’. It’s all pretty good classic Touhou stuff in all aspects, but it doesn’t exactly feel like a song worthy of a final boss. Probably just as well Eirin isn’t one, then…apart from the fact they kinda sorta treated her like one. Again, I say, if she’d been Stage 5…now this would’ve been alright there.

Flight of the Bamboo Cutter ~ Lunatic Princess: Mercifully, the actual final boss has a song far more worthy of her position. Kaguya’s song has a terrific build-up, lovely instrumentation throughout, and a pretty strong main ‘chorus’ in the middle, although I’m less sure about the instruments in bits of that part. The second half isn’t quite as remarkable, until the last section of it when it goes round to loop again, which is the most dramatic section of it all. Very good on the whole, this one.

Voyage 1970: Hmm…should I really include this one? Oh wait, I seem to have answered my own question. Shit. This is the final spell theme but it’s just a much jacked-up version of 1969. Alas, this isn’t much better, if I’m honest.

Extend Ash ~ Hourai Victim: A surprisingly well-balanced Extra theme, with a little bit of everything to it. It doesn’t kick off to quite the extent of some other songs in this game, but then it doesn’t have to. It’s just a very good tune to listen to. It has something for everyone to like. Very easy on the ears, I’d say.

Reach for the Moon ~ Immortal Smoke: Mokou’s theme is a nice finisher to this game, and a fitting piece for her really rather intense fight. A bit like the theme before it, it never fully kicks off – maybe with some of the changes in tune, but they’re not exactly huge ones. This is a fine song, and one which is unmistakably at its best in the battle it was meant for.

Touhou music: Subterranean Animism

Subterranean Animism remains the gold standard Touhou aspires to in every single aspect. This includes the basically perfect soundtrack.

First things first; is the menu theme any good?

It’s not too bad. It’s got a nice high tempo, and sounds nice and cheerful.

The Dark Blowhole: Such a lovely atmospheric start to it all. The kind of action-filled Stage 1 theme that came to define this era of Touhou. There’s cool change-ups within in the tone and kicks off this all-action extravaganza of a game really well indeed.

The Sealed-Away Youkai ~ Lost Place: Just as the Stage 1 themes were more frantic than any other, so were the Stage 1 boss themes. This is a fairly short affair on the whole for Yamame but the instrumentation is terrific and it makes even her short fight seem that much more awesome.

The Bridge People No Longer Cross: And now the atmosphere gets ramped up even further for this lovely, slightly chilling tune. Even by ZUN’s lofty standards, there is some truly great composition on show here. A nice perk-up in the drama towards the end works well, too.

Green-Eyed Jealousy: Now the tempo slows a bit, but this feels a really fitting tune for Parsee’s surprisingly scary fight. Maybe the notes in the second half get a little too high for comfort, but this is a strong song that, judging by its instrumentation, might even have been a little ahead of its time in places.

Walking the Streets of a Former Hell: Now for something a little bit different. This one really captures its setting supremely well and blends in well with the general chaos that accompanies the stage itself. It’s a shame it doesn’t stand out nearly as well as it might do in other games, but that’s not its fault; everything else around it in this game is just so good.

A Flower-Studded Sake Dish on Mt. Ooe: And the tempo goes right back up again for Yuugi’s supremely fun, sometimes terrifying battle. Lovely instrumentation throughout, and a superb beat. This one is a lot of fun. Just don’t get distracted by it too much in the middle of the actual action.

Heartfelt Fancy: And now things get serious. And super chilling. So much to like about this one, from instrumentation, to beat, to tone, to the changes in it. It’s not outstanding in one aspect, but it is really good in all the ones that matter. If only that were enough here…

Satori Maiden ~ 3rd eye: From an experimental tune in the stage, we go to a more conventional Touhou theme for Satori herself. All the Touhou elements we know and love are in this one. Pianos in the first half, ZUNpets in the second. This is refreshingly old-school… Not surprisingly I suppose, given the nature of Satori’s fight. Which, of course, uses all old stuff.

Lullaby of Demonic Hell: Whoa. What an astonishing feeling this song gives you. With the wind blowing and some utterly glorious instrumentation, this is one of the most atmospheric songs in the entire series. This is where SA’s soundtrack starts to get really, properly good. The drama is high in this one.

Corpse Voyage ~ Be of good cheer!: And all of a sudden the mood goes all rather cheerful for Rin’s theme. Obvious, really, with a name like that. It’s rather surprising but by itself this is another fine tune. That brief drop is also supremely dramatic. In some ways though, I reckon it could’ve been a longer song.

Hellfire Mantle: A far cry from many Stage 6 songs in the series, but then Stage 6 itself is a far cry from most Stage 6s. An elongated stage deserves an elongated song, and the superheated hell in which this takes place gets a tune utterly befitting of it. Again, the atmosphere here is utterly awesome. A magnificent build-up, too, to what comes afterwards.

Solar Sect of Mystic Wisdom ~ Nuclear Fusion: Simply a phenomenal song. The best way to do this justice, quite simply, is to put it to Reiuji Utsuho’s fight itself. The most amazing Touhou moment I had ever witnessed when I first clapped eyes on it. It might just remain so, even today. This song is a huge part of it. An epic in the absolute extreme, the tone this song sets in context is just perfect. Truly a song for the ages, this one.

Last Remote: I’m not gonna beat around the bush here; I absolutely love this song. It just seems so perfect to listen to in every way. I love the tone it strikes right from the start, I love how well composed it is, I love how it changes up all the time, how something new seems to pop up constantly. Some of the instruments that come in are just wonderful. And the last part of the song reverts to type with its ever high-pitched ZUNpets. There’s something for absolutely everyone to love in this song, and I feel it really is my favourite song in all Touhou. It’s not an absolute classic in the context of the whole series, but it’s pretty close. And either way, it doesn’t matter. It just happens to hit all my spots, this one.

Hartmann’s Youkai Girl: And this is up there as well, a terrific soundtrack to what I still reckon is the best fight in all Touhou. It’s such an astonishingly well-composed song that its three remixes in all the fighting games stand out amongst just about all other songs in their respective games. The tone the original strikes, though, is terrific, and the constant changes in it are magical as well. The starting tone is my favourite of all, though. But all round this is a perfect climax to a perfect game, and is at its best in the situation it was made for – Koishi’s brilliant, bewitching battle.

Idolmaster Cinderella Girls: The bit where they do what they were picked for (Part 3)

To finish up, more image song talk. Turns out there are quite a lot of them.

2nd SIDE: My observation on this last time was that it bore great similarities with Ridge Racer’s songs, forgetting that Ridge Racer is an actual Bamco franchise. That still stands, which does beg the ultimate question: Does it actually work as a Ridge Racer song?

Well, yes. Yes it does. And it’s bloody brilliant. Very well done to the in-house tsundere done right.

Nekketsu Otome A: Another less notable song coming from a Passion pool that seems to run way too dry. Like Airi’s theme, this one is most notable for its ‘yay’s, not through a lack of enthusiasm this time but through a general sense of weirdness about them. Like, who says the actual word like that? Ever?

Ki-ma-gu-re☆Cafe au lait!: As I claimed previously, this is the best image song in the literal sense of the term; a song designed to demonstrate the image of its singer. As I also claimed previously, you should listen to it in full to get an idea of what a good song it is as well. And, to avoid repeating myself, two more claims; firstly on the lyrics, which are so lovely, soft and ultimately befitting of Frederica you can’t help but love them. Secondly, its MV is lots of fun, too, despite Freddy inexplicably winking in the middle of it on approximately 700 different occasions. Perhaps even she knows her eyes are so much better closed than open. See, I told you this song fitted her like a slipper.

Hakka -Hakka-: And now for something completely different, a song calmer than almost any other the franchise can offer. Karen is the unorthodox but surprisingly well-suited choice for it and when you sit back and take it in it really is something quite special. Alas, as I’ve touched on in the past, songs like this aren’t quite up my street but I can at least admire this one for what it is. Presumably they missed the bit where ‘Karen’s corpse’ happens in this one. That probably wouldn’t be a suitable image to convey, even for someone with an illness so severe no one actually knows what it is.

Dokukinoko Densetsu: Well, blimey. They sure nailed Syoko’s representation alright, but isn’t it a little…overbearing? I suppose if anything, this comes across as blooming hilarious for how un-iM@s some of it turns out like. But then that’s what you can expect from a very un-iM@s character like Syoko. Much like this song, though, she’s just not up my alley. Funny at times, yes. But not my kind of mushroom. Also, it’s pretty bloody terrifying on Starlight Stage.

Himitsu no Toilette: The most paradoxical song in the series on a personal level, in that I pretty much can’t abide it and yet can’t help but know it well because absolutely everyone else loves it. So well in fact that I would have FC’d it on my first attempt were it not for a single (and seemingly inexplicable, if I say so myself) note off to the side right at the end. I punched the screen quite hard at that predicament. Right where Shiki was, of course. Specifically the moment she did the single most terrifying thing in animated history; that wink at the end. I don’t get scared at much, as you’ll find out with the next song, but as soon as that came out of nowhere in the MV I wanted to cry to my mummy. Help, please get this crazy scientist off me. The other terrible problem this song has is that I would probably call the lyrics an unqualified success coming from someone I liked, impossible scientific terms be damned. Coming from someone with Shiki’s morals, when she’s telling you to ‘Release your libido’ – yes, she actually says that – they become nothing short of frightening. Hate me all you want for hating on such a beloved idol, but you can’t question me for looking for more in my idols than someone who thinks that sniffing people up in public for no readily apparent reason is an acceptable custom. Still, she can find cheer in the fact this isn’t my least favourite song she features in.

Also, a small note; this is widely considered Starlight Stage’s hardest Master. Which is why I cleared it on my first try, obviously. That’s more than can be said for a lot of songs which I actually like. (Hello, Ao no Ichibanboshi…and Tokken…and Tokimeki.) See, I told you this song was a personal paradox…

Chiisana Koi no Misshitsu Jiken: I can’t fault this one for imagery. If you’re looking for a creepy song to fit a creepy girl, look nowhere else. The problem is, it’s not necessarily what I want out of any person; a fascination with horrific death, violent gore, and the grim supernatural. So, that in mind, this is a song that, while executed superbly, is not scary, but still deeply unsettling. And I don’t live to be unsettled. I prefer songs without sudden shifts to people screaming in terror, and then freaky whispers, and a cut to white noise at the end. Sorry to any fans of that sort of thing. Not everyone is like you.

Can’t Stop!!: Here’s another song that gets plenty of love, but actually, in spite of its considerable energy, it is actually a remarkably plain song on the face of it. It’s hardly a crime against music, no pun intended, but there’s just nothing here to really excite. But that’s OK – Sanae has better songs elsewhere, anyway. iM@s does a fine job with a lot of songs, but they can’t be winners with every single one.

Koiiro Energy: I am paying a little more attention to Yuka of late, a Cute idol because she’s trying to be one, not necessarily because she is one.* But even a couple of listens to her song haven’t really turned me on to it. I suppose trying to fit her karate theme wouldn’t fit very well here given her ultimate goal. It’s a noble one, but I can’t help but reckon she should’ve stuck closer to her roots. Nothing wrong with karate, really.

*Think Nico Yazawa. Literally, because they look completely identical.

Ao no Ichibanboshi: Now this is a properly good tune, in fact if you listen to the entirety of the song (which I highly recommend) it almost flirts with epicness. I suppose they had to give Syuko her due – remember, no matter what manner she achieved it in, she was the Cinderella Girl at the time. IOSYS put in their finest shift for this song and the result is a song that Syuko-chan and her super well-rounded voice can be very proud of. Behold, the most underrated idol of them all. Yes, I realise what a contradiction it is to be both underrated and an ex-Cinderella Girl, but that’s kind of the way Syuko is. There is no idol quite like her, anywhere.

You do wonder though how they’re ever going to follow it up, though. I mean, presuming she eventually gets a second image song, what the hell are they going to do? A song where she permanently tells you “Onaka suita~n”? Actually, that’s not such a bad idea… Hopefully it’d be a bit easier on Starlight Stage. I’m not sure why, but all of IOSYS’ songs are really bloody hard. All four of them are 27*s and Syuko’s is the hardest of the lot (although Marchen Debut runs it close). Why must this be?!

Kimochi ii yo ne Ittoushou!: I’ll sum up the insanity of this song by telling you its BPM: 130 to 183. Yes, this is a song whose tempo goes up and down like a pair of whore’s drawers. And you know what? It’s pretty brilliant. It’s baseball chanting, slowing down with hilarious instrumentation, slowly but surely picking up until it all goes mad. It’s a massive ball of fun and, no word of a lie, Yuki is much better for it. Well done, her. Makes for an interesting/difficult experience on Deresute, too.

La Vie en Rose: I’m not all that inclined towards Momoka to be honest, but her theme is sweet enough. This is a song I can enjoy plenty, even if once again the lyrics don’t do her justice. For crying out loud, I’m not interested in your bloody 12-year old self. With this in mind the infinite cries of ‘Hello police’ when one of these young’uns comes into the frame make more sense. I don’t see them like that, I see them as people. But they can make it a bit hard for themselves sometimes.

in fact: Here’s a 12-year-old that does none of what I just said. Arisu ‘Tachibana-dess’ is far too sensible for that sort of thing and chooses to buck the trend by crying on stage instead. And no one wants to see that either. But then again, in fact bucks the trend of nearly every other song by being a bit sad. So I can’t blame her, really. Unless this apparently ‘Cool’ idol isn’t as nerveless as she might make out. After all, ‘sensible’ and ‘nerveless’ are not synonyms.

Miracle Telepathy: Mercifully, here’s someone coming along with a much more fun song in the form of Yuko Hori. I’m not entirely enamoured of Yuko, but I can’t deny her song is pretty good. From the moment she starts lovably spinning her mind into action it’s all quite hilarious. And in spite of its apparent difficulty on Deresute, it seems like the kind of song I could FC, except for one small problem: my Overload Yuko never activates when I need her most. Come on, Yuko-chan. It’s your own song, for chrissake.

Koi no Hamburg♪: If you think I reckon some of these idols are unremarkable, let me tell you the true fact that the most attention I’ve ever paid Kyoko was in a recent CinGeki 5koma, where she shares a comic with Kanade and Mika. Who are my top two. That, I think, says it all. Her song doesn’t change matters. Your guess is as good as mine behind the title’s reasoning: at no point outside the chorus are hamburgers, nor the German city of Hamburg, mentioned. And even the music note’s not that indicative of, you know, good music. The instrumentation’s alright, but other than that…meh. Still, at least the lyrics aren’t unremarkable. Instead, they’re just utterly bizarre. I mean, there’s not much to play up with Kyoko, so trying to play up her housewife traits was never going to work. Best move on and listen to something else instead.

Kyoumei Sekai no Ontology: Here’s a song you could cut yourself on if you’re not careful. Behold the ‘identity-searching’ faux-philosopher that is Asuka. The song and its genre is very well suited to its singer, especially the moment where her voice fades out into a buzz of white noise. Now that’s what I call edgy. But again, I can’t help thinking that this is just not my sort of thing. Really close, though.

Radio Happy: This is my idea of pop. And a very, very good example of the breed. There’s not much to this, just one really feel-good hit before you to listen to. And Yui is as ideal a singer as you could imagine for such a thing. No wonder this is another one of the biggest fan favourites in the franchise.

To my darling…: I can only assume Sachiko is singing this song to herself. It’s the only logical explanation for a love song from her. Also she tries to write a diary in the lyrics but gives up at 1pm. And the song itself is nothing special.

Minna no Kimochi: Now here’s a song to sum up its singer. Nina’s is just her idea of a lot of fun – nothing more, nothing less. Nothing wrong with that. Especially when they manage to spice up the MV by giving animal hands to the idols you put alongside her. Sadly, whenever I turn 3D on to play this song I always end up with an arrangement that makes this interesting concept look ridiculous. Not much I can do about that one, sadly.

Koi Kaze: Here is this corner of iM@s’ magnum opus, the consensus favourite (although a certain god-tier unit might dare to tell us otherwise). While this is yet another song that doesn’t hit my spot completely, it’s impossible to deny its magnificence and its appeal. There’s a reason Saori Hayami is kind of a big deal, you know. This song might not necessarily have made Kaede, but it has helped her massively in becoming one of CG’s icons. Hence my claim that everybody loves Kaede, and everybody loves her song, too. Probably why they kept its hype train held at station for so long before putting it into Deresute at last.

Koi Kaze -Hanaba-: A recent addition to the game’s roster from New Year’s, this song was necessitated by the election’s rules that current Cinderella Girl Kaede should cover Koi Kaze. See the problem there? Cunningly, Bamco got round this by making a remix of Koi Kaze instead. Koi Kaze 2.0, if you will. This one’s even better than the original to me, largely on account of a great turn of voice from Kaede for the chorus and its dramatic back-up singers, but the sample in the game is not of the highest sound quality. Perhaps a fitting symbol for the new year’s event it came from, which they largely bottled. It’s a fine song, but really, for the next election, if Kaede can defend her title (which, honestly, is not beyond an idol of her stature), Koi Kaze needs to be retired from the song election. It hasn’t lost one it’s been in and we don’t want a situation like this again. Let something else have a turn.

lilac time: While Yumi is undoubtedly a lovely, lovely girl – whose SSR I now have to boot – her song is not even remotely notable. It’s not bad, but certainly not great either. Maybe that’s why the Cinderella Masters have run dry; they’re all out of ideas. Considering all the most interesting idols have been covered at this point anyway, you can kind of see why. Well, that and their lack of resources since they hit the jackpot with this little known game called ‘Starlight Stage’.

Oikaze Running: No, it’s not another version of Koi Kaze. This is the lovely Yuuki’s image song, but I was a bit distracted listening to it the first time, because crikey, there are a lot of notes in it on Deresute. That’s a 27* for you. Once I was in more ordinary territory I could take it in properly and found…a very un-cute song indeed. It’s actually very action-packed, but the problem is it doesn’t really lead to anything. It’s just sort of ‘meh’. And perhaps proof Yuuki is not, in fact, a Cute idol. She’s far too sane for that tag.

And lastly,

Frost: If you look at my last post, you’ll notice I went for an event ticket on this song’s event. This involved playing said song a lot, and though my intentional methodology of alternating between it and other songs might’ve helped, the fact I never really got bored of Frost speaks volumes. Actually, what speaks even more volumes is the fact this song is relatively average on the whole, nothing special. For one of iM@s’ more unremarkable songs to still be bearable after force-feeding it to myself some 50 times is testament to the sheer quality of the franchise’s music. I know I haven’t been glowing about some or even most of its songs, but really, its ‘average’ is what most other series’ ‘good’ is…

Well, there you have it. My thoughts on every song in Starlight Stage. And if you thought I was talking about a lot of songs, bear in mind this is far from the entire franchise’s collection. There’s all manner of other songs out there worth noting, from Little Stars, to Master Seasons, to second image songs, to cover songs. I could give shout-outs to all sorts from those series, like Akimeite Ding Dong Dang!, Twintail no Kaze, Neo Beautiful Pain and more. Really, there’s plenty more out there to enjoy.  So go and check out the library for yourself. And find your very own favourite in there somewhere. Hope my opinions have given you some good recommendations… Just don’t take everything I’ve said as gospel. Everyone has their own taste.

My fresh new top 25

  1. Hotel Moonside
  2. Trancing Pulse
  3. TOKIMEKI Escalate
  4. Tulip
  5. Venus Syndrome
  6. Absolute NIne
  7. Memories
  8. Saite Jewel
  9. Naked Romance
  10. Ao no Ichibanboshi
  11. Never say never
  12. 2nd SIDE
  13. Nocturne
  14. Aikurushii
  15. Ki-ma-gu-re☆Cafe au lait!
  16. Illusionista!
  17. Dekitate Evo! Revo! Generation!
  18. Zettai Tokken Shuchou Shimasuu!
  19. Trinity Field
  20. Little Riddle
  21. Mitsuboshi☆☆★
  22. Radio Happy
  23. Watashi-iro Gift
  24. Atashi Ponkotsu Android
  25. Onedari Shall We~?

(Honourable mentions: Pastel Pink na Koi, Near to You, Jet to the Future, Ankira!? Kyousoukyoku, Mouretsu★Yonaoshi Guilty!)

MIKA JOUGASAKI HAS A PERMANENT SSR

Stop what you’re doing and look at this very important card.

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It’s Mika, and she finally has a perm. It only took two and a half years.

This is important, because, as I’ve previously established, the one thing she was lacking was a good SSR. Yes, I know a lot of people like her CinFes. I’m not one of them, though. And I only recently explained the 700 different problems with her lim’s art. That’s how not to represent Mika.

This is how to represent Mika.

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Look at all those residents of idol hell bowing down to their slay queen.

Let’s take a look at some of the rave reviews she’s been getting.

“Oh good, new Mika ssr doesn’t have that stupid hair style they usually give her” – GoldenCrater, Discord

“I can’t believe the art is not focused on her butt, c’mon Scamco” – Anon, Discord

“FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU– SHE’S ALL ROUNDER LIKE I DREADED” – /u/gungnir8, Reddit

“suzuho ueda found dead in miami” – /u/weeb2000, Reddit

“I’m not dead, honest!” – Suzuho Ueda

It’s not the flashiest, but them perms rarely are. The outfit suits her down to the ground. It’s like her high-school uniform if she designed it. Which is, to say, a normal one gone wild. It’s the little details that really make it, though. The belt, predictably with trademark and all. The MJ badge, worthy initials for someone at the top of the game. And it’s also a proper single-tail for Mika, which looks as terrific as it always does with her.

And completing this image is none other than the most suitable backdrop of them all; Shibuya 💯. Sorry, Shibuya 109. If you don’t know, it’s like an altar of worship for gyarus. Hence putting the resident gyaru in front of it and hence everyone around acting as if she were the actual Messiah.

So, now that Mika is finally on a par with everyone else around her (there are only three voiced idols left without a perm), I suppose I can come out and say she’s another one of the best characters I’ve ever seen. She caught my eye early on when getting into the iM@s groove, but since then, and especially since the start of the year, I’ve come to realise just how special she is. She stands out as possibly the only character I’ve known who feels both heaven-sent, and down-to-earth…at the same time. She’s hotter than the centre of the sun, but when you hear her talk she’s a typical, lovely sweet girl. Even a little easily embarrassed, at times. I mean, she’s the butt of a lot of jokes. You only need to see how many CinGekis she gets wrecked in to see what I’m on about. And that’s reassuring. I’m the butt of a lot of jokes, too. So I find sympathy with those who are in the same position. Actually, I’ve found myself relating to her more than any character I’ve ever seen. Yes, that’s right. A 17 year old high school gyaru feels relatable to me, a 20 year old working bloke. If anything, that might be her greatest party trick of all.

What about from an overall standpoint, though? Well, if we’re talking idols, she was already top 5 calibre before. Now though…I honestly think this puts her in the top drawer. She’s not the best in iM@s, let’s be clear; Kanade is untouchable to me. But, I mean, someone like Maki isn’t the best in Love Live and she’s still one of my favourites of all-time. But who would I rather: Maki or Mika?

Well, given they seem to share one habit in common…

 

 

…I’m tempted to call it a draw.

Seriously, though. This matters right now. If Kanade is the idol who brings me the most joy, Mika is the one who cheers me up most when I’m down. She certainly did this week. This perm came at the end of the most arduous week of work I’ve had in ages. I’d been hoping for her to come round each gacha this month. People were all like, “Nah, there’s a 95% chance it’s gonna be [x] or [y]!” Yeah, never predict Bamco, guys. I never said in direct conversation “I hope it’s Mika”, ’cause that would’ve jinxed it. I guarantee you. Sure enough, this Friday, bam… There she was. And I never have to worry about when she’ll come again. Because she’s here, and she’s for real. This isn’t the only time she’s cheered me up… She’s given me true inspiration through stuff like the anime. Heck, I’ve felt sorry for her plenty a time. She’s made me smile with her personality, her truthful flaws behind her seemingly flawless persona as an idol. Behind the pink hair, those ever-varying golden eyes, that fang, that grin, that sweet, distracting voice, and all the sex appeal in the world, are more human qualities than I’ve ever seen in a character. She’s an ordinary girl who just so happens to be an extraordinary idol.

That’s why I love Mika. And that’s why I’m not afraid to admit she’s now one of my favourite characters ever.

And now, having waited all this time for her perm, there’s just one thing left to do… Let’s see her in action. Except I can’t. Because, even in all this time waiting for her, I still have never beaten fucking Tokimeki. That’s changing now. And I don’t care that I have all the cards I want for now and therefore jewels are no object, or that I could just go watch it on YouTube; I’m doing it on my own merits, and without dying. For the love of idol hell’s most devilish idol, I must beat her song.

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…And I did.

Oh, and that was at the end of trying to get this…

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There was only gonna be one card I’d ever get from that.

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Achievement unlocked…

Idolmaster Cinderella Girls: The bit where they do what they were picked for (Part 2)

Continuing on from where we left off. Here, it’s time to talk about something other than image songs.

Message: Part of the third election’s collection, this is a song that dares to play with long periods of gratuitous English and lives to tell the tale. It’s a decent enough song with plenty of cheer about it, but there are others around that do the same thing, better.

Kagayaku Sekai no Mahou: This is the second election’s bunch. Early days, I know, and it kind of shows. Still, I can’t fault the title; it’s definitely correct, given they say it plenty of times throughout. Struggling to care about it otherwise, though.

We’re the friends!: The other half of the third election’s collection. The instrumentation is OK for the most part, but this houses plenty of annoying ‘yay’s and ‘woo’s. Together. God help me. Also not sure about the singing of the chorus. Harsh, I know. But they got better with these election songs. Trust me.

Yuubae Present: Apparently, Cinderella Project sung this and it was the ending song for most of the anime’s episodes. I’m damned if I remember, though. I can’t remember a single thing about it. Give me a sec…

Ah yes, this one. It’s sweet enough I suppose, but…nothing too special. Another typical CinPro affair, really.

GOIN’!!!: This is a song I know more as an annoyance than anything else. This is because, until recently, I liked going to the pinya for Lives more often than not, and it gave me this song every…single…time. And I never FCd it. Ever. When I finally pulled it off, it was in a Live Groove. I was breathing metaphorical fire from my fingers in that particular groove, but it didn’t count. Amazing what you can achieve when you’re not under pressure. I did eventually go out and do it properly, and in all the time I’ve listened to it the song has grown on me to a certain extent. So, you know what, I’ll say it’s alright.

Memories: Is this the best thing to come out of Cinderella Project? Quite possibly. If you thought Minami’s song was 90s-ish, wait till you see this effort with her girlfriend Anya. What a magnificent beat and set of instruments this song is lucky to have. And what a beautiful chorus these two sing. Once I remembered just how great this song was the first time it jumped right into my high tiers. Well done to you, Love Laika.

ØωØver!!: Nya. Nya. Nya. Nya. Nya. Nya. Nya. Nya. Nya. Nya. Nya. Nya. Nya. Nya. Nya.  In between these constant outbreaks of Miku lies a decent enough theme together with Riina, in a theme about as chaotic as their unit. No infighting was made in the making of this song. None at all. No, siree.

LET’S GO HAPPY!!: If you thought none of IOSYS’ songs were quite insane enough before, listen to this. It’s bloody mental. And as well it should be because a unit like Decoration encourages nothing but hyperactivity. This is plenty of fun, especially if you like your stuff hectic. I personally can take that sort of thing done just right, which this is. Great stuff.

Dekitate Evo! Revo! Generation!: The other best thing to come out of the Cinderella Project, NewGen’s main theme is the best song which is on nodding terms with the most typical idol-ish tracks. A surprising turn of epicness courtesy of some magnificent instrumentation makes this song so much better than anything else like it in this franchise. The tone the song sets is just right – absolutely ideal, even. With that, I reckon EvoRevoGen is an unqualified success. Even if their first attempt at it very much wasn’t. Thanks, Mio.

Happy×2 Days: Here’s another quality song coming from the anime. This one is made better by an unlikely hero in Anzu, who brings out her rap game to make it that little bit more special. A bit like the associated episode they got, actually. Kanako and Chieri are fine as well, this song still suiting Kanako and her gorgeous voice supremely well. Plenty of other sweet moments throughout make this a superb song on the whole.

-Engel- Adanasu Tsurugi Hikari no Shirabe: When I first found this song in the anime I actually rather liked it. As my opinion on Ranko has deteriorated, it has done so likewise with this song, effectively a second image song for the occasionally unconvincing chuuni. She still makes no sense in it. Oh yeah, and this is known to plenty as LEGNE. Guess what that’s a reverse of… Spooky. It’s also apparently really bloody hard on the highest difficulties. Just as well I’m not playing it on them, then.

Kono Sora no Shita: This was actually in Episode 20? Oh, bloody hell, I must have missed that. Gimme a sec…

Oh, that’s why. Because it’s Love Laika feat. Rosenburg Engel. It’s a much more peaceful affair than either of their other songs. As slow songs go, it’s not too bad, and their combined vocals aren’t too bad. But it’s a good example of why some cool songs send people to sleep. Which is not too good.

Wonder goes on!!: This was the supergroup that came to be out of Riina and Miku’s real partners. Half of the unit is good; the other half is not. The song, though? Well…

…It’s about as hectic as you’d expect. There’s all sorts going on, but it’s an awful lot to take in and it only adds up to about the sum total of the unit; average. Riina and Natsuki are lovely in my book; Miku and Nana are not. That, as they say, is the way it goes.

Watashi-iro Gift: The trade-off of one of the anime’s best episodes. Everyone from Episode 17 – still a source of inspiration to this writer at times – is in this one, and the highly charged voices of Decoration are compounded by a set of vocals from Mika that’re so good they’re almost distracting. Not so distracting, though, that I can’t nearly FC this song…on Master. Yes, you read that correctly. I made it through over 500 notes of about 550 and, with my tokimeki escalated heart beating hard and fast, niced a note in the final section of the song. I should have taken overload Yuko to save me, really… Oh wait, I did. And she didn’t. Thanks, Yuko.

But anyway. On the whole, this song is all kinds of cheerful. It’s calm compared to Let’s Go Happy but certainly not calm by any other standards. This is a loud and proud song.

Shine!!: This one’s alright, actually. Better than its direct cousin Star, the opening to the second season is a more inspired song than the first to this writer. Realistically there shouldn’t be much difference between them, not when they’re both aiming to achieve the exact same thing and have to make do with the same 13-idol mega-show. So it’s fine margins that make one song better than the other and Shine nails them better than most songs like it. So I’d say it’s got plenty of appeal about it.

Trancing Pulse: World-class. No song in the series is as dramatic as this. Everything about the song lends itself to the kind of drama you can’t possibly resist. There’s the incredibly chilling acapella intro, the action-packed opening, the stirring instrumentation, and then the slow-down as it all builds up all over again, courtesy of a magnificent trio in Rin, Karen and Nao. Rin’s absolutely epic voice is in full flow, Nao’s adds plenty of blaring and looks like she’s making an absolute rave of the whole thing. Karen’s silky smooth singing is the icing on the cake. And you wonder why this is everyone’s favourite unit. It’s bloody brilliant. And once it breaks out again you have a song that is near-flawless from start to finish. One of the most terrific tunes I’ve been lucky enough to hear. This stands as my second favourite, personally. If I could recommend a song to anyone getting into iM@s, this’d be a good candidate. But I’d keep them waiting till Episode 22 when it hits in the anime.

M@GIC☆: Plenty of pomp and circumstance about this one, I suppose, but it’s not necessarily a total success. Magic is fine for the most part, just not that good. So with that in mind, Star stands as probably my favourite CinPro song. Yes, I know I haven’t covered them all just yet. But their songs were never going to be the ones that caught my ear the most. Hence the J-pop statement I made previously. Their stuff sticks closest to it than anything else, but in spite of that personal thing I reckon they make a pretty good effort on the whole.

Susume☆Otome ~jewel parade~: And now we start on the Jewelries songs. And Jewel Parade stands alone among its direct peers as an unusual song because its ‘full’ version was actually done by the Cinderella Project. Perhaps they should have stuck to a similar plan with the other two. I mean, 13 isn’t much less than the 15-idol frenzies that came later, but it’s a group of 13 we know works. The other three versions were split between the other three jewelries, some of which very much were not in CinPro. (I’d take the passion version, personally.) In all cases though, this isn’t the most inspiring song the collection has brought. It’s not totally without merit, but it does sound a bit generic overall. Like the kind of thing you’d hear in a casino or something. OK for a first attempt, though.

Atashi Ponkotsu Android: The best of the first jewelries bunch by some distance. And this is a song with Uzuki, Nana and Miku in it. That sounds like it’d be a disaster for me, but actually, the composition of this song is pretty great. The instrumentation is mostly strong throughout as well, and ultimately the combination of voices does the song plenty of justice. It would be more of a surprise if I hadn’t been into it for so long. So perhaps I should consider it one of my earliest unexpected favourites.

Nation Blue: Word has it the full version of this song is actually fine. I haven’t heard that yet and am going off the Deresute version which is highly disappointing. I’d been led to believe by other sources, even before hearing it, that it was something else, but it just leaves me cold every time. It just never really kicks off, despite having a very solid collection of idols (and Ranko). And then, once the chorus is over, it just…stops. Almost as if there were an actual power failure, if the MV is anything to go by. The likes of Rin, Kaede and Minami deserve better.

Orange Sapphire: This has the best unit on the basis that none of the idols are bad at all, and yet while this song is kinda sorta fun in places, it’s really not much more than an average ‘passion’ song. Whatever that constitutes. Probably far too many notes to be comfortable with. Why do they always do that with passion songs, anyway? It makes me coil in horror at the sight of them, sometimes. The exception that proves that rule is the next jewelries song coming up (Master difficulty notwithstanding).

Yumeiro Harmony: So this was apparently the ending song for chunks of season 2. Blimey, I’ll have to jog my memory on that one as well. Not good news when I loved S2 so dearly. Gimme a sec…

OK, yeah, I remember this one now, too. And I forgot it because it, too, was wholly unremarkable for the most part. Comfortably the most lukewarm of CinPro’s songs, I would vouch.

Nagareboshi Kiseki: NewGen’s second song. Not quite as good as their first, but then most other songs aren’t as good as their first either. And this one is actually fine. In fact, I’d even call the chorus tuneful. It also stands out, inexplicably, as being one of my first FCs on Deresute. I mean, I don’t find it that special, and I haven’t managed it since. I just nailed it once. And that’s fine by me. I haven’t managed that with plenty of other songs yet…

Snow Wings: This is what Bamco wants us to believe is the most important song in Deresute history. Or so it seems, sometimes. They aren’t fooling us. It’s not a bad song per se but it does get a bit too hyper at times. In particular, I’m not sure what to make of the chorus, from the moment the ‘Wings of snow’ hit. I’d prefer other sorts of wings, personally. Wings of buffalo? That’d sound much more attractive.

Gokigen Party Night: This was the first jewelries song to feature one of the 15-idol maelstroms that came to define these collections. That’s a little overbearing so I tend to stick to the Cute, Cool and Passion versions of each, or, if you’d like, the event version Deresute provided. Of course, at the end of the day they are all very similar. None of the units who’ve sung this song are without fault, which is a shame because this is a really rather enjoyable song otherwise. You know what it makes me want to do? Party through the night. I suppose that most days, I’d compromise and listen to the cool version.

Pastel Pink na Koi: This one’s pretty good. It’s lots of fun to listen to, actually – it’s a relatively harmless song in the grand scheme of things. And it does that in spite of a unit which is a long way off perfect. No one in it is that great except for Kanako, but it doesn’t matter because they actually make for a rather good tune. Well done, you (not particularly) cuties.

Orgel no Kobako: This one’s just plain weird to me. Everything, from the MV, to the instrumentation, to the tone it sets, is just like ‘Huh?’ Certainly, it’s one great way to waste an otherwise promising unit of Mizuki, Koume, Anastasia, Nao and Karen. I can think of a million better ways to use them than this. Heck, Gokigen Party Night probably does them the most justice of all. Probably better to just go and listen to that instead.

Zettai Tokken Shuchou Shimasuu!: This is another surprise favourite of mine, my favourite from this selection of jewelries, just beating out Pastel Pink. The unit isn’t exactly star-studded but it’s better on the whole than its cute counterpart. Where this song is at its best though is in Deresute. The map is as fun as it gets, anywhere. It’s a real workout, but not to such an extent it tears you apart. Which is to say, the notes are plentiful but ultimately about where you’d expect them to be. And that’s my kind of song. Certainly, it’s helped me appreciate it that much more. Mind you, it took me a while to FC it ‘properly’. The first time I managed it was a Live Party, which blew me away somewhat at the time; the second time was in the most recent Live Groove which put my fingers on a real hot streak. Then eventually I went out and got my due’s worth for those two FCs. It’s a great warm-up song actually – it really gets you going. Good job, pashunistas.

…Just remember, I’m talking about Pro FCs. Not Masters. The less said about this song’s Master…the better.

Tulip: If you asked me the question ‘What is the best song to come out of Cinderella Girls?’, this would be the answer. Above all, Tulip stands as Idolmaster’s biggest ear worm courtesy of an insane level of quality that has made quite literally everyone fall in love with it. There’s all sorts going on with its beat and instrumentation. There’s jazz, electro, and more. It’s all quite mad and all quite brilliant. The lyrics are some of my favourites, and make for one suggestive theme, even if most of them are of course just the song’s magnificent wordplay, “Kiss me, Chu chu chu chu chu chu♡lip”. And the vocals to those lyrics are amongst the very best any song can offer, so utterly tuneful. Behind those vocals are comfortably Tulip’s biggest legacy, and what ultimately elevates it into one of the most special, iconic songs in all of iM@s; the unit.

It is, quite simply, better than any other. I found about them very early on in my initial induction into this idol hell. And, while it didn’t happen straight away, they have ended up being my top 3 – Kanade, Mika and Syuko – another member of my top 5 in Frederica and, ironically, my least favourite idol in Shiki. But, as I often find myself saying, when was anything ever perfect? And no way in hell can she bring down a foursome of the magnitude of her colleagues. They’re the stuff my dreams are made of. Of course, now that unit comebacks are officially A Thing, many are clamouring for the return of LiPPS this year. I count myself as one of those people. If the recent survey is anything to go by, they’d ideally be next in line after Triad Primus’ second effort. They tried to better Trancing Pulse and failed. If they managed to better Tulip…you can forget the rest of iM@s. It would have to go down as one of the greatest pieces of music…ever. It ‘only’ stands as my third favourite on personal grounds (maybe fourth now behind Tokimeki; there’s only so many times I can listen to it and Kanade’s solo before it goes a bit stale), but it unquestionably stands as one of the series’ biggest successes. I hope they build on it some more.*

*And hope they bring Misato Manaka a voice as the sixth member of LiPPS. Unless everyone ends up shipping her with Kanade. Presumably she’d have a million and one orgasms over her lips, but we don’t need that situation to get more difficult now. We’ve had her with Fumika, Syuko and maybe even Mika at this point. Still, you never know. Maybe Shiki will get lost or something next time round. You never know.

Absolute NIne: The best song to come out of any election and it isn’t even close. This is what I call the definition of ‘an absolute rave’. Like, my goodness. There are few songs in the series quite as epic as this one. The intensity is immense, the instrumentation is a little bit special, I absolutely love some of the dance moves on show in the MV and the vocals on show are just magical, even if only half the unit is actually any good. It’s no coincidence that my favourite election winner takes centre stage in this one; Syuko is really a very lovely idol indeed. Again, if I were recommending songs to a newcomer, this would be one of them. It’s J-pop, but not as we know it. It’s a normal iM@s song, unplugged. And it’s really bloody good.

Hi-Fi☆Days: So this is the unit we all know as LMBG, but more notable is the fact the song actually made it to number 1 in Japan’s singles chart, and got awarded a Gold disc as well. Like, wow. I just wish it’d been spent on a better song. There’s plenty to commend here, though. You can just about get up and dance to it, but that’s to be expected with its insanely high pace. Chie’s vocals are even quite interesting in places. But while this is actually a half-decent tune, it’s not the be all and end all of iM@s. From this, therefore, we can only conclude that Japan is a nation that likes 9-12 year old idols. Hello, police…

Tsubomi: The complete and utter opposite of its election’s other side. This is as soft and innocent as you can imagine in iM@s and it turns out perfectly alright. And again, it manages this in spite of only having half a good unit. I really wish they’d kept some of the better parts of Absolute Nine’s bunch, but alas the people of 2015 were wrong. One suspects we won’t get a better pair of election songs than this, considering most of the top 10 is likely to be filled with girls the hivemind have decreed they want voiced. Twas ever thus with the Cinderella Girls.

Seizon Honnou Valkyria: It took me a while to take in this song properly. Even them getting proper costumes (unlike LiPPS, whom Bamco copped out on with their dresses) didn’t draw my attention to a unit that is actually perfectly fine. Actually, it seemed to give off an aura of sadness outwardly. Even the art on its cards is really bloody edgy. Minami and Arisu have form with sadness, I suppose. But Aiko and Yumi? Really? Bloody hell. However, despite the song seeming rather bleak at times, thanks to some decent instrumentation, it isn’t all gloom and doom actually. Unfortunately, the cheerful bits aren’t really notable enough for me. Can’t help but think they left a lot on the table with this one, to be honest.

Ashita Mata Aeru yo ne: Having somehow contrived to make two very good songs from two bad units, it was probably natural the Cute jewelries would drop the ball with its best unit’s song. Even putting aside the Shiki in the room, Frederica is as good as cute idols get and the other three are largely inoffensive. And yet this is what they get. A song with a catchy intro and outro, and…that’s about it. Unbelievable.

Saite Jewel: The best jewelries song by a long, long way. After two very nondescript cool efforts, they loosened the shackles for their third effort and ended up with something special. The tempo and drama of the song is palpable. The instrumentation is particularly epic, and the vocals are just fantastic, thanks to probably the best unit any jewelries song can lay claim to – even if their solo moments can be few and far between at times. Obviously Kanade and Syuko are very excellent, but no one’s noticing them together because everyone’s busy paying attention to Kanade and Fumika instead. Tachibana-desu does a fine job too and I’m more than willing to give Asuka a pass here. This is one highly enjoyable song.

Late post-edit: What would make it even more enjoyable is the fact it should have been my first proper Master FC. There’s just one problem: the FC in question was in Live Party. So it doesn’t count. Bollocks.

Kimi ni Ippai☆: Considering the Passion jewelries used up all its best idols on the very first pass, this is actually a pretty good combined unit. It’s just a shame that they couldn’t get a song to do them much justice. I mean, it’s all a bit wild and silly, which is fine in Passion terms I suppose, but rather uninspiring on a musical level. I can see why people might like it, but I wouldn’t count myself as one of them, sadly.

Junjou Midnight Densetsu: Now that‘s what I call a unit. I don’t care if some of them aren’t quite so good by themselves, combining Takumi, Rina, Ryo, Aki and Natsuki is an inspired decision, and some. And it doesn’t matter what you do with them, you’re gonna end up with something highly charged with all of them in that mind. With that in mind, Midnight – while not an entirely perfect song – stands out as a very good song to listen to, the chorus probably the highlight. But my god, that unit is good.

Love∞Destiny: My opinion on this blows very hot and cold. Probably because literally every element of the song itself is the definition of ‘a mixed bag’. Well, the unit’s mostly alright. Karen, Miho, Riina and Chieri are fine; Mayu is not. The start of the song features a rare and inexplicable moment of good, but weird sounding yet strangely satisfying English, coming from no one in particular, but the rest of the song isn’t that memorable until the decent chorus. It’s strange to think I used to think this song wouldn’t be that great, probably largely on account of Mayu’s presence, but it’s not too bad. And yet there’s just something unerring about it, to me. Probably the tone it strikes. I don’t think it suits some of the other idols very well. Chieri most of all, probably.

Summer Carnival!!: Tears for the much-unloved Suzuho and Emi here. This is about the only thing most fans remember them for and they were stuck in one real hotchpotch of a unit. I mean, maybe if I squint I can justify it, but on paper having them with Mizuki, Akane and Yuko just does not seem that appealing. Still, you can’t deny the song they made has some gusto to it. There’s plenty of effort thrown behind it, but alas it’s not the greatest song in the world. But at least they tried.

BEYOND THE STARLIGHT: Starlight! If you’re a fan of mid-high tier idols which consensus agrees are no more, no less than ‘pretty good’, you needn’t look beyond…Beyond the Starlight. Rika, Chieri, Karen, Mizuki and Yui is the largely inoffensive, if a little odd, mix for a song that is another which I FC’d surprisingly early, in spite of it being fairly generic on the whole. Like really, it’s not even that memorable. A bit like the unit itself, really. Not good. Not bad. Just fine. But it’s a great song if you suddenly find yourself with a random urge to shout “Starlight”. Starlight!

Near to You: This is the best of the three jewelries’ combined songs, and yet I still wouldn’t take the 15-idol madness here. Even though I only dislike one of them. I mean, if you’re gonna throw that many idols on, you might as well turn the whole thing into a dancefloor for the audience. Although on second thoughts I don’t think 346 wants its idols stolen away. Anyway, you’d think, going off my statements earlier, that the Cool version would be my preferred choice. You’d be right, but one tiny aspect of their song always gets me: right at the start, the idols all drop a ‘yay’ at the start. The passions make a particularly impressive showing with their effort, and the cutes are fine too. But the cool’s attempt, hilariously, results in what has to be the single deadest example of the soundbyte in the series. When you look at the idols in it again, it’s not hard to see why. I suspect Kanade and Fumika did theirs with a gun to their head. (The former’s recent effort in Ding Dong Dang suggests I might be right.) It’s just bloody hysterical. Otherwise, real good song.

Kimi to Boku no Mirai: Ah, yes. This was their collab with Granblue Fantasy. It was alright, I suppose. Nothing worth blowing my frock up over, though. Granblue’s side of the coin, on the other hand…

Love Letter: The Cute type’s attempt at rivalling Triad Primus. They miss by about a million miles. Even though their song is not completely terrible.

STORY: When you think of a collab between NewGen and Triad Primus, you expect fireworks. What we got given instead was a song I’m pretty sure I heard at a wedding once. By itself, the song is probably fine. But considering the potential of what they had here, did it have to be this way?

Jet to the Future: The Riina-Natsuki love-in duet the world wanted. The resulting tune, as you might expect, is highly impressive, and yet I suspect they could have gone even further with it. I suppose they didn’t want to make Riina look too much like a proper rocker. But really, this is fine.

Treasure: This is an interesting concept, and with Mika and Riina alongside NewGen it had the star power factor to be special, but I suspect that, at the time, Bamco didn’t really have the means to make it work. The music plays out more like a drama than a full-time song, but that sort of thing needs quality visuals to go with and Treasure doesn’t have much more to it than a kind of awkward MV. If they made something like it tomorrow, they’d probably make it work like a charm. The game’s MVs have evolved immensely since this point in its history, but this stands out as a case of a song that came too soon.

Aikurushii: This started the trend of taking a song from the Idol Collections and topping them up with extra idols to give them the magic five Deresute needed. First up was Aikurushii, a Sae and Mayu original given an extra boost of quality cute idols in Yukari and Kanako…and Kanade, for some reason. We’ll gloss over the song doing the equivalent of putting a white shirt in the red wash and instead focus on the fact it is really very good indeed. It’s as calming and relaxing as you could you possibly ask for, one of CG’s slowest songs. It’s all very sweet and innocent, and the vocals reflect that wonderfully. Even Mayu’s solos make me take some notice here, and then there’s Sae and Yukari’s silky voices. Kanako’s warm voice, meanwhile, is at its very best here. She is the standout performer here for me, even ahead of Kanade, whose low tones actually lend herself to this song just fine. This is a great effort all round, and it also stands as the first Pro song I ever FCd. You can call it the song I’m best at on Deresute, and I’m happy I can say that about such a good song.

Flip Flop: This was the second time a song got new idols, this one an Aiko and Akane affair added to by Shizuku, Tamami and Karin. From this, you’d expect an all types song – after all, Kanade’s presence alone was enough to make the otherwise all-Cute Aikurushii an all-type. And yet Flip Flop remained a passion song…even though it had literally every type in it. All we’re asking for is a bit of consistency… And this wasn’t the last time they’d drop this particular ball, either. The song itself is as fast-paced as you could possibly imagine, enough to get anyone jiving, but the actual music itself isn’t much more than ‘fairly good’. Also the whole thing seems to take place on a field, if the MV is anything to go by. Justifies Shizuku’s inclusion, at least.

EVERMORE: I have to get a bit mean now. Because Evermore stands out as one of those songs everyone likes…apart from me. I have numerous problems with it. First of all, there’s the unit. Yes, Mika is in it. No, even she can’t make up for the presence of Shiki, Miku and Chuunibyou United. Second, there’s the MV, which is incredibly overblown to me. When you see them rising up onto a stage with what must be about a million people surrounding it, you’re thinking “Well, blimey. They’re not being shy about this one.” And yet all I seem to hear is some relatively underwhelming trumpets, which gives off the weird double act of pomp and circumstance and relative indifference at the same time. If anything though, after all that hype, it’s the chorus that disappoints the most. It’s just so…lukewarm. You’d think they’d properly go for it for their fifth anniversary, and yet… There is just nothing there. So I’m sorry, but Evermore has to go down as one of the few songs in iM@s I don’t like. Like I said previously, though…they don’t need to get every single thing right to be good.

Ankira!? Kyousoukyoku: Anzu and Kirari’s crowning triumph, this is a song that’s about as insane as you’d expect from the pair of them. You will not be surprised to hear that this song is really, really popular. And as well it might be because Anzu and Kirari’s antics here are pretty great.

Inochi Moyashite Koiseyo Otome: Since the title is a bit of a mouthful, I tend to refer to this as ‘the old hags song’. Harsh, I know, but consider it a legacy from Touhou’s use of the term. As you might have guessed, this features all of the oldest idols (well, apart from Mizuki). They work well enough together, unless you have all their SSRs on hand, in which case Nana looks completely out of place. It was always thus with her. But the song itself is absolutely fine, better than fine even. There’s some great instrumentation throughout and some of the vocals work brilliantly.

Lunatic Show: You know how I was talking about Deresute’s hypocrisy in picking types for these idol collection songs? Well, how about a Cool song with one Cool idol in it. Genius. This Syoko and Koume original is redone with the addition of Yuki and those pillars of lunacy, Sachiko and Sae. Because they are of course exactly who you think of when you think of a hard rock song. This utterly bizarre unit choice aside, the song works well enough. It’s certainly an agreeable alternative to Syoko’s image song for me.

Sweet Witches’ Night ~Rokuninme wa Daare~: Behold this terrifying quintet of witches, including Airi with her terrifying lack of awareness, Nono with her terrifying negativity, Shizuku who…erm…well, she could knock you out with her tits, I guess. And… Kanako? I can’t think of anybody less scary than her. Nor Noriko, whose donuts aren’t the scariest thing ever, either. Still, let us not dwell on its unit; this is a fine song. It’s actually quite relaxing overall considering the theme, well-rounded in all musical aspects and it’s generally very easy on the ear. Oh, and I’ve FC’d this one plenty of times, too.

Angel Dream: Now, this was the collaboration with some taiko game called Taiko no Tatsujin. And I think it’s rather good. Rika, Riina and Chieri make for a fine trio and the song is really, really fun – especially the chorus. The vocals are particularly sweet to me. I enjoy this one.

Jounetsu Fun Fanfare: The passions attempt at matching Triad Primus this time. Again, it doesn’t really work out. It’s just too weird-sounding for my tastes.

Sakura no Koro: A song so traditional I came out from listening to it with a Japanese passport. It’s a fine and calm affair though, impressive in places and the unit is spot on. This is a good one.

∀NSWER: If you thought my opinion on Evermore was bad, wait till you see my opinion on Answer. If anything, I enjoy it even less. Again, the unit is a real problem here. Syoko works well with good colleagues around her, but she hasn’t got any here. Mirei…I don’t know about her, really. She seems like Koume without the surprisingly positive side to her. And Nono’s negativity annoys me deeply. So that’s a bad start. And it gets worse the instant the song starts. Call me mad, but I really do not like the instrumentation here. That sound which should be mimicking a guitar instead sounds like an actual angle grinder. It’s horrid. And the vocals don’t help matters, especially when they inexplicably (and badly) start autotuning them. Plus the MV appears to show them dancing in a darkened cage, which has inexplicable bits of metal flying around, and then suddenly and without any real explanation they’re on a stage. Yeah, it doesn’t make much sense. Are they suggesting they’re performing inside the cage before they leap onto the stage, or something? Because no one can hear them down there, the silly idiots.

You know what else I’m not big on? Everyone is forever asking when its Starlight Master is gonna come out. I’m not sure whether I don’t want it because I don’t like the song (unless they provide a superb second image song to go with, or something else), or whether I do want it because it will stop people bloody asking “Answer when?”. Yes, Starlight Masters have slowed to a crawl and it troubles me as well. No, that doesn’t mean I want this one, too.

shabon song: The shanbon song continues the trend of entirely accurate idol collection songs by being a Cute song with only one Cute idol in it. The janbon song was originally Mika and Miho’s jam, a good combo to begin with, and adding Yumi, Haruna and Miria does it no harm whatsoever. It’s one of the stronger units for these sorts of songs, but the bonbon song itself is no more than decent. Also it appears to be a song mostly about bubbles. That’s interesting if you’re a West Ham fan, or Peter Drury, but not if you’re anything else. Still, at least Mika looks niceIsn’t that right, Miho? In fact, Pinky’s lovely, distracting voice is probably the best part of the bourbon song.*

*Incidentally, it’s Mika’s seiyuu’s birthday as I write. Happy birthday. Keep that tokimeki escalated. Keep that voice of yours wonderful and distracting. And have mercy on me in Deresute, please.

Nocturne: The most spectacular of any of the Idol Collection songs. This is a Cool one and – voila – it actually has five Cool idols in it! Well done, guys. And not just that, but five idols who blend together incredibly well. Kaede and Mizuki’s original is bolstered by three more mature idols in Minami, Ryo and Kanade (yes, she showed up in two of these, the lucky girl). And the song they sing really is something else. Unlike some of iM@s’ attempts at epics, this one manages to hit the spot just right. It’s an incredibly powerful song.

Nothing but You: The MV for this is particularly interesting, I have to say. And the unit is pretty decent too…with the exception of Miku. I’ve seen a few people question just what the hell she’s doing in this song. The song itself is hardly the worst, but it feels a lot like the kind of song a popular band would do after they’ve claimed they’re ‘experimenting’ with different styles of music, only to find no one likes it. Not that no one likes this, of course. But personally, I think that while they could have done something pretty special with this, they didn’t quite pull it off to the best of its potential.

Mouretsu★Yonaoshi Guilty!: Blimey, this is quite something. Sexy Guilty is a unit to behold in the form of the stacked Sanae, the stacked Shizuku and…well, Yuko’s alright, I suppose. The song itself would probably take a back seat to this lot if it didn’t happen to be pretty good itself. It’s full of humour, yet is actually a very fun tune in its own right. They nailed this one, I say.

Yes! Party Time!!: I’ve seen plenty of people give this song love, and I can kind of see why. But while it’s pretty decent on the whole – as are the costumes they gave to everyone for it – it’s not as good as some perhaps make it out to be. This being the original version, of course. Few give credit to what Deresute did with its event version, which was to put LMBG in it. That wasn’t as well received.

With Love: A calm and actually half-decent song, and one I’ve FC’d a few times as well, despite the unit being a bit of a motley crew on the whole. Yuki, Yuuki and Yukari are all decent by themselves, as is Kirari, but together they don’t seem like they should work. Unless they were going for a tallness theme here. Kyoko isn’t the most inspiring idol either, but despite this the song manages to work. So I say, fair enough.

Little Riddle: Ah, now this is one of the most fun songs to listen to of them all. Even though the unit isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Anzu is a top tier leader, proving her place as the rap god in this song. Rika is good too, but I’m less inclined towards Mirei and Koume, although the former puts in a good shift here vocally. As for Asuka, well, blimey. I don’t see her fitting in with this lot at all. It doesn’t matter though. This is a lovely, lovely song and one I find myself singing to quite a lot. Well, Anzu’s rapping, anyway. So much so I kept on missing the actual all-important lyrics the other four were singing. Once I got out of that habit, I managed to FC it eventually. Good stuff.

Kawaii make MY day!: Here’s an interesting one; a Cute song where all the idols are actually relatively ordinary, but not so ordinary they bore you to tears. Yuka and Yukari are both good here, and I suppose Noriko is fine as well. And the song they make isn’t half bad as well. Nice and catchy actually. Lovely vocals as well, and even the composition is pretty decent on the whole.

Illusionista!: A grand show of a song this one, Illusionista is jazz with the wick turned up and it does all the little things very well indeed. I’ve already previously talked, at length, on how much I enjoy its MV on every single level, it’s a lot of fun to listen to, get up and dance to on the whole, and it even had the honour of introducing the 2D rich MVs which are just even more fun. It’s not perfect, mind. They’re releasing the Cinderella Master of this imminently but apparently the full version is rather uninspiring. And while Mio “HABBA GOOT NAIT” Honda does a fine job up front, along with Minami and Fumika, I’m not as enamoured with Mayu and Sachiko. But they don’t take away from what is undoubtedly a worthy song for Deresute’s 2nd anniversary.

Take me☆Take you: The 5th election song, which is actually perfectly alright musically…but not so strong in terms of the idols it got. Mio and Kaede are fine, but not as fine as Nono, Uzuki, Nana and Miku aren’t. And all the event version did was take out half the unit…including the only two good idols in it. And they didn’t even have the inclination to take Miku and Nono out. Still, if you gloss over this considerable flaw, this is actually fine.

Souyoku no Aria: A song so edgy I actually came out of it with a stab wound, this is the result of forming Chuuni United and getting Ranko and Asuka together. A song I assume so many people wanked over when it came out, I thought about rubbing my phone down with a damp cloth before playing it, just to make sure. It’s about what you’d expect – a song full of pomp and circumstance with a hugely overblown MV and all the drama you’d expect of these two drama queens. This is a song up about a million people’s streets, but I’m not one of those people. Still, full marks for effort.

Twin☆kle★Tail: They gave the Jougasakis a song together, too. And it too is about what you’d expect; it’s like listening to a normal song while being plugged into the actual mains. It’s chaotic, and some. Not catastrophic, however. And that’s fine because it’s pretty fun to listen to in some places. Weirdly, while I find this nigh impossible to FC on Pro (hey, that’s new for these sisters), it’s not quite as much of a handful on Master as I expected. Even the last segment of the song where it all goes a bit mental after the quiet section wasn’t as bad as I remembered it after the first time. Which gives you all the more time to admire the immense production value that went into its MV. If you compared anything from the early days to this, your mind would be blown. It’s genuinely impressive.

Halloween♥Code: Hmm. The song is all lovely and sweet, surprising for a Halloween tune, but again it’s the unit that lets it down. And it only has three idols in it. Two of which are Nana and Miku. Dearie me. Still, Yuuki is nice to have…

Akikaze ni Te o Futte: This was the first of the seasons songs they put into the game, songs which seem like they get their units by pulling names from a hat. Still, some of them aren’t entirely hopeless. Like this one, which has a wholly decent trio of Riina, Yuka and Yumi. And the song they sing is good as well. One of the better slow-tempo ones. They’ve all got fairly attractive voices, as it turns out. And I think they shine quite well in this song.

Kimi no Soba de Zutto: The other 5th election song, and again one which is about as good/bad as the nine-idol unit, only halved. Kaede remains but so do Uzuki and Nono. And this song does not have the relative loveliness of its A-side to bolster it. It’s a more relaxing song, much as Tsubomi was to Absolute Nine, but this one is just plain boring. A lot of users joke about nodding off on some slower songs, which usually I think is a bit harsh, but it really does sum this one up for me. The event version is a bit more interesting, mind. Ayame, Tamami and Karin is a nice mix, which makes up for their relative averageness as individuals.

Trinity Field: So, everybody loved Triad Primus so much they got another song. Which, when they announced it, was terrific. Mind you, it was hard to see how they could possibly better Trancing Pulse, literally one of the best songs in the entire series. As indeed they didn’t. Not for the want of trying, though. They threw in all the symbolism in the world into what is a very overbearing MV, so much so you can only take it in in full in 3D rich. Sadly, if I try to play it on my phone in 3D rich, I end up with a lot of lag and a phone that feels like it’s on fire. So for instance, instead of having their silhouettes on that triangle at the start I just end up with…nothing. So it just looks like an inexplicable triangle spinning around. It’s very confusing and yet probably sums up the theme of the MV by itself. But, away from these bizarre moments and far too many triangles, the song itself is, as you’d expect, pretty great. I hear instruments from different series entirely in places (is this just a Nao thing?), but on the whole it is, predictably, very impressive. By itself, it’s a fine song…but not as good as Trancing Pulse. And that’s fine. Because topping that would have been nigh on impossible. But they had to be seen to be trying. So they had to go at least a bit over the top with this. It’s a bit like what Final Fantasy 8 was to 7. I like FF8 a lot, though. And I like Trinity Field a lot, too. The question is…which unit will get a second song next? Sexy Guilty? Love Laika? …LiPPS?!

Koi ga Saku Kisetsu: Bamco must have been chomping at the bit when they got the chance to voice five new idols with the 6th election. You know what else has five idols in it? Starlight Stage songs! So they introduced the new idols to the series all at once in Starlight Stage by giving them a song together…albeit the song that also happened to be the 6th election song anyway, but we’ll gloss over that. Presumably the full version will be added to the game accordingly, which is fine, given the only real bad idol of the lot is Mayu. But as for the five new ones, well, their debut isn’t anything too special. The instrumentation is alright on the whole but there’ve been much better songs than this.

Fuyuzora Precious: Unlike the autumn colours, with which they actually used the main song, the winter colours just had the passion song instead. Probably partly because the main winter song is a bit of a waste of my two favourite idols (and Miho), and partly because this one is actually quite action packed. The instrumentation is not great, and the unit is remarkably average at best, but it’s composed very well and is a lot of fun to listen to. Sometimes you can get by without being perfect, you see.

Happy New Yeah!: They brought out NewGen for this latest new year song, and their guest stars on this occasion are the currently trending Shin and the lovely silky tones of Kanako. Lovely silky tones which are entirely wasted on this song because it is wholly unremarkable. It’s another basic round of J-pop from NewGen, which isn’t completely terrible and is sort of the point, but it could have been more. It should have been more.

Bi ni Iri Sai o Ugatsu: It’s Kyoto: The Song, as they get Syuko and Sae together for a song that…is not done by IOSYS. Missed a trick there, boys. Mind you, the result is still pretty epic regardless. It’s all sorts of hectic and it’s a riveting song to listen to. The MV also happened to blow absolutely everyone’s mind, and rightly so. It is very well choreographed and seriously dramatic, inexplicably flying umbrellas be damned. A worthy song for a unit people were waiting for.

always: As is customary with the election album’s B-sides, this is a calm affair next to the more intense nine-idol bonanzas. That worked fine with Tsubomi, but they didn’t match it next time out and they haven’t matched it this time either. There’s a fine margin between making a slow-paced song beautiful or boring, and this comes out on the boring side. Also, Starlight Stage opted to shun the original in favour of doing one with the five newest voiced idols…again. Their version, inevitably, is worse, since they’re removing two great voices in Kaede and Mio from the original. They’re milking this lot for all they’re worth, aren’t they? I’m pretty sure I didn’t see the statement where they said these five would be the main characters from now on. Again though, we can expect the original to come round in Deresute at some point in the distant future. So that’s alright, I suppose.

Blimey, that was a lot of songs, wasn’t it? All that’s left to do is finish up the last of the image songs and I’ve covered the lot. I’ve left the second half of those for last, and for a very good reason…

When the idols met the Fantasy

I don’t think I’ll ever see myself getting into Granblue Fantasy. One mobile game I’m constantly flocking to is quite enough, for me. And I don’t even have enough time for that, most of the time. But the mobile game in question is Starlight Stage, with which it shares a surprising amount in common with, from good relations to the amount of money it makes. Those good relations resulted in a collab between the pair of them. In iM@s, this amounted to one song in Deresute. In Granblue, it amounted to actually having 20 idols in the game. Which is quite something, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Of course, they aren’t the usual bread-and-butter idols we know and love. This is a world of fighting and they’ve been given fighty stuff to do fighty things with. And, while I haven’t played the actual game, there’s nothing stopping me from directly observing just what this collab gave to us all.

And we’ll start on familiar ground with Shiki. I don’t enjoy her in most circumstances, but I have to say that here, I enjoy her even less.

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Quite apart from the unconvincing nature of her snake look, I am not a snake girl fan. Or indeed a monster girl fan, period. Best leave her to the sort who would actually go and take one of those.

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The only other girl on nodding terms with her, unsurprisingly, is Miku. But then she was a slam dunk so there’s nothing to see with her.

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The edgiest look for this game, predictably, goes to Ranko.

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Although Sachiko and Koume run her close.

But to me, the most amusing outfit is actually Mika’s.

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In short, because hers were already so outlandish to begin with, they’ve just taken one of her canon ones and used it here.

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Aside from some small additional details, and the fact she’s sprouted horns (which is also canon, to be fair), it’s literally the same as that SR of hers. Apart from the whip. The whip wasn’t originally there, I’m pretty sure. Or, as Granblue hilariously undersells it, the ‘dagger’. If that’s a dagger, well…Mika’s holding the longest dagger I’ve ever seen.

Mind you, she’s not the only one to stick to what we know.

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In fact, her sister’s doing the exact same thing. However, no one notices this because everyone’s too busy coming to terms with the fact that she’s riding around on a large teddy bear. Utterly mental. And utterly brilliant.

There are, predictably, some typically princess-ish characters around.

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Uzuki, in particular, looks like the most princessy princess you could ever princess.

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Other characters following this trend include Airi and Mizuki, while Kanako and Miria seem closer to villagers gone wild with their outfits.

The coolest outfit is a closely fought battle.

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Mio makes a good showing, looking like she’s stepped out of a western with a revolver in her hand.

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And Anya kind of looks like her swordfighting sidekick, with a dapper hat to match.

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But they’re both beaten out by Rin, who looks predictably awesome. A bit like every typical hero in these sorts of games ever, but much, much better. Why can’t they all be Rin Shibuyas?

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But the most beautiful outfit has to be Minami’s. You know how she’s forever compared to a valkyrie? This is what she’d look like if she was one. And what she looks like is a 6-foot goddess who could unleash all her power on you at any moment. But she’s so polite that she won’t. And now I’m wondering why Idolmaster doesn’t have an actual 6-foot goddess who could unleash all her power on you at any moment in its ranks. Something to ponder there, Bamco.

They do have something approaching a 6-foot ‘goddess’ though, and that’s Kirari. She’s here too…but not as a playable.

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Instead, she appears in Anzu’s as her actual summon. Predictably, Anzu is put in the great gold robber position and she’s pretty hilarious too.

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Oh yeah, and they even have three idols from something called ‘SideM’, which is Idolmaster but all the girls are boys instead. Errgh, male idols. How disgusting. Still, at least they all look pretty cool in this instance.

So, there you go. If you ever wanted to imagine what some idols looked like in a world of fantasy, look no further. Although frankly the world they started in is probably enough for me.