My belief is that the current surge in idol culture in the last 5 years helped grow the interest of idols in anime. It hasn’t been a very huge thing since the 1980’s with Creamy Mami, the anime hit with the modern media mix. We got Idol Densetsu Eriko and a few others but even then, the wave wasn’t as strong as it is now. Not to discount 1990 – 2010. We had Fancy Lala as Full Moon wo Sagashite as memorable anime. But this half of the decade for anime is the time of Idols.
So between 2010 to present we have around 15 shows and counting. We can compare this to the moe boom of the prior decade, but not annoying horrible like that was. Eventually, it passed, but not completely as it has somewhat been assimilated into idol anime. That topic deserves a whole other blog post. For now lets hypothesize on why the anime industry grabbed and gave this genre a renaissance fast.
Money Money Money Money
Duh. Not only you can sell an anime and it’s merchandise, but you can sell concerts and do all the live action idol money making like the music industry. Love Live took what Creamy Mami did and made it BIGGER! BETTER! And even had fan interaction through Dengeki G to help create and market it before it even existed. Add in other opportunities that didn’t exist at the time like mobile gaming and viola!
You know, for Kids!
I say a small part for this one. Pretty Rhythm and its successor PriPara are very much BUY OUR TOYS! It is based on an arcade game that requires buying cards, gems, and spending that yen. Like with Creamy Mami and its media geared toward girls, that didn’t stop otaku. I don’t think either of these would exist if not for…
It did start as an arcade game in 2005. It was later ported to the Xbox 360 and has been responsible for making Japan’s ratio of sign-ups for Xbox Live compared to the number of consoles sold as the world’s highest. The stage for this era is getting prepped more each release. We got an Idolm@ster anime in 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2015.
But will this last? My prediction is 2017. It’s already slowing down with only two in this fall season, Aikatsu 4 and Miss Monochrome 3. We have the Wake Up, Girls! movie to look forward to, but now we have stragglers whipping up less than quality idol anime to get in on trend. I’m looking at you Venus Project.
Love Live Sunshine!! may come and the whole dang genre may get a re-renaissance. Or it might be a likely be an end cap on a trend. I don’t think lightening will strike twice with that franchise.
If I’m wrong. Well, come back in 2017 and laugh at me. But what I do know is that when people do their decade in review blog posts and podcasts, idols will be talked about for being at least a half a decade worth of anime fun.
I bought my train ticket for the end of the ride.