Recently another iDOLM@STER OVA was released along with the game of the same name that is completely unrelated to the Xenoglossia Mecha series of the same name. I got a chance to check it out and decided it would be worth my while to compare the two just for the hell of it as they are VERY different despite coming out of the same game. The plan is to talk a little about the plot, characters, music and animation and then to give the pros and cons of each versus the other.
Xenoglossia Plot: The plot in Xenoglossia regards the destruction of the moon several decades ago and the devestation it’s lack of gravitational pull has had on the planets tides and overall ecosystem stability. Making thing worse are the fragments of the “Lost Artemis” that frequently fall to Earth, bringing yet more destruction in their wake. In order to combat this the organization Mondenkind has deployed five idols built around very powerful harmonically tuned cores found in the wake of the moons destruction. Piloting these giant robot idols are iDOLM@STER’s who must be female in order for the idols to allow control. These idols are then deployed during meteor showers and used to destroy large asteroids with high powered sonic shockwaves emitted via a nicely delivered punch. Making Mondenkind’s trouble worse is the organization Turiavita, which seeks to steal away all the idols from Mondenkind and it’s iDOLM@STER’s and allow the destruction of humanity to occur so it’s own touted superior genetically engineered race of Idol/Human hybrid called the Mischling’s can take over in it’s place. Much of the series is about the battle between Mondenkind and Turiavita for control of the idol’s as well as the shifting bonds and rivalries between the iDOLM@STER’s themselves.
- Great character drama
- Interesting insertion of mecha into The iDOLM@STER as well as a reinterpretation of the whole iDOLM@STER concept and the musical theme involved in it.
- Excellent action element
- Every character gets their moment to shine
- Not at all like the game it was based on
- Inclusion of mecha may not appeal to those who are put off by it
- Takes a long time to kick into full gear
- Miki Hoshi is missing from the series
Live For You: Live for you takes place the night before an iDOLM@STER concert is to be put on by Studio 765. The idols Haruka Amami, Iori Minase, Miki Hoshi, Chihaya Kisaragi, Makoto Kikuchi, Yukiho Hagiwara, Yayoi Takatsuki, Ritsuko Akizuki and Ami and Mami Futami bid each other farewell the night before the concert, but on the way home Haruka, Miki and Chihaya get lost and end up staying overnight at a mansion in the middle of nowhere (complete with a hotspring). They end up fleeing in the middle of the night when it appears that they have stumbled on a mafia ring’s secret money laundering plans, but it is later revealed that Miki set this up all along in cooperation with the producer to create a realistic live video of an idols trouble before the important concert for entertainment purposes. They continue to be hopefully lost for real though when there truck back turns out to be the wrong one, and when all seems lost Iori uses her families GPS and helicopter to locate and fly them back just in time for the concert. There the idols reunite and head in to perform the show.
- Truer to the plot of the game
- Good comedic element
- Includes all the characters present in the games to some degree
- Easier to digest for those not into the complicated plotline seen in Xenoglossia
- Far too short at 17 minutes (3 of which are used for a song and no animation)
- Not particularly interesting for those who aren’t fascinated by the portrayed idol lifestyle
- Failed to show an actual iDOLM@STER concert
- Doesn’t make very good use of each game character
Haruka Amami In Xenoglossia
Haruka is the character of the series pretty much eveybodies ultra friendly schoolgirl that get’s along with everyone. She came to the city when she got an invitation from Mondenkind to be their new idol, but found out that it’s not THAT kind of idol, but the new pilot of the idol Imber. Haruka initially finds herself the odd duck in the organization, but manages to form a bond with Yukiho Hagiwara on the train their and meets up with her old friend Yayoi Takatsuki as well. Later she becomes very close friends with Iori after an initially rivalry (mostly coming from Iori’s side) and becomes Imber’s primary pilot. Imber takes a great interest in Haruka (bordering on sexual at times), but later settles down and seems to constantly challenge her to games of Othello as it tries to understand humanity a little bit more through it’s pilot.
- Nice character design
- Well developed
- Very similar to the game character
- Pretty Gar near the end
- People may be looking for somebody more badass early on
Defining Trait: Endless Trust, Stupid Ribbon
Haruka Amami In Live For You
Haruka is one of the idol girls that gets dragged along with Miki on their overnight misadventure. She basically plays the same role as in the game and wilfully goes along with everything the other characters suggest. In this way she’s kind of naive and dense, but that’s our Haruka.
- Most Screentime
- Most Fanservice
- Kind of hogs the camera as well considering the OVA’s length
Defining Trait: Clumsy
Iori Minase In Xenoglossia
Iori’s the type that has a lot of trouble getting along with the other idol girls at first. She starts of disliking Haruka quite a bit when Haruka gets to be Imbers default pilot after just showing up while Iori has been with Mondenkind for a while and is still only Nebula’s backup. She’s never overly nasty beyond calling her Baka-Ribbon or starting a shouting match in the showers though. After Haruka helps her deal with some of her stress at always being second best (this involves losing to Makoto as well in a combat simulation and helping her with cleaning Nebula after Makoto bangs it up during a mission) Iori starts to warm up to Haruka and before long they are like best friends. Iori’s rivalry with Makoto is much more bitter though and sees them vying for control of Nebula and always challenging each others opinion on whether the mission or the idols safety is more important in the end.
- Most Gar character in the show by a long shot
- Most attractive character design in my opinion
- Kind of loli-ish in build
- No longer voiced by Rie Kugimiya
- Much older than the game character and no longer the best idol out of the gate performance wise
Defining Trait: Stupidly Gar to the point of my head almost exploding, Giant Forehead
Iori Minase In Live For You
A loli brat with a huge ego, even sharper tongue, and still greater hatred of losing, Iori’s purpsoe in the OVA is to berate the other girls for getting lost and to taunt Haruka for being late and the possibility she will be upstaged. Still she has a soft side, which results in her using her families GPS tracking satellite and helicopted to locate and bring the girls back from the wilderness (More than likely to also show of she is richer than snot and to play the hero).
- Maintains her more loli character design from the game (brown hair)
- Still voiced by Rie Kugimiya (Yay )
- Not nearly enough screentime
Defining Trait: Rich
Miki Hoshi In Live For You
The big breasted idol of the whole Studio 765 production, Miki shares the starring role in the OVA along with Haruka and ends up dragging everybody along on an overnight misadventure touted to show off Haruka’s troubles for a concert promotion video, but ends up getting them lost for real. Completely ditzy beyond reason and definitely the comic relief of the group, Miki is all but hopeless and in the end it’s up to Iori and the Producer to bail her, Chihaya and Haruka out at the last second.
- Actually exists
- Funniest character in the OVA
- Hogs the camera a little too much
- Kind of get’s a little to much worship from the other girls for some unknown reason
Defining Trait: Dim as a First Gen Gameboy Advance Backlight
Makoto Kikuchi In Xenoglossia
Having spent almost her whole life at Mondenkind as Nebula’s default pilot, Makoto is a straight laced through and through by the book Heero Yuy type. She’s confident in her status as the best of the best and seeks to maintain that position over Iori at any cost. When Iori ends up improving as a pilot thanks to Haruka’s encouragement and get’s sent on a mission, desperate to maintain her status, Makoto sabotages Iori’s mission by screwing with the compares math in calculating the drop velocity. Iori is injured and relieved of active duty as Nebula’s pilot, but seemingly knowing what happened and feeling more comfortable with Iori now, Nebula makes Makoto’s new uncontested pilot status short lived. During a battle with R.I.F.F.A, Nebula ceases to respond adequately to Makoto’s commands and the overconfident Makoto who disobeyed orders to pursue the battle is soundly beaten. After this she is fired from Mondenkind and Iori is reinstated as Nebula’s sole pilot. A distraught Makoto seeing her entire life disappear before her eyes goes to rival organization Turivita, where she is given the 5th idol Hiems (which she will pilot for the rest of the series) and becomes an enemy pilot to once more seek revenge on Iori. Later on though she comes to her senses (after Iori finally succeeds in getting her first win over Makoto and after a talk with her older sister) and the two team up for the rest of the series as close allies.
- One of the most interesting roller-coaster ride character storylines you’ll find in an anime
- Initially stubborn to the point of inciting frustration in the viewer in that she overshoots the game characters tomboy personality by a huge margin
Defining Trait: Unyieldingly Stubborn
Makoto Kikuchi (Left) In Live For You
Makoto gets almost no screentime beyond working out in the gym before heading home the night before the concert and then appearing later to wish the lost trio good luck in getting back home.
- Hits the game characters tomboy personality perfect in both voice and actions
- Gets almost no screentime
- Kind of ugly character design
Defining Trait: Tomboyish
Chihaya Kisaragi In Xenoglossia
A total psychopath who delights in destruction and S&M type behaviour (she seems almost turned on when blowing up a city), Chihaya left Mondenkind at a young age and went to Turiavita after an incident where Imber went berserk and wrecked havoc on the institution. Ever since she has dreamed of getting Imber back and becoming one with it(in a really creepy way). Chihaya serves as the main antagonist of Haruka throughout the series and is pretty much responsible for all bad things that happen to every character. Ends up dying a really satisfying death (for the viewer) as Imber rejects her not once, but twice in two consecutive episodes. the first time injuring her so greatly she can’t even pilot an idol anymore nor seemingly hold a corporeal form, and the second time killing her as it ejects her essence out into the atmosphere when she tries to merge with it.
- Eventually dies
- Character Storyline is to creepy even for me and honestly kind of weak
- Nothing like the character in the game (Complete opposite actually)
- Generally beyond unlikeable character
Defining Trait: Freaking Pyschotic S&M Bitch
Chihaya Kisaragi In Live For You
Chihaya is one of the three girls that goes on Miki’s misadventure and provides the gentle wisdom and cautious personality lacking in the other two. She’s actually pretty quiet until she ends up trying to lead the way to a clearing where Iori’s helicopter picks them up. Also seems a bit jealous of Miki’s large bust (which is funny because in Xenoglossia Chihaya sports a large bust that she seems to be obsessed with showing off in every possible opportunity via posing and rubbing it against Imber…..yeah Xenoglossia Chihaya is sickening)
- More accurate to the game character (Easily)
- The only character who arguably has better character development in Live For You
- Kind of funny in her own quite way
- Doesn’t really stand out next to the more peppy Haruka and Miki
Defining Trait: Calm and collected
Yukiho Hagiwara In Xenoglossia
Yukiho is the first real friend that Haruka makes when she arrives in the city and there mutually friendly personalities allow for a powerful bond. Yukiho was invited to the “idol audition” along with Haruka, but never makes the cut as she doesn’t have the right stuff (outside of a seriously huge bust). Nevertheless through Haruka’s encouragement she manages to find a place on the ops team where she stays for much of the series. Eventually though it turns out she was part of Turiavita all along and when the time comes for her to make her move she hacks the Mondenkind defense system and helps Chihaya (Who she was supposedly friends with as a kid, but god knows why she sticks around the obviously mentally unstable Chihaya of the present over the always receptive and ever forgiving Haruka, who was a much better friend to her, but more on this later) make off with Imber. From there she pilots Idol #2 Nubilum for Turiavita (suddenly becoming a fully capable pilot out of the blue after previously showing a distinct lake of talent) and has a final battle with Haruka where she wins and then tries to inject Chihaya’s essence into Imber (for her to be happy forever) only for Imber to send it right back out again. After a speech from Haruka that basically summarizes the theme of the series (the limits of friendship and mutual trust) she finally comes around and apologizes for all she’s done. The last we see of her she is in a hospital bed in Mondenkind, with a broken will and in tears. It’s hard to say if she and Haruka would ever make up, but I think it’s a good possibility.
- Initial relationship with Haruka very heartwarming
- Relationship with Chihaya that caused her to forsake the one she had now with Haruka is never really explored
- Stubborness in refusing to listen to Haruka until it’s too late conflicts with her earlier meeker personality
- Plot twist surrounding her never really makes sense and conflicts with a lot of what was established early on
Defining Trait: Lack of Short-Term Memory (In that she suddenly forgets she can’t pilot and who her friends really are)
Yukiho Hagiwara In Live For You
Yukiho expresses her apprehension about the concert the next day and is shown to be quite shy. Later on she worries about Haruka, Chihaya and Miki possibly not showing up for the concert and all but burts into tears.
- Moetastic (I guess)
- More like the game character
- Very little screen time
- Too whiny in some cases
Defining Trait: BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! *Sniff*
Yayoi Takatsuki In Xenoglossia
Yayoi is the only actual “Idol” per se in the series and runs a radio show where she frequently makes mention of Haruka’s exploits in Mondenkind. Yayoi and Haruka are long time friends and whenever Haruka get’s down (which does happen sometimes believe it or not) she is there to lend advice. At one point Yayoi takes Haruka on as her guest star when it looks like Haruka is going to quit Mondenkind and fulfill her dream of becoming a real idol and the two do a duet show. Later on she also used her stations broadcast to relay Secret Messages during Haruka, Ami/Mami and Iori’s attempt to retake Mondenkind Japan HQ. Yayoi is also known for her tendency to cosplay and seems to have a different oversized outfit everytime she appears.
- One of the funniest characters in the show
- Relationship with Haruka remains strong and tangible throughout the series
- Despite a lack of screentime is a very important stabalizing factor in the show
- Relatively little screentime compared to the other girls (which is a shame)
- Much older than in the game
Defining Trait: Cosplaying
Yayoi Takatsuki In Live For You (Right)….(Yes I Only Have One Close Up Of Her Because That’s Essentially All She Gets)
Yayoi’s role is to basically say she’s pumped about the show the next day and then to fret a little over the lost trio’s plight.
- Loli factor
- Might as well not even be there
Defining Trait: Lack of Lines
Ritsuko Akizuki In Xenoglossia
Ritsuko is the congenial head of Mondenkind Japans maintance department and learnt everything she knew from her sempai Ami Futami. She doesn’t really get a lot of screentime, but when she does it usually involves a lot of wacky antics. She is basically to Iori as Yayoi is to Haruka and provides her with a confidence boost whenever she is down. Seems to really take getting to know the idols very seriously and encourages Haruka to communicate with Imber when it starts responding to her.
- Very congenial personality makes it a treat whenever she’s on screen
- Likes to tease the other characters for their shortcomings
- Some of her antics can get annoying despite her personality
- Relative Lack of Screentime
Defining Trait: Possible Lesbian?
Ritsuko Akizuki In Live For You
Again Ritsuko is our problem solver and helps the lost trio find their way back home along with Iori.
- Practical and intelligent for an idol
- A little too practical
- Almost less like her character in the game than the Xenoglossia version
Defining Trait: Serious
Ami And Mami Futami In Xenoglossia
Ami comes into the series at about the 1/3 point after having left Mondenkind to become a Piano and Gravure idol. This was spurred on by her inability to stay with the organization where her sister Mami apparently lost her life in the accident that resulted in Chihaya leaving Mondenkind as well. Ami is convinced to come back by Ritsuko when the organization realizes they need her help to locate all the idols before Turivita can and she then puts her genius intellect to use in tuning the harmonics of the idols for better performance and the ability to resonate with where the other idol cores are located. Later during what looks like her certain death at the hands of Chihaya, Mami turns out to have been hidden within Ami all along and comes out to save her sister along with the long lost idol Tempastas. Mami’s mind hasn’t matured at all in the last several years despite her body growing and it’s up to Ami to look after her sister and try to get her used to walking and other sensations again. In the long run Ami seems to be perfect at everything she does (She’s a musial genius as well as a child prodigy in other categories and has an excellent loli body on top of being a famous idol who all of Japan is obsessed with to some degree), but is humble to the point of refusing to defend herself against any attack. She wilfully lets both Makoto and Chihaya beat her up without so much as raising an arm to defend herself, and seems more saddened at the troubles of those around her than upset with their failures to do anything about them or except responsibility. Her tendency to try to carry the weight of the world on her shoulder’s and her refusal to use her talents for anything other than the benefit of others (and never for herself) makes her one of the strongest and Gar characters in the series.
- Oh so satsifying when Ami is finally reunited with her sister (She deserved some happiness in return for all she gave)
- Loli Factor x 10
- Selfless to a fault, but never to the point of seeming overtly Mary Sueish despite all her talents (which frankly shouldn’t be possible)
- If you think she is a Mary Sue then you might have trouble with her (and it is possible many will feel that way)
Defining Trait: Selflessness, Genius Intellect, Loli Twins
Ami And Mami Futami In Live For You
The twins only appear in one screenshot and I don’t even recall if they said anything remarkable
- They do appear (honest)
- They might as well not have at all
R.I.F.F.A In Xenoglossia
R.I.F.F.A is essentially Turiavita’s answer to Ami Futami except that she has a polar opposite personality. R.I.F.F.A is almost impossibly strong (Too the point of being able to hold of a full sized idol via her own strength) and capable of hacking into Mondenkind’s database on a whim, but has a sadistic and cruel personality as well as an overwhelming sense of superiority. R.I.F.F.A is a Mischling, a fusion of idol and human to create a new super race, but is inherently unstable as a prototype. Much of the series she fills the lolidom fanservice factor (and keeps me entranced) by taking baths, licking lolipops suggestively, mocking the Mondenkind troops as she and her other mischling clones slaughter the helpless bastards and posing in a manner that conveys her own self implied sense of superiority. Other than being a killing machine her relevance to the plot is pretty minimal other than as a key part of Turiavita’s plans that never come to fruition. The last we see of her she is vaporized by a giant laser which finally puts an end to her unstoppable rampage once and for all.
- Lolidom Factor x 100
- Loli Fanservice
- Loli ummmmmmmmm….Loli?
- Opening 2
- Never really has an impact
- A bit of a waste of an original character
Defining Trait: Lolidom factor, tendency to take baths, propensity to turn me on everytime she appears on screen
Xenoglossia: Haruka’s Face Distorts As She Packs It Full Of Delicious Corn Dog (Settle down Jason, it’s not an Emo Facial Distortion)
Live For You: Haruka’s Face Distorts Do To An Animation Oversight
Xenoglossia: The City During Sunset As Seen From A Plateau
Live For You: The Outside Of Studio 765 At Night
Xenoglossia: The Sun Sets OveR The City
Live For You: The Sun Reflects Of The Minase Family Satellite
Xenoglossia: A Simple Heat Radiator Seen For A Couple Seconds
Live For You: The Live For You Concert Poster
Live For You: The Girls Hitch A Ride On A Bus (Note Miki’s Missing Eyes)
Xenoglossia: Iori Looking Damn Fine In Her Outdoor Gear
Live For You: Iori Is Not Impressed With Your Low Class Existence
Xenoglossia: Iori In The Field Of Dreams
Live For You: Haruka In Bed
Xenoglossia: Sweat Beads Off Of Haruka’s Face And Undulates Around The Cockpit As She Tries To Concentrate On Her Task
Live For You: Haruka Sweats In A Hot Tub
Xenoglossia: Nubilum Unleashes A Shockwave Attack On Imber
Xenoglossia: Yukiho Tries To Decide On Her Next Course Of Action As Debris Settles Floats Around Her In Zero G
Xenoglossia: A Puddle Reflects The Cloud Cover As It Passes By Overhead (You’ll Have To Trust Me That The Clouds Move)
Live For You: Dig Dug Cell Phone Accessory
Live For You Bravo Man Cell Phone Accessory (Green Phone)
Live For You: Valkyrie No Densetsu Cell Phone Jingle
Okay, to be honest this isn’t even really a fair contest, the pictures almost speak for themselves.
Xenoglossia proves that not just Kyoto Animation pays attention to detail. Sunrise’s team is obsessed with making everything look as realistic to their real life counterparts as they possibly can. Even insignificant things like Haruka’s clothing morphing shape with her movements in some scenes, the cosmetic damage on the idols afters being hit, the frame distorting shockwaves seen in battle, the sweat drops that bead off of the characters faces and change shape, divide and merge around them in the Zero G Cockpits, it’s a feast for the eyes to be sure and those are just the minor details added to some really big scenes. Xenoglossia contained pretty much the best animation I saw come out of 2007.
Live For You is doesn’t contain the worst animation I’ve ever seen, but it’s not particularly good. The criteria for the characters appearance seems to be set to them at least bearing a passing resemblance to the actual characters from scene to scene, and the show makes frequent use of lazy animation such as characters talking off camera or while their backs are turned. The budget obviously wasn’t very high for this OVA, which is a shame as it was supposed to be an extra treat for the gamers that bought the Live For You game for the XBox 360. One thing I did find quaint however were the little keychains featuring various famous Namco characters such as Dig Dug and Valkyrie.
iDOLM@STER Xenoglossia Opening 1 ~ Binetsu S.O.S
My first instinct when I heard this song was to lunge at my speakers and try to throw them out the window. Seriously though, this song is probably the worst opening of 2007 for me. If you want to make use of it the best bet is to burn it to CD, find somebody you really don’t like, crank the headphones on your CD Walkman to max after applying crazy glue to them and snap them on the persons ear . If they last more than 30 seconds the person is either deaf, a buddhist monk or the next evolutionary step of humanity, in which case run.
After that though you consider the BGM, which like with many Sunrise series is almost entirely orchestral. The BGM soundtrack always seems to manage to perfectly convey the atmosphere of the scene, and if I had to compare it to anything it would probably be Gaogaigar, it just really remind me of that series for some reason.
iDOLM@STER Xenoglossia Opening 2 – Zankoku Yo Kibou To Nare
Now that’s more like it. The second opening conveys the shift to a more dramatic tone in the series quite adequately on top of being pretty catchy and was even one of the better openings I heard in 2007. The lyrics even fit the plot and nature series for crying out loud. Added Bonus: The frames from 0:57-0:59.
iDOLM@STER Xenoglossia Ending – Dear Boy (AKA Haruka Floating Naked In Auryn)
First that’s not the full ending as it has the tendency of most Sunrise series to start playing during the final few seconds of the episode before heading into the ending animation, so don’t blame me, blame Sunrise for being artsy fartsy with their ending transitions. Anyway, the ending has a sort of melancholic feel to it and sounds like something I think I heard in Final Fantasy somewhere. It gets really powerful around 0:39 though and I think invokes a nostalgic feel of sorts. It’s pretty good as well and it’s got real instruments. REAL INSTRUMENTS! (Slaps Forehead) Piano, meet readers, readers meet piano. Good tidings to you both.
Live For You:
If I can find the ending theme I will post a video, but currently I can’t seem to locate it. Anyway it fits perfectly with the rest of the likes you’ll hear in iDOLM@STER games and even I find it catchy enough, that’s coming from somebody who isn’t a fan of Idol Pop at all. Other than that the BGM isn’t too bad. It pales in comparsion to Xenoglossia, but then again so does much of Live For You.
- Stellar Animation
- Great Music Aside From First Opening
- Great Character Relationships
- Decent Plot
- Iori Minase, Haruka Amami, Ami Futami, R.I.F.F.A, Makoto Kikuchi
- Some Character Motivations Could Have Been Explained Better
- Slow Beginning
- Chihaya Kisaragi, Yukiho Hagiwara, R.I.F.F.A
Live For You:
- Truer To The Game
- Rie Kugimiya
- Weak Animation
- Too Short
Final Score For iDOLM@STER Xenoglossia: Seven And A Half Out Of Ten
Final Score For iDOLM@STER Live For You: Three And A Half Out Of Ten
In closing Live For You may be truer to the game, but Xenoglossia is by far and away the better anime and I would pick it over Xenoglossia any time with no regrets. On the other hand if you are a purist or one of those people that thinks adding mecha to a series automatically makes it terrible, then you’ll probably want to go with Live For You. Personally I don’t think it would hurt to try both, buth definitely check out Xenoglossia as I feel it was on of the most underated series of 2007 that never got a fair chance because some people like to assume that every series by Sunrise will end up a “Trainwreck” and gave up on it before the show had even introduced all the characters. Those people also tended to be those with blogging influence. It’s really nothing short of a terrible shame.
Anyway, people can also probably expect my review of Gundam 00 Episode 21 tomorrow sometime, so hopefully I can make that happen. Until next time, watch out for Mischling’s when getting into the bathtub and happy anime watching.