The Fall 2017 Anime Preview Guide
TsukiPro the Animation
How would you rate episode 1 of
TsukiPro the Animation ?
What is this?
Tsukipro is a (fictional) production group managing a variety of up-and-coming bands, such as SolidS, which debuted three years ago and has enjoyed a lot of success. Last year they held a major concert for many of their groups, and they plan to do so again this year – only they're thinking bigger. The show will be at Budokan, a major music venue, and it will mark the debut live performances for several of their newer boy bands. SolidS will be singing too, of course, and the pressure's on them even more because they're looked at as the seniors of the agency. They can't afford to get shown up – so when SolidS’ leader and songwriter appears to be overwhelmed by the opportunity to the point of spacing out at meetings and not getting their required four new songs written, his bandmates begin to panic. Will SolidS manage to pull through, or will they be shown up by newer groups QUELL, Growth, and Soara? TsukiPro the Animation is based on a fictional music production group and streams on Crunchyroll, Wednesdays at 10:30 AM EST.
How was the first episode?
Hot on the heels of [email protected] SideM, we have our second male idol show of the season. Though it can't really compare to SideM, Tsukipro the Animation turned out to be a perfectly reasonable show in its own right. It certainly doesn't seem like it'll be a highlight of the genre, but if you're hungry for another male idol show, this one seems worth a shot.
Tsukipro doesn't really feel the need to offer much of a hook beyond “here's a show about male idols,” an approach that has its pluses and minuses. On the negative side, the whole first half of this episode feels very slow - it's basically just a series of introductions and corporate meetings, where we learn about all the relevant idol groups and hear they're going to have a concert at Budokan. Then SolidS leader Shiki gathers up his crew, drives them all to Budokan, and announces that to them in person. There's little momentum and no meaningful drama all through this first half.
The episode's second half reveals the strength of Tsukipro's slow-burning approach, as we get to methodically follow SolidS through several days of their routine. Tsukipro's unvarnished look at things like the group prepping for a commercial or bantering on their radio program felt intimate and natural, and even if the group's personalities haven't really come into focus yet, their rapport already feels pretty strong. I was enjoying the show's pacing by the end, though it could still probably use a bit of focus.
Aesthetically, Tsukipro is a little below average. The character designs look completely interchangeable, and there's not much animation or dynamic direction to speak of. This episode's one performance scene reveals that Tsukipro will be relying on mediocre CG models, and outside of the middling idol songs, the background music is a series of inert electronic bloops and bleeps. Tsukipro is a just passable production in basically all respects.
On the whole, Tsukipro slots neatly into “acceptable, unexceptional genre entry.” If you're looking for male idol shows, it seems to be a reasonable choice - outside of that, it's probably a skip.
Of the two Pretty Boy Idol shows to premiere so far this week, I was surprised to find myself enjoying TsukiPro the Animation ever so slightly more than [email protected] Side M. Idol shows in general tend to leave me cold; I love stories about musical acts, but the high gloss theatrical politics of the pop idol world have always rung too hollow for my tastes. TsukiPro isn't devoid of these issues, but its first episode felt just grounded enough to hold my attention for a half-hour, though not much more than that.
In general, TsukiPro feels like a more scrappy production, and that's what endears me to it. The core quartet that makes up SolidS may have the worst taste in band and song names ever, but they've got gumption, which makes them slightly more interesting than the cardboard cutouts they could have been. Shiki and his friends all have very samey personalities, at least in this episode, but their friendly rapport feels just genuine enough to keep things going. I also appreciated the slight emphasis on the day-to-day working life of a musician, such as workshopping the script for a commercial or figuring out how to bust out some quality songs for the upcoming concert extravaganza. Also, I thought the songs on display were pretty good; nothing to write home about, but SolidS' jams had a bit more pep than [email protected]'s more stale offerings.
Unfortunately, that sense of scrappiness also translates to the animation and art design, which is where [email protected] easily bests TsukiPro. Not only do the boys always look slightly off model and stiff, the show manages to stumble right out of the gate with a terribly incongruous CG dance number. I'm not inherently against using CG to enhance complex choreography in these kinds of shows, but watching the opening of TsukiPro is akin to jumping from the cutscene of a Playstation Vita game to a traditional show. Overall, neither TsukiPro nor [email protected] are my thing, and both have their unique pros and cons. If you don't mind your idol shows being rough around the edges, TsukiPro might have the edge as the show to keep up with.
I was tempted to bump this up to a three just because of the unintentional humor of the English used in this episode. I'm not sure why, but the fact that the band we focus on this week, SolidS, sings songs entitled “Burny!!!” and “Crazy Baby Show” just cracked me up, as did some of the band names, which just felt like the writers opened a dictionary and grabbed the first word they saw that they thought looked cool. We're probably lucky there isn't a band called “Proboscis.”
Names aside, Tsukipro the Animation is your basic male idol show. Four groups of variously attractive young men have been gathered together under the fictional Tsukipro label to produce songs in different pop and rock genres, and because of their success, they're all going to perform at a major show. This of course makes them nervous, especially since they have mere months to write four new songs each. Not being a concert-goer, that sounds like a lot to me in terms of performance length, and as a creative writer, it sounds like not nearly enough time to produce good work, so their nerves make perfect sense. Unfortunately for the group we're focusing on in this first episode, veteran singers SolidS, their songwriter Shiki is having nerve-inspired writer's block.
Tsukipro does make a decent effort to give us an idea of who each of the members of SolidS is as a person, which I appreciate. Shiki may be the least impressive as “the gloomy one,” but Tsubasa's a grad student also working on his Master's thesis, Rikka's a model, and Dai was apparently a competitive swimmer before an implied shoulder injury, all of which helps to round them out beyond their stereotypes. Presumably the members of the other groups will get the same treatment in future episodes, but how much this information will serve the series will be determined by how much focus each band gets going forward. That will also help to figure out how cohesive the series’ plot will be – will the groups’ stories come together pre-concert? Or is this going to be twelve episodes of vignettes? Either could work, but I admit that the former is more appealing.
Speaking of “appealing,” the art really isn't. There's a blockiness to the character designs that makes everyone look bland, and while there are some good background details (someone loves their floating sakura petals), everything just looks a bit stiff and off-putting for an eye candy show. The dancing is done in 3D, which I tend to find off-putting, but it is much more fluid than it might have been and the choreography isn't horrible. The songs are definitely catchy, and as with [email protected] Side M, there are three squeezed into the episode.
Long term, I suspect that [email protected] Side M is going to be the better of these two similar stories, if only because it looks like it has a better idea of what it's doing. But this may be worth another episode or two to see how they're going to approach their multi-band format – or to see what other fabulously bizarre song titles they can come up with.
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