The Idol [email protected] Cinderella Girls
Episode 10

by Rebecca Silverman,

This episode of The [email protected] Cinderella Girls rubbed me the wrong way. Part of the problem may be the group of girls the focus is on – Miria, Rika, and Kirari have teamed up as the next trio to make their debut, Dekoration. And yes, the spelling is on purpose – it's a reference to the fact that they look mismatched. This was a very good choice on the writers' part, because they really look ridiculous standing together. From a marketing standpoint, it should work in their favor, because the group does make an impression and their disparate heights and ages aren't the major issue with the trio. More of a problem is the fact that in an effort to make them a more visually cohesive unit Kirari has to be dressed younger and Miria and Rika have to be dressed older, using costumes to tie them together. The end result is that tall, buxom Kirari looks a bit ridiculous while Miria and Rika are uncomfortably sexualized, particularly in the costumes they wear at the end of the episode. That Rika is somewhat obsessed with looking sexy has been a part of her character from the beginning of the season, and to a degree that does make sense: her sister Mika is a major pop star, which would influence her, and also twelve (Rika's age) is when a lot of girls start to become interested in the opposite sex in a more serious way, to say nothing of the cultural messages that are being passed along. The Producer has been clearly uncomfortable with Rika's desire to be seen as sexy, which makes the costumes (and lyrics? Pretty sure I heard “sexy” in there) seem an odd choice.

In some ways this episode is fully aware of its issues. This is best seen when the poor Producer gets weird looks from passers-by as he takes pictures of Dekoration out on the town, eventually getting him hauled in by the police as a pervert. The girls don't notice (he's been deliberately walking behind them to try and cut down on public censure), which leads to them getting lost. When Rika calls her sister, Mika becomes hysterical, accusing the Producer of not properly looking after her younger sibling. This would indicate that Mika is fully aware of how young Rika is, making the sexualized costumes stand out more. All of this really is part and parcel of the entertainment industry, so perhaps I shouldn't be so caught up in its implications. On the other hand, if we all stop being uncomfortable with it, there may be a bigger problem.

Speaking of bigger problems, this episode's pacing is definitely one of them. Where most of the series has had a relatively organic flow to it, this week feels choppy, with the episode clearly divided into segments. It almost seems like there was an outline to follow but no one bothered with transitions; they just went from numbered scene to numbered scene. It also continues the trend we've seen for a few weeks now of not seeing the girls perform and instead playing the song over a series of still shots, which is too bad because the dancing sequences have consistently been some of the best. While just walking around does still allow for some nice moments of detail in the animation, it just isn't as impressive.

While this episode does have its moments (poor Producer), on the whole it feels quite weak in comparison to the rest of the series. It doesn't help that every time Kirari opens her mouth I want to mute the computer, but that's only an issue if you find her manner of speech and voice as annoying as I do. Mostly, though, this episode suffers from a “chunky” feel and the sexualization of an eleven-year-old and a twelve-year-old (fictional, sure, but it isn't something I want in my entertainment). It does have two insert songs, both of which are suitably perky and sugary, and getting to see Ranko in frilly pastels almost makes the whole thing worth it, but on the whole, this is a low point in the series.

Rating: B-

The [email protected] Cinderella Girls is currently streaming on Daisuki.

Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.

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