• Genre : good intentioned, idol, comedy,
  • Episodes: 17 (or is it i7?)
  • Studio: Troyca


Being an idol isn’t just a job, it’s a calling. A dream. A need to make people happy and bring a smile to your fans’ faces. The full weight of people’s joy rests on your shoulders. With such grand responsibilities you cannot afford to be any less than absolutely perfect. Unfortunately for the fledgling group IDOLiSH7, they’ve still got quite a few edges to smooth out. More boys more problems – am I right?

Wait, this wasn’t the synopsis I wanted to write. I have it in my notes and everything. Bah, no one ever reads my pretty boy anime reviews anyways, I can put whatever I want in here. OK second synopsis it is.

IDOLiSH 7 is a topical political satire in which we follow Tsumugi Takanashi a well-meaning but slightly underqualified pretty blonde girl, who manages to land an important and influential position thanks to her rich, also blonde, president father. She quickly learns ho to sway public opinion in her favour and manipulate the heart of the masses through mass media. A poignant exploration of the dangers of nepotism and the power and influence of social platform in our brave new world. Bitingly funny and utterly irreverent.

Let me say right now, possible bar the last sentence, both of these summaries are entirely accurate!

I know, it’s not fair

You know, in my experience, no single anime genre gathers quite as much hate as the cute boys genre. You can just see how these shows are consistently rated lower despite very similar story lines and production values. When this show was airing I had no less than 5 separate people tell me it was bad and I shouldn’t watch it despite the fact that 1) it was on episode 2 or 3 at the time, 2) I am convinced none of these people have in fact seen any of it. It would be greatly out of character for them and 3) I have made no secret of my love of kitschy campy shows.

If anything, I would say IDOLiSH7 does a few things better than its contemporaries. None of those things are in production mind you. It looks good but not great. Designs are ok, although costumes are fantastic, but they do tend to look a little odd in certain angles.

You now what, I’m trying to bury the lead and be all kinda almost professional like. Give you a decent overview of what you can expect of the technical side of this anime… Forget it – I can’t wait. Here’s what you really really need to know:

1) Voice acting is fine except for the blonde guy who I think is trying to do a Swedish accent in Japanese. For real, imagine the Swedish Chef from the Muppets doing a Japanese idol voice over. It goes from confusing, to plain old bad, to hilarious, to quite annoying then possibly genius in a surreal way. This acting choice just captivated me. I would say it haunts my dreams but those are already pretty jam packed with:

2)  The CG performances are the stuff of nightmares. By far the most terrifying thing I’ve seen on a screen in a long time… But you CAN’T look away. It’s like a spell – or a curse… I sort of miss it now.

stills just can’t convey the black magic

Oh and did I mention these are all colour coded guys with fun hair that play basketball. For some reason I liked this show…

What was I saying? Oh right, I liked this show! First let me say, it is not a harem and not a romance. The guys express no romantic interest in the girl and the only suggested attraction is between her and a member of the other band and it’s a very small plot point.  IDOLiSH7 is the closest thing I have ever seen to a pure idol show.

I mean they treat being and idol like a sports anime treats athletes. The show goes into a lot of detail about the business side, carefully timing single releases and shows, tailoring publicity and public appearances for maximum impact. It also considers venue sites and space. A lot of attention and time is devoted to the administrative side of crafting and promoting and idol group as a product.

I know I make it sound a bit depressing and soulless, but it’s actually very interesting. It even gave the protagonist something tangible and useful to do, as the band manager, that made her character considerably more substantial than most similar ones I’ve seen. In fact, I quite liked Tsumugi. She cared about the boys because it was her job and she wanted to do it right. Not because they were so dreamy… In fact, everyone cared about their jobs. A lot.

the dedication just to get into those costumes!

Another unusual aspect was the attention given to the fans. We see individual fans, and their reactions a lot throughout the series. We follow some from episode to episode and watch her, and the people around her, cheer for the band as they start to get to know them and enjoy their music, be sad for their setbacks and occasionally disappointed at their failures. Most of the idol shows I’ve seen only focus on fans during concerts. They tend to be more of a faceless mass. Taking time to flesh out fan characters allowed me to relate to that side of the experience. I think it’s a smart move.

You may not have read my previous reviews for anime of this genre. If you have you may have noticed by now that this one is a bit different. It’s almost coherent. The biggest thing I can blame IDOLiSH for is not being stupid enough. It simply doesn’t capture that pure sense of ridiculous campy fun these shows can do so well. Like I said, it’s surprisingly earnest.

Thankfully there are still some gems and classic tropes to be had. All the boys have ridiculously tragic back stories. Since the show never becomes a drama though, these super intense tragedies are just dropped on the audience out of the blue, then next scene everyone is back to business. I loved it! Also, there are some classic dialogue. The rival idols describe their show as a “supremely euphoric experience”. A line I will surely steal for future reviews. And let’s never forget this:

You know, maybe all those meanies actually did the show a favour. I went in expecting a boring train wreck and was pleasantly surprised. By no means is IDOLiSH 7 a masterpiece but it did entertain me for a few nights and made me smile. In fact, I was pretty surprised when I realized it was over. 17 episodes flew by.

Favorite character: Murasakibara Tamaki

What this anime taught me: I need this hoodie:

“Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life.” 

Suggested drink: Pagan Idol

  • Every time we see the president – take a sip
  • Every time anyone calls Nagi beautiful – take a sip
  • Every time any guy calls another guy cute – take a sip
    • if it’s Iori – take another
  • Every time anyone says pudding – get a snack
  • Every time Nagi speaks in english – try to understand
    • if you’re terrified – take a sip
  • Every time anyone has a tragic past – take a stiff drink
  • Every time anyone is drinking – join them!
  • Every time anyone says Zero – take a sip
  • Every time Tamaki mentions his sister – sigh
  • Every time there’s a CG scene – cover your eyes

26 thoughts

  1. I love me some political satire. Clever how you manage to look pass the facade of this being a pretty boy idol anime to see the nuances in it addressing Japanese politics, and social issues. Seems like it played everyone who seen it for a fool as it true intentions went over many people’s heads, except for you! This anime might be too deep for me to handle.

  2. Definitely with you on Nagi’s voice, at least initially. You can get used to it if you’re not hearing it every week.

    The CGI pales in comparison to Houseki no Kuni which came immediately before it, but that’s a really high bar…you should see some of the i7 music videos’ CGI (Melodies Memories, think it was, in particular) – that’s even worse than the show’s!

  3. Oh huh, I totally dismissed this as a cute boys show and may have glossed over most of the reviews I’ve read on it… I doubt I’d give it a try, but it sure sounds interesting.

    1. I really liked it honestly… It’s not brilliant by any means but it’s well directed and it’s written by an uncreative but definitely talented author (or team…)

  4. I tried the show, but not for long enough to ever meet the girl. Did the show perhaps start with a performance? That might explain why I opted out (if it’s hideous CGI on top of me not liking most idol performances in anime to begin with).

          1. I’ve been looking at what’s been airing around the time, and one season earlier we get Tsukipro. I might have unconsciously lumped them together. I’m not sure if they had CGI or not.

            I certainly still want to try UtaPri (though probably only one season for now).

  5. I love Idolish almost as much as Marginal#4. It has something special that other idol shows doesn’t have. The fact that it isn’t a harem makes it so much more appealing I think. It gets tiresome when 7/11 boys falls for 1 girl and they all sing live songs to her every episode. It gets old quite quickly. Of course it has it charm too but i7 is much more. There’s more substance to it. Idk, I’m just rambling. I was just gonna say that I agree with what you are writing. 😎

Leave me a comment and make my day!