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Dated 1 April 2007: Idolm@ster Xenoglossia

I fully expect Iori to yell a lot.

I'm calling it: Idolmaster Xenoglossia is going to be awesome. This is not an April Fool's joke.

Dated 8 April 2007: Idolm@ster Xenoglossia


I promise you, Idolm@ster Xenoglossia is awesome. Well, awesome for a series with just one episode in the can so far.

Haruka tanks an idol audition.

The first episode begins with our main heroine, Haruka, choking at her idol audition. Fullmoon she ain't. Stunningly, she still makes the cut. Acceptance letter in hand, she tears off for Tokyo for her callback, completely unaware that the idol competition was a screening for potential mecha pilots. Oh, Sunrise.

Yayoi talks to Haruka.

Seeing her off is her very aerodynamic "always ready" friend, Yayoi with the excellent hair.

Haruka meets Yukiho
Haruka meets Yukiho.

Along the way she meets Siesta from Zero no Tsukaima, who has apparently ditched that loser Saito after he dragged her to Japan. Seriously, they're both even voiced by Yui Horie. She's a dead ringer.

Iori loses patience with Haruka. I told you she yells a lot.

Despite what you might expect, there is relatively little fan service in Idolm@aster Xenoglossia. This is the kind of show where it would be reasonable to expect fan service to be rampant. Don't get me wrong; there is fan service, but it generally comes in the form of Sunrise superlovely character design spamming rather than the usual, more obvious varieties. For example, when it is publically revealed that the penguin-obsessed Haruka is wearing penguin underpants, we see that she is mortified, but not a stitch of the offending clothing is ever shown.

Haruka and R.I.F.F.A.
R.I.F.F.A. abducts Haruka.

Speaking of Haruka's penguin obsession, it seems that's her shtick. Many characters have a defining characteristic that makes them readily memorable. For example, Yukiho is narcoleptic, Iori bitches people out a lot, and Yukana's R.I.F.F.A. character err...can defy gravity, I guess. And I don't mean she defies gravity the way Yayoi defies gravity. And how.

Dated 26 September 2007: The world is not ready for NAKED PINAFORE

With apologies to Kero-chan from Cardcaptor Sakura and Paiway from VanDread, it's time for another KARMABURN CHECK.

This installment of KARMABURN CHECK features another anime fashion staple that needs to become more popular in the real world: The PINAFORE.

Meido Tai
The Idolm@ster Xenoglossia Maid Troop revs Imber's engine.

So what is a pinafore, and how is it distinguished from an apron? Basically, a pinafore is different from an apron in that it is meant to be (more or less) a permanent part of an outfit, compared to an apron which is usually just worn while cooking or during NAKED APRON fantasies. Also, while an apron fastens with stringy ties, a pinafore has broad sections of cloth that wrap around one's back, usually tied into a bow. (Pedantic fashion mavens may argue here that pinafores are no more permanent than aprons and should really be pinned on instead of tied. Screw them.)

The best known pinafore these days is probably the one worn by Alice in the Disney movie Alice in Wonderland, although I don't recall if Alice originally had a pinafore in Lewis Carroll's books.

American McGee's Alice
American McGee's Alice.

There's also American McGee's Alice, although that Alice's pinfore is a little...different.

Dated 9 September 2008: The Idolm@ster: Live For You! Yes, you

Minase Iori either has a good sense of humor, or none at all.

My first exposure to Idolm@aster came via its fan art, most of which consists of the game's characters behaving inappropriately.

Someone else has already made an "It's all right if it's you, Imber" joke.

My second encounter with Idolm@aster was the Xenoglossia anime, a post-apocalyptic love story between a girl and her giant robot. Or maybe it was the other way around. It's so hard to tell when true love is concerned.

Chihaya, Haruka, and Miki
This is not the Miki from Idolmaster: Xenoglossia. Oh, wait...

My third experience with Idolm@ster was the Idolm@ster: Live For You! OVA. This is a one-shot anime based on the game, using game-type character designs and featuring no robots at all. It has pretty low production values, and some very squeaky voices. Chihaya is the best Live For You girl, incidentally, probably because she seems the most ordinary. Actually, none of the girls really look like idols, if you ask me; they all seem pretty normal. Hell, any one of them could be the girl next door.

Miki, Haruka, and Chihaya
This is definitely not the Xenoglossia Chihaya.

The most recent chapter in my Idolm@ster education comes in the form of myriad all-singing, all-dancing (and sometimes riding) video game clips on YouTube and NicoVideo. This is probably as close as I'm ever going to get to the games themselves, unless I acquire a Japanese XBox 360 in a game of chance or import the PSP port on a whim.


In re the game and Live For You! character designs: I'm not used to Makoto looking so feminine. Sure, she's the boku-saying tomboy character, but compared to her Xenoglossia counterpart, video game and Live For You! Makoto is positively bubbling with estrogen.

That's not estrogen.

To tell you the truth, THE iDOLM@STER game play looks oddly compelling. At the very least I'm convinced it's a lot more interesting than suffering through a season of American Idol. Speaking of which, maybe I would be inclined to watch American Idol if the studio and/or television audience had some say in determining song choices, costume changes, and choreography. Okay, that would probably be counterproductive for the front-runners, but I can see adding interactive components for the contestants who don't make a cut. What do they have to lose?

Dated 24 February 2009: Im@s Nine ~Xenoglossia~

Speaking of Not Idolm@ster Baseball, I would totally watch and/or play actual Idolm@ster Baseball. There are certainly enough girls to field a team. Here's my lineup:

  1. Batting lead-off, playing left field: Iori. She's got a small strike zone and hopefully some speed.
  2. Batting second, playing third base: Chihaya. She seems disciplined enough to be patient at the plate and hit behind the runner. I'm hoping she has a good enough arm for third. I'm not expecting her to be Brooks Robinson or anything, but I'd hope the Best Girl could handle the hot corner.
  3. Makoto bats third and plays center field. As the most masculine of the girls, I'm hoping she's the most athletic.
  4. Azusa bats cleanup and plays first base. There aren't a lot of big Idolmaster girls, so she'll have to do.
  5. Ritsuko bats fifth, catches. You need someone smart behind the plate to call the game, especially if your starting pitcher is a crybaby.
  6. Yayoi bats sixth, plays right field. I'd rather have someone with a stronger arm in right, but I don't even know if any of these girls can throw. Criminy, I've got a 13-year-old girl playing right field. That's no good.
  7. Ami bats seventh, plays second. As one of the weenie kids, I can't see her being much use outside the middle infield.
  8. Mami bats eights, plays shortstop. She and Ami are twins, so I'm trusting them to be on the same mental wavelength and hopefully be a good double-play combo.
  9. Yukiho is my starting pitcher, bats last. As a narcoleptic, I'm counting on her to be well rested.

Idolm@ster Baseball, Azusa edition
If Azusa's grip is normally this bad, maybe
I don't want her batting fourth after all.

So who do I have left? Haruka rides the pine. As the clumsy girl, I need to leave her as a pinch hitter because she'd be a defensive liability. Miki is a mid-season addition who starts out as a relief pitcher and perhaps moves into the regular rotation. Well, I say "rotation," but the 765 Idols only have one pitcher so far. Naturally, Producer is the manager, and a dead ringer for Earl Weaver besides.

Idolm@ster Baseball
There has to be an Idolm@ster version of
"Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Has to be.

Of course, this lineup is going to require some adjustments once I determine which players are left-handed or, say, incapable of hitting a curve ball. However, I think this team stands a chance against the Taisho Yakyuu Musume bunch. I'm afraid the Idols would probably get crushed by Hatsune Miku's baseball team, though. The damn Vocaloids have Kaito "The Hammer" in their lineup.

Dated 14 February 2018: iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA is a classic story about a teenage girl and her giant robot finding true love together

Haruka and Imber
Shameless flirting.

I was a stranger to the iDOLM@STER franchise the first time I watched iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA. I mentioned this before, but perhaps I should have noted I was also mystified by the amount of hostility displayed by some fans of the original games (arcade and Japanese Xbox 360 exclusive) toward Xenoglossia when the anime came out in 2007. Although I understood in principle the objections fans would have concerning the different character designs and replaced voices, I was not personally invested in any of the characters, so some of the more venomous attacks seemed excessive. Moreover, the character designs looked fine to me, at least relative to other anime of the period and Sunrise shows in particular. I finally watched my DVDs over the past few months, and actually enjoyed Xenoglossia a lot more on re-watch than I did during its initial broadcast, despite having a better understanding now of THE iDOLM@STER as a whole. Or maybe I like Xenoglossia more because I've watched several cours of bona fide iDOLM@STER anime now, not "despite" watching them.

Yukarin Iori with purple hair is good too.

Still, I'm not quite sure how I would characterize iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA. It's not really much of a giant robot show for a show about giant robots, and it's not an idol anime despite having (regular-type) idols and iDOLs in it. It's not a "cute girls doing cute things" show, nor is it an early example of the more recent phenomenon where anime girls band together to be really excited about some typically male-dominated activity, like Bakuon!! or Two Car or GIRLS und PANZER. Honestly, it really is a love story about a teenage girl and her much older robot boyfriend. Notably, the affection Haruka develops for Imber is not at all unusual, as all of the other pilots also develop complex feelings toward their robots as well. In fact, jealousy plays a huge role in the plot, as do the inevitable love triangles.

Also, Xenoglossia Azusa > regular Azusa.

IDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA does not take itself too seriously, but does not devolve into camp either. I buy into the HARUKA X IMBER pairing enough to believe there should be real questions raised about the ED once its setting becomes clear. I also enjoy the romance enough that I think I like the Xenoglossia Haruka more than I like the regular Haruka. Not that there's anything wrong with the regular Haruka necessarily, but I like the Xenoglossia Haruka's attitude better. Perhaps it's because she comes across as more of a main character in her own show, while the "real" Haruka necessarily seems more like a token default protagonist in a franchise with an ensemble cast, must the way I regard Miyafuji in Strike Witches or ol' Bucky in the Kantai Collection anime. I don't know if true fans of THE iDOLM@STER will ever regard Xenoglossia as positively as I do—the different voices must be especially jarring for them—but perhaps they'll come to appreciate the series if they think of it as one of those in-universe television programs the iM@S characters themselves occasionally feature in as actresses.