Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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Dated 10 August 2020: Here we go again (Umimi 2020)

Umi
Philips 1180X
Close enough, eh.

Dated 10 August 2019: Here we go again (Umimi 2019)

Umimi
Well, it's been another year.

Dated 10 August 2018: Here we go again (Umimi 2018)

Umi
Okay, this is getting out of hand.

Dated 6 August 2018: This is Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight

Hikari
This was a blatant effort to encourage anime tourism.

I starting watching Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight thinking it was going to be an idol anime that would contrast nicely when watched back-to-back with Ongaku Shoujo. Yeah, that turned out to be wrong. It's not an "idol anime" at all, or at least it's less so an idol anime than it is a "wack ass giraffe fight club" anime, as I've seen it characterized on the IRC. To tell you the truth, I'm not entirely sure what to call it.

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Dated 10 August 2017: Umi 2017

Umi
What, another year already?

Dated 10 August 2016: Umimi and me

Normal Umi
So far so good.

A while back, it was about a year ago, I think it was, I decided to check out more of THE iDOLM@STER's action, right, figure out what Million Live! had going on that I didn't have going. Although I was a (secondary) fan of the "real" iDOM@STER and knew of Cinderella Girls from its anime adaptation, Million Live! I only knew from the various cards people would upload to the Danbooru.

High Rare Umi
I'm guessing Umi smokes this girl.

Well, it turned out there were quite a few Million Live! characters (and a shit ton of Cinderella Girls). At a whim, I decided to start burning through all the bios to see if perhaps there was one I'd be likely to favor best. I even started a a spreadsheet compiling the official data. (This spreadsheet has since grown out of control.) It sort of felt like shopping for a mail-order waifu from a catalog since I was at least semi-consciously intent on determining which Million Live! was best Million Live!.

Super Rare Umi
I don't actually know anything about this event.

Coincidentally, this was also about the time I lost my previous disinterest in anime figures. I reasoned that as my anime-type hobby didn't seem to be going away, it probably wasn't just a phase, and perhaps that made it all right to spend some money on anime tchotchkes. And maybe a display box of some sort. But not a display case, that's going too far. After all, I would only be getting one. (Heard this one before, have you?) I just had to figure out which one. Preferably not one which would cost me like two hundred damn dollars only to melt during a relentless Southern California summer.

Super Rare Umi
I can't tell if this is an exhibition or a competition.

Also coincidentally, this was about the time I learned of the Rookie Seiyuu Awards. Ueda Reina won that year for Hanayamata, so I watched that (it turns out it's really good) and a bunch of other shows with Ueda Reina roles, even token ones. (It turns out Ueda Reina is really good too.) Anyway, those of you who happen to be Ueda Reina fans probably already know where I'm going with this, as will anyone who is an actual fan of THE iDOLMASTER: Million Live! itself rather than just a fan of the idea of THE iDOLM@STER: Million Live! like me.

Manami, Minami, Reina, Kaya, and Yuka
Ueda Reina, center, with some of her fellow Hanayamata seiyuu.

It turns out Kousaka Umi is the not-quite-anime-character perfect storm. Some of you already know that—in the absence of any other key indicators—I start my character ranking determinations based on the various candidates' hair. Kousaka Umi's extraneous twin braids immediately put her in towards the top of the list, because I love me some twin braids. The top of the list, incidentally, included such company as Kitazawa Shiho whom I liked from the iDOLM@STER movie because she was such a bitch to everyone for no reason, and Nanao Yuriko (whom I also liked for her hair, even though she wasn't a bitch to anyone in the iDOM@STER movie). I'm also partial to enthusiastic Top Fuel Genki characters in general. Add in some real-deal athleticism, and I'm basically sold. Wait, there are also random ballet-themed references and non sequiturs? Someone's been reading my old journals. I'm totally in favor of a ballet-trained idol even if it means she is probably really bendy.

Rare Umi
Actually, she is really bendy.

At this point, I was tracking Kousaka Umi as the likely best Million Live! idol, but she didn't have any anime presence to speak of. Was she in anything else besides the game? Thanks to my aforementioned serendipitous curiosity about anime figures, I decided to see if possibly a Kousaka Umi figure existed. And yes, it turned out one did. This was somewhat perplexing, as she was also the only Million Live character who had an anime figure of any sort at the time. It's still not clear to me why; if there was only going to be one, I would have expected one of the characters from the movie. Anyway, finding out a Kousaka Umi figure did exist and that it did not cost two hundred damn dollars worked out pretty well. Especially since this way I could claim my lone anime figurine was somewhat esoteric despite being part of a well-known franchise.

Umi figure
This Kousaka Umi anime figure came with an extra face.

You know what's next, right? As I understand it, most (or at least many) Cinderella Girls characters are not yet voiced, but every Million Live! character is voiced. Kousaka Umi, you've surely already guessed, is voiced by Ueda Reina.

THE IDOLM@STER LIVE THE@TER PERFORMANCE 10
"ココロ☆エクササイズ" is quite catchy.

Well, shit. Umimi not only cruises through all the checkpoints (at least on paper), she has an anime figure which was apparently under-appreciated even when it was the only game in town as far as Million Live! figures went, AND she's voiced by my favorite newbie voice actress. So there you have it. This was a no-brainer. Also, if you're reading this on August 10th, then it means I managed to get this written in time for her designated birthday. Happy 16th birthday again, Umimi. You're my THE iDOLM@STER: Million Live! Best Girl.

Dated 8 February 2008: Princess Tutu

Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu.

I'm finally catching up with Nodame Cantabile again. If this doesn't inspire me to start buying classical music records again, maybe re-watching Princess Tutu will. Not that I need another excuse to re-watch Princess Tutu, mind you. You see, I recently bought the Princess Tutu compilation box set, so I have a pretty convenient excuse already. I'm a little peeved at spending seven dollars more for it than I needed to (you can get the ADV box set now for $27), but the series is worth much more than that, so I'll get over it.

Princess Tutu compilation
Rue displaces Ahiru for the Princess Tutu cover.

Regarding the box set, have you seen the cover art? Holy crap. Lest ye be misled, take note that this cover art is in no way representative of the contents of the show itself. Okay, the artists who developed Kraehe were surely working on a dissertation glorifying anime boobs, but aside from that, this cover art is nothing at all like the show itself.

Princess Kraehe
Princess Kraehe.

Of course, ADV probably chose misleading cover art intentionally, because damned if I know how else they're going to market a show like Princess Tutu. A pretty box with frilly pink ribbons and prancing ballet dancers would be more accurate and appropriate, but accurate and appropriate cover art ain't gonna inspire impulse buys—discounting impulse buys from anime fans that know the fourth act of Swan Lake by heart, naturally.

Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu.

So how does one sell a show about a little duck that turns into a young girl who turns into a magikal girl who saves people with the power of ballet? (Which is a BRILLIANT premise, by the way, but likely only in the eyes of people like me.) Sure, its soundtrack is almost entirely classical music, with a little boost from the late half of Melocure, but that's not going to sway the kind of customers who like to allege, "Anime is a medium, not a genre." [Spoilers: Those people are full of it.]

Rue
Rue.

I guess racy cover art featuring an emo ballerina squeezed into a merry widow is one way to go about it, and Rue does have legs that go up to her neck, but I advise potential buyers to simply sample the first few episodes. Watching the HnK/a.f.k. fansubs convinced me to buy the Princess Tutu Complete Collection DVDs despite being discouraged about ADV's Ahiru/Duck jazz. (Look, I don't care what your reason is; you can't subtitle the lead character's name as "Duck," okay?)

Princess Kraehe
Odile sympathizers, you know who you are.

Be advised that the series changes drastically mid-series by revealing the heretofore unknown nature of multiple characters. Nothing contradicts the first half of the series, but the lack of antecedent leaves me wondering if they concocted those changes at the last minute in order to extend the length of the show. I'm not really complaining, because the show makes the changes work, and I would have bought the complete series on the strength of the first half alone. In fact, the second half of the series is also quite good; it just goes off in a different direction. If I have a complaint at all, I guess it's that the show didn't take its numerous Swan Lake references even further and just turned Princess Tutu into an anime adaptation of the ballet for Odile sympathizers, straight-up.

In related news, clockwork > steampunk.