“Isn’t this just like that other idol show?”
Hold on, we’ll get to that.
Hello and welcome to a different kind of post here on Omunibasu! I know seeing write-ups that aren’t album reviews is a bit of a rare sight on the blog but this was something I wanted to do after I stumbled upon an interesting thing these past few months. So, here we are!
What exactly am I talking about? Well, back in the Winter 2021 anime season, I happened to check out an idol show that was airing, titled Selection Project. This anime got a pretty interesting reception, mainly because it was being heavily compared to ANOTHER idol anime from earlier in the year. And as you may suspect, I ended up watching both of those shows and a lot of thoughts started to come up regarding the more recent one, Selection Project. So, I figured I’d talk about it in a blog post.
But after finding out that my good friend Leap250 was in a similar situation as me, also having experienced both of those aforementioned idol shows, I asked him if he wanted to do a collab to talk about this new anime. And fortunately, he said yes!
With that said, here is the first part of our extensive conversation about Selection Project, and I hope you enjoy reading it. 😀
(This review does contain spoilers for the Selection Project anime, as well as Idoly Pride. Just a heads up.)
Selection Project is an anime TV series that aired in October 2021 and was produced by studio Doga Kobo. The anime revolves around an idol audition reality show titled ‘Selection Project’, where nine finalists from all across Japan compete for a chance to win a contract and make their official debut. The winners of the competition are determined by ‘Yells’, in which fans use towards their favorite contestant while watching the show. It has been considered the premier opportunity for those who aspire to become an idol, as many of the previous winners have become very well-known/popular around the country and world, including the legendary Amasawa Akari.
Throughout her childhood, Miyama Suzune had been hospitalized due to a severe medical condition, and the one source of positivity she leaned upon was Amasawa Akari. Listening to her songs gave Suzune hope and courage to fight through her health issues, and even inspired her to become an idol herself. Fast forward a few years later, now fully recovered, Suzune decides to audition for the seventh season of Selection Project, in hopes to follow her role model’s footsteps.
I guess a good way to start this off is: how or where did you first hear about Selection Project? I’d imagine we had somewhat of a similar experience with stumbling upon this whole series/project but it’d be great to hear how you discovered it.
I came to know about this project twice in the past; once in its early inception back in 2019, and a second time when the anime for it was announced. The first time was one that I completely just forgot about (lol) until I got reminded recently by a friend of a Facebook post of all things that had talked about it before, which really didn’t say much about what the project was going to be other than that it was a new multimedia idol project that had a “reality show” element to it. I didn’t hear much else about it after that.
Fast forward to a couple of years after that and I’m made aware of the anime that the project was gonna have, this time through one of its major cast announcements. Specifically, the first seiyuu that was announced to be part of Selection Project; Yano Hinaki. Someone whose activities I’ve been privy to owing to her involvement in the Love Live! Franchise. After she revealed that she was going to be the voice of one of the series’ main characters I couldn’t help but be curious and waited in anticipation for this since.
Oh wow, you heard about this in 2019? At the time, I was so deep into the Love Live fandom, that I didn’t really have much interest in looking at other idol projects…
But yeah, I also knew about Selection Project because of Hinaki’s involvement with it. I don’t think I heard about it as early as you did but it was definitely around the time when we got to hear her in Love Live’s Nijigasaki anime. And because she ended up not singing or dancing in that show, I personally found Hinanon’s (*Yano Hinaki’s nickname) new role to be a great opportunity to see her actually portray an idol. Plus, if I recall correctly, I saw that she was featured on the official Selection Project TikTok account so I just decided to follow that to see more of her. 😛
However, I feel like I truly heard about this/became interested right before the anime started since, well, many people said that it had similar vibes to another idol anime that aired earlier in the year, Idoly Pride. And since we, at that point, were already pretty big fans of the AiPura series, hearing about this supposedly comparable anime in Selection Project certainly piqued my interest. That said, uhh… I guess I didn’t expect the similarities to be incredibly close at times (lol).
I think it was *because* I was so entrenched in Love Live! at the time that similar projects found their way on my feed, but likewise, I didn’t really try following any other idol-themed franchise either. Which is funny to say now considering how you mention Idoly Pride here, since AiPura would be only the second multimedia idol project that I’ve decided to follow after LL!.
Suffice it to say, I also watched Idoly Pride when it aired and, not having any clue what that show was gonna be about, I was completely floored by what it was trying to do and it got its hooks in me just in the first episode. It wasn’t at all like the narratives we’ve gotten so used to from LL!’s offerings, and instead presented something a bit more dramatic in nature. It was a breath of fresh air in that regard, which made it one of the more memorable shows of that year as a result.
Unlike you though, I was never clued in on the supposed similarities from the get go, so you can just imagine my surprise when I saw the first couple of episodes of Selection Project and thought “…..there’s no freaking way” (XD)
Being a Love Live purist as well, Idoly Pride and getting into that series was also my first time experiencing another idol-related thing in a while, and it certainly was a highlight of 2021 for me. Like you said, it just felt different compared to the school idol stuff we’re used to and some of the dramatic storylines in AiPura were something I personally haven’t really seen in an anime, let alone an idol show.
There’s a lot to talk about regarding the similarities between Selection Project and Idoly Pride, so I feel like we should just start going through the SelePro anime and its many narratives. The first couple episodes, I thought, did a great job at introducing what this whole show is about: the Selection Project competition, how the preliminary rounds work, the way fans vote with ‘Yells’, the reality show part, etc etc. Plus, we even got a chance to see some of the main cast and their individual personalities, giving us a bit of an opportunity to see who can become our favorites.
But, not gonna lie… it was a little hard to focus on the main concepts of this show when it also literally conveyed some of the same ideas previously shown in Idoly Pride. Just to list a few: our main character (Miyama Suzune) suffered from some medical condition in the past, a really popular/legendary idol (Amasawa Akari) tragically died in a car accident at the height of her career, as well as having the contestants perform Akari’s most iconic song. Similar to how you reacted, I went ahead and thought to myself, “hmm… that definitely sounds like Kawasaki Sakura and Nagase Mana from Idoly Pride”. Heck, in the second episode, there was a part where Suzune mentioned that she was born with a weak heart which made me think, “oh boy, here we go”.
And because of that, to be honest, I was a bit turned off at first. It wasn’t bad to the point where I felt like dropping the show, but it was a little worrying. And I know that this was before I found out Selection Project and Idoly Pride were first announced, somewhat, around the same time but… in the heat of the moment with no prior knowledge, I feel like it’d be natural, especially for someone who has watched Idoly Pride first, to have some doubts about Selection Project.
Considering the reality show aspect is arguably the main selling point of the project, we almost can’t not talk about it. You’re definitely right in that it lays out and introduces the structure of the titular Selection Project program quite well, from how it works and what can be expected from it like any true to life reality show. All of that was neat, since… I don’t think I’ve ever watched an anime with that kind of premise. The key word here being “introduces”, which I’d like to get to later, but before we go any further I do want to address the elephant in the room since we’ve already gone and talked about it.
Anyone who has seen Idoly Pride will be reminded of Idoly Pride when they watch Selection Project. There’s just no going around it. Like, you don’t have to look that hard to find “hey can I copy your homework” memes associated with this title. It’s *that* close. Sure, it’s safe to say at this point that a lot of that comes from Idoly Pride simply airing first and thereby beating Selection Project to the punch, but at the same time… it really is just bizarre. Almost in an uncanny way.. I mean, even a character ends up sharing a birthday with an Idoly Pride character with a similar standing in the story!
The biggest culprit of course is, and as both you and I have been alluding to, pretty much the entire narrative of the series “main” character Miyama Suzune (and subsequently the series as a whole). I was having a bit of a laugh during the first couple of episodes myself. Not so much *at* the show per se, just how things were turning out for the show as the weeks went by, with parallels to Idoly Pride continuing to pile up one after the other and as you yourself did, after a certain point started to think about how unfortunate the situation that both the show and the project as a whole found itself in.
Unfortunate in the sense that Selection Project will more than likely always have Idoly Pride looming in its shadow, at the very least as far as its story is concerned. In that sense it’s not exactly 1:1, but it’s a case of the similarities far outweighing the differences that the two have. Which is a shame when you start to consider how those very differences are what *should* be (in my opinion) setting Selection Project apart from Idoly Pride and other idol-themed shows in general; those being the characters and the reality show aspect that the show has as its backdrop respectively.
I completely agree with that last part you said. One thing you’ll probably hear me mention throughout this conversation is that I certainly judged this anime pretty harshly at first but once they started to get the ball rolling, it did have its enjoyable and unique traits.
As much of a Sakura clone (or even any genki, optimistic, orange/yellow/brown-haired anime girl) Suzune is, her background and upbringing was a bit intriguing to follow. The fact that she looked towards Amasawa Akari as she was going through many hardships with her health; that alone made me feel for her at times and was certainly a good reason to root for Suzune while she pursued the same path as her beloved role model. And things got REAL interesting during that whole stretch where she lost in her audition, but was later added to the main cast due to the winner of her region dropping out. Having to go through all that commotion with getting over her health problems, messing up during her audition, losing, and then trying to figure out if she really belonged in this competition despite the sacrifice that was made for her… it’s clear that Suzune’s been through a lot, and at the time, I was pretty interested to see how she’d deal with all that pressure.
We can probably extend the same sentiments towards the rest of the cast of Selection Project in that regard. Of course, while most of the show was devoted to resolving conflicts directly involving Suzune, in my opinion Selection Project did a decent job at investing a fair amount of screen time towards the other girls apart from Suzune on top of that. They’re all coming in with their own backstories, all from different walks of life, and are themselves their own archetypes: the long-black-hair-cool-beauty Hananoi Rena who’s trying to understand why her late sister loved singing as much as she did by attempting to do the same; the child star Koizumi Uta who wishes to reinvent her career so as not to be seen as a token young girl character; a lifelong athlete in Yodogawa Ao who longs for a competition that she can be excited for; to name a few.
There are a total of nine distinct characters, all with their own little quirks, that I’m sure would resonate with individual viewers and their character preferences on a more personal level. That is to say, someone might prefer the spunky and tomboy-ish Hamaguri Hiromi over the homey elder sister figure Toma Mako, while another might take a liking to the refined aristocrat Yamaga Shiori, instead of the conniving Imau Nagisa or the gluttonous Yagi Nodoka.
This is where I found the premise of Selection Project to be interesting, as its reality show format is uniquely structured to allow the viewer to get behind a character that they like. One could say that this is nothing different from the “oshi” culture that exists now even for these kinds of 2.5D idol projects, and they would be right for the most part. Just that this being supposedly a contest where you support your favorite girl actually has, or rather should have had actual bearing for once in terms of their standing in terms of popularity. Of course, we both know that doesn’t end up being the case, and the “reality show” as it were doesn’t end up being all that realistic.
~ to be continued ~
When I mentioned that we had an ‘in-depth chat’ in this post’s title, I really did mean that. Leap and I ended up having a pretty lengthy convo so I had to break it up in multiple parts. This is part 1 of 3 so stay tuned for part 2 in a few days!
Also if you’ve seen Selection Project and/or just have some thoughts you want to share, definitely leave them in the comments!
Thanks for reading!! 😀