Hello and welcome back to this interesting conversation I’m having with my good friend Leap250, where we’ve been talking about an idol anime called Selection Project! As you can tell by the title, this is part 2 of this post series so if you haven’t read part 1, which I highly recommend you do or else you probably won’t know what we’re talking about, please click here!
That being said, let’s continue!
Oh yeah, definitely. I don’t know about you but I genuinely liked all of the characters in this anime/reality show. Maybe it’s because I’m generally easy to please and/or the fact that I’m used to having a positive opinion about every idol within a group, but letting these characters have a decent amount of screen time really allowed them to show the audience a bit of what they’re about and their individual motives/goals. Heck, we even got to see some of their personal lives, further showing us their true personalities and how they are when they’re not doing idol-related things (with the addition of how heartwarmingly supportive their families are).
A lot of the time, idol anime has had some trouble in this department, when the writers, sort of, leave one or more characters behind in the story. It usually results in said characters having a lack of substance or reason to be likable, which sucks but can be understandable due to the 12/13-episode limit they have to work with. And while Selection Project still conveyed those types of problems at times (i.e. Nodoka being seen more as a comedic relief kind of character with her frequent ‘I like food’ quips), I also feel like they did a good job giving a sufficient amount of depth to all nine of these idols.
And one way they did so was actually in the first round of the competition, where everyone split up into individual groups/units that revolved around a specific skill: dance, vocals and band instruments. Being able to see these groups do things like try to warm up to each other, decide on a unique group name, prepare for an entire performance and especially deal with internal conflict; not only did it have a pretty satisfying feeling regarding the expression of each character’s individual personality, but the relationship building between one another as well (which will most definitely come into play later on in the show). Safe to say that there was a lot of ego-clashing involved, especially with the dance and instrument teams, and watching how each of them resolved their problems was rather interesting to watch. The one that resonated with me the most was the episode with the instrument team (who were later named ‘GAPsCAPs’), since it was nice to see Mako apply her motherly personality and extensive experience with taking care of children towards the antics of Uta and Shiori. Plus… it instantly made me a Mako fan (lol).
I think that’s fair. On my end, while there’s not really a character that I’d say I truly disliked over the course of the whole thing, there are certainly characters that I liked more than the others. I mean, they’re all meant to be likable one way or the other from the start, and as you illustrate with your own experiences with certain characters, it really does come down to how much you end up appreciating the different character dynamics between the members of the cast and how the show chooses to depict them and their actions in the show’s story arcs.
I for one definitely soured a bit on the character Hiromi, following the show’s first real pivotal turn in what would be the second round of the competition, with her incessant badgering of Suzune to reveal a secret that she had been keeping from. A secret that of course would later be revealed as her having had heart surgery, the scars from which she didn’t want seen, which was the cause of her refusal to wear a swimsuit that would reveal said scar and was the source of this whole debacle in the first place. I mean, I’m pretty sure she could’ve worn something that still covered her chest (lol). There was absolutely no reason for the other girls to make a huge fuss about being kept in the dark about Suzune’s secret. To make matters worse, they confront her while the cameras are recording! Like, I remember watching this entire exchange and feeling taken aback by what I was seeing unfold in that scene, but I digress.
I will say however that it was at this point in the show, around halfway through, that I felt that some things about it were a bit clumsily handled, so to speak.
Ah yeah… I remember that (xD). What was presumed to be a fun, summertime/beach episode ended up being the most uncomfortable and hardest thing I had to see in that entire show. If that’s the effect they were going for, then I guess it worked on me. But I agree, seeing Hiromi pressure Suzune and even Nagisa be hella paranoid about what Suzune was hiding, was a bit excessive. And like you said, the fact that the show staff decided to record what was supposed to be a ‘private meeting’ was preeeeeetty scummy. I get it: the heart situation had to be addressed eventually but how they did it was a bit questionable. A lot of things could’ve been avoided here. The one good thing that I personally got out of that episode was how we saw Suzune’s insecurities start to develop, and I was curious about the ways she could handle and overcome this new obstacle of hers.
I am wondering about that last part you mentioned; I also had some issues with some of the things that happened from this point on. I assume what you’re alluding to has to do with the whole heart storyline (lol).
It’s a lot of things, like some dialogue choices here and there in some parts, the contrivances that needed to happen for all nine girls to reach the final round of their competition, and of course the “heart storyline”.
In a way you could say that the stuff about the heart never really leaves the foreground as we’re near-constantly reminded of it every time Suzune puts a hand on her chest (XD). I say that half in jest however, as the show does lean quite heavily on this particular narrative more so than any other storylines present in it, which is quite interesting when you think about how insulated Suzune’s (and by extension Rena’s) plot ends up being to the rest of the show. The moment that more emphasis starts going towards this plotline, all the individualities and all the pieces of development we got from the rest of the cast dissipates and comes to a halt. Coincidentally, this all happens right as they all come together as a group funnily enough, where it’s like, the focus was solely on Suzune from then on out. We could argue that the girls having gone from only looking out for themselves to now valuing their bond as a group is a form of development in itself, but remember too that the premise of the Selection Project was that it’s supposed to be an individual endeavor in the first place. One that they’ve set out to win *on their own* at all costs.
So it was at this point where I kinda felt that the show was trying to do two things at once; tell a dramatic self-contained narrative of a young girl chasing her dreams after being given a second chance at life, and create a setting where girls from all over Japan vying for a chance to shine on stage only to realize their differences and come together as one. Not to say that the dramatic storyline *has* to be self-contained, I mean, Idoly Pride is proof that you can have that plot run tangentially to something else and still have it be a compelling narrative. It’s just that the way Selection Project tried to tie in its drama to the other aspects of its story could’ve been done better I feel. But of course, that might just be me (lol). What are your thoughts on how these were handled?
I see. Well first, I wanted to touch on the heart stuff, as yes, it definitely takes up most of the narrative and drama in this show. And in my opinion, I thought they handled that… fairly well. At least on the ‘engagement/entertainment’ side of things. What I mean by that is it had so much suspense revolving around it, to the point where I was pretty intrigued with this whole drama, ESPECIALLY being someone who saw the Idoly Pride anime first. Because they kept hinting at and showing more and more of this whole conflict with Suzune’s heart and the connections between her, Rena and Akari, it almost felt like I was watching some sort of detective story. As cliche as that sounds, I enjoyed how they took their time with building up to the ‘big reveal’; it being that Suzune had a heart transplant and her donor was, in fact, the late Amasawa Akari. It made me wonder if they’d do this or that, and there were even times where I genuinely thought they could’ve taken a different route compared to what Idoly Pride did in their show.
That said, I honestly liked Selection Project’s version of the ‘idol heart’ storyline more. I know that’s kind of a questionable opinion cause, you know, both shows depicted the same exact thing (lol). But I felt like the whole saga with Sakura, Kotono and Mana in Idoly Pride, sort of, came and went, as to where it was much more suspenseful and engaging in this show. Of course, there’s a chance that my current thoughts are based on recency bias, simply cause I haven’t seen the AiPura anime since it aired back in January of last year. But given that both Suzune and Rena had very different-yet-very meaningful connections with Akari, this whole situation and how it unfolded felt like it had a much more significant impact on both of those characters.
However, you do make a great point regarding the way they tried to intertwine the heart stuff with the rest of what was happening in this anime. I did, sort of, say that everyone not named Suzune and Rena had a sufficient amount of time in the spotlight to show off what they’re about, but was very ‘shallow’ cause of the heart storyline taking up a majority of the show. And one example of them combining the two narratives was at the end, when they had Suzune suddenly collapse and put 9-tie’s decisive final performance in jeopardy. I would assume that they made that contentious decision for dramatic purposes but really, I felt like that wasn’t necessary to do.
And yeah, it’s fair to question how this initial competition turned completely upside down when all nine of the contestants ended up bonding and refused to vote each other out. Like you said, that wasn’t what was advertised in this ‘Survivor’, ‘Big Brother’-esque reality show. But in my eyes, the writers’ whole point could’ve been that this group was different and special compared to the previous SelePro contestants. It was yet another ‘twist’ in this rollercoaster of a story, and I think they did a decent job of conveying that by showing the friendships between everyone and eventual creation of 9-tie, which, not gonna lie… that was a bit more reasonable than in Idoly Pride, where an AI ‘somehow’ let both of the main groups win the entire competition cause of a calculated tie.
~ to be continued ~
Aaaaand we’re gonna have to leave it there! Part 3, where we’ll talk about some of the non-story elements and ultimately give our final thoughts about this show, will be posted in a few days. Hope you look forward to it!
Also, if you have any thoughts about what we talked about or Selection Project as a whole, definitely leave them in the comments!
Thanks for reading!! 😀