Hello, and welcome to the Runback Recap, where the East meets West, the episodic meets the editorial, and the finer points of multiple author input are pushed to the limit!
Skip to content
A lot of changes have been made here at Moe-Alt HQ, and as always every author here is always seeking to push the envelope and experiment with new content for our readers. One of these ventures, the 1980’s series, was an exercise for a new format of future posts.
The Runback Recap is another one of these experiments, which came about from the publishing of the Writing about Anime 101 post. We decided to put our money where our mouth was and take on an apprentice of sorts, to prove that the post and our tips weren’t just all hot air and bulk words. As per standard procedure on something new here on Moe-Alt, I will take the time to explain the details of the Runback Recap:
What is a “runback recap”?
Let’s say one of our writers, in this case Hss, wants to write a series of episodic articles about Sakura Trick for this season. The only issue with this it that it’s already a few episodes into the series, so to write episodic posts about the previous episodes, he’d have to do one post for each episode released until the most current one to be caught up. Sound like a chore?
Of course he doesn’t have to do it that way, and most writers don’t. Unless he writes 1 -4 sentence long recaps, then surely he will be burnt out from writing a massive article all by himself, and probably stop writing episodic posts halfway through, which tends to commonly happen.
The Runback Recap is a way of circumventing that, by turning that massive article into a shared effort by a couple of authors, that converts the episodic post format into one single summary post that explains the show as it is.
Kind of like a larger first impressions post, but without all the stress of continued writing or forcing a schedule on any one writer. The benefit of a better analysis of a series plus avoiding any repeated material pretty much spells out why we’d want to do this.
In summary, we’re writing this to help out an aspiring writer/moe named IllegalCyrus, aka Cyrus-kun improve his own writing. Community Service, whoo! Also, a “runback” is a rematch of sorts, which fits the theme of the post since I only really took a glance at the series and didn’t watch it, so it’s kind of like a second glance, haha.
Wake Up Girls! Recap
IllegalCyrus is the featured guest author for this post.
Over the years Yutaka Yamamoto or Yamakan has proven to be quite an interesting man, directing the first four episodes of Lucky Star or the savior of anime: Fractale; He’s here to deliver a masterpiece diving into the idol industry intending to revitalize it with Wake Up, Girls!, his latest venture. The undeniable greatness of Wake Up, Girls! is here to show us why Yamakan is flawless.
EPISODE ONE – tHE aWAKENING
An anime about 7 girls who form an idol group and their adventure to the top, the first episode of this “Citizen Kane” of anime follows up on the aftermath of the prequel movie (insert title here), wondering if the girls will ever do their Wake Up Girls! act again. Though the real problem is none of this is really showing any actual progression of the story throughout the episode. Outside of the last few minutes when an out of nowhere plot “development” consisting of a man walking in and giving the girls something to wear is shown. The episode also makes multiple and frequent reference to the concert that was performed in the prequel movie, along with the opening song which included one of the girls listening to it on her mp3 player.
I’m really not sure if it’s just trying to get the songs into people’s heads so they can buy the OP single when it comes out.
The flashbacks themselves serve no purpose outside of telling the viewer that the girls did that concert, mostly as a throwback to anyone who didn’t watch the prequel movie. A Producer character appearing to be like Yamakan’s self-insert is introduced as your “normal” nice guy who is showcased to be a beneficial improvement for the girls, as their previous producer has split.
Don Don Kun: “What disgusts me the most about Wake Up, Girls! (amongst other things) is the complete black & white portrayal of the idol industry. Although anime has a tendency to simplify real-life concepts and institutions for the sake of moving a plotline along, the vision that Wake Up, Girls! paints is not one that should be forgiven.
In the case of the Producer, he perhaps best exemplifies the show’s core issue: virtuous he may seem, he is anything but, as when he is placed alongside men who are nothing more than drunken perverts or rabid fans, he is elevated into a saint-like figure. We see the guy working his ass off trying to spark the flame of these girls’ careers, all the while being pushed around and humiliated by the capitalist fat-cats of the entertainment industry. As a result, Yamakan is manipulating us into siding with the Producer’s heroic efforts, which is extremely problematic when we realize that none of the “antagonists” are ever depicted with a single shred of humanity. It’s a completely biased portrayal, all for the sole purpose of mounting a half-baked attack on the idol industry.
Cyrus already made reference to the Producer acting as Yamakan’s self-insert, and frankly speaking, I wouldn’t put it past this director to do something like this, considering the low-points of his career. This is really just an assertion on my part, and I have no way of knowing if this is true or not, but either way, Wake Up, Girls!’s attempt at social commentary is utterly despicable.”
While the first episode never reaches into the realm of terrible, it really flirts with it, and as a result appears to go nowhere and doesn’t know what it wants to be just yet.
episode 2 – eCCHI SKETCHY, ONE TOUCHY
How do you even begin to follow-up on the first episode? How about a mysterious man who comes out of nowhere and wants the girls to do sexually appealing fanservice to drunk older men? I’ve read doujinshi with better follow-up.
Later into the first half of Wake Up, Girls! episode 2 it begins to feel extremely uncomfortable, and the viewer doesn’t sympathize for the girls being put in this position, since they accepted it.
It’s because it’s handled so outrageously awkward that you just want it to stop.
The budget in episode 2 is great, including photos of real baskets! Really flexing off the misappropriated funding, Yamakan.
Any hint of role for the manager (and how brief it was) is now quickly buried under the rug, because the girl’s old producer is back, thus leaving him just being your friendly neighborhood morale support and disturbingly close “friend” for all the girls. The DRAMA itself provides zero development and just has Miyuu (maid girl) becoming too uncomfortable to enjoy.
10bit: “While proofreading and cleaning up Cyrus’ writing for this Wake Up, Girls! post, I found it absolutely hilarious that he didn’t know most of the names for the girls outside of ‘maid girl’ or just ‘GIRL’.
Truthfully, I’ve done the same thing, most notably with Akibahara48, I mean how am I supposed to remember the names of 48 girls from a show that I’m not that invested in? I can feel for Cyrus, but Wake Up, Girls! has a way smaller cast, and it’s just hilarious/embarrassing that the girls are just so plain and vanilla that a viewer cannot even bother to remember the respective character’s names.
I don’t even know why they even bother having development for meido-chan, because of how she operates normally in the show, the fact that she just gets offended angry from the developments. Spotlighting her offers really nothing to the show outside of having DRAMA and expecting fans to feel this is actually a good thing.
Don Don Kun: “Wake Up, Girls! sets out with the goal of forcing you to feel as revolted as possible at the idol industry. It achieves this by focusing on the exploitation of a bunch of underage girls, such as the one in episode 2 where the girls were sexually harassed by a bunch of lecherous men. These were some downright disgusting scenes, not solely because of their subject matter, but rather due to the creator’s ulterior motives behind them. It’s a case of emotional manipulation when we’re being coerced into siding with a group of girls who have been victimized at the hands of some unrealistic, industry dictators. I know Japan’s idol industry isn’t all peaches and roses, but to the extent of having an audition judge who would put Stalin-sama or Mussolini-tachi-dono to shame is going too far.”
EPISODE 3: IDOLS AND AGONY
The third episode kicks off with the girls doing public TV. this time another character focused episode on Minami. She explains that she has crippling stage fright, even though it’s never mentioned before, and her “disability” is shown to be quite the opposite. Downplayed but not forgotten, this nugget of character information is then suddenly put into action when the DRAMA happens (for no reason, par for the course on female idol shows), then out of nowhere her “negative” trait resets itself to what it really is. Obviously, that means having the go through her “terrible crippling stage fright” trauma that she gets over in 5 minutes for the sake of appearing to have actually mended a serious character flaw.
10bit: I really detest when idol anime, and to a lesser extent anime in general pull this kind of stunt. Negative traits are attached to a character with the intent to make them feel more “real” and easier to relate to. Without proper exposition, especially the kind the doesn’t feel like an over dramatic text dump can add layers of depth to character, and make them actually likeable.
“Negative” flaws, aka cheap flaws, are essentially the Chinese bootlegs of trauma, tacked onto a character as a last minute, easily completed hurdle for thrifty character development. Minami had stage fright, and anybody that is afraid of public speaking/performing can attest that it can take a great deal of conditioning and time to get over, and most don’t ever get over stage fright.
Having her overcome within the run time of the show is essentially the same lame trope of shonen anime, where a wounded or weakened character shouts very loudly, and all the bad things go away. It’s not development, because all it does is just showcase how flimsy and 2D the girls characters feel.
Though the format seems to be “each girl gets one episode detailing their character” from what I can gather after this and episode two. There was really nothing else to note since a lot of the problems from the previous episodes present themselves here.
Episode 4: the great and expansive nothingness
If I ever thought that nothing much happened in the previous episode, the fourth episode comes marching along in it’s merry little way trumpeting its brief and unsatisfying emptiness. Though there is some hinted DRAMA between Mayu (former idol) and her mother, nothing becomes of it, except for hinting that an obviously evil man is in charge of I-1 Club.
Doing extremely hard idol “training” sessions and pushing the girls to the maximum level. Mayu meets someone from the past, concluding the 4th episode of Wake Up, Girls!
EPISODE 5: TO Yamakan and beyond!
I will conclude with the 5th and most recent episode of Wake Up, Girls! Episode 5 features the girls going head to head with I-1’s big theater debut. The girls are actually excited and think they will do fantastic, despite having so much trouble with training and feelings of inferiority. Maybe Minami getting over her stage fright improved her performing skills? Nope, what becomes of their ill fated concert ends up with the girls going into a five-minute depression that causes them to mess up many many times a previously perfected choreographed dance they practiced the night before flawlessly. Though that could be the sudden nervousness and depression of the girls, or maybe the ghost of stage fright returning to inflict it’s realistic results. Of course, it’s all suddenly fixed once they see their competition and get motivated to do better and succeed. The Wake Up, Girls’ goal is established, to defeat the superior I-1 club. An aimless show now has something to aim for.
Don Don Kun: “Thankfully, Wake Up, Girls! won’t be winning any awards for its writing, but as most of us know, Yamakan is a fighter and won’t go down before kicking and screaming and possibly flailing his arms around. To that end, I get the sense that the show is going to spend its next few episodes on each of the girls of Seven Leaves Entertainment before moving toward its climax. A pretty standard plot progression for shows with large casts, but more importantly, it provides the staff with more attempts to humanize the idols and apply the villain label to the industry.
Also, the fact that there are seven idols in Wake Up, Girls! is like totally a reference to Seven Samurai. Don’t think Citizen Kane and Nyaruko-san are the only cinematic classics Yamakan is alluding to!
Wake Up, Girls! suffers from a series of ongoing and frequently repeated problems; the main issue being the Wake Up Girls themselves. They really all are a forgettable bunch. Personality and character wise they all have one positive trait, and with certain girls basically sharing the same trait, it feels samey and flat. This also is blatantly obvious when they develop “flaws” in episode 2 and 3, which are then fixed before they actually become serious problems like they are supposed to be.
Afterwords, the girls are all back to their normal happy-go-lucky selves like nothing ever traumatic happened, making it hard for them stand out, at least in terms of character. The Wake Up Girls can’t create an identity for themselves, making it very hard for a serious audience care about them, unlike the more relaxed audience that are enjoying the pretty colors and “best girl” discussions.
Wake Up, Girls!’s plot is also a major problem, for example, how the show’s pace is all over the place, evident in the mixing of the long overdrawn and unbearable fanservice scenes with the extremely quick resolutions.
The plot lost sight of itself very quickly, which brings in the big problem with WUG. It doesn’t know what it wants to be. The plot is all jumbled up and sets up goals within the story but quickly forget about them. For instance, like the scenes about how good the manager is and his stress with the producer leaving, that’s suddenly all gone now and he’s back to being a happy guy in the background. Then with the sudden two episodes of character focus well, barely with Miyuu but it seems to make a sudden development with her to give her an ounce of character instead of pacing it throughout the episode.
Though this is only the 5th episode so far and maybe it can actually improve itself and find out what it truly means to be a Wake Up Girl.
Don Don Kun: “I have Cyrus to thank for getting me to watch the masterpiece that is Wake Up, Girls!, as otherwise I may have actually broken free from my old masochistic habits – and we can’t have that, now can we?”