Saturday, April 20, 2013

AKB0048 Second Stage

AKB0048 Second Stage, the second season of AKB0048 is MUCH darker than the first season.  I described the first season in an earlier blog post  (AKB0048), including the basic plot line about the girls struggling to grow up and become successors.  The same basic plot holds true for the second season.  The 77th generation of AKB0048 understudies are still training hard and hoping to become successors, actual members of AKB0048.  At the same time, this new season adds several more plot elements.

One of those elements is a galaxy wide AKB0048 election where people vote for their favorite AKB0048 member or understudy, and the winners get to perform a special live concert.  The competition is fierce between the girls for this privilege and to be one of the girls with the top 10 numbers of votes.   The series spends some time on the character development here. 

Also added is a subplot about the scheming of Chieri’s father and the relationship between Chieri and her father.  Chieri’s father manipulates the airwaves to increase Chieri’s popularity during the contest, and she faces some angst dealing with this.  His main goal is to tap into and control the energy of duralium, which is manifested by the glowing kiraras.  The Kiraras glow whenever the energy of a live concert and specifically the energy of the individual girls is particularly high.

This is the big mystery hinted at in the first series.  Originally AKB0048 had a central singer known as the Center Novae, but the position was done away with because Center Novae tended to glow brightly, become surrounded by Kirara and disappear, with no one knowing where they went and what became of them.  In order to keep the girls from disappearing, the Center Nova position has been done away with, but the girls all want it back.  Each girl dreams of being Center Novae and shining the most brightly.  Chieri’s father has discovered that the kirara glow brightly around the Center Novae in a feedback energy reaction with duralium, and he is determined to control that energy.

This season also has very dark moments not found in the first season.  The major one is the loss and destruction of the home planet of AKB0048, Akibastar, which is destroyed by DES and Chieri’s father.  The members of AKB0048 must fight to not only get it back, but to re-establish themselves with their fans who blame them for the disaster.  In addition, AKB0048 is betrayed along the way by a former member.  And just as Chieri and her father are mending their relationship, Chieri’s father is killed.  There is significantly more for the girls to overcome in Second Stage besides trying to become and stay successors.  And again each girl deals with her own ambitions and struggles as the series proceeds.

In the end, the girls succeed in solving the mystery around the Center Novae.  They also defeat DES and regain Akibastar.   They each continue in their individual drives to become successors and shine as brightly as the Center Novae.

Overall this is a very watchable series.  I liked the music in the original season marginally better, but the music here is still good.  The character development continues from the first season, and Nagisa and Chieri remain friends and rivals.  The plot, although significantly more tragic and sad than season one, is nicely tied up with the main questions answered.  It’s a good series.

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