The iDOLM@STER is a giant franchise mainly revolving around the activities of thirteen up-and-coming idols who work at the agency 765Pro. The second The iDOLM@STER and the mobile game Cinderalla Girls both inspired television anime series featuring the girls’ producer learning about them all gradually by observing the events that happen around them.

However, in the newest game in the franchise, The iDOLM@STER: Platinum Stars, the Producer builds intimacy with them in a different way: Instead of learning about what makes the girls tick by dealing with the events that happen around them, Platinum Stars has the producer working together with the idols to help them overcome their individual weaknesses.

Here’s a look at the things that my chosen idol group of five girls had to work on:

[Note: This article spoils some of the character-related events in The iDOLM@STER: Platinum Stars]

Name: Takane Shijō
Age: 18
Hobbies: Astrological observation, history
Problem: Too serious

Takane Shijō is a girl, born into a family of high standing, who has a mysterious air to her–so mysterious that some fans say she might be from the moon. Maybe it’s because of these two factors that she always speaks in a very polite and upright manner and doesn’t have common sense when it comes to casual conversation.

However, because the goal of idols is to be friendly and likable in the eyes of their fans, Takane is told by the producer that she needs to relax a little bit and not be so uptight. Though the lack of emotion on her face is helpful when she plays Old Maid with fellow teammate Haruka, she gets told something shocking by one of her fans: that sometimes she looks so emotionless that it’s scary.

While Takane was willing from the start to change from the very start, those words give her motivation to try and fix her uptight attitude. The producer does his best to try and help her in her struggle to improve, even lightly massaging her shoulders before an important concert to help her loosen up (a feature which is cleverly done through the PlayStation 4’s touchpad).

However, it’s only when he suggests that Takane practice public speaking that she really begins to change. While she is accustomed to giving speeches as a member of high-society, her producer gives her a new challenge: do the speech completely ad-libbed. While she stumbles and reverts to her old ways at first, she is eventually able to give a heartfelt speech about her experiences at the training camp to her fellow idols.

Name: Chihaya Kisaragi
Age: 16
Hobbies: Listening to music, training, photography
Problem: Can’t work with others

Chihaya loves singing–so much that she doesn’t especially care about anything or anyone else. Even when she comes to the campground, she complains that she doesn’t want to live in the same camp as the producer because that would just be one more person she’d have to deal with (he manages to convince her to think of him as just hotel staff so she won’t be upset by his presence). Despite this, she expresses her desperation to be freed from the training camp as soon as possible so she can be alone. The producer’s goal for Chihaya is, like Takane, to make her more sociable not just with her fans, but with her fellow teammates as well.

At first, this process is slow. In reaction to knowing she has to work with others to prepare for her own party to celebrate ranking up as an idol, she is extremely wary and does not think she can work with others. Although she succeeds in this task, she notes how tired she is from trying to match someone else’s pace–after all, she only has experience walking alone.

Her next challenge is a pajama party with her fellow idols. When told she would be participating in said party, she mentions that she’s only heard about such a thing and immediately says that she can’t and will not do it. After all, she doesn’t even know what to do at such a party. However, with a bit of encouragement from the producer, she happily reports to him the next time she ranks up that pajama parties are absolutely no problem for her now. Compared to her expression similar to a frightened chinchilla that she had when we first met her, Chihaya begins to smile more and more as she continues to overcome challenges.

Name: Azusa Miura
Age: 21
Hobbies: Walking dogs, visiting cafés
Problem: Can’t decide on a goal for her own career

When I started raising Azusa as an idol, I was so sure that her flaw was going to be getting lost all the time, as that’s what the character is famous for. However, the game took me by surprise and made me realize a flaw with Azusa I never particularly noticed: she can’t decide what kind of idol she wants to be. When she first meets the producer, she even admits that when she tries to think about this issue, the day ends before she can come up with any solution. That’s why, when the producer starts talking about goals, she tells him that she’s relieved to have someone else think up one for her. Hence, the producer gives her the objective of trying to find a goal for herself, by herself.

At first, her ideals start very small; she thinks about possibly becoming a local idol and seems satisfied with just visiting places close by. The producer seems to think that she is taking the easy way out by keeping things small-scale. However, as she continues to work with him, she realizes that finding her path in life without it being spoon-fed to her by her producer is more important than she had originally thought.

Even just by spending a day with the producer at the beach, she learns that an entire day can change completely depending on whether you have a goal or not. Making plans for her day off, she has many life-enriching experiences throughout the day. From this she learns that whether it’s a day off or a day of hard work, having a goal can make your experiences richer and more fulfilling. With this in mind, Azusa starts to work to find her own goal in her career as an idol.

Name: Hibiki Ganaha
Age: 16
Hobbies: Knitting, ping pong, walking
Problem: Lacks composure

Hibiki is a spunky, animal-loving girl from Okinawa who seems perfect at everything… Everything, that is, but keeping her cool. When the cute twin idols Ami and Mami Futami make fun of Hibiki, for example, she can’t help but react by getting angry. Similarly, when the producer tricks her into thinking there’s dog poop at her feet, she immediately panics and blames her dog Inumi for making a mess that was never there in the first place.

Determined to become perfect, she begins doing ninja-like training and tries to become one with nature in order to calm down. Despite this, she still has trouble keeping her cool when animals are involved and her competitive spirit won’t let her calm down either.

However, this is one time when the producer learns something alongside his idol: maybe lacking composure isn’t a bad thing. After all, Hibiki may not be calm, but thanks to this, she is able to run out in the middle of the night without any hesitation to find a repairman for the camp’s hot water so all her friends can take baths. Not just that, but her immediate alertness and reaction time makes it so she can save her hamster Hamzo before he is swept away by the waves during a beach party.

Her lack of composure has its negatives, but it also gives her some of her greatest strengths. Both Hibiki and the producer realize that she doesn’t need to be calm and collected like the other top idols before her–what Hibiki really has needed all along is to embrace her flaws and be herself instead of trying to force herself to change.

Name: Miki Hoshii
Age: 15
Hobbies: Talking with friends, nail art
Problem: Has no motivation

Miki is just the same as her anime counterpart: talented but lethargic. When the producer asks Miki what she wants work hard at during the time she’s at the training camp, she replies, “I want to do my best at sleeping.” Immediately, the producer bans the word “sleep” and forces the goal of becoming more active upon her.

In the beginning, Miki is reluctant, and the producer has to push her to even go outside. Like Azusa, Miki is fine with not being a superstar and is satisfied with her moderate popularity. However, her producer tells her that staying “moderately popular” would be a waste of her talent.

Because the producer takes her seriously, Miki is given the push she needs to put effort into her work. Although she previously hadn’t tried because she was fine with her level of popularity and ability, she starts to become competitive and think of her fellow idols as her rivals.

Even more than her idol friends, however, she doesn’t want to disapoint her producer, who she fears will leave her behind if she doesn’t grow. She even gets ill after trying too hard at training and the producer has to tell her to work at her own pace. The old Miki would have never tried to improve and would have been satisfied with the status quo, but when supported by a competent producer, she becomes a girl who tries her very best to improve herself.

The iDOLM@STER: Platinum Stars is an enjoyable experience for fans of The iDOLM@STER’s several anime series, fans of The iDOLM@STER games, and people who have never touched The iDOLM@STER in their life. It serves as a perfect introduction to its thirteen idols by examining their flaws and their growth as people. It adds a layer to them that makes me want to see more of them in the future or maybe even rewatch the anime.

The iDOLM@STER: Platinum Stars shipped in Japan for the PlayStation 4 on June 28, but there’s been no word of an international release. 2011’s The iDOLM@STER anime is available to watch for free with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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