Dream Festival! follows fledgling idol Kanade Amamiya as he starts down the pathway to stardom with other members of the same agency. After being scouted by legendary idol Haruto Mikami, he joins fellow performers Shin Oikawa, Junya Sasaki, Itsuki Katagiri, and Chizuru Sawamura as they all strive to receive special Dream Festival cards that fans provide them with. Their goal is to be the best they possibly can to keep making fans happy. It may be a bit simplistic, but it works.
It would be easy to write off Dream Festival! as just another idol fantasy show that focuses on a group of beautiful men on their way to stardom. That’s exactly what it is–although it does incorporate several card-collecting elements, just like shows such as PriPara. But it’s also important to note how positive its protagonist, Kanade Amamiya, really is, because he elevates the show from boring and mundane to one that you can look forward to each week. As corny as it sounds, Kanade makes you feel like you too can chase after your dreams. And they may just come true.
From the opening scene of the first episode, it’s clear Kanade is never one to let any job get him down. He’s assigned a task–handing out balloons outside of an idol concert–with a friend. His partner sees this as a huge drag. Kanade, however, approaches the task with excitement and passion–which is what attracts idol Haruto Mikami to him in the first place.
Kanade runs up to everyone in the immediate vicinity and offers a balloon with such gusto that it’s hard for anyone to say no, or even want to do so. By the end of the day, his partner has barely given out any of his, and Kanade’s congratulating himself on a job well done.
He’s “beyond the ultimate,” as Mikami puts it, which doesn’t immediately make sense, but it’s clear Kanade has an inner light within him that shines and illuminates everything around him–a trait absolutely perfect for anyone looking to become an idol.
Halfway through the process to becoming an idol, which is comprised of auditioning after grueling hours of training, Kanade is told rather gruffly by one of the other, more seasoned performers, that it’s a tough road. It’s insinuated that he just doesn’t have it in him–and it’s clear his colleagues think it’s too early for him to hit the stage as part of his audition. While Kanade is obviously apprehensive about this, he approaches this monumentous task with the same positivity you’d expect from him.
Watching Kanade, as if he were a real idol, is inspiring. “Idols are only able to shine because of these cheers,” Haruto Mikami explains to Kanade in a pep talk after he leaves the stage for the first time for his audition. Kanade finds one of his favorite things is to make others smile.
With shows like these, you’ve got to be careful of being too heavy-handed or overly saccharine when relating the story of an up-and-coming idol. Dream Festival! does an admirable job of keeping things light, airy, and still believable. By the end of the first episode of watching Kanade do his thing, you just might want to be an idol too.
Dream Festival! can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.