B-Project: Kodou＊Ambitious – Preview
Original Air Dates: July 2nd, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Tsubaki is a new hire for the A&R department of the major recording label Gandala Music. Despite Tsubaki’s inexperience she’s assigned to oversee the idol unit “B-Project” which is made up of three, smaller idol groups: Kitakore, Thrive and MooNs. Thrust into the thick of things, Tsubaki needs to adjust as fast as she can and help solve numerous incidents and accidents as she works with B-Project’s numerous differing personalities.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: B-project is clearly trying to be approachable to newcomers as it tries to be as explanatory as possible giving us a female protagonist who is just as new to the idol industry as one can be and through her, we get to see the glamour and the not so glam sides of the life of idols/aspiring idols. However, it doesn’t do the best job of explaining itself, for example it neglects to explain Tsubaki’s job title: A&R, content to abbreviate it at all times. On the other hand, it then over-explains some terminology so commonly understood and used that it seems to be taking the audience to be idiots, in this case, idiots who don’t understand what ‘taking it from the top’ means. I’m going to assume and hope that the term used in Japanese was a lot less common place than ‘taking it from the top’ is in the western world, and hence why we ended up getting an explanation for something so basic.
Tom: B-Project seems intent on providing insight into the Idol and Music industry in a similar manner to Shirobako. The trouble is our lead, Tsubaki, is made to be so inept, so uneducated in the field that B-Project is playing down to the audience. Tsubaki can’t even understand very, very basic concepts within the recording industry that the average person would grasp in a heart beat. Further complicating matters is B-Project’s need to thrust all twelve of its characters on us at once. We’re given a brief introduction to our ten male idol characters who fly by so fast that I’ve forgotten just about all of them. Thankfully, B-Project does know that there’s no way you’d be able to get to know this band of boys unless it trimmed things down a little. The episode pulls back and allows us to follow Tsubaki as she works with and gets to know just two members of the Idol unit, Tomohisa and Ryuuji. Tomohisa is actually likable, if a bit bland. Ryuuji is a classic tsundere, although subdued enough to not end up so ‘in your face.’
Linny: As someone who has never been into, or really watched, idol shows, I do know that they tend have a formula. If there are a ton of group members, each one will be a type of archetype/cliche like the tsundere, the flirt, the arrogant, etc. And even though we don’t get too much time with every single idol member, you can already see the archetypes in their quick introductions with Tsubaki. What’s got me puzzled though is what an A&R is. For a show that over explains so much, its disappointing that they wouldn’t explain the one term that isn’t an everyday phrase. BTW, for anyone else like me, I googled it and it stands for Artists and Repertoire and it’s basically the division of a record label or music publishing company that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists and songwriters. I don’t know exactly what artistic development involves but maybe this show will help explain that part eventually.
Tom: B-Project’s story is okay, but doesn’t feel all that special as we’re thrown into what seems like the average, ho-hum day to day of the Idol scene. We’re focusing on these three smaller idol units that form one large group as they adjust to their new A&R manager, Tsubaki. The show addresses Tsubaki’s apparent ineptitude at the job by noting that the head of the company hired and assigned her personally, but she denies any nepotism. Either there’s a mystery here or Tsubaki is a vessel through which more enthralled female viewers can fantasize finding themselves within this scenario. It gives the series a slight mary-sue vibe of wish fulfillment that doesn’t really jell with my personal tastes.
Linny: The mary-sue vibe that Tom pointed out gets even more obvious when Tsubaki is first introduced to the group. Almost every single member starts flirting with her, teasing her, playing with her hair and so on, scenarios that many a fan girl or fan boy have wished themselves in. As viewers who haven’t really gotten into the idol scene, the best part of the episode for us was when Tsubuki starts visualizing the singers as literally battling with swords in fantastical outfits when they encounter issues while recording a song. The grandoise imagery felt so over the top that it added an ironic sense of enjoyment and you might derive enjoyment from that as well in case you’re forced to sit through it for whatever reason.
Tom: As Linny says, the series tries to dramatize the difficulties of idol’s recording for music labels by showcasing Tsubaki visualizing them as heroic swashbuckling princes fending off a reign of red arrows. Rather than add dramatic tension, the whole thing comes off as hammy, if not perhaps outright silly. But perhaps I’m being overly critical, and maybe my issue stems from the music sitting entirely outside of my taste. The show’s soundtrack is quite poppy, upbeat and may even be described as syrupy. It’s not my kind of music, and maybe that’s influencing my difficulty in becoming engaged.
Linny: The show also suffers from translation and cross cultural issues. The show makes a joke that makes literally no sense in English. The idols and the recording studio workers are discussing something in industry terms and Tsubaki, being a complete newbie, ends up visualizing the term in her head in an attempt to understand what’s being discussed. But what she visualizes and what it was translated as in English had zero correlation. Hopefully that was a one off incidence otherwise it seems that some of the humour, if not most of it, will be best and only enjoyed by someone who actually speaks and understands Japanese.
Tom: B-Project isn’t awful, and I can definitely see the appeal for people more caught up in the Idol/Music world than I am. There’s a host of characters here that will presumably get plenty of screen time and development over this season, but for viewers less caught up in the Idol scene B-Project doesn’t have enough going for it to make me invested in a genre I otherwise have little interest in.
Linny: If you’re a fan of all things idol related, B Project is a male counterpart to all the Love Live and other female idol shows in the market. As someone who’s never been interested in them, I have no idea how well B Prjoect holds up. It seems to have the more basic premise and checklist covered with its archetype idol members and a timid and inexperienced female protagonist who gets to be the vessel for the viewer to imagine themselves into. I will admit that I now have the songs sung stuck in my head due to repeated rewatching while making gifs for this review so yes, the songs are catchy as heck if you’re into that sort of music. If you’ve already seen tons of Idol anime before and just want more of the same, I think this show delivers on the basics at least but I think you’re more qualified to judge that than I will ever be.
B-Project: Kodou＊Ambitious is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com