The Star that Shines Brightest: Thoughts on the Aikatsu! Five-Year Anniversary Crossover

“Five years of Aikatsu! sounds strange. Sometimes, the series seems like it’s been around forever. Other times, I remember it as one of the many young upstarts nipping at Precure‘s “anime for young girls” throne. However my feelings sway, the reality is that the show is long enough now to have a mega crossover event.

In episodes 69 and 70 of Aikatsu Stars!, the characters if the latest series encounter their predecessors from seasons past. While there are plenty of interactions across the cast, the main focal point is how heroine Nijino Yume meets her protagonist senpai, Oozora Akari and Hoshimiya Ichigo.

One thing is crystal clear after these episodes: out if all three main characters, Ichigo is by far the most memorable and the most meme-able.

That’s not to say that Akari and Yume are bad characters or uninteresting. However, everything about Ichigo leaves an impression. Like in so many other franchises or enduring works, being the original confers a kind of aura of greatness. Whether it’s Amuro Ray from Gundam, Superman, or Cure Black and Cure White from Precure, there’s a sense of reverence for being the first.

But it’s not just being the inaugural protagonist that elevates Ichigo; it’s that she comes across as amusingly superhuman compared to the other two. Like Cure Black and Cure White in their own crossover specials, Ichigo is portrayed as the strongest. She scales cliffs with ease. Her skill with an axe is so notable that the crossover puts special emphasis on it. I’m fact, nowhere is the animation as lovingly handled as the tree-chopping scene, as the anime plays with dynamic angles, fluid animation, and perspective. Yume and Akari recede into the background in the face of Ichigo’s might.

If you look at the S.H. Figuarts figure for Ichigo, she actually comes with an axe. It’s an identifying element for fans. What would Akari and Yume come with? It’s less obvious. One might argue that they’re more subtle as characters, and that this is a strength, but even Cure Black and Cure White don’t overshadow their Precure successors this much.

It might sound like I’m being critical of the franchise for not developing its later heroines more, or of the crossover episodes for not doing a good enough job, but I’m not. I found the crossover episodes to be a fun celebration of all things Aikatsu! I especially enjoyed seeing the previous S4 (Yume’s senpai group before she got to the top of her school) and Soleil (Ichigo’s group) perform. It was also great to see my favorite, Ichinose Kaede. My thoughts on Ichigo are more of an observation.

On a final note, I thought the character designs for Aikatsu! and Aikatsu Stars! would clash more, but they really don’t. I think they made the original Aikatsu! girls’ faces a bit rounder to make the different casts more visually cohesive. This is generally the sign that a crossover knows what it’s doing.

This post was sponsored by Johnny Trovato. If you’re interested in submitting topics for the blog, or just like my writing and want to support Ogiue Maniax, check out my Patreon.

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4 thoughts on “The Star that Shines Brightest: Thoughts on the Aikatsu! Five-Year Anniversary Crossover

  1. Did you ever get back to Aikatsu! Season 2? Some of the most amazing episodes in there and also pretty much where the axe went from a one-time joke to a “tradition”. :D A lot of stuff happened in the time skip between Season 1 and 2 (it’s a year later) that I felt really gave the series some interesting twists and the challenge for Ichigo to match or surpass Mizuki really heats things up towards the end. Also the soft introduction of Akari was really something to see in context.

    But yeah, Ichigo is the Paul Bunyan of anime idols! XD

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  2. Pingback: Ogiue’s Hot ‘n’ Juicy: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for September 2017 | OGIUE MANIAX

  3. Well, I respectively, and honestly disagree with your opinion on Ichigo. I do not know if you have watched Stars, but I assume you did. Honestly, Yume had by far the most development in under one season than Ichigo in under two. Ichigo may be great and all, but honestly, honestly, and honestly (sorry for my repetitive selection of words), Ichigo’s fans tend to overrate and overpraise Ichigo too much that they ignore all of the efforts Akari and Yume put into their Aikatsu. By far, Ichigo had the least struggles, she was talented right from the beginning (and it was a mediocre beginning at best), and never seemed to have struggled to win against any character except for Mizuki. She lost against Aoi in Episode 2 only because she tripped, but I’m convinced that she was the clear winner had it not been her fall. She won against Otome as well, though I think Otome deserved that victory. She lost against Yurika, because Yurika had more fans than her atm but in under an episode or two she became even more popular. I’d say Sakura was still a kouhai, so losing against her wouldn’t make sense. So, the only character she struggled to win against was Mizuki. Kaede and Seira, and especially Kaede (I love Seira but honestly I’m sorry but I hate Kaede since she got everything too easily and never had development, at least Seira did get some development!), okay so where was I.. oh yeah.. was going to say.. Kaede and Seira were some JOKE CHARACTERS VICTIMS thrown in for the plot and nothing more, especially Kaede, I don’t consider Ichigo’s loses against them canon, at all. Honestly, Ichigo’s character is too overpowered, not to mention that she’s a typical lead girl. Her so-called “amusingly superhuman” personality makes her unrealistic, really. Being energetic is not unrealistic by any means, but Ichigo is too much over-the-top, not to mention her voice was annoying as heck, I preferred her adorable voice back in Season 1… just why did Morohoshi Sumire chose to change her voice from an adorable one to some over-the-top annoying voice..
    Now, Akari had struggles, actually a lot. She struggled to do appeals, couldn’t bring out her aura, and was constantly failing to achieve what she wanted. By going through some really harsh training (which none of it had been tasted by Ichigo), she finally became a stronger idol. But she could never reach Ichigo’s level. Ichigo’s fans tend to hate on Akari TOO MUCH because she replaced Ichigo as the lead girl. Which is something I extremely hate from her fans. Sure, some may love Akari too, but the majority of Ichigo’s fandom is basically “I want Ichigo back!”, “I hate Akari! She’s terrible!”, “Akari is a copycat of Ichigo, and she took Ichigo’s spotlight! DAMN YOU AKARI!”, while Akari’s fandom is, “Can we all live in peace, Akari worked hard to stand where she is so please do not bash her. We never bashed Ichigo!”, and blah blah blah..
    Which lead to many Akari fans hating Ichigo, which actually happened to me once. But thankfully, I’m over my hatred for Ichigo now, and I love her again.
    But then, Season 3 arrived, and Akari still struggled a bit, at her weather abilities. Fortunately she was able to achieve success in her weather career. However, ever since Madoka and Rin debuted, Akari didn’t seem to struggle all that much anymore. She seemed to have been winning constantly with little to no effort now. Basically, Akari was now an overpowered, and unstoppable lead girl much like Ichigo. And sadly, she never really reverted back to her old hardworking persona.
    Now, coming to Yume. By far she struggled the most. Started out terribly weak as an idol in the idol industry, and as the series went on, struggled even more than Akari had. At the cost of losing her voice, she fought, and fought bravely. She never seemed to truly have won against Rola until in S4 Selection where she worked her hardest to win, thankfully achieving her dream by her earnest abilities. She still seems to work hard in Season 2. She hasn’t lost her hardworking persona unlike Akari, and isn’t a Mary Sue either unlike Ichigo.
    Oh, and speaking of Yume.. she tends to be getting a lot of hate by the fandom, even more-so than Akari nowadays.. okay may not be as much as Akari, but probably equals to her. She gets bashed because she had some weird rainbow power, which basically Hime also had. But Hime doesn’t get any hate even though she “won” against Tsubasa in the same way as Yume had “won” against Rola.. now I’m not saying she should get hate, she’s a decent character at best, but tbh bashing upon Yume is just too extreme..
    Yume is by far the most hardworking girl in Stars, even more than the so-called “hardworking” Rola whose only struggles were that she was jealous of Yume. Well, serves her right for saying those rude and horrible stuff to Yume in the AiStars movie! I don’t care if you are a Rola fan, I’m not really a Rola hater but somehow she’s really overrated.. and the least interesting of the main cast (Yume, Koharu, Rola, Ako, Mahiru). She may be talented, but tbh if someone would call her realistic then I would say she would be classified as a rude, snotty brat in real life.. Ako as well, because she’s too extreme..
    Okay, I’m trailing far too off from my original content. This was supposed to be about the lead girls..

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    • I think that what it comes down to is that, for some, what matters most in a character is not so much how well they develop and grow as an individual, nor what they have to overcome. Instead, it’s about how “iconic” a character feels, and I think that’s what Ichigo has in spades.

      I don’t know if you know wrestling at all, but I sort of think of Ichigo as Hulk Hogan. As far as being an interesting or deep character, Hulk Hogan isn’t really anything special. But in his heyday, he had a kind of presence or aura that made people take notice. There might be others with more involved stories and who have to overcome greater odds, but it’s Hogan/Ichigo who sticks in people’s consciousness.

      I think your opinion is totally valid in terms of why you prefer Yume and Akari Aikatsu! It makes sense, especially if you’re invested in their stories as ones of struggle and overcoming the odds. But still, there’s something that stands out about Ichigo that makes her difficult to forget.

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