Yamakan’s latest effort at directing TV anime is very much not the comedy vehicles he tends to have the most success with. In fact, this seems to be a much more personal vehicle for him. After watching the first episode, I can’t tell if Wake Up, Girls! is some sort of encouragement for himself or if it is actually a defiant piece aimed at those who have criticized him. I do have to say it did seem like he was rather pissed off.
I think with everyone of these Yamakan directed series, it’s important to take a step back. While I have liked some of the comedy stuff he has done (Senyuu. and Kannagi in particular), this is someone who has been given chance after chance to fail in glorious fashion. With that in mind I went into this idol series with a bit of trepidation and came out wondering if Yamakan has much of a future after this.
It’s not that there’s too much that’s wrong with this first episode. It does seem to hit the struggling idol group chords pretty well (only one song and no future performances on the calendar), but it does seem to be too much about the person directing it. There are two characters in particular which seem like Yamakan self-inserts.
First, there’s the producer Matsuda. He’s been left to struggle on his own with this talent agency by a former superior who left with all the money. He also can’t seem to get away with doing things the way he really wants to so he has to bring in a sleazeball from a bigger company to find work for the group with his own ideas on how the group should look. I’ll conveniently point out that Yamakan’s studio Ordet is working with Tatsunoko Productions in making Wake Up, Girls!. You know, just because that’s a bit of a coincidence.
Second, there’s Mayu; the girl who used to work for I-1, this universe’s big idol group but was cast away to Sendai. The nature of her departure isn’t really discussed at all because everyone views it as a massive step down for her. However, there is great surprise at how she ended up there even though she’s trying to do what she loved to do all along.
As I’m watching this play out, I realize that as long as Yamakan owns his own studio he can make whatever the hell he wants. This episode felt like he was busting out the gas can and pouring it over his career. I’m kind of afraid for the direction this series is going to go now.