If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die
Maina Ichii, a member of the idol troupe ChamJam, enjoys performing, but she doesn’t have the greatest stage presence. Thus, when it comes time to do the fan meet and greets, Maina’s line is usually empty. Or, at least, it would be if it weren’t for her fan who is, arguably, the most loyal of any that follows the group.
Eripiyo fell for Maina the very first time she saw her and does everything – literally everything – she can to support her favorite idol.
There are two things I can tell you about If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die (Budokan).
First, I can tell you what I expected, and what I expected was – at best – an average, incredibly by-the-book idol anime. I didn’t go into this series thinking it was going to be bad; I try never to do that. However, my excitement wasn’t high, either. Most idol shows I have come across and that I’ve actually enjoyed were complete surprises. I don’t have the greatest confidence in this genre, and really, there was nothing about Budokan that made me suspect it would be anything worthwhile.
Second, Budokan ended up being something very much worthwhile.
The biggest mistake I made about this series was assuming it was going to be an idol anime. Although idols were heavily involved, at its core, this was a silly, feel-good comedy. This show might have touched on the work the central idol group, ChamJam, put into their music, but the main focus was on the fans that followed them.
This was where Budokan could have gotten cringey. Fortunately, ChamJam’s fans were decidedly more down to earth. Don’t get me wrong; someone like Eripiyo was quite intense with her admiration for her favorite (fave). Short of anything illegal (Eripiyo wasn’t a stalker), she would do everything you might expect a superfan to do. She bought all her fave’s merchandise, went to every one of ChamJam’s concerts, and spend ungodly amounts of money she did not have.
If we replaced Eripiyo with the stereotypical idol fan – obese, ponytail, looks like they are in their 30s, you know, someone like Budokan’s own character, Kumasa – then things would have probably been much creepier. But that was also why this series did as well as it did.
In every respect, this show should have been all kinds of uncomfortable. But it wasn’t. Never once did it feel like the members of ChamJam should have been worried about their safety. Never once did it come off like this story was using comedy to help its audience swallow a bitter pill. Fans like Eripiyo and Kumasa full-heartedly supported their respective fave, almost in a big sibling sort of way. Any achievement the girls of ChamJam obtained, big or small, their fans were overjoyed. Therefore, when the group hit a significant milestone, the immense outpouring of pride felt genuine.
Plus, Budokan did well with keeping things local. The city of Okayama isn’t necessarily small, but it is definitely no Tokyo. There is no real glitz or glamour to the town. Also, ChamJam wasn’t even that much of a name. They were mostly underground, and they could only expect a handful of people to attend one of their concerts. This made the feelings of their fans much more significant because they had much more of an authentic connection. It wasn’t far-fetched to think that the girls would remember the names of their most loyal.
And that was even truer between Eripiyo and her fave, Maina. For the sake of argument, Eripiyo was Maina’s only fan. Still, since it was Eripiyo, that was plenty, seeing how she could shout over, out buy, and go above and beyond the herds of fans that supported the other ChamJam members. Eripiyo’s feelings towards Maina were a lot, but believable.
Of course, to sell this point, Eripiyo had to be larger than life. And as luck would have it, she was. As a result, it was her personality that made Budokan what it was, a bright and bubbly comedy with a ton of unexpected charm.
Somewhere along the way, Budokan decided that it should try its hand at being an idol anime. This was problematic, but not in the most obvious way.
Can I picture an entire series based on the exploits of ChamJam? Well, thanks to this one, yes, I can. These seven girls had chemistry with one another. To go even further, the thought of some sort of prequel series centered around the group’s formation doesn’t sound all that awful. I know Budokan gave a bit of taste of what that might look like, but I’m talking about going full throttle with the notion. I believe such a show could work.
However, Budokan, itself, wasn’t that type of show. It had its own thing going on with Eripiyo and Maina. Anything else that took time away from that felt like a waste. I will concede that this series was in an okay safe-zone when it focused on one of the other fans and their fave. That was fine since it played into what the central theme was.
What was less than okay was when Budokan tried building up the relationship between the members of ChamJam. This hurts me to say this because this show did an excellent job of building up the personalities of the group. Nevertheless, it was hard to care since this was not what this series set itself up to be.
The first half of Budokan was about the awkwardness Eripiyo brought with her whenever she met with Maina. Seeing how this mega-fan reacted to the different ChamJam shows and appearances was fun. Watching Eripiyo do ridiculous things just so that she had a few extra moments to be with her number one idol was hilarious. And there was plenty for this series to work with, so it didn’t need to rely on extra material.
Budokan would cut away for nearly full episodes and focus on stuff that had nothing to do with Eripiyo and Maina’s relationship. Sometimes neither Eripiyo, Maina, nor another fan would have anything to do with what was going on. Although these segments might have been well-done, they couldn’t have been anymore unnecessary.
This show was funny, believable, and a unique addition to the idol genre. I mean, how could it not be when the idols weren’t center stage? Regardless, there were plenty of larger than life characters, mainly one, who managed to make this series thoroughly enjoyable.
If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die has earned itself a recommendation.
If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die Series Review: The Force of Mega-Fans
Writing - 7/107/10
Plot - 7/107/10
Character Development - 7/107/10
Production - 7/107/10
Music - 7/107/10
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