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AKB0048 is an anime based on the popular idol group AKB48.  The story is based on group of girls who live in a time where interplanetary war has left Earth’s ecosystem in ruins.  Humans have been forced to abandon the planet and colonize across the galaxy.

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Several planets of this post-Earth society have forbidden entertainment since it causes a disturbance among the people.  In the 48th year of this new world order the popular idol group AKB48 is resurrected as an interplanetary troupe made up of girls who embody the spirit of the original members and carry on their names.

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These girls are seen as disturbers of the peace and terrorists by anti-entertainment forces, while others see them as glimmers of hope and heroines in a time where the people are in need of an uplifting force to inspire them.

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While the back story sounds interesting you may be thinking that perhaps this is a girls anime right?  Actually that’s not the case.  It’s far from it to be honest.  Early in the series you get the indication that this probably isn’t going to be some sort of cutesy, rainbow filled fun time.  There’s a bit of a militaristic aspect to the entire affair that gives it a bit of an edge for an idol related product.

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The story starts off rather slow with the first 2 episodes establishing the who the 77th generation kenkyuusei hopefuls are and their relationships to each other.  It’s not until the third episode that things start to pick up.

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Given the fictional era that this anime is set in, weapons and self-defense training are part of an idol’s regular regiment.  Giant robots attack fans during concerts with the performers defending them while singing.  This anime even manages to make wota look cool and badass.  An impossible task for those who have met any in their own lives.

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After completing the 13 episodes I found that essence of the 0048 series appeared to be to entertain the masses while kicking ass and taking names.  Almost mirroring real life right?

Speaking of real life, AKB0048 managed to insert a lot of little real life tidbits about the animated versions of the senbatsu members that only hardcore AKB fans would pick up on.  Being a rookie I didn’t discover too many of these things but apparently there’s plenty of true to life member content for the discerning fan to pick apart as they watch.

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Many of the main characters are voiced by various members in the 48 family while the senbatsu members are voiced by more experienced seiyuu.  The members involved were very good in their performances and managed to convey the emotion of the more dramatic scenes effectively.  Not exactly the easiest thing to do when you’re relying on your voice only.

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Some fans I have discussed this series with have mentioned that Watanabe didn’t necessarily stretch that much for her portrayal of Chieri.  All she really did was talk without the cute overtones and was mostly acting like a moody bitch.  I found nothing wrong with that and thought her voice was pretty hot.

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The other performance I enjoyed was Yagami Kumi’s Sonata.  Her over the top, speaking in the third person deal was cute but not so much that it made me want to throw up.  There was a bit of restraint shown so as to not turn the viewer off from the youngest character in the roster of girls who survive the audition rounds of 0048.

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Lastly the beginning and ending themes of this program are pretty damn good.  They are standard 48 type songs but are very listenable nonetheless.  I especially enjoyed the opening song Kibou ni Tsuite.

In the end this was a surprisingly compelling anime that leaves way more questions than answers at the end of its first run.  There are already plans for a second season in 2013 that promises to answer some of the mysteries and perhaps will bring up new ones.

If you were on the fence about this series because of its affiliation with AKB48 don’t fear.  You don’t really have to know too much about the group to enjoy this show since it’s fairly self-contained. With the exceptions of a few of the references I mentioned earlier.