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GENRE: Anime ORIGINAL AIR DATES: July 5, 2014 - March 28, 2017
// review by FlagrantWeeaboo

Pop and a Step and a Gotcha!

I have reviewed the PriPara video game for the Nintendo Switch, which I found to be a solid rhythm game with enough sparkles to drown a newborn unicorn. Because the game left such a lasting impression on me, I decided to check out the animated series which was produced after the success of the initial arcade version of the game.

Laala Manaka is an elementary school girl who is, much like all girls her age, fascinated by a place called Twin Ribbons. It's kind of like a fashion boutique and an internet café but once you scan your PriTicket you are magically teleported to a kind of fairytale kingdom — PriPara. What's a PriTicket? It's a ticket that grants you access to PriPara, duh. I don't know how they work, okay? The real arcade machine used these tickets to save performances and they're collectable.

On "one fateful day™", Laala finds a PriTicket Bag that has been dropped by an idol from PriPara. She returns the bag to Twin Ribbons and ends up visiting PriPara — getting roped into a performance with an idol named Mereille and then becoming an idol herself. It's all happening to Laala, she only popped out to get some tomatoes. Capiche!

The experiences at PriPara make Laala more confident, outgoing and extroverted than before. This is noticed by Laala's maniac headmistress, Gloria Ookanda. This guano-crazy lady has a sheer hatred for PriPara, idols and, "ugh, friendship". Ms. Ookanda has a nose that can sniff out PriTickets, and she carries a vacuum cleaner everywhere she goes to suck up PriTickets to confiscate them. This lady does not give up, even going as far as to eat at Laala's parents' café every day to keep an eye on Laala because she "is suspicious". Looked in a mirror, Gloria? Obviously, the headmistress has an issue with PriPara, and it's fun exploring the possible reasons why. Former failed idol? Could be. I'm tempted to watch on to find out but I'm afraid the plot thread will be dropped over irrelevant overall.

Laala's school-life would be bad enough with just the headmistress, but she also has to deal with head-disciplinarian Mirei Minami. A few episodes in, it's revealed that Mirei, the very same girl who hands out tickets for each of Laala's transgressions and school rule-breaking, is also the idol Mireille! An unlikely friendship forms between them, as Mirei tutors Laala in how to become a successful idol.

Laala soon makes friends with the talented idol Sophie, who it turns out is quite partial to pickled plums, or as she calls them, "Red Flash". The three form a team named SoLaMi — no, not Salami.

If you're into shows like Glitter Force, you'll feel right at home with PriPara. While there isn't a "saving the world" theme or a proper "antagonist" of which to speak of, the show still continues to deal with all the other themes that often appear in Shojo anime. The importance of friendship, honesty and why being yourself is important. (And why being an idol is even more important, contradictory much.) Oh, and there are still plenty of magical girl transformations, sparkles, ribbons and bubbles. Of course there are.

Even though I'm quite partial to this kind of show, the overall lack of an overarching story early on makes me hesitant to continue watching. The show has over 150 episodes and if the pacing is anything like the first 12 or so, it'll be a hard one to recommend. So I suggest a quick look at the show's first episodes to see if you enjoy that particular kind of whimsy.

If I can say anything with certainty, the songs included in the show are nothing short of incredible — the ending credits song especially. These are really catchy J-Pop numbers about love, friendship, and ideals and easily match the best that Idolm@ster or Love Live can muster. If you're into idol shows, then this show is most likely suited to you.

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