1. Haruka Amami
2. Chihaya Kisaragi
3. The Producer (!)
I won’t leave you alone!
My, what an episode. Despite being a Chihaya episode through and through, Haruka carries the plot by reaching out to Chihaya despite being rejected multiple times, giving her a new reason to sing. It’s amazing how she holds everyone together, and her unfaltering support for her best friend will remain one of my fondest memories of this show.
I was afraid that Chihaya’s situation would descend into tedious melodrama, but the direction kept it interesting all throughout. I liked the focus on what 761 Pro was doing to bring Chihaya back, and not Chihaya moping around on her own. I never imagined that I would put The Producer in the rankings, because it was he who gave Haruka the little push to continue wooing Chihaya, and it was he who trusted in Chihaya to find the courage to sing again.
This episode really embodies the show’s excellence in terms of execution. It’s easy to dismiss The iDOLM@STER as predictable and cheesy, but the writing of this episode gave me a genuine sense of dread that Chihaya might not cut it after all, near the last part. But she did, and in such a scene! Easily the most emotional anime moment of the year.
So if you please, I’ll be watching this episode again. And cry. Again.
PS: One scene I particularly liked was that scene of Haruka walking back to the agency after getting yelled at. While she’s walking, the passing vehicles sound unnaturally loud, and the background music is a tad stronger than normal. I know it can’t be just me, but when someone yells at me like that, everything just sounds louder, like my ears are still ringing long afterwards. The direction captured that sentiment perfectly.