Starting Xenoglossia: No Haruka, You Are (Not) the Idol

I talked shit about iDOLM@STER Xenoglossia before. Everyone has a bevy of reasons to put it down, even right after seeing a promo image. The real deal is that it isn’t an idol show, let alone an iDOLM@STER show, as much as it is a mecha show. A more accurate description would be Mai-Hime with robots.

And the anime does address this within the first few episodes: the idol pitch is a front. A lie, which Haruka fell for hook, line, and sinker. And in that scene, I guess most fans of im@s who had been watching (remember, this anime came out in 2007, way before the real iDOLM@STER anime came) felt the exact same thing.

I started watching Xenoglossia out of a burning curiosity to find out what’s so reviled about it. Sure, these characters were taken from the Namco arcade game, sans the characters who hadn’t existed back then (Miki, Takane, and Hibiki), but their only similarity is in name. These are different characters, voiced by different seiyuu. That enough should be clear.

But what about the mecha part?

It’s actually pretty good. The mecha base is integrated with the city–railways close momentarily to allow mechs to use them while launching, and there are multiple exit ports for them to launch from. Impractical? Yes. Awesome? Fuck yeah. The main mech seems to have a thing for Haruka… and for me, this is A Very Good Thing.

The variance in character interests me more than it repulses me. “What were the staff thinking?” I thought. Yayoi is Haruka’s clueless BFF and is much older than in the games.  Ritsuko is way younger and looser. Yukiho is more assertive, yet prone to bouts of narcolepsy (wtf?).

The explanation for the iDOLM@STER part of the show is that the mecha are called “iDOLs”, and the pilots themselves are the “iDOL Masters”. Riding on Apple Inc’s successful nomenclature? I don’t know, but it sure sounds crazy! I can buy it.

So why the hate for this show? My hypothesis is that people, mainly im@s fans, expected too much. And who would blame them? It was 2007, an anime adaptation of their favorite game got announced, and they get… not iDOLM@STER. The character designs are a whole new world on their own, and they look extremely ugly when held up to the proper im@s anime’s. And why the hell are there giant robots? As for me, I’m not complaining at all.

Of course, the show could be really just bad, after all. Time to watch more episodes, then!

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9 Responses to Starting Xenoglossia: No Haruka, You Are (Not) the Idol

  1. Your third sentence is why I like Xenoglossia so much more than that other boring iDOLM@STER title.

  2. Hums says:

    It’s true that idolmaster fans expected too much, boy did they ever pitch a fit over the changes when Xenoglossia aired in Japan, but on the opposite side non-idolmaster fans out right dismiss the show. Though it kind of unfair to hold the animation character designs of the two shows against each other since Nishigori did them for the new show. And if there is anything that man does well it’s making female character designs that work for animation and still look good.

    I liked Xenoglossia it wasn’t the highest point in mecha anime but I enjoyed it. It’s rare to see someone give it a try so I hope you enjoy yourself too.

    • schneider says:

      It’s really unfair to compare, because the im@s anime is a huge labor of love. On their own, the character designs of Xenoglossia don’t look too bad. It’s not like the games themselves looked that good either.

  3. Kraker2k says:

    I read somewhere that Xenoglossia took the place of what was meant to be a new iteration in the Mai series. At the time, Namco and Bandai had just merged, Namco must have asked Bandai for an anime adaptation, Bandai pointed them to their own animation studio Sunrise and they had a department that made shows with girls in them (Studio 8).
    The whole bait and switch in the first episode just feels like a big middle finger from the disgruntled staff “You wanted an actual adaptation?! Screw you Namco, we’re just going to make what we want any way!”

  4. MAGICAL☆BIRDY says:


  5. I just found the show boring+an Evangelion ripoff.

  6. Pingback: Anime I Watched in 2012 #3: iDOLM@STER Xenoglossia | Continuing World

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