Picture taken from Thaliarchus’s sizable Twitpic album.
Now here’s a title worthy of sending a certain fanbase into a murderous rage. Before 2011, before a proper iDOLM@STER anime, we had iDOLM@STER Xenoglossia. Xenoglossia is a Sunrise anime, for better and for worse–Sunrise practically took characters from iM@S and starred them in an all-original girls-and-mecha show in the vein of Mai-HIME.
“Wait! That’s not iM@S!” You might say. And you’re correct. Xenoglossia has little in common with the rest of iM@S except for taking the names and likeness of its characters, sans Miki, Hibiki, and Takane, who weren’t around at that time. The characters in the show look very far from their video game counterparts, and are voiced by different seiyuu. I explained most of this in my first impressions post on the show, which you may want to read.
Which brings me to the point. I quote Beta-Waffle, who made an in-depth post on Xenoglossia and its, well, Sunrise-ness: Xenoglossia is arguably a more interesting show than it necessarily is a good one. It’s definitely more interesting than The iDOLM@STER, which is just a high-quality moe idol anime. It had some ideas and executed them decently, even if the production values weren’t up to snuff. And realize that this was an original mecha anime during the late 00’s period of mecha remakes and revivals. It’s above average, at the very least.
So what’s it about? In Xenoglossia, the moon blew up, and debris falling into Earth is quite a problem, so there’s a global organization by the name of Mondenkind that deals with this. There are quite a few cool sci-fi details in this show because of that moon bit. Japan’s Mondenkind branch is a little different, though, because it uses giant robots to blow up debris instead of more conventional means.
“Isn’t this the greatest show ever?” thus spake my heart.
The robot-on-meteoroid action is actually very good, and the robot-on-robot action later on is even better. Most mecha fans will say that the robots are ugly, but that’s because they’re Not Really Of This World, and adhere to a humanoid aesthetic instead of a human one.
At least they make an effort to justify the “iDOLM@STER” part of the title. The robots are called “Idols”, which are piloted by “Masters”, who are all teenage girls, because the robots are lolicons. I am not making the last one up, but it’s done way better than it sounds. This has to be the only mecha anime I know that has organic, developing relationships between its pilots and robots. It works.
I watched Xenoglossia after The iDOLM@STER, and I find it interesting how the former entirely repurposed the characters for its own story. Haruka, Yukiho, and Iori are a trio, and the least changed. Yayoi is Haruka’s unsuspecting friend and is markedly older than her game counterpart. Makoto is the stoic pilot type. Ritsuko is a mechanic. Ami is more mature, and Mami is a spoiler (or did I confuse them again?). Chihaya is basically Haman Karn, if a robot dumped her, and Azusa is Misato. Fortunately, characterization is reasonably well-done, including the few twists that happened. Sometimes I even fancy what kind of roles Miki, Hibiki, and Takane would play had they been included.
So to answer my fears in my old post, Xenoglossia turned out to be a real interesting show, and I would consider it to be good! If you’re an iM@S fan with a sense of humor (and an appetite for mecha), maybe you could enjoy this as I did, too!
PS: The character song albums for this show are Sunrise robot anime covers, along with some Mai-Hime/Otome ones. Definitely worth a listen.