Anime Review: Uta no Prince-sama (Season 1-4)

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Anime Reviews Reviews
utapri review
Adapted from a game of the same title 
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Genres: Otome, Idol, Music
Number of episodes: 52 (Season 1-4) + 1 OVA

 

Summary:
In the beginning of the series, we follow Nanami Haruka as she aspires to become a composer. Here, we see how she overcomes her insecurities and grow not just as a composer but as a person as well. Throughout her journey, she has been surrounded by wonderful idols who has provided her with the much emotional support to her music career and she in return has given them the music that is precious to all of them.
From the school lives of STARISH to their debut, the series also follows STARISH’s growth as an idol through the meetings and encounters with many people around them. As the series progress, they learn and grow from those people who they have met, including: Nanami Haruka, Quartet Night, their teachers and even Heavens!

Main Characters: 

Top Row (from left to right): Kotobuki Reiji, Kurosaki Ranmaru, Mikaze Ai, Camus C. Cryzard Middle Row (from left to right): Kurusu Syo, Jinguuji Ren, Shinomiya Natsuki, Aijima Cecil, Hijirikawa Masato, Ichinose Tokiya, Ittoki Otoya Bottom Row (From left to right): Hyuuga Yamato , Ootori Eiji, Mikado Nagi, Ootori Eichi, Sumeragi Kira, Amakusa Shion, Kiryuuin Van

Top Row (from left to right): Kotobuki Reiji, Kurosaki Ranmaru, Mikaze Ai, Camus C. Cryzard Middle Row (from left to right): Kurusu Syo, Jinguuji Ren, Shinomiya Natsuki, Aijima Cecil, Hijirikawa Masato, Ichinose Tokiya, Ittoki Otoya Bottom Row (From left to right): Hyuuga Yamato , Ootori Eiji, Mikado Nagi, Ootori Eichi, Sumeragi Kira, Amakusa Shion, Kiryuuin Van

 

Overall Rating: 3.5 /5 moons

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Breakdown:

Disclaimer: This review will be about all four seasons of UtaPri and we will look more into how the story has changed from one season to another (with brief reviews on the characters, visuals and audio)

Story – 7 /10

The story for the series is literally up and down throughout the course of these four seasons. From comical and sweet to the bitter darkness, the series can be both humorous and emotional, depending how you look at it. For one, there will always be surprises throughout the series and it is pleasant to watch.

Furthermore, with that many idols, the writers behind the series did a good job in dedicating the series evenly for all the idols, all 18 of them. Every idol gets a fair share of the spotlight of the series and from there the viewers can get a glimpse of how the characters are like, along with the insert song of the episode.

Despite having the games’ story line to follow, the writers did also a great job in unfolding them within the anime without revealing too much information about what took place in the game. Hence, the viewers will only get a glimpse of some of the background story within the game.

 

Character – 8 /10

Generally, the viewers can get to know about not just Nanami Haruka but also the three idols groups. As the series progresses, we get to know more about how they are really like and what has happened to them. Though short lived, the character developments were clearly seen throughout the series as well. The viewers can still see changes in the characters as the series progress.

Screenshot from episode 1 of Maji Love Legend Star

Screenshot from episode 1 of Maji Love Legend Star

Visuals + Audio – 7 /10

For visuals, there are ups and downs about the visual quality of the series, but even so, the visuals do not affect the series much. Interestingly enough, the animation studio of the series attempted a 3D kind of modeling for only Maji Love Revolutions before reverting back to the usual 2D modeling that was used throughout the series, or so I thought. In Season 4, the visuals for the dance scenes improved and the dance scenes were all in some sort of 3D form *w*

Audio wise is a mega yes! A big kudos to Elemental Gardens for the awesome music. The songs are all written really well and contained a lot of depth. With a wide range of vocals to work with, it is a tough job to have. For this series, the combination of different audio with different music styles were executed really well and interestingly enough fans have their own speculations of  how the insert song names make up each season’s title! (click here)

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UtaPri Perks Comparison

1. The boy meets girl intro

In the beginning of every season (and I mean, every season) there will be the “girl meets boy” kind of scene when all the characters are introduced. During these scenes, each of the idols have a thing or two to say to lovely Haruka. But in the latest season, the viewers will also get to hear all of them sing!
screenshot-2016-12-05-17-06-01screenshot-2016-12-05-17-06-11screenshot-2016-12-05-17-06-52
 

2. The unique episode titles

What makes the titles of each episode unique is that the titles contain the song titles of the insert songs for each episode. Take the first episode as an example; the title of the episode is Nanairo no Compass and in that particular episode the song appeared as Haruka’s flashback.
Screenshot from S1E1 of utapri

Screenshot from S1E1 of utapri

In all the songs, the titles are also part of the lyrics. However, the only exception to one of the recent episode is that the title showed part of the lyrics of the insert song of that episode which was Yume Oibito he no Symphony.

screenshot-2016-12-11-13-20-52

Screenshot from S4E10

In the lyrics, the the title is part of the final chorus of the song.

(7人) We love your song… We believe you
(音也) 君は君だよ
(レン) あるがままに
(真斗・翔) 夢描いて
(7人) We hold you… We want you
(トキヤ) 共にゆこうStar road
(翔) そして
(那月) このSymphony
(セシル) アナタに捧ぐ

(Lyrics credit to silvermoon249. For the full lyrics, click here)

 

Other unique charms about the titles include:

  1. The use of  unique fonts that fit the theme about music. The viewers can see little musical notes used in the titles too.
  2. The term used to describe each episode, i.e Op. Op or Opus is actually the musical term for the title of a musician’s work.

 

3. Lyrics perk 

One of the unique points about UtaPri is that they have their insert songs within a group song. Here are some of the few examples from both STARISH’s and Quartet Night’s songs.

Maji Love 2000% by STARISH

marude RAPUSODI (From Orange Rhapsody)
jinsei wa
Smile (From Smiles Magic)
Let’s Smile. Smile, Yes!
yume no tsubasa de (From True Wing)
HĀMONĪ o
kanadeau
All: nisen PĀ LOVE (LOVE!)

kimi to egaku
koi no iro wa (From Koizakura)
donna
MERODI
Shake & Shake

kiseki no TIME (From Crystal Time)
saa
tsumugou ka
OK
chikaimasu (From Sirius no Chikai)
tsūka orera wa
All: eien ST☆RISH 3. 2. 1. Let’s Go!!
hibikiau FANTAJIA (From Hoshii no Fantasia)

 

Poison Kiss by Quartet Night

Give In To Temptation (From Dekiai no Temptation)
My Promise To You (It is actually part of the lyrics from Winter Blossom)
I’ll Rock You Hard (The word  is part of Bright Road and the other solos by Ramaru due to the fact he loves rock music)
With My Deep Emotion (From Reido no Emotion)

(For the full lyrics, click here.)

Another thing about the lyrics is that they include the names of the characters, or rather just the initials. Here are the three songs that played with this concept:

a. Maji Love 2000% by STARISH

Screenshot from the 2nd UtaPri ending

I Need You… S… (For SHINOMIYA Natsuki)
I Feel You… T… (For Ichinose TOKIYA)
I Miss You… A… (For AJIMA Cecil)
I Kiss You… R… (For Jinguuji REN)
I Believe You… I… (For ITTOKI Otoya)
I Hold You… S… (For Kurusu SYO)
I Want You… H… (For HIJIRIKAWA Masato)
All: ST☆RISH Forever

Interestingly, this song also plays around the name of their group, i.e STARISH. Each member will then sing the line that represents their name.

 

b. Gamusha Romantic by Kotobuki Reiji, Ittoki Otoya and Ichinose Tokiya

aikotoba wa
R O T (R= Reiji; O= Otoya; T= Tokiya)
sā RITORAI
R O T
SANKYU! I LOVE YOU!!

(For the full lyrics: click here)

 

c. A.I by Mikaze Ai

Screenshot from S2E1 of UtaPri

jibun no kono namae chotto nigate de
hora ‘A’ to ‘I’ kasaneru to…nan ni naru?

demo kimi wa sa nazeka tobikkiri no egao de iu
AI tte imi ga arunda to

For the song A.I, the writers did well in bringing in a few of facts related to Ai and played around it with the lyrics. For one, the song title is named after this concept. Secondly, the word A.I could refer to several things.

  1. Ai’s name both its spelling and its origins. In the game, he was named after the indigo sky seen by the professor who created him When the professor named him, he wanted Ai to live freely as himself like the birds who flew across the sky the day he named him.
  2. A.I= artificial intelligence, i.e.Ai is an A.I < Spoiler alert!>
  3. Ai: can also be referred to love (愛) something Ai has learned.

(For the full lyrics, click here)

 

4. Naming Perks

There are a few perks in terms of the groups names for STARISH and HEAVENS.

  1. In UtaPri, the names of the groups consists of the initials that represent the members of the groups. For STARISH, it is already laid out in their song Maji Love 2000%. For Heavens, here is how the layout goes:
Screenshot from S3E13

Screenshot from S3E13

HYUUGA Yamato
Ootori EIJI
AMAKUSA Shion
Kiruin VAN
Ootori EICHI
Mikado NAGI
SUMERAGI Kira

(For a glimpse of the song, click here.)

Similar to STARISH, the concept of incorporating their group name has been applied here.
(Yamato) H saa
(Eiji) E koyoi
(Shion) A saikou no
(Van) V rakuen
(Eichi) E tengoku e no
(Nagi) N tobira wo
(Kira) S hirakou

Source: http://savyjayjane.tumblr.com/post/135675976466/he-vens-gate-beginning-of-the-legend-lyrics

(For the full lyrics, click here)

2. For all three groups, the names surround the galaxy/ sky theme (STARish; Quartet NIGHT; HEAVENS)

  • For HEAVENS, there is another concept that surrounds their names. As the heavens can signify “royalty” every members’ name consists of the kanji that represents that.

Side note: If you noticed how each member of STARISH was shown whenever a member from HEAVENS introduced himself, you could somehow guessed the pairings for the duets.

 

5. Concerts & Reality Shows

UtaPri is also known to have their own concerts and game shows within anime and in reality. As idols, all the idols in UtaPri have held lives and in reality there are also spectacular concerts! (Although, sadly, only in Japan.) Furthermore, the idols of UtaPri have attended reality shows in the anime whereas their seiyuu (voice actors) have game shows (more like quiz shows) to attend and they are fun to watch.

 

6. Promotional/ Product Placement perks

In the 2nd episode of the Legend Stars, Quartet Night mentioned about going on a national tour, and soon after, the episode was aired

Screenshot from UtaPri S4E2

Screenshot from UtaPri S4E2

To view the official announcement, click here

UtaPri 6th Live Announcement here

Another example would be the product placement in the series. Taking the Kotobuki Plushie as an example, it was featured in the anime. Later on, an actual plush was sold too! (For the reference, click here)

screenshot-2016-12-11-21-49-48

Other than that, fans of the UtaPri games will recognize some of the elements and backstory being introduced into the anime. Interestingly, in the anime, some of the story lines and objects can be found in both the games and the anime.

For example: Reiji’s green car is something he has in the game and it was brought into the anime in Season 3! The viewers of the anime are able to get a glimpse of the characters’ pasts that are part of the games.  However, the officials have made changes to several elements in order to not completely reveal the contents of the games through the sneak peeks presented in the anime.

 

7. Opening and Ending Theme Songs Perk

Ever since the first season of UtaPri was released, the artist for the opening theme will be Miyano Mamoru-san, who is also the voice actor of Ichinose Tokiya. As for the ending theme, STARISH is the usual contributor to the Ending theme. From the first to the third ending theme, you can see their dances being featured but in Season 4, that was not the case.

Also, the title has been decided by Shining Saotome, the president of the Shining Company, making it Maji Love ___ for all seasons.

Another thing about UtaPri’s ending is that there are no previews of the following episode. What UtaPri provides at the end of every episode would be the comments from the characters who were given the most focus in that episode.

Concluding Facts

Even though the series is targeted to the female market, but the number of male audiences have increased. During one of the actual UtaPri live concerts, the voice actors noticed that there were more male audiences during the 4th live and they addressed them during the 5th live! Hence, no matter what your gender is, as long as you are an idol fan, I hope that you enjoy this series as much as I did.

 

Besides the anime, UtaPri has  games (PSP, PS Vita, smartphone), concerts and quiz shows for all to enjoy! Also in 2017, there will be a phone game for more concerts and on 25/12/2016, there was also an announcement of the new anime for the series! Hence, if you are interested in the series, feel free to check out the other UtaPri-related stuff!

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