Title: Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita. (Futsuu no Joshikousei ga Locodol Yatte Mita, Locodol, Normal High School Girls Tried Being Locodols)
Format: TV anime
Genre: comedy, 4koma adaptation, shojo ai
Series Creator: Kotaro Kosugi
Series Director: Munenori Nawa
Series length: 12 episodes + OVA 13th episode
Original Airing dates: July 3 – September 18, 2014
Reviewed format: high def download with fan subs
In the town of Nagarekawa (“Flowing River City”), Nanako Usami, an ordinary high school girl, is approached by her uncle to become a local idol or “Locodol”, partnering with upperclassman Yukari Kohinata to form the idol unit, Nagarekawa Girls (Nagarekawa Garuzu). As the girls use their talent to promote Nagarekawa and their businesses, they are joined by Yui Mikoze, who acts as the local mascot, and Mirai Nazukari, who serves are Yui’s substitute.
To be honest, half way through the 1st episode when the fan service bikinis appeared, I really wanted to hate this series. I thought it was going to be nothing but hyper sexualisation, fan service & telling young girls that they can’t be anything except pretty little idols if they want to do something to help those around them. Then it did something surprising: it got really funny, really sweet & really cute before toning down the fan service & offering a good heart into what it means to live outside a major metropolitan area in Japan -especially in the ongoing economic downturn in Asia.
I was genuinely prepared to go on my usual anti-sexualisation, anti-misogyny rants, willing to write it all off when I began to see how funny a show it was. & it kept getting better with each episode, as they build on the characters, their tasks & lots of little running gags.
At its core, Locodol is about the things that you do to help out others &, in turn, support your larger community. For this, ordinary yet energetic Nanako is recruited by her uncle, who works in the local government, to become a Local Idol (shortened to Locodol) with the beautiful & mature acting Yukari. This causes Nanako to question her talent & worth, because she feels that she’s not good enough, always screwing up & obsessed over the little things -such as her hourly wage (being a government employee & not a real idol) & the weird tasks that they have to do in order to help promote their local town, Nagarekawa (which is entirely fictional, mashing up the typical feel of a medium Japanese urban-rural city).
Like many 4koma adaptation, relationships form the pivot of the comedy & narrative. But this time it’s not just the relationship between the characters but also their relationship with their hometown. The girl’s friendship grows as they work together more & Nanako is supported by the seemingly more experienced (in being an idol) Yukari. Although Yukari’s perception of their relationship goes a little deeper, as she seems to harbour a very open crush on Nanako. The backstory as to how this happened is exceptionally sweet & cute, adding a good bit of depth to Yukari’s overall background.
The idol unit also have to build a relationship with their odd mascot, Uogokoro-kun, both in & out of costume. In costume, Uogokoro-kun is a weird blue lump with a large fish strapped to its wide back. Out of costume, Uogokoro-kun is a diminutive yet busty 3rd year called Yui, who works many part time jobs & plays Uogokoro-kun in order to get over her own shyness, as well being one of the few people short enough to fit into the costume. Yet when clad in the bulky gear, Yui is still surprisingly nimble, which adds to the humour & on stage antics of the group.
The group is overseen by Nishifukai Saori, who seems like the very model of a manager but in fact she is a secret idol otaku & cosplay costumer maker. She also takes photos on the sly to post onto a fan of the idol unit blog that she runs -which are usually of Nanako in embarrassing or slightly compromising positions. Even though the girls were first upset by this (not knowing it was Saori taking & posting the pictures), they soon came to accept that it’s part of trying to be famous (which is a little creepy) but Saori did say that she’s talk to the blog owner (herself) about not posting the pics anymore.
Even with all these swirling relationships, the story is still mainly focussed upon Nanako & her overcoming her insecurities to do better. She’s a natural signer who wanted to be a national idol when she was a little girl but is bothered by the fact that she was only chosen for the role because of her uncle. Yet her tenacity draws people to her, as she struggles to do her best. Not only for herself but for the unit & the town as a whole -even if it means putting herself in embarrassing situations. Such as stripping down to her bathing suit during their 1st performance to get a bit of audience attention. Her panicking & over-thinking situations leads to much of the comedy in the series; as does her general clumsiness & her obliviousness to Yukari constantly making passes at her.
Being a series about idols, there is a fair bit of singing per episode but not a lot of different songs. The seiyu all have nice voices for the Pop style songs they’re singing & the voice acting over all iver very cute. Especially when Nanako is on stage & always stutters her name to Nanyako (which people keep calling her, to her eternal embarrassment).
In the end, this is a little series with a lot of heart. I genuinely laughed out loud at a lot of the jokes & reactions (especially the expressions). As I said in the opening paragraph, I honestly thought that I was going to hate this series because it would be like other idol based series that girls that their only worth is in entertaining others & wearing skimpy clothing. I was glad that it went beyond that & was a clever, amusing series that was not without its flaws but, in the end, showed the beauty of a small town (in terms of its people & the animation used). Whilst not everyone will like it, you should fine some enjoyment in the humour. & if not that, it still has underage tits at times, so it has that going for it I suppose.