Now that her friends now her secrets, Mayu comes clean to her mother, hoping she’ll understand.
What They Say:
“Gateway to Success”
Content: (please note that the content portion of a review may contain spoilers)
With last episode’s revelations, tensions within the group are basically done: the girls understand each other, and they now strive toward their common goal. This takes away some of the natural drama in the show, even the mellowed out version given here, but the anime finds other ways to make the girls struggle.
First, the idol competition is coming up, and while the girls train even more frequently, President Tange points out a problem they may have. “What is the essence of Wake Up, Girls?” she asks — what makes the girls unique enough that they’ll make an impression on the fans? They don’t know, and even when they ask fans and people they’ve worked with they only receive strange answers. Meanwhile, Mayu and Yoppi encounter another group they’ll be going against in the preliminaries, Demons of Oga, a trio that dress like oni on stage and definitely have a definable essence. They’re both intimidated by these girls, but Yoppi puts up a strong front, doing her best not to get scared off.
The other problem is more personal for Mayu. Last episode she finally revealed the source of the tension between her and her mother, and now she finally tries to explain herself: that she’s sorry about what happened with her parents, but she wasn’t happy in I-1, and feels as though she finally found a place to belong in Wake Up, Girls! Her mother doesn’t have much of a response to this, and even leaves Mayu’s offered ticket to the competition on the table. But then, she shows up at the competition, and watches her daughter on stage, smiling. This is a bit of an easy wrap-up to the series-long drama between mother and daughter, especially when the mother has proven herself to be rather selfish. But it’s also subtly done, with no dialogue, just the two seeing each other, and smiling, with Mayu happily crying her way through the last leg of the dance.
One other thing I want to mention about this episode: the fans of Wake Up, Girls! One fan, a pudgy college-age looking guy, has shown up throughout the series, usually for a minute or two to defend Mayu and the group on troll-ridden internet forums. This time, he gathers together a group to how support for WUG during the contest, donning homemade sweatshirts and chanting individual cheers for each girl. Rather than funny, the moments with this individual fan, now part of a group, has given an interesting outside look into idols, with the fans who love them (and can easily feel betrayed, as Mayu has proven) and how the success of girls who are strangers to them can be something they feel personally tied up in. While many of the fans shown are goofy-looking, and the stereotypical older male otaku, it’s an aspect of the show I’ve been pleased to see taken seriously, especially in a show that’s been working to show how idoldom really works.
Despite the big competition, the drama falls back in this episode. The girls aren’t fighting, they’re figuring out their dance, and even the “threats” from rival groups don’t read too high on the scary scale. So, while it’s still an important episode, it’s not quite as quick-paced and intense as you’d assume, especially when you realize there’s little-to-no chance WUG won’t make it to the next round. Most of Mayu’s own problems get wrapped up as well, as she’s reconciled with her group, her desire to be an idol, and even (though not verbally) with her mother. So you’d think, aside from the next round in the contest, there’s not much for the girls to worry about — until the last minute, when I-9 reveals their newest song, and Wake Up, Girls! realize they have a problem on their hands. This shock at the end may turn out to be manufactured to keep the show from being too laid back in the final episodes, but it’s also enough of a twist to make the reaction, and the outcome, wonderfully difficult to guess.
Streamed by: Crunchyroll
Review Equipment: 13″ Apple Macbook set to 720p