What They Say:
Some cities spend millions to draw in tourists, but a small town like Nagarekawa doesn’t have those resources. What it DOES have is Nanako, whose dream of becoming an idol singer is suddenly given life when she and fellow classmate Yukari are recruited by her uncle (who serves on the city council) to become local idols. That means performing at the openings of swimming pools and appearing on the smaller local TV stations, so it’s not the glamorous lifestyle one sees in the movies. But it is a way to help her city and neighbors while doing something she cares about. And when Nanako and Yukari are joined by a third classmate, the petite but athletic Yui, who takes on the task of appearing in costume as the town mascot, everything really comes together. They may not be on the road to fame and fortune, but there’s plenty of fun to be found ahead as they become Locodols!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that makes out fairly well with it because of the music aspect, which isn’t a constant thankfully, and that gives it some additional warmth. Being that it’s about a group of girls doing the best as community activists of sorts, it’s mostly dialogue driven with a few cute and bouncy moments along the way and that’s all handled pretty well, though it certainly doesn’t have to stretch much. When it gets to the performances it steps it up a bit more, especially in the bigger concerts towards the end. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes that we get here are spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. animated by studio feel, the show has a very appealing look about it as it gives us some great looking character designs and a very strong color design in a real world setting that makes it feel very lived in. There’s a lot of detail to the backgrounds and the characters make out well too with their costume design and the musical performances. There’s a good sense of smoothness about a lot of the bigger motion areas that steps things up a bit and the transfer captures it all very well. It’s a very clean looking transfer without any problems that brings the show out in its best light.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The front cover gives us the four core girls together with arms linked while on stage where there’s just a great happiness about them. The designs work really well with the main two done up in their performance costumes while the others serve as support, but they’re all together in a great way with some good colors that lets it stand out well while not being overdone. The back cover is a busy piece with the color design and the widget aspect of it but also just because of the character pieces. It’s not busy-bad, but just busy in that there’s a lot going on. The shots from the show are spread out well with some cute and fun images used and the premise is covered well in the middle in an easy to read form. The right side gives us a good shot of the two leads with Uogokoro behind them, adding the right bit of weirdness to it. The remainder is fairly standard fare with production credits and a solid and accurate technical grid. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for the release work with a static image for both discs, though they’re different in color tone as the first one goes for softer and lighter colors while the second is darker. THe use of the main cast in different pairs works well to give each their own time, but I liked the first one more with the way Yukari and Nana look and the general pop to it. Set against the opaque polka dot background, it’s colorful without being too strong or in your face. Which is good because the navigation strip on the left is just a color bomb that explodes in a bad way. It’s using the colors from the logo with the orange and blues with white mixed in but it’s just not all that clean or distinct for the episode titles and the simple shape design doesn’t complement it either. It’s all easy to navigate and use, but it’s just not that strong looking.
The extras for this release are pretty standard with a little more that I definitely like. While we get the usual in the always welcome clean opening and closing sequences, we also get a great minute long art bumpers video that brings us the great pieces that were used during the original broadcast. They’re great looking and make me wish that the set had done postcards with them.
Based on the manga by Kotaro Kosugi, Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol Yattemita, aka Locodol as it’s released here, is a twelve episode series plus OVA that was animated by studio feel. The original manga is not one that has a lot of material as it began in 2011 and has only four volume out as of now. Such is the case with a lot of seinen manga, unfortunately. Originally airing in the summer of 2014, the series is one that plays to the slice of life angle to a degree, giving us some time out in the countryside just a bit. As I’ve noted in a few other reviews recently, I’m certainly feeling burned out on the whole idol thing, but Locodol manages to work a slightly different angle so that it’s not so overpowering.
The series takes place in Nagarekawa, an ordinary town where there’s not a lot going on outside of everyone just going about their lives. It focuses on Nanako, a first year high school student who falls into the category of your standard good kid that’s nice, decent at school, and has the kind of pleasant “rebelliousness” that you get from shows like this when it comes to dealing with parents. While she’s looking for ways to have fun and go to the newly re-opened expansive water park, she finds herself being offered a different path towards that goal. Her uncle has decided to try and draw her into the very low budget approach of promoting the town, something that he does as part of his government job. While there’s a little underhanded element to this that we learn later on, mostly he’s working her to find someone that doesn’t have any skeletons in her closet, something every public official hopes for.
What she’s drawn into is being a locodol, which is essentially a local idol that does all sorts of things around towns. Nana’s being paired up with Yukari, a second year student in the all girls school that they both attend. While Nana comes from a lower middle class family, Yukari has some wealth to hers which plays to her kind of bouncy attitude since she doesn’t have to worry about things like that. She’s also fairly well stacked, wears glasses, and has a very positive and outgoing attitude and really wants to do this job with Nana. What the job entails is just promoting various things, which the first awkward gig is at the pool. Which means bathing suits and a lot of awkwardness on Nana’s part since she wasn’t sure what she was signing up for. Of course, there’d be no show if she didn’t keep going, so you know how it’s going to unfold in that regard.
What the series works for us is a fairly straightforward bonding show as the two main characters spend a lot of time together doing various events, interviews, signings, and the occasional musical performance as well. It doesn’t take long for Nana’s uncle to get them a manager, also working on a shoestring budget, to help raise the level of promotion. The girls are paid by the hour and it’s all to promote tourism and interest in the town, so it at least makes sense since the only way to get people to visit place is to show them cute half-naked young women, right? The fanservice side is admittedly kept fairly mild as outside of a few mildly risque outfits there’s not a lot there that really plays to it, such as angles or awkward encounters. Some of the usual gags are played throughout, however, such as when a third member is added with Yui, a third year student who’s shorter than Nana but pretty well stacked. Breast size envy is such a commonality in anime that it’s moved beyond tired and is residing in the grave. That said, Yui does work well as an additional player in the mix as she works the town mascot and she gets some help along the way when a first year named Mirai joins the group so they can do more events. It’s really straightforward material overall and the things they deal with are various shades of every other idol series, just done locally.
Where the series warms is in the character interactions. I liked that it made Nana and Yukari the main characters and that it really is their story, but it added in good ways with both Yui and Mirai. Mirai comes later and never gets fleshed out the same way and Yui herself is certainly weaker than the main two, but each of them complements the whole while still retaining the right focus. For me, the simple enjoyment that these two have in doing these events and the discovery of how they can make other people feel better and enrich their lives with something that is, in the end, so small really does make an impact. It’s not something they recognize right away, their focus more on making a little money and having fun themselves, but as they interact with residents more and gain a greater view of things by seeing other locodols from other areas in various competitions and promotions, it all comes together. It’s such a well done positive message that I couldn’t help but to get swept up in it as intended.
I had little idea what to expect with Locodol going into it as I didn’t follow it closely during its simulcast and it didn’t seem to generate a lot of attention. It got an OVA afterward, which is included here, and a new one was produced for this past holiday in Japan as well, so there’s certainly interest out there and I can understand why. The show is simple yet charming in what it wants to do, tickling that particular area in a good way without overdoing or making it more dramatic than it needs to be. It doesn’t go big or grand for the most part as it remembers what it’s trying to be and keeps its focus there. In the end, it’s the two main characters that carry it and they do it well, but they’re also well supported by a solid cast of characters around them. It’s a fun little show that may not have a wide appeal but it’ll find its audience and they’ll love it.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Art Bumpers, Clean Opening & Closing Animations
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: January 19th, 2016
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.