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Wake Up, Girls: The Movie Anime DVD Review

6 min read

Wake Up Girls DVD Front CoverEssentially the pilot to the TV Series, this movie introduces us to the girls and their problems, but doesn’t solve much, either.

What They Say:
In Wake Up, Girls! Green Leaves Entertainment is in the worst situation any Talent Management Agency can be in… they have NO talent! Desperate for an act, President Junko Tange targets the idol singer market and gives her flunky Matsuda his marching orders: get a girl group to manage, even if it means building one from scratch!

Since complete singing groups rarely appear out of thin air, Matsuda’s now in the difficult position of having to find girls with the right skills who don’t already have contracts with Japan’s music industry. That girl at the Maid Café? Good enough! A lead singer who’s been fired from another group? Sure, why not? How about one who’s only 13 years old? What could possibly go wrong there?

They may not be on the A-list, the B-List, or even the C-list to start, but with a little love and a whole lot of hard work, it’s possible that all Japan may someday wake up to the music of WAKE UP, GIRLS!

The Review:
The only language track available is the Japanese track, which surprisingly is available in a 5.1 surround mix. The channels come through clear with no dropout, and there’s some nice directionality among the sound effects and background voices, though the focus dialogue stays mostly centered. On a show where most of the sound is dialogue, a surround mix is a little wasted, but I’d rather see more of it than less of it, so I’m certainly not complaining.

While not exactly a technical marvel, Wake Up, Girls! has some smooth animations and choreography during the performance scenes, the characters have good—albeit somewhat generic—designs, and it overall provides a pleasant atmosphere for the girls to grow in. Technically, I did not notice any egregious flaws. The only thing that stood out was a softness at times which I couldn’t decide whether was intentional or an effect of being on DVD. Overall, it looked nice.

The design for this release is fine, though basic. Coming in a simple amaray case, the front cover has a picture of the seven girls jumping while the movie’s logo is super imposed. The back features a picture of Mayu in her school uniform with some small screen shots, a summary of the movie, and the technical details. The same picture of Mayu graces the top of the disc. Overall, a fine design.

The menu is also fairly basic, but perfectly fine. The main menu has an image of the first six girls to join Wake Up, Girls while the theme song plays in the background with the selections off to the right. The only selections are to play the movie and for some trailers, so it’s not too complicated. The music has a nice long loop that allows for the entire theme to play before resetting, so letting it play won’t get old really quickly.

Other than some trailers for other titles, there are no extras on this release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Green Leaves Entertainment Agency is in a bit of a pickle: all their acts keep leaving Sendai to go to Tokyo to try and make it big, and suddenly Green Leaves has nobody left to represent. After watching a performance of uber-popular idol group I-1 on TV, Green Leaves President Tange decides to try her hand at the idol game. So she and her lone employee, Matsuda, put out an audition call for girls. Six girls respond, and despite their eclectic personalities, Tange hires all of them for her project. Thus begins the unlikely rise of The Wake Up, Girls. But the group is missing a star, a center (focal singer) who shines the brightest when the spotlight is on her. When it is discovered that the best friend of one of the new Wake Up, Girls is none other than Mayu Shimada, the former center for I-1 who left the group under mysterious circumstances, Tange knows she has found her star. The problem is getting her to agree to join.

Wake Up, Girls: The Movie is a little bit of an oddity in the anime world in that it is not only directly related to the TV series, but it actually predates it. Airing exactly one day in Japan before the first episode of the follow-up TV series, Wake Up, Girls: The Movie is little more than an extended pilot episode for the series. We lay the ground work for the formation of the group and get them ready for their push towards stardom that will come later. As such, while the movie asks a lot of questions, few of them are actually answered here.

Putting that aside, what we have is a “movie” approximately the length of two TV episodes that is relatively light on plot. But the plot that we get is fun enough to keep engaged. The mystery behind Mayu’s continual refusal to join the Wake Up, Girls drives most of the plot here, but though that mystery will not be cleared up until we get into the series, that mystery keeps us intrigued for the chase. One of the things that I appreciate about Wake Up, Girls! is that it generally refuses to fall into a lot of the obvious traps that anime often does. Tange leaves the pursuit of Mayu up to the relatively hapless Matsuda, which in the hands of many other of anime would be the setup for plenty of comical mishaps and misunderstandings with the “perverted” Matsuda caught in compromising situations, but Wake Up, Girls never really delves into that territory, preferring instead lighter comedy and situations as we proceed towards the girls’ public debut.

In the end, we are left with a short, cheerful title that won’t exactly challenge you, but is intriguing enough to make us want to keep going. We don’t really get to know any of the girls that well, but we get to know enough to get us interested in their journey toward hopeful stardom. Their determination to keep going in the face of their overall lack of talent (not to mention some poor decision making on Tange’s part) makes us want to keep going through the series to see if and how they make it in the end.

In Summary:
I know Wake Up, Girls!: The Movie is technically a separate production from Wake Up, Girls!: The TV Series, but it’s so intrinsically tied to the TV series that it is hard to really separate the two. The movie is fine, but while it technically tells a complete story, that story is not particularly satisfying without the TV series to follow it up. With the series, it’s a fun, relatively light-hearted title that is a breeze to watch. At only 52 minutes, the movie by itself is a breeze to watch, too, but it’ll likely leave you wanting to see more. Honestly, the movie should just be bundled with the series as you can’t separate the two, but that’s an argument for a different time. Ultimately, I’d give Wake Up, Girls: The Movie a mild thumbs up, but be ready to watch the TV Series immediately after or else you might be disappointed.

Spoken Languages: Japanese with English subtitles.

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 7, 2016
MSRP: $19.98
Running Time: 52 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, LG BP330 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System

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