When it comes to anime full of male casts, there are some people who would simply dismiss them on the basis that they’re “fujobait” and/or “gay”. THE iDOLM@STER SideM is no exception. Despite being an addition to the long-running THE iDOLM@STER franchise, SideM often goes unrecognized even within the iM@S fandom itself due to its nature for being filled with male characters. Even though, considering its merits, SideM is actually fun and enjoyable for everyone. While it is possible to critically discuss the fear towards representations of male-male romance in fiction, since this is just a review about the SideM anime (especially from the perspective of a long time iM@S fan), that issue could not be discussed in-depth here as it is beyond the scope of this article.

Following the footsteps of THE iDOLM@STER and THE iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls, THE iDOLM@STER SideM finally gets an anime adaptation, and it deserves a place together with its predecessors. Overall, SideM maintains the same formula used in animas and dereani, but with a twist. Of course, that twist being the entire cast mostly consists of males.

From high school students to ex-teachers and ex-pilot, there’s something for everyone. ©BNEI/PROJECT SideM

SideM begins with Teru Tendo, an ex-lawyer turned idol due to several circumstances. Later, he met Kaoru Sakuraba and Tsubasa Kashiwagi and formed a unit, with the help of the Producer. So begins their journey in 315 Production together with the other units.

One thing that stands out in SideM is the role of the Producer as a whole. Compared to animas and dereani where the Producer plays a relatively major role with the idols, in SideM, the Producer mostly spends his time sitting in the sidelines with Ken Yamamura, his assistant. Most of the conflicts and their conclusions are handled by the idols themselves. Considering the average age of the idols, it’s no surprise that they are mature enough to handle problems that come before them (FYI Teru is 28 years old).

And he likes Sentai too! ©BNEI/PROJECT SideM

Each episode focuses on a unit, which fleshes more on some of the character’s past. This way, viewers can understand more about the characters, eventually building a connection between audience and the cast.

Kashiwagi Tsubasa in his early days as a pilot ©BNEI/PROJECT SideM

Another thing that makes SideM enjoyable to watch is the reaction faces. Yes, people; SideM is chock-full of deformed (chibi) characters and goofy faces throughout the series. These 2 elements gave SideM a lighter tone, compared to dereani which plays more towards the dramatic theme.

In SideM you’ll find expressions like this once in a while. ©BNEI/PROJECT SideM

The live scenes are also pretty well made in SideM, despite the occasional 3DCG works. Now, before this ends up being a “2D vs 3D animation” debate, it’s worth noting that the 3DCG animations don’t really look out of place. In fact, they emphasize some of the movements in some scenes (especially during the dancing scenes shot from afar), so that shouldn’t pose a problem. You can see a sneak peek of how the dance animation is handled in SideM below:

All in all, THE iDOLM@STER SideM rightfully places itself as a worthwhile adaptation of an iM@S franchise, one that you shouldn’t miss it. The fun casts, lighthearted tone, and goofy faces makes SideM a strong contender in the male idol anime scene.

Read more:

Fall 2017 Anime: THE iDOLM@STER SideM

How I Discovered IDOLM@STER (and Learned How to Deal with People)

The Indonesian Anime Times | by Videtra Reynaldi

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