‘IDOLiSH7’ the Movie: ‘Ainana’ Enters New Stage

©BNOI/IDOLiSH7 the Movie Project
A main promotional image for “IDOLiSH7 the Movie: LIVE 4bit BEYOND THE PERiOD,” in which four groups consisting of 16 pop idols perform on the same stage

“IDOLiSH7,” which began as a smartphone game and was followed by anime adaptations, has finally made its debut in movie theaters as a pair of anime films that opened on May 20 and 21.

The films depict joint concerts given on two different days by boy band IDOLiSH7, the eponymous seven-member group, and its three rival bands.

©BNOI/IDOLiSH7 the Movie Project
IDOLiSH7 (seven members): (From Left) Sogo Osaka, Tamaki Yotsuba, Iori Izumi, Riku Nanase, Yamato Nikaido, Nagi Rokuya and Mitsuki Izumi. The members are involved in a range of activities, such as composing, dancing, acting and modeling, making the most of each one’s individuality.

The two films, titled “IDOLiSH7 the Movie: LIVE 4bit BEYOND THE PERiOD DAY 1” and “IDOLiSH7 the Movie: LIVE 4bit BEYOND THE PERiOD DAY 2” mark the beginning of a new phase in the franchise’s history. The performances by the four bands, made up of 16 idols in all, cannot be missed.

The franchise is nicknamed “Ainana.” It centers around a heroine who works for her father’s entertainment agency, Takanashi Office. As a manager, she helps develop rookies IDOLiSH7 into a top idol group. Groups belonging to other agencies also appear. The story is popular for depicting not only the sparkly side of being an idol, but also the dark side of the entertainment industry and even the complicated mentality of fans.

©BNOI/IDOLiSH7 the Movie Project
TRIGGER (trio): (From left) Gaku Yaotome, Tenn Kujo and Ryunosuke Tsunashi. The band is very popular for their professionalism and high-quality performances stemming from their stoic attitude.

It was released in 2015 as a smartphone game that entertains users with a story and a rhythm game. The first anime adaptation was released in 2018. Concerts by the voice actors have also been held.

Last year, when the game marked its seventh anniversary, a story was released in the game featuring a year-end music competition called “BLACK or WHITE LIVE SHOWDOWN” where four idol groups compete and IDOLiSH7 wins. With IDOLiSH7 achieving their goal of winning the competition, the work reached a milestone.

Realistic concert

The films focus on stage performances by the 16 idols without a storyline. The images are depicted so realistically that they make the audience feel as if they are viewing a real-life concert.

The DAY 1 film was released on May 20, followed by DAY 2 on May 21 with a somewhat different set list and some chatting between songs.

©BNOI/IDOLiSH7 the Movie Project
Re:vale (duo): Momo, left, and Yuki. They are the “absolute champions” of the idol world with their stunning performances in concerts. Their comical banter is also popular.

Explaining “BEYOND THE PERiOD” in the movies’ title, general producer Ayaka Negishi said: “I most wanted to convey that this is not the end. I mean to go beyond where we are now and move on to the next stage together.”

Having reached a major milestone, the idols will continue their journeys.

The franchise has continually offered new ways to enjoy the story and characters.

©BNOI/IDOLiSH7 the Movie Project
ZOOL (four members): (From left) Toma Inumaru, Minami Natsume, Torao Mido and Haruka Isumi. They captivate their fans with fearless and sensational performances that shake up the idol world.

Executive producer Sokichi Shimooka explained his thoughts on the project, saying: “There are people who say, ‘I can do my best thanks to Ainana.’ It makes the production team feel they are doing something worthwhile in delivering the work. I feel the team has been able to come this far while continuing to be encouraged by the fans’ affection for the work and repaying their feelings.”

Negishi added, “We are thinking of various ways to bring our idols to fans everywhere in various ways, in addition to showing the films at movie theaters.”

Expectations are growing for the 16 idols racing toward a brilliant future.

Look at expressions when singing

The Yomiuri Shimbun conducted an interview with voice actor Kensho Ono, who provides the voice of Riku Nanase, a member of boy band IDOLiSH7.

The Yomiuri Shimbun: What are the highlights of the films?

Kensho Ono: Just the fact that 16 idols are singing and dancing on the same stage is amazing. You really don’t have enough eyes to see them all at once (laughs). I especially want you to pay attention to their facial expressions when they are singing. I think they show each one’s attitude toward singing.

Yomiuri: The banter between songs is also enjoyable.

Kensho Ono

Ono: In addition to what is written in the script, we sometimes ad-libbed some lines and laughed, and added our voices in the middle of a song. We were told by the staff, “We will play from this scene to that scene, so please ad-lib in between.” We would all say, “That’s crazy!” (laughs). But we all seriously made efforts to create the atmosphere of a real concert.

Yomiuri: How do you feel about the new song “Pieces of The World” sung by the 16 idols?

Ono: I feel the song is based on the paths the 16 idols have taken up to now and seems to be connected to their future. I really like the last line of the sabi [catchy part], “Sore ga deatta imi ni naru yo ni” (Let it be the reason why we have met). I feel this single line expresses that each encounter has a meaning and leads to the present.

Yomiuri: Last year, the franchise marked its seventh anniversary. What makes the work continue to be loved by so many people?

Ono: I think one of the charms is that it’s not only about the glamorous part of the entertainment world but has a realistic story. In fact, there are scenes that you may not expect to see in a work depicting idols … Even so, the idols’ power to overcome obstacles makes us want to cheer them on.