IMG_0934.PNGNanako Usami is a young girl with normal schoolgirl aspirations. All she wants to do is get a new swimsuit and join her friends in their exploration of the newly-remodelled public pool, but with her parents’ tight budget, things aren’t looking too positive. That’s where her uncle coincidentally comes to her rescue by offering her a part-time job at the event the swimming pool is having to promote its opening. Ecstatic, Nanako purchases her new swimsuit and shows up expecting to be helping to be on hand to move things around and clean up, but her uncle has a surprise for her: she has to get on stage, welcome everyone to the event, and sing.

While this sends a shock into Nanako, she’s forced to deal with it thanks to the money she had already spent. Her uncle explains his plan was to have Nanako along with her co-star Yukari Kohinata, become local idols (Locodols) in order to spark the economy and tourism to Nagarekawa, which is in danger of becoming a ghost town.

IMG_0939.JPGThis anime is adapted from a four-panel comedy manga series that was written and illustrated by Kōtarō Kosugi, which was first published in October 2011 in Ichijinsha’s Manga 4-Koma Palette magazine.

I really enjoyed watching Locodol. It had endearing characters and ticked along at a nice, gentle pace. Each episode had a very clear focus and lots of amusing antics were based around this. Along the way we were introduced to more characters that supported the Locodol team such as Yui, who is the small upperclassman inside Nagarekawa’s mascot Uogokoro-kun, and young Mirai, who is later introduced as another Uogokoro-kun worker to help lighten Yui’s workload.

IMG_0936.PNGI was quite taken with the concept of being a ‘Locodol’ – a local idol who promotes their town to help bring in tourists and extra interest. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if my home town introduced the idea and what our town mascot would be. The girls engage in a number of activities throughout the town – most of them being nowhere near as glamourous as any of them expected, such as cleaning gutters, picking up litter and promoting the town’s local dishes. When their popularity picks up, however, they find themselves more in demand and find that people are recognising them whilst their out and about, and the Nagarekawa girls quickly respond to their new fame.

Rising local stars need to be careful of weird people because they are weird. Good advice, Nanako’s mom.

The eventually find themselves performing at the Locodol Festival against famous idol groups from other towns and cities such as last year’s winners, the Awa Awa Girls. Full of excitement and supported by their classmates, they soon discover that the performances are running behind schedule, and since they’re the very last act on, there’s a very real danger that they won’t make it back in time to perform at an important event in their home town: the Nagarekawa Summer Festivals. Nanako and Yukari have to face a tough decision: complete their performance in the Locodol Festival or make sure they return on time to star in the important festival of the town that they love so much.

Nanako and Yukari have a really good chemistry from the very beginning. Nanako’s average-girl personality was something that lots of people could identify with, and she eventually found herself succeeding because of Yukari’s warm and professional approach to her work. Their antics are both amusing and adorable, and I always looked forward to the next episode. It was entertaining without having anything high-impact to shock and grip the viewer. It takes the ‘wannabe idol’ anime concept and creates something new, fresh, and on a smaller and more relaxed scale, which I was pleased to see worked very well.