When QUARTET NIGHT is chosen to perform as the Triple S Opening Artist, they decline the opportunity after STARISH and HEAVENS give equally compelling performances. Raging Otori and Shining Saotome propose another musical showdown to determine the opening artist between the three groups in which all three of them must sing songs written by Haruka! Who will win the decisive concert and the honour of performing at the Triple S?
It’s a tall order for Haruka Nanami this season. In a bid to find out just who is the most popular idol group out of Starish, Quartet Night and HEAVENS in the most impartial way possible, she has been asked to write all three songs that they will sing (even though her loyalties should obviously be lying with Starish, but it appears she has been swayed into the neutral zone by all the bishounen addling her brain and confusing her. Not only this, but after HEAVENS announcing that they are more than doubling their members (honestly, I can’t keep track. The bishounen are now addling MY brain, too) it has been decided to enter Starish and HEAVENS into a ‘duet project’ in which one group member from each band will pair up. And guess what? Haruka has to write the songs for each duet (she better be being paid enough. She doesn’t look like the type to ask for a raise).
Alongside all these songs she’s having to write, she has to deal with all the drama. You can’t have so many idol bishounen in one place and expect to not have any diva moments. The differing personalities of Quartet Night mean arguments right off the bat when they’re stuck in close proximity for lengths of time. While the other two groups are working on duets, it would seem the current leading band are on the brink of disbanding. Meanwhile, one of the Starish members goes missing shortly before the all-important Triple S competition, and HEAVENS seem to have had a hand in it…
The earlier episodes have a sort of episodic quality with them, particularly as each one tends to focus on one member of Starish and HEAVENS working together on their duet, following the resulting song and how the two characters get along throughout the process. The more mature and laid-back members tend to get along fine and be more productive whilst the more outspoken and volatile ones tend to rub each other up the wrong way. It’s a good way to bring certain personalities to the forefront and make sure that they aren’t always dominated by those that are more vocal. As things progress, we start to see managerial intentions trying to steer our groups in different directions and have them try and sabotage other groups’ performances by stirring up unrest within them. And if idol anime has taught me anything it’s that no matter how much practice you put in, there’s always going to be a bit of drama come showtime.
What Uta no Prince-sama continues to do well is to develop its characters, and this is by no mean feat when you consider the steadily-increasing cast since season 1. It’s very aware of the difficulties it’s kind of anime faces and does it’s best to make sure that all of these bishounen aren’t just pretty faces (part of the reason why I’ve been a fan of Ren Jinguji since the beginning – a millionaire playboy finding substance and passion in his life through music and friendship? Love it). It doesn’t forget about any of its characters or their small quirks, which they have built upon since the beginning. They are all made to question their stereotypes and attempt to break them – Otoya wants to break away from being ‘the smiley one’, Masato is effectively disowned by his father after refusing to take over the family business and Natsuki finally deals with the split in his personality he developed after a childhood trauma. Their focuses are so intense, varied and believable that the structure doesn’t feel repetitive. The only character I feel hasn’t developed his Haruka, but I won’t take up the remainder of this post complaining about her. She is a weird-eyed construct that moves the plot along. I don’t know what Ren sees in her.
The fourth season of Uta no Prince-sama is, in my eyes another success. It’s one of those anime that I get excited to see it’s made another season. And here they are again, after the Triple S concert, and they’re planning another season, which I am already excited about. I can watch it from start to finish in almost one sitting because I just enjoy it so much. It’s exciting, upbeat, catchy, full of eye-candy, humorous, light-hearted and fun. Even before I began watching it, I knew it was going to be one of my favourites for this season, and this is exactly the kind of anime that I am always watching out for.