Serving as the stopgap before we get to the anime you voted to see get reviewed next (which is Candy Boy, by the way), Locodol seems like a modest anime about idols, but in a world with Love Live! and The iDOLM@STER, can it possibly carve out a niche for itself?
In the town of Nagarekawa, Nanako Usami, an ordinary high school girl, is approached by her uncle to become a local idol or “Locodol,” partnering with upperclassman Yukari Kohinata to form the idol unit, Nagarekawa Girls. As the girls use their talent to promote Nagarekawa and their businesses, they are joined by Yui Mikoze, who acts as the local mascot, and Mirai Nazukari, who serves as Yui’s substitute. (Source: Wikipedia)
Going off that synopsis, Locodol sort of sounds like just another idol anime, but that’s not exactly the case. While everyone thinks of idols as groups of girls that just sing and dance, the girls of Locodol are more concerned with improving the declining economy of their modest city, and they largely do so by more unconventional methods. Said methods include filming segments for the local news broadcast and schilling products for local brands, so in this way, it’s a nice change, and it provides some unique situations for the schoolgirl diplomats of Nagarekawa. And being a comedy, a lot of these unusual promotional methods do a fairly good job of producing some funny moments throughout Locodol‘s twelve episodes (and even more, if you count the special and the OVA episodes).
So let’s just keep things short and sweet by saying that the story in this anime is simple and straightforward, but I think it has a certain endearing factor that turned out to be pretty likable.
Probably the strength of this show is the characters, even though I wouldn’t say that I prefer this group over most others from around the anime world. That said, it’s a rather small cast, but an overall charming cast of characters, nevertheless.
Despite being an average girl in pretty much every way, I’d say that Nanako isn’t one of those lead characters that is boring and very easily forgettable. She’s fairly charming, funny, and generally speaking, she’s an easy character to like. “Nanyako” usually serves as the butt of many of the jokes throughout Locodol (some self-inflicted), and she takes it like a champ and keeps coming back for more. Her chemistry with Yukari is evident, and it’s made even better with all of Yukari’s not-so-subtle passes at her.
I went into this not expecting very much on the yuri front, but much to my surprise, Yukari turned out to be a surprisingly gay character. The blonde, glasses-wearing beauty may try to pass off her occasional advances towards Nanako as a joke, but it’s easy to see that that’s not totally the case. They’re insanely cute together and have a very TaeNy-like friendship, and even though there are some other nice characters in Locodol, those two alone are worth the price of admission.
Yui and Mirai both serve as the mascot that accompanies the locodols throughout their performances, and while neither can quite compare to Nanyako or Yukari, they’re perfectly serviceable sidekick-type characters. Compared to Yui, Mirai sort of gets lost in the mix and doesn’t play as large a role as she probably should have, yet she is cute, and her shyness makes her seem even cuter. Taking over for Nanako’s uncle as the girls’ manager is Saori, who’s quite an interesting character. On one hand, she’s resourceful and seems like an excellent manager, but on the other hand, the shady Nagarekawa Girls fan website that she secretly runs gives her that slightly creepy stalker vibe. She’s probably both, and that’s pretty entertaining stuff, so I’m not complaining.
Overall, this isn’t the best cast of characters, yet I think they have enough charm and charisma to keep your interest and make you want to see how they’ll be promoting their city next time. The relationship between Nanako and Yukari makes things even better, and call me crazy, but I personally prefer those two over NozoEri (don’t hurt me, L), NicoMaki, or any other idol anime pairing out there.
Since it doesn’t really matter in an anime like this, I can forgive the so-so visuals that we’re presented with. I don’t think there’s really anything particularly eye-catching or impressive about the animation, and sometimes, it comes off kind of bland and boring, especially the backgrounds. I’d say I probably rounded the score up to a 7, but anyone watching this certainly wouldn’t be watching it expecting to be blown away by the visuals anyway. At the very least, Locodol doesn’t suffer from awkward CG performances like a certain other idol anime. Then again, there really isn’t much dancing to speak of, so I guess that’s an unfair criticism. Nevertheless, this is passable, so for me and probably many others, that’s good enough.
Being an anime about idols, you’d think this show might have some catchy songs… and you’d be wrong about that. Well, that’s not totally true, as the song that the girls write and perform at the end isn’t bad at all, and the Uogokoro-kun song is sort of charming, in a weird way. So, maybe the music isn’t that bad after all, and if Love Live! can get away with having some average songs (besides Shocking Party. That’s fire), I don’t think I should be too harsh with Locodol. It may not be churning out the hits, but there’s still two or three decent songs to be found here.
It’s not a Love Live! clone by any means, but Locodol‘s idol-flavored comedy is a nice little twist on a well-worn concept. Distancing itself a little bit from the typical glitz and glamour seen in most other idol-themed anime turned out to be quite nice, and even though Locodol doesn’t truly excel in any way, I think it turned out to be a moderately entertaining show that might not put off those people who typically wouldn’t like an anime about idols.