As some people might remember back from my winter 2013 anime round-up I said I was interested in the AKB0048 anime since I had heard some good stuff about it but hadn't pursued it until the new season started and then once I started watching episodes the show got licensed, although it wasn't until well after I had caught up with the first season (via fansubs) and moved onto this one that crunchyroll got all the first season's episodes up. But both seasons are up now and let me talk about the second one and see if I can convince a few more people to pick up the latest thing to come out of Shoji Kawamori's mind.
ABK0048 Next Stage
Summary: The 77th generation understudies (as well as the 75th) continue to train as idols perfecting their singing and dancing in hopes that they can become successors soon and learn about some of the other strange things idols need to do like tv appearances to become more popular. And in the background the DES are still around and while some of them are looking for a way to defeat the girls others, such as Chieri's family's company Zodiac, think that they've found a way to use the girls to their own advantage.
The Good: I was a bit afraid that this season was going to be simply a copy of the first season and thankfully it's different enough that it didn't feel that way. The basic story, girls try to become idols and fight the anti-fun police in the process, stays the same but a number of the details are different and the girls do continue to develop and the story certainly doesn't end with everything being the same as it started. It was still fun, although I had forgotten just how much I dislike Japanese variety shows until they showed up here, yet even though it wasn't a copy of the first season it just wasn't as strong.
The Bad: This is going to sound a little odd but bear with me; not every story is structured such that it needs a villain for it to have a plot. The first season didn't really need one because it was focusing more on the girls and their goals and dreams and the setting was just another challenge to work with. This season however the show acted as if it had a villain in the DES and tried to use that to move the plot along, but the DES made for a really weak villain and that just made some parts really awkward. Look, if you spend two seasons showing me how basically the anti-fun police can't seem to succeed against a bunch of space idols then I just can't believe they're a threat, sorry! The other reason I feel like this season is the weaker of the two is how the ending comes off a bit rushed, I'm honestly curious if they planned to wrap up the entire show in a second season from the start or if they were toying with the idea of a third season, that would at least explain why things had to wrap up so fast and why there are a couple of subplots left unresolved at the very end.
The Audio/Visuals: Like I said previously I'm going to start combining these two categories since I rarely have enough to say about both, although this is one of the cases where I probably would. Sadly the crunchyroll stream did not sub the opening and ending songs but, unless I'm misremembering, both of them appeared in the actual show subbed and I just didn't like them as much as the ones from the first season. Actually, even disregarding the actual lyrics and just listening to them I still don't like them as much as the previous ones, they just didn't sound as interesting to me, oh well. The show doesn't introduce any major new characters so there's nothing new voice actor wise for me to talk about, except that I had forgotten until I was outlining this review in my mind that the majority of the cast aren't professional voice actors and I'm amazed, they sound very sure of themselves by now and I hope I hear at least some of them in future shows. As for the visuals again not much has changed from the first season, it's still amazingly colorful and looked fairly solid animation wise. Now I'll admit that I'm not as put off by the CGI dancers as some people seem to be* but it is jarring whenever they cut between the identically smiling CGI dancers and the hand animated parts where the characters have different facial expressions, usually ones of determination or exhaustion which look pretty different. If they could just make the models match that a little better then I'd have no complaints at all, this was a pretty good looking show.
So, just 3 out of 5 stars, since I feel like I rated the first season more highly, but yet I would still like to buy both seasons of this when Sentai puts it out (hopefully on BR since I wasn't kidding about how colorful this show is, I want all of that in high definition). For those still curious about the show, and hopefully people are since it's by no means a bad one, just one with more problems than it should with the writing later on, it's streaming in it's entirety on crunchryroll, Sentai's site theanimenetwork, and on hulu.
*I blame the fact that I watched some of the very earliest CGI shorts for fun as a kid, stuff so old I've never been able to figure out the titles and stuff so old it was kinda terrifying for an eight year old.