Aikatsu Friends! – 076 (Ringing Bells)

The ultimate Friends who anyone can make

In one way, nobody could have expected this to be the last episode, but in another, it was the only possible ending since the entire series started. As always, I encourage you to watch it first, and don’t forget that the release date going forward will be a few days later than up until now because of the time change.

Episode 076: Torrent | Magnet

But as usual, I can’t just let this end without saying anything. My raw reactions are in the same place as always, but I like to reflect a bit on how far we’ve come over the past year and a half together on this journey. When Friends started, it wasn’t as rough a change or adjustment as coming into Stars, having been with the same girls for three and a half years. There was more acceptance and optimism, rather than worry over perhaps having lost something. And even the first episode, with Aine and Mio meeting as if by fate, was happier than the confusing, bittersweet collapse of Yume in the nurse’s office. We knew from the start that this would be more about friendships and collaboration rather than rivalries and competition.

In exchange for drama and romance, we got to explore the nature of two strangers coming together and creating a force of friendship stronger than what either could make alone. Especially with the second season, competitions were put aside in exchange for repairing broken relationships, first between Hibiki and Alicia, then with Solvette and their circumstances, and finally with this episode. Even the climax of the season wasn’t something like the Diamond Friends Cup, but a collaboration of the Jeweling Festival to raise everyone up together. Maybe it’s just the times, but I think a message like that is exactly what we need to show what can be accomplished when everyone works together to create a miracle.

And although it only happened rarely, I and other friends my age I’ve talked to have really appreciated the episodes focusing on Tamaki, Chiharu, Ken, and Hariu. When Chiharu formed her brand as early as episode 4, I knew that Friends would be special in that regard. When Tamaki and Hariu began their rivalry when Reflect Moon entered the scene, it gave so much more character to both of them—and who could’ve expected that they would not only begin dating, but get married on screen as the finale of the entire series, with the town’s bells finally, finally being put to use as wedding bells? It’s hard to express just how much I now appreciate this careful treatment of the adults with their own host of issues separate from the girls. And I know that this encouragement for the adult fans of Aikatsu isn’t coincidental, as two scenes this episode prove: Hibiki (and by association Mirai, Karen, and Alicia) are at least 18 2̶0̶ (forgot the legal age of driving is younger than adulthood in Japan) years old, as they can drive, and there’s a line by Maika about the girls becoming adult idols who can support Tamaki in return for what she’s done to raise them. Once again, I can feel that the creators of Aikatsu don’t want viewers to just passively absorb the show, but to take its teachings as their own and go out into the world. We can’t all be middle or high school girls singing and dancing as idols, but we can find someone special to us, and maybe one day become Friends through marriage.

It’s been seven years, but I’m not ready to stop anytime soon. In less than a month I’ll be moving to Japan for half a year for my research, but that won’t interfere with the subs of Aikatsu at all. Whatever may come, I’ll still be here, making sure that Aikatsu love is continued to be spread around the world. I hope you will be too. See you for Parade.

Aikatsu Friends! – 072

Seeing the same view as you

What Karen and Mirai do this episode touches me on a deep level as the ideal of a relationship between two people. Even if the A plot of the episode was literally identical to a previous one beat for beat, the B plot of these two more than makes up for it. Karen’s ethos and dreams are what I strive for. Plus, she wears the cutest earrings later in the episode.

Episode 072: Torrent | Magnet

Aikatsu Friends! – 071

They’re watching the greatest love story of all time

I want to post the image of the love story, but I also want you to see it for yourself! And also these hexagonal glasses are nice too. But really, it looks like Dream Academy is finally back after all this time, and someone is pulling an Ichigo to attend it. There’s just so much good and emotional about this, and I leave it to you to enjoy. I also skipped subbing the announcement sign right in the middle of the episode—all it says is that Aikatsu on Parade will be airing Saturdays instead of Thursdays, so you should probably expect the release date of subs to move back a little bit as well.

Episode 071: Torrent | Magnet

Aikatsu Friends! – 070

I can’t post 95% of my screenshots because I want you to enjoy it for yourself

What could I possibly say? Everything was for this moment. There were some very strong vibes from a certain line Mizuki once said (more on that in my usual weekly thoughts), and I felt that this episode reached levels just as high. This performance shook my core, and I hope I was able to do it justice.

Episode 070: Torrent | Magnet

By the way, you may have seen the Important Announcement video released yesterday (if not, you can watch it at this link). I may sub it real quick for posterity, but not today. I’ve been recovering from a cold all week and I’m still not quite there yet. And before anyone asks (and I know people still will), the answer is yes, we are.

Aikatsu Friends! – 069

Oh gosh Karen is the prettiest and they all have amazing hair

100% perfect vacation episode making use of every last second for it, and wasting no time on anything else. No worrying about setup or dealing with the overarching plotline for later, this was devoted entirely to beachkatsu and nothing else. There’s also a bit of an unexpected surprise at the end, so don’t skip through anything. We’ll have more info on that next week.

Episode 069: Torrent | Magnet

Aikatsu Friends! – 068

How much will racing wear actually sell?

Karen Island! And that can mean only one thing! We got some old Friends back, we got some crazy Aikatsu, and we got a glimpse of the true power of chaos control. This just makes me want to see an Aikatsu and Two Car crossover. I don’t want to give anything away, but from start to finish there’s something worth seeing. Not to mention next episode as well, perfect for this heat.

Episode 068: Torrent | Magnet

Aikatsu Friends! – 067

I want this merch

The buildup to the finale was so naturally included that I didn’t even realize what was happening, and it made it that much more touching and impactful. And for long-time viewers of Aikatsu, you may also recognize the kind of idol that Mirai seems to want to make, one who can, as they say, produce herself, if you catch my drift. So awesome.

This week is unexpectedly last minute because I had to spend the entire weekend and more in DC for a conference, but I did sneak away for long enough to see some cosplay at Otakon. I hope some people were there representing Aikatsu in my absence.

Episode 067: Torrent | Magnet