Tokyo Game Show 2010

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Tokyo Game Show 2010 was an event that was held at Namco Bandai's booth on September 18, 2010 at Pacifico Live in Tokyo exchange to promote the release of THE iDOLM@STER 2. Respresented by the subtitle 765 Productions 2010 Pep Rally (765プロ2010年度決起集会 765 Pro 2010-nendo Kekki Shuukai?), Azumi Asakura, Yumi Hara, Manami Numakura, Naomi Wakabayashi, and Asami Shimoda all appeared at this event to show their new roles within the franchise.

New Information

Several new pieces of content were revealed or confirmed at this event, as well as the loss of certain features from previous games. This included the following:

  • New voice actors for Yukiho Hagiwara and President Takagi
    • This would also show that Takagi himself was replaced by his cousin
  • The character reveals for the members of Jupiter and their song "Alice or Guilty"
    • Touma Amagase
    • Hokuto Ijuuin
    • Shouta Mitarai
  • The "New Year Live" concert announcement
  • The inability to produce Ryuuguu Komachi
  • The MASTER ARTIST 2 Competition
  • The ability to have 5 idols stand onstage at the same time.

Set List

01. THE IDOLM@STER 2nd-mix (performed by: Azumi Asakura, Yumi Hara and Manami Numakura)
02. New Voice for Takagi revealed
03. SMOKY THRILL (performed by: Naomi Wakabayashi and Asami Shimoda)
04. GamiP Introduction
05. Gameplay of Mami Futami, Haruka Amami and Hibiki Ganaha vs. Ryuuguu Komachi / (The world is all one!! vs. SMOKY THRILL)
06. Jupiter Reveal by Kuroi
07. New Year Live (tentative name) Announcement
08. MASTER ARTIST 2 Competition
09. Ryuuguu Komachi officially unable to be produced announcement
10. The world is all one!! (performed by: Azumi Asakura, Yumi Hara, Manami Numakura, Naomi Wakabayashi and Asami Shimoda)

9.18 Incident

Given the fan name 9.18 Incident (9・18事件 9・18 Jiken?), the "Pep Rally" gave birth to an onslaught of hatred for the new direction of THE iDOLM@STER community.

Reception During and Directly After 9.18

Unfortunately, the event as a whole had a largely negative reception. As the event was airing, several members in the audience would later say that the venue felt rather frozen and discomforting and that they found it surprisingly hard to cheer on the voice actresses. After he announced that Ryuuguu Komachi would be unplayable, Youzou Sakigami quickly left the stage. This was considered a cowardly action by fans due to the fact that he left the voice actresses onstage to take the bad fan reactions by themselves.

Notably, the feelings of one of the performers has never been officially commented on, despite every other performer and staff member having either blog posts or later interviews on the concert. Naomi Wakabayashi, a long time supporter and promoter of the series, was clearly on the verge of tears according to both attendees and official articles alike. Known for her enthusiasm for THE IDOLM@STER and significant contributions (including both in game themes and event choreography), her emotional state was worrisome enough that during the Ryuuguu Komachi announcement portion of the event, a voice declared that "[Wakabayshi-san] should go and wait behind the scenes" as she started trembling. The true meaning of her tears is still unclear, but it is a very common theory that the pure number of changes to the franchise gave her an unsettling feeling.

It has been pointed out that even though the phrase, "iMAS desu yo, iMAS!" was announced as usual, there was no usual cry for an encore. In the games, when idols did not keep up the audiences' satisfaction, an encore will not occur. This is thought to be a direct parallel to the event and would be the first larger scale event in THE iDOLM@STER's history where there was absolutely no cry for an encore. Interestingly, the "pep rally" also seemed to have expected this, as the stage lights could be seen been lowering as soon as the voice actresses left the stage, as if the crew was getting ready to change the stage for the next event. Video for the stage lights and silent fans can be seen here.

Jupiter

The sheer loss of characters and the introduction of more male idols caused a severe reaction alone by fans. During the reveal for Jupiter, the audience went practically silent and the amount of glow sticks quickly diminished after the boys appeared on screen. While it had been known that Kuroi had plans for THE iDOLM@STER 2, the fact that blatantly male idols would be joining the cast threw the online community into an uproar. Citing that THE IDOLM@STER series was a "GYARUGE", a genre similar to dating simulations in which all of the characters are usually female and any other male characters are considered romantic rivals, many players considered the addition of Jupiter to be an attack on the fanbase. It was common for fans to slander the new voice actors, and some fans were even quick to say that the game would take a netorare setting. The character Ryo Akizuki also was treated poorly around this time, as he was considered to be the root of the idea for future male idols.

Ryuuguu Komachi

Several problematic pieces of content revolved around the fact that Ryuuguu Komachi members could no longer be produced. Much like how the inability to produce the idol Miki Hoshii during THE iDOLM@STER SPs run was not well received, THE iDOLM@STER 2's lack of four characters caused a gigantic uproar. Supporters of the series were angry that four characters they followed for over five years from the original arcade game could be removed so easily. This decision also severely limited the possible units people wanted to produce, including long time favorites since the arcade series, such as ACM and HYR.

The fact that the first two promotional videos for the game showed all of the girls dancing together and now were revealed to be separate was considered to be a slap in the face. While the event was supposed to be a pep rally, fans and even articles on Famitsu were quick to say otherwise. Even the director of the game, Akihiro Ishihara, later said in an interview, "Anyway, it wasn't a secret that I was hated for this. I should have taken into account the atmosphere we created before we "kidnapped" some of the idols. This misuse of information and the accidental reversal of the meaning makes me feel guilty."

MASTER ARTIST 2 Announcement

When the MASTER ARTIST CD series was announced, the company said that only the playable nine idols would be receiving character CDs. In addition to this, these nine idols would be split into three units.

  • Unit A: Haruka Amami, Hibiki Ganaha and Miki Hoshii
  • Unit B: Chihaya Kisaragi, Makoto Kikuchi and Takane Shijou
  • Unit C: Yayoi Takatsuki, Yukiho Hagiwara and Mami Futami

It was announced that these three units would be competing via their character CD sales to get the opportunity to sing in a new unit CD, THE IDOLM@STER 2 "The world is all one!!". The way this competition would be structured would follow the very controversial AKB Commercial Code, a term purchasers used to describe the following: In the j-pop group AKB48, the girls compete for sales numbers. Whoever garners the largest fandom via their sales numbers will be chosen to sing in a new group song. This code causes a large amount of fighting between members of the fan community, as each supporter has their own girls that they want to support. The fact that Namco Bandai was using this competition as a usage to boost sales was noted by fans to being directly against what THE iDOLM@STER 2 was supposed to be about: unity.

Despite being labeled "FIRST SEASON", it was initially announced that Iori Minase, Ami Futami, Azusa Miura and Ritsuko Akizuki would not be receiving MASTER ARTIST 2 CDs and none of them could be voted for to sing on the upcoming CD. In fact, it wasn't until the overwhelming fan outcry for these characters that "SECOND SEASON" was considered. Many fans see this as an attack against not only the fans, but portions of the staff as well. To try and remedy this, the voting ballot later added three units.

  • Unit D: Iori Minase, Ami Futami and Azusa Miura
  • Unit E: Ritsuko Akizuki, Kotori Otonashi, and Producer (the player)
  • Unit F: All of 765 Production (Units A, B, C, D, E)

Once the votes were in, the soundtrack was shown to the public.

01. Haruka Amami, Hibiki Ganaha and Miki Hoshii (Unit A)
02. Makoto Kikuchi, Chihaya Kisaragi and Takane Shijou (Unit B)
03. Yukiho Hagiwara, Mami Futami and Yayoi Takatsuki (Unit C)
04. Iori Minase, Azusa Miura, Ami Futami and Ritsuko Akizuki (Unit D + Ritsuko Akizuki)
05. 765PRO ALLSTARS (Units A, B, C, D, E + Ritsuko Akizuki and Kotori Otonashi)
06. Karaoke
07. Bonus Track: 765PRO ALLSTARS With Everyone (Unit F: Live Appearances of the Voice Actresses + Live Participant Producers)

Events after 9.18

The unfortunate situation continued after September 18, and actually managed to get worse. The day directly after included events that many fans considered outright assaults. NicoNicoDouga even took off "THE IDOLM@STER" tag on it's video service on September 19th, effectively removing the series from the website's "Big Three".

Famitsu Magazine Release

As if to rub salt in the wounds of fans, a Famitsu article specifying the details of the event was published the day after the event. Included were facts that many fans were unwilling to accept.

  • The members of Ryuuguu Komachi were confirmed to be NPC's within the game.
  • Online Gameplay was removed from this game.
    • As a feature from the original arcade games, some fans didn't even understand how to play the game without some form of online activity.
  • There was opposition from the staff to include Jupiter, but they were admittedly forced into adding them.
    • In addition to this, the voice actors of Jupiter were notified of the performance anxiety they would be put through for performing with the already voiced cast.
    • Jupiter's possible inclusion in the "New Year Live" lead many to believe that it would cause problems during live events.

THE iDOLM@STER STATION!!!

On September 19, Touma Amagase and his voice actor appeared on the 60th broadcast of THE iDOLM@STER STATION!!!. The two following broadcasts would be followed by Hokuto Ijuuin, Shouta Mitarai and their respective voice actors as well. This was met with mostly negative reactions. A comment made by Asami Imai as Chihaya Kisaragi stating that she felt "a storm coming" was taken as a reference to the extreme backlash. The script for the broadcasts did not help the matter, as they wrote the boys as being rude to the girls. However, many fans saw this as rude on the voice actors' part, causing the seven radio personalities to fall under harsh criticism. Asami Imai, Azumi Asakura, Manami Numakura, Yumi Hara, Takuma Terashima, Daichi Kanbara, and Yoshitsugu Matsuoka all were scrutinized and their radio pages were vandalized.

Danketsu 2010 Version

Several fans were uncomfortable with the changes made to original Danketsu song. While some idol's lines changed, several stayed the same. This led many to believe that some idols had not grown since their initial release. The fact that Takane's lines were basically nonexistent also rubbed several fans the wrong way. Instead of coming off as mysterious, her lack of lines were viewed by fans as if Namco Bandai had no vision for the character and that her storyline would be written with nothing truly thought through.

Contradictions to THE iDOLM@STER 2 were also received poorly. The fact that Ryuuguu Komachi wasn't grouped together or at least mentioned to be a unit was viewed as the company trying to keep a false sense of unity, despite the fact that the four of them had their parts severely diminished. In addition, the last chorus was seen as poorly thought out, as THE iDOLM@STER 2 emphasizes asking the leader's opinion as opposed to the unit as a whole. Ami, Mami, Miki and Ritsuko also refer to the song's Producer as "Nii-chan", "Honey", and "Producer". Since they all called him this at different points in their storylines, the song was seen as inaccurate and contradicting the timeline of THE iDOLM@STER 2.

Akihiro Ishihara was also the lyricist for the song, causing Danketsu to quickly come into the line of fire.

Second Vision and Dearly Stars

While it was expected that the game would shift to focus back onto 765 Production, there was a notable lacking of the characters that started Second Vision. Any information on the inclusion of the characters introduced in Dearly Stars was nonexistent. The only updates received were the publications of their manga series, and it was largely thought that the outright ignorance of their past was an attempt to break from Dearly Stars poor sales. Eventually DLC on the PS3 port of the game would include the trio, but even that was considered distressing as it meant that seven playable characters from the previous two games would only return as NPCs for the Xbox 360 port.

Interestingly, the initial bad sales of THE iDOLM@STER 2 lead to a reevaluation of Dearly Stars. This reevaluation lead to the trio gaining popularity on NicoNicoDouga and in Novelm@ster videos.

Youzou Sakagami's Response

An internet petition was made to rework THE iDOLM@STER 2 into dropping the male characters from the game and replacing them with the members of Ryuuguu Komachi. Instead, they were met with this statement by Youzou Sakagami when they turned in the petition.

"I have received many opinions in regards to THE iDOLM@STER 2. The four members of Ryuuguu Komachi, Ritsuko, Iori, Azusa and Ami, are fellow members of 765 Production and while they appear as emerging rivals, they are still part of the future of THE iDOLM@STER. They have always been idols of 765 Production and will continue to do so, as their activities with 765 Production do not change. Please be assured of this. We are aware that male idols have upset several producers. We have talked long about the in-house pros and cons. However, despite this "upsetting feeling" these producers have, we must unite as producers and idols to grow our forces and deepen our ties through the power we have together. We are confident in this and in the future of THE iDOLM@STER. We have often thought that we will and have left the best of past works within future games in order to create a familiar feeling as we move to the next, newer game. Like a road, we must continue together moving step by step, by step. (Also, I too am very disappointed that online battle play cannot function in the Xbox 360 edition.)"

Response letter to fans

New Year Live Event

While the initial announcement for THE IDOLM@STER 2 765pro H@PPINESS NEW YE@R P@RTY!! 2011 LIVE was horrendous, the fanbase warmed up to the idea and were soon looking forward to once again cheering on their voice actresses. However, the timing of the announcement led many to believe that the voice actors for Jupiter were to make an appearance. It was also uncovered that a company outside of Columbia had been preparing to release more "Jupiter" CD's, much like Million Live's LIVE THE@TER PERFORMANCE CD's. This idea was met with much opposition, and in the end the unit only appeared in a new screenshot in the brochure for the event and their future CD's were cancelled. Nevertheless, Jupiter would eventually have their own CDs released by Lantis under THE iDOLM@STER: SideM franchise five years later. The brochure also contained an interview with Akihiro Ishihara which included a "P.S." section at the bottom of the page.

"P.S. Though we usually move straight ahead in full force, occasionally, we appear to have failed despite being created as an act of love. Please forgive us for this and continue to follow us in the future. Times don't seem like they'll ever be kind to ● ● and ● ● and ● ● and also. Because of these projects, everything seems to have stopped. やめ くぁwせdrftgyふじこlp"

THE IDOLM@STER 2 765pro H@PPINESS NEW YE@R P@RTY!! 2011 Brochure

"くぁwせdrftgyふじこlp", obtained by pressing keyboard keys in an alternate manner, is a Japanese internet meme which has a connotation that refers to a frustrated scream to be used in a humorous situation. Akihiro Ishihara's lack of seriousness in this response frustrated fans and they saw this as if he learned nothing from the bad press the game received. Some fans took the censor dots to represent two of the worst received additions to the franchise, Dearly Stars and Jupiter. Because the meme in the article was seen in the background of Mami Futami's entry in the brochure, it was also believed that she was represented by the third set of dots.

Despite the problems that the initial announcement of THE iDOLM@STER 2 created, this event managed to turn the ideology of fans away from the negative views of the game and towards a new future that would help ease the pain of the series arduous past. After all fans had to cling to was THE iDOLM@STER Live For You! OVA to get a somewhat faithful animated experience of the series (or at least, more faithful than the critically panned Idolmaster: XENOGOSSIA), the announcement for a new anime based solely on the video game series was accepted with glowing colors. The PV for THE iDOLM@STER (anime) was slightly confusing for fans, as the idols retained their Second Vision hairstyles, but Azusa Miura was clearly sporting her First Vision design. Even still, it was widely praised that the series would be receiving something fans had been asking about for years.

THE iDOLM@STER 2 Release

At the Tokyo Game Show event, the game was announced to be released on February 24, 2011. At the same time, preorder benefits, package illustrations, and future game systems were being decided. This included several illustrations of 765 idols in either their Vital Sunflower costumes or their Palace of Dragon costumes. Initially, it was considered that the costumes differed by the idol (like the LUXURY costumes featured in other artwork), but the idols in the "Palace of Dragon" costumes were later revealed to be the members of Ryuuguu Komachi. Unfortunately, Ritsuko was in neither costume, and her role being depreciated was the first to be found out.

When the game was finally released, it was found to have some problems fans were outraged with. These would include the following:

  • While digging through the game's files, hackers found the actual amounts of how much file space the idols' voices took up. The amount of recorded lines for the Ryuuguu Komachi members compared to the other members of 765 Production upset several fans by this fact alone.
  • Akihiro Ishihara was not only the director for THE iDOLM@STER 2 but was also the only scenario writer for the game.
  • The forced fight against Ryuuguu Komachi, their subsequent loss against the unit Jupiter, as well as their inability to have the possibility of being chosen for the Idol Academy Awards was met with anguish from Producers who had used the quartet in previous games. In addition, the implication that one member of Jupiter (specifically Touma Amagase) was stronger than all three members of Ryuuguu Komachi combined and the Producer's unit did not help the situation. It only made matters worse that the other members of Jupiter appeared only after the forty first week, while the game only lasted for fifty five weeks.
  • THE iDOLM@STER SP 's Free Play option is unavailable.
  • Without DLC, the game has 15 songs available in Stage For You!, with two being unlockable. The only games with less songs are the initial Arcade release of THE iDOLM@STER and Dearly Stars. Even worse, only four of these songs are quintet songs and only four more were available via downloadable content for the Xbox 360.
  • The many camera and vocal options in previous games are severely limited in this title. While the lack of camera angles was seen as not too much of a problem, the inability to change which idol sung what line was considered "a deterioration from THE iDOLM@STER Live For You!."