Sendai-based company Green Leaves Entertainment is going out of business. All their talent has jumped ship. In a desperate attempt to save themselves, the company president sends manager Matsuda out to recruit for an idol group.
Wake Up, Girls: The Movie (known in Japan as The Seven Idols) was released a day before the premiere of the TV show and serves as an extended first episode of the series, introducing the characters, how they came together, and the main conflict that drives the series.
The main characters are as follow:
Mayu Shimada - a former center of the famous idol group I-1 Club until she mysteriously retired. Thinking of her former occupation tends to cause her distress. Her parents are divorced and she and her mother live with Mayu's grandparents. Mayu's mother is very distant from her. She is the girl who gets the most focus and development in the movie.
Airi Hayashida - a shy and timid girl, she is Mayu's friend. Because of her lack of talent, Airi is helped by Mayu through karaoke.
Minami Katayama - the second youngest of the group, Minami is a cheerful girl with a big appetite. She was recruited by President Tange after seeing her win a local folk song singing competition. She also sings at a local senior citizens home.
Yoshino "Yoppi" Nanase - Leader of the group, she was chosen for her experience in the entertainment industry.
Nanami Hisami - The youngest, she practices singing, acting, and piano to one day perform in Hikarizuka theater. She sees Wake Up, Girls as a step towards her dream.
Kaya Kikuma - the oldest. Frustrated with how she was treated at her part-time jobs, Kaya decided to join Wake Up, Girls on a whim. She, along with Yoppi, tend to serve as the big sister to the group and help keep the more energetic girls in line.
Miyu Okamoto - one of the older girls, she worked at a maid cafe before being scouted by Matsuda. Bubbly and a bit ditsy.
Kōhei Matsuda - Manager of Wake Up, Girls. Has a kind heart, but is timid and easily cowed by his boss (and the girls at times). Along with Mayu, Matsuda is one of the protagonists of the film. It is through his eyes the film's narrative follows.
Junko Tange - President of Green Leaves Entertainment. She is a brash and greedy person, constantly verbally abusing Matsuda.
Do you need to watch the movie to enjoy the show? Not really since the first episode of the series recaps the movie while picking up where it left off, though if you are a "must-start-from-the-very-beginning" type of person like me, then this is needed. If anything, I recommend watching this to see if you are interested in continuing to the series.
The movie is sub only. I found the voice work good, helped by the fact the main actresses are around the same ages as their characters, who they share their given names with.
Overall, I quite like the film. Clocking in at a little over 50 minutes, it's a brisk watch. I keep forgetting how short it is when I watch it and being disappointed when ends (good thing I have the show then). The ending itself can work as either stand-alone or as the beginning of the series. Really, my one complaint is how Matsuda and Mayu get the majority of the focus, though this is understandable because of time and the fact it's supposed to lead into the show.
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