Year 2013 has been an interesting year of Titans devouring humans, vampiric mecha soldiers and handsome bishonen boys taking over the pool. But if you want to shake up your anime palette just a little bit, Miss Monochrome (2013) is the perfect anime for you.
Directed by Yoshiaki Iwasaki, Miss Monochrome is an idol series revolving around the daily life of android Miss Monochrome and her dream of becoming a pop idol. Inspired by the most popular and beautiful popstar Kikuko — based on real-life popstar and voice actress Kikuko Inoue (Oh! My Goddess, Hunter x Hunter, Claymore, Chobits) — Miss Monochrome believes she can become a famous idol herself just so she can meet Kikuko someday.
After losing her 19.3 billion fortune, Miss Monochrome somehow stumbles upon Manager Maneo and makes him her manager. Little did she know, that Manager Maneo is in fact just an ordinary manager of a convenience store.
Miss Monochrome is cute, mysterious, futuristic and highly eccentric but first impressions of the android popstar would be critically harsh amongst anime viewers. With the long pigtails and the ‘kawaii’ look to the design of her character, Miss Monochrome shows strong resemblance to Vocaloid’s Miku, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see fans mixing her up with Vocaloid characters.
Voiced by popular Japanese singer and voice actress Yui Horie (Fruits Basket, Love Hina, Vampire Knight, Golden Time), the character ‘Miss Monochrome’ first appeared as a 3D virtual singer back in March 2012 at the concert ‘Horie Yui o Meguru Bōken III ~Secret Mission Tour’. Miss Monochrome’s popularity then rose, spawning her own merchandise and appearing in social games such as Girlfriend (Kari) and Girlfriend Beta. And finally …her own self-titled anime series.
True to her name, Miss Monochrome despises color and is only ever seen in shades of monochrome from head to toe. If you haven’t already guessed, Miss Monochrome isn’t your average idol popstar (wannabe).
She’s not exactly perky, upbeat, colourful nor can she dance or sing like an angel. Yet, the audience loves Miss Monochrome as she’s so determined to become an idol that everyone will love and admire — just the way she does for Kikuko. And because of her naivety, she is easily taken advantage by others, and it’s difficult not to pity Miss Monochrome for her misfortune throughout her journey.
But luckily for her, Manager Maneo wants Miss Monochrome to achieve her dreams as well, and does his best to book ‘gigs’ that is relevant for any idol. Whether it is having meet and greets and practicing idol moves with props, Miss Monochrome doesn’t complain and goes out of her way to do whatever it takes to be the #1 popstar in Japan.
The anime might seem incredibly entertaining but it is quite disheartening that Miss Monochrome episodes are only four minutes long which doesn’t leave any room for in-depth plot or character development. The audience, however, has accepted the anime’s formula and a majority of the fans are quite appreciative of the episodes and its respective content.
That doesn’t mean the show is all about gloomy entertainment though! In between the highs and lows, we see bizarre moments of Miss Monochrome defending Earth from aliens; wrestling against pros for the WWE title; entertaining kids as a ‘cosplayer’ at parties; and of course … Miss Monochrome meeting Kikuko in person for the first time.
At one point, the audience suspected that it was going to be one endless journey of disappointment — on a bittersweet note, that is. But as a fanservice treat, the producers of the show treated both the audience and Miss Monochrome an unexpected Christmas special.
Believe it or not, Manager Maneo somehow pulled strings to release Miss Monochrome’s debut single AND booking her to perform live in public. It’s as if the producers read our Christmas wishlist, and if this episode wasn’t enough, the best present Miss Monochrome received was — a fan — something she has always dreamed from the start. It was the perfect send off to wrap up the series, and the audience couldn’t be happier for Miss Monochrome and her ‘success’.
For an ‘idol’ series, the show only feature two songs: Kikuko’s “Endless Seventeen” (sung by Kikuko Inoue) and Miss Monochrome’s “Pokerface” (sung by Yui Horie). Both songs are rather catchy, and with unique 3D animation featured in Pokerface, it is guaranteed to have you humming and grooving along to the beat for sure.
Overall: Since there isn’t any Vocaloid anime, Miss Monochrome is considered a breakthrough for the idol genre in anime. It’s a little odd that the audience is always left feeling defeated and sympathetic for Miss Monochrome at the end of every episode. Is it weird to say we slightly enjoy the dark humour and harsh reality behind Miss Monochrome’s journey?
But thankfully, the show ended on a worthy note, and we definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more of Miss Monochrome’s wacky adventures on Earth. Maybe Miss Monochrome will one day become Kikuko’s biggest rival? We will never know…