The town of Nagarekawa is struggling to attract tourists from around Japan. Thus, the city council decided to implement their own local idols or “Locodols” to promote their town. Nanako Usami is an ordinary high school. One day, her uncle, a member of the city government, approached Nanako to become a Locodol representing Nagarekawa. From there, she pairs up with Yukari Kohinata to form the Nagarekawa Girls as they try to promote their hometown to the whole nation.
I am a sucker for idol shows. I watched both the Idolm@ster and Love Live anime series and really enjoyed them. The dancing. The songs. The outfits. It is just so addicting. Then, there is Locodol. Short for Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol Yattemita, this show is different from the other idol series. While other franchises like Idolmaster and Love Live are filled with elaborate and complex routines and songs, Locodol focuses more on the simpler aspects without all of this needed complexities, and that is good. It is a sweet slice-of-life show that will make you smile about the simpler aspects of life.
Part of what makes Locodol a good show is the characters. Growing up, Nanako has always wanted to be an idol. However, she is just about average in every category. She complains a lot and tends to have little self-confidence. Nonetheless, she always seems to have the best interests of her hometown. She constantly worries about wanting to give a good impression of her hometown during live and recorded segments of the local attractions. Her skill in improvising during some of these segments really helps provide a fresh air of entertainment. Her partner Yukari, on the other hand, is a more refined person with a bit of an airheaded streak about her. Her interactions with Nanako have a strong yuri flair, which provide a great sense of bonding between the two girls.
In addition to the two girls of the Nagarekawa Girls, there is the mascot Uogokoro-kun. At first glance, he may seem unappealing and uninspiring, but he actually has a cute to him. What makes him stand is his ability to do standing backflips to provide entertainment to the audience. The two girls playing Uogokoro-kun, Yui and Mirai, complement each other very well. Yui, the first girl to play Uogoro-kun, is energetic and somewhat shy, but when she gets into costume, she can entertain the crowd with her astounding athleticism. Mirai, who was brought on later to help ease the load of Uogoro-kun’s increasing public appearances, is a quiet girl lacking in self-confidence, just like Nanako in the beginning. She, however, contributes to the group with her attention to detail, which is especially apparent during a scene where Mirai notices a kid peeking backstage where Yui was about to take off her costume and managing to stop her in time. The other two characters who act as the idol group’s managers, Mitsugu (Nanako’s uncle) and Saori don’t really add anything to the series. Mitsugu feels a little incompetent at the beginning, giving the girls little prep time before their appearances. Plus, he has a creepy vibe about him, especially since we never see his eyes. Saori, who takes over for Mitsugu later on, might seem to be a reasonable and more competent person, but she’s actually an obsessive fangirl, who secretly takes pictures of the girls and post them on her website. It’s strange and borderline invasive.
The slice-of life sections are nice and fun to watch in between the girls’ appearances as Locodols. Ranging from school to amusement parks, we can see how the girls interact with each other. They are certainly fun to watch as we see their personalities stand out. The only real problem with this is that it can be slow-paced at times even so for a slice-of-life series. It feels like when an event is announced, it takes about a couple of episodes to actually get to the actual event. Patience is definitely needed for these sections.
The best part about Locodol is its personality. It doesn’t try to be the merchandise-driven franchises like IdolM@ster and Love Live (though, that can change depending on how popular this series is in Japan). It is simple and cute. While the other series mentioned have tons of songs that the idols perform, the Nagarekawa Girls have performed at most three songs throughout its run: the Nagarekawa town song, Uogokoro-kun’s theme, and the song that the girls wrote and developed at the end of the series. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It can get a little grating to hear Uogokoro-kun’s theme constantly throughout the entire middle section of the series, and the performances can sound like they were sung by average amateurs rather than nationally-recognized idols, but that’s okay. The spirit of this series lies in its simplicity. The girls don’t really want to be nationally recognized idols. They just want to show how great their hometown is and how their experience as Locodols shaped the way they are now. This aspect plays in perfect contrast to another Locodol group, the Awa Awa Girls. The Awa Awa Girls, who are voiced by actresses known for their idol roles (Asami Imai as “Chihaya Kisaragi” in IdolM@Ster, Emi Nitta as “Honoka Kosaka “ in Love Live, and Tomoyo Kurosawa as “Otome Arisugawa” in Aikatsu), are nationally recognized Locodols. However, during the Locodol festival at the end of the series, the Awa Awa Girls were selling significantly more of their idol merchandise and not any of their local products. The Nagarekawa Girls, on the other hand, were selling more of their local delicacies, despite barely having any idol-related merchandise. This really drives the point home of being a Locodol. Break it down the word “Locodol” into its two components “Local” and “Idol”. This series really emphasizes the local part, which is why the Awa Awa Girls were disappointed when their local products did not sell well at all. I like this theme, which provides a refreshing take on the idol genre.
Locodol is a good and fun series. It’s cute and refreshing. At points, it may seem a little slow, and the manager characters are not that interesting, but it is a solid show that makes you feel good and happy. It’s an enjoyable watch and a nice break from the other series of its genre. It’s definitely a good watch.
Rating: 7/10 (Good)