It hasn’t escaped my attention that when there is a genre of anime that I’m not a fan of there’s always a “but”. For example: I’m not a fan of magic girl series but my top anime of all time is Puella Magi Madoka Magica; I’m not a big fan of mecha series but my #2 top anime of all time is Gurren Lagann; I’m not a big fan of shoujo series but my #3 top anime of all time is Natsume’s Book of Friends; I’m not a big fan of sports anime but I love Cross Game and Chihayafuru (also a shoujo series) to death and recommend them whenever I can. Another example is idol shows – I’m not a fan but my #4 anime of 2012 was AKB0048.
The takeaway from this is, obviously, never make a blanket statement about any type of genre and to keep one’s mind open to trying something new (even if the chances remain high of disliking something). This thought ran through my mind after I heard something about Locodol that tweaked my interest and so, with a big sigh, I queued up Locodol to give it’s shot.
Nanako is a normal high school girl who wants the money to buy a new swimsuit so she can attend the recently renovated Indoor Water Complex that’s opening up in her city. Money is tight and her mother vetoes the idea but promises to see if she can find an opportunity for her daughter to earn some money. The next day Nanako’s uncle shows up with the money on the condition that she does a small job for him. She agrees and belatedly finds out that her uncle is employed by the city and is in charge of the city’s efforts to revitalize itself. Her uncle’s latest idea is to form a local idol group to breathe some energy into their tired city and Nanako just agreed to join. 🙂
The Fine Print
I was born in Youngstown, Ohio.
I’m not old enough to remember it’s glory days when the steel mills ran and allowed the blue-collar workers who tended their fires to have the highest income per capita of any city in the United States. I never had the chance to visit Idora Park or a bustling downtown to shop in one of the many department stores or walk to one of the little family owned neighborhood shops that dotted the city. I am, however, old enough to witness the rot set in, killing the city from the inside out. I’ve seen all the valiant efforts, crazy ideas, and wishing that’s been done to turn the city around and I can’t help but feel a kinship with Locodol. I love my hometown and want to fight for it’s future using whatever means needed to see it come back because it’s worth it.
All this leaves me in a bit of a bind. I don’t normally have such a personal connection to an anime that it would cloud my judgment in regards to recommending it to someone else. Would someone not from an area like Youngstown find the gallows humor permeating Locodol as a sinking city tries yet another under-funded, half-cocked, crazy scheme to save itself funny. I don’t know.
I recognize it’s not a perfect series or even a very good series. Production of Locodol is being handled by Feel whose resume makes JC Staff look like animation gods and they continue their rein over mediocrity here. All the parts tied closest to Feel – the animation, animation style, and character designs – are all average at their best. Other parts like the direction and writing are at least a step above average. The vocal work by the seiyuu is definitely in the above average category and probably the best aspect to this series. I also like that it’s been light on the fan service so far. There’s been a little bit but nowhere near what I thought going into the show.
The main character, Nanako, is an effective and likeable main character. She’s not the best main character of the season but one can do much worse. I’d like to say that she was surrounded by several great supporting characters but that’d be a lie. This endeavor of creating a local idol group seems to have attracted several characters that I’d charitably call eccentric. I’m not going to fault the series for this, though; the way I see it, they’ve gone for realism. It seems to me that cities like those shown in Locodol have seen many of their best and brightest lured away to the big city (which is one of the problems they have to address before they can come back).
Obviously I can’t give a straight recommendation of this one; if what I’ve wrote makes you interesting in Locodol then give it a chance or if it hasn’t then it’s probably safe to skip it.
Rating for episodes 1 to 4 – 9/12 A-
Animation: 2.5/5 – Average
Anticipation Level: 3.5/5 – Medium