Aikatsu on Parade! is the fourth entry of Sunrise and Bandai’s Aikatsu franchise. It is a crossover featuring the characters from Aikatsu, Aikatsu Stars and Aikatsu Friends!. Taking centre stage, though, is rookie idol Raki Kiseki who dreams of creating her own Premium Rare Dress.
This is the first season of Aikatsu on Parade!, which consists of twenty-five episodes. It started airing on October 5th 2019, and ran through right until the end of the winter 2020 season of anime.
First, let me make this clear: I came into Aikatsu on Parade! having only watched both seasons of Aikatsu Friends!. That effectively meant I was coming into this season of a level playing field to Raki herself; she knows the Star Harmony Academy idols, but had never met the idols from the previous season of Aikatsu.The story of Aikatsu on Parade! focuses on Raki Kiseki, who is a second year middle school student who transfers into Star Harmony Academy to become an idol. Upon using the Aikatsu Pass she received from her older sister, Saya, doors to the other Aikatsu worlds open up.
Thus Raki’s journey to become an idol and achieve her dream of creating a Premium Rare Dress has her meeting all sorts of idols.As far as I am concerned, the story of Aikatsu on Parade! is something of a step down from that of the second season of Aikatsu Friends!. There’s no country in peril, mystical Jeweling Dresses to collect or lovers to reunite. No, the story is simply about Raki’s growth as an idol, and the influence past and present Aikatsu idols have on her.
Besides the whole linking of worlds, it does feel like Aikatsu has gone back to basics. Actually, there doesn’t seem to be a reason that all the different Aikatsu continuities can’t coexist in the same world, but that is something that Aikatsu on Parade! firmly establishes.
Having a more basic plot doesn’t make the show any less enjoyable, though.In essence, Aikatsu on Parade! is a pretty typical idol anime, as Raki has multiple obstacles to overcome on the path to achieving her dream. Of course, the crossover aspect gives it a bit more depth that it may have lacked, as Raki interacts with idols who have gone through all sorts of trials.
For me personally, I probably don’t hold much as appreciation for the crossover aspect as fans who have been watching Aikatsu since the beginning. Aikatsu on Parade! was my first experience meeting the Aikatsu and Aikatsu Stars idols, and I have to admit some of them didn’t exactly give me a great impression – for example, Elza Forte definitely came across as too harsh towards Raki. She seemed to settle down a bit as the season went on, but first impressions are important, and that wasn’t exactly a good one.Another sticking point for me is to do with a certain character: Saya Kiseki. I’ll start by saying I absolutely adore her, but my problem is that she didn’t get enough screen time. She is an Aikatsu engineer, and that presents what could be a fascinating side of Aikatsu. By tampering with Raki’s Aikatsu Pass, she is the one that sets the whole plot of Aikatsu on Parade! in motion. A major character, yet her appearances feel so few and far between.On a similar note, Aikatsu on Parade! had the chance to rectify one glaring error that both seasons of Aikatsu Friends! made: actually giving Coco a chance to perform. Alas, that wasn’t to be. We do get a scene of Ichigo Hoshimiya (CV: Sumire Morohoshi) interacting with Coco (CV: Sumire Morohoshi), but that’s about all Aikatsu on Parade! does to acknowledge Coco.When Aikatsu on Parade! first started airing, I wasn’t entirely too keen on the idea. The crossover aspect is fine, but it came at a time when Wakaba Harukaze (CV: Aira Rin) was a new idol. It felt a lot like Raki Kiseki (CV: Aira Rin) was replacing Wakaba at the time, but that turned out not to be the case. In case you haven’t picked up on it, yet, there are a couple of cases of actresses talking to themselves in this show.
Regarding Wakaba: she gets a favourable development at the end of Aikatsu on Parade!, right in the last episode. It doesn’t seem like we’ll be seeing much of that particular development in the next season, Aikatsu on Parade! Dream Story, though, as Wakaba doesn’t appear in promotional art for it… In fact, Raki is the only Star Harmony Academy present in said promotional art.
As I watched Aikatsu on Parade!, I became more and more invested in Raki Kiseki’s growth as an idol. I thought of her as a Wakaba clone to start with, but she came into her own and I actually started to care about her.
Admittedly I still consider Aikatsu Friends! the peak of Aikatsu, but Aikatsu on Parade! is still an enjoyable enough show. As I stated before, I probably don’t appreciate it as much as the Aikatsu fans who have been there since the beginning, but I do feel that those who have only watched Aikatsu Friends! can quite comfortably jump into watching this show.
The soundtrack is effectively a greatest hits of the Aikatsu franchise. There are some special collaborations as well, so that is one aspect of the crossover that really shines. The songs are nice, though I am biased towards the Aikatsu Friends! songs.
Raki managed to win me over on her journey to achieve her dreams, and the crossover aspect of Aikatsu on Parade! was played fairly well; idols from every season were able to contribute in their own ways.
When it comes down to it, the crossover aspect is nice, but Aikatsu on Parade! is just another idol anime. Not exactly spectacular, but nothing particularly terrible, either.