published in Empire No.2008, Sydney
No tentacles. No explosions. No bodily explosions. No putrid spirits. Is Chance Pop Session worth your viewing time? I think so – but some justification may be needed. Essentially a girl-teen anime series based on 3 teen girls who join to become a ‘singing sensation’ and achieve their dream to sing before millions, Chance Pop Session also functions as an amazing insight to the mechanisms of the Japanese pop ‘idol’ industry for those interested in such a phenomenon.
But let’s be upfront with some disclosures. The trio of Akari, Nozomi and Yuki are as saccharine as they come, so even though they seem vaguely modelled on Destiny’s Child (in their most religious God-thanking guise), there’s not a glimmer of hip irony in these girls’ group called R3 (Resonance 3). And the hit song they sing – about three thousand times throughout the series – makes High Five sound hip, so viewers may run screaming before getting to the end. But viewed under a different light, the sweetness of Chance Pop Session takes on its own type of extremism in its unrelenting hold on the sickly essence of Pop Music.
R3’s career is masterminded by the darkly seductive Kisaragi Akiba – herself an ex-idol with a tragic past. She runs the Akiba Music School by mixing maternal instincts with a precise awareness of what makes good Pop music. True to the mythic energy of Pop Music, R3’s X-factor is a dormant cosmic ingredient which W senses. An unintentional pleasure in the series is witnessing how much discussion is accorded the girls attaining gradual consciousness of their vocal fusion while we audit the one banal song repeated endlessly. It’s a blissful kind of hell – one maybe best suited to those who take perverse pleasure in seeing just how far the mysteries of mass appeal govern an entertainment industry.