Doesn’t matter if you’re black or white or rainbow-colored.
This is easily one of my favorite episodes of the new season, and only partially because it pays off a plotline that’s been building in the background for a while. Nino clearly has the markings of a main character – that hair color wouldn’t go to some scene-filler background role – but despite how much she kept getting involved with Lala and Yui’s hijinks, kept denying the chance to do it. From her perspective, it’s understandable, given how girls doing PriPara has been seen as uncool – or not even allowed – in their town, and she’s so busy with the various school sports teams that wedging in some time to be an idol seems extremely unlikely.
Or would’ve, had it not been for a certain passing-through go player. Shion, still using her Totally Not A Switch from near the end of S3, shows up when Paparajuku is having a shopping district promotion day, complete with all sorts of fun events. No go, but Shion appears before Nino during a karuta game. It’s not until later that Nino finds out that there are more kinds of idols out there besides “cute,” but she realized then that Shion could serve as her inspiration and maybe give this a shot.
The paintball game sequence was fun. It wasn’t super over the top, but it still made good use of the current cast. And it was a story event that took place outside of PriPara. After season 2 and especially season 3 of the original series slowly removed the school elements, having the outside world impact the city-state of idols again is a nice touch. And may be part of why the showrunners and Moriwaki did a soft reboot in the first place.
Then – the moment of truth. Nino steps into PriPara and finds a brand, Neon Drop, that fits her sporty style. (Why does she need two bandages on her leg? That’s a weird fashion statement.) She also gets her mascot, a little mouse named Chuppe. (Voiced by Mirei’s Yu Serizawa. i☆Ris is still getting paid here, even for making squeaky noises.)
I tend to prefer the cool songs to the cute ones, and Nino delivers on that front. Her song, “Acha Kocha Game” is done in the style of a sports anthem, and the baseball-themed outfit she was wearing during it was nicely designed as well. I mostly think of You Taichi as Sayo from Love Lab, so a performance like this is far removed from that. Her voice sounds more like Maaya Uchida’s Hajime. (Though Uchida already was an idol in this franchise…) A nice mix of cute and hot blooded, and her video game themed Making Drama was retro arcade cool. These kinds of high-energy songs are one of my favorite parts of idol shows.
And to top it off, the episode ended with a cameo from the West siblings. Their lives haven’t changed much since they got second place in the Divine Grand Prix. Still making monja, still close to each other, life goes on. Though they were annoyed that Shion went off on a journey for the duration of this episode. I’m sure there’s another PriPara in need of their assistance somewhere.
The introduction of a new idol, combined with a really nice new song, makes this episode one of my favorites of the new run. Here’s to more Nino in the weeks to come.
The first Grand Prix draws closer and Nino has a softball game she needs to be at.