While looking for an iDOLM@STER image for my wallpaper I came across a bunch of new pictures featuring Dearly Stars idol Akizuki Ryo in strange situations such as her shaving and being at a pool topless in a pair of swimming trunks. Wondering if there was some new information that became meme fodder within the last week, I checked the official website and found my answer; a week ago on the iM@S Niconico Channel the first episode of Dearly Station was released as a four-part feature focusing mainly on Ryo.
Within 15 seconds of the first video it is revealed that Ryo is actually a boy. She is keeping it secret from both Ai and Eri and arrives early everyday to change her clothes, put on her pads and apply her make-up before they come; Ai and Eri hilariously comment that Ryo always looks perfect and that she must go through a lot of preparations. The three also go through a little skit when Ai discovers Ryo’s glasses and Ryo tries to feign ignorance while trying to get them back insisting that they belong to the President. I happen to like traps a good deal so now that I know Ryo’s secret my interest in her has grown considerably.
Part 2 features a demonstration of the vocal lessons and we get to see some more in depth gameplay footage. The vocal lessons are similar to the lyrics lessons in previous games. The player is shown one of the lines in a select song written entirely in kana for a brief period before it disappears only to reappear soon afterward with blank spots. The player uses the stylus to select the missing kana from the left side of the screen and place in the blanks. This is repeated six times and stats are increased based on performance. I imagine this could help some people inadvertently increase reading speed trying to get the best results.
The third part of Dearly Station episode 1 goes back to talking about Ryo with Sanpei Yuko giving a little information on Ryo’s story while DS gameplay is shown concurrently on the left side. Ryo is just taking it easy at school when a guy asks her to be his girlfriend. It takes a little bit for it to sink in but when she realizes she tells the guy that she’s a boy but the guy doesn’t care. This is when an interesting new feature is shown. It seems that by dragging the stylus back and forth across her face it is possible to make her shake her head and answer no. I think this is a really neat gameplay element and I wonder what other expressions can be used.
After making her shake her head Ryo promptly refuses and tells the guy that she has no interest in that kind of stuff. Coming to the realization that she has to do something about this she goes to 765 Production to get advice from her cousin Ritsuko. Ryo tells Ritsuko that she wants to become an idol somehow thinking it will solve her problems. Ritsuko replies the same way I would saying that’s impossible but ends up introducing her to 876 Production’s Manami anyway. They show up at the perfect time; an 876 idol who was supposed to perform can’t and Manami accepts Ryo as a substitute. Much to her dismay she is put into girl’s clothing and makes her debut as a female idol starting an idol adventure the complete opposite of what she actually wanted to accomplish. It’s this setup that truly makes me interested in her story and I can’t wait to see what hilarity will ensue.
The last video gives us a glimpse at what I am guessing is her image song Dazzling World. Although I can’t quite yet say Dazzling World tops some of my iM@S favorites like i or Kosmos, Cosmos I can say that I do like this song. The lyrics are really nice and the choreography is very cute especially whenever Ryo shakes her hips. It’s hard to judge given the low resolution but assuming that the footage is rendered in real-time I am a little impressed by Dearly Star’s capabilities. After seeing this I’m convinced that Namco Bandai needs to make a new Xbox 360 game featuring all 16 idols plus Kotori as part of their 2nd Vision project.
Though I was already excited about Dearly Stars I’m even more so now that I have gotten to know Ryo better. That said I think that after seeing more information revealed in regards to the other two idols ultimately Eri will probably still be my favorite being a hikikomori internet celebrity and all with Ai in second since she’s Haruka Version 2. Regardless of whoever ends up being my favorite I like all the new idols and as far as I am concerned I’ll enjoy playing through all 3 stories. I can’t wait for the next episode of Dearly Station and the chance to learn more about Dearly Stars.