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by Isaiah Colbert,

i☆Ris the Movie -Full Energy!!-

Anime Film Review

i☆Ris the Movie -Full Energy!!- Anime Film Review
Prior to performing at yet another big concert venue in celebration of their 10th year as an idol group,i☆Ris are whisked away into a fantasy world where anything is possible through the power of song. The only problem is that its furry denizens have forgotten what music is and need the idol girls' help to remind them.

Admittedly, when I walked into Anime Central to review i☆Ris the Movie -Full Energy!!-, I envisioned the film as the typical fare of idol dancing via 3D models in dizzyingly pastel-rich environments with little to no story to chew on. While the movie is still very much all of the above, I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a full-blown isekai with the comedic styling of Space Jam (America's best isekai export, don't @ me).

i☆Ris the Movie -Full Energy!!- is a movie best described as having big Saturday morning cartoon energy when it comes to its catchy high notes and off-key attempt at deeper storytelling. Although the film sets itself up as a nuanced film seeing the girls come to grips with whether or not they can envision working as idols for another decade, the movie opts to hand wave away that theme for a cookie-cutter tale about the power of music, allowing you become anything you want to be…literally.

The film opens with the titular idols performing with great bravado in what's later revealed as an empty arena for their upcoming concert. When their crew praises them for yet another well-done performance, the glittery air practically leaves the room when somebody suggests the idols have another decade of work ahead of them. The weight of this offhand remark shakes the girls, teasing a tension echoed in idol anime like Oshi no Ko concerning the longevity of stars in the idol industry. Sadly, the movie doesn't make time to earnestly explore the emotions it so effectively sets up, and instead, it falls back on being yet another feel-good movie for the anime and real-life idol group's longtime fans.

Prior to the girl's big show, i☆Ris is spirited away into an isekai fantasy world inhabited by squirrels where they can transform into anything they want–be it a villainess, mermaid, the second coming of Oda Nobunaga, or a JoJo's Bizarre Adventure-inspired anime heroine. The internal conflict i☆Ris the Movie -Full Energy!!- established in the movie's early moments is supplanted with a safer point of friction that sees the girls rejuvenating the barren wastelands of the fantasy world and rekindling its furry denizen's love of music through the power of song.

While i☆Ris the Movie -Full Energy!!- is far from being a revolutionary piece of media story-wise with its neatly capitalistic messaging practically reaching through the screen to encourage fans to continue supporting the idol group for decades to come, it's by no means a boring movie. Like a parent jingling keys to captivate their child, i☆Ris the Movie -Full Energy!!- is allergic to any dead silence to sit for too long in its hour-long feature film. To prevent such an event from occurring, this exceedingly self-aware isekai film becomes a joke factory with its visual gags, shameless product placement shilling for canned cocktails, and blink-and-you'll-miss-it references to pop culture touchstones like Sailor Moon and Super Sentai warriors. Unlike the usage of its unintentionally offputting dancing 3D models, these madcap 2D animated stretches— which are on par with some of the off-model visual gags made famous by irreverent anime comedies like KONOSUBA—are where the movie actually sings. In fact, much of the film's comedic chops do a better job of endearing i☆Ris to the average moviegoer (i.e., myself) as down-to-earth relatable idols with a bit of an unhinged otaku hidden concealed their ruffled rompers better than the film's admittedly infrequent dance numbers.

Unfortunately, the film's joke-per-minute formula, coupled with its best efforts to be a fun-loving low-stakes adventure, also give it the fleeting nature of Saturday morning cartoons where its characters return to the normalcy of their lives with nothing having drastically changed or grown from the experience at all. While the film tries its best to bridge the gap by having its titular idols admit their decade-long climb came with its fair share of hardships, it only manages to do so through its string of jokes. For example, when the girls face adversity in the isekai world, be it swimming upstream, climbing the edge of a cliff, or dodging a bolt of lightning, they overcome said obstacles by reminding each other how much harder it was to get along with each other, study for exams during train commutes, or diet despite hating vegetables during the onset of their careers.

Given the nature of the film being a celebration of the group's decade-long music career, you would think the film would attempt to strike a more resonant chord to adversities the idol members faced in their careers that weren't solely allocated to a punchline.

That being said, my viewing of i☆Ris the Movie -Full Energy!!- was far from joyless thanks to the efforts of the diehard fans in attendance who broke out their glowsticks whenever i☆Ris started singing. Instead of distracting from the movie, it made the movie feel like a genuine interactive experience. It also inversely distracted me from fully focusing on how occasionally jarring it was to see i☆Ris and their squirrel friends' 3D models glide across the 2D background in the finale. My only wish was that the film's messaging didn't bookend itself with a platitude about sticking with what you do best, even if it might not be something you want to do for two decades of your life.

Overall : B
Story : C+
Animation : C
Art : C+
Music : A

+ A genuinely funny isekai movie whose jokes land more often than not at all.
The movie teases fans with a deeper story than it's equipped to deliver.

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Production Info:
Director: Hiroshi Ikehata
Screenplay: Hiroko Fukuda
Yukari Hashimoto
Ruka Kawada
Yayoi Sekimukai
Tetsuya Shitara
Character Design: Kazuyuki Ueda
Art Director: Asuka Komiyama
Chief Animation Director:
Ryotaro Takamura
Tsubasa Tanaka
3D Director: Yoshihiro Otobe
Sound Director: Yukio Nagasaki
Director of Photography: Kōjirō Hayashi

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i☆Ris the Movie -Full Energy!!- (movie)

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