- 1. Love Live! School Idol Project
- 2. IDOLiSH7
- 3. The iDOLM@STER
- 4. Uta no Prince Sama
- 5. Wake Up, Girls!
- 6. White Album
- 7. Perfect Blue
- 8. Zombieland Saga
- 9. Ensemble Stars!
- 10. Searching for the Full Moon
- 11. If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die (OshiBudo)
- 12. No-Rin
- 13. 22/7
- 14. Dropout Idol Fruit Tart
- 15. Wanna Be the Strongest in the World
1. Love Live! School Idol Project
Love Live! School Idol Project is a Japanese multimedia project co-developed by ASCII Media Works’ Dengeki G’s Magazine, music label Lantis, and animation studio Sunrise.
Otonokizaka High School is in a crisis! With the number of enrolling students dropping lower and lower every year, the school is set to shut down after its current first year’s graduation. However, second-year Honoka Kousaka refuses to let it go without a fight. Searching for a solution, she comes across the popular school idol group A-RISE and sets out to create a school idol group of her own. With the help of her childhood friends Umi Sonoda and Kotori Minami, Honoka forms μ’s (pronounced “muse”) to boost awareness and popularity of her school.
Hope. Desires. Goals. Perseverance. Friendship. Love. Music. The girls of the school idol group Muse share all of these wonderful things as they give it their all to be a part of the most popular event for high school idol groups: Love Live!
- In 2014, Love Live! won the Anime Work Award in the 19th Animation Kobe Awards, an annual anime event in Kobe, Japan
- Love Live! was ranked No. 1 among the top-selling media franchises in Japan for 2016 and ranked No. 4 in 2015
- The “Hit or Miss” (2018) Internet meme originates from a TikTok video featuring a cosplay of Nico Yazawa
IDOLiSH7 is based on a Japanese rhythm game published under Bandai Namco Online. Idolish7 has spawned several manga adaptations and novelizations.
On her first day of work at her father’s small production agency, Tsumugi Takanashi was not expecting to be made the manager of the agency’s new male idol group. Though shocked that her father is trusting her with such a major project so soon, Tsumugi vows to do everything she can to support the seven young boys.
This anime came with many controversies over plagiarism (which later was proven false), so you may notice many similarities with animes such as THE IDOLM@ASTER & Uta no Prince-sama.
- A well-done “reverse harem” concept
- Great soundtrack. If you don’t find yourself humming along to the songs, they’ll usually end up stuck in your head later
- There is no way you will not love every single one of these characters. Sure, you’ll have favourites, but even characters you start off disliking will worm their way into your heart
3. The iDOLM@STER
The iDOLM@STER follows the story of 765 productions, a small-time idol agency and their road to stardom and success. This series comes with many seasons, movies, video games, specials, and much more to fill your idol-loving needs.
765 Production Studio manages the unique talents of 13 professional idols as they slowly make their way to the top and become country-wide celebrities. But the girls’ journey is far from just fun and games: hard work, sweat, and tears are some of the prerequisites needed to flourish in this industry—and for 765 Pro, in particular, a watchful eye out for their rival, the infamous 961 Production.
The iDOLM@STER is a grand step for the idol anime community in not only boosting the genre’s popularity but also leading to more marketing opportunities with other companies as well. This anime would fit you if you’re into light-hearted comedy and cute anime girls.
- The Xbox 360 port of The iDOLM@STER was awarded the special prize at the 2007 Japan Game Awards partially for its unique take on raising simulation games at the time
- This anime gets cameos a lot in other forms of media such as video games, promotions, campaigns, etc…
- As the series progressed, the improved realism in the idol’s expressions, movements and manner of speaking was praised
4. Uta no Prince Sama
Uta no Prince-Sama has also been linked to the Odagiri effect, as seen in the later anime series where Haruka’s role has been increasingly diminished in favour of the relationships between the male characters. This series comes with many seasons, movies, video games, specials, and much more to fill your male idol-loving needs.
Haruka Nanami, an aspiring composer from the countryside, longs to write music for her beloved idol, Hayato Ichinose. Determined to accomplish this goal, she enrolls in Saotome Academy, a highly regarded vocational school for the performing arts.
- Part of its wide appeal comes from Twitter accounts run by the characters, where fans are able to be updated on the characters’ music and merchandise activities, and are in turn treated like real-life celebrities
- The anime has won 2 awards while the voice actors won 2 awards as well
- Produced by A-1 pictures, you know you’re in for a visual spectacle
5. Wake Up, Girls!
Wake Up, Girls! is an anime series produced by Ordet and Tatsunoko Production and directed by Yutaka Yamamoto. Avex and 81 Produce held open auditions for the voice actresses who would voice and sing as the Wake Up, Girls! idol group and over 2000 candidates auditioned. The anime served as the V.A. debut for the seven eventual winners. In addition, the winners all shared their given names with the character they voiced.
On Christmas 2013, the band Wake Up, Girls plays their debut song to a small audience without much fanfare. After the concert, the group’s manager takes off with the money, leaving Green Leaves Entertainment on the verge of closure and the band without a future.
This anime’s creativity is off the charts, you will definitely be blown away by each episode and the talent of the author.
- Wake Up, Girls! was also the name of a voice acting unit composed of the seven main voice actresses from 2014 to 2019
- Wake Up, Girls! was announced by the production company Avex Entertainment, who helmed the series in collaboration with director Yutaka Yamamoto and voice talent agency 81 Produce
- Every SINGLE one of the 7 main characters is a completely new voice talent. For all of them, this is their first major role. The one with the most experience is being trained as an announcer in another anime before this gig
6. White Album
White Album has also received an anime adaptation based on the visual novel. The anime series, produced by Seven Arcs, directed by Akira Yoshimura and written by Hiroaki Sato, is broadcast in two sets of thirteen episodes
Can a relationship between a regular college student and an idol singer survive? That is the question that White Album tries to answer. Touya Fujii is a normal college student with normal worries—namely balancing his classes and his job he works to pay for school. He is also concerned about the amount of time he has to spend with Yuki Morikawa, or rather, the lack of it.
White Album often presents viewers with these muddy views of reality. There is often no clear distinction between right or wrong, good or evil. There is, however, often grief and suffering caused by various circumstances and misunderstandings. More often than not, people simply turn their heads and walk away from the show because people just do not get it. White Album is the type of show that likes to tell the story as indirectly as possible to the viewers.
- The producers also have a knack for bringing out the characters’ subtle emotions: they don’t have to say anything about their feelings, their facial expressions speak for themselves, and this series has been really good at throwing these feelings all over the place
- With award-winning voice actors/actresses performing the OP and various insert songs in between, White Album has at least one exceptional selling point it can brag about
- White Album is not ecchi and/or sexually-oriented, period. However, there is one well-made French kissing scene in a car
7. Perfect Blue
Perfect Blue is the directorial debut of animator Satoshi Kon and is an adaptation of the 1991 novel Perfect Blue: Kanzen Hentai (released in English by Seven Seas Entertainment as Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis) written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. The film made its world premiere at the 1997 edition of the Fant-Asia film festival in Montreal, where it received awards for Best Asian Film and Best Animation Film. It went on to earn additional awards and critical praise at film festivals worldwide before opening in Japanese theatres in 1998.
J-pop idol group CHAM! has spent the last two years entertaining its fans. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and CHAM! must see one of its members, Mima Kirigoe, leave the group to pursue her acting career. While Mima’s choice is met with a mixed response, she hopes her fans will continue to support her.
This is a masterpiece of a film, I’ve watched it a plethora of times growing up and it never loses its charm. Definitely recommended for those who appreciate well-done, old anime films.
- The film deals with the blurring of the line between fantasy and reality, a commonly found theme in Kon’s later works, such as Paprika
- Madonna incorporated clips from Perfect Blue into a remix of her song “What It Feels Like for a Girl” as a video interlude during her Drowned World Tour in 2001
- Otaku describes the film as a “critique of the consumer society of contemporary Japan”
8. Zombieland Saga
An absurdly comedic take on the idol genre, Zombieland Saga tells the story of Franchouchou’s heartwarming struggle to save Saga Prefecture while hiding their zombie identities and rediscovering their past lives.
Sakura Minamoto dreams of becoming an idol. Unfortunately, reality “hits her like a truck”. Ten years later, she wakes up in Saga Prefecture, only to find herself a zombie with no memory of her past. She meets a man named Koutarou Tatsumi, who explains that he has resurrected her and six other zombie girls from different eras for the purpose of economically revitalizing Saga by means of an idol group. Assuming the role of an abrasive manager, Koutarou begins scheduling events; the girls go along with it, eventually deciding to name their idol group Franchouchou.
Personally, some of my most played tracks come from this anime, the music composers knocked it out of the park with this one. This anime can be viewed by any fan alike.
- Our favourite isekai antagonist Truck-Kun makes yet another appearance in creating another beloved MC
- The animation is done by studio MAPPA, enough said
- Zombieland Saga won the Animation of the Year award in the Television category at the Tokyo Anime Award Festival in 2019
9. Ensemble Stars!
Ensemble Stars! is not like any other idol anime, as it focuses mainly on some characters’ stories, and sometimes a group of characters together, rather than focusing on a definite story or songs in general. This series comes with many seasons, movies, video games, specials, and much more to fill your male idol-loving needs.
Yumenosaki Academy has been home to the best boy idols of different generations. Holding immense influence over the school, its student council maintains the status quo by enforcing old traditions with an iron fist. Transfer student Anzu winds up attending as the very first member in the production course, making her the sole female student in the entire school. There, she meets Subaru Akehoshi, Hokuto Hidaka, Mao Isara, and Makoto Yuuki—her classmates and members of the idol unit “Trickstar.”
For you to truly love this anime, you must be obsessed with discovering anime characters more than anything else in anime. The story is good but doesn’t have much to it, it’s normal. However, you will love this anime if you came to love the characters in it. The characters’ personalities and their appearance, meaning the art and the music in it are the strong points of this anime which can make you like it.
- The costume design is also really great; while idol animes are always chock full of creative outfits, the stage costumes do a great job of reflecting each unit’s sound
- The animation itself is easy on the eyes. There are beautiful and vibrant colors abound, and the art style for the series has always been that perfect balance of “cute enough that it’s endearing”
- The 3-D models work out well for the anime
10. Searching for the Full Moon
Searching for the Full Moon follows the emotional story of Mitsuki and her shinigami friends as they discover what it means to sing—and ultimately, what it means to live. Searching for the Full Moon only follows its manga source for about one episode before going down a different route.
Two years ago, Mitsuki Kouyama’s friend, Eichi Sakurai, moved to America before she could confess her feelings to him. Though she cannot contact him, they made a promise to fulfill their respective dreams: Mitsuki wants to become a professional singer, and Eichi is an astronomer. She hopes that one day her music will reach him across the world with a brilliance like that of the full moon.
This cute love story will have you feeling warm from the inside out. The sombre yet endearing storyline is great for first-time anime watchers.
- The anime and manga go down completely different routes, so if you find the anime, not to your liking, I highly recommend the manga
- Searching for the Full Moon has two opening themes and four ending themes. “I Love U” by The Scanty is used as the opening theme for the first 26 episodes, while the group’s song “Rock ‘n’ Roll Princess” is used for the rest
- Under the pseudonym “Meguro Teikoku”, Tanemura has also self-published unofficial dōjinshi of the series and sold limited copies exclusively at Comiket in August 2015
11. If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die (OshiBudo)
This anime literally embodies the “I’m the biggest fan” mentality. Oshibudo is about the relationship between the wotas and their favourite idols in everyday life. It gives us a little insight into this unusual and interesting culture.
Eripiyo is initially a woman leading a normal life until it is turned upside down after watching a performance of the minor idol group ChamJam, which leads her to become obsessed with one of its members, Maina Ichii. Despite Eripiyo’s enthusiasm towards her, Maina is consistently the least popular member of the group, leaving Eripiyo to take it upon herself to buy a lot of Maina’s merchandise, which mainly involves singles. This leads her to be in dire straits economically.
OshiBudo’s portrayal of what it means to be a hardcore fan of idols. This will be up your alley if you like animes that explore genres and that have particular plots.
- The development of the idols with the support is certainly the most exciting part. All members of “ChamJam” have different personalities and not the same amount of fans
- The art style differs significantly from the other idol animes such as Love Live! or Zombieland Saga. The girls are shown cute in a different way
- OshiBudo scratches that need for a cute low stakes comedy romance that needs to be satisfied every so often. While making us squirm with love and adoration
Who knew farming could be filled with so much passion and fun? Well, probably not as much in real life, but certainly, in anime, anything can be fun, even something as mundane as farming.
Idol-obsessed Kousaku Hata is left devastated when his favourite, Yuka Kusakabe, unexpectedly announces her retirement at the peak of an illustrious career. As Yuka’s biggest fan, this news proves to be more difficult than he can bear. Shaken to his very core, he sinks into depression and places himself in self-imposed isolation. However, on the day his friends managed to convince him to attend school again, he gets a pleasant surprise.
Compared to other anime we listed, The concept of No-Rin is a refreshing take on idol anime. This is recommended for those who love comedy and cute anime girls.
- This is an emotional rollercoaster, you can go from laughing your ass off to crying deep into a box of tissues
- There is some fan service for your peculiar fans
- Both animes Baka and Test and No-Rin are made in the same studio “silver link” so there are some similarities
22/7 is a Japanese anime series created as part of the multimedia project between Yasushi Akimoto, Aniplex, and Sony Music Records. The series features the idol girl group of the same name as their characters.
The story focuses on eight girls who are each sent a mysterious invitation from a talent agency called G.I. Productions. Upon assembling together, the girls are immediately told to form an idol group known as 22/7, following orders printed out by a mysterious entity known only as “The Wall”.
The realism and faithful creation of this anime to its real-life counterpart are portrayed well. If you have the time I definitely recommend reading up on Japanese idol culture and finding the similarities you’ll see with 22/7.
- Yasushi Akimoto is widely known in Japan for creating the hit group AKB48
- 22/7 took 4 years to create since it somewhat acts like a documentary of idols and their everyday activities
- A-1 pictures helped with animation, so you’re in for a visual treat
14. Dropout Idol Fruit Tart
Dropout Idol Fruit Tart came from humble beginnings, it was originally a 4-panel manga. The story followers four girls at the current time, each failing in a certain career choice, along with their manager-type character, as she sets them up as a new idol group, starting from the ground up, so of course, we’ll see them progress, and see if they can become famous or not to rake in some money.
Ino Sakura has just moved to Tokyo to join the newly formed Fruit Tart, an idol group composed of three members besides herself—Roko Sekino, a washed-up child actor; Hayu Nukui, a failed musician; and Nina Maehara, a model who is still waiting for her first gig. They soon begin their new life together in their dormitory, the Mouse House. But there is no time to get settled as the girls awaken to a shocking reality: Fruit Tart is in a deep debt of one hundred million yen and has not even started yet!
Do you like fruits, love idols and enjoy listening to cheerful music? Then Dropout Idol Fruit Tart is the perfect anime for you!
- The characters really carry the show too, it reminds me a lot of Zombieland Saga, with how vast the characters are in terms of their reactions, their personalities, and how they are presented in the show in general
- The art and sound are what you would expect from a show like this. It’s colourful, bright, and welcoming, and the sounds and songs are all top-notch
- It’s funny, it’s got hot girls in cute outfits singing, it panders to the male otaku fantasy and it’s just plain fun
15. Wanna Be the Strongest in the World
Wanna Be the Strongest in the World is another inspiring sports show, but cleverly disguised as a trashy ecchi show about girls getting close and personal. Sakura’s struggle is like any other, and that’s fine. Watching her is inspiring, even while seeing her fall you root for her and when she rises you cheer with the crowd
Hagiwara Sakura and Miyazawa Elena are the leading members of a popular idol group, Sweet Diva. One day, Elena is injured by the attack of a female pro-wrestler Kazama Rio during the recording of a TV program. Sakura gets mad at Rio and gives her a dropkick. To avenge Elena, Sakura enters the female pro-wrestling matches.
Man, if you like ecchi, hot anime chicks, and music, this anime is for you. This anime could even be considered softcore porn to be honest.
- More tits and ass in this anime than the cash I have in my bank account
- Beautifully designed characters
- The first and last attempt at mixing pop music with wrestling
Japanese idol culture is grand in size yet still niche. From the 15 anime we introduced today, you can learn more about idol culture and the various aspects surrounding it.
Idol groups can be a variety of things ranging from cute girls in frilly costumes, handsome men with a tad of BL, the undead reviving a dead city through the power of music, and much more. Maybe we all need a bit of that idol culture to give our lives some vitality.
Be sure to keep checking back on our site for more great anime recommendations!!