I like Idolmaster. Some parts more than others, but I like it nonetheless. But I’m having a hard time remembering exactly why. It’s not because of the songs proper, because while I like the OPs none of the other songs really stuck with me (a problem I had with Love Live too, to some extent). It’s not the story either, because if the original Idolmaster ever had an overarching story I never noticed (Cinderella Girls did have a story, sort of, but it wasn’t fantastic). I also wasn’t so hot on most of the character arcs, except for Chihaya’s and Haruka’s arcs.
So I guess what I liked were the characters themselves. I liked them a lot, actually, and in a way that let them live on in my mind even after finishing the anime. I think the key selling point is that most of the characters have such distinct personalities and personality traits that it’s easy to imagine what they’d be like and do in a variety of hypothetical situations. I think Love Live created a better ensemble of characters, but when it comes to individual characters standing out and being memorable, Idolmaster wins every day of the week. I’m a huge fan of Makoto, Takane and Yayoi in particular, to the point where I can’t get enough of fan art and fan fiction of them.
And, fortunately, this property of Idolmaster carries over to Cinderella Girls as well. I know some people vastly prefer the original cast, and I can kind of understand why they do (the ensemble in CG is even larger and there is less time for each character), but for me CG is a gold mine of characters that just make me happy. It’s going to be a long list, but I’ll list all of them anyway: Anya, Shimamu, Anzu, Kirari, Mika, Rika, Ranko, Kanako, Miku, Riina, Natsuki, Sachiko and Koume. And I know I’m not alone, because every day I hear people talking about these characters. It’s a phenomenon. I finally understand why Idolmaster is so popular.