Wrote this on a comment over at RandomC so I though I’d put it here. I’m basically just repeating what I always say about the show.
I really consider Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream the best show of 2012. I’m not kidding, I absolutely loved it. I don’t even like magical girls or idols that much. Speaking of that, the main misconception people have about PRAD is that they think it’s a magical girl show, while it’s a sports show with idol elements. Furthermore, it’s not of the same type of sports anime like Inazuma Eleven, where they use soccer to save the world from aliens, with said aliens wanting to conquer earth also using soccer. The story doesn’t need a suspension of disbelief to get into.
There’s not even a villain in it. It’s all about friendship, rivals, lovers and family. As an example, this show has one of the best parents in anime I’ve ever seen. Every heroine’s parents slowly play a role into the story. Aira’s father is first used as comedic relief, and is against his daughter being on TV wearing frilly clothes, while her mother supports her. After a few plot twists I don’t want to spoil, Aira’s father fully supports her while her mother is now against it. I’m not saying the show is 2deep4u like Saiko-Pass, and it’s true that it’s aimed at little girls. However, it managed to slowly incorporate great and touching story elements, like Rizumu’s issues with her mom, or Shou’s complex about being a man designing clothes for women. I cried multiple times when watching it. The story and the characters are the strongest point of the show.
As much crazy some CG dance scenes look, like the girls making meteors fall, the story is very down to earth. Yes, the dancing scenes are in CG. One of the best CG I’ve seen too. It may doesn’t look that good during the first episodes but you can literally see the staff gaining experience, as it gets better and better, as they add more songs and new choreography. For comparison sake, “Aikatsu!”, which is currently airing, also has dance scenes in CG, and as much as I like the show, I have to admit they suck.
I have to acknowledge the show’s animation is subpar, with it’s use of silhouettes for background characters among other things. it slowly gets better though. I’ll forever remember that moment in episode 18 when there was background animation for the first time. In any case, the story way makes up for it. The OST is really good too, and for those interested in this, the show has many popular seiyuu and the main heroine, Aira, is voiced by Asumi Kana. There’s also two different characters voiced by Itou Kanae (and then even one more in season 2 Pretty Rhythm Dear My Future)
I think the show only has 2 flaws:
The first one is the fact that in the first episodes, they keep using the same song for the dance scenes (which is also the 1st OP) so it can ear grating and boring really fast.
The second one isn’t actually a flaw of the show itself: It’s not entirely subbed. I watched it all raw. I watch anime for at least 15 years now, and while I’m nowhere near fluent in Japanese, I didn’t have trouble understanding any of it. If you watch anime for at least 5 years I’m sure you can understand 90% of it, and figure out the last 10% with what you’re seeing. The only things I ever had trouble understanding are Jun’s poems, which ironically, include English. Very bad English, done on purpose and hilarious.
I always considered PRAD to be a good show while watching it’s 51 episodes, but I only started thinking it was the best aired in 2012 when watching the last 12 episodes. As it slowly build up the overall plot, added more songs, (to a total of 12 different insert songs at the end) more characters and plot twists, everything culminated in these last episodes and made the show go into a roller coaster of emotion, hot blood and crazy awesomeness. Nothing else topped these episodes. The main reason I consider it best of 2012 isn’t because it exceeded my expectations, it’s because the show is genuinely awesome.