Aikatsu Friends! – 076 (Ringing Bells)

The ultimate Friends who anyone can make

In one way, nobody could have expected this to be the last episode, but in another, it was the only possible ending since the entire series started. As always, I encourage you to watch it first, and don’t forget that the release date going forward will be a few days later than up until now because of the time change.

Episode 076: Torrent | Magnet

But as usual, I can’t just let this end without saying anything. My raw reactions are in the same place as always, but I like to reflect a bit on how far we’ve come over the past year and a half together on this journey. When Friends started, it wasn’t as rough a change or adjustment as coming into Stars, having been with the same girls for three and a half years. There was more acceptance and optimism, rather than worry over perhaps having lost something. And even the first episode, with Aine and Mio meeting as if by fate, was happier than the confusing, bittersweet collapse of Yume in the nurse’s office. We knew from the start that this would be more about friendships and collaboration rather than rivalries and competition.

In exchange for drama and romance, we got to explore the nature of two strangers coming together and creating a force of friendship stronger than what either could make alone. Especially with the second season, competitions were put aside in exchange for repairing broken relationships, first between Hibiki and Alicia, then with Solvette and their circumstances, and finally with this episode. Even the climax of the season wasn’t something like the Diamond Friends Cup, but a collaboration of the Jeweling Festival to raise everyone up together. Maybe it’s just the times, but I think a message like that is exactly what we need to show what can be accomplished when everyone works together to create a miracle.

And although it only happened rarely, I and other friends my age I’ve talked to have really appreciated the episodes focusing on Tamaki, Chiharu, Ken, and Hariu. When Chiharu formed her brand as early as episode 4, I knew that Friends would be special in that regard. When Tamaki and Hariu began their rivalry when Reflect Moon entered the scene, it gave so much more character to both of them—and who could’ve expected that they would not only begin dating, but get married on screen as the finale of the entire series, with the town’s bells finally, finally being put to use as wedding bells? It’s hard to express just how much I now appreciate this careful treatment of the adults with their own host of issues separate from the girls. And I know that this encouragement for the adult fans of Aikatsu isn’t coincidental, as two scenes this episode prove: Hibiki (and by association Mirai, Karen, and Alicia) are at least 18 2̶0̶ (forgot the legal age of driving is younger than adulthood in Japan) years old, as they can drive, and there’s a line by Maika about the girls becoming adult idols who can support Tamaki in return for what she’s done to raise them. Once again, I can feel that the creators of Aikatsu don’t want viewers to just passively absorb the show, but to take its teachings as their own and go out into the world. We can’t all be middle or high school girls singing and dancing as idols, but we can find someone special to us, and maybe one day become Friends through marriage.

It’s been seven years, but I’m not ready to stop anytime soon. In less than a month I’ll be moving to Japan for half a year for my research, but that won’t interfere with the subs of Aikatsu at all. Whatever may come, I’ll still be here, making sure that Aikatsu love is continued to be spread around the world. I hope you will be too. See you for Parade.

18 thoughts on “Aikatsu Friends! – 076 (Ringing Bells)

    • You were on fire not too long ago with the MVP scoops and analyses on all the ladies! What happened? You cooled off just as bad as Hibiki did over the course of this season! That all said, I wanna see what you have to say about the ladies in this finale and venture one last time into that No-No Zone of yours.

      And one more thing. Leave Mirai alone! bwahahaa

  1. Haven’t seen the Episode yet, but I still want to say thank you for your hard work over the past 7 Years (Its so long since i fall in love with this Show).
    I need to be honest, I wasn’t a big Fan of Friends but still I had most of the Time Fun with the Show. However I am not sad that it is over, unlike with the original Aikatsu or with stars I am here now even glad that it is over and I am really looking forward to Parade, of course also because we will see some old faces again, which I have really missed the last 1 1/2 years. However, I would also like to thank this series for some of the absolutely funniest moments in the whole franchise, Karen Island will remain for me an eternal highlight^^

  2. I’ve said from the start that this show to me just never once had the feelings and passion from the last two series so that is why I can only give it a 3/10 rating I don’t know if they threw the original writers out and took in new writers but it just did not feel like Aikatsu. this should of been another franchise other then Aikatsu and I feel this hurt the Aikatsu series in a whole because now we have Aikatsu! Parade coming which looks to be a desperate attempt to win the fans back sort of like Disney with the new Star wars movie they are just adding in characters from the old series to win the fans back. I feel sad with Aikatsu! Parade coming as they are going to ruin the last two great series story’s in an attempt to bring fans back.

  3. Another year and half gone by. I was never quite as taken with Friends as I was with Stars, so obviously the ending couldn’t have the same impact on me. It was good though, certainly unexpected. The supporting characters never got enough love (I thought at some point we’d see Tamaki’s past as an idol or whatever), so providing closure for them first and foremost was a cool touch. After all, the girls don’t need closure: their story arguably continues next week.

    I suppose I should say something about the series as a whole too. While the atmosphere of Friends was closer to that of the original series, its execution was quite different. Aine and Mio were good protagonists, even if very predictable. I thought Ema and Maika were more fun to be around though. The moon twins grew on me, even. And while the attempts at drama generally fell flat (so it’s a good thing there weren’t too many), the humor worked better than in the previous series.

    One note about the characters. It was a far more contained show than Stars. One-shot characters were rare and the focus was squarely on recurring ones. That becomes a problem in S2, because the new characters were kinda disappointing. In general, the concept of making up idol pairs was a double-edged sword: you have more possibilities with two characters acting as one, but arguably, if they constantly play off each other, they could also cancel each other out. Hibiki appears with a bang, but quickly becomes a non-entity (any comparison with Elza, whose sole presence made everyone in the room tense up, would be brutal). Alicia was the real highlight of the season, yet her potential is dampened whenever she’s paired up with Hibiki. Wakaba didn’t get enough screentime aside from her mini-arc, even Aria got more focus with the same number of episodes, and that’s a shame because her special ability could have had some interesting implications. I don’t know if S2 was cut short or not, but it certainly felt like it had no real direction and just kinda ended last week.

    I’m not so sure about Parade just yet; I feel that all-stars plots have always been a flawed concept, because many characters will fit the same role in different stories, so you don’t gain anything by pitting them together. It’s an idea that can work for a movie or a short series, but a whole season? Who knows. But I’ll keep some optimism. I’m pretty curious to see what excuse they’ll make for Kaguya coming back. And hey, Venus Ark is back, you peasants. Good times.

    And as usual, my hat’s off to Akatsukin, who aikatsu’s harder than anyone.

    • I can relate to pretty much everything you mentioned. It’s a shame that I found Hibiki to be so invisible and uninspiring after her statement introduction early on. And yes, I too wish the supporting cast had more love and attention. It would’ve given a finale like this one more weight and impact. Well, at least for me since everything regarding Hariu and Tamaki went way over my head.

      For me, it was Wakaba and her bubbly personality that salvaged this season of Friends in my book. You all best know I’m still sick with that Wakaba Fever baby!

      I’ll just leave it at that since my thoughts are so scattered as of now.

  4. Really thanks for your effort all those years.
    But i have to say this, i probably liked more the first aikatsu and stars, but this still a good serie that i enjoyed much.

  5. Thanks for subbing Aikatsu for all this years, this anime (with all the first series, stars and Friends as a whole) has become one of my favorite animes of all time 😀

  6. I wasn’t very fond of this episode personally, but still, thanks for all your hard work. If you’re not stopping, I’m not stopping.

  7. idk if it’s me, but every time they showed Tamaki with teary eyes thinking about Hariu it’s like she turned infinitely prettier than I had known before. I guess I’m green when it comes to love, but I sorta remember a saying about how women in love look a lot more beautiful.

    And now to wait for On Parade!, which has kept me excited ever since the reveal. Who knew that a series I had watched seven years ago on a whim would still entertain me to this day, especially considering it’s supposed to be a series for children so there’s only so much you can take before it starts getting bland. Might also help that I was on my idol series high after finishing [email protected] and Love Live! started up first with those PVs of their older songs. And of course ever since the last two years have been ripe with all-star crossovers in various media, something like this has got me excited and giddy like a child. However, I just really want to see Lillie and hear some new songs again. See you all again at the end of the week,

    • Next week couldn’t come any faster! I’m looking forward to seven years of Aikatsu history and legends crammed into one (hopefully) epic series.

  8. I would love to rant right now, but my thoughts are scattered and many of my concerns were already highlighted by others here. Instead, I’d like to take this time to salute Akatsukin and anyone else involved for their hard work and dedication. Here’s to (maybe) another seven years of Aikatsu!!

  9. That was simply the best and most heart-warming conclusion possible. Akatsukin already expressed most of my thoughts on the show, so I just want to say thank you. Thank you to Aikatsu for bringing love into the world and thank you to Mezashite for spreading it. God works in ways that we cannot even imagine. Bless you all and let’s be friends!

  10. I have mixed feelings about how the entire series panned overall; it had a somewhat solid if generic premise compared to the more grand ambitions which Stars had. When things went well, the series worked in genuinely wonderful ways; however part of me still feels empty from the inevitable squandering of potential in certain aspects of the show, especially in regards to several characters and their development. For the most part, Friends had a solid base to work upon, and it did what it was supposed to do; provide viewers with a heartfelt portrayal of idol partnerships between two different people and build a story around said premise.

    To be fair towards Friends, accusations that the series itself squandered its potential by playing it too safe are quite valid and true. However, it’s worth regarding that Friends actually managed to innovate on its own terms by exploring some mature themes and other aspects that never really amounted to much in Ogkatsu, which Friends aimed to emulate as part of its core material. This can be shown in how Friends acknowledges some realities in which adult viewers of the show are accustomed to, like marriage, world poverty, global disasters, frayed friendships and even death. While the portrayal of some aspects may have been admittedly lacklustre, the effort to do so is very much acknowledged and appreciated.

    Overall, and despite various mishaps along the way, I’ve found my own special way to enjoy Friends at its own pace and make peace with its flaws. One and a half years after Friends began and finally ended, I’ve seen how Aine and Mio as well as other characters grow at differing yet meaningful paces, and their character arcs as a whole truly define and showcase what Friends truly excels at: formulating and nurturing the bonds of potential and friendship between people as a whole, which is a message that the world should accept and learn as one.

    Thank you, Aikatsu Friends. I wish I could have gotten at least two more cours before the series ended, but that’s the way that things have to go sometime. On we go, towards the parade.

  11. Akatsukin, Etoce, and everyone that has contributed to Mezashite over the years – thank you very much for sharing the love of Aikatsu!

    I did not expect this kind of final episode for Friends but am really glad to see it. There are many things I really liked in Friends and some less so, but overall it’s been another enjoyable journey and I look forward to the start of another in AoP.

    I hope the move goes smoothly, Akatsukin, and look forward to hopefully many more good moments and memories in the future. Thank you once again!

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