Green Leaves and the Seven Kigurumi - Part Two

(Part One)

The seven maidens parted ways with their respective kigurumi to take on bigger challenges. Through their efforts, and by overcoming a few large hurdles along the way, they eventually succeeded. A fleeting victory perhaps, but it was a significant milestone for them nonetheless...

animal kigurumi performing in stage

So... why exactly are they back in their outfits like nothing ever happened? Well for one thing. Funds. Second, is that their biggest rival whipped themselves back up top immediately the following year.

This was actually not a bad thing for the seven maidens in any way. As early as their first struggles finding their own identity as a group, they had already agreed to head back to their hometown. But more importantly, their representative animals were just too iconic to ignore.

animal kigurumi fixing their outfit heads

"The WUG girls... I mean the WUG Zoo members, will be hidden somewhere in this zoo."

In fact, as soon as an opportunity for a touring event presented itself, one of the main segments created immediately was the promotional use of their kigurumi. Specifically, a collaboration event that combines each maiden's representative animal with the local zoo of their hometown.

The rules were simple. Play a simplified version of hide-and-seek with the maidens while touring the zoo, collect stamps with them, and claim their prize.

animal kigurumi in the bushes
animal kigurumi walking in the streets
animal kigurumi

Which turned out a lot less dangerous than it originally sounded... somehow.

The more important event for their kigurumi however, came in the following evening. Minami, the maiden who represents the tiger, has yet to rejoin the group due to event delays at her side. This not only worries the entire group, but also kept the spirit down for members of the event who were looking forward to seeing her performance.

"So, who's it gonna be? Tempo-wise, it should be Ai. But body size is more important."
"We're counting on you then, Nanami."

It was at this time that Nanami suggested the use of their identifying kigurumi to allow Minami to be "present" at the performance. Someone would don the tiger kigurumi at one point on-stage, and then pretend to be Minami for a few short minutes before the audience begins to suspect anything.

Of course, this also requires having the person disguising to be somewhere near the overall size of Minami. Needless to say, it was Nanami herself.

animal kigurumi performing in stage

And so, the plan was executed. With a few ad-libbed diversionary measures here and there, they managed to liven up the audience as Minami "finally appears".  

animal kigurumi upshot pose

... That is until Nanami slips up due to the hurriedly mid-performance fitted kigurumi.

"That doesn't sound like taxi fare anymore!"

Thankfully, one of Minami's known stage quirks is being a bit of a ditz. The audiences were confused enough for a few short moments before the real Minami finally arrives in the nick of time.

"What are you doing lying down all juice-stained like that, Yoppi?"

Well, being strongly identified with a specific animal kigurumi did become yet another confusing problem for both the event attendees and the maidens a bit later. But, for the most part, the day ended with the event successfully concluded.

Wake Up, Girls! is a rather unique idol-genre series among all the other ones that preceded it at the time the show was aired. No, it doesn't focus on being wacky or crazy to be different. Instead, it has a much more down-to-earth setting with the focus being more on the gritty realities of the actual Japanese pop idol industry.

Of course, character interaction is still one of its important development elements. There is a greater emphasis on the individual qualities of each member, probably even more so than other longer-running idol-genre series. But these elements are squarely placed within the bigger picture of the entire industry, and is not just about being the initial singular underdog.

animal kigurumi

In fact, the concept of connecting each character to a specific color and animal almost seems like they could be characters on a super sentai show. An entire chibi spin-off web series dedicated to its original objective of promoting Sendai prefecture was even created, with the sole purpose of featuring each character in their respective kigurumi.