Idol anime is a booming genre. Shows like Love Live! have entire franchises built on them, with live performers holding concerts for their eager fans. The stakes range from fame and fortune to saving a school. But what if those stakes were even higher?
South Korean animator VIVINOS is going exactly this route in Alien Stage, a short-form animated idol series currently underway on YouTube. Full of gorgeous animation and brand new music, this series has its stars singing for their lives… literally.
If you’ve heard of VIVINOS, you already know that idol anime isn’t the first genre she’s cracked. After making fan videos for K-dramas and other entertainment she enjoyed, she achieved fame in 2021 with her video Suki Suki Daisuki ♡. The eerie video, set to Jun Togawa’s song of the same name, depicts the gory lengths to which one girl goes to get her senpai’s attention. All with a weirdly cute 80s vibe. At the time of this writing, it’s racked up nearly 13 million views.
Since then, she’s gained popularity for similarly dark and nostalgic videos. Her Pink Bxxch Club series has fans theorizing about its deeper lore. Meanwhile, stand-alone shorts like Tili Tili Bom and My September tell dark stories of their own.
So what is Alien Stage? This indie idol anime eschews the more retro style for a modern, sci-fi flair. It’s the story of an intergalactic music competition. Eight singers enter the bracket, competing in pairs and climbing up the ranks. In the end, only one will make it to the top. The other seven won’t make it out at all.
So far, we can glean a few things from the episodes we’ve seen. In this future, humans have discovered they’re not alone in the universe, and it’s not an especially fortunate discovery. Eight children get captured and trained up for this singing competition. They form bonds along the way: some mutual and loving, others less so. Each music video length episode is one match, with one survivor.
What’s an idol anime without music? Each episode of Alien Stage has an original song. Different people compose, arrange, and perform by each song, produced by Studio LICO. And each has its own unique sound and feeling. “MY CLEMATIS” is a sweet song of doomed romance, and “Unknown (Til the End…)” is an upbeat rock anthem about unrequited love. “Black Sorrow,” the most recent, serves as a soundtrack to the most in-depth look we’ve had yet to this world.
What will the next episode bring? We can’t wait to find out. Be sure to subscribe to VIVINOS and keep an eye out.