SideM exists in kind of a unique space among its male idol cohort. As you might expect, it resembles imas more than it does other other male idol mobage, but that’s also down to its relatively early launch. I doubt that a game launching today would settle for the dramatic idol card game, nor would it really have gotten away with it if it weren’t for being imas.
Its relatively humble beginnings explain a lot of the existential crises that SideM Ps feel so often that it’s become a meme. Unlike its elder siblings, SideM was about guys, which added another dimension of uncertainty to the mix. Recall that the game itself launched months after a botched attempt, and then it ran for a few more months after that before the first significant announcement came to assure us that SideM wasn’t dead.
Scamco works in mysterious ways, so it’s easy to get jittery when they move slowly and we see all these other upstarts rush by. Like, wow, did you hear? Ensemble Stars got an anime announced already! And so it’s easy to be a little worried when the only thing to come out of SideM 1st were reveals of the new idol candidates. And we can repeat this process. New idol games coming out of nowhere and getting super popular. Meanwhile, I walk into an Animate and struggle to find the SideM section buried between massive rows of shelves for other idols. And so it’s been three years of alternating between excitement and doubt, but I think this was the year that we could really say that SideM is real without any nervous laughter.
This shift is can be seen as the same slow move from DRIVE A LIVE to Beyond the Dream as the song of choice for this new era of SideM. It’s really weird that Beyond the Dream is less than a year old given how ubiquitous it’s become in SideM. At first, it doesn’t seem like we had DRIVE A LIVE with us for very long, but it’s actually been two years since we first heard Jupiter and Dramatic Stars’ rendition of it. In fact, you could say it was with us much longer, having existed in a very preliminary form, unrecognizable in the announcement trailer shown at MOIW in February 2014. Wild.
Because it’s been used so extensively in everything having to do with SideM, it’s become inseparable. And yet, it sounds very distinct from a lot of other SideM and imas songs. It stands out in kind of the same way the older imas themes do, like The IDOLM@STER or Onegai Cinderella, and it feels more “classic”. It could just be the effects of the passage of time being felt, that as more and more music gets released, DRIVE A LIVE feels like it sort of fits in less and less. In that sense, Beyond the Dream sounds much closer to the modern imas anthems that we associate with each series.
Of course, when it was first announced that Beyond the Dream even existed, it was kind of strange, because, you know, we had DRIVE A LIVE. It’s weird to think back on because at the time, I was pretty convinced that Yozora o Kirameku Hoshi no You ni was going to be the song carrying the series forward, even if it was a Dramatic Stars and HiJo song. Only after 2nd live did Beyond the Dream make sense. Beyond the Dream marks a shift in SideM not only symbolically, but practically, by being the main theme for LIVE ON ST@GE!!.
But like all the other good old imas songs, DRIVE A LIVE will live on forever. On that note, it hasn’t even been one year of Beyond the Dream but in recent days, we’ve been hearing less of Beyond the Dream and more of a certain other song……