THE iDOLM@STER (franchise)
THE iDOLM@STER (アイドルマスター Aidorumasutaa) is a Japanese mix-media franchise by Bandai Namco Entertainment, formerly known as Namco before the merger. Rooting from a series of video games, this franchise has been expanded through other types of media such as songs, anime, manga, and real-life concerts.
It centers around the idols and a rookie Producer with the goal of becoming famous. The franchise's first installment was the arcade game of the same name, released on July 26, 2005. Most games are primarily developed by the in-house studio division, with some games in the franchise being developed by other companies under the original owner's supervision, such as Cygames (for Cinderella Girls), among others. Most games from the franchise have been released for various gaming platforms from the year 2010 onwards, totalling of 36 software releases as of now. Its development project name is called Project iM@S.
There are two ways of rendering the name of the franchise. The name is stylized as "THE iDOLM@STER" with the lowercase "i", which is used on the logos. It can also be rendered as "THE IDOLM@STER" with the capitalized "I", which is used officially on the titles across any medium (such as albums, units, etc.). In this wiki, the former spelling is used for naming the games and adaptations.
THE iDOLM@STER features a variety of brands (or branches), each with different idols, characters, songs, and themes. Click each brand's link to see an in-depth look of the brand.
The main brand of the franchise is simply titled THE iDOLM@STER. It revolves around the talent agency 765 Production, with its producer having the goal of guiding its pop idols, known as 765PRO ALLSTARS, on their path to fame. An anime adaptation, based on THE iDOLM@STER 2, first aired in 2011, with the movie, Kagayaki no Mukougawa e!, debuting in Japanese theaters in 2014. The brand also has manga adaptations, like THE iDOLM@STER 2 The world is all one!! and THE iDOLM@STER relations. All music releases that featured mainline games are handled by Nippon Columbia. The agencies 876 Production and 961 Production are also considered part of the mainline games.
THE iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls is the second brand of the franchise. Cinderella Girls features 190 obtainable original idols, the highest number of idols in a brand. It started as a social media game on Mobage, which was released in 2011, and shut down on March 31, 2022, but was also expanded to include a number of anime and manga adaptations, including the 2015 anime of the same name and the spin-off continuity of the brand called U149. Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage, an online mobile rhythm game, was released on September 3, 2015. Due to the nature of user-named Production clans in the original game, Cinderella Girls is the only brand without a definite talent agency (as 346 Production is used for the 2015 anime continuity). All games and other contents are mostly handled by Cygames, with Nippon Columbia handling music distribution.
The third brand in the franchise, THE iDOLM@STER Million Live! began as a social media game on GREE, released in 2013. Tied closely to the original iDOLM@STER brand, its main focus is the 765 Live Theater, and has a cast of 39 new idols unique to this brand called MILLIONSTARS. 765PRO ALLSTARS idols appear in the brand's games as MILLIONSTARS' seniors. Million Live! Theater Days, a rhythm game similar to Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage, was released on June 29th, 2017. Its anime adaptation began airing on October 8th, 2023. Through its label Lantis, Bandai Namco Music Live handles all album releases of this brand.
THE iDOLM@STER SideM is the fourth brand of the franchise. It features male idols, unlike the other brands, which feature female idols. All idols in this brand are assigned into each official unit. Originally a Mobage game, it sees the return of four idols who previously appeared in previous games - 961 Production's Jupiter and 876 Production's Ryo Akizuki - all joining 315 Production, the brand's talent agency. It also spawned two animated series, the 2017 anime of the same name and its spin-off shorts Wakeatte Mini!. The music distribution for this brand is controlled by Lantis. It is also the only brand without currently active games, as its latest game, SideM GROWING STARS, was shut down on July 31, 2023.
Began as an HTML5 training simulation browser game, THE iDOLM@STER Shiny Colors is the fifth brand featuring 283 Production. Its approach on dividing idols into units is similar to SideM's. An upcoming anime adaptation of the same name is slated for airing on Spring 2024. There is also a rhythm game to be released in the future, titled Shiny Colors Song for Prism. As with Million Live! and SideM, all album releases for this brand are published by Lantis.
Technically not a brand, but rather a developmental project stemming from 3.0 Vision, PROJECT vα-liv mixes THE iDOLM@STER with the Virtual YouTuber culture. This project revolves around idol cadets who aim to make their idol debut through distribution activities, akin to typical VTubers. Unlike other voice actors in the franchise, the voice actors in charge have not been disclosed at the time being.