Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is quite a focused game. Set in modern day Japan, we follow a group of young men and women who happen to both be Mirage Masters capable of saving people from otherworldly creatures and popular performers. Their agency, Fortuna Entertainment, is the headquarters and base for a group dedicated to saving and entertaining the world. While the protecting and serving is the part we’re primarily concerned with, it does quite an admirable job of bringing in elements of idol life and fandom, introducing them to an audience that might not otherwise be exposed to it.
The moment Itsuki and Tsubasa are recruited, Maiko brings them into their new reality. She immediately decides on Tsubasa’s “angle.” She’s going to be an innocent and pure singer. She sends them off to Barry Goodman, who’s a pro at preparing new performers. The Fortuna offices have a wall for all the trophies you’ll earn, even though they’re accumulated for completing in-battle accomplishments. Maiko is constantly thinking of how to position each of the players, even bringing in one new employee as an office employee while preparing her for her return to music.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE brings up unconventional idols, in the form of Tiki. Her cover is that she’s an Uta-loid, which is essentially a Vocaloid. Itsuki will even run into someone who raves about her and wishes they had the talent necessary to make songs for her to sing. It taps into the notion that anyone talented enough could compose music that could perhaps be loved and listened to by all. We even get to meet a rather obsessive fan called TikiisMyWaifu, or Tiki=Waifu for short, during one of the side quests. It touches on the devotion people can feel for idols, whether they’re real or virtual.
Speaking of side quests, many of them go out of their way to simulate other idol experiences. Take Tsubasa’s first side story. She has to participate in a meet and greet, getting to know her fans and get her name out there. We get to use a Radiant Unity and earn a special performance, while also getting experience. In another one of her side quests, Itsuki has to help her find inspiration to get in the proper mindset for an Amrita Shower commercial.
It’s during these side stories that we end up unlocking Dual Arts, another idol-inspired element. In Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, characters can team up for a special attack after a Session that’s over three actions long. A prompt can come up, giving them a chance to unleash a special attack. These can be connected to actual duets we’ll hear them sing in the game. Tsubasa and Kiria can perform “Give Me!” at the end of a Session, callback to Kiria’s third side story. It’s basically giving us duets, only in a battle.
The NPC side stories reference the industry too. One of Maiko’s is perhaps the best example. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE doesn’t hide how much she enjoys drinking. Her first side quest references nomikai, also known as nomunication, a Japanese custom where people in business together will go out drinking together to form connections. Business isn’t likely done during these outings, but it’s a means of setting foundations for such enterprises. At the end of Maiko’s first quest, you get a Drinking Connections skill that gives you more money when you sell items.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE even brings up gravure modeling. Another side quest has the crew trying to find someone taking gravure pictures. While the general images shown in this quest differ from the original Japanese character art, Itsuki, Tsubasa, and Touma come across an in-game gravure idol magazine called My Complex. In Japan, gravure models are dressed in swimsuits and lingerie and strike pin-up poses. Gravure models are young women and is very much tied to the idol industry in Japan, as it can be a means of kickstarting a career.
These are all the most obvious and overt references to the idol scene, though. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is filled with little hints and nods to the lifestyle and culture. In battle, the banner detailing the attack and character using it would fit quite well in the Oricon or Billboard charts, since it portrays it as though the ability is the song title and designates the party member using it as the “artist.” You can collect magazines and posters promoting members of Fortuna Entertainment, even going so far as attempting to sell their singles. Itsuki and Touma even find out behind-the-scenes footage of them leaked out and appeared in magazines, with Maiko hoping to boost their popularity with it.
With Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, we’re getting a JRPG that does its best to introduce players to the idol experience without overwhelming them. Elements from the culture are brought in, like what real idols go through in their daily life, how popular virtual idols can be, things that happen on the business end of things, and even a method some women used to break into the business. But, they’re all also tempered and fairly well explained. Nothing’s thrown at us to throw us off guard. The result is a rather immersive and enlightening experience.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is immediately available for the Nintendo Wii U.