Well I don't know how this came to about but WuG is officially my favourite of the season including last Fall's carryovers. Space Dandy is quite a lot of fun but I don't think it's groundbreaking or anything and Nagi no Asu Kara is waning in quality again (due to dumb shipping wars and trolling) . Stalled Golden Time, dropped Kill la Kill and SamFlam, and I'm not watching any series apart from this.
I actually finished Cross game the other week (had like 20 eps left) and that show went instantly in my top 10. Then I rewatched the whole thing because I forgot what happened in the first 2/3 since it's been like 3+ years and now it's just barely not in my top 5 of all time. It's...that...fucking...good. OMG.
On the positive side, Mayu has provided my dose of "quality" moe that I needed for a very long time (since Tari Tari ).
Of the three I've seen some of - AKB, Love Live and Idolm@ster, AKB would be the least favourite. I got some good laughs out of the hate mail episode and my friend yelling "Terrorist lolis! Yeah!!!" when they were sneaking past the security forces in the first episode, but for the most part I just couldn't get into it.
Love Live: I only saw one episode. I liked what I saw, but I only looked into it after it aired and I tend to barely keep up with currently airing shows since my time management skills kind of suck acid filled demonic donkey balls sometimes. Though I'm not fond of the series' way of handling the actual performance sequences. I find the 3D a bit jarring.
Idolm@ster: I like the characters, I like some of the songs and performances, and I liked the pilot episode and the episode the focused on Azusa and Makoto (the wedding modelling one). On the whole I found it pretty middling though. The two episodes I really loved are among the most... "chaotic" in the series and I think that's where the show is at it's best... one hapless dude trying to manage twelve hapless idols with wildly varying personalities. If it concentrated more on that I probably would have loved it.
WUG: I like it better than Idolm@ster so far. Because the characters feel like they have stories to tell, even if some of them (like the food lover girl's) seem a bit simplistic. And some of the characters feel quite "alive" - I keep mentioning Miyu, but she really does feel like the kind of girl I could run into at a anime con maid café. Which is why her getting harassed made me rage. Harassing maids is very NOT okay in my books. Unless it's consensual roleplay or something like that - then it's cool.
One other thing I'd like to mention: I think that as a general rule, I think tend to like idols but not necessarily large idol groups. I love watching Suzuki Konami's winning performance at the 2011 Animax Anisong Grand Prix, both for her singing and because I think she's cute - knowing full well she was 14 at the time. But get a whole group of teenage girls dancing in short skirts and it just starts to feel "servicy" in a way I personally find rather uncomfortable to watch. I usually don't feel the same way about idol performances in anime, though some of the old Love Live music videos that got made before the TV series do capture the feeling.
(And this is entirely separate from incidents of exploitation in the industry. That wouldn't stop me liking the performances any more than being a environmentally conscious, pro-peace semi-socialist stops me from liking Ferraris and fighter jets.)
I don't consider Natsuiro Kiseki an idol anime. That was a character drama/slice of life much akin to say the likes of Hanasaku Iroha, Hyouka, Tari Tari and the like. Just happened to have a musical/psudeo idol (in the way it was voicecasted by Sphere members) element to it. Not as good as any of those three, but I completed it and very much enjoyed it.
Next question, out of idol series you sampled/finished, how would you rank them, and how does WuG rank so far?
Finished: Idolma@ster. I got a ways into Natsuiro Kiseki before I stopped due to time constraints. I didn't get that far into AKB0048 or Love Live, though I'm interests in seeing more Love Live to see if I can figure out why it has the third longest sales "tail" of any recent show after Bakemonogatari and K-On.
I also want to see Idolm@ster Xenoglossia because of the concept and the fact it's directed by Tatsuyaki Nagai. That, and to see if I can make fun of one of my friends from undergrad for voting it his favourite anime of 2007.
You get excited by tragedy moe? Eww, what kind of pervert are you?
All kidding aside, I'd say that the tragic circumstances and will to carry on are moe points, and that while empathy for characters is not strictly speaking moe, it plays a key role in proper appreciation of many moe works.
That's one reason I think a lot of anime adaptations fail - what may be empathy evoking in a slow burn format like a visual novel may not necessarily work well in an anime.
When it comes to WUG, I'm a fan of Miyu, the maid cafe waitress. This is likely because I know quite a few moe-otaku girls via the local cosplay scene and while I'm not sure I'd call her realistic, I think she does a good job capturing the "type".
(Did you know that I once spent $3 on a tiny polaroid of myself with a tiny asian girl cosplaying Ririchiyo from Inu x Boku SS in a maid uniform because the cafe (a one day thing organized by a local anime club) didn't allow taking your own photos? In my defense, I was already a big fan of hers from the Taiga and Ririchiyo cosplays she had done over the preceeding few years.)
Man... I think I'm liking Wake up Girls more than I should be... or at least Mayu who I find incredibly moe, though I'm not sure if that's the right word. Same feeling I had for like Wakana from Tari Tari, where you feel empathy for her loss, tragic past but find satisfaction when you see them happy or enjoy themselves. Would that be classified as moe? What does Mr. Pretentious Moe Scholar think?
Heck, I would say I'm liking WuG more than NagiAsu atm...