Finally, I Watched Love Live!
I’ve actually been quite interested in watching Love Live! School Idol Project for some time now. Unfortunately, the series only had the second season of the first series available for several years. That is, until recently when Funimation (now Crunchyroll) got the streaming rights to the first season. While it’s true I could have started with future entries, I wanted to start from the beginning and make my way slowly through the franchise as I’ve been doing with Fate and others. Today I’ll be sharing 9 thoughts, or “μ’sings” if you will, about my experience with Love Live! so far.
1. The Comparative Experience
If you follow #AniTwitWatches on Twitter then you’ll know that at the time of writing this we are watching Girls und Panzer. I mention this because several of us make mention to Love Live! in our weekly discussions there, and for good reason. This really is the kind of show that if you like x, then chances are you’ll like y, even if the execution of each respective series is quite different.
Love Live! is an optimistic experience about a group of girls doing their best in order to save their school. To do so, they decide to become school idols, growing their group little-by-little, until it has the full 9 member cast. Along the way they have their ups and downs, but ultimately you know where this show is going to go in that respect. What might surprise you is how similar it is to other franchises.
As I’ve already mentioned with Girls und Panzer, it’s not hard to point to other series. However, I found that this had the most analog with K-On!. The cast itself is quite similar in typing, the themes are closely related, but the big difference is in execution. This isn’t a knock towards Love Live! by any means, in fact I quite like the show, but it is something interesting to note.
The main point of this is to say that Love Live! sits on the very traditional end of the spectrum for this kind of anime. The story itself still has more to offer than you’d likely expect at first glance, but it also isn’t breaking the mold. Compared to K-On! which leans more into the comedy side of things with special emphasis on a specific theme only touched on here, it’s easy to see where the two differ. Then you have Girls und Panzer, which is way on the other side entirely, embracing a wild concept with plenty of action, but still staying well within bounds of this general genre convention.
My thoughts on this aren’t something that I find easy to fully articulate, or this might have been a full article on its own, but as a starting thought in a larger article I think you’ll agree that it is interesting food for thought if nothing else. I’d actually love to hear your thoughts on this at the end of the article, so please feel free to share other comparative experiences if you have them.
2. My Complaints
For all the praise I’d like to heap upon Love Live!, it isn’t without some faults. There’s a reason this isn’t standing on the same level of K-On! for me, falling just short. I like this kind of story, it’s very engaging, and there truly is a lot to like. These critiques aren’t meant to take away from what’s on offer here but I think it is important to recognize two general issues that stem from how things are portrayed within the series.
The first issue has to do with the blind optimism and overall portrayal of Japanese idols. Obviously, I am not Japanese and have some disconnect from this culture, but it doesn’t take an expert to know that this industry is tough. It’s also not all smiles. Now Love Live! recognizes this on a superficial level, but it cares way more about selling the fantasy of these girls and how fun being an idol is. At a surface level, I don’t have a problem with that.
As I see it, this is an overly rosy view of a pretty difficult aspect of Japanese culture. If I had to point to another series, it would be Zombieland Saga. That show also embraces the positives and fun aspects of idols and idol culture, but it also heavily criticizes them. In short, it’s a more balanced take.
Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this on a conceptual level, but I can’t help but think about Love Live! with my marketing brain. Who’s the target audience of this show? You can pretty comfortably argue there are two primary audiences:
- Adult Men – As much of a stereotype as this is, it’s hard to say this one doesn’t apply to this series. However, it’s not really my focus point for this argument. I mention it here more for the sake of completeness than anything else, and in reality, this portion of the targeting is more niche. Basically, we can ignore this for our discussion (not to say there isn’t an interesting discussion there, I’m just not knowledgeable enough in a way that I’m confident in writing about).
- Younger Girls/Women – This should be fairly obvious. While the series explores some topics that would be best understood by older children, this has an “all ages” appeal to it. Love Live! clearly wants to speak to girls though as it is selling this fantasy of how awesome being an idol is (even if you can’t sing perfectly, aren’t conventionally attractive, etc…).
Point 2 is of interest to me because it kind of feels like this self-perpetuating engine of pulling starry-eyed kids into the rough world of idols. I don’t mean to imply that Love Live! has some sinister agenda, this is likely nothing more than a consequence of culture and more broad appeal, but the fact remains that it does contribute to this positive idealism. The result is that it’s kind of hard to ignore when coupled with how a lot of problems are resolved within the anime.
Maybe that’s just a “me” thing, but these are my musings after all so take this with a grain of salt. I, again, don’t think this ruined the show for me by any means. There are more minor nitpicks I have with some of the structure and plotting, some of which feeds into this idea, but this alone did not prevent the coveted 10/10 score. If anything, I actually find that it stirred this level of thinking in mean to be a positive in some ways, so this is a more complicated viewpoint.
One aspect that actively detracted from my enjoyment, however, has to do with the character Nozomi. She starts out as an almost older sister type character to our starting cast of three girls, gently guiding the events of the series from behind the scenes until gaining more attention as the show progresses. She’s one of the less conventional girls and even has the whole tarot card thing going for her. When you see her early on, you are sure to think she’s a great character.
Unfortunately, that’s soured by the fact that her other character trait is she likes to sexually harass and assault her classmates. She’s also one of the three older students in the cast, which makes it worse. Now I know this is a troupe of anime, and for the most part, I can kind of let this slide once or twice but she does it A LOT. Eventually, this is dropped, but long after the damage is already done. It’s a blemish on the anime that I really wish wasn’t there. This kind of “joke,” since it is meant to be funny, just isn’t….
Outside of these two things which struck me particularly, my other complaints are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. For that reason, Love Live! just misses the mark of making my favorites list, but it’s something I’d pretty happily recommend to just about anyone. Given the chance, Love Live! may just surprise you with what it ultimately has to offer.
3. The Greatest Love Live! Review & My Relationship with Other Reviewers
For those of you who follow me more closely behind the content creation scene, you’ll know that for a lot of my work on this site I actively seek out different opinions. Not always, of course, but for shows I quite enjoyed this is particularly true. You may think I look for the most popular voices or whatever I just happen to see first, and sometimes that’s true, though I actually quite prefer to find opinions that are very opposite of mine. Since I quite liked Love Live! that means I wanted to read some reviews that rated it poorly.
Enter GoodLuck on My Anime List. This man is a legend. Active from 2014 to 2015, he wrote a total of 20 reviews. Of those reviews 16 are anime related with the other 4 being manga reviews. I want to be clear, I actually really like these reviews overall in spite of what I’m about to say. They are bad reviews. No exaggeration, terrible reviews more than not. However, they are written from a unique perspective that inspired me more than I can properly communicate.
There’s this connection with GoodLuck’s content that transcends the reviews themselves. I feel like I know this person, or at least who they were during this period in which they reviewed content. Online, the formation of these parasocial relationships isn’t at all uncommon. Think of your favorite YouTube or Twitch personality, or even your favorite blogger, and I’m sure for some of them you feel like you know a fair bit about them. Now obviously I’m not claiming to be an expert when it comes to GoodLuck, nor am I attempting to capitalize on their unique viewpoints for personal gain, but it’s something I genuinely need to share with you.
The point of this will be explored more fully with point 4, “The Love Live! Fandom” but for now I ask that you bear with me here as we continue this discussion on his review. You can find the entire review, word-for-word, here on GoodLuck’s profile and below:
When this show was airing I decided not to watch Love Live, because its ain’t my style however I ended up watching it because of the rhythm game app I found in a commercial.
This show is really enjoyable. The art, and music were really great and I found myself somehow excited to watch the next episode (hasn’t happened in a while.) Now I know I said its enjoyable, but only if you don’t really think about it. (I watched while I waited for my LP to refill)
The plot is a group of girls become idols to save their school. Original really, however I found it extremely unrealistic because everything seemed to go the main girls way, and they all knew how to sing. Its odd seeing nine people extremely talented at singing to the point they don’t need to practice. It also was really predictable, I could for see every character who joined, (you can say its because of the opening, but no. Its just predictable.) And it was all shounen anime where every enemy suddenly become friends with the main. Character. Do people even like their school that much? Why does she love that school so much? Is it because her mom went their? Why?!
Art was good since it went between 2D animation and MMD’s I think their called. (Though I’ve seen better quality ones on YouTube.) The songs manage to make me smile and all were fully translated which was nice since I’m big on lyrics.
Despite this being a more anime it wasn’t really moe which is odd. K-on which is a similar show I manage to love at least 2 of their characters (Mio and Azunyan) but with I didn’t really like any besides Niko and that’s just because I managed to relate to her ( my friends blow me off a lot.) Also the main girl everything went her way, it was seriously annoying.
At the end one of the girls was about to leave and the main chick goes into the airport right as she was about to board the plane (how did she get in?) And talked her into staying. (What happened to the plane ticket? You can’t just stop stuf like that. Also she is seriously selfish. I’ve been told I’m selfish, but I’m selfish in a sense that I do my own thing. I don’t mess anyone else’s life up. She does something she drags everyone down with her.
Overall I think this show needs more moe. The only reason I can see someone watching this is so they can play the rhythm game. (It isn’t needed but it makes it easier to choose favorites.) The show wasn’t funny, moe, or even inspirational. I don’t think being a idol would be tough if you can control the weather, and have amazing talent like that, and get everything else you want. Like she screamed at the rain to stop and it did! I’m not even joking. Screw being a idol, be a weather girl. If I had the chance to go back in time and stop myself from watching this I probably would. Yeah watching it is enjoyable but once you get down and think about it you go into this living hell!
26 people found this review helpful.
Overall rating: 2/10
He’s got a few others, ranging from completely wild rides to more “tame” takes, I genuinely recommend them. Nothing but respect, this is more for an academic discussion than me trying to pull down another person. You’ll note they weren’t active for long on MAL, and so I imagine in the several years since the last posting that they have grown considerably as a person. However, it provided an excellent jumping off point for a broader discussion on review and why I read “bad” reviews.
When it comes to GoodLuck’s perspective, I obviously disagree. However, I think it’s clear just from how I spoke in the previous section that there are things we agree on. Even some of the stuff I didn’t touch on, which I would consider to be those smaller “nit-pick” issues, are brought up in this review. In short, valid points are raised here. Where the review falls apart is more in the presentation but dismantling the review isn’t my goal.
Instead, this review allowed me to better solidify my own opinion and look for where others may take issue with the series. By reading reviews like this (and believe me, I don’t just find these extreme reviews only) I’m also able to invite criticisms I may have previously ignored or simply missed due to my own bias. This process makes my content better and is something I’d actively recommend you try for yourself on the next topic you choose to write about. Ask yourself why someone may think this way, how they got to these points, and ultimately where you sit on each individual issue whether you agree or not.
Extending further, for this reason, I also follow several creators whom I strongly disagree with. Taking in these different opinions has value to me, and by extension, you the reader. Often it seems like the internet is constantly telling you that if you disagree with somebody or don’t like what they are saying, just block them. Silence the voice and move on with your life. While this works for people spouting hate speech, conspiracy theories, or actual harmful rhetoric, sure. Yeah, absolutely. Media takes? Not so much. Sure, there are limits, but by allowing yourself to take in some of these takes I genuinely believe you come out the other side better for it.
Still, it’s not like I never get irritated with opinions I disagree with. Just ask some people in the Discord, I’ve certainly been guilty of complaining about these sorts of things more than once, but I’m not turning around and attacking people for it either. Like GoodLuck here, I may not agree but I can at least appreciate the content for what it is most of the time. The big takeaway here is to not take dissenting opinions personally, they aren’t attacks on your person. By engaging with said ideas, you may just walk away with a better understanding of yourself and the media you desire to discuss.
4. The Love Live! Fandom
I want to now get back to this idea of “parasocial relationships.” In the previous section I did kind of define this, but allow me to provide you with a proper definition here:
Parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships, where one person extends emotional energy, interest and time, and the other party, the persona, is completely unaware of the other’s existence.
-Find a Psychologist (.org)
So what does this have to do with the Love Live! fandom? Simply speaking, their reputation. It’s terrible, and a big reason for this is due to this kind of relationship coupled with the general idol culture of Japan mentioned in the second section, “My Complaints.”
This may seem like a wild claim, but if you look into the online community for this franchise you are going to see some wild stuff. Now of course there are plenty of reasonable everyday folks who like Love Live! in a healthy way just like a lot of other communities with poor reputations. However, those that don’t tend to be quite vocal and the impact can be quite widespread (see My Hero Academia for just one other example as this isn’t unique to something more “Japanese”). Over time, this can lead to a shift in the collective conciseness of how others perceive a franchise and alter the discussions about said fans and the work itself for long periods of time.
As a result of this reputation, I have to admit I had an additional interest in Love Live! that would normally keep some people away. I’m always curious why or how a community gains notoriety, be it good or bad, so that I might form my own opinion. I’ve seen people post threats to real life people if a Love Live! girl even looked at a fictional man, some more extreme groups use the franchise as a platform to spread hate, and so much more. There’s a lot of ugly in the community.
Most people can see that this isn’t representative of the work. However, I haven’t forgotten about the original topic of parasocial relationships. That’s where I see Love Live! “fans” scaring off prospective viewers. From what I can see, there are three kinds of Love Live! fans that fall into this kind of unhealthy engagement with the franchise that has lead to a tarnishing of the community brand:
- Possessive Fans – These fans are people who like a certain character and want that character to be real, so that they can have all of this character’s attention. In a literal sense, a parasocial relationship that is extremely unhealthy.
- Character Haters – You’ve seen this before, “how could you like x character?” or even worse, “if you like x then you’re a bad person because [completely arbitrary reason].” When it comes to Love Live! this typically surrounds one character in particular, Nico Yazawa. We’ll talk about this more in the next section, “Nico ‘Super Idol Nico, Nicocchi’ Yazawa.”
- Aggressive Shippers – People who believe that characters in the show must have certain relationships with other characters and any conflicting viewpoints that don’t line up with this fantasy are wrong. Often, like the other two points, leading to personal confrontation and sometimes even literal threats.
All of this might sound extreme, but a quick Google search is going to have you seeing this stuff. I mean, here’s a link for you to do just that here. Naturally, you’ll see other arguments about why some folks avoid the Love Live! community, and ultimately the show itself, but to keep the discussion focused we only really care about these three since they seem the most common.
Anime fans are passionate, and that passion can result in so many incredible things. It becomes a problem though when this interest shifts closer to a weird, almost cult-like fanaticism that results in the three kinds of people outlined above. It’s honestly sad to see a form of love for a piece of media, for which many people clearly strongly connect with, twist and pervert itself until it becomes something malicious.
Each of the three types of “fans” I’ve outlined above are an alien experience for me. I can jokingly engage in hating on a character but believing the girls are mine somehow? Caring about fictional relationships? Nah, I just can’t understand that. It’s why I call this kind of engagement unhealthy. It’s not to say you can’t ship characters or share a bond with a character you connected with in a healthy way, you absolutely can and it would be absurd to suggest otherwise, though it should be clear that it’s still something outside my experience with media.
In some ways, it could be viewed as “risky” for someone to engage with Love Live! and its community given this. Unfortunately, a few rotten apples can spoil the bunch in that sense. For me personally though, I care to engage with media on my own terms and then decide for myself whether or not it deserves my time. Rest assured I’m not going to become a hardcore devotee of this franchise, I’ll happily recommend it to folks, but like most shows I enjoyed, I’m not making it my entire personality.
That’s the key difference. Striking that balance. So would I count myself in with the Love Live! community? I mean, I guess so in a more tangential sense. I’ll watch the other seasons and discuss with those in my Discord who have watched it before like Scott, listen to some of the songs I liked, and that’s about it.
5. Nico “Super Idol Nico, Nicocchi” Yazawa
Since we just got done talking about the fandom in a limited capacity, I wanted to spend more time talking about Nico and why people don’t like her. If you haven’t seen the show, you have almost certainly seen something like this in passing:
Or perhaps even like this…
There are so many memes. We could be here all day if I included more, but her catchphrase is one of the big reasons people don’t like her. You may think it an exaggeration of how often she says it, but no, it really is quite a lot! Then there’s the fact that she’s kind of a gremlin with an inflated sense of ego, and yeah, seeing why someone might dislike her, or even despise her, isn’t surprising at all.
However, I don’t despise Nico like a lot of people in and out of the Love Live! community seem to. I can see a weird sense of endearment for the character as I did like her…. in small doses. Out of all the characters in this anime, Nico is the one who experiences the most growth. You can see this in how her character is initially setup as antagonistic, then to comic relief, all before finally coming to stand equally with the other members. It’s not as if she completely grows out of her more obnoxious traits, but change is not something that happens spontaneously in a person. It takes time and effort.
In this regard, I can respect Nico and her passion for idols. I’m glad she was able to realize her dream and goal with this group of girls before graduation as a result. Would I look at you funny if you said that she was your favorite character? Yes, for sure. She’s annoying enough that feels weird to me. That said, from a story perspective I could at least understand it. She’s compelling and multi-dimensional in a way that a lot of the other Love Live! cast simply isn’t.
6. Smash or Pass – Love Live! School Idol Project Edition
This has become a bit of a meme lately to do with Pokémon and other series, so against my better judgement we’ll go ahead and do that for this show too. Why not? Keep in mind that this is all hypothetical and just for fun. I’m very much not into this kind of game, but I’ll do my best to explain my thinking while making very snap judgements about each of the characters. Finally, I’ll be doing this for all named characters in the show in no particular order:
Honoka Kousaka – Questionable Smash
Like with K-On!’s Yui, she’s attractive but not exactly my type. At least with Honoka, she’s got a bit more going on for her compared to Yui, which is something. Yui’s main problem is that she’s too irresponsible and airheaded for me to fully commit to but with Honoka, in spite of being similar, has more drive. I mean to say that she feels more like a functional human being. So for me the designation of “questionable smash” is more of a fling type deal than a long-term relationship. Could it be something more? Maybe, but I don’t think we’d have that kind of compatibility. That said, she’s somebody I could see being friends with as it would likely be a lot of fun.
Hanayo Koizumi – Pass
Sorry Hanayo, but you are a pass. Don’t get me wrong, I’m into the more shy-type girls but her overall lack of confidence is a big turn-off. I’m also just not fanatically into idols like she is, which I feel would spell disaster even for a casual relationship. Finally, I feel like outside of Rin, she’s not really looking for anybody (that’s about as much shipping from me as you can possibly get).
Over time, given her experience throughout the Love Live! season, she could become someone who could catch my interest though. So I thought I’d add this bit to say that she could be considered a “questionable pass” instead if I were able to see how she grew as a person. This is really weird, I already regret committing to this meme.
Eli Ayase – Smash
She’s attractive, my gut says smash. I do have a soft spot for a character with Eli’s background, and she ticks a lot of boxes for me in terms of personality, but with that being said it’s not a strong smash. It’s difficult to explain, which is maybe the point of a “game” like this? I hope you are ready to read a descent into madness. By time this is done, I won’t be the same anymore. Anyway, Eli, yeah, she’s very nice and I’d at least want to go on a date with her even if that’s all there was to it.
Nico Yazawa – Pass
I do not Nico-Nico-need this girl in my life. Alright, that’s a bit of a meme, she’s not that bad. This one is actually a bit easier for me to explain since we just had a section dedicated to her. Based on that, it should be unsurprising that I would give her a pass.
That said, she reminds me of Azusa from K-On! so it isn’t as if she’s totally without visual appeal at the very least. When she puts her hair down and isn’t being obnoxious, she’s actually my type just like Kaguya (Love is War) or Ai Emna (Hell Girl).
Kotori Minami – Pass
In theory Kotori is quite nice. She’s hardworking, has a passion with a life goal involving fashion, and is fiercely loyal. These are all great things that I find attractive. Sadly for her, I just don’t have any interest. I’d love to be friends with her but I just don’t see myself being attracted to her in meaningful capacity. Some of you may argue that this could be “questionable pass” based on that, because maybe I’d be open to a one-night stand, but no. In real life, that’s very much not my thing and I would feel really bad doing that to Kotori if she were real. Therefore, she’s a pass with the option that I’d like to befriend her.
Umi Sonoda – Smash
Like Nico, this one is incredibly easy for me to decide on and explain. Umi is almost a perfect hit when it comes to type for me. I know I keep mentioning K-On!, but I already said in the first portion of this article that there are a lot of analogs and comparison here, but she’s very much the Mio of the group. Mio is my favorite girl there, so it stands to reason that Umi would be pretty up there.
I don’t think I really need to add much more to this. I’d commit to Umi if she were a real person and we had spent some time together. I think this is maybe the most normal take I’ve had so far in this thing.
Rin Hoshizora – Pass
I feel kind of bad because Rin already has a complex about her femininity but she’s a pass, though not because she’s ugly or anything like that. The tomboy archetype can be attractive, but the real deal breaker for me is the whole cat thing. It’s not a secret that I’m not into cat girls, or animal girls in general, and while she’s not literally a cat girl, all the nyan stuff is just too much.
In my brain, it makes her more annoying than she actually is and I feel that just sabotages anything right out the gate. So for both our sakes I’ll give this a pass. I feel like I’m getting in the groove when it comes to giving my answer and reasoning. Let’s pray that holds up…
Maki Nishikino – Pass
I chose this picture and positioned as I did because Maki is a tsudere. Generally speaking, this kind of character isn’t my type. There are a few exceptions, but overall, nah. Maki does have a few things going for her with her singing voice and music talents, though that’s fairly superficial so, pass.
Maybe I should add that Maki does sell a good fantasy in being rich, talented, and quite caring. Given some time, I think I could migrate out of the pass territory in a far greater hypothetical space but I am trying to base my decisions on my actual real-life self. I’d be lying if I said none of that is appealing, but again, I need more than something superficial feeling to be comfortable moving even to the “questionable pass” area.
Nozomi Tojo – Pass
I really don’t have much to say on this one. I’m just not interested. Part of this is the groping thing in the anime, I don’t like that, but in general, just not feeling anything. Sorry Nozomi.
Kotori’s Mom – Pass
I know a lot of folks love that MILF and DILF energy when it comes to their tastes, but for me? Not feeling it.
While I’m here though, I should say that Kotori has a nice mom who is very supportive. She’s a good example of positive anime parents which was nice to see. Figured that we might as well give some mini character reviews since I need to fill the space anyway, but also they aren’t going to get a real chance later in this article.
Kotaro Yazawa – Pass (Obviously)
The youngest sibling of Nico, in case that wasn’t clear. I don’t think I really need to explain my lack of interest here.
Mika – Pass
I know she was one of a few girls we saw regularly supporting the main cast and their pursuit of being school idols but… I don’t know anything about her really. Therefore, she’s a pass.
Cocoa Yazawa – Pass
She’s on the right, pictures for her weren’t working on here so that’s the best I got
I don’t think I have to explain the pass here again. She’s older than her younger brother Kotaro, but clearly still too young. She’s really cute though, I would watch a father-daughter anime about her. In real life, this would be a fun kid to babysit for probably.
Anju Yuuki – Pass
There’s only one girl from the group Arise I would feel comfortable saying smash for, and even then it’s questionable. Anju is not the one.
The main reason that the Arise crew is in the pass category is for the same reason that Mika was. I just don’t know enough about most of the three girls that comprise that group. In some ways it’s disappointing that we don’t really get a lot of time with Arise in the the anime. Even a single dedicated episode to them would have been nice.
Still, I get why we don’t focus much on these characters outside of the friendly rivalry that forms between the two groups. It helps keep the show focused, but for the sake of this activity I wish we could have seen some more of them.
Erina Toudou – Pass
See previous. Slightly more info, she’s cute but not exactly my type either.
Yukiho Kousaka – Smash
If Honoka was a questionable smash, this shouldn’t be too surprising. She’s just the better version of her. I know we don’t get to see a ton of her in the anime, but I like her better and this is my list so I don’t really have to justify it all that hard to you. Right?
An aside, I know that some people have a glasses fetish, and I just noticed how she’s really the only one who wears any in the series outside of Hanayo (who quickly drops hers). They are just for reading it seems in Yukiho’s case. Doesn’t really do anything for me, but I thought I’d throw in this observation.
Nico’s Mother – Questionable Smash
Look, I’ll be straight with you, this is based solely on appearance. She seemed like a great mom. I figure I needed a pick like this in here anyway, so feel free to debate about this in the comments. I’m sure this whole experience will have some of you saying something, I mean, this is pretty out of character for me.
Tsubasa Kira – Questionable Smash
You remember when I said there’s only one member of Arise I felt comfortable saying smash for? Well here she is! I like Tsubasa at a base level, though she’s not my favorite. What moves her up in the rankings though is the fact that her English voice is provided by Cassandra Lee Morris, who voices other characters I like such as Taiga from Torardora!. This might be weird to say, but I find her voice to be quite attractive, and 9/10, I end up with a soft spot for her characters. There are some exceptions, of course, but something about her voice is attractive to me, so there you go.
Arisa Ayase – Smash
I mean, Eli was a smash so this isn’t too surprising hopefully. While she isn’t hitting boxes as hard as say someone like, Kudryavka Noumi from Little Busters!, she’s hitting enough of them. In Arisa’s case, I like her fish-out-of-water energy and general personality. She’s also really cute. This probably should be a “questionable pass” since I am totally basing this on some superficial stuff but… it’s my list so fight me!
In all seriousness though, she is Eli’s younger sister, resulting in a similar background. I’d actually argue that Arisa has the long-term advantage over her older sister though as she has more world experience (even if she is a bit naïve/dense to certain cultural things) and is shown to be more honest with herself. Plus, she’s really empathetic when it comes to her interactions with others overall, which I like. Oh, also harasho is just good.
Cocoro Yazawa – Pass
The final Yazawa sibling, she’s the second oldest. Again, I don’t think I have to explain this one. Just like Cocoa, I’d probably love hanging out with this kid in real life. She has the right kind of kid energy that makes for time going quickly when you watch them but also enjoyable enough as a human to not be exhausting. That’s just my gut though, I could be totally wrong. Maybe she’s a little demon? Though, from the show, I doubt it.
Hideko – Pass
Same reasoning for Mika.
Fumiko – Pass
Well, not an exciting one to end on but I’m not moving these around. This was a lot of work! I don’t recommend doing this in a written format. Oh my goodness. Anyway, see previous.
7. The DEFINITIVE µ’s Songs Rankings List
You know what this article needed? More lists! Love Live! is a show about idols, so how does the music measure up? I joked with Scott that I’d rank them all, so let’s do that. Here I’ll be ranking, in order, each of the 20 songs that play in the series. I limited this to just songs in the anime that only μ’s sings as a group (that means I cut the unit songs from the film as well as the random Honoka songs) or we’d be here all day. To keep things exciting, we’ll go from worst to best. Where possible, I’ll leave a video so you can listen along as well.
Korekara no Someday
I’ll be real with you guys, this list has to start somewhere but I honestly forgot this song even existed. When I was listening to all the music to rank these, I also instantly just hated it. So it was just an obvious pick for worst song for me. If you enjoy it, power to you though.
I kind of feel bad for disliking this one since it’s Kotori’s only real song, but I just don’t like it. While other songs might be a bit on the forgettable side, when I was watching the show this was the first time I just wanted to skip a song outright. The reason it beats out the previous song, however, is that my immediate reaction to it isn’t one of disdain, it is simply boredom.
Bokura no LIVE Kimi to no LIFE
This is the first song where all 9 members perform and it shows sadly. It’s unpolished and I just don’t enjoy listening to this song very much at all. Not as bad as the last 2 songs, but certainly not something I’d choose to listen to.
Yume no Tobira
When I hear this song I don’t feel any particular way. I’d classify this as perfectly fine but also perfectly forgettable. These next couple of songs could be considered on a similar level with this one sitting on the bottom of that heap largely because it sounds a bit bland.
Perhaps this sounds shallow, but I enjoy the way this one sounds over the last one. That said, it is still a kind of forgettable song. Kind of weird considering this song and the last one have more story relevance, which I’d love to give points for, but I have to stay true to my heart here.
I’m starting to think that the more upbeat songs are my flavor when it comes to Love Live! but then again I know the full list and that’s not necessarily true. In any case, this song is catchy and more memorable, but is still sitting in that kind of “meh” zone. Though, if this came on randomly on a playlist or something I could enjoy it (still wouldn’t seek it out actively though).
No brand girls
I’m giving this one bonus points for the connection to the story, but I also factored in the lyrics on each song. While my initial reaction to “No brand girls” in the show proper was more lackluster, I can appreciate it a bit more after going through this process. That said, it’s just barely moving us in the direction of songs that are decent but not lovable.
Sadly this isn’t highlighted in the video, but visually this song has a lot to offer and is the main reason for beating out “No brand girls” for the spot. Though, it honestly very well could be about even with that song in terms of placement. For me, the visuals are enough to bring it just one step above, but I think I enjoy the song just a tiny bit more for the other one. So as you can see, I’m a bit divided myself on this one.
There are a lot of “sendoff” songs in Love Live!, by which I mean songs that could easily have worked for a finale, and this is one of them. It’s just a graduation song, nice and simple, if not a bit plain. I know why this more lackluster song wasn’t the song to send the series off, but even still I can’t help but feel it to be nice. Officially in the “I like this” territory. Probably wouldn’t listen to this often, but here-and-there I could enjoy it.
I cheated and included one song that isn’t a μ’s only song as it is just the three main girls (Honoka, Umi, and Kotori). That said, I like this song enough that I wanted it on the list so fight me I guess. Seriously though, I had fun listening to this in spite of the kind of nonsensical lyrics.
Dancing stars on me!
It’s the Halloween song, spoooooooooky! Nah, not really. Though I am a sucker for this kind of sound, and as a result, “Dancing stars on me!” is sitting solidly in the middle of the list. This is also the last of the songs I just kind of like as we move into songs that I find to be actively good.
Donna Toki mo Zutto
This one has a million versions, so I’ve included a clean version above and one with all of them below. The second ED of the series isn’t nearly as good as the first, but it is still pretty enjoyable. I love that Rin has a maraca reprisal as well, I just love seeing her go ham with those. Mostly this is just cool for how many versions it has but it isn’t my favorite as we move into the songs I actively enjoy here. Each one getting better and better for me of course.
Love wing bell
You might be surprised since I didn’t speak too highly of Rin in the last section, but I actually think this song is good on all sides of the equation. Rin getting a big character moment is reflected in the bigger sound of the song, I liked that it allowed Rin to be true to herself without fear of judgement like she had been prior. As a result, this is getting total bonus points for story relevance but it is just a nice song to boot.
I’m just going to share my quick notes with you as I was ranking these to remind myself of what to write: “I do like my daijoubus and daisukis…”
Yup, I think that speaks for itself.
Sore wa Bokutachi no Kiseki
This is the second OP for Love Live!, which isn’t as good as OP 1, but I still like it. The video above isn’t the full version and is from a game, but so it shall be for quality reasons. I’m actually kind of surprised by the placement here myself, I would have guessed it to be lower before putting this together, but turns out, I actually like this more than I thought. Who knew?
Kitto Seishun ga Kikoeru
Ug, I want you to see Rin’s maraca action so badly! Genuinely my favorite part. For someone who doesn’t like Rin very much, I certainly mentioned her a lot in this section. Even still, just a solid ED that I never skipped. On the casual listen playlist, which every song from this point forward can easily belong to.
SUNNY DAY SONG
Alight, alright, I’m half-cheating this time. This is an ensemble song, meaning all the characters sing it, and boy what a song it is! Without exaggeration I did not think the show could top itself with the finale when it came to the film. This is already an amazing way to send off the first series, but it does manage to top this a bit later on the list. Even still, this song is packed with emotion and is just nice. I like it a lot, even if it is kind of corny.
Bokutachi wa Hitotsu no Hikari
You know how I just said that “SUNNY DAY SONG” was topped as a finale? Well, this is the song that does that. The film is something we’ll talk about later, but if there’s anything it gets right, it’s the music. Holy cow, this song is incredible from a thematic standpoint, a storytelling perspective, musically, and so on. The lyrics incorporate the names of each of the 9 girls and allows them all to shine in the song. I can not stress enough just how incredible this was as a moment in the show. Very unexpected for just how perfect it was. Why not number 1 then? Well, it’s true that this song wows me, it still isn’t my favorite to actually listen to. Still, it deserves to be high on the list and anybody who disagrees with me on that either hates Love Live! or doesn’t appreciate just how cool this song actually is in context.
Bokura wa Ima no Naka de
The first opening has been something I’ve enjoyed since we started doing Thursday AMQ games with the Discord and Twitter community I’ve built up. I don’t have a ton to say, I simply like this one.
You’ll have to settle for an unofficial video on this one, but “START:DASH!!” is easily one of my favorite Love Live! songs that I’ve heard to date. Whether it be the version with all 9 members or the 3 member version, it’s a very fun song. When you add the value of the song in relation to the story, it really elevates it as well. It’s one song I enjoy listening to over and over again as a result.
While this may be a silly reason, I should also mention School-Live! as well here. The reason being that I absolutely adore that show’s opening, there’s a particular way it sounds that I enjoy a lot. Anyway, the reason I’m mentioning it here is that part of “START:DASH!!” sounds very similar to it, which I thought was interesting on a more subconscious level. I’ll drop that opening here too so you can hear for yourself.
For a vast majority of the show’s run, the previous song, “START:DASH!!” would have been my obvious pick for top spot. However, “Snow Halation” has really come to grow on me as I’ve spent time listening to the songs over the past couple of weeks. Unknown to me until quite recently is the fact that this song is a meme with a lot of terrible mashups that K at the Movies has been sharing with me. I’ll share just one of those here.
One of the other reasons for this taking top spot on the list is the fact that it actually has some decent English covers, unlike most of the other songs. I’m partial to the Will Stetson one as it changes the tempo and is a solo cover. As to why I personally like this song? It’s a combination of the lyrics and sound. It just speaks to me, sometimes it’s just that simple.
8. Love Live! The School Idol Movie Quick Thoughts
When the second season of Love Live! ended, I was aware of the film beforehand. Though, in the moment, I didn’t really see how the series needed a film. It was about to end pretty well, not perfectly, but on a high note, then it artificially extended itself. This sort of thing always sets off alarm bells for me because sometimes it’s better to just let things be sometimes. The series was already excellent, why risk that? Even still, this would be a pretty bad review of the franchise if I left out the film, and I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t want to watch it anyway (because I did want more, so I guess there’s that).
Trailer for you
On the surface, it’s easy to once again compare the Love Live! film to the K-On! film. Before the people who have actually seen these get all up in arms, I said, “on the surface” as these films very quickly diverge and become their own things. It’s worth mentioning due to my comment way back at the start of this thing about how both series share a lot in common in spite of going in wildly different directions. In short, if you like one, you’ll probably like the other but I digress.
Quick synopsis for those who need it. Our girls have just learned of a new emergency from Hanayo that the in-universe Love Live! event wants their help to get an ambitious project off the ground. Since the third-years, though technically graduated, are still school idols for a little while longer before the school year ends, they decide to help out. In the process they are confronted with the reality of possibly ending the group for real. Though, they won’t have a lot of time to initially think about it as they travel to New York to drum up publicity only to return home famous. With newfound success, is it really OK to let things end?
That’s the core of the movie. The first half we have fun in New York, doing the overseas thing with all the trimmings (hotel mix-up, getting lost, etc…) and the second half we deal with their decision. In true Love Live! fashion though, it’s approached in a way where everyone wins thanks to Honoka, resulting in a finale that almost makes up for the sloppier parts of the movie.
It really does pain me to say this, but the film is a pretty big step down in quality. Not in terms of animation, but in storytelling and pacing. If there’s one thing that Love Live! really excels at, it’s giving you a good story to root for while keeping the pace up, so you can see why this might be disappointing. You can really see this in two ways throughout the film:
- Awkward scene transitions
- The mysterious lady
With point one, I noticed several times in the film where the girls would be doing one thing and then suddenly–let’s discuss issue two. It’s jarring, just like that probably was to read. No build up or lean-in. Just, BOOM, we are doing this now I guess. For how on point a large portion of this whole anime is, it’s extremely disheartening to see it drop the ball like that.
Issue two has more nuance to it, but also contributes to part of the previous issue. Without spoiling things, Honoko gets lost in the film while in New York (to nobody’s surprise). That’s when she meets a mysterious woman who helps her find her way back. This is all fine and dandy, but she always vanishes and nobody but Honoko can see her. Then the film forgets all about it until, randomly, the woman shows up again.
Now, from a metaphorical and narrative standpoint I totally understand the purpose of this woman. The execution though? No, it’s really quite awful. Easily the worst part of the film by a mile. It’s totally unnecessary for one thing. Mystery lady is only there to help Honoko sort out her feelings about the group, but then that’s what Arise and everyone else ends up doing later. Sure, the film “justifies” this by having Honoko have a flash of inspiration from the mystery lady’s words, but it’s flimsy. The other reason is to make the whole start to the movie make sense, which is a nice sentiment, but again, this woman didn’t need to exist for that to work. Basically, she’s confusing, even if you “get” why she’s there.
If you’ve seen the film especially, it should be pretty clear that I understand “who” this mystery woman is and why she’s there, but it is irksome all the same. However, it has lead to some funny fan theories online if you want to look them up, I like the one that Love Live! is secretly an idol spin-off of Steins;Gate (I can’t make this stuff up). So that’s the last I’m going to say on that.
Putting those two things aside though, the film is actually quite good. Not as good as the series proper, but a step down from near-perfect is still pretty dang good. I’ve already mentioned the finale moments in the song ranking sections, but I need to do so again here. Everything leading up to, and including, those songs makes the film. Period.
The New York section is fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s kind of fluffy. It’s there to be a distraction, which in context to the narrative, is exactly that. For the girls it is a distraction. Then when they return, they have to deal with stuff they’ve been ignoring. You can argue they already sorted all this out at the end of season 2, and yeah, they did but things got complicated. While it may feel somewhat cheap to have a “rehash” of that conflict, it is, at the very least, justified here.
Looking at the second portion though, again, it is the culmination of everything. It’s almost enough to forget the missteps of the film up to that point to be perfectly honest. It’s that good. Which is why I don’t take any pleasure in saying that those lesser parts drag the film down. I’m stressing this a lot because it was my biggest takeaway from the watch. I expected to see something not as good as the series itself and was simultaneously able to have those expectations met and exceeded. At the same time though, to call this a “mixed bag” film would be wrong. It’s worth watching if you liked the show, no doubt, just know it’s going to be slightly frustrating due to some odd choices.
9. My Hopes for Sunshine
Oh wow, we are almost done with this monster of an article now. Kind of crazy for the first dive into the Love Live! franchise, right? That’s exactly why I want to use this last talking point to share my hopes for the next installment, Love Live! Sunshine!!, which is a direct sequel to this series. The cast is all new though, it’s kind of a “passing the torch” kind of deal from what I understand. I suspect it will be about how people can inspire others to action, comparative struggles, and more stuff that we saw here in Love Live! School Idol Project itself.
This has me feeling pretty good for Sunshine moving forward. I’m expecting some retreading, simply because the nature of the plot seemingly demands it, but as long as it can explore a unique cast that grows, even if in a similar way, I’ll be happy. Taking that into consideration though, it does mean that I’m not expecting it to be quite as good this time around either.
Now don’t get me wrong, I want Sunshine to be on par with, or even exceed this series, but I don’t expect it to. The reasoning for that is just how well School Idol Project wrapped up. It’s a tough gig to follow, which is kind of the point if my hunch is right. Though, to that end, only time will tell.
Either way, I’ll be looking forward to watching this after I take a little break. I need to get back to Fate/Stay Night‘s epic year-long journey. If you want to see me tackle either of those in the future, be sure to stick around! Also, if you enjoyed this in any capacity, please consider a donation. I’ll leave links down below. It goes a long way as this kind of thing is a ton of work.
This is the end of the article folks. I hope you enjoyed. As I mentioned, links to donate are down below. Please leave a like and comment while you are at it too, I’d love to hear if you liked Love Live! or if you plan to check it out after having read this. Until next time folks.