OP Sequence

OP: 「僕らは今の中で」 (Bokura wa Ima no Naka de) by μ’s

「叶え!私たちの夢――」 (Kanae! Watashitachi no Yume–)
“May Our Dream Come True!”

Light and fluffy, peppy and frilly, and full of cute girls, shining optimism, and a $(#@ ton of J-Pop songs – that’s Love Live! School Idol Project in a sentence. Whether you watch depends on whether you like that kind of thing, but if you do, this one is done pretty well.

As a disclaimer, I consider this lighter fare, so the plot won’t be a large part of my focus, nor should it probably be for you. Nonetheless, I’ll brush over it quickly. The plot is thus: the protagonists’ school is going to close because they don’t have enough students coming in, and they would rather that not happen. After looking around at more successful schools, leading lady Kousaka Honoka (Nitta Emi) decides that she and her friends should become school idols to attract new students.

First, I’ve got to get a pointless, silly aside out of the way – I’ve never understood the love anime characters hold for their high schools. Not that it’s bad, it’s just either a trope or a cultural thing that I don’t personally understand–though perhaps that’s because my high school was built like a prison, and largely run like one as well. I suppose they feel about their high schools like I do about my university. I’d fight to save that! …er, what was I talking about again?

Right, school idols. So as I said, this is a light and fuwa-fuwa series, with the plot playing second third fiddle to the characters and, most importantly, the music. Hell, it wasn’t even 6 seconds into this episode before the first song was playing! I must say, I enjoyed the music we heard this week. It was effervescent stuff, light and enthusiastic and cheery, and you can also dance to it. Disclaimer: I have terrible taste in music, so my enjoying what’s presented here means little to nothing. Music is subjective as hell though, so I’ll say this – if you like idol-type music, jump in, because that’s what this is. If not, probably nothing will save this series for you.

Character-wise, all the girls are likable so far. I especially like Honoka’s friend Sonoda Umi (Mimori Suzuko) so far, both for her amusing dismissal of Honoka (“She’s probably just confused”) and for getting all flustered over the thought of becoming an idol. Seito Kaichou Ayase Eri (Nanjo Yoshino) gets points as well, both because she’s trying to do what she’s supposed to do despite her own feelings (been there, Eri-chan), and also because she reminds me of Saki from Natsuiro Kiseki. Special mention goes to Honoka’s imouto Kousaka Yukiho (Touyama Nao), though mainly because Honoka pinning her to the cabinet gave me the chance for some phenomenal seiyuu shipping. The yuri goggles, they’re too tight!!

Other than that, I’m finding myself at a loss for what to say. The atmosphere is light and optimistic, the subject matter is frilly and carefree, and most of the enjoyment will undoubtedly come not from any real sense of drama, but from cute girls singing and dancing (and occasionally, falling on their asses faces). My main qualm is that I still don’t like when studios resort to such obvious CG, because it breaks my immersion; my biggest compliments come due to good pacing, tying the episode together with Honoka’s singing at the beginning and the end, and the use of no background music after their club was rejected, which helped to make the scene more poignant.

Other than that? This show is exactly what you think it is. I won’t be blogging the rest of it, but considering how much I like light and fluffy J-Pop, I’ll certainly be watching. Whether you do so as well is up to your own tastes.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – A light & fluffy J-Pop anime. What more do you need to know? #lovelive

Random thoughts:

  • I enjoyed how Honoka’s initial distress about the school closing was because she knew she would have trouble with a transfer test, heh. Compared to loving one’s high school, even I would have reacted like that (if my country had tests for high school, that is).
  • Their robo-bu is crap! Someone get Tanegashima on the phone, STAT!
  • You’re being so subtle about this, twintail-chan.
  • You’re actually being subtle about this one, twintails-and-thighhighs-chan. Also: cutest. yuri. stalker. ever.
  • Don’t dance in the street, Honoka-chan. That’s dangerous.

Full-length images: 31.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「ススメ→テゥモロウ」 (Susume→Tomorrow) by 新田恵海, 内田彩, 三森すずこ ()

Preview

58 Comments

  1. In any case, given the surprising warm reception (as it’s based on an existing work that’s around for about three years, with Lantis backing up the project, and thus a sizable niche fanbase), it’ll give the two other shows of the season — Puchimas (The Idolmaster) and AKB0048 Next Stage — considerable competition, and by extension, fierce debate between viewers.

    What remains to see is how well this show’s merits would hold up in the next few weeks.

    v3000
    1. First, I’ve got to get a pointless, silly aside out of the way – I’ve never understood the love anime characters hold for their high schools. Not that it’s bad, it’s just either a trope or a cultural thing that I don’t personally understand–though perhaps that’s because my high school was built like a prison, and largely run like one as well. I suppose they feel about their high schools like I do about my university. I’d fight to save that! …er, what was I talking about again?

      Unlike elsewhere, including in the West, high school life is held in high regard by the Japanese, who consider it the best years of their youthful lives, because once they graduate and tearfully have to abandon their uniforms, it’ll be like letting go of their youth.

      v3000
      1. Agreed.

        The ups and downs, fun, laughter, tears, pranks, punishment and all are dear to us.

        I was known as the emotionless and dead serious guy back (despite all those aforementioned things) in those days. They thought I was possessed when I shed buckets of manly tears during graduation day

        c2710
  2. Definitely a lot better than I thought. The art is beautiful, a lot of detail in the dancing and whatnot. Gave me an Idolm@ster vibe really.

    Already really liking the girls so far too.

    HalfDemonInuyasha
    1. In short:
      IdolM@ster > Love Live > AKB….

      Of course the original idol animes would win hands down. I don’t think an anime that clings to the namesake of some famed idol group in Japan will top originality with lousy plot and fraud wars will never do(unless Gen had something to do with it…)

      TheMoondoggie
      1. Sorry I can’t hear you over the fact that I watched five full episodes and deem AKB0048 the one being bland…

        If there is one saving grace it would only be it’s graphics.

        But that’s it. An anime to advertise an idol group in Japan will never amount to anything…. Also faux wars are fail wars. Have some of the girls die dut to the war, then we’ll talk.

        TheMoondoggie
      2. And a group of highschool girls starting an idol group to save their school from closing is somehow LESS bland than fighting to bring hope to an enslaved galaxy under an Orwllian regime that bans all forms of entertainment. I think you’re lying to yourself. You may not have liked the latter, but simply by reading the descriptions you can tell which one is bland and which one is not. Your modern day highschool girl series is a generic show. It is entirely possible for it to still be good, but it is still generic. In terms of originality in plot, world-design, etc. AKB0048 outdoes it completely.

        Also, you didn’t watch long enough. Nobody dies (although some come close), but the more serious plots only really got moving later.

        Wanderer
      3. Also, you didn’t watch long enough. Nobody dies (although some come close), but the more serious plots only really got moving later.

        That’s the problem: they’ll never kill them. Why? It’s an anime with the same name as the idol group in Japan.

        War is hell, I want my wars to have someone die. Valkyria had the resident imouto die. So did tons of other war anime. AKB0048’s episode 4 was a shit-out.

        AKB0048 is the type of anime that will get the girls hurt but will never kill them. I already get that feel. So why the war? Just to make the show flashier? Give me a break.

        TheMoondoggie
      4. First of all, the girls aren’t soldiers. They fight to defned themselves and their fans, but that’s all. This isn’t a war in a normal sense. They don’t seek out and engage the enemy. They don’t attack anyone. They just perform. They fight with non-lethal weaponry to defend themselves, but that’s all. Episode 3’s “test” combat scenario showed us how a “normal” war would have been, which is exactly why they don’t do things that way. Their purpose isn’t to fight anyone, but to bring hope to people who have never had it before.

        And yes, the enemy doesn’t want them to do that, and attacks them. So they counter with bulletproof clothing, special training on evading patterns of gunfire, various taser weapons to knock out their opponents, and air-support that stasis-locks enemy vehicles.

        You’re not seeing a standard “war is hell” message because they’re not fighting a standard war. For the most part the girls aren’t interested in fighting at all. They aren’t there to fight. They’re there to show their love.

        There were and are other issues besides the war in AKB0048 which were much more interesting to watch for anyway.

        Wanderer
      5. Your accusations of AKB being pure advertisement is asinine, especially since all three shows are guilty of that. IM@S is a huge franchise and Love Live come from popular music videos. They’re all marketing gimmicks but AKB was the only one who was brave enough to actually make it something much bigger instead of playing safe.

        Kawamori didn’t just make it a marketing vessel, he made an entire universe out of it, with detailed background and history on the setting, numerous glossaries explaining the sci-fi technology and planets. The show itself has a lot of interesting plot threads, Acchan’s like mysterious disappearance or the shady inner circle of Sensei-sensei. That’s far more effort than what you accuse of idol advertisement.

        Saying AKB is the blandest and least original is just plain wrong.

        fragb85
    2. Not to sound like a stickler, but the dances in The IDOLM@STER were all hand-drawn, even with the camera swoops, and it looked twice as good as the one in the Love Live show!

      starss
  3. I don’t know what to think of this anime.

    On the one hand this first episode was enjoyable. On the other hand, compared with the other idol shows we had lately it looks kind of generic.

    Also the cg parts of the dance look like they are animated with MMD.

    Zannafar
  4. I’m surprised.

    I didn’t give this show a second glance in the season previews but it doesn’t look half bad.

    The characters have more depth than you’d imagine and the premise may be a bit goofy but it’s handled in a serious enough manner that you could believe it.

    The CG for the dancing looks a bit odd at times but that’s the only real fault for me.

    qwert
  5. While CG is a pet peeve of mine as well, it’s understandable for a show with quick and heavy routines in them, but at least they don’t riddle it entirely with CG else I wouldn’t be able to drink in their gorgeousness. I’ve watched some of the videos that were made before this so I think this’ll turn out alright ^^ Glad RC is blogging this along with AKB0048

    Mutare
  6. I dislike CGI, but it was inevitable. It’s a bit easier to swallow this time since the CGI looks more polished than the ones found in their music videos and they did a decent job at masking it in certain parts (Think it will be fine as long it doesn’t reach akb level). Other than that, it was surprisingly a strong start and if they can keep this up then it will probably be one of my favourites for the season.

    Jinzilla
  7. Main issue with Love Live? Is a plethora of other series in the wrong time (a classic from Sunrise)
    With the raison d’ tre of GuP (“school is closing”), the general idea of more than enough SoL series (“we don’t have enough members”) and the fact that this is clearly a pennyless man’s Idolm@ster and AKB0048, so many cons here. Worst still, Sunrise previous stunt in the genere (Akikatsu) didn’t even was on anyone’s radar!
    This instead of AKB0048? C’mon Man! In comparison, the characters here are way too bland and generic, and let’s not talk about the excessive use of CG (a must for AKB’s futuristic theme, but innecesary for a present-time series)

    So, no, Sunrise. You’re going to stay on red until you finish Unicorn and start making The Origin or the second season of Accel World

    SeedStriker
  8. I personally have no problem with CG, as long as it isn’t too out-of-place(Eg: The watermill in Higurashi).
    As for idol promoting anime..
    We had Natsurio Kiseki and AKB0048
    and now we have Love Live and AKB0048 Next Stage.
    Done bySunrise and Satelight respectively, who also did Gundam and Macross. Are they competing with each other or something?

    Mightnare
    1. This is studio politics at its finest. “Hey that other company is taking the best multi-member idol group in Japan and making an anime out of them! Let’s make our dances in CG too because that’s what makes it great!”

      starss
  9. I’m astounded by how much CG has come. I would never have thought that, such as in AKB0048, they’d use it for female characters when they perform and have them be nearly indistinguishable (at least in stills)! I just hope too many Japanese studios don’t go the Dreamworks route and think that CG should replace more assets that should be hand-drawn though.

    starss
  10. The “school closing” plot point isn’t going to do anything but get more prevalent in anime because it’s reflective of real life. Japan’s population fell by a pretty astounding 212,000 people last year, and their 1.39 child/female ratio is one of the lowest in the world. As their school age populations shrinks further and further, they’ll be seeing more and more school closing.

    I liked the show a lot more than I thought I would. Definitely fuwafuwa, but enjoyable and fun. Honoka’s a little overexcitable, but Umi seemed great.

    I like the inclusion of a lot of the CG parts, and when you get more used to them, a lot of the immersion breaking goes away. There were only a couple parts in the end dance sequence that got ‘uncanny valley’ to me, and they *all* were because of head / neck tilt. The other things I wonder about the CG programming are why 1) they don’t match the update rate of the CG parts to the update rate – like for most drawn stuff, they use 2 frames that are the same, then move, but for CG they move every frame. It makes the CG parts smoother, but it also makes them obvious. The other thing is that CG needs a little more randomized motion, and I don’t know why they don’t program that in.

    1. That’s a good point on the school closings. It might not be relevant to some of us in other countries, but they aren’t making these animes for us – they’re making them for Japanese fans, and to them, school closures are very relevant.

      As for the CG, they probably son’t program in more randomized motion because that’s expensive. Every anime is still a business proposition, and if they can cut a lot of production costs and only dip into uncanny valley a bit, most studios would do that. Apparently Sunrise will!

      Stilts
      1. Well, I’m thinking more for vehicles, especially trains. The classic CG shot of a train sliding along perfectly, with no rocking, no leaning, no bumping, is one of the most immersion breaking shots. Just the littlest bit of non-linear motion would probably get rid of that effect completely. And I’d be shocked if the studios weren’t either buying CG software from vendors as a package, or even subbing out the CG shots to other studios, and it would seem to be in the interest of *those* companies to come up with that kind of feature to promote as “More realistic motion”. But as you say, it’s about money, and it’s only when the money intersects the benefit that things happen.

    2. I once came across an NHK documentary in which the town high school experiences, for the first time in its history, its final year and graduation ceremony before it closes; it sadly reflects the dwindling birth rate in the country as much of the population ages. The students of that school speak of their thoughts and aspirations they look forward to, but the school they will be graduating from would soon become a memory in yearbooks and countless pictures in their albums and phones.

      v3000
      1. To be honest, it’s not just a problem in Japan, but also in much of Europe. Japan shows such a population loss because it’s not really a country people emigrate to, but Germany has a lower fertility rate, and much of Europe isn’t far behind. Even the US might be reaching the same sort of point much sooner than most people think.

  11. I wonder why anime these days always have short brown hair girl, happy go lucky and big round eyes as the main heroine? It’s really hard to find black long hair as a main heroine these days.

    kuro
  12. I wonder why anime these days always have short brown hair girl, happy go lucky/noisy and big round eyes as the main heroine? It’s really hard to find black long hair as a main heroine these days.

    kuro
  13. Long black heroines are everywhere these days lol. Look up! Heck this studio just got done doing a show that had a heroine with long black hair in Accel World and their latest movie Nerawerata Gakuen has one too. Heck there’s even one in this show even if she isn’t the main one. Not sure how anyone could possibly think there’s a shortage of that aesthetic.

    Raxas
  14. I can only take one idol show at a time. And AKB0048 has this show beat. And it is actual idol singers in it. I did not enjoy the dance sequences in this. And the singing was too cute. I really wanted to like this show too. -_-; Even the main character, Honoka reminded me too much of some Ranka/Nagisa(short hair, ribbon) genki hybrid.

    Fuu
  15. One thing I’m interested about this anime is the animation+CG. It’s smoother than AKB0048 in some ways, especially the faces in CG mode doesn’t seem as ‘off’ as AKB0048

    acolyte
    1. It might get coverage if a second season shows up, but in regards to the past first season, it’s likely there won’t be anything regarding this blog wise since it’s already finished airing.

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