Shipping Nico x Maki so hard!
Love Live! S2 ended like it began – singing, dancing, smiling, and hamming it up like nobody’s business. But I finished the series smiling, so I think it did its job.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I enjoy Love Live! despite not liking idols or idol anime. Here’s what I think it is: This isn’t an idol anime. Not like THE IDOLM@STER, at least. Other idol shows seem to focus more on the industry of professional idoling, which holds no interest to me. But Love Live! is basically a sports anime where the sport is idoling. It combines the amateurs-striving-for-greatness feel of a sports anime with kawaii girls singing and dancing, and that’s proven to be a winning formula. From training arcs to heart-pounding competitions, it’s a sports anime at its base.
Disney Magic – Hamming It Up 100%!
In my introduction of the first episode I mentioned that it had a very Disney feeling to it, and that continued through the season. Most of the meaningful drama was sacrificed in favor of over-the-top ham, cheap platitudes and feel-good moments (Ex: getting rid of the μ’s name when that’s a terrible idea). There was very little character drama, with the only moments that really made the heart pound being the ones right before their big competitions. Which is a shame, because the character drama in the first season enhanced the story. Here it felt too buddy-buddy, and while the girls didn’t have to be sniping at each other all the time – their unshakable friendship was nice to see – when drama is replaced with no drama, the series ends up feeling emptier.
Stretching It Out
Unlike the first season, where it seemed like they had a lot of story to tell, this season felt like it had a good six episodes of material stretched out into thirteen. Much of the season was unabashed fluff, which is both good and bad. As a fuwa-fuwa Disney magic sort of show, seeing all the girls goof around as friends was enjoyable to see. It’s just that they were goofing around so much that many episodes felt like 80% fluff, and now I don’t remember what happened in any of them. I remember the strong arc of the first season clearly, but this season had a vast fluffy middle area where I honestly have already forgotten most of what went on. The story also seemed more self-indulgent, more inclined to navel gaze (trope!) while the characters all talked about how wonderful being an idol is rather than doing anything substantial. Slice-of-life anime can afford to leave behind little more than vague warm feelings, but I feel like Love Live! was better when it aspired to more.
I’ve leveled some criticisms at the second season, but in truth it’s not bad. The reasons why it underperformed the first season are a little tricky, which is why I wanted to explain them. Episode-by-episode though, it was one of the series I always kept up with (that’s rare for me), and I consistently enjoyed each episode. Friendship is huge in Love Live!, and that drew me to it each week more than anything else. I think we lonely humans not-so-secretly wish for a group of friends as close as μ’s, and the ideal way they were portrayed never failed to give me the warm fuzzies. Bonus points: Snow Halation (their winning preliminary song, in episode nine) is probably my favorite μ’s performance of either season. That, plus improved CG making all of the performances look better, made each episode fun to watch…even if I wonder how well they’ll endure in the mind.
μ’s Music End
In the end, Love Live! has been selling like hotcakes and a movie has already been announced, so the story will continue. A respectable sports anime with cute dance sequences, peppy J-Pop, and plenty of the power of friendship…yeah, that’s not a bad way to spend a few hours. Until we meet again, school-idols-formerly-known-as-μ’s. Make everyone’s dream come true!
I’m looking for an artist for commission work. If you’re a talented illustrator, email me at stiltsoutloud(at)gmail(dot)com with some samples. If I like what I see, I’ll explain what the job entails. (Or if you’re just curious.) And yes, this is a paying gig.