「まだ名もないキモチ」 (Mada Namonai Kimochi)
“This Yet Unknown Feeling”
From the Love Live! series comes a new season, that apparently cannot have enough exclamation marks in its title. Of course, I kid, the Love Live! series has always had a little bit of a special place in my heart.
From its humble begins in Love Live! School Idol Project, to its sequel, Love Live! Sunshine and even Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club. I’ve seen them all, enjoying the series from the sidelines, loving some of the characters, and being eschew to others. This time around Love Live! Superstar!! marks the fourth installment in the franchise.
Love Live! Superstar!!, flips the formula on its head, not exactly reinventing the wheel, but still, it produces remarkable results, with the odds stacked against the group of girls that will inevitably form this season’s school idol group. Shibuya Kanon (Date Sayuri) is a girl who loves singing, yet can’t sing when it matters, her dream is to be able to get into Yuigaoka Private Girls High School, a specialized school that has a music program, and a regular one. Even assigning different school uniforms to each. Giving those girls that wear the white uniform a sort of superiority complex, and it’s very visible in this first episode. The introduction of Hazuki Ren (Aoyama Nagisa) proved that much. Those girls that want to get into the Yuigaoka music program have to go through an audition process to see if their fit enough for the program. This school takes music very seriously, and it show’s in both how students interact with each other, and how the whites (student’s from the music program) treat the blues (student’s from the regular program). Although not their official names or anything I’m coining it right now because all of this is starting to give me Lord of the Flies or even 1984 vibes.
Of course, Love Live! Superstar!! is very far in tone and voice from those books, but high school is sort of a microcosm of society. The very distinctive anime airing this season Sonny Boy is a great example of how high school can become its little world when parents are not around, and kids are left to their own devices. Development of Love Live! Superstar!! is nowhere near going in that direction. However, it’s still interesting to talk about how high school is just sort of a reflection and students taking on different roles, whether assigned to them or picked by their own volition.
For example, Ren’s character feels this sort of responsibility because she’s not only the student council president but the daughter of the school founder. Heanna Sumire (Payton Naomi) goes as far as saying ‘who do you think I am’ to Kanon when she asks if she wants to become a school idol. I can’t divulge why Sumire says that unless going into spoiler territory, so let’s just leave it at that.
School Idols in Yuigaoka are looked down upon. They sort of bring shame to even mention their name, that’s why Tang Keke (Liyuu) probably had such a hard time recruiting anyone in the first place. Keke is an exchange student from Shanghai, her mother is Japanese and she speaks perfect Mandarin, when she first meets Kanon because she hears her wonderful singing voice, she starts speaking Mandarin and it becomes an important depth to her character.
Kanon as well, she’s not just your typical Genki girl, she does start that way, but quickly shows another emotion other than happiness, a very welcomed change to the protagonist of the series. Or at least the center of the upcoming inevitable formation of the school idol group. Kanon showed so much of her character this first episode, I was brimming with emotions by the end of it.
Her singing voice is wonderful, my ears started dancing with joy, I would say she alone could carry a whole musical. I thought this episode was sort of going in that direction. When she sang on the streets I could have sworn the rest of the cast would start brimming out in song! But instead, we got only a couple of songs (3 in fact) sung through the episode. When Kanon sings to the city on the rooftop with her guitar, which showed her actually playing the instrument! The second one was when she sings through the Harajuku streets and meets Keke, and the third one when Kanon rushes back to Keke and goes full ending mode. The scene changes and suddenly the whole group is together, singing what’s probably going to become the ending theme/opening of the series (Hallelujah!).
Love Live! has always had this relationship with CGi, when the girls perform they switch to their 3D avatars, but consistently and without fail, Sunrise has always improved on this aspect, with each series that comes out, they blur the line between 2D and 3D, even mixing in shots of the characters animated in fully 2D, then switching back to 3D. It’s an aspect I want to point out, because they have always just made it better, and always have taken my breath away with each new iteration.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the girls have to stack up against the odds placed against them, and how will they overcome them. Love Live! Superstar!! continues next week!