Is there more to Love Live Sunshine than just cute anime girls singing, eating cake and having a good time? Wait, where have I heard that plot description before?
I was sucked into Love Live! by a friend on Twitter who spent her free time posted images of the previous seasons’ characters with reckless abandon. After watching AKB0048 and having not died as a result of the experience, I tried out the first season of Love Live. That is a review for another day. Here, we’re talking about the follow-up season, Love Live Sunshine.
It’s a while since μ’s (our heroes from the 1st show) came together to save their school from closure. Their exploits have become legend and in the coastal town of Uranohoshi, Chika Takami wants to shine. Away from the normality of life in the town, she sees μ’s (pronounced Muse) as an example of shining. So she decides to form her own School Idol group (eventually named Aqours and pronounced Aqua) and try and complete in the Love Live competition (a schoolgirl tournament that μ’s won). Just like that. Hey, I can’t knock her goal-seeking attitude.
Anyway, she enlists her best friend You Watanabe to help her and then happens upon new transfer student (of course she is!) Riko Sakurauchi who is simply a wizard at composing music. From there, the show’s cast snowballs as Chika and her endless enthusiasm wraps them up and even the hardened student council president Dia Kurosawa crumbles under the onslaught of such boundless energy. The appeal of Love Live is in the combination of catchy music (sequenced like a music video every time), every Japanese schoolgirl anime trope under the sun and a slick hype machine proceeding the show. The characters might be slightly one dimensional but they mean well and we’re meant to feel something for them in the short time they’ll be with us. As they get closer to their goal, the problems mount, the strain shows but then, it wouldn’t be much fun if it all went swimmingly for them, now would it?
I felt less annoyed with this than I did with AKB0048. This might be because I know the machine that feeds AKB is popular slavery dressed up as entertainment. Here, it’s all fictional even down to the fact that an industry, the school idol racket, which is designed for (primarily)male otaku to consume is portrayed as something that only other schoolgirls would be interested in it. There’s never a bloke in sight at any of these concerts. Curious. In any case, the show, its characters and the voice cast play to their strengths and gloss over the weaknesses. While all of these shows have a diverse cast in terms of best girls, I love Mari, with her mixture of sly innuendoes, broken English and the mock surprise she exclaims when plans that she started go her way makes me giggle.
It’ll never win me over completely, but it’s harmless fun and leaves you with a smile as our heroes battle against the odds to take their place in the spotlight, if only for a moment in time.
Love Live Sunshine! Season 1 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll for UK and Ireland viewers and is now available to free members as well as Premium ones. US viewers can enjoy the show from Funimation in the original subtitled version and the English dubbed version as well