Love Live has been a massive success in Japan, and it has inspired hundreds of otaku to place the protagonists on the highest of pedestals. Before deciding to watch the show, I had some initial impressions of what it would contain – lots of singing, an average plot and cute, but hollow characters. However, the show didn’t rely as much on the genre’s generic staples as I would have thought, and although the previous me would have thought otherwise – it’s a fun and genuinely entertaining watch.
An example act of otaku fealty.
The plot admittedly is fairly generic, but this mostly serves as a backdrop to the motivations of the characters – Otonokizaka Academy’s attendance numbers have dropped and if nothing is done to fix this, the school will have to be closed. Of course, this leads to the idea of the school girls becoming school idols to raise the profile of the school.
The characters themselves have very distinct personalities that are well written. Each girl is clearly a particular type, but the characters have more depth than their stereotype counterparts.
This cutesy look is all an act, this girl wants the idol club to crash and burn
My biggest fear for this series was that it would be essentially 20 minute long music videos, and the opening few minutes seemed to confirm that fear. Despite completely centering around the group’s performances, the anime focuses instead on the dedicated practice, ever-smiling attitude and endurance that an idol must have to succeed. They sing aswell, but not necessarily forced into every episode, which means that even watchers who aren’t fans of idol music can enjoy the show too.
Maeda Atsuko, an ex-member from a real idol group - AKB48 & μ's costume
μ’s (The name of their idol group) does real idol culture justice. It isn’t just about the singing – it’s about making the fans smile, It’s not always an easy road to success and events are dramatic, but intensely human.
Back to the more immediate elements of the show; despite the distinct characters in Love Live, the animation leaves a bit to be desired. A common complaint is that underneath their unique hairstyles, all the girls have the exact same face – but this seems to feedback from people who haven’t watched the show and see the characters bundled together.
If you aren’t a fan of CG techniques in anime, there is a lot of this in the dance scenes, although mainly used when the camera is zoomed out, so it isn’t as jarring as other shows have been.
Without going into spoiler-territory, the script is good and does well to not fall into the trap of becoming predictable. As a show with such a thin plot, the character relations matter a lot, and this is where the show truly shines – group disputes and occasional banter are all done convincingly and you can understand why so many otaku have already professed their love.
Love Live: School Idol Project is flawed and the plot is thin, but it has a particular something in its character writing that has charmed all of Japan, and myself. This is a solid, easy to watch show and is very moreish. You can catch the collector’s edition of the anime on DVD from the 7th of September onwards either directly from MVM films (currently on 25% off sale) or from HMV and other local video stores after they have it in stock.