Love Live! School Idol Project (1st and 2nd Season Review)

Apparently, poppy young girls called “idols” dominate urban culture regions of Japan. This bright form of vocal art is definitely hit or miss by most. I’m only glad that Love Live! could be my first segue into this genre of anime, and not some generic idol series instead. For others new to spunky idols, here’s Love Live!, a true story of struggle and determination.

Honoka dives into her second glorious year at Otonokizaka High School with overwhelming passion only to find out that if the school doesn’t receive enough transfer students the following year, then it will close down forever. In an effort to save her beloved school, Honoka starts an idol group, which are currently popular, with her best friends Umi and Kotori to attract new students.

As the hardships stack up, μ’s (pronounced “Muse”) recruits six new members including three first-years and three third-years. Pouring all of their hard work, time, and love into their music, the girls pursue the “Love Live,” the top-dog high school idol contest in the region! But will their combined efforts be enough to save their blossoming high school life?

In terms of plot execution, this anime is a bit rigid. A lot of the characters have individual qualms that conflict with the idol competitions, for instance: studying abroad, future professions, failing grades, and other talents besides singing and dancing. And while I’m glad that these characters have realistic conflicts of their own, the show never bothers to touch up on some of these issues, some development even being dropped as “the show must go on” with all nine members intact (end of first season specifically). Don’t get me wrong, I love happy endings, but had some of these characters gone their own ways, then the show could have been more gripping, tear-jerking, and even relatable.

But where the show falters, the characters easily fill in the holes as the show’s richest feature. Each and every one of the girls are overly loveable, memorable, unique and just plain cute! Their constant teasing yet support of each other adds to the overall enjoyment and sense of reality that the show carries. Additionally, each of the characters, including the rival members of “A-RISE,” have some sort of back story and/or standout characteristic that adds a whole new level of depth to them. I’ve never seen a cast of girls so likable and so well-developed like they are in Love Live!

Honoka is seriously the most bubbly, loveable, natural-born leader character ever! Obviously being the main character, she undergoes the most development. You can definitely tell a difference before and after the two seasons. Her charisma and perseverance is nearly unmatched – well, until the rest of the girls step in to cheer Honoka up when she’s discouraged!

Two other characters in particular stuck out to me, which are the third-year student council members Eli and Nozomi. Eli embodies the student council attitude with her over-concerning will to protect the school. Of all the girls, she sets the standard for maturity and true talent (besides Maki), as she was a professional ballet dancer during her childhood in Russia. Though her story is never glanced back to, she just has this irresistible kindness and devotion that can’t be ignored.

Nozomi is vice-prez of the student council and serves as Eli-cchi’s advisor/best friend. After they both become a member of μ’s, however, Nozomi becomes a motherly figure that everyone looks up to. From the start, she is always watching over everyone and never loses faith in μ’s. She is the key that all things related to μ’s creation tie back to, and Nozomi hilariously uses these tarot cards to predict the outcome of everything. Nozomi also has this strange impulse of rubbing the other girls’ breasts when they “misbehave” and whatnot. It’s totally out-of-character, but it was always funny to witness!

As for visuals, the producers at Sunrise like to keep things very colorful and dazzling. Each of the girls have their own concept design to them as well, which helps to define their personality and distinguish them in the crowd. Especially enjoyable are the expressive faces that the characters give off. All of the emotions and feels are perfectly captured on their cute lil’ faces, allowing you to feel exactly what they do without them needing to say a word. And speaking of cute, some of them can pull of the most devilish smiles I’ve ever seen – Umi and Eli can be pretty freakin’ terrifying when they want to! 😀

The only “glaring” issue I found with the animation was actually with the CGI used in the performances. There’s such a crude switch between 2D and 3D in every other frame that becomes really distracting after even a few seconds. I understand why they did it an all – 3D is much smoother to animate, especially with dancing – but man, some of these transitions are pretty rough.

And while I’m hitting the dance scenes, I’d also like to point out that for a “music anime,” the songs weren’t that catchy or memorable. Perhaps that was just the idol music to my ears, but it was all just too bland for me. Happy, sure, but bland. Between both seasons, the only songs that I really liked were “Bokura no LIVE Kimi to no LIFE” performed in the anime by μ’s, Maki’s “Aishiteru Banzai!” and the anthem the song that started it all, “START:DASH!!” sung by the original three members in episode three and in episode 13 with all of the members. Now, my favorite song award goes to “Susume→Tomorrow,” initiated by Honoka in episode one – the first thing we hear, might I add. I absolutely fell in love with this sweet, delicate melody!

Love Live!‘s most enjoyable moments come from the enduring, harsh beginnings of the idol group. Their first concert in episode three in particular left me on the verge of tears. But once μ’s is up and off the ground, the lovable girls carry the story home. What I liked most about this show overall was that no matter how desperate situations seemed, the girls, primarily Honoka, endured it all.

Love Live! radiates POSITIVITY, and is UNEXPECTEDLY a stand-out anime! While the first season has a couple of plot issues, the second season makes up for that with great character development. Just know that all good things eventually come to an end, though . . . If you’re new to this idol business, I full-heartedly recommend this show – it’ll cheer you up no matter what and make you feel dem feels as well! “Nico Nico Ni :3”

“All we can ask for is just a tiny bit of support from you. We truly believe that with your help, we can change the world around us. We will make our dreams come true!”

+ Amazing, well-developed, fun main cast

+ Positive vibe is irresistible

+ Harsh reality of the idol business approached step by step

– 2D to 3D shifts jarring

– Plot cuts back stories short and forces the group over personal conflicts

– Music could have been better

Thanks so much for reading – hit the like if you enjoyed it! You can watch both seasons of Love Live! over on Crunchyroll for free. I can’t wait for NIS America to dub it all in English! Woot! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Date A Live Review

So I crossed this show when I saw some of its key visuals: a powerful warrior clad in a violet, pink and gold-armored dress, with hair of a rich purple hue. Some know her as Tohka, but she’s also known as the girl who was revoked by her own show. Today, a shambling show of plot, yet a decent display of boobage – Date A Live.

Itsuka Shidou is yes, your average high school student. He lives a normal life with his red-headed little sister Kotori, despite him having bold blue hair (she’s got to be adopted). His life is disrupted, however, when another “spatial quake” explodes in his city, causing mass destruction and panic to spread.

These spatial quakes bring Spirits, mystical and powerful beings of unknown origin, coincidently hot/cute chicks. His sister also just happens to be the commander of an Anti-Spirit Team aboard the Fraxinus. As she and the other crew have analyzed, the only way to seal the powers of the Spirits is by making them fall in love with Shidou – and by giving them a kiss. “Kill or kiss the world,” as they say! Failure to accomplish the mission will be met by deadly firepower from the AST’s flying powered suits – worn by half naked women, might I add.

Date A Live is a harem, romance, action, school, comedy, mecha, sci-fi . . . so on and so forth . . . anime. It poorly jumps around between being absolutely serious, bat-sh*t crazy, and fluffy as daily life can be. I enjoy really dark, thoughtful, and intense anime, with a few slice-of-life scenes splattered during the appropriate times – and there are a couple of crafty surprises packed within the show. But this anime is not organized with its plot whatsoever.

Recall that scene from episode 3, the one where Tohka and Origami face off and she accidentally shoots/kills Shidou? That was easily the best moment of the anime; it was second to Kurumi’s creepy assault on the humans in the woods. Too bad the end of the series was met with just a mech fight (not hating on mecha anime or anything, but seriously). – _ –

Also, I don’t really see how the dating sim system the AST uses is helpful. By the time everyone reads the three weird options, votes on one, and tell it to Shidou through ear piece, the moment is long gone and would be too late to respond to questions. But whatever.

Besides Shidou having a really cute face, he’s just the boring middleman between the Spirits, taking in and returning expressions of “absolute concern,” because you know, he’s the good guy. I suppose he can be comical at times, and he’s not an annoying protagonist too, which are pluses, but yeah, he’s not anything new either.

I could sit here and talk about each of the Spirits and how “different” they all are, but really they can be grouped by stereotypes: Yoshino, the shy and quiet girl, Origami, the secretly-in-love-with-classmate, Kurumi, not gonna lie, a decent villain yet tossed to the side the last couple episodes, Kotori, the little sister, and that just leaves one girl – Tohka. While they are all entertaining, comedic, and cute (with great curves :3) they lack the flushing-out that I enjoy most.

Tohka is the first Spirit we are introduced to. She’s tsundere at first, but develops into waifu for Shidou. It’s similar to Asuna from SAO, though Asuna is a much better fighter and character! Anyway, not only does Tohka have a heart-warming food-consuming personality, she also has a beautiful design. When I think about it, Tohka is just Saber (Fate/Zero) if Saber did not have such strict social contracts binding herself. I love the purples, pinks, light blues and golds on her armor and in her sweet eyes!

Yet the one thing this anime had going for itself was put to the side because WHO THE HELL KNOWS. Tohka is a great fighter and by this point she is the best character, so why dump her? For the other girls I guess, but it ain’t worth it. After episode three, Tohka doesn’t get the spotlight again until the end; that’s +6 episodes of Tohka just eating and sitting on her ass. A shame.

This was the high point for the show – the animation by AIC Plus+. Again worth mentioning are the superb character designs, but additionally the sharp and colorful background scenes. I can’t recall low quality of any kind from this show, so a round of applause to them! The only thing I could complain about are the fight scenes, which rarely happen – and I’m talking all-out fights, not a missile launch here and there. The action sequences featuring the dominant Spirits clashing with the AST units are spectacular, but sadly few and far between.

The soundtrack was a real surprise for me. Not only are the daily life scenes well-supported by casual themes, but the dramatic sections are gorgeous and truly melancholic. Anthems for battle ring with a full on orchestra plowing down the field, and intensity is never lost by the OST.

Infamously known, the opening “Date A Live” by sweet ARMS quickly catches attention as an opener. Its passionate choir vocals along with an addicting melody are a great way to start each episode! The ending second “SAVE THE WORLD” by Iori Nomizu is also so catchy! I’m quite attached to them both!

But great background music and quality detailed animation won’t save the failing date that is Date A Live. The show brings nothing new besides its unique yet unorganized story idea, and if you’ve already waded through several harem anime, then you’ll know all of the ins and outs, getting more and more tired of this show’s determination to be something it’s not. If you are not a critical viewer and are simply looking for time to blow on an action/romance with comedy, impressive fights, and fan service then this is perfect. Otherwise it doesn’t live up to the hype.

“Just killing and killing and killing? You deserve to die and to die and to die.” – Tohka Tatogami

Yeah, bummer, it was disappointing. However, there is a second season, so I will be checking that out soon. Since I watched it in subs, I hear the dub for Kurumi is really awesome, so I might give that a watch too . . . if only I could ever find the time. Thanks for reading – slap that like button if you enjoyed my review and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host