It is a well-known fact around my geeky friends that though I dress and act like a total girly girl, I am actually not a fan of animes made for women/girls. I tend to find all of the plots the same: take one socially awkward girl with a crush on the class bishie add a sprinkling of a bitchy rival, mix with a love triangle and simmer over a low ‘I am not good enough for you’ heat and you have pretty much every shougo manga ever. Sometimes the setting is different but the plot is pretty much always the same. Now you can guess my surprise when I found a girly anime that I actually enjoyed watching!
Love Live! School Idol Project is a 13-episode multimedia project co-developed ASCII Media Works’ Dengeki G’s Magazine, music label Lantis, and animation studio Sunrise. The series combines regular anime animation with a more unusual computer graphic element for the musical numbers that allowed for greater movement to be given to the characters
The first season focus on the trials and tribulations of Honoka Kosaka who, along with her group of friends, creates a school idol group called μ’s (pronounced muse) in order to save their beloved school, Otonokizaka Academy from being closed down by competing in the idol competition ‘Love Live’ and attracting new students. Along the way to achieve their goal the girls face rivals that become teammates, reluctant classmates, and the realization that being an idol is way more than just smiling and looking cute!
I could tell you about the second season as well but it kind of gives away the ending of the first, so I will leave the plot at that and move onto what really makes the series stand out, the characters.
Love Live has a pretty large cast, which can sometimes get overwhelming, but they all look and act differently enough to help them stand out and let the viewer’s choose a favorite. The main trio consists of Honoka Kosaka, the chipper and bubbly heroine who is sweet but stubborn to a fault; Kotori Minami, her childhood best friend and daughter of the school headmistress, who tends to be air-headed but sweet; and Umi Sonoda who serves as the level-headed foil to her best friends. As the series continues the group continues to grow as new members join up including Eli Ayase the rival turned friend who is also the student-council president; Nozomi Togo, Eli’s level-headed second-in-command who is secretive and mischievous; the tomboy Rin Hoshizora who often serves as comedic relief; Hanayo Koizumi, a shy girl whose love of idol’s is only known by her best friend Rin; the cool and collected Maki Nishikino who has a lot of pressure on her shoulders from her family; and Nico Yazawa who his serious and a little mean normally but as an idol is very childlike and playful.
There is pretty much a character for every type of fan, whether you like girls in glasses like Hanayo, tomboys like Rin or characters who look younger than they are like Nico (personally I really relate to Nozomi and I may even cosplay her in the future).
The thing that really surprised me though is that every character is really likable! Characters who start off bitchy, like Eli, are quickly forgiven as their stories come to life, and even Nico, who comes off as really annoying, is actually quite likable once you put her with the rest of the cast.
Bright and cheerful, the series was made to be total eye and ear candy, from the voice acting and singing work of the VA’s to the brightly coloured scenery and characters.
Ultimately, I think if you are looking for a fun, bubbly break from some of the more hardcore animes and like the bubbly sweetness of J-Pop I would definitely suggest giving Love Live! a try and you may even find yourself addicted to some of the music … like I did.