Chika Takami, a self-proclaimed normal girl, has never been involved in any clubs and lacked any notable talents. However, after a visit to Tokyo, she discovers a stage where even an ordinary girl like her could shine—the world of school idols. Inspired by the former superstar school idol group μ's, Chika is determined to start her own school idol club in her seaside hometown at Uranohoshi Girl's High School. But even before gathering any students to join the group, the aspiring school idol finds her greatest obstacle to be student council president Dia Kurosawa who stands firmly against the creation of the club.
Just when it seems there is no hope, Chika meets Riko Sakurauchi, a transfer student from Otonokizaka High School, home of μ's. Somewhat shy but a talented piano player, Chika believes her to be a promising recruit, though convincing her to join is easier said than done. In spite of that, Chika chooses to charge forward and overcome the obstacles keeping her from forming a school idol group that shines as bright as the nine that came before her.
Love Live Sunshine is the successor to the popular Love Live, which recently ended with a movie. This continuation to the series really got me excited, since love live is one those anime that I don’t get tired or re-watching (I probably re-watch it twice a year or so.) and also at some point I religiously played the mobile game every single day. But still, in the end, little by little I got disappointed of the show throughout the season. Spoilers ahead for those who haven't finish them yet.
The dialogue of the characters isn’t well thought out. It’s basically them spouting memes non-stop hoping that
some of them will stick as much as the infamous nico nico nii. Seriously,Hanamaru went from somewhat shy bookworm to just simply saying zura and mirai most of her dialogue. There’s also the part where she’s just stuffing her face with the noppo bread in the background most of the time just to fill the advertisement quota.
The way they recruit their members feels forced, this got painful for me to watch when Yoshiko joined in specific. The setting is somewhat a rehash to the first LL the way I see it. There’s too many to point out but the point is that they basically just used the same plot points, which seems like lazy writing. The only part where it felt original was the third year drama.
The most annoying part that really irked me is the constant mention of μ’s. I feel like they mention them too much, mentioning them a few times is okay and all but mentioning them literally all episodes except the last one is a little bit too much.
Should you watch it because you’re a Love Live fan? Sure why not. Overall it’s not that bad of a show, I still enjoyed watching it on time every week, but I felt like they could do better, since the characters and the songs are pretty solid. But I guess to me this feels like more a last minute cashgrab to pander to the hardcore love live fans.
I had very mixed feelings when I heard Love Live would be starting again with a new cast of characters. Muse had finally gotten to the point where each member had earned their place, and while it made sense for their story to end, I always felt a desire for more. I wanted it to be the beginning rather than the ending.
Love Live Sunshine may not have been the beginning I wanted, but it is hardly a weak addition to the series. It does many of the things that made the original series so special, and more than justifies its own existence. I'm glad
it exists, and am without any doubt looking forward to seeing more of Aquors.
But Sunshine isn't without issues. It follows the footprints of the original series a bit too closely-- the flaws and missteps of its first half included and ever more so apparent.
Sunshine, like the first season of the original, moves too fast and swims a bit too deep in the drama, rather than giving the audience the main thing they are looking for: reason to like and care for the girls. It sets a nice stage for the inevitable second season, but at the same time, it's hard to not feel a little bit bummed out when Sunshine starts with the same stumbles rather than learning from the original's excellent second season. If it sounds like I am being a harsh critic, you may be right, but part of that is because I have a strong attachment to the original series and want to see its successor reach the same highs. If it can't, wouldn't it be reasonable to lament that there is not just more Muse instead?
Sunshine actually does a pretty admirable job with its drama. It never aims to be something more or different from what it truly is, and what is there is handled with meaning and clarity-- even if its themes are something we have heard a hundred times before-- and its bittersweet and well-timed background music consistently amplifies its message. Sunshine's heart is in the right place. The problem is just that there is just too much of this drama, too soon. Assuming there is to be more of Aquors (and I will bet my non-existent heart that there will be), the climax of their story is not now, but then. This isn't the time to bring them on the big stage, but to prepare them for it. They aren't ready, and neither is their audience.
While Nico's "Nico Nico-nii" catchphrase was silly (and adorable), the original series did not ever attempt to paint that as a genuine part of her character; it was a joke even to herself, and entirely contrary to her personality. Yoshiko, and to a lesser extent, Mari and Hanamaru, are defined to varying extents by these sorts of catchphrases, without the same sort of depth or rationale to it that Nico's character had. Some may find Yoshiko's terminal autism to be amusing (and indeed it can be!), but these sorts of gimmicks do little else but make them feel somewhat artificial, at times even empty. And empty is the last thing a character from Love Live should be.
But nine main characters is a lot to deal with in only thirteen episodes. The original series had yet to accomplish the same by that point, so, I suppose, it is only fair to expect Sunshine will also start hitting those strides from here on. Most of the girls (particularly Ruby) are cute and interesting enough in their own right, even if they have done little yet to stand out from the more outgoing characters. I'm just worried that Sunshine has turned Yoshiko into such a joke that there may be no way of ever doing anything meaningful with her character. Making a serious character into a joke is an easy thing, but a joke into a real character is a much harder process.
Aquor's rival group, Saint Snow, is certainly more interesting than the original's counterpart. Ria and Seira aren't successful because they are 'perfect' idols, but rather because they have their own unique thing going on. There's a neat contrast between the traditional, idol-y nature of Aquors, and Saint Snow's more eclectic Babymetal leanings. Ria and Seira have reason to be hostile-- Aquors is the exact opposite of what they want to be.
If you were to ask me why I have spent so much time comparing Sunshine to the original series, rather than discussing it solely on its own merits, it is because Sunshine itself does so on a regular basis. It doesn't try or even want to disconnect itself, and instead recognises and pays respect to Muse. The girls of Aquors started their group precisely because they were fans of Muse. It's the appropriate turn to take the franchise; if it attempted to be entirely its own thing, never making a reference to the original, it would feel a bit distasteful, considering just how similar a road the two shows travel. The only troubling part of it all is that it makes you long for Muse all the more.
Sunshine continues the tradition of having some of the best music in the entire idol industry. I would argue that songs like "Todokanai Hoshi datoshitemo" and "Kimi no Kokoro wa Kagaiyaiteru kai?" are better than most of what real idol groups (Momoiro Clover et al.) produce. There may not be any real bangers like Start:Dash or Snow Halation, but I do find Aquors sneaking their way onto my playlist every now and then, too. Ruby's voice also may not be quite as lovely as Nico's or Kotori's, but she's still hella cute regardless.
If it weren't being compared to its predecessor, Love Live Sunshine would still be one of the best idol anime produced. I have no problem with it, stumbles and tumbles aside, and can see both Love Live fans and newcomers to the franchise having a great time with it.
Aquors just have yet to convince me that they are capable of standing on the same stage that Muse once did. I'm open to being convinced otherwise-- heck, I want, and I expect to be convinced otherwise. There are certainly worse ways to start.
Last year, we were told that μ's had come to an end and a PV of the new LL! idol group was shown. Their name is Aqours. They are going to continue on the μ's legacy and (try to) become more successful than μ's. They are namely, Chika, Riko, You, Ruby, Yoshiko (or Yohane whichever preferred), Hanamaru, Dia, Mari and Kanan. I had indifferent opinions about them at first. I didn't delve too deep like how I did during the μ's era to be honest. None of them interested me because the brand new LL!Sunshine!! project was too rushed, where μ's was still around and
had their movie and their Final Live concert upcoming. While the news gave a slap to all the LL! fans, most of us started to worry if Aqours could do better than their predecessors.
Now that it comes to an end with its finale being aired last night. Let's go!
Note: In LL!, story, is NEVER ever the selling point. Same goes to LLSS!!.
Reusing and referencing the good ol' stuff from μ's isn't a bad thing if the series is executed well. As a fan of the original LL! I sincerely hope that LLSS!! is better, or at least on par, with the original. Surely, the beginning looked promising and didn't disappoint me, and the rest of the series didn't either. A good beginning makes a good ending, eh? Not happening in LLSS!!, unfortunately.
I am here just going to say, the ending... is not meant for everyone. The way the series ended was, not something I will rate 1/10 but still, bad. It could be done better but man, imagine you are sitting on the LLSS!! hype train all along the journey just to reach a cliff and everything goes downhill and bam.
One thing you can never complain in LL! and LLSS!! is their art. It's really good, and the art improves so much coming to LLSS!!. (tho the CG dance may be pretty annoying from time to time)
For OP, OST and ED, they are really good. VAs did their amazing work too.
My only concern goes to the inserts. They ARE good, but not impacting enough in their respective episodes.
I have a mixed feeling about the characters itself. 3rd years' (Mari, Kanan, Dia) chemistry is great even though I am not a fan of either one of them. 1st years (Ruby, Hanamaru, Yoshiko) did a great job too though I never like Yoshiko (sorry but chuuni isn't to my liking). 2nd years (Chika, You, Riko) tho, they have the same problem as μ's (Kotori, Honoka, Umi) had. There's too much focus for them, and they aren't that great either.
I swear I really enjoy everything up to the 12th episode, but the finale is.... wew. Let's not talk about the weird skit which I think it's actually okay-ish, I am disappointed by the absence of "Step ZERO to ONE" after being referenced so much in the anime. The question "Why do you not perform it and instead using a new song that doesn't give that much impact as a finale?" will always be in my head from now on.
Overall: 7/10 (Revised score: 8/10)
The series is good, but nowhere better than the original LL! first season imo.
TL;DR: A good start, with a badly executed ending.
Love Live is back with another fresh cast of characters who, let's be real here, are all waifu-worthy judging by their looks alone. I myself was skeptical at first, incredibly worried this may be a case of "milking the cash cow". Thankfully, no. Sunshine has even surpassed the first season of the original Love Live in my eyes. Honestly, I'm quite surprised with the outcome.
Sunshine starts off with a story that sounds undeniably similar to that of the original. Let me clarify-- it's not an exact story copy. I'd say only the base, its starting point, is the same. We won't, for instance, see our
lovely Nico look-a-like in the same kind of situation as the real Nico. The girls of Aqours each have their own story to tell.
It certainly is hard to make a good anime with this many main characters in such a short amount of time. Love Live Sunshine is no different. Just like its predecessor, the girls did not receive an enormous amount of development. What do you expect from a show with nine main characters and just thirteen episodes? Things could've been handled differently. Sunshine, unfortunately, repeats the same mistakes. A future second season would set things straight, probably, though. Yes, again, similar to the original. Then, why did I give Sunshine a much higher rating? I'll get to that in a bit.
I don't blame anyone with a huge attachment to Muse to doubt the new series, with the introduction of complete new characters. Aware of that, though, I think they should still give Aqours a chance, a chance to shine. And, it sure did shine. Sunshine's cast is a whole lot more likeable and memorable than its predecessor. I had an easy time liking the characters, and even sympathized with them during emotional scenes-- even if I didn't like them one bit initially. Dia and You, just to note a few examples. The new girls are what made Sunshine so much better for me personally.
Talking a little about my favorites; Chika, pretty much an exact copy of Honoka, the side-ponytail being the only difference. I'm quite fond of her positiveness and leadership ability, and basically being the driving force of the group. Honoka was one of my personal favorites from Muse-- it wouldn't be that strange to have Chika as one of my favorite Aqours girl as well. Hanamaru, or rather Zuramaru as I like to call her, is a fun character, too. Not only is her lack of tech knowledge humorous, her zura's are also very charming. "It's the future, zura!" The girls each have their own quirks, some which may be irritating, and some that are genuinely fun. The one character with a disturbing amount of annoyance, though, is Yoshiko. She reminds me of that one Chuunibyou show I didn't like very much. Yoshiko comes over as obnoxious, and feels completely out of place. I'd much rather have a different girl in her stead. Oh well, it can't be helped.
What's more disappointing is the fact that a couple did not receive the screen time they deserved. And by that, I'm actually mostly referring to a certain blue haired, ponytailed goddess. She had so little screen time in the first half of the show, I was starting to question whether or not she'll become a member of Aqours later. I guess that beach episode made up for it... uh, just a little bit. Kanan is a fine-looking lady for sure!
Who is the real star of Aqours? The girl - who coincidentally looks a lot like Nico - with the gorgeous red twintails and aqua eyes, of course! Her name is Ruby, the one who invented cuteness and has the voice of an angel. She certainly stands out the most with her design, cute expressions and such. She made her debut in the first episode unlike the Nico. Ruby has already accumulated quite a reputation by just a couple scenes alone-- and now that I think about it, the show needed more of those. The more we got to the end, the less Ruby we got. Though, I was honestly not that upset about it. It indicates how much I actually liked Sunshine, even with the absence of Ruby in the latter episodes. Keep staying unbearably cute, it makes my life so much better. I am keeping this short, since I do not want this to turn into a Ruby love post. (I love her.)
Now, I do have to mention that none of the new characters have been able to completely fill the gap that's been left behind by Nico. Ruby, though, is the cutest in the whole wide world and tries her absolute "Rubesty" to make up for it. Her efforts, however, were in vain. I still missed hearing the phrase "Nico-Nico nii," but, oh well, I guess "Ganbaruby" is a decent enough replacement. I kind of go a little crazy whenever Ruby says it.
Something that was quite bothersome was that there was no audition process of sorts going on. Chika was captivated by the beauty of this natural wonder, named Ruby. She got an invitation right on the spot. Apparently, looking gorgeous and cute is all that's needed for one to become a true school idol. Singing and dancing skills are irrelevant. Seriously though, this part has been ignored, yet again.
Notable are the outstanding visuals, a huge improvement over the original. The show is very colorful and the background sceneries are very pretty, especially the seaside ones. And yes, there's still the use of 3DCGI during live performances. However, in Sunshine, it's less distracting, more fluid, and should now be on a tolerable level, which makes it more enjoyable to watch.
The sound is what you would expect from the Love Live series. The musical performances are outstanding and definitely worthy of praise. The hardships the girls went through, following their dreams-- you can actually feel the emotions they put into their songs. Mirai Ticket, sung in the final episode, is especially a good example. The vocals are great and the voices of all Aqours girls fit well with each other, not to mention the regular voice acting is admirable, too. Have I already mentioned Ruby's angelic voice? Great background music as well.
If you had any doubts about Sunshine, I can assure you, there is little to worry about. It's certainly an enjoyable show for fans and newcomers alike. Just remember that Ruby is best. I'm very disappointed, though, that the anime did not learn from its past mistakes. Sunshine has the potential of being exceptionally good. And seeing as how popular the Love Live franchise is (especially in Japan!), it will surely get a second season in order to make that happen, and flesh out the characters a bit more. I look forward to the day I see my lovely Ruby animated again.
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