Apr 2, 2014
r6144e (All reviews)
If you like the pretty dresses, cute pets, magical dances, etc. in Aikatsu!, the first two seasons of Pretty Rhythm, and e.g. Precure, yet find the plots of those animes somewhat too childish, then Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live may be exactly the anime for you. All the aforementioned elements are present, but there are also plenty of heartwarming (sometimes tear-jerking, yet never hopelessly depressing) drama involving friends and family, told with more depth than child shows but never mind-boggling. And yes, there is a healthy dose of romance as well, not so much as to overshadow the other aspects of the show, but still extremely satisfying.

To me, one of the wonderful aspects of this season is its seven main girl characters. While I would normally be satisfied with finding just one main character that I can identify with, in PRRL it turns out, almost magically, that all 7 girls have something in common with myself: one is the timid side of me, one is the childish side, one is the proud (and often stubborn) side of me in things I'm good at, etc. It is almost as if the different sides of me got decomposed, rainbow-like, into those 7 girls. No, not exactly. While each girl has her distinct personality, there are just enough little surprises (think the number of teddy bears owned by a certain girl) and subtle changes to make them believable persons rather than one-dimensional stereotypes. The show encourages the girls to display their true selves, which can be far more variable than first impressions of their personalities.

This season places heavy emphasis on the girls' (and some of the boys') families, even more than the first season, and the result is, in my opinion, extremely successful. Unlike e.g. Clannad, here almost all the girls are only children, so all the attention is placed on parent-child relationships, which are in turn heavily influenced by the relationships between the parents. Many different kinds of families are described, some happy, some sad, some stressful, and some utterly dysfunctional, and it is vividly clear how the girls' personalities have been shaped by them. Yet love does exist, however distorted, in every family, and it is hard not to be moved to tears when a family finally finds its proper path to happiness.

Friendship among the girls has always been important in such animes, and PRRL is no exception. There is the light-hearted kind among Happy Rain, the much heavier (but also closer) bond among Belle Rose, the sweet kind (yet with a little sadness in the background) between Naru and Rinne, but I think the most impressive kind is the friendship formed in the three duo teams, where the large contrast in personality and family leads to new bonds that is almost redefining the word "friendship". Needless to say, episodes 36-38 focusing on these duo teams are also close to my favorite episodes.

Like previous seasons, the boys play a small but significant role in this season. As love interests and fanservice (I mean you, Hiro-sama!), they are pretty good, with gorgeous looks (unlike the somewhat awkward ones in the second season) and likeable personalities, and the girls' friendship and love stories with them can be heartwarming, sad, sweet and fun at different times. I feel more ambivalent about the interactions among the boys, which seem to be somewhat more frequent than in previous seasons; with the limited screentime they have, I sometimes feel that the boys talk too much without clarifying their intentions with enough real action (although there is a pleasant surprise near the end), making their words rather puzzling at times.

As the title suggests, this season is about music, and both the BGMs and the numerous songs are simply gorgeous, far surpassing the (by no means low) level of the first two seasons. Among the BGMs, my favorite is the one used in the middle of Episode 26 and reused in Episode 34, in two of the most memorable scenes in the anime. Among the songs, perhaps the only ones I don't like that much are some of the OPs and EDs; it is almost impossible for me to find a favorite one because they are all so good in many different ways, but at this moment I think I like the song in Episode 37 best. It is important to understand the lyrics of the songs, as they are closely related to the story, and in some cases rather well synchronized with the performances.

Finally, the Prism shows themselves. While the CG is basically at state-of-the-art level, similar to Pretty Rhythm's second season (and IMHO better than the first) as well as Aikatsu!'s second season, there do exist some absolutely gorgeous shows and some slightly disappointing ones. Speaking of the dance part, the two shows involving June are just perfect, better than anything I have previously seen: beautiful steps, shiny background, impactful camerawork, accompanied by two songs that are simply grand. On the other hand, I find the solo dances of the Happy Rain girls a little too simple (perhaps because they are not as good at skating after all); the Belle Rose girls also have great dances, but I think Bell and Wakana's animations can be cleaned up a bit as it feels slightly unnatural at times. The boys also have pretty costumes and good dances, but the animations could have shown a bit more strength. As for the chained jumps, IMHO they may seem a bit bland (even with the Prism Lives) and repetitive (although the show does a good job avoiding most of that through the insertion of other scenes) compared to the great Prism Acts in the second season. However, some of the new jumps are still very beautifully made, and while many of the jumps reuse those from the previous seasons, they do look quite a bit better after remake. And the chained jumps in Episodes 43 and 48 are as impressive as the best Prism Acts from the second season.

I hope you would go watch this show after reading my review. Pretty Rhythm is notorious for starting slow but picking up speed in the second half and particularly near the end; PRRL is no exception, albeit to a lesser extent. The first ten episodes might be a little childish sometimes, and somewhat depressing at other times (because many of the main characters are unfriendly at the beginning), but if you can get to like the story and the characters just a little bit in these episodes, the subsequent episodes (where everyone changes for the better) will likely make you fall in love with this season, and rewatch it again and again.