So, you want to become a superstar?
It's not easy. In fact, it takes more than just skill. It takes the will, determination, support, technique, integrity, and a little bit of luck to reach success. In fact, reaching that point of success is especially hard when there's competition. Among other things, being an idol also means to shine and make yourself a name in the industry. You have to embrace what you do and no matter what, always aim for success.
At least, that's what the girls at Otonokizaka High School wishes to do...
Alright, this series known as Love Live! School Idol Project is actually an anime project co-produced with the music company Lantis Co., Ltd and studio Sunrise being involved. Not many people may know of the franchise but it already has achieved success in other fields of music CDS. Well, success doesn't come easy like I mentioned before and in this series, it definitely is something that's hard to achieve.
At first I was skeptical whether to check out this series or not. I mean, there are so many idol themed series already in the anime industry. Hell, even this Winter season of 2013, there is not one (Akb4OO8 Next Stage) but two (Akitasu) ongoing series involving music and idols. In fact, I sometimes get bored of watching this stuff because initially, I thought the show would just be about cute girls doing cute things. I wasn't too wrong either especially with our main female protagonist, Honoka Kosaka.
Just look at her, she's a cute little button with a cute little bang on the side of her head along with that bubbly personality.
However, beyond that outer image is a girl who is determined to prevent the shutdown of her beloved school. How? Form an idol group of course! But that's a lot easier said than done in reality. The series takes this idea and transform it into a more of a slice-of-life story in the beginning. At first, there's Honoka. Then later comes the rest of the characters, or rather girls who all becomes associated with the group. Oh and the group is called Muse represented by the "μ's" symbol. Obviously, it's a reflection of what the group stands for – a music ensemble of girls who wishes to show the world who they are and make a name for themselves while at the same time to prevent the destruction of their beloved school.
Thus, their journey begins...
The initial episodes (first half of the series) makes prominent highlights of some of the other girls in the series. Among these girls, they all have different personalities. There's the timid girl with the stage freight (Umi Sonoda), the cool chick (Nozomi), the tomboy (Rin Hoshizora), the cold heart (Eli), the gentle girl (Kotori Minami), and the childish (Niko Yazawa). Of course, I'm not naming all the characters here but you get the idea. From the initial premise of becoming superstars, these girls come together. However, I find the first of the episodes in this series to be dull and not done right. In fact, I find most of the girls' backgrounds to be stale and lacks any real characterization besides who they are. Perhaps the lack of a general background with the girls is the weakness here but regardless, the first half of the series is a bit mediocre in my book. Well, thanks to Niko, I did have some fun and enjoyed part of her performance. NIKO-NIKO smile~
However, the series becomes more lively later on especially with Honoka. I will say right now that her mood brightens this series quite a bit and can easily bring a smile to a viewer's eyes. If you're having a bad day, just watch her and that cloud of grayness will brighten. That's probably a weak analogy but her enthusiasm is what unites the group she works so hard to create. In fact, as the unanimous leader of the group, it is up to Honoka to save the school and make a name for themselves with the face of music. Perhaps, I feel she tries too hard though. I mean, in one episode, she particularly puts her own life at risk. It's how hard she tries to bring their ranks together especially when going up against competition. That' s the thing too because when you become a superstar, expect media attention and rivals heading your way. It's a tough, tough world Honoka-chan.
The story of the series remains weak but simple. It's about a group of girls coming together united as a music group to bring media attention. By becoming idols/superstars, they can spread their names and hopefully with what they can achieve will save their school. As simple as it is though, it is VERY easy to guess who will join Muse. It's not even foreshadowing but rather given directly with the opening song and poster. The series also doesn't avoid the typical "beach episode" that seemingly becomes one of those relaxing break. Furthermore, the seemingly focus on the idols themselves rather than what they hope to achieve becomes a backstabber in my opinion to the initial premise. Also, it seems that the competition isn't as intense as it originally looked.
Despite this though, I find the series to be a fun and entertaining watch with a cherry atmosphere. It's nice to see the girls tries so hard on a profession that is extremely difficult to make a name for. But what they're doing it for is not only for themselves but to save their beloved school. Now that my friends is what I call good-hearted. The performance themselves are also quite real and done well. In fact, some of the songs played in many of the episodes has that idol-like feeling. With those cute outfits, personalities, and outfits, these girls really do have what it takes.
In terms of visuals, Sunrise does them. And hey, who knew, they actually pulled a nice one out of their hats this time. From the outfits, character designs, and the way the girls dances, the visuals almost feel like they are coming to life at many occasions. I find this to be quite pleasing and interactive to watch as opposed to some CGI movements or forced movements. No, it's natural and the girls are putting on a live show.
The soundtrack, music, and voice acting is perhaps the most prominent feature of this series. After all, music is the main feature and premise of Love Live! The sound director, Yukio Nagasaki puts effort through and it's easy to hear and visualize what it's there. Of course, the performance that I mentioned before are also done beautifully. It looks natural, realistic, and the girls have fun doing it. At some occasions, viewers may wish they were right there with them on the stage. Then opening song, "Bokura wa Ima no Naka de" by μ's is performed by the idol group themselves and shows to the audience that they're serious about what they do. The many ED songs brings together a collage of various fun tunes featuring different mood settings. It's beautiful~
Overall, this underrated series is worth some time to invest into. In my opinion, this show is charming and so is Muse. Although its initial episodes were like a chore to watch, it later makes it up with the enthusiasm of the group along with the all cheerful Honoka-chan. It's also fun to watch the girls perform and hope that they succeed especially when they see some results on what they worked so hard for. Yup, they are aiming for success but at the same time having fun while doing it. Well, I hope you have fun while you relax, sit back, and enjoy what Muse do their best: