First Impressions – Love Live! School Idol Project

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That’s right, it’s time for a second dose of idol!

Part two of this season’s idol anime and unlike AKB, this looks like it will be way less violent. …Which I am strangely okay with. I can’t say that this is the best anime ever yet, but it’s off to an okay start and something I’ll definitely return to sometime during the season (if not weekly).
You’re welcome to tag anytime you want Kara! Love Live offers a completely different flavor of music themed anime compared to this season’s other idol adventure, AKB0048, but Love Live’s simplicity might be what makes it so wonderfully entertaining. Fans of J-Pop, you’ll want to check this out!

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Are you lady to get your aidoru on!?

Hawthorne // Underdog stories are some of my favorite to follow in anime, and Otonokizaka High School is basically the embodiment of every underdog quality ever. Combine that with Love Live’s endearing main characters and some top notch music and you have one kick-ass show. Takahiko Kyogoku is new to directing, but I absolutely love his style. I was hooked the very moment Honoka (voiced by newcomer Emi Nitta) began singing “Move Ahead→Tomorrow” at the start of the episode, which immediately gave me the impression of a musical. Love Live handles it’s various genres incredibly well, capturing the relaxed essence of a slice of life show while also injecting some comedy bits, and more importantly, outstanding music. The UTX segment of this episode, for example, was one of my favorite scenes of the season. Not only did the song/dance sequence by the UTX students establish the high-level of competition Otonokizaka faces, but the choreography and music was spectacular for such a short scene. The scene itself was far superior to the CG used in the other music scenes, and though the latter were enjoyable in their own right, my hope is that the CG won’t become a mainstay. If anything, the CG did look a lot better than that of AKB0048 which might be due to the character models. (Now if only I knew the name of the UTX song …)

My only complaint at this point is directed at the characterization, which was somewhat lacking. Honoka is a competent lead, and honestly I couldn’t imagine the show led by any of the other girls, but outside of Honoka (and perhaps Umi) the characters fell a bit flat. There are nine girls in all so I wasn’t expecting each and every one to stand out, but at the moment they’re all very indistinguishable (especially the three first years). I’m also not a big fan of the student council’s second-in-command Nozomi’s voice actress (Aina Kusuda). Her voice just doesn’t seem well suited for animation, but that’s obviously just my take. It’ll be interesting to see in the coming weeks how the producers decide to handle characterizing all nine girls, whether they focus in on one each week or just build up each a little at a time. There’s no reason for me to dislike most of these girls, but for the same reason there’s not much to like them for either. That’s not to say I don’t have a favorite yet! I’ve gotten to like Umi more than the others (voiced by Suzuko Mimori, one of the few non-newcomers), she reminds me a lot of Chihaya from Idolmaster both personality and appearance-wise.

One of my biggest concerns for Love Live is for the pacing of the series. I have to wonder, will the show use it’s thirteen episodes to slowly recruit more and more girls into the eventual group of nine, or will that happen within the next few weeks? Either way can be entertaining if done right, but a faster pace feels right for this type of story. If the show gets popular enough, I could also see a potential open-ending in our future, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

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UTX know what’s up.

Karakuri // This was based off of… something in a magazine, apparently. From what I gathered on the internet, Love Live started as some… thing where people could vote for their favourite character, the costumes they wanted to see, and then Sunrise would animate a music video. The most popular girl would get the centre position and obviously the group would wear the most popular costumes. Definitely an interesting, audience orientated concept. On to the anime, the story was a bit typical and each character seems like they were taken directly from a stereotype (Umi being the level headed realistic one, Honoka being the extremely cheerful one, etc). Even the OP didn’t really stand out to me other then just making me go ‘Oh look, CG dancing’. However, the music within the actual episode was actually pretty good. Between that girl singing at the piano and Honoka singing at the end, they both have some really nice voices. I looked into the cast because of that, and Nitta Emi (Honoka’s seiyuu) is actually pretty new to the industry. In fact, a lot of the seiyuu have only been involved with this project (Minus Eri (the blonde girl)’s seiyuu, who’s actually also the vocalist for fripSide) , so I look forward to seeing how they do. The CG wasn’t that well hidden, but it did make the dancing flow nicely and the animation in between the CG parts all looked nice. I’m okay with CG as long as it helps make the rest of the animation since they’re saving money on the budget.

Now on to the actual content of the episode, having school idols seems like a pretty great idea for trying to revive a school population. Of course, with overzealous fans, stalkers, gossip reporters, paparazzi and all of those other lovely factors of the entertainment world, it might not be the greatest thing for the normal students (I don’t think those will really factor into this anime though since that might be too realistic). On the plus side though, it certainly will attract attention towards the school and be a gathering place for girls who want to become idols. Overall, it’s admirable that they care so much about their high school that they want to save it for other generations. I sure as hell didn’t care about my high school so much that I’d attempt to save it if it were closing.

The episode started off awfully negative with absolutely everyone telling Honoka and Eri that there’s just no real way/point to save the school (and then Eri telling Honoka the exact same thing later). Most of the episode was dedicated to this, but it makes sense if the girls are going to have to work their way to school revival. It’s more interesting for them to face a steep incline at the beginning. So other then setting up the premise for the show though, I can’t say that this episode did much. The depressing situation took up way more of the episode then I would have liked. It seems like this story is going to be an uphill battle until the idol group’s debut (and if not after that) and I don’t even think half of the girls in the OP even had proper introductions. I’d love to talk more about the characters and the story seems interesting from what we’ve seen, but the episode just didn’t tell me enough for me to make a judgement on if the show is worth following weekly or catching up with later.

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The pieces of the idol puzzle are coming together, kukuku.

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With the slice of life (ish) setting and the whole saving the school thing, I’m getting major Tari Tari vibes from this anime. I’m not expecting this anime to be anywhere near as emotionally involving as Tari Tari was though. These girls are supposed to be marketable and likeable, not realistic. Though I’ll be impressed if they do manage to set up the characters with that level of depth. The animation was nice and the CG worked. The characters were okay, but their voices were pretty great. So Love Live has some good qualities to it right from the beginning and everything else like the one dimensional characters (which is everyone at this point) can easily be fleshed out in time and character exposure. I don’t know how the manga is written or how closely it follows the fan preferences, but it would be really interesting to see a bit of audience interaction in the anime. It would probably be pretty hard considering how many choices the fans have for characters, let alone costumes. Plus the studio has to animate ahead of time, but it would be an interesting concept considering that the entire start to this series was based on that.

 

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Overall, the direction the show is heading is leaving me hopeful for Love Live’s future. I can see a lot more than just a thirteen episode anime sprouting from this series. Character songs, soundtracks, and maybe even sequels are all potential rewards! From what I’ve seen around the web, pre-order sales for the show are great, which can only bode well for the series. And sure, Love Live doesn’t quite have the unique hook of AKB0048 or the arguably more lovable characters of Idolmaster’s characters, but as long as it manages to push forward with it’s underdog story, give more complexion to its characters, and deliver more incredible music than perhaps Love Live will dig out its own place in the idol-anime genre. Next week it would seem idol training is in full effect!

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See you next week!~

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We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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19 Responses to “First Impressions – Love Live! School Idol Project”

  1. skylion says:

    Three cheers, HawtKuri! ::tsun tsun:-)

    Yas, Hawt, I looked at the opening and thought musical as well; and with that ED it should have been a cinch. But alas, methinks too much of Tari Tari.

    I dunno, parts of this look way to vanilla. Besides the whole save our school schtick, there isn’t much to be attracted to, and you don’t need much with me. But I will give it time to tell itself.

    Goodness you guys Tag well ::dere dere::

    • Hawthorne says:

      I was getting some Tari Tari vibes too, which isn’t a bad thing at all! I think I prefer the premise of Love Live though.

      3 episode test then? I hope it’ll win you over!

  2. Highway says:

    I liked the show quite a bit more than I thought I would. I’m pretty good with generic school shows, and liked the hook with the music. I also liked the reprise / overture start and end of the episode, and thought that made nice bookends.

    I didn’t mind the CG too much, but there were a couple uncanny valley moments (usually with heads and necks), and I wish the textures matched between the drawn and CG parts a little more (the CG was just a bit shinier). I also don’t quite get why they keep using more framerate for the CG elements than the drawn parts. Usually, from stepping through shows to take screenshots, I see that even actiony parts are 2 frames per image minimum. But CG parts are moving every frame. Yes, it makes the motion a lot smoother, but it also is like a shining beacon of CG. Why not halve the framerate, so that it blends with the rest of the show more?

    I thought the music was fine, and the setup was fine. This seems like one of those shows that you watch to watch some anime, and just relax.

    • Hawthorne says:

      I’m starting to wonder, how fluid can technology get CG and drawn animation? I mean, even a movie-budget anime like the new Berserk series has that really obvious divide between the two. BURNING QUESTIONS …

      I think I get what you mean about the framerate though, personally I’d prefer if CG was completely left out. I guess that’s just not possible with the budget though.

      • Highway says:

        I dunno, I think the CG allows them to do a lot more interesting dance moves, and really none of them seemed physically impossible to me (any more than anime dances ever are – there’s almost no way people can really move that fast). And really, the only part that got to me was the head in relation to the neck and body. And with more practice at CG it’ll definitely get better.

  3. akagami says:

    I think this fit right along with my expectations, except they all have REALLY good voices. I don’t know much about idol groups so I’ve never heard of µ’s (Muse), but their singing level is pretty high level. Even if the plot ends up flat, I’ll probably still watch it to listen to the songs.

    Could do without the CG though, felt too fake, and as Hawthrone mentioned, had some awkward impossible movements/postures. The animated singing parts were done very well however, I guess you have to compromise with a limited budget. At some times I felt like I was watching those DS games of idols.

    • Hawthorne says:

      Ah, so Muse is the name of the group? I was digging around the internet trying to find that yesterday. >_< But I agree, awesome music!

      It did sort of look like a video game at times now that you mention it … they should fund a 3DS Love Live game kukuku.

      • Highway says:

        If you search the internet for Muse, you’ll find a different, more awesome, group. As good as idol singing might be, it doesn’t compare in my book. :)

        One of the most awesome music videos of all time: Muse – Knights of Cydonia.

        • akagami says:

          Not sure what to make of that video. It definitely is…different. Not my genre of music though.

  4. skylion says:

    I hate to butt in….but will any of the Meta Team be covering Tamako Market? If not….do I dare throw my hat in? Or a Tag?

    • Karakuri says:

      Er, I think there’s a rather large group doing Tamako Market, so the amount of time that it’s taking might be due to organization. I dunno, I’m not part of that FI post. Maybe Hawt knows?

      • skylion says:

        It’s being covered, that is the important thing..

        • Karakuri says:

          Sounds like you enjoyed it. Was it great overall or was it just something that suited your tastes? I haven’t watched it yet.

          • Highway says:

            It was a lot of fun, with weirdness popping up to make it not just a moe slice-of-life show. It definitely feels like a well-built community and it will be fun to see where the show goes.

      • Hawthorne says:

        There are like three people on that show for first impressions (maybe more) so it’s probably just a matter of getting everything together! I’m not one of them, but I’m sure it’ll be out soon enough.

  5. BlackBriar says:

    HawtKuri’s Tag Teaming again. You two are becoming an interesting pair.

    I went in watching without expectations and frankly, Love Live! is nice. This is like AKB0048 without the space travel and violence mixed with the school saving concept of Girls und Panzer. Since I’m a fan of both shows, this anime is officially on my watch list this season (Still currently separating the good from the bad ones).

    I like how light hearted and rhythmic the music was throughout the episode. You get drawn to it in a short amount of time. The singing is as good as the voice work, especially with Honoka suddenly being able to sing and dance out of the blue with no apparent lessons. Ah, anime logic hard at work.

    The animation is bright and lively which goes well with the characters and the CG isn’t a bother. Because of it, I almost mistook this for AKB0048. You can’t blame me because they’re so similar. And just like Girls und Panzer, the the high-level of competition of the other school shows that the girls have their work cut out for them. It’s going to take a lot of effort to rise to the challenge.

    One of my biggest concerns for Love Live is for the pacing of the series. I have to wonder, will the show use it’s thirteen episodes to slowly recruit more and more girls into the eventual group of nine, or will that happen within the next few weeks?

    Hopefully, if this turns out good even with a long storyline, it’ll become a 2 cour series.

    • Hawthorne says:

      Somehow we ended up tagging for two idol themed shows haha

      (SOB SOB SOB. MARCH IS TOO FAR. THANKS FOR REMINDING ME. P-PANZER-VOR … SOB)

      Not just Honoka, but both of her friends, too! I always find it weird when characters who have no musical experience or don’t attend a music school suddenly break out in song! I can’t complain though, that music was pretty catchy.

      • Karakuri says:

        HawtKuri isn’t just idol-ing around! AHAHAHAhahaha… ha. …That was a terrible pun, I am so sorry. OTL

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