Instead of turning you to stone, Honoka’s eyes turn you into an idol.
|After last week’s stellar performance by Muse you’d think they’d have people begging to join them! Sadly, it doesn’t work that way, and now the girls must work towards recruiting more members. That said, please tell me I wasn’t the only one who teared up a little watching this week’s episode!?|
|Don’t worry, Hawt. I tear up over everything, this episode included. Things are moving slowly for the idols, and yet I’m not bored in the slightest. Other developments this week? Man, Honoka is NOT helping me overcome my vision of her as a yandere. (I love her more for it though.)|
THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP.
Hawthorne || And so, we now enter recruitment territory. In the back of my mind, I expected the concert from last week to have a more overwhelming effect on the seven girls who came to watch, possibly even leading to an almost instantaneous influx of new idols this week. Instead, it would seem Sunrise is only going to give us a little at a time starting with the first years: Hanayo, Rin, and Maki. The latter has already proven herself a necessary asset to the team, being able to compose music and sing incredibly well, so for Maki her biggest hurdle had nothing to do with talent, but rather personal reluctance. I think it’s safe to assume the conflict between family expectations and personal interest will play into the story down the line, but I’m enjoying these small bursts of characterization we’re getting. I have been sort of complaining the last few weeks about the lack of substantial characterization, never really digging deeper than external traits, but now that we’re four weeks in it’s to be expected that we’d get more of that internal development. Maki is not the only one of course!
One should think twice about making a contract with the Kyubey of idols.
Hawthorne || Hanayo’s character is played pretty straight, and she’s about as predictable as any “shy girl” in this setting would be, but there’s no getting over how absolutely adorable she is! Her voice actress, Yurika Kubo, does an excellent job capturing Hanayo’s timidness and cuteness, and compared to Aya Uchida (who voices Kotori) it never crosses that border of ‘annoying’. Hanayo strikes me as a sort of pseudo-lead character, and if Honoka wasn’t the star of Love Live I’d expect Hanayo to be the next in line. Both have very protagonist-like personalities, in differing ways of course, but I will say I prefer the forward-optimist much more than the “not good at anything particular”-girl. That said, I look forward to watching Hanayo overcome her hindrances.
To a much lesser degree we also got a little glimpse into Hanayo’s closest friend, Rin’s life. I was actually a bit surprised at the direction the writers decided to take her character, right into tomboy territory. A brief flashback reveals that she has obstacles of her own to overcome, and much like Hanayo, her issues seem to stem from internal conflict. Seeing her take out her skirt in front of the mirror towards the end of the episode made me all mushy with feelings, not helped by the sheer level of emotion Hanayo’s recruitment scene brought on. It’s a pleasant surprise to see that Love Live has much more than just superficial progression, as the weeks go on we’re able to watch the characters overcome their problems through music and friendship. It doesn’t help that they’re, for the most part, all very likable characters as well! (My personal top three at the moment are Umi, Honoka, and Rin!)
(Not so) shocking secrets revealed.
Karakuri || You can keep your top 3, Hawt. I’ve firmly established Maki as my favourite of the group. Normally, the resistant character who pretends like they don’t want to be there annoys me since they slow the plot down. However, I have to admit that her voice won me over and she’s not nearly as negative as Eri is. I’m not sure how annoying she’s going to be plot wise now that she’s officially joined the team (it seemed like an awfully spur of the moment decision), but at least she has a purpose there being the song composer and all. As for the other two additions, I kind of pitied Hanayo this episode since she had Maki and Rin push her around a ton. She needed it, of course, but still I was kind of hoping for her to slap the other two away and walk up to Honoka by herself. Oh well, at least this way, there are 3 new additions as opposed to just 1. Hopefully we don’t have her hold up half an episode with stage fright like Umi did. Rin? I’m surprised at how nice her voice is (yes, I spent a lot of last week listening to the Love Live music and character albums, which is also why I have everyone’s name down now). He fears over being girly are a plus to the story too. I won’t say that the characters are as deep as the ocean or anything, but this episode did add a bit more to the kouhai trio than I expected. If they focus on them more in the future, great. With this episode though, I think I have enough on them to differentiate now.
Something’s not right here …
Karakuri || Not much singing and dancing this episode, but I wonder what Love Live has in store for the future. They definitely have enough members to start a club, but when and where will they have another live? Plus they have to win the senpai over (Niko, Eri and Nozomi) sometime in the future as well and those three (minus Nozomi) seem even more resistant and unlikely to join than the kouhai. Honoka may have overcome an obstacle by doubling the member numbers, but I’d still say that they’re near the bottom of the incline that they’re trying to overcome. As for what I’d like to see in the future… well, character interaction should be more interesting now that there are more members. They still seem to be divided by the year they’re in (plus Honoka, Umi and Kotori are childhood friends, automatically making them closer), but I want to see what the new girls add to that and what kind of friendships that brings. I’m sure that would add more to the characters as well.
Thanks to blogging this, I’m finally watching Idolmaster. I’m now kind of regretting not watching all of it in the summer after I did the first impressions, but it is a pretty great anime. Though one thing I will say is that I love Love Live’s music far more than any other idol anime I’ve ever heard. Idolmaster, Symphogear and AKB0048 have nothing on Love Live (…though if we go into a completely different territory, I’d have to say that the songs are on par with UtaPri). Love Live is also doing great emotionally, making me tear up for the second episode in a row with that sunset-piano-music-handshake they had at the end of the episode. Having Hanayo (and the other two) join really felt like an accomplishment for the school idol group, who started all the way at the very bottom. This episode kind of ignored the original trio (or had them set up as important background characters), but the strong plot setup and music is finally getting some support under it with making the characters more well rounded. It’s good that they can drop the focus off of Honoka like that and have it focus elsewhere. I hope they do more of that in the future since it adds so much more to the other characters.
I didn’t want to mention this in the main bulk of my thoughts, but I’m starting to notice how similar Love Live is to Idolmaster (apart from the obvious music/idol themes!) to the point that I’m wondering what level of inspiration the writers actually had from iMAS going in. From a setting standpoint there are clear differences and I’m enjoying Love Live’s more focused storytelling (though, iMAS had an entire second cour at their disposal), but there are some very apparent character similarities. Umi could be Chihaya’s twin, with extremely similar hair color/style, eye color, and personality. I could go on to say Honoka is a clone of Haruka (even getting the creepy smile down), Hanayo is very reminiscent of Yukiho minus the androphobia, Rin is the tomboy who doesn’t necessarily want to be treated as such much like Makoto, and Nozomi is about as mysterious as the moon-angel Takane. I’m not saying Love Live is a carbon-copy or anything of that sort, but I do seem some possible inspiration there.
I’m straying way off topic though, so back on track. Episode four was a fantastic indication that the upcoming episodes (which will likely also focus on the recruitment of the final three members) won’t let up on comedy or emotion. That said, a little more music wouldn’t hurt! Love Live’s budget did start to show this week, with some … questionable art and off character models. That’s just the small stuff though! Anyway, in the near future, I’ll be throwing up a music-digest type post with a gathering of all the affiliated Love Live character albums, unit albums, and soundtracks with links to where to purchase them, if you’re interested. So, until next time!~