It’s Casual Honoka Day!
Akemashite Omedetou! It’s the New Love Live! Year!
A Different Reveal
µ’s finally rises above A-Rise
I was wondering how they’d reveal the winner of the final preliminary, and I think they pulled it off pretty well. I mean, you figured that µ’s had plot armor and would probably win (after the failure of last season to even compete) but after the comedic reveal of the first preliminary round, they had to come up with something different. And it worked well, having (most of) µ’s encounter A-Rise on the steps of the shrine during their New Years visit. Having the audience think about it the same way Honoka did, that they’re local to the same area so of course they would have the same local shrine, worked really well to make it a believable coincidence that they’d meet. And as usual in their encounters with A-Rise, the girls of µ’s have what really feels to be just a bit of inferiority complex. But as usual, it’s not an antagonistic meeting, with Tsubasa finally exhorting them to win the Love Live competition, finally telling us who won the Final Preliminary.
Miko Miko Miiii! (I *had* to do it!)
I know I’ve said it before, but I really think the relationship between A-Rise and µ’s has been handled excellently by the show. There’s just this feeling that µ’s, despite being our heroes, is still kind of amateur idols, without the professional air that you get off of A-Rise and UTX. They think that themselves, and that’s one of the reasons they always want to defer to A-Rise. Of course that is more prevalent among the girls who were fans of A-Rise, like Hanayo and Nico, who had to be reminded that they had achieved more equality with them, and were more rivals now than fans. But even with that different air, mostly because that’s who we see behind the veil in their everyday lives, µ’s is obviously professional and obviously successful now.
But What Is That “Something”?
Tsubasa wonders what beat them
The occasion of trying to come up with a catchphrase fosters a discussion about what is the essence of µ’s, what makes them what they are, what is the message they want to portray of themselves. And while they could have phoned it in and just put something that sounded good, but was meaningless, or something as a joke, they take the opportunity to think about it, and really try to come up with something that truly represents them. Well, after rejecting “Sekkin ja’nai!” (“We’re not the soap!”) again.
Having a mochi party for everyone
And in the middle of that, Tsubasa comes to talk to Honoka, because she’s confused about why A-Rise didn’t win. Not that she thinks there were any shenanigans. In fact, Tsubasa says they knew what the results would be after the performances. They did their best, and were beaten by a group that just killed the performance. But how did µ’s do that? What carried them to such heights? It wasn’t heart, or style, or practice, or any of those mechanical things. And Honoka really can’t answer. There isn’t one driving force, it seems. But that’s better than the answers she gets out of Yukiho of “worrisome”, “unreliable”, and “nervewracking”.
Seeing everyone’s wishes
But even if Yukiho’s way with words leaves something to be desired, she’s on to something with her other assessment: You just feel like you should root for µ’s. And it’s not just Yukiho, but everyone, when they see a whole array of ema with good wishes for µ’s written on them. And that makes Honoka realize that the driving force behind µ’s is the wishes of everyone, pushing them to work harder to deserve them, pushing everyone to root more for them, and on and on. And that finally inspires their catchphrase: Minna de kanaeru monogatari. (My stab at it would be “The Story of Granting Everyone’s Wishes”, but that’s really inelegant).
Bonus Yukata Maki-chan
Another one of those great ‘nothing happened, and it was glorious’ episodes. The show always knows how to bring out the best of these characters, and thrives in this space of exploring itself. And while this episode was a lot of Honoka’s reflection, it wasn’t done in a bad way, and it wasn’t occasioned by some sort of disastrous happening. It was just thinking about who you are, and who you want to be, and why you want to be that way. The big questions of what will happen after Love Live! still remain, but for now, I think they’re right to put them off.