***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Love Live School Idol Project. Reader discretion is advised.***
Otonokizaka Academy is on the verge of shutting its doors for good. This news is devastating for second-year Honoka Kosaka (voiced by Emi Nitta). Frantically, she searches for a way to save her beloved school.
While visiting a neighboring academy, Honoka is struck with awe when she hears the school idol group A-Rise. Inspired, she decides to form her idol group with the help of her two close friends, Kotori Minami (voiced by Aya Uchida) and Umi Sonoda (voiced by Suzuko Mimori).
Honoka’s determination is inspiring, and slowly, she, Kotori, and Umi start to gain more members:
- Maki Nishikino (voiced by Pile)
- Hanayo Koizumi (voiced by Yurika Kubo)
- Rin Hoshizora (voiced by Riho Iida)
- Nico Yazawa (voiced by Sora Tokui)
- Eli Ayase (voiced by Yoshino Nanjo)
- Nozomi Tojo (voiced by Aina Kusuda)
Together, these nine form the Otonokizaka Academy school idol group, μ’s (muse).
From this point on, I will often compare Love Live to K-On because they shared many of the same themes and ideas. However, don’t be mistaken; these two shows are most definitely different entities.
Like K-On’s After School Tea Time, the bond between Love Live’s μ’s was the highlight of this show. One can argue which of the two was stronger, but to me, for Love Live to have worked, μ’s bond needed to be inherently stronger than After School Tea Time since it had to keep together nine rather than five. Had it failed, the show would have been forgettable.
I had my doubts about whether it could be done, but Love Live proved me wrong.
Luckily, the music of Love Live was by no means the point. μ’s was composed of a rich personality pool which made the group feel dynamic and alive. While I did prefer the music of K-On, Love Live still produced a respectable soundtrack.
There was strife amongst the members of μ’s. They disagreed, they argued, and they challenged each other. Tensions got so high the idea of disbanding was not only considered, it damn near almost happened.
K-On didn’t even attempt something like that.
Becoming the best school idol group was the goal the girls of μ’s wanted to achieve, but that drive was not why they tried as hard as they did. An unfortunate truth pushed them, and the group had to come to terms with it.
The final episode hit all the right notes at all the right times. Its effectiveness was strong, and it was sad to see everything come to a close.
Practice and Build Up
My biggest complaint about K-On was we never got to see After School Tea Time become a band. For them, everything tended to fall neatly into place. Love Live didn’t do that.
From beginning to end, we saw the growth of μ’s and its members. They practiced constantly, and we could witness them slowly getting better. It made their performances far more enjoyable because there was actual work put into each one of them.
That was another thing: a μ’s concert had weight behind it. Each was a challenge. Not only that, these were challenges that felt as though the group could have failed.
When it came to K-On, played it safe. Love Live, on the other hand, offered the right amount of doubt.
By the end of the first episode, I was confident there would be a lot of things to like about Love Live. Unfortunately, there were also a lot of things I thought might have become an issue.
Sometimes I hate being right.
While μ’s might have been well-rounded as a group, the same cannot be said about its members. This show did an amazing job of portraying its girls as the best of friends, but we rarely saw them as individual characters.
Sure this series did fine with its three main leads, Honoka, Umi, and Kotori. Plus the decent enough behind Eli and Nico. For the rest, though, Rin, Maki, Nozomi, and Hanayo still had a lot left to be desired.
Credit where it’s due, this series tried fixing this. Unfortunately, its attempts weren’t even close to adequate enough. At best, Love Live succeeded in giving each girl a character trait but failed at providing a real personality.
It’s no mystery why this happened, either.
There were just too many characters who needed to be dealt with. This show could have spent the time to give each girl their own episode arc, but then there would have been no time for a story.
Love Live attempted a daunting challenge that it wasn’t prepared to take on.
Though Love Live had many elements K-On failed at providing, it also fumbled in places K-On excelled.
It was great to see μ’s grow, and the build-up to their performances was genuine. Therefore, isn’t it weird I don’t remember any of the group’s concerts?
It happened without fail. I would get really excited about the next live event, only to be left underwhelmed. They always turned into music videos rather than actual performances — and the hilariously obvious use of CGI animation didn’t help matters.
Where K-On had all flare no business, Love Live was all business with no flare. With the sole exception being the very first μ’s concert, there was no performance that was noteworthy or memorable.
There were many missed opportunities.
This series was plagued with pacing issues. The story tried to sloppily catch up with itself. Plus, there was a slew of questionable plot devices – Honoka had no business becoming the student council president, goddamn it.
I felt myself getting angry with each stumble. There was so much this show could have done that it just doesn’t do.
So then, why did I like it so much?
Yes, despite all its problems, I honestly felt sad when the show’s final few episodes played. The road getting to that end was bumpy, but the journey was still a lot of fun.
If you liked K-On, there is no reason why you shouldn’t give Love Live School Idol Project a try.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? How would you advise Love Live School Idol Project? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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