Original Run: July 2, 2016 - September 24, 2016 Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Idol, Music, Slice of Life
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Love Live! Sunshine!!. Reader discretion is advised.***
Chika Takami (voiced by Anju Inami) makes a life-changing discovery. While visiting Tokyo, she learns about the Love Live idol competition and watches the winning performance of the group µ (muse). Because of µ’s humble beginnings, Chika decides she wants to travel the school idol path.
However, Chika quickly realizes that is easier said than done.
But if there’s one thing Chika is known for, it’s persistence. She turns to her best friend, You Watanabe (voiced by Shuka Saito), and they attempt to start their own school idol club. The pair then make a major breakthrough upon recruiting the recent transfer student Riko Sakurauchi (voiced by Rikao Aida).
The trio inspires more to join them in their quest, and before they know Chika, like µ before her, has put together a nine-strong idol group with the addition of:
- Hanamaru Kunikida (voiced by Kanako Takatsuki)
- Ruby Kurosawa (voiced by Ai Furihata)
- Yoshiko Tsushima (voiced by Aika Kobayashi)
- Dia Kurosawa (voiced by Arisa Komiya)
- Kanan Matsuura (voiced by Nanaka Suwa)
- Mari Ohara (voiced by Aina Suzuki)
Together, the group dub themselves Aqours, and their journey to win Live Love begins.
Love Live Sunshine (Sunshine)was a little surreal to sit through.
Compared to its predecessor, this series was significantly weaker. But overall, it is clear this is a Love Live anime; this installment felt familiar.
Except, the word “familiar” doesn’t quite do it justice. We’ll come back to this point, and for the moment, let’s focus on what Sunshine got right – specifically, Aqours.
Although µ has the definitive edge, the girls of Aqours have their own charm. Granted, the group’s real strength didn’t manifest until all nine members were working together. Once that happened, the team was fun.
There was an exciting dynamic between everyone.
For example, the third-year members – Dia, Mari, and Kanan – were good friends before joining Aquors and had a musical background. While this history caused them to be the obvious veterans, not equals, there were benefits to this. They brought experience, which was something not even µ had.
Conversely, the first and second years were almost indistinguishable regarding experience. Therefore, there was an instant bond between them. In fact, these six girls could have been the entirety of Aquors, and the show could have centered on them exclusively. Why that didn’t happen, I can’t say.
After all, in the original series, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of nine characters. Why would Sunshine burden itself with more when less would have been just fine?
Disregarding how many characters were in this show, can we talk about the animation? Sunshine was absolutely beautiful.
Everything about this series’ visuals rose to the next level. Nowhere was this more apparent than with Aquors’ performances.
Yes, the original anime had a better story and more memorable characters. However, it was Sunshine that had the better lives. There was one particular number that genuinely stood out. Sure, this song came from Aquors’ rivals, Saint Snow, but that doesn’t matter.
So, yeah, animation-wise, Sunshine knocked it out of the park. Sadly, that is largely inconsequential.
Follow me on this.
In the original Love Live, A-Rise inspired Honoka to create her own idol group. It became her way of saving the school she loved. Although initially challenging, she had her two close friends to support her. As time went on, Honoka and µ began to grow.
Eventually, µ became a close-knit group of nine, comprised of three first years, three second years, and three third years. Together, they worked hard to win Love Live. In the process, they saved their school and learned how important their friendship was to them.
In Sunshine, µ inspired Chika to create her own idol group. It became her way of saving the school she loved. Although initially challenging, she had her two close friends to support her. As time went on, Chika and Aquors began to grow.
Eventually, Aquors became a close-knit group of nine, comprised of three first years, three second years, and three third years. Together, they worked hard to win Love Live. In the process, they saved their school and learned how important their friendship was to them.
Do you see the problem? The original and Sunshine are the same thing. There is virtually no difference between the two series.
Although being a blatant rehash is bad enough, what made it worse was that Sunshine was even subtle about it. Sure, µ never appeared in this series – something I’m shocked didn’t happen – but their presence existed.
Chika never hid her intentions to follow in the EXACT footsteps of her idols. And while following a similar road is one thing, going damn near beat for beat is something else.
Except there was one issue. Unlike µ, who we saw work night and day to get better, Aquors put in no such effort. In its copy-and-paste glory, Sunshine decided not to do any of that.
Aqours hardly ever practiced. Instead, things merely kept falling into place for them. Rather than seeing them grow and improve, this series expects you to assume they did.
And when the group had their big failing moment – because, of course, they did – it was impossible to care.
Aqours never earned the right to say they tried their best. And yet, many of the girls wallowed in the frustration of not getting what they wanted. To them, it was impossible to comprehend how they could’ve done so horribly.
To that, I say, “What did you think was going to happen?” The only thing Aquors seemed to be good at was doing everything except becoming an idol group.
We’ve already done this.
Although the original series isn’t one of my favorites, it had something this installment didn’t – character.
Sure, Aqours was a fun group, and the animation was excellent, but so what? Everything about this series was a poor attempt to recreate rather than innovate.
Love Live! Sunshine!! is one you can skip.
But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this series; how would you advise Love Live! Sunshine!!? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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