Anime Review Love Live Series

Anime Hajime Review: Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club


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Original Run: October 3, 2020 - December 26, 2020
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Idol, Music, Slice of Life

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

The best school idols have a knack for pulling people in. And once the bug bites, it never goes away.

Such is what happened when Nijigasaki High students Ayumu Uehara and Yuu Takasaki (voiced respectively by Aguri Oonishi and Hinaki Yano) hear their school’s idol club perform.

The two friends try to join the next day but discover that the show they saw was the club’s final performance. However, this doesn’t stop Ayumu and Yuu.

The pair gather many like-minded people and reform the Nijigasaki High School Idol Club. Its members now include:

The world of school idols is about to witness the rise of its newest stars.

Series Positives

Let me be clear. I watched Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club (Nijigasaki) more out of obligation than desire. I do not dislike the Love Live franchise. I thought the original series was quite good, and though it might not have been the first idol anime, it has heavily influenced the genre since its release. On the other hand, the second series, Love Live Sunshine, was a blatant carbon-copy of its predecessor that still managed to be incredibly dull.

My biggest fear was Nijigasaki would do the same thing.

To that end, I can tell you that this installment was a pleasant surprise. It wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination. It also didn’t come anywhere close to being as memorable as the original. Nevertheless, it was one thing Love Live Sunshine never was – different.

Yes, Nijigasaki had many of the same elements that have made Love Live, Love Live: highly cinematic musical performances, a large group of characters, a total lack of male presence. Seriously, I can’t think of a single instance when a guy was on screen.

Undoubtedly, this was a Love Live story. However, there was one crucial difference. Where the original show had μ’s (Muse) and Sunshine had Aqours, Nijigasaki had nothing. In this series, there was no idol group. Instead, the Nijigasaki High School Idol Club focused on solo performances.

Sadly, this detail was saddled with a glaring issue that made Nijigasaki difficult to sit through (we’ll put this detail aside for now). That notwithstanding, just seeing this series try something new made it worthy of praise. After all, this switch in perspective allowed the show to change its priorities.

For example, the titular Love Live idol competition was only mentioned once and offhandedly. What’s more, the names μ’s and Aqours weren’t even referenced, or, if they were, I didn’t notice them. That meant this set of characters had their own inspirations, their own reasons for wanting to become idols. They weren’t forcibly following the footsteps of people they had no connection with.

Another change was this installment’s end goal – it didn’t really have one. Unlike its two predecessors (because, again, Sunshine gave zero s@#$s about originality), Nijigasaki High was a well-established academy. There was no fear of it shutting down. Thus, the idol club didn’t need to muster up the masses and lay everything on the line to save their school.

Now, wouldn’t a goal-less story mean there was nothing to get excited about? If so, wouldn’t that just have made Nijigasaki a well-produced excuse to push new songs and sell merchandise? And if that were true, wouldn’t it have made this show not very exciting to watch?

Yes.

I never said I enjoyed Nijigasaki. I was simply impressed this franchise wasn’t the third retelling of the same exact story.

Lastly, before getting into this series negatives, we need to acknowledge Nijigasaki’s beautiful animation. Somebody got a bigger budget to play with. Live Love has never looked bad, but it has also never looked this good. The live concerts (a.k.a. the music videos) that this series is known for were especially gorgeous.

If nothing else, the Love Live franchise has a reputation it wants to maintain. Nijigasaki proved that this series will stop at nothing to ensure that reputation is kept.

Series Negatives

Since Nijigasaki chose to split its idol club into individual members, and since Love Live always has multiple main characters, everyone needed their fair share of screen time.

And because trying to juggle TEN DIFFERENT CHARACTERS at once would have been a bit of a hassle, this series decided to dedicate a full episode to one person.

In Nijigasaki, nine of the ten main characters wanted to become idols – another thing this show did differently. Accordingly, nine episodes were set aside to establish who everyone was, their motives, and their vision of what being an idol meant. Apart from simply reducing the cast’s size, I’m not sure what else this series could have done.

This wasn’t a doomed-to-fail strategy. Suppose every character was worth following and had something memorable about them. If so, there would be no reason to think why this method wouldn’t work. The problem was, I have already forgotten everyone who was in this show.

Love Live hasn’t had a memorable character since the original series.

In Nijigasaki, there were those who I liked more than others. I thought Rina Tennoji and Karin Asaka’s episodes were worth a look. Everyone else, though, became background noise.

Thus, if there is someone from Nijigasaki who you think you might like, then, by all means, watch their story; you can skip the rest and not miss out on a damn thing. However, if you do this and only one character strikes your fancy, this series drops from thirteen episodes to about four.

That’s not a great endorsement when 70% of a show is inconsequential.

But who knows. Maybe you’re the person who can look at the Nijigasaki High School Idol Club and think, “They all look worth my time.” If you can say that, you will get so much more out of this show than I did.

Final Thoughts

This series accomplished what it set out to do. It brought a fresh installment to the Love Live media franchise without falling flat on its face. By doing so, you can expect this series to still be profitable for the next few years.

Whether you think that makes it worth watching is another matter.

This show could have been much worse than it was. I know this because I have seen what happens when Love Live does strikeout. But though I may not have really enjoyed my time with this season, I respect that it did try to be different. That alone makes me consider giving it a recommendation.

But the bottom line is, there wasn’t much to this series. It was flashy, yes. However, it is not going to stick with you for long.

Therefore, Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club can be skipped.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.


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