Original Run: July 17, 2022 - October 9, 2022 Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Idol, Music, Slice of Life
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Love Live! Superstar!! 2nd Season. Reader discretion is advised.***
Following their explosive but ultimately failed attempt to make it to Love Live, the member of the school idol group Liella are more determined than ever. For this year’s competition, Kanon Shibuya, Chisato Arashi, Keke Tang, Sumire Heanna, and Ren Hazuki (voice respectively by Sayuri Date, Nako Misaki, Liyuu, Naomi Payton, and Nagisa Aoyama) expect to make even bigger waves.
However, with the start of the new school term, the girls of Liella realize that if they want to keep the School Idol Club alive after they are gone, they will need new members. Unfortunately, everyone knows how hard Liella works to compete at the top. Therefore, few are willing to commit that much effort.
But as it happens, the power of Liella is strong enough to inspire the dreams of some new recruits. Thus, the group happily brings first-years Kinako Sakurakouji, Mei Yoneme, Shiki Wakana, and Natsumi Onitsuka (voiced respectively by Nozomi Suzuhara, Akane Yabushima, Wakana Ookuma, and Aya Emori) into their ranks.
Despite their renewed spirit, Liella cannot afford to grow complacent.
Validation; sweet, unquestioned validation.
For reference, the Love Live franchise added two new entries to its list of shows in 2022: Nijigasaki School Idol Club Season 2 (Nijigasaki 2)and the focus of this review, Superstar Season 2 (Superstar 2). As it happens, I got around to covering Nijigasaki 2 before Superstar. Without repeating what I discussed in its review, Nijgasaki 2 was utterly unremarkable.
Although I always stand by my critiques from any show, one can’t help but wonder if they may be a little unfair sometimes. That thought crept into my head after Nijigasaki 2, but it was immediately kicked out after watching Superstar 2.
Whereas Nijigasaki has proven to be bland, forgettable, and void of meaningful character, Superstar has been nothing except charming, entertaining, and immensely fun.
The first season of Superstar was not something I expected.
Remember, this series is the fourth title under the Love Live umbrella. Every entry since the original has been lackluster, to say the least. As hinted, Nijigasaki was directionless. Then there was series two, Love Live Sunshine, which was a laughably blatant copycat at best and an unamusing trainwreck at worst. So, yeah, I didn’t have the highest of hopes when I heard that Sunshine was coming.
Then to my surprise, Sunshine was a true gem of an anime. Although the series maintained many elements that make Love Love, Love Live, unlike its immediate two predecessors, it added aspects that complemented the basic formula, making the whole thing feel fresh and unique.
Season two continued that trend.
Among the many things that worked in season one – including a meaningful end goal, tons of growth, solid voice acting, strong writing, catchy songs, and beautiful animation – was the number of characters we needed to follow. In every previous Love Live series, we needed to get to know no less than nine “different” characters.
Sunshine was much less burdensome since it only focused on five. As a result, the show had much more time to get to know everyone. Or in other words, it was much easier to care about everyone since you knew who they were.
Therefore, I was worried upon realizing Superstar 2 would be adding four more characters to reach the standard nine-member squad. It appeared this series was risking overcrowding to match the other idol groups in this franchise.
However, my assumptions didn’t consider the benefits of having a smaller cast in season one.
In Sunshine 2, the story wasn’t trying to present all these new faces. Instead, like its predecessor, it only centered around a small group. And as for the veterans, Sunshine 2 gave them a chance to take on a role no other Love Live installment has provided – mentorship.
While every Love Live group has a mixture of first, second, and third-year students, μ’s (original), Aqours (Sunshine), and the girls of Nijigasaki all worked together from the outset to build what they become. Superstar’s Liella is, so far, the franchise’s only idol group to have two distinct iterations.
The first years of Sunshine 2 were entering a group that had already built a name for itself; people knew who Liella was. In addition, the first and second generations realized the stark gap in skill and stamina between the two.
The older Liella members were gunning to win the titular Love Live competition, but they also didn’t want the School Idol Club to die with them. Thus, to achieve both goals, the original girls of Liella had to not only push past their own limits, the first-years needed to put in double the amount of work.
For the first time, Love Live demonstrated that inspirational attitude it has spouted from the beginning. Up to this point, though, we’ve had to take this franchise’s word. Are these idol groups actually filling their audiences’ hearts with dreams, hope, and aspirations? That’s hard to say. But I can tell you that the first-years of Liella looked up to and respected their seniors.
Conversely, the original members of Liella embraced their new positions as supporters. They wanted their recruits to blossom, grow, and take pride in themselves.
The payoff from this was a Love Live series that stands as something much more than well-animated fluff. When it wants to, this franchise has the power to be something outstanding.
This section might sound like a contradiction. But before we get to that, we have to acknowledge that Superstar 2 simply ended.
There was no real conclusion; there was no natural pause point. The season reached the end of episode twelve and just stopped.
Although Superstar season has received a green light, the suddenness of this ending was jarring. And that doesn’t even consider how rushed the final episode was.
Despite the hype surrounding the Love Live competition, when we got to it, this season had Liella perform one song – which wasn’t even one of their better numbers – and that was it. There was no fanfare or tension. If you’re not paying attention at the right moment, you might not even realize the final results.
It didn’t make sense for Superstar 2 to power through its last episode. Why put all this effort into building up Liella’s ultimate goal and then not spend any time playing it out?
It makes one wonder what the plans are for season three.
With that out of the way, the biggest problem with Superstar 2 was the size of its cast. Yes, this series did a far better job managing the amount of characters than its predecessors. But that doesn’t change the fact that nine is still a lot.
When anime have a large cast, and Love Live is a prime example of what happens when things get to this level, scenes with the entire group slow to a crawl. After all, we have all these characters, so even if it is only a single line, everyone needs the chance to say something.
Unfortunately, having everyone round-robin the same sentiment over and over again, it gets tiresome after a few scenes. Superstar was immune from this. On the contrary, I have a strong suspicion that his problem is only going to grow next season. Liella is most likely going to expand even more.
For better or worse, there are aspects of this franchise that it can’t drop.
Despite being a massive burden, this season ended its run with many characters to keep track of. However, unlike past series, this installment managed to, at least, keep everyone that did come into the story interesting.
On top of that, this installment of the now decade-old project proved the name Love Live isn’t dead in the water. This series can still shine incredibly bright.
Love Live! Superstar!! 2nd Season has earned a recommendation.
But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this series; how would you advise Love Live! Superstar!! 2nd Season? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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