Suzuko MimoriEmi NittaAya UchidaRiho Iida
Love Live! School Idol Project (season 2)
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2014: L
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Director: Takahiko Kyogoku
Original creator: Hajime Yatate
Actor: Aina Kusuda, Aya Uchida, Emi Nitta, Pile, Riho Iida, Sora Tokui, Suzuko Mimori, Yoshino Nanjou, Yurika Kubo, Ayane Sakura, Ayuru Ohashi, Maho Matsunaga, Marie Miyake, Megu Sakuragawa, Nao Toyama, Noriko Hidaka, Nozomi Yamamoto, Sayuri Hara
Keywords: Love Live, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 13 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=15812
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 21 December 2015
Love.Live.School.Idol.Project
I still like it, but I think it's lost some momentum. The girls have made it. They're school idols. Everyone likes and accepts them, while most of their members have got over the personal issues that were holding them back in Season One.
This year's thus running on three things:
(a) charm
(b) competing in another Love Live contest
(c) the girls' realisation that they won't be able to carry on like this forever because the third years will have graduated by the end of the series.
What it doesn't really have is a plot. The Love Live contest is less prominent than you'd think, with the show being surprisingly uninterested in trying to wring drama from the "will they win?" moments. Of course they're going to win. (Aren't they?) It's unthinkable that a show of this feelgood genre won't give us the expected happy ending, so the showrunners have made the interesting decision to take for granted everything that the audience will also be taking for granted. This allows a stronger focus on the characters (which is good), but it does mean that the season isn't really aiming for dramatic tension.
Even the plot developments that we do have are daffy. Honoka's been elected as school council president to replace the outgoing Eli, which is a hilariously bad choice. Of all the students in her year, Honoka is probably the ditziest goofball and she'll certainly be the busiest with her Love Live commitments. (This worries her in ep.1, for ten minutes of contrived and unconvincing drama.) Just goes to show that being cute, popular and famous can get anyone elected for anything, I suppose. The purpose of this is to give Honoka another obstacle to overcome, to which in fairness she does eventually knuckle down and do a pretty fair job of all the school bureaucracy, meetings, speeches, etc. She's the show's heroine. She needs obstacles. It's a plot contrivance that works, I suppose.
Note that in ep.3 she claims to be bad at reading, after having been almost innumerate in Season One. In other words, Otonokizaka Academy's appointed representative is a cute, super-charismatic moron.
While I'm poking holes, ep.9 is even more risible. The girls have to run across town to be in time for a performance, but it's snowing! There must be... ooooh, two whole inches of it! This gets portrayed as akin to Scott of the Antarctic, complete with driving wind. The goofiest bit, though, is that our heroines are running along with their umbrellas up. Yes, in a strong wind. That'll be what's slowing them down, not the snow. I'd have folded up my umbrella if I were them and, frankly, I'd have done the same even if had it been raining (i.e. there had been any reason to have my umbrella up in the first place).
Meanwhile ep.7 is a light-hearted look at Honoka and Hanayo's struggle to keep their weight down. What's annoying about this is that no one mentions that a lot of this will be the natural consequence of putting on all that dancing muscle. Oh, and one last quibble. The girls' (staggering) costumes for the final make Eli, Rin and Hanayo look as if their knickers have fallen down.
All that said, though, this is still a very likeable show. It's probably still just about worth a recommendation.
The cast are all still lovable and even their Love Live opponents are generous and supportive. They're all still determined to win (and bloody hell, 'ARISE' are a hard act to follow), but that doesn't mean anyone's going to act like enemies. It's a heartwarming universe to visit.
The girls all get lots of screen time, with the show coping effortlessly with its large cast. Most of them exorcised their inner demons in Season One, but there's a Nico-centric episode that's absolutely hilarious and there's a Rin-centric episode about her self-image problems. (I love Nico.) The show's also ramped up the lesbian hints compared with Season One, although it's still below the level of other entries in this franchise, e.g. the manga and light novels. I've been told that suggesting that any of this show's characters might one day take an interest in boys is a good way of starting an internet flame war. Apparently Nico-Maki (even shipped by their voice actresses) and Hanayo-Rin get allusions to their special relationships, but those were so subtle that they completely slipped past me.
Nozomi-Eli, though, is basically text. Theoretically there's room for doubt with Eli, but I think it's clear that Nozomi is canonically lesbian and that the production team are having fun inserting references to this, of varying degrees of unsubtlety.
What ends up driving the season, though, is the theme of impermanence. Ever since Season One, characters have been very aware of their futures. The time will come when they have to quit. They're School Idols, not professionals. The show ends up dealing rather gently and beautifully with the issues of friends moving on to a new stage in their lives.
It's still a very pleasant show to watch. Personally I think it's weaker than Season One, but the show's charm and likeable characters keep it afloat even when it's treading water. Some people think it's an improvement. It's a story about nine good friends who care about each other enormously and work together to achieve something that none of them could have done on their own. There's also a 2015 anime movie, which I'm looking forward to. It's terribly easy to get fond of Love Live.