It's the end of Muse and the latest instalment in the all-conquering Love Live franchise. (Love Live! Sunshine!! is coming later this year, following the adventures of a next-generation idol group at a different school.) I quite liked this movie, but it's pretty dispensable.
Love Live is about nine girls, led by the lovable but scatterbrained Honoka, who decided to set up a school idol group. ("Idol" = "pop star, singer, model, all-purpose celebrity, etc." They're usually bland cute role-models, manufactured by talent agencies and as a rule not considered to be serious musicians.) Honoka's school had been going to close for lack of new pupils, so she and her friends started an idol group to try to raise the school's profile. They're called Muse. This worked like gangbusters, but now a third of the group have graduated from school and the group has agreed to disband.
That happened at the end of Season Two. In this film, it basically happens again. Muse get asked to do more stuff, so they think some more about breaking up. Will they? Won't they? It's amiable and moderately watchable, but it's the dramatic equivalent of wandering gently around the garden before getting back in your rocking chair.
The girls go to New York. This lets us hear some American accents, which are all convincing (despite this being anime) but managed to annoy me anyway. Our heroines spend about half an hour there, doing not a lot but having fun and very occasionally singing.
They get invited to do another live concert. They sing and dance some more, in sequences that are usually meant to be taken as magical fantasy rather than a literal portrayal of people in a physical location. They discuss again whether or not to disband. I think that's the whole plot. If you look up "forgettable" in the anime dictionary, you'll see this film. However that's okay, because it's not about its plot. It's about hanging out with a likeable cast, laughing at some pretty well-timed gags and admiring the way that the film manages to stop any of the nine girls from leaving the spotlight even though none of them get enough to do. Hell, none of them get anything to do. Nothing meaningful, anyway.
I enjoyed it, in a low-intensity way. The wrong train made me laugh. The character dynamics are lively. Hanayo's rice rant struck me as an unusually high-pitched squeaky anime voice, but it doesn't last long. It's nice.
However there's also Future Honoka. That's the obvious interpretation, anyway. An older girl with Honoka's eye and hair colour shows up for conversations in two different continents, but always disappears before anyone else might see her. She helps Honoka talk through her issues, but never gives definitive answers. Is she a time-traveller from the future? A sort of ghost? A personification of Honoka's internal struggle about Muse's future, making her basically Honoka's subconscious? We never learn, but she's quite interesting and she offers a possibly-maybe-perhaps view of how Honoka's future might turn out. Personally I hope it doesn't go exactly like that, though. Lately this series has had a powerful and slightly disconcerting focus on breaking up, with this Future Honoka being a glimpse of what might happen after that. She seems nice and happy, though.
I liked Love Live Season One a lot. That was great. Season Two is still likeable and charming, but it struck me as starting to run out of steam dramatically compared with Season One. I still enjoyed it, mind you. This movie, though, is running out of steam compared with Season Two. It's still funny and entertaining, but it's also fairly forgettable and I don't think there's nearly enough there for a recommendation.