School idol anime seems to be increasingly popular across all demographics. Since 2005, there has been an idol-related anime released every year; in some cases, more than one. As with any anime, there are some that are better than others. Perhaps the most notable, recent titles are “AKB0048,” produced by studio Statelight, that aired in the Spring season of 2013, and the new “Love Live!,” produced by studio Sunrise, the aired this year in January. Without getting into too much detail, “AKB0048” was sub-par in a lot of ways, specifically the way they made light reflected off any surface shaped like a heart. However, it brought to the table an interesting prediction of what a future might hold for us if our respective governments put restrictions on free expression.
Getting back to the topic at hand here, “Love Live!” is a fresh, new take on idol anime so far. Instead of cheesy tricks to make everything cutesy and girly, they actually make the effort to increase the appeal of the anime to all viewers. In the first place, the main body of the episode has excellent animation, which is to be expected of Sunrise. As a side note, Sunrise is also the studio that produced the hit series “Accel World” and “Code Geass.”
Producing anime since 1968, with their first series “Cyborg 009,” Sunrise has 275+ series under their belt and has no shortage of experience. Drawing on this vast experience, Sunrise has so far managed to put together an idol anime that doesn’t want to make you kill it with fire. However, it’s not all pretty idols and cute poses. The OP/ED of the anime is a rotoscoping/3DCG nightmare. Rather than the seamless, tasteful rotoscoping done by studios like Kyoto Animation, Sunrise has somehow managed to turn the OP/ED of “Love Live!” into something that’s fairly horrendous.
The other issue with it is that they have made sure to make the setting an all-girls high school, which seems to be another popular theme lately. It’s not that there’s anything particularly wrong with all-girls schools but you just don’t see too many of them around that would be that nice looking. It’s a bit unrealistic. However, it seems like they will actually allow characters to develop and not just have them stick with a static personality the entire twelve-episode run.
If you’re a fan of idol anime, then “Love Live!” is a must-watch. If you can tolerate idol anime, then it’s certainly worth a look at. If you can’t stand idol anime, this one might just change your mind. In the mean time, we shall see how this turns out. Please note that this is an initial review of the anime and has no bearing on any other media that is currently in existence. Additionally, this is based on three episodes. Don’t take it as a review of the whole series.
Update: The insert song sequence is pretty horrific, too. Especially since one of the singers has a really high, chipmunk voice that makes you want to cringe in agony. However, there are some pretty emotional scenes in the rest of the episodes. Again, don’t judge the whole series based on the appalling “idol sequences” where the animation is about as bad as it’s going to get.
Update 2: Now that the series has ended, nothing has really changed in this review. Here are a few other notes:
- There actually was character development, which was brought on by a crisis of sorts. However, the “power of friendship” theme that runs through the genre made itself painfully apparent.
- While cheesy, the show actually does send a message of sorts. It’s not all. “I wanna be an idol and be a total [CENSORED]!”
- Airs: Sundays, 22:00 JST (GMT +9)
- Studio: Sunrise
- Genre(s): Music, Idol, School
- First Aired: 06 Jan 2012
Otonokizaka High School stands on the border of three cities: Akihabara–a pop culture mecca that’s evolving by the minute; Kanda–a conservative, cultured city where history and tradition reign supreme; and Jinbo–a quiet area reserved for a more mature, sophisticated population. Amidst this culture clash, the school now faces closure due to the enrollment of fewer and fewer students.
With the school planning to close within three years, nine female students come together with one thing in mind—form a pop idol group to revive the school’s popularity and keep it from shutting down. “In order to protect our beloved school, there’s only one thing we can do…become pop stars!” Their goal is simple: Become an overnight sensation and use their nationwide media exposure to promote their school and bring in a wave of new students to the ailing area. A simple but solid plan, they figure. Naturally, they’re nervous and wonder if this plan can really succeed, but for better or worse their new journey has begun…
“All we can ask for is just a tiny bit of support from you. We truly believe that with your help, we can change the world around us. We will make our dreams come true!”[Source: NIS America]