The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Love Live! School Idol Project

Title: Love Live! School Idol Project
Genre: Drama
Company: Sunrise
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 6 Jan 2013 – 31 Mar 2013

Synopsis: With declining enrollment the last several years, Otonokizaka High School is on the verge of being shut down. To save their beloved school, a group of girls band together to form μ’s, a school idol group. They hope to draw attention to their school and raise enrollment numbers, all while becoming pop idol sensations in the process. But the student council president has other ideas…

The Highlights
Moe: The force is strong with this one.
Characters: Cute with something for everyone.
Pacing: I hope idols don’t bore you.

Love Live! School Idol Project features your standard cast of cute girls that forms the idol group in question. Similar to another quite popular idol show, the cast is a scientific balance of personalities and character design.  There are energetic boke characters, stoic tsukkomi characters, shy characters, vain characters, and just about every other archetype you’d come to expect. Our lead is Honoka, who starts the school idol group to stop the school from shutting down. She is quite determined, never backing down despite a poor first concert or disapproval from the student council. Honoka’s character is built up over the course of the anime and ultimately tested at the climax. In many ways, Love Live! is her show. Niko, Eri, and Umi receive some presence and screentime, but generally remain unexplored at any meaningful level. Everyone else in the idol group is essentially a background character.

It’s unrealistic to expect a 13 episode anime to wholesomely develop nine girls. But while I have no issue with some cast members being background characters, they seem so neglected that they lack presence. This is especially true once the girls decide that their group has no leader and they will perform as equals. How could they possibly appear as equals when the audience doesn’t know half their names? I found the character designs to be quite appealing, so I would not have minded if the show at least spread the screentime around.

Love Live! nails it in the production quality department. The CGI in the opening animation might look strange to some, but I myself enjoyed the opening. The song was catchy and upbeat and the visuals were spot on. Fun songs from the franchise litter the show, pleasing fans and newcomers alike. The dance choreography is fitting for an idol anime, the animation is always smooth, and the entire show has a nice polished look. It is apparent that Sunrise spared no expense in making Love Live! look as beautiful as fans anticipated.

The show’s spectacular visuals consequently highlights just how ambitious Love Live! could have been. My favorite parts of Love Live! are when the girls react to people asking for their autographs, or seeing their merchandise in stores. It is an interesting study in being “internet famous”. I was disappointed how little the show explored being an idol. Most of the struggle was administrative, and while it was rather convenient how all the antagonists join the idol group, they don’t really go anywhere with the group together. The show dangles this internet idol competition at us, but doesn’t really show the competitive aspect of idol life. Love Live! doesn’t even mention any of the other idol groups in the competition, focusing instead on μ’s and their internal story.

Love Live! is a well-made show about a bunch of girls who work to become idols. There’s not much to the show past face value, but the presentation is good enough that I cared for the anime to show me more, and explore what it has. That’s not something every anime manages to achieve.

The Rating: 6
6/10

Reviewed by: kevo

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