Love Live! Sunshine!!

Love Live! Sunshine!!

img_4973.jpgUranohoshi Girls’ High School, a private school in the seaside neighbourhood of Uchiura at Numazu city, Shizuoka prefecture. A small high school in a corner of Suruga Bay, it is home to nine teens, led by second-year student Chika Takami, driven by one seriously big dream: To become the next generation of bright, sparkling “school idols”! As long as we don’t give up, any dream can come true… All we have to do now is keep pushing hard for glory! Now their “School Idol Project” begins to make their dreams come true!

At first I was wondering what kind of show, even if it is an idol anime, merited the use of three exclamation points, but seeing the borderline terrifying enthusiasm shown by Chika from the very beginning of this adventure, I can see why. Surely the members of µ’s from the first time around weren’t like this?

img_4974.jpgBut these girls aren’t supposed to be like µ’s. Or maybe they are. They aspire to be just like them, draw lyrical ideas from µ’s songs and, is it just me, or do some of the girls resemble their µ’s counterparts so much that it’s spooky?

Anyway, enough of my conspiracies. Love Live! Sunshine!! is about school idols and, much like Honoka did before her, Chika must enlist a certain amount of students to her School Idol Club before the student president will accept it as a legitimate after school activity. Like Honoka again, Chika finds it difficult to find the recruits in order to make her dream come true. She’s hoping that her infallible enthusiasm will draw new members to her, and slowly people are starting to gravitate (because, you know, you can’t start an idol group with just you and your mate who looks like Kotori and just happens to have a passion for costume design. I know, weird, right?)

img_4980.jpgI don’t really watch many idol group anime, with my only real experience of these being this anime’s predecessor, but there are a few things this genre needs in order to be successful: cute girls, a bit of drama and some seriously catchy tunes. Having watched a few episodes, I have no doubt that this sequel will be able to deliver. The only thing I’m concerned about is if anything will be different this time around. Because I would like there at least to be some differences, since without them I would feel like I’m watching a diluted group of µ’s wannabes going through the same individual and group struggles.

img_4985.jpgHaving said that, a few things do look promising: the painfully shy Ruby having the opportunity to come out of her shell, school president Dia determined not to acknowledge these upcoming school idols and the so far mysterious Maris – a third year student as quirky as she is wealthy. And I’m not even going to approach the amazing character that is Yoshiko/Yohane.

img_4981.jpgBy a third of the way in, we’re starting to see a differentiation between Aquours and µ’s. It just seems to have taken quite a bit of time because they are so religiously sticking to things that µ’s did: training by running up temple stairs, performing on the roof of their school and trying for nine members. I’m not sure if this deliberate to give the fan base a bit of nostalgia or not, but This group could have stood by themselves a little earlier if their structure wasn’t so militantly adherent to the structure of the original idol group.

img_4972.jpgTo give Sunshine!! its due, it’s full of energy, enthusiasm and positivity. It’s infectious too, so you can’t help but become immersed in the process of going from one schoolgirl’s idea to a fully-fledged girl group and not having your head nodding or your toe tapping whenever they kick off with one of their high-tempo songs about being young and happy with a head full of dreams (quite twee, I know, but you’ll be amazed how this stuff transforms me from a sarcastic British cynic into a school idol enthusiast).

img_4983.jpgAfter getting off to a textbook, unoriginal start, we see the members of Aqours go from following in µ’s footsteps religiously to realising that, in order to go up the school idol rankings, they need to find their own niche and originality. We finally see the characters growing into their own instead of appearing like clones of their predecessors. Thankfully, keeping up with their antics is fun, easy and enjoyable. Looking for something with a cute cast, positive vibe and catchy tunes? Look no further. This idol anime is on its third season for a reason.