Uranohoshi Girls’ High School, a private school in the seaside neighborhood 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!
And so the second generation of Love Live songstresses are back for a second season. When the nine young idols of Aqours are told of the news that, despite their best efforts, their countryside school is still in danger of closing due to a lack of prospective students, Chika and the gang realise that they have to increase their efforts and audience in order to attract more students to Uranohoshi Girls’ High School. Their best hope is to try for Love Live once more with better songs, costumes, routines and spirit in order to guarantee that their school will stay open after they leave.
But anyone who knows their idol anime will understand that the path to success never runs smoothly – and no truer things could be said when it comes to Aqours. They have had more than their fair share of bad news and realise that fame isn’t just sparkle and dancing. They have to work hard to stay in shape, to keep up with theie schoolwork, to save money for all nine of them to travel to the qualifiers and, more importantly, to remain cohesive as a group and take every opportunity to promote their school locally as well as further afield.
I still feel that the story that followed Muse is a much more compelling and entertaining one than Aqours overall, but I can’t put my finger on why. It could be that they were the original school idol group and the story this time is a little too similar to its predecessors. I also thing that the characters aren’t as strong this time around. It’s difficult sometimes to run an anime that effectively has nine female protagonists, but I find that the members of Aqours rely on little quirks and gimmicks in their personalities in order to establish themselves, such as Hanamaru ending all he sentences with -zura and Yoshiko’s constant chunibyo antics and insistance that everyone calls her ‘Yohane’ (though no one ever does) and even Dia’s onomatopoeic catchphrase happens a little too often. The characters are much more than these little foibles – they should more away from them as the story progresses, are at least turn them down a little bit.
Having said that, I always look forward to Aqours performing as a group. The gang getting serious and them all working together to achieve their goal is the best thing about this anime. I can bear through the mildly humrous, silly high school girl antics to see them come together as a group (astonishingly well for a group that don’t seem to do much on-screen dance practice, songwriting or costume design). When I saw them all turn up to the Love Live qualifiers and perform ‘My Mai Tonight’ in some gorgeous altered kimono dresses, I realise why I enjoy this anime so much and look forward to their next performance. Unfortunately, these sometimes feel like they are few and far between so I’m hoping that the songs increase as we proceed further into the story.