Love Live is everything you think it is from the outset. It’s a high school drama centered on a group of adorable girls becoming idols. It’s nothing new, it doesn’t strive to change the game; yet it still manages to beat the competition as far as I’m concerned. And I’m not familiar with all the competition because I’m not a huge fan of this slice of life/music genre that seems to have cropped up after the success of that one episode of Haruhi Suzumiya and the massive success of K-On. All I know of is the first season of K-On, which is massively hyped up. I reviewed it pretty decently though and in retrospect…I think it’s because I’m a sucker for this moe garbage. I fall for the cute girls just as easily as the rest and even when reviewing some titles I seem to relax my rating because I enjoyed following the cute girls as they do cute things. I’m pathetic, I know.
Why am I admitting my being a moe blob? Because that’s how I get caught up in these types of anime. My thinking that Azusa was adorable got me watching K-On. My thinking Nico was cute got me watching Love Live. And while Azusa was my favorite character from K-On, Nico is actually not my favorite character from Love Live because she’s kind of a bitch. But that’s beside the point…
Love Live has the same type of set-up as many of these high school drama-y anime. Just like K-On, we follow an idealistic, loud, clumsy, and annoying girl. In Love Live, she decides to start an idol group due to the popularity of these groups around Japan. It’s all a last ditch effort to save her high school which could possibly shut down. She recruits her two best friends, a very boring moe girl named Kotori and the super shy girl, Umi. Umi doesn’t want to perform in a short skirt because that’s embarrassing. Meanwhile, she wears the school’s uniform skirt that, in reality, would be as effective a piece of clothing as not wearing a skirt at all.
They face all kinds of obstacles such as a really unsavory girl named Nico and a student council president who keeps pushing them aside.
Story-wise, it’s nothing new. The only real plus I can give the story is the fact that the girls actually practice. There are lots of parts that have nothing to do with practicing but the sheer fact that we are given a group of competent girls that are actually trying to succeed at what they are doing makes the anime more enjoyable and gives the audience more reason to invest themselves in the group and hope to see them succeed.
That being said, this is a music anime and I believe that every music anime I’ve ever reviewed I’ve stated one thing:
NOT ENOUGH MUSIC!
This is the exception. Love Live contains a surprising amount of music. This is an equivalent to America’s High School Musical so it better well have some goddam music. But unlike High School Musical, we’re not subjected to Ashley Tisdale’s nose, which makes this anime a big plus in my book. We’re also not subjected to understandable lyrics, which is probably why I enjoy the music of these types of shows. Let’s face it; the music in Love Live is garbage. It’s bubblegum pop, the kind of stuff you’d expect teenaged girls to write. The meaningless lyrics and nonsensical English words or phrases thrown in are a staple of these types of songs. But it’s what you’d expect from sixteen year old girls and I guess that makes it alright. Start: Dash is pretty catchy and while none of the music may be memorable, at least there is enough of it going around that you get excited for the next piece.
That being said, the music is accompanied by an idol performance most of the time. The animation of this show is usually pretty good with very adorable girls, great backgrounds, and good movement. But the issue comes with these dance performances that become very shoddy CGI mixed with traditional animation sequences. While the animation looks good, the sudden use of something akin to Miku Miku Dance is frustratingly out of place and gaudy. I don’t know who decided to change the style, but fire that person for season two. Please. No more computer animation.
Even with a big cast of really likeable and adorable characters it still fails to impress with anything new. Every character is a stereotypical something-or-other. You have the tomboy, the tsundere (really two of them), the well-to-do upper classman, the pervert, the ditzy leader, the shy and fraidy-cat friend, and the girl with very little personality. Working together, these characters are fun despite some having very little depth. The show does give most of them a good amount of focus and fleshes them out a bit, but they’re, once again, typical. The development they’re given is the usual.
Now for some smaller tidbits of hate: Why do all Russian girls in anime and manga have to be ballerinas? I’m looking at you Black Lagoon, Love Live, and Gunslinger Girl. Also, why the beach episode? If one episode contributed nothing to the anime as a whole it was the beach episode. Also, the drama at the end regarding Kotori was forced and very predictable. The entire outcome was extremely easy to see from a mile away because the same plot device has been used before to the same effects.
So where does that leave Love Live? Despite the story’s predictability, the characters predictability, and the MMD style dancing, it’s still highly enjoyable. Watching this band of girls come together and work hard to attain a dream is actually kind of heart-warming. The pacing is a little rough and the music isn’t the best but there’s a good amount of music and a good amount of fun to be had. It’s not an anime to be taken seriously, you hop on this ride to meet some new friends and enjoy their interactions and triumphs. It’s no masterpiece by any stretch, but for what it is, it’s a good, though flawed, anime.