Love Live! School Idol Project - Reviews

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HKBattosai's avatar
Jan 11, 2022

Before continuing, please note that this review covers both Love Live! School Idol Project and Love Live! School Idol Project 2nd Season. The individual season scores have been broken down and combined to create a single review score for both seasons.

Story:

It is only recently I have shown an interest in idol-themed anime series beginning with AKB0048, AKB0048: Next Stage, Idoly Pride, and now the Love Live! School Idol Project series with the latter being highly recommend to me by a few other fans of the genre.

Our story begins at Otonokizaka High where the school is being threatened to close its doors to perspective students in the upcoming year, meaning that when the current freshman class graduates, the school will be closed permanently. When the announcement is officially made, second year student, Honoka Kousaka, depressingly faints in the arms of her two best friends, Umi Sonoda and Kotori Minami. She makes it clear that the schools eminent doom does not seem right! After all, she absolutely loves Otonokizaka High, a school with a storied tradition and rich history. For Honoka, it runs even deeper for her since her mother attended high school there as well.

She and her two best friends try to come up with ideas on how to increase prospective student enrollment applications to their school. Unfortunately, they come up empty in every possible way, until one day Honoka visits the modern contemporary designed high school, UTX. It is here she gets her ultimate idea that she believes can truly save the girls’ school, which is to form a school idol group.

At first, Umi thinks Honoka is in way over her head since school idols work just as hard as the professionals do with their songwriting, singing, dancing, choreography, production, design, and anything and everything you can image as it relates to school idols. Fortunately for Honoka she has Kotori who’s always at her side waiting for the next great Honoka adventure to embark on. She and Umi are always taken along for the ride by Honoka, and this will eventually be no different.

Once the girls decide to go for it, they realize that not only is it very hard work, but that there are many obstacles in the way that they must overcome in order to fully realize Honoka’s dream, including extreme opposition from third year student council president, Eli Ayase. She wants to keep the school open just as much if not more than Honoka, but she feels that a school idol group is a foolish way to go about it.

Eventually, Honoka’s pure determination and willingness to succeed completely eclipses all of Eli’s attempts to stop her. In fact, it drives and pushes her even harder in that past the midway point of season one, Otonokizaka High’s school idol group, officially called µ's (or Muse) is a full nine members strong. By this time, the group’s goal to save their precious school is not the only goal that they have, but another major goal lingers in the foreground, and that’s the national competition, Love Live! That becomes the core story basis for the second season.

Now as simplistic as the above might read, both Love Live! seasons are filled with ups and downs, good times and bad ones, successes and failures, laughing moments and crying moments for Muse and for the viewers watching this wonderful anime. I know I shared plenty of instances where I laughed with or at the characters or even cried along with them. Sunrise did a high-quality job at capturing the viewer's attention and pulling them into the story and its characters.

Animation:

I did a double take when I first noticed which studio was behind this anime…the Gundam studio, also known as Sunrise. After pondering it for a few minutes, I then realized that they were the perfect studio to take up this project, especially since it is intensely action-packed, heavily science fiction-based, and loaded with many mecha units flying around fighting each other in drawn out, over dramatized battles.

Yeah, that is me just kidding and being facetious at its absolute finest.

The fact that Sunrise is the studio behind this beautiful anime does come as both a shock and a blessing. Why? Their production values are high, and it shows! The detail and color are so often lively and vivid that watching Love Live! is like feeding your eyes with some of the most visually delectable candy available today. Even the CG visuals are done at a much higher level than 99% of the anime in existence that utilizes that form of animation. The simplest moments and character movements are intricately executed where even the smallest details do not go untouched or unconsidered. Both seasons are so visually stunning on almost all merits that the main cast of characters’ eyes are more vibrant and detailed than entire characters in other anime productions! No joking!

Sound:

Now you must wonder, since Sunrise succeeded so perfectly in the visual production, how would the audio production turn out? And the answer is…spectacular! The music, the harmony of the Japanese performers while singing, and the over all diversity of vocals make the sound of the Love Live! School Idol Project franchise a great success! Each school idol group and their performers often shined in both concert and personality while performing. The songs are diverse in lyric, melody, and acoustically that I often found myself wanting to sing and dance to some of them, although I was able to contain myself, thank goodness for that!

The soundtrack is good enough for me to acquire a portion of songs because I personally enjoyed listening to them that much. If you like idol-themed anime with stellar audio performances, then you should have no problems here.

Characters:

With Muse being comprised of so many members, it is hard to image each individual member getting a chance to shine without being over shadowed or even lost among the other members of the group. Surprisingly, that is not the case. I can confidently say that each character is unique and given a chance to blossom through each of their individual developments. The best part is that when put together, they shine just as evenly and bright. The only one that stands out more than any others is Honoka.

Being a member of the core-three protagonists, along with Umi and Kotori, Honoka unknowingly shines and elevates the rest of the group. She is so unaware sometimes that she can seem airheaded at certain moments or in key situations, more so in season one. An example of this is when she truly believes that each member of Muse should be in the spotlight as the group’s center, or lead, position. What’s the catch? Although true, when she takes the center position, she truly does light up the stage and outshine all the other members, but without completely compromising their performances as well.

Lastly, regarding Honoka, is that what makes her the most special is the way her character develops and matures. It is a wonderful experience to watch and be a part of when embarking on her story alone. She can quite possibly be the greatest Eternal Optimist with the greatest drive and highest level of energy in anime (and without ever becoming annoying). She is at least in that conversation.

Let me not take away from the other members of Muse though, especially Umi and Kotori, because each of them is delightful with a bit of wholesome in their own special ways. Umi is the athletic, shy, hardworking type that always pushes Honoka. Kotori is the soft-spoken, multi-talented best-best friend that always believes and willingly goes along with Honoka’s ideas, schemes, or plans, sometimes to the detriment of the three of them. Together, they are constantly being dragged or pulled along for one of Honoka’s crazy, eventful, random, and/or unpredictable adventures. They almost never know what to expect, but they never leave her side and are always there to support her in any way possible, sometimes to Honoka’s personal detriment.

Now quickly onto the remaining members of Muse. Eli is one of three seniors in the group with Nice and Nozomi being that other two. She is the professional dancer and one of the hardest working members of the group. She originally is against the whole school idol concept, believing it to be a fad or ploy that would ultimately hinder Otonokizaka High’s chances of staying open instead of saving it.

Nozomi is the somewhat mysterious, enigmatic member who is on the student council with Eli as the vice president. She is always plotting and pushing the girls in ways outside of the practice and performances of Muse.

Nico is the hot-headed, single annoying member of the group, especially when she sings her rather stupid “Nico-Nico-nee” jargon. However, she brings that missing "annoyance" element to the group along with her hard work and true fangirl admiration and fondness for school idols. Worst part about it is that her catch phrase is so annoying that I found myself actually saying it myself, and that is not funny!

Finally, there are the three freshman students, Hanayo, Maki, and Rin. Like Nico, Hanayo has been a longtime fangirl of school idols, except her personality is almost a complete opposite to Nico’s. If Nico is mostly outspoken, annoying, and obnoxious, then Hanayo is more introverted, shy, soft-spoken, and polite.

Maki, the musician of the group, is a pianist who plays beautifully and composes the melodies for the group’s songs. Additionally, she sings well and has a private, but spitfire personality that brings some needed tension and provocation to the other members.

In closing, we have Rin. She has been friends with Hanayo since their childhood days. She typically is pushing Hanayo to step out of her shy shell with a similar energy that Honoka displays.

Together, these nine high schoolers make up the school idol group Muse, and do so with a barrage of charm, uniqueness, and individuality. They are a pleasure to watch in the performances and day-to-day interactions with each other.

Overall:

There is not much more I can say that I haven’t already. Bottom line, the series is well-written overall with excellent characters and high production values. That sounds like a win-win-win to me.

Love Live! School Idol Project

  • Story:  21 points
  • Animation:  9 points
  • Sound:  9 points
  • Characters:  24 points
  • Entertainment:  18 points
  • Achievement Score:  High expectations, Spot-on results, +1 to OVERALL
  • Total Points for Season One:  82/100

Love Live! School Idol Project 2nd Season

  • Story:  21 points
  • Animation:  10 points
  • Sound:  10 points
  • Characters:  27 points
  • Entertainment:  20 points
  • Achievement Score:  High expectations, Slightly Above results, +3 to OVERALL
  • Total Points for Season Two:  91/100

Additional Information:

  • Video Format:  Blu-ray (2016)
  • Audio Format:  LPCM 2.0 English
  • Publisher:  NIS America
  • Equipment Used:  LG 60UH6550 4K TV, Vizio 5.1 Sound Bar System SB3651-E6, Sony Blu-ray Player BDP-S5200
7/10 story
9.5/10 animation
9.5/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
8.7/10 overall
ToeBeans405's avatar
Jun 1, 2020

I really can't recommend Love Live enough! It's got a compelling, pretty realistic story with fun characters. I enjoyed watching the whole ensemble of characters get together and build their numbers throught the first few episodes. There's 9 main characters and everyone has different personalities and struggles and it's great to watch how all the characters interact. I really enjoy the actual performance scenes, there's enough build up to each performance that it feels exciting. One of my few complaints is, a few characters really just don't get as much screen time. In particular I felt that Rin, Hanayo and Nozomi were less developed, we don't get to know enough about them as individuals and I liked their characters so I just wanted to see more of them. Definitely has a slower pace, sometimes you'll watch an episode and not much will happen story-wise but it's still fun to watch to see all of the characters along with some genuinely touching moments and some fun comedic moments as well. I liked the directions that the story took, all of the conflict seemed realistic and because of that it was even more engagin to watch. Overall, I highly recommend this, it's a great watch for anyone but especially someone who likes school idols! Oh and also, both mobile games based on Love Live are great.

9/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
9/10 overall
iSuckAtWriting's avatar
Mar 18, 2015

My time with Love Live! is much like the few members of its nine strong cast who were reluctant about being school idols. I wonder how a pushy, narrow sighted girl managed to rope me into this crazy gig, and then I wonder if this idiot turned friend will drag me to another adventure that was more fun than I ever thought possible. The nine strong cast is μ's (pronounced ‘Muse’), named for the Nine Goddesses of Music. Gods don’t die, and neither can my love for their antics, their struggles, and their story.

But Umi Sonoda would suggest I explain everything before acting sentimental, and I wouldn’t expect less from little miss ‘modesty and logic will hopefully win the day (or at least try to guide it).’ She’s the kind of person who tries to keep others on track, sometimes a bit too much when her friends would rather relax at the beach. Thankfully, her sense of discipline is never misguided, as she’ll often pick up her friends after they fall from a mistake. She doesn’t move past being the voice of reason, but she is a major reason μ's goes far.

μ's itself is lead by Honoka Kousaka, whose motive for being a school idol is as crazy as it sounds. Her school is close to closing down due to the lack of new students, and the juniors before her will be the last new students the school accepts. After a chance glimpse at how a concert from a school idol group has brought attention to their school, she has the idea of being a school idol to hopefully attract new students to her school. Enough students to the point where her school won’t close down. Surely such an impulsive idea won’t be where the story takes off from, right?

Well, the story starts there but it doesn’t take off until three episodes into the first season. Reality hits Honoka as her first concert fails, and from that point on the story really begins. Much of season one is about our lively lyrical leader bringing other students to her cause. Despite this, the story doesn’t get serious but doesn’t lack for purpose either. One of the main strengths of Love Live! is an unbridled sense of fun that never loses sight of its story. There’s enough stage practice to make the lead up into every concert believable, but even the antics outside that are always meaningful.

From the change into crazy costumes to reinvent their image for fear of growing stale, to the beach episode that brings Maki Nishikino out of her shell in more ways than one, to the odd responsibility shared by Honoka, Umi, and Kotori Minami in season two, every moment is more than its humor. Despite the fun, there are still times when the story gets serious, and it’s almost never unfounded as even things mentioned in passing come to show their importance later on.

It especially shows with Kotori, whose story deals with the issue of what it means to contribute to a team through humorous bouts of ‘writer’s block.’ Kotori herself hasn’t a single aggressive bone in her body, but that doesn’t mean a sweet and cheerful persona is all she is. She has her doubts and worries, and her reticence at one point truly tests the friendship between herself, Umi, and Honoka. Her story implies the question of what it means to chase a dream, and whether the chase can make someone lose sight of what’s around them.

And for third year student Nico Yazawa, being a part of μ's is another chance to chase her dream. There’s a good, if prideful, reason she wants to become a school idol, and her over the top ‘cute’ persona shows that dedication. In truth, she’s very smug and cynical, but not without good reason. In every jaded person is an optimist waiting to let loose, and Nico does quite enjoy herself as the series goes on, however smug she still acts. Her vast array of idol stuff like concert DVDs also shows her dedication to the art, even before going into her backstory. Much to the pleasure of first year student Hanayo Koizumi.

Hanayo is the old case of how passion can call out an entirely different side to someone. At a glance, she’s timid, and her joining μ's is partly thanks to a small push from her friend Rin Hoshizora and classmate Maki. But from that point on, she’s often energetic, especially in the presence of idols and being an idol fan herself, and of course during μ's concerts. There’s a kernel of truth to how her interests and hobbies suddenly bring out such an involved side to her, but it isn’t over the top to the point of unbelievable.

Then again, the only unbelievable—and weak link by extension—part of the story is Rin. She’s mostly ‘just there’ in season one, while season two messily develops her with an issue that’s never brought up or hinted at save for early in season one. Her time in the spotlight involves being the temporary leader of μ's for…some reason, and wearing an outfit that’s not her style just because. Though still a quite likable tomboy with a penchant for cat speak, the brief change to that other side of her is largely unfounded to the point where likability is all she has going for her.

Compare this to Maki, who doesn’t lack for believability and likability. Despite being as young as Hanayo and Rin, she carries herself with a senior like demeanor to speak level even with third years Eli Ayase and Nozomi Tojo. At the same time, her true self often shows whether she’s flustered or just being a little more open around Nico and Nozomi, and everyone else. And yet, her want to hide her feelings is less about any one of her friends and more about being truly reticent despite her apparent sharpness. Maki is well developed, and not just for her body as Nozomi learns firsthand(s).

For the curious, the big chested Nozomi has a small running joke throughout the series where she gropes the girls of μ's. Nozomi herself is often in the background, but due to her role and reason for being in μ's, it makes sense. Her role is someone who watches over these girls (especially Eli), her reason more than just wanting to watch over them as she befriends them. Mischievous and motherly, Nozomi looks after μ's as if it was her own creation, and the creation of her own person isn’t lacking despite (or maybe even because of?) her lack of screentime.

Of course, her friend Eli isn’t open to μ's being a thing at all. Not at first. Her doubt towards them is rooted in her past success, and doesn’t think they’ll do anything for the school’s future. She has an interesting parallel with Honoka for much of season one, in that despite thinking differently about school idols, they both want to save the school. As student council president, though, Eli works behind the scenes as μ's grows in numbers, ever tempted to let it go and just have fun with them. Her struggle between her duty and desire, despite her pedigree, makes her nothing short of compelling.

But even as Eli becomes a kind of second leader in season two, it’s still Honoka at the heart of μ's. Honoka herself is emotion personified, the sheer range of her facial expressions communicating what dialog can’t. A melancholic gaze, a smile that triumphs over her tears, a crossed scowl, an indifferent but thoughtful gaze, an infectiously energetic smile, and many more faces all serve to perfectly round out her persona. That doesn’t mean she’s without her faults, as she can be focused to the point of losing sight of what’s around her, something that comes up toward the end of season one and the start of season two.

It’s during the second season that Honoka tries to stay aware of what’s around her, partly due to a personal incident in season one, partly from an extra duty as student council president in season two. Yeah. I don’t know how she became student council president either. The best guess among viewers is, after the school was saved, nobody was better fit to be student council president than the school’s savior. Yeah. I don’t know how rallying school idols translates to running a kind of government either.

Thankfully, Honoka eventually, if reluctantly, grows into the role of student council president, and never misses a step as part of μ's as they look to compete at the Love Live! event. During season one, they learned about the Love Live! being a chance for school idols to really show off what they can do. Unfortunately, they had to drop out at the last minute, but they got enough attention anyway to the point where the school was saved. So why would μ's still want to compete at the next Love Live! event?

To which I answer: why must there be a deeper reason to want to do something? Does it matter if passion starts from duty? If they’ve made it this far, why let that effort go to waste? With the introduction of its nine strong cast being largely finished in season one, season two changes the focus from ‘Honoka and the rest of μ's’ to ‘here is μ's as a group of equals.’ Not just Honoka, but all of μ's wants to compete in and win the Love Live! event. Their time in the spotlight much more even, each girl no less passionate than the next. But with their sights set on Love Live!, rival school idol group A-Rise has their sights set on them.

In many ways, A-Rise is the antithesis to μ's. The latter starts as a group of three with Honoka, Umi, and Kotori, and blossoms into nine great performers, while the former is only the trio of Tsubasa Kira, Erena Todo, and Anju Yuki. For how alike these six look respectively, they still take on their own identities, μ's donning frills and youthful vigor while A-Rise sports sleek smooth sensuality in their wardrobe and dance moves. In a refreshing change of pace, though, A-Rise isn’t a conniving group trying to sabotage the main cast. They simply want to win the Love Live!, and truly look forward to facing μ's. There’s mutual respect between both groups.

But as μ's gets closer to the big event, the story becomes less about the actual competition and more about the looming finale they can’t avoid. This plays perfectly into why Nozomi is part of μ's, as the story of nine comes full circle before she, Eli, and Nico are to graduate after the Love Live! event. The thought weighs on their minds, but the show must go on and they rightfully cherish every moment together. Every misadventure, every squabble, every concert teaches them to accept the bitter with the sweet.

Unfortunately, the concerts during season one are mostly nothing sweet to look at. It often looks like a smile plastered on a dancing doll. Thankfully, season two greatly improves the animation during these scenes, blending the 2D and 3D work into a cohesive showcase. The coloring and design makes for vivid variation. Even the darker colors of A-Rise shine brightly, and the thematic unity across costumes still have subtle differences to reflect each person, such as Anju being A-Rise’s only wearer of frills, or Umi’s outfit in one concert rocking shorts instead of a skirt.

So the show looks great, but it also knows HOW to look great. The series knows its girls are the cover attraction to itself, but thankfully it doesn’t overplay its hand. It forgoes sexualizing its cast for an emotional connection through personality and appearance. It’s flattery that induces a star struck state, without objectifying the cast in any negative fashion. Even the swimsuit episode is fairly harmless, while Nozomi’s groping antics miraculously avoid falling into the suggestive moans that are prone to happen in other shows. Early concert scenes aside, I see no reason to call the visuals nothing short of excellent.

Now, no amount of outstanding outfits or lovely lighting will do anything without music. And indeed, Love Live!’s soundtrack is far and away its strongest aesthetic element. There’s music for every occasion, from the quick tempo of a chase scene, to an over the top piece for a joke, to the slow piano keys for matching melancholy, and even the revitalizing recap music at the start of each of episode, all compliment the mood to great effect. And the few moments where music is absent are well chosen, and stand out that much more for it.

But while the instrumentals are good, the real reason Love Live! is a musical treat are the actual songs, which it never lacks. ‘Private Wars’ and ‘Shocking Party’ play hard, fast, and clean, capturing the aura of coolness about A-Rise. ‘Advance Tomorrow’ reflects the spirit of the show, being loud and fun but starting from genuinely heartfelt intentions through a soprano style voice. And of course, the two opening numbers, ‘We’re All In This Moment’ and ‘That Is Our Miracle’ carry lyrical significance with what happens in the story. This isn’t music that’s just a joy to listen to, but pieces that say something more when listening closely.

One of the two songs this is most exemplified in is ‘Start;Dash.’ Unlike much of μ's other songs, it starts with an almost melancholic feeling, starts singing in a defiant fashion, and ends in a manner that says ‘we’re down, but not out.’ It’s the piece Honoka, Umi, and Kotori sing at their first concert, and the piece μ's sings at the end of season one. The other song is the unforgettable ‘Snow Halation,’ testifying to the heights people can reach as they work together and understand one another’s feelings; words do no justice to the power of this track.

There are still more songs than these, from ‘No Brand Girls,’ to ‘Our LIVE, Our LIFE with you,’ to ‘Wonder Zone,’ to ‘The Door To Our Dreams’; the sheer number of great songs, well done instrumentals, and amount of story significance on each piece, makes the soundtrack of Love Live! nothing but a musical masterpiece. And yes, I’m only counting the music the show itself had, tempted as I am to talk about ‘Love Marginal’ among others.

What I DO want to talk about, is how hard it is for me to discuss Love Live! in any critical manner. It’s a series that caught me completely off guard when I was just looking for something to pass the time. It’s a show that makes me wonder just how much aesthetics matter to the viewing experience. It’s a story that forces me to see that even the simplest looking things can be more than meets the eye. And it’s a tale of gung ho dream chasing that’s infectiously optimistic.

Now, some people will surely have problems with the ending, and it’s usually not the kind of finale I go for either. Then again, every rule has exceptions. For those people who’ve already seen both seasons of Love Live!, let me say that I can overlook season two’s ending because I’m not expecting another adventure.

I just want an encore.

9/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
RoseCandle16's avatar
Sep 8, 2018

This was a very good anime series! It had it's ups and downs.. but well I won't spoil the ending.

Story- I gave the story a 10 because this was the first time I've seen a story like this and for me, it was original. But also it's like it was made by pediaphiles or something because they had a lodd of leg shots and butt shots and they have ridciculously short skirts on( even though this is most animes) 

Animation- I  gave the animation a 10 because I love animation like this. The colors were bright and lively and even though some of the dancing scenes were in CG animation, it didn't bother me at all.

Sound- I gave the sound a 10 because it was very good. Almost all idol animes have great soundtracks because that is the main focus of the story so it the producers give it more thought.

Characters- I gave the characters a 10 because the charcters in the school idol group were very diverse. There was tsundere, rich, and shy characters.

Overall- Overall, I give this anime a 10 out of 10! I enjoyed it very much and there is also a second season to look forward too, that I won't watch yet. If you love idol anime, this is a must see and it's a well known idol series.

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
iwoniez's avatar
Dec 23, 2020

I've tried watching this anime everywhere and can't watch season 1 at all... season 2 is available on crunchyroll but there's no way i can watch season 1 for free, so apart from the snippets ive seen from s1, i actually have no idea what happens. From the parts i have seen, this anime is enjoyable, fun and just something you could watch whenever you want, without having to be in a certain mood like others. I haven't seen that many animes in my time but out of the ones i have seen, love live! is definitely in my top 5. If you ever feel like you can't find an anime to watch in your spare time, i recommend love live! (also, the game for love live! is super fun so i recommend trying that out too if you have at least 2-3GB of free storage)

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
9.5/10 overall