At the end of the last season, µ's was on the cusp of disbanding. Then Idol Club pres. Hanayo gets a mysterious e-mail. All plans for splitting up are tossed, and the nine girls are rushing off into an uncertain future. Shall µ's survive after all?
This is the premise of the Love Live! Movie, not to be taken as the last gasp of µ's but the birth of a new franchise that will rebuild new teams of idols to dance and sing and entertain. All µ's will do is guarantee the popularity of the genre.
The upshot of the e-mail is a request of the Love Live! management to have µ's do two things: 1) go to New York (you know, half-way around the world where everyone will recognize the nine girls as Japanese [go figure]) and 2) use their influence as Love Live! champions to organize a mega-idol-concert to galvanize support for school idols. These two phases in the movie overlay the rising tension in the group. Will their plans for disbanding be respected, or will they need to continue the idol path in life?
The New York tour portion of the movie is µ's encountering not so much culture shock as culture slap-in-the-face. Everything in New York is huge and rapidly changing and challenging. And the girls are up for the thrills they will meet. Hitting all the tourist spots in the Big Apple to find the right spot for the concert leads to a lot of humor, as Umi's obsession about getting killed in the big city. But also pathos as when Honoka meets a fellow Japanese woman who had been an idol and asks if µ's has fulfilled what it wished to do. The remainder of the movie centers on Honoka's search for that answer.
The second part of the movie is µ's returning to Japan to find out that they are superstars hounded by devoted fans who wish to support them forever. The thoughts of disbanding are now more stressful, as the girls never wish to disappoint. A meeting with the rival group of A-Rise helps Honoka sort things out as her plans for the mega-idol event seems to run on the rocks. Would divulging µ's plans to cease being idols after the concert become the bummer that destroys the gala event?
The anime technique for the movie raised the level for high-level animation skills. It is enough to produce choreographed scenes where girls spin in front of girls as confetti, blossoms, and balloons filter about the stage. There was a little holding back in the final concert where getting a hundred plus girls in perfect sync was achieved, though in a less spectacular fashion when compared to a brighter, tighter routine done by just the nine girls of µ's. But knowing that this would finally be it for µ's, it was great to see Sunshine Animation pull out all the stops.
Still, it will be hard to see these nine girls go and see what shakes with the Sunshine!! Nijigasaki and up-coming Superstar!! series. But that is the fate of the characters of the franchise. It is similar to Pretty Cure. New teams every year, and while they are all cute and interesting in their own way, you will have to understand fan loyalty. I wonder how many PC fans will pick Cure Black or White as their all-time favorite? Or, in this case, a LL! fanatic who thinks Honoka or Hotori the best?