“I’ve never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down.” – Virgil Thomson
This could be an anime that feeds the muse, at least in the form of three-character long trilingual puns. It is certainly an anime for those who love both pop music and pop idols. For those who love anime, there may be problems.
Love Live! began in 2010, the creation of Sunrise animation studio, the music label Lantis, and Dengeki G’s Magazine, with the creation of manga, music CDs, and in 2013 the first anime series covering a group of schoolgirls who become pop idols.
Honoka Kosaka is a second-year student at Otonokizaka Academy, but, due to falling birth rates, fewer students are being attracted to the school, and thus it is in danger of shutting down. Inspired by another school which has a group of pop idols called A-RISE, Honoka decides to set up a band with her best friends Kotori Minami, daughter of the school’s chairwoman, and lyrical archery lover Umi Sonoda. However, the school council president Eli Ayase, opposes the plan. Despite this, with encouragement from vice-president Nozomi Tojo, the three girls start to put a band together.
While their first performance only gets a tiny audience, they are motivated to continue performing. The group ends up being called μ’s (pronounced “muse”), a reference to the nine goddesses covering the arts and literature in Greek myth. As the series progresses more girls join the group including pianist Maki Nishikino, tomboyish Rin Hoshizora, idol-loving Hanayo Koizumi, and head of the school’s Idol Research Club Nico Yazawa. Along with Honoka, Kotori, Umi, plus the student council, the nine girls try in their own ways, whether it be with singing, fashion or dancing, to save their school, by planning to enter the “Love Live!” school idol competition.
It must be said that this collection does have several problems, aside from the whole series being mainly designed for commercial purposes and getting people to buy the magazines, manga, music and so on, rather than for creativity’s sake. You can only have this collection with a Japanese dub; the extras are few, being textless opening and closing, TV spots and trailers; the 3D animation used during the dance routines does not sit well with the 2D animation used throughout the rest of the series; and the original concept seems rather too implausible to be believable – “Oh, how are we pop idols going to save our school? Oh, there is a contest for school pop idols. How lucky are we?” At times you find yourself drifting off because the plot is lacking interest.
On the plus side, the songs themselves are enjoyable. Yes, it’s nothing revolutionary, but they’re still fun to listen to. Personal favourite for me would be “Start:Dash!!”, which in Japan reached No. 5 in the charts. Credit should go to the voice actresses performing, especially Emi Nitta in the lead role of Honoka. It is just so infuriating that the 3D animation that accompanies the songs is so poor. Some of the comedy is good too. Vice-president Nozomi is probably the funniest due to her frightening habit of grabbing everyone’s breasts (how mature am I).
However, ultimately this feels like a weaker series in comparison to another musical anime such as K-On!. While K-On! began as a manga, then went on to become an anime and topped the charts, Love Live! feels and is more commercial and “done by committee”. Ultimately, in terms of musical anime, you can tell the success by just looking at the charts. While μ’s have reached No. 2 several times, Ho-kago Tea Time have managed to get to No. 1.