Posted on January 11, 2013 AT 06:18am
The first episode of Love Live! School Idol Project aired both in Japan and on Crunchyroll this week, and it looks to be shaping up to be something special. As anime goes, ‘idol anime’ is not a new concept. There’s Idolm@aster, Wandaba Style, Chance: Pop Session, Key the Metal Idol, just to name a few. Some are new, some are old, and they all center around idols. In this case, an ‘idol’ is what we in America refer to as ‘pop stars’.
Love Live! is a ‘mixed media’ project which originally spawned from a manga series in Dengeki G’s Magazine. It also has a number of singles and music videos, which will likely show up in some form within the anime. The series is, by and large, a shoujo one, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be a young lady to appreciate it. I’ve been a fan of J-Pop music since the mid 90s, which is likely why Love Live! grabbed my interest the way it did. I’ve seen a number of great anime based around music [BECK, Nana, Violinist of Hameln, Black Heaven] and hearing of another on the way is always pretty exciting for me!
New idol anime?! So coooool!
The series follows Honoka and her friends, who go to Otonokizaka Academy. The academy has announced that they will be closing due to a lack of new applicants. This doesn’t sit well with Honoka, who takes it upon herself to find a way to save the school from closure. Upon finding out that her sister, Yuhiko, is already planning on going to UTX instead, Honoka decides she needs to check it out. UTX has become immensely popular due to their ‘high school idol group’, A-RISE. This gives her an epiphany: She needs to create an Idol Club to save the school!
It’s not exactly the most well-conceived idea, especially since Honoka knows next to nothing about performance arts of any sort. Neither do her friends, who she recruits to assist her. However, they’re willing to learn! The first episode is just laying down the basic plot: School is closing, here’s your characters, and they’re going to be idols. In short, there’s a lot of exposition. From this alone, it’s hard to get a real feel for what’s going to happen in the series. I do, however, think that if it keeps the same tone that it has in this episode, it’ll go far. It’s got some really funny moments, and it’s also got a ton of heart. The best example is when Honoka spots her mom looking through her high school memory book, reminiscing over times gone by and probably thinking of how sad it is to see the source of those memories going away.
Likely the saddest ‘School Closure’ face ever.
The characters, so far, are a somewhat typical mix: Honoka is the excitable-although-not-too-bright lead. Her friends are the soft spoken Kotori and the level-headed Umi. The student council president and vice-president are the coldly serious [and secretly warm-hearted] Eri and the dreamy-eyed [and busty, because there has to be one in every anime, apparently] Nozomi. Honoka is prone to bouts of uncontrollable excitement and temper tantrums, both of which can be either terribly amusing or just terrible, depending on how you perceive it. When you’re dealing with ensemble casts, be it animated or live action, you always have quite a mish-mash of personalities. It’ll be interesting to see how they come together or clash as the series goes on.
The animation looks very crisp and clean, with one major exception. During the, shall we say, ‘musical numbers’, it intersperses the scenes with both traditional animation and 3D computer animation. I haven’t quite figured out how to explain it, but the animation swaps are jarring, and something about how the 3D CG looks bugs me. It has a completely different sort of movement than the regularly animated parts, and to me, it doesn’t mesh very well at all. I’m not going to hold out any hope that this issue will improve, since I watched a couple of their pre-series music videos and felt the same way about it. If this is the worst thing about the series, though, I think I can handle it.
Traffic magically disappears when we dance in the street!
I’m not going to make a final judgment upon Love Live! quite yet, since it’s only just laid down the groundwork. So far, though, it looks like there will be a lot of fun to be had, and a goodly amount of J-Pop to be enjoyed! If you’d like to give it a shot, it’s on Crunchyroll right now! New episodes are simulcast every Tuesday at 8 a.m. PT. If you have a basic account, the new episodes become available one week after the initial simulcast.
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