I’m finding it hard to believe that it has almost been a year since Love Live! The School Idol Movie aired across cinemas in Japan and that the franchise’s new ensemble, Aquors is slated to make their anime debut in under a month’s time.
For those of you wondering what the hype surrounding Love Live! is all about, you can start with the anime. It introduces you to μ's, the original group and their songs. Before long, you’ll succumb to the slippery slope, leaving your room filled with their figurines, artbooks and posters. Such is life.
The anime follows nine girls from Otonokizaka High School as they attempt to save their school from closing down due to an increasing lack of students enrolling. In order to gain exposure and publicity for the school, they team up to compete in Love Live!, a contest which pits high school idol groups against each other.
Needless to say, they do win it and this leads to the eventual dilemma of deciding whether to disband or not when the third-year students graduate. A cliffhanger at the end of the second season will leave you wondering where μ's is headed but this is where the movie comes in.
Animation quality is superb, as expected from a feature length film. The use of 3D animation during the dance sequences has improved compared to the anime, with smoother transitions between 2D and 3D and less awkward movements. But what amazes me is the size of the team that managed to achieve this. To put things in perspective, the end credits took less than four minutes to roll. I wonder what Sunrise could’ve achieved if they allocated a larger team to the movie.
A total of six new songs are introduced in the movie and the last one will probably leave you in tears, if you aren’t already crying towards the end. I’m probably the worst person to judge how well-written or catchy these songs are, considering I’m a fan of the franchise but if I had to pick one out of six, it would probably be Hello, Hoshi o Kazoete. The Broadway feel it exudes and strong vocals from the three first-year members makes it stand out among the rest, bar Bokutachi wa Hitotsu no Hikari, the final song of the movie.
Perhaps the best and often most overlooked part of the movie and the anime by extension would be the voice acting.
The nine seiyuu have played these characters since 2010 and their comfort and rapport shows. They effortlessly retain each girl’s vocal tics, be it Rin’s constant addition of ‘nyan’ at the end of her sentences, Nozomi’s Kansai accent or Honoka’s exaggerated expressions. It’s almost as if they are the characters themselves.
Love Live! The School Idol Movie was a great way to conclude the anime, coupled with the seiyuus themselves holding their final concert earlier this year. It also caters to diehard fans of μ's and the Love Live! franchise as a whole or casual viewers who have been waiting to find out what the fate of the group will be moving forward. It even throws in many easter eggs as a shoutout (Kotori’s pillow incident from the Wonderful Rush PV for one).
However, the movie did miss a big opportunity to pander to the fans by having μ's collaborate with their rival idol group, A-RISE. Their two songs in the anime were well-received and I lament that they didn’t have a collaboration or a third single.
Written by ET