You know, when I originally planned to write this post this was the only part of the Nijigasaki series. Then the week before I wrote this, that changed that with the announcement of a second season coming in the fall. Well, that didn’t change the fact that I wanted to write about it. I see myself sinking a little more into the idol anime fandom and watching Nijigasaki confirmed a lot of that for me. I had my fun with Sunshine and an even better time with the Sunshine movie, but Nijigasaki was something else entirely. That holds true even compared to the original Love Live from what I’ve heard. Where Sunshine had its simple characters with lots of goof ball energy that I really liked when they bounced off each other as a group, Nijigasaki was a series that decided to ground itself a bit more and also went with solo idols. I can’t help but say that at this moment, Nijigasaki feels like my idol series until I watch the next one. OR the second season of this show turns out to suck.
Nijigasaki takes place at the elite Nijigasaki High School that is not in danger of closing at all. If anything, it can’t due to the fact that it looks like one of the most advanced airports or indoor malls I’ve ever seen in my entire life and it just happens to be a school. It already attracts the elite. The best part, it has different programs or degrees students can study for. I mean seriously, who wouldn’t want to go to this school if they were that age? I went to some great colleges in my life and I still feel jealous. It’s the kind of school I wanted mind paying a stipend for to go to because the funding definitely goes somewhere. So with the school not in danger of closing, one would wonder what is the real tension in the story? Well, it’s the characters themselves. Since there isn’t a reason to unify themselves for a common goal in which they can sing and dance the problems away, the story relies on character interactions to work.
The only real bit of tension is from Nijigasaki’s backstory. The idol club fell apart because of creative differences between the members. Some, like the infamously famous Setsuna, wanted to create a serious idol club and lost motivation after the youngest member, Kasumin, wanted to emphasize how cute she was. That source of drama’s resolution came about when our main protagonist Yu and her friend Ayumu saw Setsuna pour her heart out on what was at that time her final performance. Setsuna is also the secret identity of the school president for a few episodes who is firmly against at her own rejoining of the club when Kasumin seeks to restart it again by gaining enough followers. The solution comes with the idea of “why don’t we go for solo idols instead” from Yu herself. Everyone has their own creative differences and personalities and there is no reason why one should over take the other.
That’s the main premise of the show itself. Characters having one seemingly small thing (or sometimes a larger thing) holding them back from joining the idol club and expressing themselves. If that isn’t the case, then it still works on building an understanding between the cast members and their own lives. The story is not Yu’s because there are plenty of episodes in which the focus character gains motivation by other members of Nijigasaki’s school idol club to be themselves. Yu does help with her friend Ayumu and Setsuna herself, but Kasumin never had a problem expressing her cuteness and she uses that strength to help with her drama club crush, Shizuku. Karin, the very mature senior who is a model, is also helped out by the friendship she gained through the foreign exchange student Emma Verde. And then the shy Rika finds her own way to sing and be an idol by her outgoing and athletic friend Ai. Kanata’s drama comes from working too hard and having her worried sister
There is a softness and openness to Nijigasaki that is wonderful and genuine. While creative differences between cuteness and seriousness seem small and pointless, it matters for these characters. Should one endeavor to be selfish or let one walk over them? What about deciding to drop the coolness for once and go for their dream? Can one over take their social anxiety in their own way to do a performance that is so different and powerful in their own right? All sorts of singular questions that seems so minimal, but they are realistic problems because singular road blocks can stop people from doing what they want to do. Mental road blocks feel so small from the outside, but when a person can’t see any other way to live out their lives sometimes, they can’t see them and need outside help. That is the message of Nijigasaki outside of how individuals have their own reasons to be artistic.
That is part of the problem of the nature of the beast that Nijigasaki creates for itself with all of these interesting identities. There isn’t a strong cohesive story or goal that drives the story forward and that’s fine honestly. It’s nine episodes of character interactions and another four for a story to end the anime on. Those four episodes focusing on a giant idol festival from not only Nijigasaki, but two other schools who go the traditional idol route of having a group, to celebrate all the different ways people can be an idol and celebrate themselves. There is some love triangle drama from Ayumu’s point of view with her, Yu, and Setsuna, but Setsuna is the mature one who steps away and eventually it solves itself. The anime ends on Yu finally showing off her own dream through the hard work she did to create the festival and wanting to become an idol manager. The show itself ends with the 9 idols uniting in one performance with singing and dancing to celebrate all the ways Yu has helped them. Yu is a simple character, but her achieving a dream is great and she is so enduring.
The ground story telling goes with how the visuals in Nijigasaki work compared to Sunshine. Sunshine did look great, but it was much more candy colored and sparkly. That was fine for Sunshine because it was goofy and fun with lots of bright colors and the characters reflected that. Nijigasaki had wonderful and colorful characters too, but it was much more toned down with tasteful colors that fit the aesthetic it was going for. This anime was also a technological upgrade too. The character designs were much more diverse in their height and body shapes. Sunshine’s characters were generally the same height so the dance modeling program could work, but Nijigasaki had taller characters and shorter characters to create a much more rounded cast. The cgi for the idol dance scenes was beautiful. Holy crap, I was blown away by so much of what happened in this show. I don’t know what else to say other then Nijigasaki is so wonderful and a solid show. With that, I think I said enough about this show. Until the next portion!
“Nijigasaki takes place at the elite Nijigasaki High School that is not in danger of closing at all.” Haha, that one got me. It’s so rare for distantly related sequels of beloved franchises to be celebrated almost more than the original by the fandom, but I feel like Love Live keeps doing it! Haven’t seen Sunshine or Nijigasaki, but I trust your review!
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I was hoping it would get someone, so yay!
It feels like Love Live! constantly likes reinventing itself a bit each time to do something different pretty well every time which is good :).
We’ve seen the exact opposite ones, which is interesting. Not sure if you should trust…
Just finished episode 4 and can someone tell me when Yu said the idea of becoming solo idols instead? Because I thought Setsuna was the first to mention it.