Man, it’s literally been years since I wanted to watch this show. I mean that. For the longest time, only the second season of this series was available on any streaming service until very recently. A couple months before the results of the Funimation and Crunchyroll merger were announced, all of the original live live dropped onto Funimation. Excellent. Finally, the time was right to check out this series and see if it met the hype and Funimation’s streaming still exists too if you want to go watch it. I was so excited because I have literally watched all the other Love Live series except the first one. I just….man.
Imagine one day that you find out that your school is closing soon. Maybe the fact the attendance from each of the students appearing each year should have been a sign of this, but you just figured it out anyway. What can you do? Where would you go? What about becoming a famous idol group? Your school will gain notoriety for a famous group so your school has something that people would want to be attached to. This is what our second year girl Honoka does when she starts an idol group at Otonokizaka high with her best friends Kotori and Umi.
Little did Honoka know that her stunt would be noticed. Noticed by her school president third years Eli who is against it unlike her assistant Nozomi is very into the idea. Noticed by that other year Nico who has very high standards on what makes an idol group an idol group. The first year Maki is somehow pushed into making music for them if she feels like it. The shy first year Hanayo who wants to be an idol, but the aluth Rin never notices until later. In a reverse order to what I mentioned, each of them slowly joins the group until they officially become the best school idol troop ever.
The first season is a really solid introduction to all of these characters. It is well paced and each character is given their own arc and story. We of course start with our three second years from the very air headed by charismatic protagonist Honoka, the very stern and serious Umi, and the in between but very kind Kotori who is an expert at making clothes and costumes. Their introductions start with the three presenting their song, Start:Dash, in a nearly empty auditorium. A literal start from zero, a true underdog story.
Then of course, as the other characters join, the group’s fame shoots up. They get attention from all the others as each member brings a new personality or just something new to the table that each of the others was missing. At nine idols, they become complete as the nine goddesses of music that no one will ever be prepared for. How that journey was filled with the right amount of comedy and passion was incredible. One character leaving is a cliche story line, but it really showed how valuable each member is because there is no Muse if it isn’t these nine.
As good as the first half is, and it is really good by the way, the second half is incredible. The school is already saved even if they didn’t go to that new fangled competition called Love Live! They couldn’t because of their own personal drama and they were learning about limits, but now it’s their time. Now, it’s time to go to the top of the Love Live Competition because each of them wants this. Not a mission, but a statement of showing to the world how good the Muse are and by god they did it. I mean, spoilers but are you really shocked by this fact?
One of the strongest elements of the second portion are seeing the girls get closer together to write their songs, express themselves, experiment with the group’s chemistry, getting rid of seniority titles, allow others opportunities they wouldn’t to see if they can become leaders since they were always in the back. There are so many layers that go into what they do to what songs are written and eventually performed that shows each state of their growing closer. It is honestly some of the perfect musical logic and thoughts that I’ve honestly ever seen. Amazing.
Besides some small dings here and there with its character problems, but it can’t hurt the whole. Like, I think the episode where two of our idol girls are somehow fat when their character designs can’t show it because they are designed to be attractive is annoying. Or how about Nozomi who likes sexually harassing the other girls, even if she eventually stops. I even think that Nico is perfect and one of my favorite characters in the show, but I can see how she would not work for other people. But the strength of the show is that the cast is so good that those dings are very ironed out.
The next best part is that visually, Love Live! School Idol Project looks great still. Well, for the most part. It is a series that appeared in 2013, so all the high effort put into character animation and specific dance scene are incredible. I mean, there is CG but Sunrise was smart in how they cut those switches that even if it is noticeable, it still works. Same with a lot of the colors, outfits the girls wear while performing, and just all the locations they found themselves. There is a lot of effort put into everything that it is obviously meticulously calculated to just be amazing. I think they took some cues from Kyoto Animation in this regard and nothing wrong with that.
With all this said, I can see how Love Live became such a huge success that has so many sequels. It really is almost the perfect underdog story presented in the coolest and most exciting ways. Almost every decision works and the production values put into it just ups everything. That perfect balance of comedy and drama is a tightrope, but School Idol Project does it easily to the point where it just flips on that rope while making it look easy. An incredible show in general and I need to re-evaluate how I see the other Love Live shows because of this special show. It really is special.
As I mentioned earlier, this is the result of School Idol Project legally in a way that we can finally watch it. You’ve read my opinion on the show, but you can read Jon Spencer’s opinions on this first series and the movie here: LInk. Our thoughts are similar yet different because we approach this show from different angles and that isn’t a bad thing. I mean, that is a normal thing considering no singular person has the same opinion. His post is longer, but very well paced and just a good read in general. This post is one of my three love live posts that I have scheduled for this week and those posts will only be 1/3rd of the content in that post, so please check it out.