Love Live!! Sunshine Episodes One and Two

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So, a quick note – going forward, these will be going up in much timelier fashion! I’ve been sick for ages, and our schedules didn’t work for us to be able to discuss the first episode when it aired, so we had to combine.

Day: Alright, so! Love Live!! Sunshine. Well, it certainly has started off way, way better than I could’ve hoped, and t’s certainly off to a waaay better start than the original anime was.

Patches: Honestly episode one felt like par, whereas episode 2 was stone-cold great.

Day: I think episode one was better than the original’s. Felt more focused, and while it obviously was “meet the whole cast!”, felt like they made that fit together in a better way than the original did in trying to accomplish similar goal.

Patches: It may be that my feeling about episode one has a lot to do with two things: First, I really like Susume -> Tomorrow better than Hand-in-Hand. Second, I think that Chika seemed like Honkers-lite until episode two (where she she showed herself to be gayer than Haruka and Michiru in Takarazuka).

Day: Oh-ho, and you were the one going into the episode who was much more keen on her than I was! Something like 70% of Chika’s screentime seems to be devoted to her commenting on how cute other girls, checking them out, or snuggling/cuddling them.

Patches: Yeeeep. 300x gayer than original flavor was a low-ball.

Day: I do really think that they should’ve mixed up her character design a bit, as it tends to emphasize any similarity at all between the two girls. I mean, damn, come on, did she REALLY need that yellow ribbon!?

Patches: Yeah. And orange hair… BUT, it could have been by design, because the other girls are so deliciously different from their analogues.

Day: True, but, even if it is by design, I think it a poor choice.

Patches: So, talk to me about how much you love your imouto, Riko?

Day: Wow, I love my imouto. She’s not quite what I was anticipating, which I think is a good thing, as I was expecting her to be shyer, and it turns out I like that she’s clearly experiencing some self-doubt but also is capable of being quite firm.

Actually, though, I’ll admit that Chika’s incessant pestering of her was starting to bug me. I realize that the story-type is of the sort that involves having to convince people to join an apparently unpopular club, but, damn, girl, haven’t you ever heard that no means no?

Patches: Chika knew in her Kokoro that Riko would come around.

I like that Riko’s setup is Chihaya/Eli. And it plants the seed for a repeat of the end of S1.

Day: Yeah, but, everyone who does that knows in their kokoro that so-and-so will come around.

Patches: I mean, yes. It’s a bad example… And maybe if they’d moved up the bit about Riko’s backstory, they could have gotten by without it.

Day: Again, I realize its part and parcel of the genre, but… it still was getting pretty annoying. So hopefully the others will require less of that type of cajoling! Having to cajole Dia, by the way, is fine by me as she’s actually the total garbage school idol fan.

Patches: QUIET. DIA IS AMAZING.

Day: Uh, did I say that her trash status was a bad thing? I’m quite pleased that she’s turned out to be the trash character in this iteration.

Patches: I could tell she wasn’t as prim as she put on because they kept drawing her with goofy faces during the dance routines. They also dropped a big hint in episode one.

Day: Oh, yeah, she knew all the rules!

Patches: But the payoff was great, with the whole school finding out.

Day: Silly girl, tipping her hand.

Also, speaking of, wow, I guess the Kurosawa household is a bit… strange. Even by moe-moe standards, Ruby’s behavior was pretty peculiar in episode two.

Patches: Ruby is interesting. Besides the amusing “catch” sequence, did you notice Ruby making moon-eyes at Yoshiko? Err… sorry. Our Lady of Darkness, Yohane, Fallen Angel. I can see Ruby really admiring Yohane for being so confident.

Day: Which would be a nice angle for her.

Patches: I can see Ruby coming around before anyone else, actually. Ruby seems curious, but shy. I would like her to have an arc like Hanayo’s short intro arc, but without needing Hanamaru to push her.

Day: She certainly seemed interested in Chika’s shill. It would seem that a combination of her shyness and her sister’s opposition is probably what is keeping her back.

Patches: Yeah, but they could also leverage the idolness to have her seek her sister’s attention: I AM A SCHOOL IDOL, NOTICE ME, NEE-SAMA!

Day: (Hanamaru: Senpai-samaaaa, I am a school idol, notice me~~~)

Patches: Sadly, the ED has the third years OT3.

Day: Yeah! I wondered about that.

Patches: I still hold onto Mari and Kanan for Mom and Dad.

Day: SAME

EXCEPT

I BELIEVE IT IS DESTINY

But no Mari sightings at all in episode two!

Patches: I have a feeling she’ll blow into town to bring Dia around. We’re going to get Ruby, Yoshiko, and Hanamaru next, and then maybe two episodes to bring the third years in line.

Day: I’m realllllllly glad that they’re not re-using the “must save our school!” storyline, because I was a bit concerned they might based on some of the older material. And, I’m glad for a few reasons.

Of course, there’s the fact that a total retread would be a drag. But, and more importantly… I don’t think it’d make any sense for their damn school! Otonokizaka’s in Tokyo, so if they were seeking to boost enrollment, well, its a city of millions of people. Uranohoshi is in a fairly rural area, so there’s a genuine ceiling to enrollment. Short of kidnapping entire families and forcing them to live nearby, there can only be so many teenaged girls to attend it.

And, finally, given that the franchise has previously demonstrated a distinct lack of interest in genuinely building dramatic tension on a larger scale, I find the notion of them sticking to just wanting to have a fun time with friends and do something they can only do at this point in their lives way more satisfactory than trying to save their school.

Patches: Yeah. I think it also has to do with economy of script. These two episodes were establishing episodes and felt a little padded? Well, episode two did for sure.

Day: Sorry, I couldn’t notice padding since I was too busy gazing happily at Chika looking at Riko’s bum.

Patches: So, so gay.

Anyway, I think it’s fine. Love Live is definitely in a territory where it competes with things like Yuyushiki or Kiniro Mozaic, which are distinctly plotless, so, that it wants to just marinade in cute character interactions is fine. But you pay for it a little at the end of the season if you blow your pacing completely (see: Love Live Original Flavor).

Day: The issue for me with the original Love Live anime was that it wanted to both be plotless character interactions AND about girls saving their school, and those two pieces didn’t really fit together in a satisfying way. And then it kept pulling cheapo crap like the silliness with Kotori in S1.

Patches: Hanayamata (again, plotless) had a similar kind of arc at its end. And it’s not that they don’t have enough room?I re-watched IdolM@ster before writing about it, and man, they do some really solid single-episodes that create tension.

Day: I don’t think room is the issue, I think it was the writing.

Patches: I bring up IM@S because it’s not like that series isn’t about having you spend time with the idols, and, yet, they manage to really create incredible moments out of strong use of tension and conflict. Love Live just seems… not good at it.

Day: It worked decently in the Snow Halation episode. That was about it.

Patches: It helped that Snow Halation was probably the best insert song, and the anime performance was really, really stellar. Kudos to Chika, by the way, for choosing the strongest song to mimic.

Day: Snow Halation is one of the few Love Live songs I realllllllllllllly like. START;DASH was also a good pick. Yume no Tobira on the other hand… although I did like hearing Riko doing it.

Patches: Yume no Tobira was pretty forgettable, actually. I remember feeling that Maki made a mistake allowing them to perform it against Shocking Party.

Day: I think the voters made a mistake voting it over Shocking Party.

Patches: This.

Day: As usual, fans have shit taste.

Patches: It’s sad because they had to perform a NEW song for that one, right? Because Mo Gyutto or No Brand would have killed against Shocking Party. If you’re co-concert with A-RISE you want something that really emphasizes your size as a group as an advantage.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I am excited about the idea of Chika helping Riko out of her rut.

Day: That final scene in episode two was great!

Patches: I was reminded of Heartcatch Precure, because I am a dork. But Riko seems like she has more to gain than Maki. Which makes her pretty interesting. Whether she’s as TALENTED as Maki remains to be seen.

Day: Getting her groove back! Getting a girlfriend!

So, one thing that I’m wondering about, and which may never be answered – given how small the local population is, where the hell was Yohane in the intervening time between when she was a classmate of Hanamaru’s until high school?

Actually, too, for that matter, speaking of locality… lol, the idea that Riko was able to just pack up and move somewhere random so she could try to get her groove back.

Patches: So, that’s something I picked up on. She must be RIIIIIICH. AND, at the end of the year, she’s going to be threatened with being yanked back to Tokyo.

Day: Whiiiich arguably makes it pretty weird that she was going to a place like Otonokizaka in the first place! Ah, yes, we’re so so rich, let’s send our little girl to that falling-apart girls high school that has barely any students!

Patches: Yeah, but so was Maki.

Day: Yeah, well, I’d argue that for about half the cast it makes no sense that they’d be going there in first place, so, yeah. Anyway, though, I’m digressing.

One last thing about Riko – Wow, she is just about the least observant girl ever, huh? I could maybe figure she didn’t notice muse, as absurd as that is, as she was wrapped up in her piano issues. However, her not noticing that Chika’s living RIGHT next door to her when she had just gone to Chika’s home? But I guess the rich don’t have to worry about paying so much attention to their surroundings ;P

Patches: Can we talk about You for a second? What an amusing Kotori 2.0! I like that You is an enabler, but is not so quirky as Kotori. And man, I love Kotori, but it’s good that You is just more of a doofus and less “a misunderstood artistic genius”.

Day: I ended up liking You a lot more than I did prior to the season. Part of this is that I like her voice a fair bit.

Patches: Her “costumes” were really funny.

Day: Her costumes were a scream. I was honestly a little disappointed that they weren’t all totally not what Chika was thinking.

Patches: I think this angle means that You was trolling Chika a little, which is a lot more like friendships as I understand them than what HonoKotoUmi had going on in Original Flavor.

Day: Maybe? Hard to tell so far. I like the way she’s supportive of Chika, but also has her own character, if that makes sense… She gets really enthusiastic about the recruiting, too, but it doesn’t come across as solely because it’s Chika’s thing.

Patches: Could be part of a subtheme? You, like Kanan and Dia, has been doing the same thing for a LONG time. And Riko, too.

Day: And possibly Hanamaru.

Patches: Aquors seems to be about trying something new. Its a lot “fresher” than μ’s.

Day: Oh, look a you, so fancy with your properly rendered muse.

Patches: I can’t have Dia as an avatar and do it any other way.

Day: P.S. I LOVED the whole thing with Chika mispronouncing it and Dia losing her shit over that.

Patches: Interesting world building tidbit: While A-RISE were also legends, Dia’s speech implies that μ’s won like, the second Love Live? Or maybe the third? It’s really interesting that Dia claimed μ’s rise was sort of foundational to School Idols, when they seemed established in Original Flavor.

Day: Well, they did win the second.

Patches: Final thoughts?

Day: Final thoughts? Well, as I said before, I think its off to a way better start than the original, the cast has met and exceeded my expectations for the most part, and, oh! The quality of the whole thing just seems better. The visual direction is more creative and is better integrated with the narrative, and the background music tracks likewise are as well.

Altogether, I was pleasantly surprised with what we’ve gotten so far, and I’m quite happy about that. I hope it keeps up the good work.

Patches: Same, same! I like the writing a little better this time. The second episode seemed a lot less frenetic and the way they’re spinning longer-reaching plot threads has me optimistic. I am not as floored by the OP and the insert song as I was in the first episode of Love Live, but Sunshine!! is a more engaging watch if it continues like episode two.

I am hoping we get good induction arcs for the remaining cast. Riko is a welcome addition, but bringing the true weirdos into the fold should be lots of fun.

Day: Big thing, then, seems to be that we both are interested in seeing what happens next! A good sign, surely.

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