Love Live!! Sunshine Episode Four

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Oh, so I guess Hanamaru’s a Legend of the Galactic Heroes fan.

Day: So, I liked episode four a LOT more than episode three. Honestly, episode four felt like a huuuuuuge upgrade from basically the entire franchise.

Patches: Oh, I don’t know about all that, but sell me.

Day: There was a degree of development to character interactions that this franchise hasn’t really done before. This was underpinned, I think, by this season more generally having better visual direction, as the visuals are less utilitarian to begin with and are used to support the narrative.

Ruby and Hanamarμ’s inter-relationship, and the way in which they both were clearly pretending to be okay with certain things out of concern for one another, was a much better demonstration of characters caring a lot for one another, and expressing it in ways which aren’t always healthy.

Patches: That’s true. The comparisons to RinPana are there on display, but I think that we really know them better than we did that pair within the first season.

Day: There were a lot of moments where things were communicated to the audience non-verbally, like when Ruby insisted she wasn’t interested in being a school idol during the scene in the library, and Hanamaru looked uneasy. She knew that Ruby was just saying she wasn’t interested because she was worried about Hanamaru being left out.
But, too, the manner in which they framed the episode felt like a big break from the franchise, at least for the TV anime, what with having Hanamaru directly address her own situation. And, even knowing she was going to join up anyway at the end, I loved Hanamarμ’s comment at the end that her story was over.

Patches: I guess since it was so strongly telegraphed, I missed the solid execution. And you’re right – this episode did a better job of establishing the reasons for its characters actions.

Hanamarμ’s comment was so sad! I was like, “No, it’s not! You have friends!”

Day: Altogether, it felt like a good way of turning what seemed like a flaw for Hanamaru prior to the anime, i.e. that she was a bit bland, around completely.

Patches: Yes. And, while still establishing her motivation as different from Chika’s, because Chika’s motivation is to not be normal.

Day: Well, and Chika has a lot more confidence in herself from the get-go. “I don’t want to be normal, and I know I can find a way to not be!”, whereas Hanamarμ’s seems to be, “I am normal, I am accustomed to being largely lonely, and that’s fine because it’s the best I can expect.”

Patches: I also felt like it was a really solid use of meta-narrative that allowed them to tell two stories in one episode. Being able to reference Hanayo and Rin allowed them to get the two girls on board pretty quickly, which was really clever/a good use of your backstory.

Patches: I think you are right, by the way.

Day: Oh?

Patches: Mari’s conversation with Kanan indicates that the 3rd years had some kind of idol experience prior.
(Quick aside: Goddammit, Mari)

Day: Hmm. I’m not sure if the third years all had experience prior, I took it as Kanan being upset that Mari seemingly only returned because she felt like making a school idol group. And, maybe Mari meant that she specifically wanted to only do the idol group if Kanan was involved, although Kanan didn’t take it that way.

Patches: Yes, but Mari is quickly turning into Nozomi – we can’t trust her to tell the whole truth until her backstory episode.

Day: So, the boob-interaction this episode… I’ll admit that it did bother me a little less since she wasn’t grabbing them, which maybe is inconsistent of me. It probably helped, too, that Kanan didn’t seem put out by that matter in particular.

Patches: I think the line bothered me more than the action. Again, Mari is doing it to unsettle and assert dominance. Kanan wasn’t having any of it, so it didn’t seem as awkward, but it doesn’t really make Mari look any better for trying.

Day: Some of this is, too, for me, that I’m not sure how much malice is involved yet with Mari… Which isn’t to say that intent is magic… Eh, I can’t quite put it properly.

Patches: I feel like Mari is being presented as a manipulator. I am willing to go with the show until it gives me reason to second-guess it.

Day: I can’t tell how much we’re supposed to see her as rich girl just used to getting her way all the time versus seeing her as a master manipulator. Given Nozomi’s actions in original flavor, probably the latter?

Patches: My “seen a lot of anime” senses are telling me that it’s a false-front, but I’ve nothing solid to go on.

Day: Although Nozomi’s meddling is presented in a more passive fashion. Nozomi might grope a bit, but she’s also supposed to be the mom. So, her efforts are more gently steering things and clearing the course as opposed to dropping in and telling everyone how it’s gonna be.

Patches: Though, she did directly meddle with Eli and in the Wonder Zone episode.

Day: True, but, it is an outlier, and they’ve already got a pre-existing connection/relationships, so…

Patches: I also like how the show is building the third years’ as a parallel plotline, which should continue into the next episode behind the Yohane GET episode.

Day: Thank fuck Yohane’s finally in the cards! I like, too, that the third years have major interpersonal issues. So, Eli was all “Grrrr no idols!”, but the third years didn’t really have active grudges going on between one another. I think its more intriguing that there are some interpersonal issues that have to be sorted here.
I wish we knew what else had been said in Mari and Kanan’s conversation! Kanan looked wicked hurt.

Patches: Yeah. I think based on that there is a more personal betrayal going on, and somehow Dia is involved.
Day: Yeah. Although Dia feels more… irritated as opposed to hurt.

Patches: Dia’s really good at hiding her emotions.

Day: Dia and Mari have such totally different personalities, I feel like even in the best of times Mari would exasperate her.

Patches: Yes and no. Dia is a dork.

Day: But Dia is very, very concerned with presentation.

Patches: Before what ever changed her I bet she got on fine with Mari.

Day: Mari just expects people to roll with her as is.

Patches: Remember, the memory of her and Ruby.

Day: True, but that was in the privacy of their home. And, with apparently no witnesses.

Patches: We’ve very little evidence to the contrary – I am trusting my instincts on Dia. Remember? She photobombs in the OP.

Day: Well, but I still don’t think we’ve got tons of evidence that Dia was openly like that in public. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree😉

Patches: I’m not saying she’s not obsessed with image and presentation NOW. That’s just maybe the kind of change that you take on when you decide to become more “mature”. Which explains how she has a history with Mari but openly can’t stand her any more.

Day: Sure… but, again, I’m not seeing huge evidence of her having not been image-conscious when younger. Playing idol with your little sister in your living room isn’t the same as doing so in your front yard, even. Again, I think we just have to agree to disagree on this point; the show’ll surely answer it in some form at some point.

Patches: True.

Day: I think, too, that there’s probably a family element involved with Mari and Dia like with Mari and Kanan. Like we discussed for last week’s episode, that’s an area ripe for clashing. Tradition versus the nouveau riche!

Patches: OH OH! Also, there were lyrics written on the board in the room they got, but it was clear that the room hadn’t been used in a long time. Again, things point to an older idol club.

Day: Oh, yeah! I’d forgotten that one. But Ruby did say her sister soured on idols when she hit high school. So… well, not sure how to parse that yet.

Patches: The fact that they are remixing elements from OG, points to the three of them and Nico thing.

Day: Well, we’ll see, I guess. I’ll admit, to me it’d be a little boring if their issues with each other is solely, “We tried to be school idols and it didn’t work!” There’s a lot of other potential material in the mix that I would just find more interesting. My concern would be that they wouldn’t bother to have it be a more complex matter beyond it having been from idol stuff.

Patches: I bet Mari had to leave, or she left to pursue a career elsewhere.

Day: She went to found her own harem in that infamous gay land of California.

Patches: I was disappointed that You seemed have bad cardio?

Day: Yeah… But she also mentioned at some point that she “used” to be a diver? So maybe she let herself get out of shape… although, that seems odd since it didn’t sound like she had decided to break with diving until Chika’s big idea.

Patches: Right? But Kanan, super in-shape.

Day: You was a weak spot in the episode – her characterization seemed a bit off. Her not noticing where Ruby was hiding was really weird, especially as Riko looked shocked that You would be surprised about where the girl was. I thought Riko was our unobservant girl?

Patches: Yeah, but You was too distracted by Hanamaru’s chest.

Day: Pfft, under that dowdy sweater? I think not!

I bet You was really popular on the diving/swim team.

I mean. As long as we’re talking breasts.

Patches: I like You.

Day: Given that Hanamaru seems to lack confidence in herself to a degree, I found it interesting that she confronted Dia like she did. It at least does suggest that they have enough of a relationship that she feels comfortable doing so.

Patches: Yeah.

Day: Although… it may be, too, that Hanamaru is the sort that when she is convinced that something is right, she will take a deep breath and assert backbone on it. But maybe not if it’s solely for her own benefit.

Patches: That’s what I was going to say.

Day: It was nice, too, to see Ruby stand up for her own self! I do wish the girl was less lolitastic, but… The handling is decent so far.

Patches: She is a 1st year.

Day: Yeah, but, come on! She looks like she’s about ten!

Patches: By year three, she’ll look like Dia.

Day: But in the flashback Dia didn’t look loli! (Lol, if anything, she looked exactly the same.)

Patches: True, true. Hmm… Yeah. It’s clear her design is pandery, but she can sing, which I like.

Day: And her shyness has been demonstrated as more general even though the official material had said it was guys she was scared of.

Patches: I feel like it vanished in this episode?

Day: She did try to hide behind an electric fan from Chika.

Patches: Look, if Chika made that face at me, I’d hide, too.

Day: If Chika made that face at me, I’d say, “Child, I don’t care if I am regularly mistaken for a fifteen year old, I am too fucking old for you.”

I think that, given the issues I have with Ruby as a character-type… well, she’s better than I could’ve reasonably expected or dreaded.

Patches: Also, what is with Dia’s low-level “Favorite μ’s member” Elichi? HOW OBVIOUS. (Ruby is obviously a Hanayo fan because Hanayo is the sophisticated idol fan’s meta-favorite.)

Day: Speaking of, too, the Ruby-Hanamaru dynamic is way more interesting than Rin-Hanayo’s! Hanayo took until mid-second season to be much of an active agent in that. Ruby and Hanamaru felt much more on equal footing.

Patches: Yes!

Day: Which would match, too, that if Mari-Kanan are going to be Eli-Nozomi, theirs is more equal, too.

Patches: Yep!

Day: So, to cap my own thoughts/feelings after episode four of Love Live!! Sunshine –

Well, I loved the episode, since Ruby and Hanamaru turned out to be a great pair to watch since their character development in this episode was handled with such finesse. And, because it was, I found myself less inclined to nitpick about how Ruby showing up to prevent Hanamaru from sliding back to what she felt was the best she could ever expect from herself. This bit was so inevitable, but it felt more earned than last week’s climax with the first live for Aqours.

I hope it can keep this level of pitch up, but even if its only two-thirds as good, I think that still places it on good footing.

Patches: From where I sit, I liked that they made good use of μ’s history to provide that foreshadowing. I think it really added dimension to the whole interaction. And I like that they’ve COMPLETELY rehabilitated Ruby. I think we’ll see dividends in the Yohane episode.

Hanayo was uneven in season one of the original, whereas Ruby seems all-in and pretty assertive among her new friends already. The next episode we’re due for a song? I think… If we get Yohane fast enough (since we did Someday in our Future at six members).

Day: I juuuuust hope it’s a decent song ^^; I feel like this franchise has a knack for picking some of the blandest things from its discography for insert-songs ^^;

Patches: But yeah. It will be interesting to see if Mari’s hand in the group starts to show. Here’s hoping the Yohane episode is as strong on characterization as this one was.

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