Day: The first thing I want to say is – Yohane is even better than I was expecting.
Patches: I feel like that’s been the case with every girl.
Day: Well. Except for Mari =/
Patches: I am waiting to see our payoff in the B plot… Which should be coming to a head in the next episode or two? The last bit at the end of the episode where Mari was talking to Dia implies that we’re gonna see some action out of them soon.
Day: Hopefully. Mari sent something serious to Dia, and she didn’t herself look too happy about what was in it. Of course, I am well-trained by anime to assume that it turns out Mari is dying of undefined anime illness.
Patches: Dia is almost ready to come on board and school them in idol-ness.
Day: I am worried that it’ll turn out to be that the school is on the edge of closure which would be would be a drag…
Patches: So, what I particularly liked about this episode is how they brought in more character to Hanamaru at the beginning.
Day: Yeah, and her not being super up-to-speed on computers isn’t even an “lol anime” plotpoint – Japan isn’t nearly as on top of electronics as is commonly assumed.
Patches: Well, someone did point out that there is a computer in the library.
Day: true! HMM. I guess she just doesn’t use it? It could be so old as to be unusable, too!
Patches: Yeah. She has the Dewey Decimal system memorized, she doesn’t need it!
Day: Its a small library, I can’t imagine it’d be necessary to play minder to it to be A+ with computers.
Patches: That seems reasonable to me.
Day: Its probably a very large paperweight!
Patches: But I also like that she’s very observant and not as isolated as she presents. Her interactions with YOHANE show that she’s perfectly capable of being “in the real world” if she wants to, which either shows some development since the last episode or indicates that she wasn’t being entirely honest with herself.
Along the same lines, I like that it’s clear that Ruby and Chika have the same aesthetic sense.
Day: Speaking of Yohane, I am realllllllllly happy – albeit, not surprised – that the show’s gone with letting her do her chuuni thing rather than trying to break her of it.
Patches: So, she’s been into it a lot longer than middle school – remember the kindergarten flashback?
Day: Yeah – I figured that was the case, since the shot of kindergarten in Hanamaru’s flashbacks last episode, you can see Yohane in the background waving a stick at a tree.
Patches: That tree got the better of her. But she’ll get her vengence!
Day: She isn’t a fallen angel for nothing!
I love that Yohane is the Miss Cleo of the Japanese internet.
Patches: I am a little mad at the in-anime Aquors fandom for being fans of Ruby. :||||||||
Day: Yeah! So… in that scene of ruby in goth loli getup, I’m glad she at least flourished at the end. I’m less glad that she was being so uguu-uguu loli-loli for most of it…
Patches: Since they’ve established her as a “stage-fright” type, I was fine with her acting uguu-uguu, but I am mad that people liked it. 😄
Day: Sure, its part of her characterization, BUT that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy watching it, OR like that they’ve made the shy girl so freaking loli.
I also thought it was totallllll bullshit that they jumped up so many spots in the rankings, even if it was just temporary.
Patches: Yes, but they fell quickly, too. I think that five years on, I imagine the rankings are really fluid below top 100.
Day: So fluid that they went from the low 4000s to the high triple digits, though? If it’d been up into the 2000s, I wouldn’t be crabbing, but triple digits seems a bit much… But I also find the idea that there are 5000 school idol groups at all a bit suspect!
Patches: Again, fans are garbage for going for the uguu Ruby.
I would have to know how many schools there were in Japan. ALSO, barring something like A-RISE, it’s possible a school like UTX could support two group.
Day: Eh, I could see lower-rung schools having more than one since there wouldn’t be much push to prevent multiples…
Patches: That’s sort of what I was saying. I just meant the school would also have to be big.
Day: But presumably a lower-rung school wouldn’t be as big as a place like UTX in the first place.
So, in 2010, there were only ~1.5 million high school-aged girls in Japan, and not all of them are in school since education not compulsory for high school
I know, I’m getting hung up on stuff that doesn’t really matter. I just think it was an absurd number to go with. The only reason they went with it was to make the inevitable climb seem way more impressive, and that feels lazy and it’s laziness irks me.
Patches: Yeah, that’s too many high schools if you divide them 1 to a school.
Day: If it weren’t a franchise that’s wanted to get right to the drama without the heavy lifting previously, I probably wouldn’t be so piqued by it.
Patches: Wait, I did my math all confused. 1.5m / 5k = 300 which is too few girls per school to make sense. 1 / 300 girls is a school idol? That is… what?
Day: Well, and the unique setting, i.e. a future Japan in which the male population has collapsed makes it all the more difficult to truly parse it out.
Patches: There is a vomit-inducing side solution. Called Rika Jougusaki. But we digress.
Day: Basically, tl;dr it’s easy for me to get wrapped around the axle on stuff like this since the franchise has been cheap and chintzy with it’s emotional grabs historically.
Patches: I like how Riko has become super-meme-worthy over the last two episodes.
Day: I’m just happy that Chika’s gayness has canonically become the way shit gets solved in the show.
Patches: Oh, god. She so gay.
Day: Riko is suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch a huuuuuuuuuuuuge upgrade on Umi.
Patches: My line for yesterday was “Gayer than an Astrea Student Council meeting”.
Day: Damn, half those Astraea bitches are freaking LUGs anyway.
Patches: Which is why Chika is gayer than them.
Day: I like that Riko plays the responsible role that Umi did but doesn’t go overboard.
Patches: But on Riko: You’re right. I like that she’s in it to win it, but likes to have fun? Umi sort of hates
Day: Riko is Umi if Umi wasn’t in need of a good therapist. You just know Umi went on to flunk her entrance exams twice and her family finally realized they’d put too much pressure on her as she was growing up. And then Umi got a really good psychologist, worked through her issues and came to realize that she wasn’t responsible for everything always being absolutely okay. She then went on to get in Tokyo U. And her friends stopped calling her The No-Fun Zone behind her back.
Patches: Where she spent four years doing blow and forcing girls to wear orange wigs while she made out with them.
Day: Oh my god. Less neurotic, not more!
Patches: Less neurotic, but she doesn’t really admit her feelings for Honkers until Honoka relocates to the US to live with Kotori.
Day: Yeah, probably. Honoka manages to become a crossover pop star in the U.S. Kotori designs all her outfits.
Yohane is a riot and a half.
Patches: I like that Yohane is a little more compulsive than Nico. It makes her easier to sympathize with.
Day: They leaned into it beautifully.
Patches: And a little less annoying. I think my problem with Nico is that she wants to be a center but she is the imp. Different from let’s say, Makoto, who is a lot more like Yohane/Yoshiko. Makoto wants to be something else, but can’t really stop being herself.
Day: When she was so excited in class about fitting in, I wanted to pull her in for a hug and tell her that high school isn’t forever.
Patches: I actually put her in the same category of Hanamaru a little? She wants to be YOHANE because she likes that image of herself, but also wants friends, which is why Aquors is such a great fit for her.
Day: Yes. And, again, I’m really happy that the solution wasn’t for her to drop her fallen angel shtick. I’ve always hated that as a plot, especially when the characters are such young teens.
Patches: Which is a little odd for me, thematically given that we supposed Aqours was about trying “new” things, and YOHANE is old hat for Yoshiko.
Day: Yeah, thematically, it does run a bit counter… But I guess it’d go along with being true to oneself? And there has been some of that. Or, being true to what one wants rather than trying to subsume it and present what one deems is the socially acceptable version of oneself. Don’t do stuff just because you think it’ll be better for other people.
Patches: Not sure that follows for the other girls. I think in YOHANE’s case, it’s using that persona to connect instead of distance herself from others.
Day: Well, but Hanamaru was all set to not go for the idol thing because she figured she wasn’t a good fit and would be holding folks back. And Dia’s so into presenting as the very proper young lady, and she keeps getting upset that Aqours might look absurd.
Patches: True, true.
Day: And, hey! These things can all exist alongside each other.
Patches: Well, I am sort of actually with Dia on that little video. Their first video didn’t really show that image. Changing your image a lot makes it hard for you to hold onto your identity. μ’s learned that in S2.
Day: μ’s is slower to learn shit than Aqours.
Patches: Well, I think also the benefits will show in the PV we get next episode. WHICH HOPEFULLY WILL HAVE ANOTHER SONG!
And also, I imagine Mari will get involved.
Day: Which also is HOPEFULLY BETTER than the previous song!!!
Based on the preview, it seems Kanan will be getting involved with school again. There’s a shot of a re-enrollment form, after all.
Patches: I missed that! Yay, Kanan!
Day: By the way, wow, Yohane, spoiled much? Skipping school merely for your own feelings of embarrassment while there are girls who haven’t enrolled yet since they have to help the family business?
Patches: The PV bit was one of the weaker bits of the OG series minus the amazing Nico moment. I am optimistic this will be better, though, since I can see Chika, Ruby, and You really getting into it.
Day: Chika sticking the camera up everyone’s skirt.
Patches: I mean, you saw the pose that she and Yohane were in at the end of the preview. Chika has a even more insane sense of the theatrical than Honkers, who was pretty damn dramatic.
Day: I also want to comment on the visuals and BGM in this episode, as, once again, it feels like a much better coordinated thing than original had.
Patches: The chase scene in particular was well-directed, I thought. It was no Kumiko running as far as animation was concerned, but the shot composition and flow seemed very solid.
Day: Original as a production was perfectly fine, mind you, but Sunshine feels like its getting a better treatment in this regard than shows like it usually do.
For a show in which music was so central, original love live’s BGM and its usage was by and large pretty pedestrian, so this aspect is quite the pleasant surprise.
Patches: Well, it’s clear they have more budget and this time they are spending it well.
Day: I’m always pleased when TV anime put this much effort into visual and sound direction since it totally isn’t the norm. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the folks working on this go onto much more prestige stuff
Of course, too, I want to say THANK YOU SUNRISE FOR SWAPPING DIRECTORS
Patches: Assuming they aren’t roped into Love Live 08th MI Team.
Day: MI? Mil intel?
Patches: Mobile Idol.
Day: Oh.Hahahahaha. WHOOPS. This ain’t the Army anymore!
Sunrise should be making a mech spin-off of this, what gives? They made Xenoglossia, even!
Patches: Honestly, I keep expecting the Gundam x Love Live jokes out of you.
Day: Bet Tomino HATES Love Live.
…then again, who knows, some of the goofier moments might be his sort of thing, and Honkers DOES turn out to be a newtype in the movie.
Patches: I think the main problem with Love Live as a property is that it relies so much on fan input. Something like Xenoglossia requires the studio have the room to do what they want. But I think Sunshine is showing that execution can cover a lot of weakness in construction?
Day: Sorry, I’m busy imagining Honkers as Haman Khan
Patches: Sure, Aqours is a little database (like μ’s), but I think the dimensions the show has added to each girl really help obscure it.
Day: The girls feel much more realized as characters. As a fan, it feels like they’re less blank slates to be projected upon than the originals. But, they also involved less of fans voting on specific things, which may be part of it.
Patches: And I think when we add the 3rd years, the group will really fill out, as they’ve been working on them some in the background. Eli and Nozomi seemed so much more passive in OG. Also, Elichi was much cooler pre-joining than she was after she joined. Mostly because they didn’t REALLY need Mom and Dad.
Day: Eli’s character was totally ruined post-join. She needed to be harder edged.
Patches: Aqours is MUCH more Gonzo. Mari, Dia, and Kanan can be a little more restrained and still add something to the group.
Day: Here, they’re doing a better job, too, I think of retaining the characters’ characterizations after they join the group so far. It doesn’t feel like, “Ok, got her! Now we can just drop her in the background.” Although I will admit that You has felt a bit underutilized lately.
Patches: I think it helps that that they’re using their overlap better? Hanayo and Nico’s idol fan overlap didn’t amount to much.
Day: Yeah, less of the disparate pieces aspect.
Patches: You had a really large bunch of episodes, so they needed to make some room.
Day: Hanayo and Nico should’ve ended up best buds after Nico got over being a snobby idol fan.
Patches: Of the three second-years, the best connector is Chika since she overlaps with Ruby. I go again to the two of them picturing the mermaid thing. It was a great moment of “these two girls have only been friends a few weeks but are already on the same page”
Day: Yeah. And, Chika with Riko… in the second half of the episode, where Riko is giving Chika a bit of a hard time, that felt legit.
Patches: Yeah. But again, Riko isn’t so harsh with her critique. Umi really lays into Honoka, whereas Riko wants to get to the same place just wants Chika to maybe do it differently.
Day: Oh, absolutely. But, too, Umi didn’t tease people like Riko is doing there. We get back to the capacity to have fun versus not.
Patches: I am starting to get a little worried about pacing. We’re looking at 14 episodes? Or 13?
Day: 13 or 12. First season of the original was 12, second was 13. I guess it depends on what they want to do with it ultimately. If they ARE going for them winning the Love Live, yeah, the pacing is a massive problem.
Patches: Much in the same way the back half of the original season felt rushed, I feel like a lot will happen quickly after the group is assembled. Which is maybe okay, but like you said, if they’re going to climb into Love Live in that space, it’s going to feel very rushed.
Day: Especially since the Love Live itself has only been mentioned once!
Patches: But that’s the implied reason to climb in the rankings? Did they ditch the format from S2 with the regional qualifiers?
Day: It’s an implied reason, but… it only having been mentioned once makes it feel a weak connection. There really doesn’t seem to be much of a goal at the moment, truly, beyond having fun. Chika wasn’t even considering recruiting Yohane originally.
Patches: Yes, and that’s where the B-plot should probably come in? But I kind of want it revealed in the next episode so they can really build it for the rest of the season.
Day: Well. Kanan’s poised to return to school, and Mari sent Dia a shocking email, so…. hopefully?
Patches: Yeah! If they have a strong, focused arc for the back half of the show, it would really put it head-and-shoulders above the original series.
Day: Just got to steer well clear of the cheapo drama! None of that silliness about people secretly going off to America for fashion school suddenly.
Patches: What’s nice is that each episode has me ready to see what the next one brings. That’s super important. So yeah! Onward to episode six! Please give me a good, new song!
Day: Got my fingers crossed.