I have mixed feelings about the music/idol anime genre. Frequent readers will know I like cute girls doing cute stuff, I can appreciate J-pop music as well. But, the idol genre is really a thing of its own. The clothing themes are more extravagant, the music may be catchy, but not catchy as in ‘that song has a really nice beat.’ The vocals are really high pitched and often times for me border on the cringe worthy.
In the idol anime genre there were really two competitors, The Idolmaster franchise and Love Live! I’ve watched both and the latter one left a more positive impression. Love Live had a more sincere feel and focused less on the daily struggles of a well-known group. It told a story of a group of girls who tried to safe their school. The visuals were also more consistent and vibrant than in The Idolmaster.
The girls in Love Live Sunshine on the other hand don’t really have a real reason to become idols, they’re just fans of the previous girl group and want to become just like them. It’s leaning more towards the idolization(pun intended) of a girl group. That’s a vastly different approach and one that is so far less captivating than its predecessor.
Love Live Sunshine starts off with Chika who wants form an idol club at her high school. A divers set of girls with different character traits join the group, which gives future fans the possibility to pick their favorite idol group member. Very straight forward stuff and nothing noteworthy.
It starts to turn less captivating when Love Live Sunshine tries to become more like its predecessor. The high school setting is really oddly familiar, combined with the training on the roof of the school. We’ve seen that before in the original Love Live. A Lot.
We’re also confronted with the usual obstacles of other school members opposing the formation of said club for mostly pathetic reasons. The only explanation I can think of for this plot mechanic is to insert a sense of struggle or drama. The road to the top is a hard one, and you as a viewer should know that as well. Preferably in every episode.
The best example of forced drama is perhaps the story of Ruby, whose sister blocks the acknowledgement of the idol club. So far so good. Ruby herself wants to join the club, but because her sister hates the idea, she must hate it as well. Excuse me? I really couldn’t take it seriously. This melodramatic scene, or rather almost half an episode or more, was the typical forced drama that really breaks the Love Live Sunshine into an all over the place show.
Love Live Sunshine wants to be an idol show, but it needs drama, its needs humor, it needs music, a divers set of characters. The show is losing its mind and runs every which way just to mark another checkbox that made its predecessor a successful one. I don’t expect the show to become any more stable onwards and I’m afraid that a lot of fans of the show will disappointed by the hasty approach Love Live Sunshine is using.