Anime shows about music bands are often big hits, because they combine hip music with impressive animation. Love Live follows this same formula, but it also captures the drama of high school friendships with beautiful, tear-jerking honesty.
Love Live: School Idol Project isn’t the most original anime, but it packed in enough emotional twists to keep me on the edge of my seat.
The plot of Love Live is deceptively simple on the surface. The main character is a high school girl named Honoka Kosaka. Her high school, Otonokizaka Academy, is closing down because fewer people are applying to attend it. Even her little sister would rather attend the futuristic new high school in the neighborhood, UTX High School.
Hosaka decides to visit the school for herself, to find out what makes UTX so special. That’s when Hosaka sees the main attraction–a high school pop group called A-Rise. The group has grown in popularity to the point where they are practically the official spokeswomen for the entire school of UTX. They even give a special greeting message to the new students entering the massive school building, which looks more like a skyscraper.
To be honest, UTX had a lot of high-tech equipment. All the students have smartphones. They all scan their phones into a turnstile, just to enter the school grounds. However, Honoka knows that the school’s pop group, A-Rise, is the main attraction. In order to raise attendance for her high school, Honoka decides to start her own pop idol dance group with her friends. Thus begins a grand scheme to save Otonokizaka Academy through the power of pop music and dancing.
To tell the truth, I don’t think any high school band could actually save an entire school from shutting down. However, pop idols practically rule the entire futuristic world of this anime show. All the idol groups are in constant competition, posting their dancing and singing performances on a special social network for idols. Their main goal is to win Love Live, a championship tournament for pop idols.
The entire story follows a rather redundant format. Honoka and her two best buddies spend the majority of the first season hunting for new recruits to make her group one of the best in Japan. There are plenty of characters who seem all too familiar in these types of shows. There’s a shy girl named Hanayo, who has to muster her courage to join the group. There is a strict student council president name Eli, who thinks that the entire pop group is a joke. All these character types appear a little too predictable after a certain point.
Thankfully, the story picks up steam near the end of the season. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that the group faces intense pressure in the days before the Love Live tournament even begins. On top of this, one of the members also receives a surprise letter that could change her future forever. The show has plenty of drama and saddening moments. Although the final episode rushed some of the most intense moments a little too quickly, I was still impressed.
The dance numbers also use tons of incredible computer animation with the help of motion-capture actors. The visuals and the music meld together to make this show a dazzling experience. Everyone should at least watch one of the episodes, just to get themselves hooked on the pop idol trends in anime today.