Idol shows are genuinely great. They’re colourful. They’re happy. They’re full of great songs. There’s usually a variety of cute girls in cute outfits. They always have great, motivational messages. What’s not to love about this sort of show?
At least, that was my thinking before I watched Love Live! Sunshine!!, which is, if I’m completely honest, something I didn’t imagine myself saying when I began watching it. Ranked 7.63 on MyAnimeList, I had high hopes for it, especially considering how highly I rate the original Love Live! School Idol Project series – but it simply wasn’t to be. Here, I’ll justify my reaction, but for those who don’t have a single clue about the story to Love Live! Sunshine!!, it’s time for a quick synopsis, courtesy of MAL.
Chika Takami, a self-proclaimed normal girl, has never been involved in any clubs and lacked any notable talents. However, after a visit to Tokyo, she discovers a stage where even an ordinary girl like her could shine—the world of school idols. Inspired by the former superstar school idol group μ’s, Chika is determined to start her own school idol club in her seaside hometown at Uranohoshi Girl’s High School. But even before gathering any students to join the group, the aspiring school idol finds her greatest obstacle to be student council president Dia Kurosawa who stands firmly against the creation of the club.
Just when it seems there is no hope, Chika meets Riko Sakurauchi, a transfer student from Otonokizaka High School, home of μ’s. Somewhat shy but a talented piano player, Chika believes her to be a promising recruit, though convincing her to join is easier said than done. In spite of that, Chika chooses to charge forward and overcome the obstacles keeping her from forming a school idol group that shines as bright as the nine that came before her.
Firstly, my first impressions on the characters themselves weren’t exactly great. When I first saw the announcement for the characters, they just seemed to be replicas of the original series’ cast and, whilst that wasn’t too far from the truth (look at how similar Chika and Honoka look as well as act, or how Mari could get away with being Eli and Nozomi’s love child, or how Nico and Yoshiko are…you get the gist, right?) I kind of feel as if this was an unfair judgement to have without actually watching an episode. As similar as they are, they are still all unique in their own small ways and their dynamics also vary slightly, although not by much. As a general conclusion, though, I was and am disappointed with the characters in this series, regardless of how cute I find Ruby.
Secondly, the actual storyline was practically a copy of the original series, where, although there’s too many to point out, there are way too many similarities. Although the series had some good ideas (e.g. Riko’s struggle to find inspiration, the drama between the third years etc.), there were excessive references to the original series’ storyline, which meant that it wasn’t as ‘fun’. I was hoping for something new, something exciting, something to fulfil the gap that formed after I watched the previous two series and the movie – but I simply didn’t get it and it was a complete disappointment.
Another disappointment was the music within the series. The original series has plenty of great songs involved; Susume Tomorrow, Bokura wa Ima no Naka de, Snow Halation, the list can go on. These were, in my opinion, well-produced songs with lovely lyrics; however I can’t really say the same about the songs featured in Love Live! Sunshine!!. The songs in last summer’s idol show, granted, have nice lyrics, however they don’t really share the same enthusiasm as the songs from the original series did, nor do they stick out as much. The moment I heard the introduction to Snow Halation, for example, I was in love – the songs by Aquors, on the other hand, haven’t had the same impact on me, which I find quite sad: μs’ songs made me want to make my own idol group (arguably explains the LL! cosplay, I guess) whereas Aquors’ songs undelivered on this. The school idol in me was unsatisfied. (This was originally written before I went through the songs by Aquors on the Love Live!: School Idol Project mobile game – I will put my hands up now and say that I was quite wrong on this front. Some of the songs by Aquors are great.)
I was so hyped for this series (anyone who knows me IRL can probably remember how hyped I was) and yet here I am leaving it quite a negative review. Am I still a fan of Love Live!? Of course I am. Will I watch the next series? Sure. Will I re-watch Sunshine!!? Not at all. Honestly, if you’re a fan of the original series and haven’t seen Sunshine!!, don’t bother. Do I still want to cosplay as Ruby and/or You? Absolutely! But, unless something drastic happens in the next series (I am assuming there’s going to be one judging by the way the final episode ended) or in the franchise all together, I probably won’t really recommend it to anyone.