The first iteration of Love Live: School Idol Project is one example of a series that knows what to deliver quality content, and provide a story that’s entertaining, has amazing characters, and overall make us happy or sad depending on the situation. As noted in my last review, season 1 of Love Live: School Idol Project exceeded my initial expectations by a vast amount, which gave me high expectations as I ventured into season 2. So, how will this one turn out?
So it turns out that, despite the events of the previous school year, Otonokizaka High School was saved from closure. By some miracle of God, Honoka Kousaka has also become school council president, replacing Eli Ayase from last year. Which leads us to possibly the most charming musical segment in episode 1:
For this school year, expectations for μ’s are running high, for several reasons. For one thing, unlike last year when Honoka’s illness sidelined μ’s from the Love Live competition, this time, they’re intent on competing all the way to the end; also, this being Eli, Nozomi and Nico’s final years at Otonokizaka, will be the last opportunity for all nine members to compete as one single unit – so better go out with flying colors, as they say. And so, season 2 once again chronicles the lives of Honoka, Umi, Kotori, Maki, Nico, Hanayo, Rin, Eli and Nozomi as they venture through the challenges of actually competing in Love Live – which puts them through trials such as balancing bittersweet moments and coming up with unique lyrics given the context, or facing off against their mutual rival idol group (and the previous years’ champions), A-RISE; or as I like to call them, Fake Honoka / Umi / Kotori.
WHAT I LIKED
- The atmosphere of this show was beautifully decorated. Especially with the going-ons between Eli, Nico and Nozomi’s stint with μ’s, this season was able to combine the bittersweet tale of a farewell tour, while still showing that they can add a bit of humor and good times in between that.
- This show dedicates a lot to the crew that was able to make this season entertaining in the first place: the characters. Every other episode or so, we have a show that dives deep into the characters’ minds, explore them, and see why they’ve gained the in-show character traits they have now.
- Great balance between slice-of-life without sacrificing the storyline with filler episodes and other useless in-the-middle tidbits.
- I can scroll through the episode summaries, and still be able to recall vividly a scene that happened during that episode – a testament to how much an impact the show has on my memory. Why? Because the writing and direction of this series not only made sense, but the placement of the episodes with respect to the storyline was just right.
- Once again, another anime that proudly espouses, even if implicitly, Catholic virtues; namely, that of charity (see the not-so-heated rivalry between A-RISE and μ’s, compared to this), humility (despite their talents, we never see any boastful / reckless act of pride on the part of μ’s), and honesty (in how the characters remain true to themselves rather than pretend to be someone else, in episode 6).
- Snow Halation.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
- The pacing of the series felt a bit rushed, kind of like Sword Art Online’s Alfheim Arc. For instance, we see the main characters put out performance after performance, but we don’t see how they managed to win or advance to the next round. Instead we just skip to the next part and just assume that God, in His infinite Providence, allowed them to win.
If you thought season 1 had its fair share of character arc, wait until you see this season. It’s a gold mine of character-oriented episodes, and without a doubt, season 2 tops this section, and one of the reasons why it does is the presence of several character-oriented episodes, in particular the ones that center around the issues faced by Nico towards her family, (episode 4), Rin and her own femininity, (episode 5), and Nozomi’s growing out of her introverted shell (episode 8), to name a few. And I’ll say, these episodes were some of the best-produced in this series. Seeing how these characters overcame their personal struggles, and how they lifted past them towards their own successes was really refreshing to see – and helped me to further realize how brilliant this series was, for beneath its entire shtick about school idols, musical musings, there was hidden gem of characters with great depth and appeal that goes beyond their in-story characteristics, or their talents.
And, even if the characters didn’t get an episode that was specifically oriented towards them, Love Live: School Idol Project still manages to fill in the gaps by allowing us to see the rest of the cast in action, none of them more preferred over the other, which helps us to learn more about their personal traits, likes and dislikes.
In terms of music, season 2 of Love Live: School Idol Project absolutely outshined once again in the music department – I’d say even more than season 1 did. Many of my favorite songs, such as Snow Halation, Yume No Tobira, Aishiteru Banzai and Dancing Stars On Me came from this season. They sure did a real good job at picking which songs to showcase.
Not to mention, the OP and ED song of this season, Sore Wo Bokutachi No Kiseki and Donna Toki Mo Zutto are absolutely perfect choices for this season: the OP fittingly flows with the high-hype energy displayed in the series, and the ED song mixes well with the melodramatic undertone behind this season’s emphasis on a last group tour vibe. It’s a perfect blend of OP and ED songs, something which I’ve never experienced since Digimon Adventure or Yu-Gi-Oh. If you ask me, it’s makes for a great soundtrack to start and cap off a great adventure.
Favorite character: Honoka Kousaka is my favorite character in this series, overall. Apart from her design, her character traits – optimistic, friendly, her nothing-gets-me-down attitude, and a hardworking demanor – are things that I look up to myself, and are what make her great. It almost reminds me of Spongebob Squarepants.
Favorite episode: Episode 4, for scenes like these, is one of my favorites; also, episode 9 – the Snow Halation episode – was one I found relatable to me, despite how I hate winter (and yet live in Canada at the same time).
Favorite song: Sore Wo Bokutachi No Kiseki – the opening theme to this song, reminds me so much about this summer and my trip to conventions, that it takes the cake as my favorite song from this season.
Favorite quote: “Fighto dayo!” – Honoka’s catchphrase. Cute, inspiring, and straight to the point.
I actually liked this portion of the School Idol Project series more than I did with season 1, because of how well it started, flowed, and concluded the saga. But that’s not the sole reason, mind you: as an anime about school idols, the art and the music of this series was top-notch, barring some very minor issues with the CGI and all; but when one looks at it simply from a plot-wise perspective, they will find a story that’s sophisticated, characters that have very strong depth (and are very likable to the fullest), and a series that’s just so satisfying on all sides, that it’s hard not to be tempted to re-watch it again.
To put it bluntly, Love Live: School Idol Project definitely deserves its recognition of acclaim by the anime community, and as for me, I don’t regret a single moment of watching this anime. There’s so many things about it that, in my mind, were just perfect.