Love Live! School Idol Project is a one cour series that aired in the first quarter of 2013. The series follows high school student Honoka Kousaka as she attempts to save Otonokizaka High School from closing down due to its successively lower number of annual enrollees. After watching A-RISE, a rising school idol group, Honoka decides to form her own group in an attempt to increase the popularity of Otonokizaka High School and bring up its number of enrollees to save the school. With the help of her closest friends, Umi and Kotori, Honoka creates the school idol group that will soon turn iconic, μ’s.
With an anime that follows the story of a school idol group, one would expect to see a lot of “behind the scenes” moments related to what goes on in idol life. With the idol lifestyle being such a large part of the culture, there is a generally clear picture of what goes on and of how intensive the lifestyle can be. Interestingly enough though, I feel like Love Live! didn’t focus on the ins and outs of being in showbiz so to speak. The focus of the show was really on the girls and how they struggled to form a group that could save the school. There were no agents, no talks of contracts, no over-the-top diet regimens. Instead we were treated to a story about the genuine desire to save something the girls love and the process that they took to make that happen.
I personally went into it thinking that I would see the glamour of the idol world but I was pleasantly surprised to see the slice of life element of high school girls simply having fun. Honoka’s efforts to form the group were conveyed very well in the show and her desire to be a successful idol was one built on a sincere desire or goal. I think this really changed the flavor of the series that could have easily focused on the purpose of popularity. While μ’s did show a lot of desire to win Love Live!, it was always shown as secondary to their aim to save their school.
The plot of the series benefited greatly from this approach. Because of the focus being on the nine members of μ’s, viewers were shown a great deal of their daily lives. Personally, I became more invested in μ’s as a group not because of the performances in the show but because we were shown a glimpse of their life and the time that they spent with one another. Rather than highlighting the idol aspect, the series gave more emphasis on the formation of the group and on building the relationships and more importantly, the dynamics of the members with one another.
In relation, the character development of Love Live! School Idol Project was handled and paced quite well. It was quite a feat to be able to flesh out the personalities and motivations of nine different girls within the span of thirteen episodes while still managing to move the overarching plot along. Because of the way they managed to integrate each characters desires into the plot to drive it forward, none of the nine felt flat or boring in terms of character. Each one had a unique personality and a different vibe to them that made all of them stand out instead of being drowned in the group. With a cast of characters that were all invested and motivated, it became impossible not to get invested in the series as well.
Being a story about a school idol group, it would be impossible to veer away from the music and soundtrack. It’s safe that Love Live! doesn’t fall short in this department. The opening of the series, Bokura wa Ima no Naka de is quite an infectious opening, making the theme impossible to skip per episode. The inserts of the series, like the iconic START:DASH were also great with many of the songs of μ’s being performed at throughout different episodes showing their development and the increase in their repertoire.
Love Live! School Idol Project is an anime that is extremely easy to not only get invested in but to also get immersed in. There’s a certain addiction that comes along when watching the series that eventually leads one into getting hooked on the songs and μ’s.