From watching anime it is pretty clear to see that Japanese high schools are far superior to their Western counterparts. The uniforms worn by female students are far cuter for a start and Japan’s pupils seem to have more pride for their educational institutes. Back when I was in comprehensive everyone in my class would have jubilantly celebrated any news revealing that our school was about to shut down. That’s in stark contrast to what you would see in Love Live: School Idol Project – a thirteen episode animated show coming to the UK courtesy of MVM Entertainment. The girls attending Otonokizaka Academy are distraught that their beloved school may cease to exist due to a lack of new applicants. Only through the power of song can they hope to save the academy from potential extinction.
When Honoka Kosaka learns of Otonokizaka’s imminent demise she does what any other red-blooded schoolgirl would do – start a pop band! Why I hear you ask? Well, the plan is that having a celebrity group attending the academy will tempt impressionable young ladies to enrol at the school. Not the greatest idea ever perhaps, but that’s Honoka for you. She is well known for doing what feels right, even if she doesn’t fully think things through. Honoka’s enthusiasm is all it takes to convince her more conservative buddies to join her up on the dance stage. The other members of the newly created girl band Muse are Honaka’s childhood friends Kotori Minami and Umi Sonoda. Kotori’s tailoring skills makes her the ideal candidate for designing the group’s outfits whilst Umi fills the position of sensible girl who easily gets embarrassed. For all intents and purposes she is Mio from K-On.
Anyone acquainted with Japan’s pop music scene will be well aware that an idol group made up of just three performers is a tad bit weeny. Take a look at AKB48 for example… that group has forty-eight members. I don’t think that your average football team has a roster that big! Anyway, with that in mind Honoka scours the first year student ranks for fresh talent. She eventually recruits Hanayo Koizumi and Rin Hoshizora to her cause. Hanayo is a meek bespectacled lass who has always dreamt of being a pop idol. Rin the spunky tomboy decides to tag along, as she is Hanayo’s best friend.
Not stopping there, Honoka pleads to Maki Nishikino and Eli Ayase for aid in her musical endeavours. Maki, who is an accomplished pianist, is headhunted for the role of song composer whilst student council president Eli could help in choreographing the group’s performances, as she has a background in ballet. Eli is strongly opposed to the idea however, given that she would rather attract new students to the school via academic means. Perhaps vice president Nozomi Tojo can convince Eli to change her mind? I’m sure she will, as the curvy VP is infamous for groping girls who do not submit to her whims.
I had a good time watching Love Live: School Idol Project, which was a pleasant surprise given that the series is clearly made just to sell spin-off comics, music CDs and rhythm video games (I hear the mobile app is enjoyable, even if the English translators have removed all yuri references from the title.) Like the pop tunes Muse performs, Love Live is light and fluffy fun. If you are looking for a realistic portrayal of an idol group’s rise to fame look elsewhere because the onus of the show is strictly on its comedy and assortment of cheery J-Pop jingles, which normally play at the tail end of each episode.
If you dislike overly depressing animes then Love Live is the series for you. The scriptwriters only make half-hearted attempts to inject drama to proceedings. Low concert attendances, poor weather scuppering rehearsals and members leaving the band all get positively resolved within a matter of minutes. Even senior student Nico Yazawa’s attempts to disband the group will fail to keep you in suspense for long. The opening credits spoil that she will eventually join the group faster than my pals spoil the ending of new movies on Facebook. Still who cares? Love Live works thanks to its affable cast and flashy dance sequences, which are brought to life through video game quality CG. Forget Top of the Pops, I’d rather see Muse top the anime DVD sales charts so more sweet idol shows get released in the UK.
FINAL RATING: FOUR STARS