Did you know I like Love Live? I wrote an editorial on things I wanted to see in Sunshine. Needless to say, I was pretty hyped to be able to watch a Love Live series as it aired (after jumping on the μ’s train a little too late) so did the series live up to my expectations?
The series starts with Chika Takami, who is a big fan of μ’s deciding to form a School Idol Club and obviously, a lot of things get in her way. The story then follows her recruiting all the members that appear in all the artwork into a group named “Aqours” (pronounced like “Aqua”). The story isn’t the reason anyone would watch Love Live though. Characters and music is what you’d watch Love Live for.
Luckily neither of these aspects disappoint. Like the first series the 9 girls are evenly-split between the 3 grades. The first years include Ruby Kurosawa who is the typical shy little girl (think Hanayo from the first), Hanamaru Kunikida, Ruby’s friend, lives at a temple with little technology and loves books and Yoshiko Tsushima who is chuunibyou with a persona of “Yohane”. The second years include Chika Takami, the leader, someone who works hard to reach their goals, You Watanabe who is Chika’s childhood friend and has an obsession with uniforms and Riko Sakurauchi, a transfer student from Otonokizaka High that plays the piano. The third years include Dia Kurosawa, the student council president and Ruby’s older sister, Kanan Matsura who isn’t in school for a lot of the series because she’s helping run her grandpa’s dive shop and Mari Ohara who is a rich girl that comes back from traveling to become the school’s director.
The character development and interactions are great. Anyone who is similar to a character from μ’s is done far better including Chika. Unfortunately I can’t give examples due to a lot being late in the show but Chika develops far more than Honoka did in the entire series. You and Yoshiko also had very enjoyable episodes featured on them and if you think the third years (especially Kanan) don’t show up enough they more than make up for that near the end of the show in what ended up being one of my favourite anime episodes of all time. Something else of note: There’s not a single character I actually dislike from Aqours which is very impressive. At this point in the first series I disliked Honoka, Maki and Eli (the later two managed to become likable in season 2 and the movie) and even shows with smaller casts I usually have at least one character I find annoying but not in Sunshine.
Something else that people might find annoying is the amount of μ’s call-backs and references. Hanamaru basically joined because she related to Rin, Chika’s entire goal was to be like μ’s, etc. Again there is a very well crafted episode that adds to development of Chika just for people who didn’t like all the call-backs.
Aqours also has a rival group in Saint Snow. Self Control is probably one of my favourite songs in the franchise and the two members of Saint Snow are fairly interesting yet underutilized through the season and I’m hoping for more from them in any future seasons.
Visuals are improved over the first series. The CG is improved even over the PVs released for Aqours previously. The standard episode animation was also very smooth with some funny background visual jokes.
The soundtrack was top notch. While I didn’t like “Aozora Jumping Heart” as much as the previous openings, “Yume Kataru yori Yume Utaou” was my favourite ending song in the series. I also can’t think of a single insert song I didn’t like. “Yume de Yozora o Terashitai” was probably my least favourite but I’ve still listened to it a few times outside of the show.