The girls are in the big city for an idol contest. Can Chika and friends make their mark on the metropolis? Or will the competition be too tough in the capital of school idols?
What They Say:
Episode 8 – Isn’t It Frustrating?
The girls get the results from their first big performance, and are forced to make some difficult decisions.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It would seem that making it onto a larger stage is not that difficult, but making a real impact while on it is where the heavy lifting is involved. Aqours watches in awe while Saint Snow performs, right before their own turn in front of the lights. How does their performance match up? Bryan and Greg take in what Episode 8 has to offer.
BM: Well, I’ll start by fanboying a bit and noting my pleasure that the ‘rival’ group continues to be better than the main event – just as how A-RISE were far better than µ’s, this season’s Saint Snow start the episode by upstaging Aqours entirely. And making me note the release date of the series OST that’ll include the song.
GBS: Saint Snow reminded me slightly of a group currently getting some international attention, BabyMetal. St. Snow’s music is more “light” than heavy metal, but it’s not the bubblegum pop that usually backs the main group in the LL universe.
But…This all plays to the “formula” though, doesn’t it? The rival always starts off way ahead and “our girls” catch up by the end? Granted, it has to be this way since Aqours can’t just start at the top…there would be no room for growth or improvement.
BM: Can’t argue with that, and as expected the results of the Tokyo event sets up the ‘crisis of confidence’ that the girls were always going to have to go through – and about which I frankly cared little.
GBS: I actually don’t mind the plot point all that much, even if it’s utterly predictable. At least it’s a logical progression. I’m not saying it’s great writing or anything. I still think this show overall is mediocre, but at least it’s reaching mediocrity as opposed to wallowing in carbon copy sub-mediocrity at this point. Though the copying is still there. Chika’s crestfallen bit after the 0 mirrors Honoka’s down period after her accident and hiatus.
BM: Meh. It’s partly that mirror to past events that put me off – and there are even visual cues in the episode to highlight the already-obvious comparisons. What this week’s episode did do, though, was give an excuse for the series to delve a little bit more into the 3rd-years’ backstory – something that you’ll recall I was hoping we’d get to.
GBS: Yes. And it also shows us what this show could have been. As I said last week, imagine it had started with the three 3rd-Years, they go to Tokyo and have their complete failure. Two years later, something sparks them to try again and they put together a new, larger group and roll the dice another time.
As it stands, the backstory to Mari, Dia, and Kanan was more dramatic than I had expected: a complete failure in the big city. In comparison, Aqours’ challenge feels so much less dramatic.
BM: The way it’s playing out also means that they’re keeping Mari’s group away from joining Aqours a little bit longer. I still expect we’ll have a group of nine by the end of the season, but at least they’re being written in a way that makes it feel as though turning down the chance to revive their school idol careers was a possibility.
GBS: If it wasn’t already a foregone conclusion…I’d respect the writers if they did not have Mari, Kanan and Dia join at all. They could be beneficent godmothers watching over them and mentoring them, but not actually joining. But…nah, not happening. OP and ED already filmed, songs already recorded.
But today’s scene of Kanan choosing to evade Mari’s hug was just so meaningless, as we know what’s going to happen. No uncertainty involved.
BM: Ah if only the show’s publicity had been handled differently, and the School Idol Festival game was capable of handling teams of less than nine.
GBS: Since I like playing the “they could have” game, here’s yet another thought. They could have started with Chika as they did and then kept Mari, Dia, and Kanan as…The Final Boss! Aqours would have to defeat them in a local Idol Contest in order to represent the school at a Love Live! Drama! Tension! Conflict! But…no. They are stuck on the number 9.
BM: Indeed. And so here we are, with the first episode of this season where the lack of originality was actually beginning to bother me. Sure, sticking Saint Snow on loop a few times made the episode more or less worthwhile, but apart from that there wasn’t the same feeling of fun that the series has had until now – and it was that feeling that made it possible to overlook the show’s flaws.
GBS: Welcome to the club! Though at this point, it’s beginning to hit me less as my expectations have now been lowered so far, I brush it off except when it is glaringly bad. Such as…the poster.
And speaking of Chika, her world-shattering crisis of confidence was wrapped up so very quickly, neatly, and tidily, wasn’t it?
BM: I think that was pretty much in line with what we’ve seen of her personality so far. She’s got the one fixation on following her idol heroes to the Love Live, but apart from that has the attention span of a gnat – so given that, when a setback comes along, however major it may be (and nul points certainly was), it was never going to faze her for long.
GBS: True. No deep introspection required when there isn’t any depth to be plumbed.
BM: So. Weakest episode of the season so far, from where I’m watching, and while it does have some points that can be worked with, that’s for the future and doesn’t help us now.
GBS: I still place the “school is in danger” reveal episode lower, but this one did nothing much to inspire confidence.
So, another week, another weak effort from Love Live! Sunshine!!
Aqours make their debut in Tokyo, but learn that the competition for audience appreciation is harsh at the top level. As they go home to lick their wounds, Aqours seem at the breaking point. Can the girls find the confidence to go on, even with their first taste of how rough a road it is to be a school idol? Of course they can, there are still several episodes this season.
Bryan’s Grade: B-
Greg’s Grade: C+
Streamed By: FUNimation (US), Crunchyroll (UK)
Greg: Apple iMac with 12GB RAM, Mac OS 10.11 El Capitan.
Bryan: Apple MacBook Pro with 4GB RAM, Mac OS 10.11 El Capitan.