What They Say:
Uranohoshi Girl’s High School, a private school in the seaside neighbourhood of Uchiura at Numazu city, Shizuoka prefecture. A small high school in a corner of Sugura Bay, it is home to nine teens, led by second-year student Chika Takami, driven by one seriously big dream: To become the next generation of bright, sparkling “school idols”! As long as we don’t give up, any dream can come true… All we have to do now is keep pushing hard for glory! Now their “School Idol Project” begins to make their dreams come true!
Contains episodes 1 to 13 on DVD with both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles.
The sound quality has options of 5.1 English Dolby Surround and the Japanese a 2.0 Stereo option. There were no complications of the audio throughout the release and the 5.1 option definitely comes through well with no need to adjust default settings on the audio system I was using. There were no problems with the video synching in with subtitles so definitely acceptable as a DVD release.
Similar with the audio, the video is set in 16:9 – 1.78:1 aspect ratio via NTSC transfer to PAL format – with DVD releases nowadays the effect definitely seems more grainier compared to HD and with me doing a ton of Blu-Ray reviews recently this is a good way to remind you how the times have changed. That said, the animation was good overall, despite the classic Love Live trick of switching into CGI during the dance movements which can be VERY noticeable, the show is unsurprisingly very colourful and the movement and energy is throughout just like the first series.
There was no packing for this test release.
The menu is very basic – both discs have the same motif, a postcard with some of the girls on it (disc 1 has Chika, You, Ruby, Hanamaru and Riko, disc 2 has Yohane, Mari, Kanan and Dia) on a flowery white background with the selections of Play All, Episodes, Set Up and on disc 2 Trailers. Selectable, no problems returning to the main menu but very basic.
The only extras per say are trailers on disc 2 (not even clean op/ending songs) for Fruits Basket, Shonen Hollywood, Starmyu and Handa-kun.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The original Love Live is a SERIOUS guilty pleasure for me. Not exactly ground breaking, not really that thought processing and as basically a moe girls style show, it wouldn’t usually be my cup of tea. However, thanks to some incredibly well rounded characters (Maki being best girl for the record – FIGHT ME ON THIS ONE!), some great songs and an surprising ending which set up for a movie, it really was quite pleasant, fun, emotional and one of those gateway turn your brain off and enjoy anime. It won’t ever crack my top 20 but it is one of those I like to return to when I want to smile. So the sequel is going to take place at some time in the future and I had decent hopes that it would be something similar, but hopefully different enough to make it its own thing.
Well, they got the similar part – the different part…that remains to be seen.
It starts off with a new school named Uranoshi Girls’ Academy, and our main girl is Chika, who has been inspired by μ’s to make her own School Idol Club – she dragged along her best friend You but finds resistance from the school president Dia…
…wait, are we sure this isn’t Honoka, Kotori and Eli…
Nope, they’re new characters…let’s carry on…
Ah, here’s the new stuff. Chika later betrays a new girl named Riko, who turns out to transfer into their school (even from the school μ’s came from Otonokizaka) and is also a songwriter. So of course Chika wants to recruit her – however Dia’s resistance is strong…even though it is clear she is quite the μ’s fangirl herself…
It is clear that other girls will be added as we see quite a few of them – the 1st year cute duo of Hanamaru and Ruby (a.k.a. token girl lead wants to cuddle) almost look set to as quite clear shy Ruby wants to join (coughsHANAYOcoughs) but she is in fact Dia’s little sister and may know why Dia is quite resistant to make a group. They eventually convince Riko to join and decide to perform a concert at the school but on the grounds via their new director…a 3rd year named Mari whose father owns the school (and clearly has some foreign energy in her – IT’S JOKE) …says they need to fill the school up. Thanks to some of Chika’s family spreading the news and totally not-Eli in Dia also helping them out indirectly, they succeed…
O.K, so you can see I’m being a tad critical with the fact it does feel like a carbon repeat of Love Live. It actually gets worse because they even lampshade this – it turns out the school could get closed unless they get a certain amount of students to apply for the school for the next year. So with eventually Hanamaru and Ruby joining, they need to find new members.
So obviously Dia is going to be one as is Mari, so who else? Well, we got snippets of one girl – a friend of Chika’s but also of Mari and Dia’s named Kanan, who is the sporty girl of the group but she gets very little notice until a bit later – the other girl is easily my favourite – she is kind of the groups Nico but to a much less annoying degree – Yoshiko is a girl who puts on a persona like Nico, but instead of all cutesy, it’s dark, mysterious fallen angel Yohane. She is the group’s comic relief but at the same time is easily the most memorable character of the group…which sadly is the first main problem of the show – the characters in general are nowhere near as memorable. Yohane is the only one I could easily remember – Mari maybe but more to an annoying degree and it does feel like for the first half of the series it is a Xerox machine for μ’s, but they had far more engaging characters.
Things start to take a slight change around episode 7 when the group, now named Aquors after somebody mysteriously left them that name on a beach, they travel to Tokyo for an event, do some sightseeing (including where μ’s used to train) and even make some friends in two girls named Sarah and Leah….before later seeing them as rivals which perform as a group named St. Snow. And when they see them, they realize they are out of their league at the moment. To add further woe, unlike μ’s, they don’t get instant success as they finish last with no votes as they realize they were just copying μ’s. It is here where the show does become its own thing and becomes a lot better as we learn about Dia being part of a group alongside Mari and Kanan, and they were over awed by groups as well, and it left some scars between Kanan and Mari who were best friends. It turns out, Kanan withdrew because Mari had been injured and didn’t want to worsen it and look out for Mari – which leads to the two making up. With this, the group is now complete as Dia also joins…
There is a bit of fun with the beach episode (the cooking is very erm…unique) with Riko having to choose between going to a recital with her piano playing or going to perform with the girls – Chika makes her go to the recital (leading to a moment that you could easily interpret as a love confession – even more so when you consider how much the original series had a girls love vibe, Sunshine continues this tradition) and again, the show differs a bit as we see some jealousy of You who up until now has been the generic Miss Perfect girl, almost similar to Kotori as a yes girl to Chika, but here she grows worried that her friendship isn’t as strong now – thanks to a phone call from Riko and Chika visiting, this quickly ends (insert love triangle joke here) as Aqours start to become more popular…yet still no more applicants for the school.
Sadly, the end does drop a little as it returns to the ‘we need to follow μ’s’ angle and whilst they re-meet Saint Snow, but it does eventually reinforce that they need to stop following μ’s shadow and do their own thing, which hopefully sets up the second half for something better.
I say this, because there is definite potential now that they seem to be shaking off the copying μ’s storyline. As mentioned, the original Love Live whilst cheesy and going for the moe style show, won fans over by some excellent songs and some very well loved and defined characters – for me, along with Maki, we had Eli, Nozomi, Umi, Rin and Nico all go through some fun characterization and development (I was a bit meh on Honoka, Hanayo and Kotori, Nico could be annoying but was also quite fun) making a well remembered cast.
This one? It basically is trying to be μ’s 2.0, but the problem is that the personalities are either carbon copies of them, or they are simply not interesting enough. With the exception of Yohane and occasionally Hanamaru (her country bumpkin schtick is a bit funny I will admit), the character up until the latter half of the series are very forgettable – very generic and whilst the odd cute moment happens, most of it is pretty much a copy and paste routine of Season 1 right up to the whole school closing down. The songs are still fun, the girls are still cute and the animation is still pretty (though like Season 1 it still has the weird CGI when they do the dances), but the fact it is so similar up to a point, it feels it was going two steps back (even the rivals admit they looked up to A-RISE like Aquors did to μ’s)
That said though, it does seem like there is a few steps forward – by the end of the series it looks like it is going to track back, but it sets up that the group is going to be a new beast for the sequel. The 3rd years reuniting as well with their back-story was quite unique – I really wish Kanan was in it more as she is shaping to be the groups Umi but with an even more athletic background the girls are going to be in for hell – Mari also is improving after being quite annoying to the fact you see how she was injured in their previous group and how her friendship with Kanan fell apart. Dia also you notice early is clearly a μ’s fangirl and this adds to the history of her being an idol (Ruby, whilst being the moe blob of the series, does give some insight which suggests that she could develop well too) – add to that a few running gags which did genuinely make me laugh (mainly Kohane’s fallen angel route and Hanamaru’s verbal tics), I do get the feeling it will break through from μ’s touch and be its own thing, so I’m willing to give the second half a chance.
Just hope the Xerox machine is turned off for the 2nd half…
Love Live Sunshine suffers from two things – 1) being the sequel to a very popular series and 2) trying to copy said series but without the charm of the original cast. With a few expectations, the cast seems very bland and not helped by recycling the previous plot right to a tee. However, there are hints it could break out – helped by some rivals who aren’t exactly friendly but not exactly enemies, the 3rd year’s history and now wanting to not be like μ’s, the show may definitely pick up. It still has some things the 1st season has which are great, the songs, animation and the odd fun character (Yohane can be my fallen angel anytime), it’s not exactly Maki and Nico bickering, but there is potential out there. Not there yet, but hopefully getting there.
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: June 18th, 2018
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.