Thursday, February 28, 2013

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Love Live! School idol project

Love Live! School idol project

Official Site: Japanese
Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video: Crunchyroll

I spotlighted shows a few times last year that I personally did not like, but that you, the reader, may still find worthwhile. This month's Pick is a bit like those, but rather than the show itself not being good--to the contrary, it's surprisingly so--it, instead, revolves around two subject matters that are not quite dear to my heart: school spirit and idols.

In the much-hyped Love Live! School idol project, a spunky young high-school girl and her two friends are faced with the glum prospect of their school closing down in three years, after they all graduate. Depressed by the thought of it shutting its doors and of future underclassmen being denied the opporitunity of attending there, she decides to capitalize on the hottest craze around in hopes of saving it and boosting its profile and attendance--by organizing a school idol group!

Animation studio Sunrise often has at least two big series that they like to emphasize each year, and this collaboration with music label Lantis (a fellow Bandai Namco subsidary) and Dengeki G's Magazine is one of them. The focus is clear in the production quality alone, which is a bright, high-fidelity affair with clearly a good-sized budget to work with, but what of that fateful thematic combination from earlier?

Personally, I have never been the school spirit-type and while I do not have anything against idols, I don't really care that much about them, either. Watching the girls become passionate and downtrodden over the school they dearly love and listening to the songs that pop up in Love Live! had me wincing at times, but it is those very qualities that also make it so enjoyable to watch. The quality of the show is not limited to its visuals, as much attention and care is placed into the actual songs and singing, as well (it doesn't hurt to have fluid, well-choreographed dancing, either).

The acting, too, is quite good, the characters are easy to like, and the story has been paced well so far and has been an interesting watch. I may not share the same feelings as the characters do, but I can still understand them and root for them, which should be a testament to the show's caliber. If there is one part where the series falters, it is when the CG models sometimes take the place of the 2D characters' dancing or singing numbers. The juxtaposition can look seamless at times, but it is very jarring and cold more often than not, particularly in comparison to the already-smooth 2D animation movements they replace. Fanservice rears its head, too, here and there, but even in small doses, it's ill-fitting in an otherwise family-friendly show.

That aside, Love Live! is a surprisingly good, well-intended series with a lot to like and heart to spare, which is saying a lot from someone like me who doesn't normally go for shows like this. And thankfully, you can view it in HD on Crunchyroll.

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