Love Live! School Idol Project 2nd Season Review

This is review number two hundred and eighty nine. This anime is part of the Spring 2014 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is the second season of Love Live: School Idol Project. It’s a thirteen episode anime about a group of school girls trying to become popular school idols. I absolutely adore the first season back when I first watched it. I honestly expect a lot of great things from the second season. Will it finally deliver on all the lesbian tension it’s been hinting at? Oh wait, wrong show. Let’s read on. Story

μ’s did it. They managed to save the school from closing and it looks like all is well now. There is only one thing left for the nine girls to do. With the success of the first Love Live, they decided to bring the competition back. It’s now time for the girls of μ’s to reclaim the victory that they weren’t able to achieve last year. With the third years graduating, this might be the only chance μ’s can win it one last time.

Taking the Pants Off I might be in the minority when I say this but I really love the first season of Love Live. It set itself apart from other idol themed anime by simply having a story. It had a direction. It may not be the most original plot but a group of nine students banding together to save a dying school was good enough to make Love Live amazing. It is made even more amazing by the stunning animation sequences that Sunrise delivered. I remember watching AKB0048 and IdolM@ster mere weeks before I watched Love Live. The problem with the first two is that it’s just so pointless that the very subject of idols in anime feels stupid. It all boils down to simply cute girls doing cute things. Since there is no story then what else do you present? It’s simply a K-On lite experience but with half the effort since people watching the show is probably already part of the established fan base the idol anime is presenting. AKB0048 is a massive egomaniacal anime that simply flaunted its success. Ok, I get it. AKB48 is damn popular. Why didn’t they just make a story out of the actual idol group instead of making the idol group’s creator into a malignant god that people worship in the anime? It’s because it didn’t matter what AKB0048 is. It’s just a big arrow pointing to the success of the original idol group. For IdolM@ster, I actually played the PSP game and it was addictive. It had so many mini-games to work hard at and so many choices to choose to keep your insecure idol from hating you. All of it wasn’t in the anime. In the game, most of the girls are actually rivals with each other and the anime decided to gather them all up to create a show about cute girls doing cute things. In the game, the learning curve is steep and those goddamn idol contests are heartbreaking. You got two of the judges giving you a high score on one round and then your rival f*cking perfected the last round plummeting you to the bottom spot. The anime didn’t have that. Simply put, it lacked effort. It was lazy. These idols show never once try to showcase a story of how to be an actual successful idol. They lack heart, passion and honestly, everything intriguing about the story of an idol. Leave the cute girl doing cute things to the lazy 4-komas. This is supposed to be a story of a girl full of dreams working hard to become successful. How come no idol anime has ever tried to present things that is already there? Do fans really want to hear their favorite idols do a hollow voice acting of a one dimensional anime character? That doesn’t sit quite right with me.

Then came Love Live. It’s a story about nine girls banding together to try and become popular idols. Ridiculous, yes, but it presented that rise to success story most idol anime are too lazy to present. I have been looking for such a story and Love Live gave it to me. Naturally, I gave the first season a nine out of ten. I can assure you that my long desire for a good idol anime was satiated by Love Live. It had heart. It had passion. Did you feel nothing when the girls first performed in a dead auditorium? Love Live had all the right elements to be successful. Sure, it was still a cute girl doing cute thing story at its core but at least, it wasn’t pretentious. It didn’t feel lazy. It was a satisfying experience as the audience got a chance to see a true rise to success story from a bunch of girls simply dreaming big. The first season is also easy to pull off since it mostly centered on introducing all the nine girls. They were all apprehensive at joining and it made for an entertaining story. The first season ended with the nine girls joining, their idol group losing at the Love Live competition and a successful performance in a now brightly energetic auditorium. The first season promised a lot of big things. I mostly wanted to see this second season so the rise to success story can continue. I wanted the girls to keep working hard so they can win at Love Live. I want to see the fated face off against muse and that super popular school idol group, Arise. The second season promised a lot of emotionally satisfying moment that the first season wasn’t able to feature. It promised us an underdog story about a bunch of skinny girls hoping to be the best idol group in Japan. Surely the nine out of ten score can easily be achieved again. Love Live promised something grand and damn it, we are sure to get it.

We did not. The second season of Love Live no longer had a story. Now when an idol anime has no story, it devolves. The second season now lacked the heart, the passion and the rise to success story the first season wonderfully presented. It was now a lazy and sickening show about cute f*cking girls doing cute f*cking things. F*ck. This. World. Love Live finally proved to us that it is very much like any idol anime out there. It just doesn’t f*cking care. This really broke my heart. Seriously, I am a huge fan of the first season. It had its flaws but it featured something amazing that no idol anime have. I was with the girls all the way. From their chasing down other girls to join the group to their hopeful dream of saving their school, I enjoyed every bit of the first season. This second season though is so hard to watch. It honestly did not care. The whole saving the school angle is scrapped immediately and the Love Live competition was pathetically handled. Everything good about the first season was eventually dumped out by the second season and just gave us another K-On lite. I would just like to say that I hate K-On. It’s a lazy show and I hope hell has a torture room especially for KyoAni in it. Seeing Love Live turn into K-On is hard to watch. Oh my gawd, it’s Valvrave all over again. Let it be known that TPAB absolutely detest this anime but worry not, as I will still be as f*cking impartial as I will f*cking be because f*ck this show and f*ck life in general. Anyways, this anime is about the nine girls that created muse. The first episode featured a welcoming ceremony for the new students. It’s a clear sign that the school did not close and there is this wonderful moment of success during this ceremony. Things turned south immediately though when the student council president was asked to deliver a speech on stage. Naturally, you’re expecting that hot blond chick to give the address. The girl turns out to be Honoka instead. Yes, for absolutely no reason, Honoka is the student council president. Naturally, I took this with an open mind. Change is a natural thing for an anime like this since a year has passed since the first season. I’m sure the whole student council angle will be utilized nicely by the show. With the announcement of another Love Live school idol project, the stakes are even higher and muse is out for glory. After working their ass off to save the school, one can only wonder what lengths the girl will go to so they can win at Love Live. The first episode set it up pretty smart as well. With the mention of the third years graduating, there is a lot more reason to work even harder now. If the first season featured a lot of intense practices and girls dreaming big, then the second season should naturally double it up. The first episode felt like it was going in the right direction. The show practically writes itself at this point. Focus more on the drama, highlight the rivalry with Arise, feature more moments of heartwarming friendship and build up the Love Live competition as the show progress. The second episode then featured a camping trip, the third featured the girls finding a stage to perform in, the fourth featured a fluff episode with Nico and the fifth featured a fluff story about Rin and her tomboy attitude. Intense practices? There aren’t any. For a bunch of girls seeking ultimate glory, they were pretty passive with their practices. The show would just mention a practice session but that’s it. No one tried to perfect a routine. No one practiced to improve their voice. There were no moments of doubts about their abilities. It was just girls doing cute things and then going to the stage then performing then getting a massive positive crowd reaction afterwards.  The intense rivalry with Arise? It didn’t exist. Sure, the two groups were in the same room but Arise basically just bent over and asked Love Live to screw them. There was no chilling face off on stage and Arise barely felt like a threat. For a bunch of girls who won the last Love Live, they didn’t feel like a bunch of formidable opponents. Arise even gave muse a stage to perform in. What the hell is that about? In the first season, Arise was untouchable. Honoka did nothing but look up to them and convinced herself that Arise is the ultimate school idol group. Arise didn’t even know muse existed until the second season so it just feel like I’ve been cheated of something amazing when the show decided to not feature the awesome rivalry of the two groups. It’s as if the second season is really nothing but a way to give our heroines the trophy. Anything else from point A to point B doesn’t matter. This idea is all the more prevalent when the Love Live completion wasn’t even featured properly. The second season made it even greater by expanding the Love Live competition. It’ll be a national thing now. Arise won last year but only Tokyo idol groups joined the fray. This time, it’s every crevice of Japan joining. Muse is now just this insignificant dot on a sea of school idols trying to make it big. Yet, their victory is still assured. There is no effort given to the competition. Nothing was really featured about the Love Live competition. You’d expect more awesome girls with funny dialects trying to snatch the victory from our main characters. I was honestly expecting an intense showdown in the finals. Since the first season was so fair and grounded, I was hoping the second season would just be more epic in how the competition is handled. Instead, the girls just upload a video. They do a couple of episodes where they braid each other’s hair then they check the results and they won. That’s the intense competition Love Live is about. Basically, just uploading a video will make you popular. See, it’s the same lazy concept as the IdolM@ster anime. A bunch of girls join an idol agency and they just become popular. How? It doesn’t f*cking matter. It’s not like there are any other girls trying to be idols in the anime anyways. That’s like uploading a video on youtube and suddenly becoming the most subscribed page on the site or making a wordpress site then posting a review and expects it to have 300 comments the next day. It’s stupid to think such a thing can happen. That’s how stupid the Love Live competition is in the second season. It was just nothing but the girls doing cute things and waiting for the result in their laptop from time to time. It lacks heart. It lacks passion. Did they seriously make another season just because they wanted to? The whole thing felt forced. Despite the lack of real excitement in the show, there are a few things done right. As much as I hate to admit it, the cute girls doing cute things element of the anime is really well done. It’s like, so f*cking well done, you can eat it like a steak. Since the second season possessed very little story, there are a lot of opportunities for the girls to just do a bunch of activities together and be the best moeblob they can be. Normally a cast of nine characters feel too much but I think everyone was able to present their own kind of charm in the show. It never felt crowded and each girl is cute in her own way. The setup is just like K-on. The girls do something as a group like go camping, visit an amusement park, go to the beach and have a sleepover. While doing such activities, some of the girls will have their own hijinks that’ll either make you go “awww” or just laugh out loud at the comedic situation they are in. There are moments where the girls are sleeping, acting like goofs to think of a new song and even play with an alpaca. It is as dull as it sounds with basically nothing to see but the girls just acting cute. Despite having very little to offer, just seeing the girls act shy or funny is really enough to gather an audience and make this show a success. K-on made a legacy out of it so I can tell you the method is proven gold.  The second season is even more effective in delivering the cuteness because it had another season to introduce the girls. I think the first season really did a good job introducing each girl and their personality. The second season felt more personal and more endearing because the audience had enough time to grow attached to the characters. So even though it feels mundane, seeing the girls act cute is still a wonderful part of the show. I also admittedly smiled ear to ear when Nico started doing her nico-nico salute. It’s because the audience shared a pretty wonderful experience with the girls. It’s something lacking from the second season. I wanted to root for the girls some more but I guess I’d have to settle with Hanayo eating a rice ball as big as her head. I particularly think that the various episodes singling out a character is the best part of the show as well. Since you have grown attached to the characters and have grown accustomed to their quirkiness, the various episodes about a character feel really well done. It has the same cute girls doing cute things mindset but it focuses on one character and a personal problem. Not everyone is featured in their own episode but I think there is enough cuteness to go around despite the spotlight on one character. There are simple episodes about characters going on a diet, a character trying to wear a skirt or even a character trying to get the rest of the girls to write a love song. The whole group is still involved in some way but seeing a character focused is pretty nice to watch as well. Of course, there are also episodes where the girls act as a group. Some of the portion about the Love Live competition is boiled down to the girls doing stupid cute things. There are episodes where they try to come up with a catch phrase, write a new song or even try to be more “impactful”. Their attempts are often funny because the girls just goof around at times and sometimes they’d just be wasting time. It’s all fluff and there’s not a lot of seriousness here. Did K-On ever get serious? It’s just comedy and Azunyan with cat ears, right? IdolM@ster and AKB0048 also had the same approach. A lot of people like it and I do believe it makes an idol anime complete but still, I believe Love Live could’ve done more because even some of the laidback cute fluff moments felt badly forced. The first season balanced the cute fluffy moments with some really good storytelling. The story is satisfied while the girls keep being cute. It’s a shame the second season didn’t have the same balance as well.

Another thing I quite like about the second season is the whole thing about the third years graduating. With them gone, the fate of the idol group is also questioned. This packed a lot of drama that made the experience worthwhile. Again though, it is badly forced as if something done to force emotion out of everybody. It is something nicely justified though nonetheless. The drama moments might be forced but you are able to enjoy and appreciate them thanks to the efforts of the first season. The nine girls that captured your hearts and slowly grew to love are now forced to go their separate ways. As I said before, the way you’ve become accustomed to the characters made it more worthwhile to see them cry for each other. There were a lot of moments during the last few episodes where the girls just put on this fake façade and try to be happy while realizing that they’ll soon be having their goodbyes. Now think about this. If the same bittersweet sad moment was intact but coupled with a more gripping rise to success story of a school idol group, along with all the intense rivalries and the pressures of the Love Live competition, then wouldn’t the whole experience be even more amazing? As much as I love the sad moments, I seriously see untapped potential and I often think it’s due to lazy writing. The show realizes it needed a sad goodbye but didn’t think the Love Live competition is important enough? While the sad scenes are also heart wrenching, I think it could’ve been better. Majority of the episodes were aimless so the anime doesn’t really know how to approach the topic. It’s just blind conversations and a sob fest at the beach. It could’ve been better and I believe a more structured story could’ve provided context to such a powerful topic in the show. Wouldn’t it be cooler if they cried moments after holding the Love Live trophy high in a grand stage with people cheering? It’s annoying how uninspired this f*cking second season is.

The characters are mostly the same. They weren’t really able to change. Without a story, the girls just really did nothing but act cute. Of course, some are more standouts than the rest. It’s interesting though that the large cast was nicely balanced by the anime. Even though some are heavily featured, there are still some moments for the rest because of the colorful character interaction within them. Honoka should’ve honestly been better. With being a student council president and the leader of a school idol group, I was hoping she’d mature and be more responsible. There is room for effort to flesh out her character but the anime didn’t even try. I think it could’ve been awesome if she took on the role of a serious unfazed leader during the Love Live competition while others start doubting themselves. There is potential here, damn it. The other two second years didn’t do much. Umi is still the strict girl looking out for Honoka while Kotori remains the girl that just smiles in the background. Seriously, there was no role for her in the show except to wear cute outfits. The third years were also badly utilized. The show could’ve setup a more personal story between a few of the characters to give more fuel to the goodbye. Honoka and Eli could’ve connected more since one is a student council president while another is a former one. Eli could’ve taught her how to be more responsible and help her grow while Honoka could’ve shared her wide eyed enthusiasm and never ending positivity towards Eli. This could’ve been used to make the dramatic moments stronger. Nozomi is still the chubby girl with the big boobs and seriously, that’s enough. There is enough character there to make her noticeable and also, boobs. Her tarot reading stuff is cute as well but nothing beats boobs so yay, boobs. I’d also like to give total respect as well to the pervert that designed her. “What about Nozomi?” “Make her boobs bigger. Now.” As for Nico, I believe she is perpetually the comedic piece of the group. She’s always the butt of every joke and she’s always ignored when she does her salute. I think Nico stands out wonderfully though. From her red eyes to her loud obnoxious attitude, there are a lot of things to love about Nico and we actually had the first season to easily fall for her. I do believe there aren’t any big changes needed for Nico but it couldn’t hurt to make her more endearing. I love the episode about her and her failed idol group. The show should’ve incorporated that into the story and it’s a shame it didn’t happen. Seeing her handing out fliers despite her hopeless cause makes you want to hug Nico to make her feel better. I love this girl. The first years didn’t do much as well. I forgot if Rin does say “nya” in the first season. All I know is that it is super annoying. I do love her tomboyish appeal but I think the freshmen are the odds one out because they don’t really have any role in the story. Hanayo and Maki didn’t do much as well. It’s a shame Maki wasn’t utilized properly. The whole writing songs angle could’ve been used to make her more meaningful since she is the song writer. Her stubborn tsundere attitude could’ve been utilized more as well. The Love Live competition encouraged a lot of original songs so I think the process of creating one could’ve been more meaningful. The girls would just come out with a new song and it really feels a bit fake that they’ll suddenly win with it. Again, it’s stupid to think such a thing can happen and I feel insulted that they think such a thing can be presented. Hanayo will always be the shy girl with the cute voice. I love this character because she just gives off an aura of cuteness. She doesn’t have any big role and that’s OK. Seeing her eat a rice ball is entertaining enough for me. The side characters are really just talking potted plants for the show. They might as well be sock puppets since they don’t really do anything meaningful. Arise is a huge waste. They were a super successful idol group that could’ve battled muse in the grand stage and it’s really annoying that it didn’t happen. I love Arise’s setup as well. They are a three man group and it could’ve been interesting to see them prove that more girls don’t really equal a better school idol group. I would’ve loved to see Arise be the same untouchable and unreachable goal for Honoka. There is a story there and it’s a shame Sunrise put forth such a lazy script. Arise was like a bored group that simply didn’t care in the second season. They could’ve served as this smack talking perfect group for muse to beat. Gawd, I honestly wanted a showdown between this two teams and I feel a bit cheated that it didn’t happen. There are characters from the first season as well like Honoka’s sister and such but they don’t have any meaningful role in the show. There are also no new characters so this is really a bad and lazy show from Sunrise. I am starting to hate Sunrise. They would put half-baked thoughts in an anime, I would whole heartedly support it then sing praises for an awesome second season. Sunrise would then pull the rug under my feet and watch while people pay money for something they didn’t even give effort in making. They did this twice now. Valvrave is not perfect. In fact, it was a recycled Code Geass anime with vampires. It’s a sick joke but still, the show felt right. The story was compelling and the whole experience was unbelievably awesome. The second season came and it was sh*t. It was day old f*cking horse sh*t they started throwing at people. It was badly rushed, the great things about the first season were dumped out and you slowly watch a good anime slowly die. I experienced the same thing for Love Live. I think this whole exercise was pure money grab. Sunrise simply wanted to make a profit and they don’t care what they produce. While they didn’t have to make another season of both shows to preserve its awesomeness, they decided that one more lazily produced show could turn in more money. It’s a bit disgusting because I don’t see any other studio do it. Production IG don’t release crap on purpose, A-1 Pictures would dare risk putting forth a crappy anime despite the potential loss and KyoAni keeps on catering for its moe zombies. I think Sunrise just realize that they can’t produce anything meaningful anymore so why even bother. All the Gundams and those mecha bullsh*t just doesn’t work for them anymore so screw it, let’s just make more money. I hate Sunrise. Instead of being this brave studio that once put forth Code Geass, Sunrise is this complacent sad studio. The problem is that they don’t have to be. Sunrise is an amazing company as proof of what the first seasons of Valvrave and Love Live can give us. They should dare make a change. Anything that doesn’t change eventually becomes obsolete so it’s really up to them. For me, I’ll now have my defenses up when I watch another Sunrise original because they often don’t know how to keep it consistent. F*ck them and f*ck the idol anime genre. I need a drink.

Sight and Sound lovelive2-1 I’m not really sure who designed the characters. I think the entire thing started out as a manga so I think credit should be given to Arumi Tokita, the illustrator. Then again, this has always been a Sunrise and Lantis co-op and I think the characters were conceptualized long before it became a manga. I’m not sure and I don’t care. All I know is that the characters look absolutely gorgeous. It’s the one thing I truly like in both seasons. The character design is your typical cute girl design with big eyes and a bigger head. The design excels in the detail work though. The eyes are always the first one to capture your attention and then you’ll notice the clean lines of the designs. Then you look more closer in the eyes and notice all the small pretty details. Those details are also prevalent in the hair and the layers of clothing each character has on. Sunrise knows how to make a character look eye candy pretty. The amazing color palette combined by the highly detailed outfits really makes the characters look attractive. Then there is the lips that just slightly curves. I love how petite it looks and how it just completes the design. You can tell a lot of work goes behind in making the characters. There was extra effort to make each outfit match a characters personality. During practice sessions, I love how expressive the clothes are as they capture the vivid personality of the characters. The design is even more impressive during the concerts. They all have identical costumes on yet each one stands out beautifully as if the nine girls really feel alive. The small details, down to the minute ones, are given special attention that a costume looks different for Hanayo and Nico. It’s impressive how much work is done to make the characters look pretty. This, in turn, makes all those stupid cute fluffy moments all the more fun to watch. Animation is pretty good. I was a bit disheartened when most of the music videos look uniform in their movements. I look at the ones in the first season and it was animation masterpiece. The girls often delay movements by seconds, some would wink during a scene and some would be so off the beat that you can easily spot it. There is no uniformity in the sequences. They don’t dance like stiff robots because the animation is so amazingly detailed that they really feel like a bunch of ordinary school idols just dancing and having fun. This was not in the second season. The uniformity is easily spotted and the flashy style of the first season just wasn’t here. As I said before, this season felt lazy and you can tell by the lack of effort in the dance sequences. Those routines are often the ones I really admire about the first season and it’s a shame that it wasn’t in the second season. The animation is still pretty good though. The facial expressions are outstanding. Every blush, surprise, angry and sad expression was amazingly presented by the animation. Again, this made each fluff moment look amazing and captivating to watch. There’s no way Sunrise can deliver bad animation but you can tell that the quality dipped below the first season’s standard. The cute girls doing cute things portion of the show was also given justice by the animation. The simple act of a girl holding a rice ball between her hands is so infectious to watch that I often hate myself for liking it. The anime’s OP is “Sore wa Bokutachi no Kiseki” by μ’s. This is as impressive as the one in the first season. It features a performance of the girls in their cute costume and all the stunning animation. The dance scene is as captivating as ever. The song itself is pretty great. It’s about taking a chance and following your dream. It screams positivity and I absolutely love it. The girls harmonize well and it has a catchy chorus. I admittedly love the music of muse even if it sounds a bit generic. As I said, the OP sequence is awesome. Aside from the girls dancing, it also features some cute shots of the girls simply acting cute. Of course, there is no story and that’s even clear in the OP sequence.

The anime’s ED is “Donna Toki mo Zutto” by μ’s. Most episodes are sung by one member though and I think it’s on episode where they’re focused heavily. It’s a pretty cute song. It’s about friendship and never giving up. I love how positive the song is. It also has a really cute chorus. The ED sequence features all the characters singing on the rooftop. It’s like the first seasons with Rin holding maracas and all. This one is even cuter though. It does end with that particular scene of the muse symbols written on the roof.

Overall Score

5/10 “Lackluster and dry. Certainly not something an idol themed show should be.”

I gave the first season a nine. It’s really heart breaking how things turned out the way it did. It certainly could’ve been better. The second season is really just a forced and lazy continuation of the awesome school idol project. If you like cute girls doing cute things then you’ll love this anime. If you saw the first season then you might want to check this one out if you want. If you like high quality anime about cute girls dancing then you’ll like this show as well. As an idol anime, it lacked heart though and passion the first season possessed. There is something to enjoy in the show but it’s certainly not the best this series can give us. I honestly believe we deserve something more epic than this complacent second season of an idol anime.

Thoughts~

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