Love Live! School Idol Project is a cross-media project co-developed by ASCII Media Works’ Dengeki G’s Magazine, music label Lantis, and studio Sunrise. When you think of studio Sunrise you would normally think Gundam, or mecha series in general, but they have ventured into new territory – the Idol genre. Brought to the UK by MVM Entertainment, Love Live! School Idol Project Season 1 takes centre stage.
“The traditional school Otonokizaka High is situated between the three towns of Akihabara, Kanda, and Jimbocho. This school is also in imminent danger of closing. Because of this crisis, the second-year student Honoka Kosaka takes center stage with eight others to do something about it!
“To protect the school we love so much, we have to do all we can… We have to become school idols! By becoming idols and advertising how great our school is to the world, more students will want to apply!”” – MVM Entertainment
In order to save her school from closing down, Honoka Kosaka plans to create a school idol group, inspired by group A-RISE, of UTX High School. While only intended in the beginning as a means to gather prospective students, it quickly becomes a lot more hard work than anyone could imagine; not content with giving up, Honoka eventually assembles eight other members becoming the school idol groups known as “μ’s” (pronounced muse). Despite a very large cast of characters in this series, a couple of episodes in and we’re familiar with all nine members of “μ’s”. Their introductions aren’t rushed or forced and it’s surprising how comfortable it feels that, early into the series, with all these characters to keep track of, you don’t feel too overwhelmed.
Love Live! does appear to have already established a rather large fan base, due in part to the widely popular mobile collectable card rhythm game Love Live! School Idol Festival developed by KLabs and published by Bushiroad; check out our review of the game here! MVM Entertainment did try to get the Weiβ Schwarz card and code for in-game content that both the US and AU releases received but sadly the companies never got back to them. Weiβ Schwarz is a trading card game from Bushiroad that uses numerous anime series that can be pitted against each other in epic battles. Fans of the series known as Love Livers can be quite vocal about their favourite characters, and when each of them are endearing with so much charm shining through, it’s easy to see why.
There is some slight juddering during panning in places, which is likely a symptom of the release being a PAL conversion; this is largely unnoticeable for the most part, however. CGI is used during the concert performances, which feels very strange upon first sight, but you gradually get used to it, it’s also used in combination with normal animation for close-ups
Subtitles are yellow, and, at points throughout the series, can become quite hard to read due to the song translations appearing with the dialogue in the same font and colour. This makes the final episode a real pain to follow as there are songs being played throughout; songs being translated is great, but when its mixed in with the dialogue, having enough time to read it all and deciphering what’s what is a real challenge. Unfortunately, this does impact on the overall enjoyment of the last episode, be ready to mash the pause button if you want to know what’s being said. Hopefully the Blu-ray release next year will make use of the superior subtitling options to alleviate this issue.
As a series centred around the theme of idols, singing and the song selection plays a major role in the success of a series like this. The opening and ending songs have all been performed by the voice actors as their respective characters, which is great to see. The opening “Bokura wa Ima no Naka de” features a concert performance of “μ’s”. The ending in episode one, “Susume→Tomorrow”, is performed by “μ’s”, while the second ending, “Kitto Seishun ga Kikoeru”, sees several versions performed by the group as a whole and individually.
Extras include, as standard, textless opening and closing animations, original TV spots and original trailers; for a collector’s edition, I would have expected a little more in the way of on-disc extras. However, the release does include a 28-page, full-colour, paperback art book with episode guides, character info, and illustrations.
The hope that this DVD-only collector’s edition does well is held by many who wish for a blu-ray release and the possibility of an English dub along with it. Love Live is one of those series that is easy to judge from the outside but it’s not until you watch it that you find out that a great series exists inside. So before you go thinking this kind of show is not for you, give it a go, you may just be surprised.