Love Live! is a series that’s very dear to me, and season two had me bawling. Saying goodbye the girls of μ’s (muse) was always going to be difficult, but Aquors showed a lot of promise in their initial reveals, and so I was excited. Sunshine!! doesn’t disappoint, but it does feel incredibly similar to the first season of μ’s journey.
Chika Takami idolises school idols – especially μ’s – and it’s her sole desire to create the next big school idol group with students from Uranohoshi Girls’ Academy. Many major story lines are reminiscent of the first season of Love Live!, such as the school facing closure and the freshly-made idol group helping to keep it in business, and with the girls’ first performance being a dud but word quickly getting around when Aquors pour their heart into their performance.
Sunshine!! would’ve benefited from standing on its own feet sooner.
I’ve enjoyed my time with Sunshine!!, and it begins to feel more like its own show towards the end of the season thanks to its changing narrative and characters working hard to differentiate themselves from how we know μ’s, but it takes a long time before it stops retreading μ’s’ journey. Thankfully, it continues to open up with the second season, but those who begin their Love Live! journey with Sunshine!! will likely prefer it, and vice-versa for those who began it with μ’s. I’m a big fan of both, but Sunshine!! would’ve benefited from standing on its own feet sooner.
The anime is still animated by Sunrise – which is very fitting, eh? – and it remains a beautiful, sunny show. Its cheeriness is infectious and its sights are enviable – watching Aquors visit the beach so often, with its glistening, vast sea, is a serene moment which I relished. The character designs do a good job at not mimicking μ’s, although you can still see many similarities in both their visuals and personalities.
The soundtrack is excellent too, providing new voices and tunes which truly are unique to themselves. I know I’d happily buy Aquors’ works! As with the original series, the English dub is solid but due to the songs being in Japanese, it can be rather jarring – I wouldn’t want the songs to be covered but in not doing so I’d recommend watching it in Japanese first.
When it comes into its own it really shines.
Love Live! Sunshine!! is an entertaining anime, but it lingers in the shadows of its predecessors for a little too long. When it comes into its own it really shines and as an avid fan of the series, I hope for this to perform well enough to bring the second season, and both movies, over – it pains me to not have seen the original Love Live! movie yet! Anime Limited has done a stellar job with this one, and I know I could happily watch it again.
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