Love Live! The School Idol Movie

The bits here and here when I mention Love Live on this site isn’t the most flattering. I admit, the reluctance to give the franchise any credit is pretty obvious. Why that is, I’m honestly not sure, but with the feature film Love Live! The School Idol Movie reaching select North American theaters, it felt like slap to come to my senses from Love Livers across the world. Livers and Producers, I have been to the mountain top and I have seen the light. And it was good.

The film starts off immediately after the second season finale. To bring those uninitiated with the series up to speed: plot-wise, Love Live is the anime take on the save-the-home/center/orphanage story you see in all media every so often (the closest to this franchise’s plot being the infamous Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Just replace kids on the streets with Japanese school girls and the rec center with a private school). The nine girl group Muse get so damn good with dancing for the Love Live competition through friendship and hardship — and then friendship again — that they get asked to help ensure the third Love Live competition’s success through exposure, and this is when the movie takes off — off to America, that is.

As an American, it’s always fascinating to see how those from abroad sees “the land of the free,” and yes, the characters say that exact phrase at least two times. During the 70s and 80s, with the rising presence of Japanese companies making their mark in the U.S. before the economic bubble burst, it was typical to see characters from TV shows and film sequels take a trip to Japan for any reason you can think of. Toxic Avenger did, as well as The Bad News Bears. Japan is still a great tourist destination, but the media travel agents seemed to have switched roles these days, and Love Live is the latest film to take a trip to the Big Apple.

The New York trip is the first half of the film, and it gets pretty wacky. For one, a few of the characters get the wrong directions and end up in the ghetto. I had the same reaction as Umi had when I got lost in Skid Row the first time! There was also a scene where Nozomi shows Nico shoes thrown up on telephone wires. What got me was when she told Nico that this was some sort of Halloween dare. I’m from the west coast of the States, so maybe that’s how it is over there, but around these parts it’s usually associated with gang affiliation, or at least a sort of bullying. Too bad we don’t see Nico rise the ranks as a petty crook to the lead mob boss during the second half of the film.

You’re probably wondering by now, “So did Muse save their school or what?” The bulk of the plot aims to touch on that and that’s what the second half of the film focuses on. When Muse gets back, their notoriety goes from rising school idols to an overnight pop sensation. The network broadcast of their concert in New York made it to Japan as well, so their exposure for Love Live went better than expected. They enjoy the sudden explosion of popularity, but they quickly realize this only adds to the conflict. You see, at the end of the second season of the series, after much reflecting as a group, it was decided that Muse would disband when the third years graduate, which they already had, yet, they want to fulfill their commitment for Love Live and they still considered themselves students until the end of that month. They didn’t announce that anyone in the public and now they face overwhelming pressure from fans, their principal and their former rival idol group A-RISE to continue. Muse now has to reconsider disbanding as they originally planned or take on the chances of having a bright and promising future as music idols. You’ll have to see the film for yourself to see how things turn out, but I can tell you, for once, I actually whimpered more than Muse did during towards the end second season!

The animation of the film is consistent with the series. I went back briefly to the first season and then comparing that with the film they’re right on par with each other. It’s usually expected when a series gets the feature film treatment to see the animation get a sprucing up. That isn’t the case here. This was apparent when scenes used CG, and it was quite noticeable. However, the Love Live series was already consistent with the animation quality, so to judge the animation of film on the same scale as the series isn’t a bad thing. To the film’s credit, it’s certainly varied enough, especially in the first half of the film. The girls go through New York throughout different times of the day, and the lighting highlighted the scenes splendidly. You can almost feel the crisp air in the morning in Central Park as the girls begin to exercise. Since the third years just graduated it would still be around March, so I’d imagine New York still being quite chilly and it certainly felt that way while watching.

How was the music? It was alright, I guess. This is probably where Love Livers will slap me again… I’m sorry, but even with the hot mobile game that showcases their music I just didn’t come across one that got my toes tappin’. I did enjoy the last tune of the film SUNNY DAY SONG, but that may be because of something someone I follow on Twitter also noticed…

If I could take the focus off the film and the events that surrounded it a bit, this was the first film screening I’ve been that was niche anime film surrounded by fans. The screening I went to was at the Downtown Independent in Downtown L.A. As I noted on Twitter, it’s right next to a Mexican gay bar. If I didn’t have work in the following morning I would have checked this place out, too.

The theater itself is quite small. It’s only room for one screening (or a game of Smash Bros). That’s okay, though, especially since they sell beer, and quite a good selection, in my opinion!

I also traded a shikishi for one of Rin with a Nico cosplayer. I have to say, as much crap I gave Love Livers (in my conscience, of course), this was a cool experience and I felt their warm openness once I got there. Fans asked for me trades, and while I was in line there was one fan that let people pick a card he printed and cut himself as a random draw, like I guess from the game.

 

It was a nice time out and an apt film to see to close out the hot summer. NIS America was kind enough to bring the film over for screening across the U.S., so if you caught my report in time and can still make it out for the screening, go ahead!

WAR IS OVER.

Also, Nicolas Cage and his son may or may not have seen the Love Live movie. Take that for what it’s worth.