I love watching anime boys screaming as they launch their named attacks against an enemy who may or may not be in their final form as much as anyone who started watching anime in the ’90s, but sometimes I want something a little bit different. Sometimes I need a show like Love Live!, a show about cute girls doing cute stuff without world-ending stakes.
Those statements might seem at odds with each other but if you’re passing over iconic idol anime Love Live! just because of its subject matter, then you’re missing out on one of the most fun anime you could ask for.
Why I’m not sorry for loving Love Live!
Starting in 2013 with Love Live! School Idol Project, the Love Live! franchise is one of my favourite examples of the how anime can take a single thing and make it the centre of that world. Some shows focus on sports or fighting or motorcycle racing, but whatever it is, it becomes all-encompassing, even to the adults in the world who should have other stuff going on. It is an exaggeration of the drama present in everyday activities and it is always both amusing and refreshing to see the world reduced down to something so simple.
Love Live! is a show about music and the adorable schoolgirls who make it. It takes place in a universe where idol group school clubs are both a thing and incredibly serious business. Serious enough where there is a whole ranking system and a tournament to determine who is the best idol group school club in the Tokyo area.
In the Love Live! world, a bunch of girls dressing up and singing songs together as part of an after-school club have the power to literally save a school from shutting down. The first anime in the series follows the girls of μ’s (pronounced “muse”) as they seek to grow together as friends while also entering Love Live!, a competition of similar school idol groups from around the city. Victory would mean prestige and fame both for the girls and for the school, leading to a reverse of the declining admissions that threaten its future.
Despite being about a music group, the music in Love Live! isn’t always the centre of the action. The characters and their growth are the focus and the emphasis is on the hard work that goes in behind the scenes to make performances seem easy. In fact, the training and bonding sequences are the things that make Love Live such a fun, sweet show to take in. Watching someone working hard toward a dream, even if it feels over the top and silly to an adult, is just good to watch.
Considering there are nine members of μ’s, there is always at least one girl that will connect with viewers. I’m sure there are entire discussion boards out there dedicated to arguing about who is the best girl in the group (Maki – Ed.), but I would argue that they miss the point of the show and the entire franchise as a whole. (Still Maki – Ed.) It’s more important to simply enjoy the journey these girls go on and see them growing as a group and as individuals.
The world can be a dark, scary place at times, but that is one of the reasons I keep coming back to Love Live! It is a show that is such a beacon of positivity and joy, where the highest stakes are getting costumes done on time for a big performance. When we are beset by negativity at all angles, sometimes it is nice to just disappear into a cuter, more fun world for a few hours.
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