Genres: Slice-of-Life, Comedy, Drama, Musical
Aired: Oct 2017 – Dec 2017
Also known as: Love Live! Sunshine!! Season 2, ラブライブ！サンシャイン!! 第2期
Summary: School idols attempt to shine: season 2! (The review for season one can be found here).
I love this franchise so much that I think I can’t properly provide a unbiased review. At the very least, I would have long, sweeping paragraphs praising the show and maybe one or two sentences where I mention some minor dissent.
That’s why The Lily Garden, for the very first time ever, will opt for a pros vs cons list so each entry has something approach equal weight distrubtion. Call it a cop-out, if you’d like. This certainly isn’t my best writing, I’ll admit. Alas, I feel like I have to share my thoughts.
SPOILERS BE UP AHEAD, MATEY! YOUSORO!
(+) PRO: Aqours successfully differentiated themselves from μ’s (+)
This is important since too many people were hung up on superficial similarities between the two school idol groups. Said people also missed the point of the first season when the girls realize they couldn’t just imitate μ’s (S1E12), however.
This series could be seen as a more pragmatic take on the genre compared to the original Love Love! series, actually, considering how Aqours couldn’t save Uranohoshi unlike how μ’s saved Otonokizaka within the very first season. But Aqours proceeded to try their best despite failing (which is good since that meant we received more lovely idol performances).
(-) CON: The presentation of Aqours’ performances (-)
Ah, that wording was a bit misleading. Well, some viewers were disgruntled with how their performances would often just jump to them to already being on-stage, which makes the ensuing song and dance come across as being a commercial for the upcoming single. While admittedly true, that’s how it has always been for Love Live! and anime as a whole basically serves as commercials for various other products.
So while I can see why commercialization can turn off some viewers, especially viewers who are more used to seeing idols get nervous or sentimental right before the performance (like during S1E6 or S1E13), it’s just how things are. We also got to see the girls waver before performing (S2E3) and rush off in an attempt to perform in time (S2E3 again), so there was a few instances where we were given some sort of transition.
Be that as it may, the performances themselves were great. Plus we received more of them compared to the first season (two in S2E3, one in S2E6, one in S2E9, one in S2E12, and then two in S2E13).
(+) PRO: Characterization was granted to several underdeveloped characters (+)
I’m talking about S2E4 (which is a Dia episode), S2E5 (which is a Yoshiko/Riko episode), and S2E8-9 (which are Ruby episodes, basically, but also Leah episodes). Ruby and Yoshiko had their time to shine in season one, but more focus on these characters were certainly appreciated. Dia was down there with Kanan in terms of being underdeveloped after what happened in season one, but it was really cute to see another side to the prickly student council president.
(-) CON: Characterization was not granted to other underdeveloped characters (-)
You fans and Hanamaru fans, I feel your pain.
You has to play a secondary, supporting role despite her innate talent and humongous fanbase. The fact that her focus episode was back in episode 1 (S2E11) and said episode makes her seem to have the emotional maturity of a child, since her entire personality seems to resolve around making Chika look at her, sucks.
Meanwhile, Hanamaru has been demoted into a machine that says zura too much. What happened to when she originally was hesitant to join Aqours since she felt like she couldn’t be a school idol? Well, she’s comfortable with singing and dancing on-stage by now but she’s just a running gag in season 2. Her best friend, Ruby, gets some love but she doesn’t? Unfortunate.
(+) PRO: The ending was drawn out (+)
This means most, if not all, the bases were covered. The girls pondered on the third years’ future, what it means to be a school idol, the fate of their school, etc.
And after spending the latter half just building up to a grand, bittersweet finale, the series concludes on an emotional note that’ll leave Aqours fans in tears. We get closure. We also get an open-ended ending so there’s room for that upcoming movie that is way too far in the future for us filthy gaijin.
(-) CON: The ending was drawn out (-)
This also meant that not much happened in some episodes and each week’s events could be summarized within a few sentences. I personally thought it was fine since the ending was pretty thorough, but I can see why people would dislike it. S2E12, admittedly, seemed a bit recursive since the girls were saying what we knew all along, but I digress.
(+) PRO: The series finally resolved what it means to shine (+)
It’s easy to forget since the second season focuses so heavily on the third years’ graduation and the fate of Uranohoshi, but Love Live! Sunshine!! was originally more about Chika wanting to shine (along with her friends). The final performance readdresses this theme and thus closes the book, and the series, on a high note.
Learn more about this by watching this video.
Not perfect by any means, but I found Love Live! Sunshine!! 2nd Season to be both entertaining and charming. It goes without saying that you’d want to finish the first season before deciding if you want to tackle this one. But how can you say no to radiant school idols?