From the very start, the finals for the 71st Inter High School Mahjong Team Championship has meant a lot to many characters. As such, everyone has been anticipating the results for a long time. Just look at how long Saki has been serialized. It was back in February 2006. That’s twelve years! And it’s been nine years since Saki received its first anime adaptation.
Sorry this one took so long to come out.
Anime Expo 2018 is off to an explosive start with Aqours’ performance on Day 0.
While this was the third year in a row the nine shining idols were able to perform at Anime Expo (and, more specifically, during Anisong World Matsuri), this year’s performance ushered in new beginnings which have never been seen live before in front of the excited American fanbase.
First and foremost, this night belonged solely to Aqours. In 2016 and 2017, Aqours had to “share” the stage with other Japanese artists during Anisong World Matsuri. But Aqours finally holds the drawing power to justify the group having their own concert.
Bear in mind my memory isn’t perfect and that I may make a few mistakes here or there from this point onwards. I apologize in advance if I spread any misinformation.
The two-hour (roughly) event opened with brief on-screen character introductions in case the audience needed a refresher on the names and the image colors associated with each school idol. After all, this is a concert where it’s basically expected for all audience members to wave penlights and change colours to show support for characters during their speaking and singing roles. So the reminder, while considered to be unnecessary by hardcore fans, was actually important to make sure everyone was approximately on the same page.
Once the girls filed in, they sang and danced to the Love Live! Sunshine!! S2 OP, “Mirai no Bokura wa Shitteru yo.” For those of you who haven’t been to an Aqours live (or seen Japanese artists perform at Anisong World Matsuri, even), these sort of concerts can be overwhelming – in a positive way.
You have these amazing idols dancing on-stage, first of all, but there are also the left and right screens which alternate between showing the group as a whole and doing close-ups for specific members as well as the central screen which either shows the animated MV from the anime or single (for the songs which were given such treatment, at least). There’s a lot to take in. The recorded footage will likely just be what’s being shown on the left and the right screens and will unlikely capture the joyous feeling to be experienced when you see both versions of Aqours jump and dance and sing in-sync.
They then performed the B-side to the previous song, “Kimi no Hitomi o Meguru Bouken.” I’m not as familiar with said song, but there were some juicy yuri moments with Riko x Yoshiko (memory is hazy here, unfortunately, but they do have an extended duet), You x Dia (rare pair spotted!!!), and Hanamaru x Ruby.
Afterwards, the girls introduced themselves to the audience. Each member was able to successfully do the call-and-response with the audience, which certainly wasn’t done in AWM 2017…excluding Riko, however, who showcased her masterful grasp of the English language before she proceeded to forget about her own call-and-response. Thankfully, You noticed and allowed Riko to get hers in since You has always been a team player.
Every member is popular and received plenty of cheers, of course, but I felt the audience’s reception towards Yoshiko, Riko, You, Kanan, and Dia was particularly enthusiastic.
Following that, they performed their very first single (and song), “Kimi no Kokoro wa Kagayaiteru kai?” The song is so important to the group to the point that it basically had to be included as it marks the start of their storied legacy while setting a precedent by being the first Love Live! single to feature a double center!
The girls then left the stage momentarily to change costumes (if I recall correctly, they were wearing the costumes associated with “Kimi no Kokoro wa Kagayaiteru kai?” The audience were then entertained with an animated and voiced short of sorts where the girls are all teleported to the Japanese savanna of Saitama (Yoshiko’s brain went into overdrive and took some leaps to justify this classification of Saitama). Hanamaru lives up to being called King (as requested by her lovely seiyuu) as she became the Lion God who was then worshipped as Zuramaru. It’s as nonsensical and funny as it sounds.
The three members of CYaRon! then took to the stage. You, Chika, and Ruby impressed everyone with their energy as they danced around the stage for “Genki Zenkai DAY! DAY! DAY!,” drank water (an Aqours staple, to be honest), and went wild for “Kaigandoori de Matteru yo” (this one is a bit iffy – might have gotten the song wrong since I was unfortunately unfamiliar with the tune).
Azalea then replaced CYaRon! Hanamaru, Dia, and Kanan were noticeably more graceful and truly resembled refined flowers swinging to and swaying in the wind. The sub-unit sung (and twirled their ribbon wands to) “Torikoriko PLEASE!!,” showcased the pretty fabric and design of their costumes, and then sung “LONELY TUNING.” I loved how the girls acted like DJs by scratching discs (and Hanamaru really got into it during the bridge which made everyone laugh). I did notice that Dia (and to a lesser extent, Kanan) was pointedly looking down and to the right at the small screen near the center of the stage. Hey, idols have got A LOT to memorize. I don’t fault her at all for doing that.
After that, Guilty Kiss came on stage. For their first song, “Strawberry Trapper,” Riko, Mari, and Yoshiko performed with mic stands even though they already have hands-free microphones (still, doesn’t change the fact that it was very cool). The girls then talked about the charm parts of their sub-unit uniforms (Mari had a ribbon at her lower back, Yoshiko had bat wings on her shoes, and Riko had a buttoned ribbon at her neck) and asked the audience if they were kawaii (the answer obviously being yes). Afterwards they performed “Guilty Night, Guilty Kiss.”
Then we watched another animated and voiced short where Riko and Mari walk into You (the mother), Yoshiko (the father), and Dia (the child) as they suffer under how the reception towards their performances are so cold (which was ironic considering how much we loved this live and this short). Mob boss Hanamaru then shows up with her henchwomen, Chika and Kanan, and demands laughs before Yoshiko promises to do her best. The (animated) girls then start chanting “Ganbaruby” over and over, much to the confusion of Riko.
Oncr the short ended, the girls of Aqours then showed up and performed “Taiyō o Oikakero!” and “Yuuki wa doko ni? Kimi no Mune ni!” (the S2 ED) before the girls went on to make a celebratory and farewell speech (as the concert was coming to a close). Mari was nominated to represent USA for something (I’m not in the know, unfortunately; perhaps it has something to do with the title of the live which is quite the mouthful). Aqours then performed “Sunshine Pikkapika Ondo” (with Chika slamming on the festival drums!!!). Edit: the Aqourainbow, in which everyone waves their penlights set to a particular colour according to the row they’re in, which results in a rainbow-like effect, came during the conclusion of the concert which left Chika on the verge of crying tears of happiness, along with Riko, whereas You couldn’t help but beam her usual radiant smile. I’m sure all of the other girls were besides themselves with bliss, too, but the screens focused primarily on the second-years…
The girls walked back and forth on stage several times before leaving and causing us to feel empty.
While I felt like many of us could understand what the girls were saying, the fact remains that not every American fan is fluent in Japanese so some bits and pieces were missed. Be that as it may, there was a translator on-stage at times…who always chose the wrong times to butt in and to stay out. No offense, lady, but we don’t need a translator when Yoshiko is asking if the bat wings on her shoes are kawaii (they are mad cute). But it would have been good if you chimed in while Mari was being chosen to represent USA for something I didn’t fully understand.
I also felt that Dia was a bit underenthused during this live. Maybe she was feeling a bit off tonight. Still, she did great as with everyone else. Ah, Aqours, you’re incredible, inspirational… I’m so glad I learned of you girls. I’m so happy you were given a chance to become top tier idols. What a blessed life and age we live in.
Remy: Have you ever wondered who’s the best girl in Aqours?
Well, the answer is obviously Tsushima Yoshiko. There you have it, free of charge. You’re welcome.
Remy: To be faaaaaair, I understand that many people will disagree. You are definitely entitled to your own opinion, after all! But I managed to come across a fellow Yoshiko fan within the HUGE sea of Watanabe You fanboys and fangirls so now we’re gonna be gushing about our favourite chunnibyou school idol! More specifically, Jenn from anirambles and I, Remy Fool from The Lily Garden, are going to be sharing our thoughts on the magnificence of Yohane.
Have anything you want to say before we start things off, Jenn? By the way, it’s a genuine pleasure to work with you!
Jenn: It’s a genuine pleasure working with YOU, Remy! Honestly, I didn’t even need to meet the rest of the Aquors girls to know Yoshiko was the One. When they first started the character introductions, I Knew. How could she not be the best girl?? LOOK AT HER. LOOK AT HER BUN!
Remy: The bun is definitely a charming point. It’s no exaggeration to say it’s rather delicious…
So you’re saying that Yoshiko left a huge impact on you right from the start, before the series even started? What drew you to her?
Jenn: It’s funny because I’ve never really had a big thing for chunnibyou characters before, but Yoshiko really did it for me. Not that the other girls are boring by any means, but when I read her initial intro about how she believes she is a fallen angel who has angered God, I was like, “oh…oh she’s the best one.” Like, of course my emo ass is going to go all in for the girl that thinks she’s a demon! And then I think Mari left the second biggest impression on me, because when they did the audio introductions she just kept yelling random words in English and I was like, “this is amazing.” What about you, was it best girl at first sight for you, too?
Remy: Wow, it was like love at first sight. You sure you weren’t browsing the character intros while you were chilling at Disneyland? I’m so envious!
Hmmm…I also remember browsing through the character profiles and noticing how delightfully zany Yoshiko was. Unfortunately I admit I was another one of those basic You fanboys at first since sporty, short-haired girls are a blessing bestowed upon us miserable peons to help make life worth living. Even though Yoshiko really stood out, I was admittedly a bit put off by how she was such a huge chunnibyou. With that being said, my favourite girl in Yuuki Yuuna is Inubouzaki Fuu who can also act like a bit of a chunnibyou from time to time so maybe I was just fooling myself…
I had already started falling for her charm right after her impromptu introduction where she fell from a tree, but I think episode 5, where she’s basically the lead role, is what really sealed the deal for me.
Jenn: The scene where she falls out of the tree is so good!! I think I actually screamed when that happened. The range of faces she makes is incredible. Episode 5 definitely kept my love alive for her, though. When she tries to act “normal” and then immediately blows her cover is one of my favorite Yoshiko moments.
It’s also a really good set-up for her relationship with the other first-years – I really love how Hanamaru and Ruby try to “help” her stop being such a dork. But then, it’s fine, because they love their goth dork. Their whole dynamic is really great. Yoshiko saying they’re only friends because they’re in a fallen angel contract is peak Yoshiko content. In general, one of my favorite things about the Love Live! franchise is seeing the way all these very different characters interact, and Yoshiko has such great interactions with the other girls from Aqours.
Remy: Her range of faces is up there with her vocal range! Ah, that moment was great especially considering that Hanamaru just stood to the side and watched Yoshiko sabotage herself.
You’re definitely right there.The way all of these different girls interact with one another leads to a fun watch and a loooot of ships! I’m actually so glad that Yoshiko was changed to be a first-year instead of a second-year since I don’t think Chika or Riko would have been as supportive of her as Hanamaru and Ruby. The way she’s a little dishonest and channels her chuuni self really is amazing!
Jenn: Aw man, now that you mention it, I wish there was more Yoshiko/Dia interaction…that would be so fun.
BUT IT’S FINE BECAUSE YOSHIKO & RIKO ARE SO GOOD!! I honestly wasn’t expecting their friendship (or, y’know, “friend”ship) to develop the way it did. They were the gal pals I never knew I needed to see on-screen. Not to be a sap, but the episode where they keep a dog together is genuinely really heartwarming. And also, wow, what’s more possibly-romantic than sharing a pet??
I really want them to have a duet together a lá Nico & Maki’s “Zurui yo Magnetic Today.” That’d be so good & gay.
Remy: Oh, Yoshiko forced Dia into submission with a grapple hold in S1E9! After watching that scene, I started imagining Yoshiko giving the student council president a denki anma to put the older girl in her place. Oh, don’t look up what a denki anme is if you aren’t already in the know… And I should probably stop entertaining head canon, but we don’t get much on-screen interaction between the two long-haired beauties otherwise like you said earlier…
I personally also like the chemistry between Riko and Yoshiko since we all know that Riko is secretly a dork despite trying to act and look like a graceful city girl. Therefore the two girls acting silly (strikethrough) as a couple (strikethrough) together is a dream come true as well as a dangerously potent combination! The dog episode was soooo good, though! They definitely came to a mutual understanding as they sat in the rain watching their pet live with the rightful thieving owners.
They came so close in the Love Live! Sunshine!! TV Anime Season 2 Blu-ray 3 with Yoshiko singing “in this unstable world” and Riko singing “Pianoforte Monologue,” aaaaahhhh. M-Maybe next time… “Zurui yo Magnetic Today” is a banger, though, real talk.
There are actually people who hate the Riko and Yoshiko dynamic, you know? They say stuff like it’s forced, etc. Pretty interesting perspective, huh?
Jenn: I can’t believe Dia x Yoshiko just became my #1 rare pair. Imagine Yoshiko styling Dia’s hair in her trademark bun…!
That’s so silly, I didn’t realize they had that many haters. I didn’t think it was forced, I mean it’s true I wasn’t expecting it, but once they spent time together their chemistry became so clear~ Like you said, they’re both dorks! It works! And then the way Riko casually teases Yoshiko…it’s true luv. And their moms even hang out! Clearly it’s because they’re supportive of their daughters’ relationship!!
I guess some people are just big Riko x Chika fans, but like…You x Chika, though…as uh, friends of course. Is this controversial?? Do I like controversial ships??? Should I mention that I liked Umi x Eli??? I’m going off the rails here.
Remy: Yesssss. I’m a big fan of rare pairs, to be honest. Dia x Yoshiko is quite juicy (yet super rare…).
Hmm, I think the people who disliked the pair felt that Love Live! Sunshine!! as a whole was pandering too hard to the people’s whims. Apparently even the actual seiyuu for both Yoshiko and Riko, Aika and Rikako, supported the ship! It also totally moves Riko away from the interesting dynamic of the second-years (I swear, the second-years in both μ’s and Aqours have the messiest shipping wars) which had dominated the first season. I can see why others might dislike the Riko x Yoshiko pairing, but I’m still a fan because of how they’re both dorks and the way they tease each other and the fact that their moms support their blooming relationship. Yeah!
I’ve seen so many people give Chika a lot of shit for almost ruining their final performance in season 1 by having the nobodies join in or for seemingly overlooking You for Riko. Chika is basically the scapegoat of Aqours despite the fact that Riko and Yoshiko are often the ones who are humiliated in-story…
I honestly have trouble making up my mind in regards to the second years. All of those pairings are very good. But… I, too, am an accomplice in liking controversial ships and think that Riko x You could be pretty good if Riko x Yoshiko doesn’t work out…
Umi x Eli sounds pretty good, but I like Kotori x Nico the most! Wow, we’re basically gonna crash because we’ve flown completely off the tracks!!
Jenn: KOTORI AND NICO! It seems you are the Rare Pair King…
Okay forcibly segwaying back on track-ish. Yoshiko’s relationships. The first year crew is good, but the top tier Yoshiko first year friendship is Yoshiko & Hanamaru. Hanamaru tries to keep her girl in check, which Ruby does too, but I think Hanamaru has a better handle on Yoshiko’s crazy ways. In one of the magazine spotlights, there’s a cute story of Yoshiko asking Hanamaru for help studying. They have each other’s back, and I love it. But, she also teases poor Yoshiko just as much as Riko does…it’s outta love, though. Deep down, they get each other.
I feel like the two could write some really wild, intense lyrics together. They were both really vibing when Hanamaru wanted to write about nothingness…they’re gonna break off and form their own Electro Goth Dance sub-group one day. Maybe when they get to college or something. Oh, I’ve gone off the rails again…
Um, also, they have a really cute UR pair of them taking care of the campus alpacas! Who else can compete with that??
Remy: We’re both contenders for the title, I can say that much.
Okay, okay, we’ve resumed our regular course! Good going, Jenn!
The very existence of Hanamaru is very threatening to those who like shipping Yoshiko with Riko, to be honest. There are so many official illustrations and promotional art and album covers which seem to show the two girls getting cuddly with each other.
Just take a look at the cover art for the single, “MY 舞☆TONIGHT.”
Then there’s the cover for The Love Live! Sunshine!! Perfect Visual Collection 1. To be fair, Yoshiko is pleasantly squishy according to S2E9, so who could blame Hanamaru for glomping the best chunnibyou school idol?
The two girls even complement each other by being dynamic opposites. Yoshiko is into the occult while Hanamaru was born and raised in a Buddhist temple. Yoshiko streams and is good with technology (remember when she was the one editing the video in S1E6) compared to Hanamaru who gets wowed by touch sensors and laptops. Finally, Yoshiko plays video games (which is not seen in the anime) whereas Hanamaru loves reading books.
It’s this clash of interests that make people interested in this pairing whereas Yoshiko and Riko are surprisingly similar even before Riko started adopting some of Yoshiko’s mannerisms for herself. Riko and Yoshiko are both long haired beauties who are the ones who usually end up being embarrassed or teased within their year group. They also start off as the odd one out among their peers, too. For instance, Riko is initially a city girl outsider while You and Chika are best buds. Meanwhile, Yoshiko, despite being childhood friends with Hanamaru, is also a bit of city girl (since she attended middle school in the nearby city of Numazu) and finds out that Zuramaru is now very attached to Ruby.
Well, that concludes part one of our collab. Head on over to part 2 on Jenn’s blog so you can read part two!!
Lately I haven’t had time for anything at all.
I actually really like bowls.
Aired: Apr 2018 – June 2018
Also known as: Amanchu! 2, あまんちゅ！あどばんす
Summary: The second season of Amanchu! You can find my thoughts on the first season over here.
Review: For some, this second season will just as enjoyable as the first, if not more. For others, this season will prove to be rather disappointing.
This will largely come down to your stance on yuri in Amanchu! See, in most shows which feature a cast that is predominately women, there’s often little moments of intimacy that blurs the line between romance and friendship. Call it shipping material, call it subtext, etc. Amanchu! had plenty of that in the first season as well as in Amanchu! Advance.
Where Amanchu! Advance differs, however, is the unexpected and unheralded arrival of a boy to deny and sink the biggest ship in Amanchu! Furthermore, Teko comes to the conclusion that the boy’s feelings for Pikari is simply different than her own feelings for her best friend, which comes across as the denial of queer romance altogether. Some have said Teko might have been confused at the moment and jumped to conclusions.
I don’t buy it. It was handled rather poorly and it’s enough for some viewers to lose heart and conviction in watching this series to completion.
But say you’re the type who cares little for romance altogether so none of this affects you. It’s still objective to say, then, that this second seasons took a turn for the whimsical and fantastical rather abruptly with dreams. I personally liked the arc, but it did drag on for a bit too long and the tone is just so different compared to that of the first season.
Still, the fact remains that it is a pleasure to see Teko grow so much as a person. To me, that’s what keeps you invested in the series. So many people related to Teko as an anxious wreck, and it’s just so satisfying to see her come such a long way. Sure, she makes some mistakes and missteps
just like Amanchu! Advance itself fumbled how it handled the situation with Kokoro. But, the journey – t’was grand and lovely.
I also really appreciated how some of the supporting cast received some love and attention. Mato-sensei, I’m looking at you.
Aaaaand I suppose it was for the better that some new characters were introduced, too. Some more than others, for sure.
tl;dr – if you like yuri at all then proceed with caution or pretend this season doesn’t exist. Otherwise, be prepared for drastic and unexpected tonal shifts, especially when compared to what was going on in the first season. Seeing Teko’s growth helped balanced the scales nonetheless.
Genre(s): Slice-of-Life, Yuri
Aired: Apr 2018 – June 2018
Also known as: こみっくがーるず
Summary: Crybaby Moeta Kaoruko, or Kaos, moves into a dormitory along with three other high school manga-ka. While the other three are already professionals whereas Kaos is still struggling to
remain become actually serialized, all four girls have their own personal struggles and problems which they attempt to overcome through self-improvement and friendship.