I enjoyed Nijigasaki High School Idol Club‘s premiere well enough though it was noticeably mellowed, certainly compared to what I’ve seen from past Love Live! series. This episode almost serves to assure viewers that the more energetic tone is still alive and well. Its primary means of doing so is via the formal introduction of Kasumi Nakasu (Mayu Sagara), one of the idol club’s original members who is disgruntled over the club’s disbandment and decides to revive it on her own.
Right from the get go, I can tell that this girl is going to be one of the more colorful characters. She’s extremely determined to keep her idol career going, even going as far as cause a ruckus in campus and appoint herself as the new club president. Additionally, she has a particular fixation on the concept of cuteness and expressing that as a school idol. It all reminds me a little bit of Nico from the original Love Live generation though I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a carbon copy of her.
The first thing Kasumi does to revive the club is distract the student council president to retrieve the idol club’s room sign. That strikes to me as pointless as the sign holds no real importance and it doesn’t secure back the club room (forcing Kasumi to hold meetings out in town). It’s even funnier as you have something more productive happening in parallel where another character, Karin Asaka (Miyu Kubota), takes the student files to investigate Setsuna’s whereabouts. Kasumi later makes actual progress by meeting and recruiting Yu and Ayumu by chance. It’s an inevitable development though I would’ve loved it if Kasumi went out of her way to pamper the two into joining the club. The closest we got is her handing out free food to them.
I’m really liking the chemistry among our current roster of three characters. The contrast between Ayumu and Kasumi is downright hilarious as the latter forces the former to act like her for a video, thereby making her incredibly anxious. Meanwhile, Yu acts more of a middleman now as she’s more outgoing than Ayumu but less eccentric than Kasumi. More importantly, the new dynamic allows for some solid character development. While trying to make Ayumu act cute for the video, Kasumi realizes her assertion of what idols should be might’ve been what caused the club to disband in the first place and worries she’ll drive Ayumu into quitting. This in turn shows some of Yu’s potential as a manager as she lends an ear to Kasumi’s concerns and assures her that her ambition and vision isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Props to the episode as well for devoting some attention to Ayumu. Despite her anxiety, she manages to find her stride by citing her friendship with Yu over how she’d like to project herself to others. It’s a nice follow-up to her resolve in the first episode as well as another demonstration of Yu’s role within the story.
Once again, you’re treated to another insert song and performance, this time by Kasumi. It’s a very peppy song that, combined with the visuals, really accentuate Kasumi’s affinity for cuteness. I’m really enjoying these performances in how they showcase each of the idol’s personality and style. That being said, I’m a bit confused over how stylistic these scenes are. Like, are these flashy graphics and background actually happening or are they really just in the performer’s head? I love stylistic music sequences as much as the next guy (see my Revue Starlight reviews for proof) but they do need to be diegetic in some way and these don’t seem to have a real excuse.
The end of the episode drops a twist of sorts where Karin, along with some other students, confronts the student council president about the files and reveals that the president is actually Setsuna herself. To be honest, I saw this coming a mile away. The physical resemblance between the president and Setsuna is in plain sight. And even if I didn’t notice that, every generation of Love Live! has a character who is the student council president. The original had Eli and Sunshine!! had Dia. It wouldn’t surprise me if Nijigasaki followed sit with this archetype.
I am nevertheless curious about what the president’s deal is. Why the separate alias is currently beyond me and it’s implied that she disbanded the club out of guilt for enforcing her own views onto them. I imagine Yu will play some part in helping her rebound. I also can only what Kasumi’s reaction to the president’s identity will be. That’s got to be funny.
OP: “Nijiiro Passions!” by Nijigasaki School Idol Club
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Watch Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club on Funimation