Thanks to Setsuna’s surprise performance in the last episode (who the hell was playing the instrumentals for her?), the Nijigasaki High School Idol Club gets two more members: Ai Miyashita (Natsumi Murakami) and Rina Tennoji (Chiemi Tanaka). That sure was quick. At this point, the only holdout left is Karin (hardly a spoiler) and even then, she more or less acts as a member as she helps the club at one point. It’d be really funny if Karin’s recruitment is done very casually in one scene or it happens offscreen. Like, don’t even dedicate a whole episode.
With the gang almost entirely together, this episode largely involves them training and practicing together and growing closer as a result. I’ll admit, it’s hard for me to be charmed here as the characters we’re still getting to know remained sidelined. The moments that stuck out the most for me are from characters who’ve had their time to shine before. Kasumi remains amusing as ever (of course she’d steal Setsuna’s glasses) and Setsuna meanwhile has a really cute moment when she fangirls over an anime she and Rina are both watching.
There’s an interesting dichotomy going on in the episode as we have the characters bond as a group while at the same time, they’re also coming to the decision to perform as individual idols instead of a whole group like before (and like μ’s and Aqours for that matter). At first, it starts off as an undercurrent but once it’s directly brought up, it becomes the main focus of the episode. Naturally, everyone can’t help but feel anxious as not only does this entail them competing against each other, it’s also a new and uncertain thing for both old and new members to do.
Curiously, the resolution is framed around Ai. Part of me would’ve preferred for the episode to revolve around one of the veteran members though I get the desire to hand the spotlight over to one of the newest members. To be fair, it does befit Ai’s character. Ai is evidently someone who goes by the flow, so it’s interesting for her to share some of the unease with the others. At the same time, the uncertainty actually goes hand in hand for her as being a school idol is already a new thing to her anyway. Her being one of the first people to be on board with the solo gig makes sense.
I’m really liking the individuality expressed in these performance scenes. Ayumu’s was modest. Kasumi’s was peppy and cutesy. Setsuna’s felt bombastic and rebellious. Here, Ai’s performance is energetic and fast-paced, befitting her desire to just have fun. That said, and I know I must sound like a broken record at this point, I’m still perplexed at how stylistic these performances are. I can’t help but think at the back of my mind what Ai’s audience is actually watching versus the music video presented and how awkwardly this performance would technically and realistically be. I’m sorry but I really do need an excuse here. Like, Lapis Re:LiGHTs chalked the stylistic stuff off as magic and Revue Starlight is a straight up musical so that checks out. Nijigasaki just needs something, anything and I’d be okay with that.
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Watch Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club on Funimation