Now that‘s what I call a face reveal!
So Rina has a, for lack of a better term, gimmick where she covers her face with either a drawing or a tablet headset…thing that emotes facial expressions for her. Rina does this because of her shy personality and difficulty in expressing how she truly feels. From what I understand, Rina covering her face with the so-called “Rina-chan Board” is the go-to look she has in Love Live!. In the School Idol Festival All Stars game, you have to unlock a cutscene in order to have Rina reveal her face to you.
With that in mind, it’s kind of funny that the Nijigasaki anime actually starts off with Rina without her drawing or device. In fact, the show very casually has Rina show her face to the “camera” from day one with zero fanfare. It’s only here at the sixth episode does Rina develop her board (hence why I’m bringing it up now). I haven’t looked up the forums though I suspect this change has hardly ben a controversy of any kind. It’s, as I’ve said earlier, kind of funny that the show takes its sweet time introducing Rina’s more iconic appearance.
To be fair, I get the reasoning behind it. For fans in the know, Rina’s face reveal is hardly going to be a surprise and for newcomers, it makes more sense to introduce her without her gimmick and set it up later. I suppose you could’ve had Rina cover her face and make that a point of intrigue though it would’ve been weird sitting on it for this many episodes and even by Love Live‘s standards, it’d be unrealistic for Rina to cover her face in every scene she’s in.
Whatever the case may be, I think the staff did a great job designing an arc that establishes Rina’s gimmick. In the episode, you learn that some people, including three of Rina’s classmates, are anticipating Rina’s idol debut after seeing her PV in which she presents herself with a virtual avatar. Rina then decides to schedule a concert at a recreational center and begins to train vigorously at it in the hopes that the experience will make her a more outgoing person. Despite her efforts however, Rina notices that she still struggles to conjure up even a smile and begins to think her efforts are in vain.
While I imagine Rina will become more expressive by the end of the series, I really like that it doesn’t happen here. That kind of transformation just doesn’t happen overnight, no matter how hard we might like for that to be the case. It’s a harsh reality for Rina but one that she has to come to terms with. At the same time, the show makes sure to validate Rina’s efforts. That she wants to change and tries at it is still a sign of personal growth. Even if it’s not showing externally, it’s clearly happening internally. With that context, there’s a lot of weight to Rina developing and using the Rina-chan Board. It is technically a compromise but it’s one where Rina uses her strengths to overcome her weakness and the result adds a lot of personality and speaks to her individuality.
Needless to say, the other members of the club help Rina recognize her growth, with Ai and Yu leading the charge. Knowing Rina’s personality, you really come to see why she’s so close to Ai. Her friend’s more outgoing personality is a source of inspiration for her. It makes sense that Ai is her first friend; the girl is so outgoing that of course she’d befriend Rina. Meanwhile, I’m still wondering what to make of Yu but one thing that is clear that she tends to say the right thing at the right time. Case in point, telling Rina that it’s okay that there’s things she can’t do and subconsciously acknowledging Rina’s honesty as a sign that she still wants to change. I also really like that Yu is the one who puts the headset onto Rina, effectively illustrating her role as the manager and supporter.
As per usual, the performance scene is solid. Techno pop and the neon aesthetic suit Rina really well and it’s a nice reflection to how she truly wants to project herself. For once, I’m able to buy into the scene’s stylistic choices as you can more or less chalk it all off to Rina’s expertise with technology. Granted, one has to wonder why Rina is in high school and she can produce such quality special effects but whatever, I’ll go with it. There also isn’t an explanation for the candid shots that these performance scenes keep having though one thing I do like is how Rina still appears emotionless and it’s the music that informs you how her actual mood in those moments. It’s a very cute contrast.
Thanks for reading!