I originally started covering Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club when it aired in Fall 2020 but I ended up putting it on hold. At long last, I’m finally getting around to finishing the show’s first season (I’ll worry about Season 2 and Superstar!! later). The first six episode reviews will be the same ones, just re-dated and re-edited. After that, it’ll be entirely new writings. Also, not that this show is heavy on spoilers but since I still haven’t finished watching the season, this series of episode reviews still going to be a blind run.
My familiarity with Love Live! lies largely with the School Idol Festival mobile game (which is sadly closing it serves next month). Gacha elements aside, it’s a pretty solid rhythm game with a really earwormy soundtrack. I actually haven’t finished the first two anime series. I got far into the first season of the original and I’ve seen bits and pieces of Sunshine!! but that’s about it. Jumping into Nijigasaki might be weird but it is a self-contained story so I feel comfortable enough to watch it.
At first glance and, with cursory knowledge, Nijigasaki appears to shake things up from the first two series. For starters, it doesn’t seem to be about a bunch of idols saving their school from shutting down. In fact, Nijigasaki High School looks super well-off (seriously, look at that campus!). Also, the characters will apparently be competing against each other as opposed to performing as a team like it was the case with μ’s and Aqours. You definitely see inklings of these aspects here in this premiere as the story begins with a popular school idol, Setsuna Yuki (Tomori Kusunoki), seemingly vanishing from public eye, leaving her idol club disbanded and her four clubmates unsure of what to do from here on out.
Curiously, the anime provides a tenth character to the original roster of nine, named Yu Takasaki (Hinaki Yano). Apparently, she serves as the anime’s equivalent to the unnamed player character of the second mobile game, School Idol Festival All-Stars. It’s a little strange. The past two Love Live! series didn’t bother creating an insert character in the same vein nor did they need to. I suppose Yu’s creation is necessary as the game had the player act as the childhood friend to one of the pre-existing characters, Ayumi Uehara (Aguri Ounishi). It probably would be weirder if the story begins with Ayumi all by her lonesome and it would take more effort rewriting her as friends with someone else.
I worry Yu might be too much of a blank slate but so far, the show is doing a good job making her part of the story. She’s motivated and compassionate while also having a bit of a goofy side to her. More importantly, she seems to be an impetus to the story as she’s the one who searches for Nijigasaki’s idol club and inadvertently motivates Ayumu to pursue becoming a school idol. I also like the chemistry between Yu and Ayumu; you really buy these two as longtime friends and the former contrasts nicely with the latter’s more timid personality.
Aside from the story, I’m of course very curious about the music. Love Live! has one of the better soundtracks out there as far as these CGDCT multimedia franchises are concerned. Being that this is the third series, perhaps there’s little to worry and the premiere does throw in two performances to alleviate any doubt, one by Setsuna and another by Ayumu. That there are two seems like a deliberate choice as you get a glimpse at the more individualized performances Nijigasaki will flaunt. Setsuna’s performance is more a booming rock song while Ayumu delivers a more traditionally pop number. Both are pretty catchy and they’re pretty well-animated to boot (CGI in Love Live! sure has come a long way).
ED: “Neo Sky, Neo Map!” by Nijigasaki School Idol Club
This post was originally published on October 8, 2020
Watch Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club on Crunchyroll and Funimation
5 thoughts on “Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club – Ep. 1”
Yu is the player character MC of SIF All-Stars, the second mobile game that launched last year. Unlike the original SIF, where your character was nothing but a silent observer, Yu is a full member of Niji’s idol club, with her own dialogue and personality and role to play in the story. Now how much they use her and in what way, we’ll see; the anime isn’t following the same storyline as in All-Stars, so a lot of things could end up changing.
Anyway, I liked this episode. My only criticism was that I would’ve liked more energy in it – it felt too laid-back for Love Live – but I’m optimistic that’ll pick up once the girls with more personality than Ayumu start getting more screentime. I enjoyed both performances, though, especially Setsuna’s.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I mean from my understanding, Yu fulfills the same function as the MC (which does seem more involved than the one in the original game) but her design, voice actor, and name was created for the anime so for all intents and purposes, she’s a new character to me. That was the point I was trying to make. Her being from All-Stars is on me though so I corrected that in the post.
Having neither finished the original nor Sunshine, it’s not exactly my place to say but now that you mention it, I do recall those shows being more energetic. I guess I barely noticed the more relaxed tone here as that’s common in CGDCT shows.
LikeLiked by 1 person
You’re right that the anime had to create her design, voice, and name. But she’s still a full member of the idol club with an established personality and backstory in the game for the anime to develop her character around; they aren’t making her up out of whole cloth like they’d have to do with a player character in a hypothetical SIF anime. That’s the only difference. But yeah, naturally she’ll be new to anyone who hasn’t played All-Stars, even if you’re already familiar with the Niji girls from SIF. I actually only picked up All-Stars myself about a month ago when I saw the announcement of the anime’s premiere date; before that it had been almost three years since I quit playing SIF.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yeah, I guess I was referring to the Niji canon in general. A more established player character compared to the one in SIF is new and Yu being a more fleshed out version of that proves my point even more.
I mean, I didn’t really deny the backstory. In fact, I figured that’s one of the reasons Yu was created for the show. I’ll take your word on personality though part of me is expecting Yu to act a little differently and distinctly from the player character she’s derived from. That tends to happen when anime has to characterize a silent protagonist.
Wow, I didn’t realize All-Stars is available worldwide. Might try that at some point though maybe not until I upgrade my phone (mine is pretty old and lousy at this point).
I think WW opened sometime in Feb/Mar, so it’s still pretty new.
Ha ha, true. I just replaced my old phone in August, the one I used to play SIF on; the battery was so worn out I could barely keep an app open for five minutes before it shut down. If you still have your old SIF account be sure to link it to SIFID before you get your new phone even if you aren’t playing anymore. You can get bonus mats and scouting tickets and stuff for your All-Stars account based on your progress in SIF, if you link both to the same ID. And trust me, you’ll want them.