Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club – Ep. 4

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). These two have appeared before in previous episodes so it was inevitable that they’d eventually join the club. The only holdout left in Season 1 is Karin (hardly a spoiler) though she more or less acts as a member as she helps the club at one point in this episode.

With the gang almost entirely together, this episode largely involves them training and practicing together. The club is a little split on what they should work on so they split into groups, with Ai and Rina attending all of them for fun. I’ll admit that it’s hard for me to be charmed here as we’re still getting to know everyone. Having gotten a little bit further in Season 1, these moments do resonate more on a rewatch but that’s the benefit with hindsight. Putting that aside, the moments that stand out the most for me are from characters who’ve had their time to shine before. Kasumi remains as 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 terms with 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. If a newbie is on board with the solo idol approach then the veteran members will accept the idea more. To add onto that, this plot also befits Ai’s character. She 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, Ai can accept being a solo idol so long as it’s fun and that she’s having fun with the others along the way. Her being one of the first people to be on board with being a solo idol makes sense.

I’m really liking the individuality expressed in these performance scenes. Ayumu’s was modest and humble. 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. Just give me something, anything, and I’d be okay with that.

This post was originally published on October 30, 2020

Watch Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club on CrunchyrollFunimation, and VRV (via Crunchyroll)

Read my Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club reviews

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