Now that’s what I call a face reveal!
Rina is the star of this episode. Something you may have noticed in the OP and ED is that Rina covers her face with either a drawing or a tablet headset…thing that emotes facial expressions for her. This is, for lack of a better term, Rina’s gimmick. Rina does this because she’s shy and she has difficulty 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 progress far enough in order to have Rina reveal her face to you. Obviously, that hasn’t been the case here in the anime. Rina starts off without her drawing or device and she’s casually shown her face to the “camera” since Episode 1. It’s only here at the sixth episode does Rina develop her board (hence why I’m bringing it up now).
While it’s a little amusing that the show has taken its sweet time introducing Rina’s more iconic look, I do 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 that 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 it’d be unrealistic for Rina to cover her face in every scene she’s in.
For what it’s worth, 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 that she’s been trying to befriend, 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 for it in the hopes that it’ll change her for the better. While the training certainly makes her a better idol, Rina notices that she still can’t express herself and she begins to think that her efforts are in vain. This plot is of course resolved with the creation of the Rina-chan Board, the gimmick being framed as Rina using her strengths to overcome her weakness as well add a lot of personality and individuality to her idol persona.
Naturally, you also have the other members of the club help Rina overcome her struggle, with Ai and Yu leading the charge. Ai is Rina’s best friend so it makes sense to have her at the forefront in this episode. Knowing Rina’s personality, you really come to see why she’s so close to Ai. Her friend’s more energetic personality is a source of inspiration for her. It also makes sense that Ai is her first friend; the girl is so outgoing that of course she’d befriend Rina. As for Yu, I’ve been wondering what to make of her but one thing that is clear is that she does tend to say the right thing at the right time. Case in point, her telling Rina that it’s okay that there are things she can’t do and inadvertently getting the others to bring up some of Rina’s strengths. I also really like that Yu is the one who puts the headset onto Rina, effectively illustrating her role as the manager and supporter.
I must say: Rina might be the most overqualified member in the Nijigasaki Idol Club. She does all the VFX and editing for the club’s PVs, she can compose and record music with a makeshift studio in her room, and she creates both a virtual avatar and a wearable tablet within the same episode. I’m mostly joking here but I do wonder why Rina is still in high school. Someone should offer her a job or something.
As per usual, the performance scene is solid. The techno pop instrumentals, the neon aesthetic, and Rina’s energetic dancing compliments the Rina-chan Board in conveying what the character feels and truly wants to project. I like the occasional video game and computer lingo in the song’s lyrics; it’s cheeky but it’s a nice nod to Rina’s technological expertise and it plays into the song’s theme of connecting with other people. At this point, the occasional cuts to the performer in a normal setting is par for the course but they do stand out more in this case as it Rina appears emotionless and it’s the music that informs you of her actual mood in these moments. It’s a very cute contrast.
This is the last re-dated and re-edited episode review for Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club. The next one will be entirely new writing.
This post was originally published on November 13, 2020
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