Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club – Ep. 8

So at long last, Shizuku gets to have the spotlight. It took this show long enough. The poor girl has been sidelined for lone enough. I suppose Karin is also due for her own episode, and it looks like she’ll get one next, but at least she was the second most important character in Emma’s episode. Shizuku has barely been in the foreground the past seven episodes. Out of anyone in the cast, she desperately needed some attention.

I had expected this episode to have Shizuku struggling to balance between the Idol Club and the Drama Club and feel pressured to choose one over the other. Surprisingly, this is not the case in this episode. Instead, Shizuku learns from the president of the Drama Club that she’ll be replaced as the lead actor in an upcoming play. This has nothing to do with the Idol Club; the president simply thinks Shizuku isn’t suited for the role. Shizuku pleads to re-audition and she is given a second chance but she’s at a loss as to how to change her performance. Kasumi notices that something is troubling Shizuku and tries to help though Shizuku keeps telling her not to worry.

The conflict actually has less to do with Shizuku’s ability to act but more with her own character. As we soon learn, Shizuku is insecure about herself. She’s afraid of people disliking her so she tries to act as the perfect girl whom everyone would love. This perfectionism factors into her acting as she’s determined to deliver a perfect performance no matter the role. Her being told that she isn’t cut out for her upcoming role is a punch to the gut as Shizuku has assumed that she gotten her acting down to a T. She is unable to figure out what she’s doing wrong and she’s hesitant to ask for help as that would go against the façade she’s created for herself.

This episode frames Shizuku’s conflict as a sort of duality, with her fear of rejection manifesting in her mind as her shadow self. I think this is a little extreme. Not to belittle Shizuku but her true self is simply her being more accepting to criticism and much of her personality before and after the episode remains the same. That said, I do think Shizuku’s Shadow works well as an image. The monochromatic colors in the dresses worn by Shizuku and her Shadow is a nice touch. I also like how the Shadow wears a mask; an interesting choice considering that she’s supposed to the truer persona and not the façade.

Also cheeky is the plot of the Drama Club’s play. We later learn that it’s about a girl who is struggling to put herself on stage out of fear of being rejected, with her fear manifesting itself as another persona in her mind. Talk about meta. No wonder the club president was unsure that Shizuku could pull the performance off. It goes against her own character. Speaking of the president, I like that she plays the role of the Shadow in the play. It’s fitting considering that she put Shizuku on the path to self-acceptance.

About the only thing that undercuts Shizuku’s inner turmoil is the revelation of what catalyzed it in the first place. As it turns out, Shizuku developed her insecurity because she likes old movies and she got afraid of her friends calling her weird. Being a weeb, I get where she’s coming from but is that really it? I don’t know, I was expecting something odder or more unappealing. Like, maybe reveal that she used to be hard to work with or that she’s a method actor.

That Kasumi helps Shizuku with her character development is to be expected. The two have been established as best friends beforehand so it was likely for Kasumi to play a role in the first Shizuku focused episode. That said, Kasumi’s involvement here is hilarious. You have Kasumi tell Shizuku that it doesn’t matter if not everyone likes her and Kasumi would know because barely anyone besides Yu is into her whole cutesy shtick. Also funny is how even when she’s trying to cheer Shizuku up, Kasumi goads her friend into calling her cute and unintentionally throws insults at Shizuku instead of complimenting her. I guess it’s the thought that counts. Besides Kasumi, Rina also lends a helping hand by helping Kasumi in cheering Shizuku up and figuring out what’s going on with her. I would’ve liked to have Rina more prevalent in this episode though I do like her inclusion considering her own struggle with expressing herself.

I’m not sure if that I’m that impressed with Shizuku’s insert song. It’s good but I was expecting some more akin to a musical number than a idol J-Pops single. Maybe I’m still spoiled by Revue Starlight. I am however enamored with the presentation of the the performance. I love that Shizuku’s dress is black and white with some grey in the middle, representing that she’s now “complete” as a person. It may go down as one of the best idol get ups in the show so far. I have no idea how the use of rain works in this scene, maybe Rina really is that good at VFX, but I like that it freezes in place when Shizuku hits the chorus and sings about her realizing and accepting her true self.

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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