It’s a Karin focused episode this time around and with that, all the idols in the Idol Club has had the spotlight. It has been a little exhausting going through each idol one episode at a time. I hope for the rest of Season 1 to get more creative with how it incorporates the characters but obviously, there’s only four episodes left. At this point, I probably should place my bets on Season 2 instead. I don’t want to harp on this too much however as Season 1 has been a fun time so far.
At the start of the episode, the Idol Club notes that their activities are starting to gain traction, with people noticing and greeting them on the street. I find it funny that Shizuku specifically cites the PVs and Rina’s concert from Episode 6. It’s as though the show is aware that Rina might be the MVP of the club, what with her doing all the effects and editing for some of the PVs and giving one of the club’s most public performances. The only thing that’s missing here is a joke about Rina’s back hurting from carrying the club.
During their club meeting, the Idol Club is visited by Haruka and Himeno Ayanokoji (Natsumi Hioka) from Touou Academy. These two invite the Idol Club to perform with their respective clubs at Diver Fes, an annual music festival held in Odaiba. While certainly a great opportunity for the Idol Club, there is one catch: each idol group can only perform one song. Since Nijigasaki’s idols perform solo, only one of them can take the stage. This creates some brief tension within the club as everyone is hesitant to nominate themselves for the gig. Ayumi proposes a lottery to keep things fair and that could work though Karin brings up a blunt yet valid point that it’d be wiser for the club to come to a decision themselves. That way, everyone can grow as a group and mature from the situation.
Ultimately and obviously, the Idol club chooses Karin to perform at Diver Fes. By process of elimination, it was clearly going to be Karin. The show doesn’t really provide a solid justification here. All we get is a throwaway line saying Karin is the only one fit for the job. My guess is that the girls choose Karin because she’s the cool and mature one. If anyone could handle the pressure of performing in front of thousands of people, it’d be her.
Ironically, this is not the case on the day of the performance. Right as Shinonome and Touou’s idols perform, Karin gets cold feet and hides in a secluded part of the backstage. With how confident and sharp she’s been, it’s surprising to see such a vulnerable side to her. Obviously, the others arrive to cheer Karin up though the fact that they do that is really interesting. Any one of the other idols could’ve easily taken advantage of Karin’s newfound anxiety and usurp her moment to shine. The fact that they don’t do that shows that they’ve overcome their hesitation and fully trust their judgment and Karin’s abilities as a school idol. Meanwhile, Karin has developed some newfound appreciation for the club. She’s always viewed them as friends, certainly Emma at least, but this moment is where she especially feels the solidarity. Despite performing solo, Karin isn’t alone because she has everyone in the club backing her up.
It’s taken nine episodes for Karin to perform in-universe but I have to hand it to Nijigasaki for making it worthwhile. Be it the “camerawork”, the dance choreography, or Miyu Kubota’s vocals, Karin has a really strong presence here. It implies that she’s translating her model work into her showmanship and that she’s really making this performance count, not just for her but for the Idol Club as a whole. Plus, it’s just satisfying to watch after Karin’s brief episode with anxiety. As for the song, it’s pretty catchy. I wasn’t expecting an electronic instrumental but it is, for lack of a better term, a very stylish choice that somehow fits Karin’s background as a model. I think this song is referring to Karin’s bond with the Idol Club though based on the English translation, the lyrics sounds awfully romantic. Then again, this is Love Live! so I guess that checks out.
I honestly expected Himeno to be a sort of antagonist for this episode, testing the Nijigasaki idols by inviting them into a big event. Karin even suggests the possibility of an ulterior motive, if only because she and her friends aren’t familiar with Himeno like they are with Haruka. Surprisingly, Himeno’s character doesn’t take that direction. As it turns out, she’s actually a big fan of Karin’s model work and she invites the Nijigasaki idols on the potential prospect of seeing Karin perform. That’s quite the gamble she makes, if you ask me. I mean, it’s a 1 out of 9 chance that Karin would get picked. I can only imagine the internal fangirling this girl does when her dream comes true.
Watch Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and VRV (via Crunchyroll)