Love Live! Sunshine!! – Ep. 3

I vaguely remember hearing that Sunshine!! repeats some of the same story beats as School Idol Project. Since I haven’t finished the original series, I don’t think I’m the best person to really comment on this matter so don’t expect me to bring this up every post or so. That said, I must admit that I am starting to see what people are saying. This episode in particular is very similar to one from School Idol Project, I think the latter’s third episode coincidentally enough. The details are different but the major plot points are there. Again, I can’t really make comparisons so all I can say is that if Sunshine!! is playing things safe, I hope it at least does them well.

In this episode, the Idol Club formally meets Mari. In addition to attending Uranohoshi as a third-year, Mari has also become the school’s director thanks to her family’s influence and financial contribution to the school. As far-fetched as this development is, it does prove to be an interesting one as Mari technically outranks Dia and can overrule the latter’s decisions. This comes into play in this episode as Mari offers to approve the Idol Club regardless of how many members it has. The catch is that the club needs to perform at the school gym with a full house. That by default is a tall order for a newly formed idol group but to make matters worse, there aren’t enough students to fill the gym so the girls are forced to promote themselves around the town in addition to preparing for the concert.

The club promotes themselves in a couple of ways. Chika asks her older sister Mito (Kanae Itou) to spread the word at work. Surprisingly, this ends up being the best move the club could’ve done. More on that later. Aside from that, the girls pass around flyers and promote themselves via the town’s loudspeakers. Not much to say about those other than that they’re pretty funny. I particularly like how the girls completely veer off script during the loudspeaker scene.

While promoting and training, the club realizes that they don’t have an actual name for the idol group. While brainstorming names, they come across the name “Aqours” written on the beach. There’s currently no clue as to who wrote it, let alone why they suggest it to the club, but the name has a nice ring to it so the girls decide to use it.

On the day of the concert, the town is “conveniently” hit with lots of rain. As a result, a handful of people show up to the concert and the prospect of Mari approving the club is looking unlikely. While certainly a discouraging sight, I have to hand it to Aqours for going through the concert. They perform their song for a good minute and it’s only when the a power outage “conveniently” occurs that they begin to lose face. Things turn around, when Dia secretly hooks up some backup generators (more on that in a bit) and Mito arrives with possibly the whole town. I’ll admit that this resolution feels contrived. Mito gathering that many people is a head scratcher but I especially can’t believe the detail that Chika apparently gave her sister the wrong time. I can accept the rain and the power outage as those factors are beyond the characters’ control but Chika making such a stupid mistake is, well, stupid. That said, this episode does make the resolution feel a bit earned. When Chika asks Mito for help, the older sister is dismissive towards the idea as apparently, Chika used to be half-hearted at whatever she does. Over time however, Mito sees how hard Chika is working and how serious she is about being a school idol, thus convincing her to help in the end.

Mari is a curious one. At first glance, she can come across as crueler than Dia, setting the club up for failure. But as Riko points out, Mari does have a point in setting such a high bar. If the Idol Club can’t handle it, they won’t get terribly far from there. That said, it’s unclear as to why Mari is interested in the club in the first place. She could just be a school idol fan but I doubt it’s that simple. I’m guessing there’s more to her motivation than that. Regardless of her reasons, it does appear that she gets the results she’s looking for.

The same can also be said from Dia. One moment, she helps the club by restoring the electricity. The next, she tells the club that they only succeeded by emulating past school idols and the goodwill of the townsfolk (both of which are admittedly true). I don’t doubt that she doesn’t think highly of the club but if she really wanted them to fail, why then did she hook up the backup generators?

Good on Chika for coming up with a good response to Dia. While there is truth to Dia’s words, Chika raises a good point that she and the others have to start somewhere and do something other than standing around. I also think Chika could care less to what Dia has to say. For now, she seems happy that she’s making some headway with her dream.

Watch Love Live! Sunshine!! on CrunchyrollFunimationTubi, and VRV (via Crunchyroll)

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