We’ll make everyone’s dreams come true!
Note: This will contain some heavy spoilers about the ending of the Love Live! The School Idol Movie. If you haven’t seen the movie before reading this post, then I’d suggest doing so beforehand.
Idol shows are one of those things within the anime community that people either love or absolutely hate. There’s a lot of polarization between fans that like shows with “mature and gritty” stories and those that tend to enjoy milder, “moe” settings. While anime be at all places within that spectrum, idol shows tend to fall on the “moe” side merely because of the character designs and the content discussed, and therefore causes a lot of “tension” (read: shit-posting) between the two fanbases, especially when it comes to the online anime community. Some associate the “moe” side of the spectrum with slice-of-life comedies that have no story or overarching plot; I personally think they’re just missing out.
In the case of the Love Live! franchise, there’s definitely a lot more to it than just comedy and high-school antics that people may mistake this anime for at first glance. Sure, at first glance the anime looks like it brings nothing new to the table, but this anime is so much more than that when you start looking at some of the deeper elements within the series. While I’m sure many people watch this show for varying reasons, my reasoning has constantly changed as I’ve experienced different sections of the franchise and the community around it.
To be quite honest, I didn’t even really like the show that much at first. I watched the first season and while the characters and the story were both enjoyable, I didn’t really feel any heavy attachment to the series by the time I completed it. When Season 2 was announced, I decided to delve deeper into the history of the franchise by watching the PVs that started it all. Somewhere along the way, I also started following the community and fan-base surrounding the series, which somehow managed to generate a form of personal hype before the second season was initially released. My hype eventually led to the downward spiral of playing the Japanese mobile game and massively enjoying the second season, which was completely different in tone than the first.
After the ending of S2, I knew a movie was inevitably coming due to the massive sales that the second season Blu-rays had in Japan and how the overarching theme felt incomplete, even with the series itself having a clean stopping point. Sometime afterwards, between the ending of the second season and becoming addicted to the mobile game, I started realizing how much I loved and enjoyed every aspect of this franchise. The songs, the characters, the really jarring CG dance scenes; everything. There are seriously few anime that I could say that I have enjoyed as much as this one, even with some of the obvious flaws that are present within the series.
The movie was no different an experience for me. While other people may go to conventions, events, or these kinds of movies on a regular basis, this was my first time doing so. The experience itself was enlightening to me as I regarded the general anime community as something much more different than what I perceived it as in that theatre, but I assume that may depend on location and the event itself. Without delving too deep into details, the community there was very passionate about the series and displayed their passion in a very positive way. I saw no instances of elitism, cringe-worthy otaku-ism, or various movie interruptions that other people seemed to have noted in their experiences. Maybe I got lucky and had a positive experience, or maybe I was just blinded by my love of the series. Bobduh from the blog Wrong Every Time also wrote about his experiences with this movie and details out many of the same thoughts that I had while also tackling a similar, yet different, topic of discussion.
Experiencing the movie is one thing; enjoying said experience is something completely different. Unlike a good portion of the Love Live! community, I have very positive views of the movie itself, even if the ending tore every fiber of my being apart. The movie itself was way better in terms of character and themes than the iDOLM@STER movie that was released some time ago. I think the main driving factor there was the fact that Love Live! gave more than two characters a majority of the screen-time, which retained the feel of the series very well, unlike the iDOLM@STER movie.
Production-wise, both halves of Love Live! The School Idol Movie were executed almost perfectly. The first half was a light-hearted rendition of the series, almost like a celebration of all of the character’s experiences with each other. By that, I mean the light-hearted feel that gave us a viewpoint of “Look where we started; look where we are now”, along with also showing the progress of that feeling. The characters may be getting along better, but they still have many smaller struggles to get through. Despite all of that though, the characters themselves still find a way to get along with each other and handle each other’s faults with great expertise.
Not only were the characters emphasized, the animation budget seemed to not only become a more high-budget rendition of what was in the series, but also managed to fully do an idol dance scene near the end with no CG use whatsoever. Oddly enough though, I somehow didn’t think it lived up to some of the CG performances that were in the show. I suppose even sometimes not-so-perfect elements can be an endearing quality to a series. Or, if you really wanted to keep with the theme of the first half of the show, you could say that the CG is part of what makes Love Live! unique since you end up liking it anyway, even if you know it’s less than perfect.
Just like how the characters in the show still like each other minus their faults, you can still like the show even if it’s a less than perfect product, and that can also be a charm quality in of itself. You can use stock character traits and “tropes” all you want, but it’s the flaws that can sometimes make your characters shine the brightest. No, that wasn’t an attempted “Sunrise” joke, I promise.
The second half of the show is where the movie hits its high points in terms of having a cohesive theme all throughout the series, and this is also the part of the movie that everyone hates. While I’m not going to say that the themes override some of the complaints, I do think that the ending of this second half is what makes this series what it is. Heck, that’s even what the theme of the show is; the feelings of being a school idol are what makes school idols as such, and if you’re a school idol group for a career or only for your own personal interest, then the idea of the “school idol” loses its meaning.
It’s really poetic when you think about it a bit.
The reason they all had become school idols originally was because they wanted to save their school, and since that’s already been accomplished and the third years are now graduating, there’s really no reason for them to continue with the “school idol” career path, as it becomes a precious memory to them. They don’t want to lose those precious memories with each other and of their school, therefore, they decided to all disband their group and allow the next wave of students to have those same thrills and experiences. None of our nine main characters wanted to lose that time they spent together being school idols. None of them wanted to disband the group. None of them wanted to completely ditch all of the effort they put into it when they were even offered a contract to potentially become professional idols. But they did anyway.
Maybe they didn’t want to lose those memories of one of the greatest moments of their lives. Maybe they really didn’t want to tarnish their times together in school by doing it for a career. Maybe they didn’t actually enjoy doing it as much as they said they did.
Maybe they just wanted to move on with their lives.
And that’s what I think the theme of the second half revolves around; we all have fun times in our lives, but sometimes we just have to move on and leave those fun times as memories before they’re destroyed or ruined. Whether they may be ruined by involuntarily actions, by outside forces, or by whatever kind of life event that may take place, it’s important to keep those fun times separate from the harsh times. Otherwise, they may become blended together and leave an unpleasant feeling with you for the rest of your life. Nobody wants that for themselves, and I equally as much wouldn’t want to see that happen to any of the characters within the show.
That’s why I’m glad that Sunrise took the approach they did with the ending that they put within the movie. It’s not only a wonderful way to give the series some sense of finality, but it also allows for lots of interesting thoughts and discussions on the topics of dealing with reality even when we don’t really want to face those thoughts.
While I may have thought that the series was capped off perfectly, lots of other people of the Love Live! community were not as thrilled to see the ending I saw. There was no uproar within the theatre I was at, nor did I hear many complaints about the movie itself or the ending; the internet, on the other hand, decided that this ending wasn’t appropriate for the series. I can completely understand the desire to continue wanting to see your favorite character(s) over and over again in another season of the series or just wanting more of the same quality show that we had for the first two seasons. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one that went home after the movie and cried my eyes out because of how hard-hitting that ending was after you thought about what the ending really meant.
But after thinking about this ending for a good two weeks or so, I don’t think I’d have the ending of the show any other way. It’d be even worse to see the series milked to death and ruined by a third or fourth season that it didn’t need, or by endless movies that just dragged out the problem and the situation far longer than necessary. I have lots of respect for Sunrise’s methods here, especially for taking the high road with one of the most profitable franchises in recent history. There’s nothing to be “angry” about there.
In a greater context, the community’s reaction to the ending makes a good deal of sense considering the genre of the show. Since this show is normally considered of the “moe slice-of-life” genre, people think that these kinds of shows are a form of escapism and tend to use them to forget about real life or their own problems. Therefore, they tend to be drawn to series and franchises such as CGDCTs, idols, harems, or possibly even some genres of ecchi.
Love Live! The School Idol Movie not only subverts this idea of escapism, but also throws it back into the community’s face as the main overall theme for the ending of the movie. The ending basically says, “We’ve had a lot of fun together, but those fun times are over and although we’ll never forget the good times we’ve had, we need to get back to our normal lives now.” That’s probably both an oversimplification and a bit of a misconstrued interpretation, considering the implication was more about moving forward in life than they had to meet some form of obligations, but I don’t think it’s necessarily too far off from the same thing.
Either way, when looking at the ending from that perspective, it kind of makes sense why some of the more “hardcore” fans decided to lash out about it. They didn’t want to lose this obsession and alternate reality that they latched onto. Sure, this may have not necessarily been the “best” series to make that sort of statement, especially since a series like this is more likely to draw in those kinds of people. But at the same time, I think having a message even closely resembling that in an anime such as this is the most effective way to make your statement clear to others. Therefore, I think this doesn’t weaken the ending as some people may think, but just further strengthens how important and meaningful this ending was for the series.
While some of the community may think the ending was invalid and out-of-place, others pose legitimate complaints about how the series wrapped up and how some of the more “magical” occurrences within the latter parts of the movie came across to the viewers. I don’t think it was the cleanest method to get to the ending of the movie myself, and it probably wasn’t the most logical progression for a show that’s been semi-logical up to this point.
Sure, it seemed something right out of Jun Maeda’s writing at times, but I also think that’s a stylistic writing liberty that the original creator and writer decided to take. Whether it worked for everyone or not? Most likely debateable. It is a valid complaint and one so closely related to the plot itself that it cannot be overlooked, but it does not affect the themes of the series, nor will it completely tarnish your entire viewing of the film.
Some may be upset that the franchise as we know it with the characters that we all love has come to a close, but with School Idol Festival still going on strong (at least the JPN version, the ENG version is a bit more debatable) and the close arrival of Love Live! Sunshine (which has seemingly nothing to do with the series at first glance, but we’ll see), the great feeling that we got from the original Love Live! will hopefully continue over to the spin-off series. Even if it doesn’t ever live up to the original, I think it can become something equally as great if executed properly. I’d hate to see the spin-off become something similar to the original iDOLM@STER anime, as that would be an extreme disappointment for me and a complete disservice to the franchise.
As for me, I feel the same way I did before I saw the movie. I’ll continue to love the current franchise as much as I did before even though it’s canonically over, and when it comes time for the new Love Live!, I’ll probably continue onto the hype train for the spin-off series just as much as the original. Even if the original Love Live! slowly winds down to a halt until it’s finally gone, just like the characters in the show will never forget the time they’ve spent together, I’ll never forget what impact this franchise has made on my life and who I am as a person today.
Note from the Author: After a bit of debating of what I wanted to write about, this was a great topic to tackle as I had my feelings pretty much figured out after some hard thinking over the past few weeks. It’s a pretty big topic of discussion at the moment within the Love Live! community, and since that community is pretty large and widespread, I figured I could talk about a controversial segment of the movie and generate some good discussion on the topic.
If you’re a Love Live! fan and just so happen to play the mobile game on JPN or ENG, then I recommend adding my accounts which are listed at the link here. I definitely play JPN more often than ENG, but the goal is to eventually fix that issue.
Also, I had a really hard time finding pictures since obviously there’s no way to get good quality ones, but I’ll update them as soon as possible.
Minus that though, I don’t really have much to say this time; the article really speaks for itself.
Stay tuned for more Backloggers info! We definitely have some cool stuff planned in the near future!