After the months of excitement and build up, the day has finally arrived and Love Live! is back! We’re now into the third generation of Love Live! and this latest entry in the massively popular series is called Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai or Nijigasaki High School Idol Club, but as that’s a much longer name than Sunshine or just the OG Love Live!, I’ll stick to calling this gen Nijigasaki.
Now I’ve been out of the Love Live! loop for quite some time now and admittedly I have lost some of that passion I used to have for this series. It doesn’t mean I’m no longer a fan, but after the Love Live! Sunshine movie, my interest just started to fade and was pretty much at an all time low. But then Nijigasaki got announced for the Fall season and suddenly I could feel this fire starting to burn again, the excitement and passion for Love Live! started to come back slowly. Now that we’ve all had a chance to watch the opening ep in this latest chapter, it’s time we sit down and talk about it for a bit. So with that intro out of the way, let’s get into this review!
I think for me the biggest takeaway from this first ep was how much it didn’t feel like Love Live!, as strange as that sounds or if it even makes any sense. Even after Setsuna Yuki’s breathtaking performance, it still didn’t feel anymore like Love Live! than it had before. But the most surprising thing about that is that I actually liked it this way. From the animation, the characters, hell even the music, nothing felt like the usual Love Live! the previous two shows had given us, especially in the opening ep, but that didn’t matter because I loved this new feel to it all, it felt refreshing and like something actually new.
My biggest gripe about Sunshine was that, for me, it didn’t feel like they did a whole lot new in terms of the story. The saving the school thing was done before and seeing it reused again just never sat well with me. After ep 1 of Nijigasaki, I’m pretty sure they won’t have to worry about their school closing down because their school looks like it’s doing fairly well financially and with attendance. I mentioned this a few times in my live tweet (which is slowly starting to come back against my better judgment) is that their school is by far the best ever in Love Live!. I mean UTX had a pretty nice school, but man Nijigasaki just blows that out of the water and then some. But instead of the school needing saving, it looks like it’s the idol club that needs help. And that brings us to the characters of Nijigasaki, well the ones introduced in this ep at least.
Our two lead girls Yu Takasaki and Ayumu Uehara aren’t idols nor do they know anything about idols. They’re just two normal high school girls who enjoy hanging out at the mall after school and sharing their limited edition baked treats. But all that changes one day as they overheard what sounds like a concert happening at a nearby location to the mall. Upon investigating they have their fateful encounter with Setsuna Yuki and both their lives are changed forever. Yu is really the main character of this show so we get to see her personal reaction to seeing Setsuna perform and I think it’s safe to say that we all felt like her after seeing Setsuna’s performance. From that point on the two girls are totally captivated by the passion and excitement that Setsuna brought to the stage and what’s even better is that Setsuna is a girl from their school!
The middle half of the ep shows off their school that I talked about briefly as Yu and Ayumu spend the following day after class looking around for this school idol club, only to learn it’s been disbanded. But along the way the two run into other girls who will be joining the ranks of school idols in the future, Ai Miyashita and Rina Tennoji as well as student council president Nana Nakagawa, who looks very familiar for some reason. We also get a very quick look at the rest of the cast too, Shizuku Osaka, Kanata Konoe, Emma Verde, Karin Asaka, and lastly Kasumi Nakasu. While we have yet to officially meet them and learn their stories, we already know they’re associated, or at least were associated with, the school idol club before it was disbanded. As for the details on that, we’ll learn them in due time, this ep was mainly just giving us a very brief overview of everyone.
My favorite part of this whole ep, and there were a lot of great moments, comes at the end when Yu and Ayumu are heading home after their disappointing trip to the School Idol Club room and Ayumu gets to speak her mind about school idols and what she thought of Setsuna’s performance the other day. While Yu was beside herself after the performance, Ayumu wasn’t nearly as hyped as she was about it but it was on her mind for the rest of the day and into the next. Ayumu opens up to Yu and shares that she too watched a lot of school idol videos that night and loves how they can express themselves so clearly and passionately. Ayumu wants to be like that too, she wants to be able to express herself clearly and let others, including Yu, know what her feelings are. Ayumu still loves pink and cute clothing and wants to wear them again like she used to when she was young, and after seeing Setsuna perform she’s finally found an outlet to properly express herself, which is becoming a school idol.
We end the ep with yet another fantastic performance by Ayumu and it’s really worth just watching because I can’t put this into words.
So as far as first eps go, Nijigasaki is my favorite of the Fall season right now. It brought the passion and excitement of school idols back and I can’t wait to watch more. Not every ep leaves me with this feeling, but the second it was over I wanted to watch it again, I loved it that much. I will mention that I did find the character designs for a few of the girls a little off putting at first, compared to the previous art. I think Ai is who stands out the most, she looks completely different from her official art. I knew this going in that she had a different look but after seeing it I can tell it’ll be a bit before I warm up to it. Not sure why they couldn’t keep her design the same, but oh well. Personal gripe of mine. Hate getting caught up in the details.
If you’ve seen this opening of of Nijigasaki, what did you think about it? Did it live up to the Love Live! hype you wanted it to? Let me know in the comments below!
That’s going to be it for this opening review, I think I covered everything I wanted to talk about this time, but I still probably missed something. Going forward I’ll be aiming to have new reviews out on Saturday and if anything comes up then they’ll get pushed back to Sunday. Since I watching a lot of shows this season I’ll have a lot to juggle but I always make sure to give priority to the show that I’m reviewing, so Nijigasaki will be getting that attention first and foremost come Saturday, everything else will be watched later.
Okay for real now that’s it for me and this review. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you back here next week as Kasumi looks like she’s about to wage war with the student council about the School Idol Club. Should be exciting!
See you then!