The Fall 2017 Anime Preview Guide Love Live! Sunshine!! season 2
How would you rate episode 1 of
Love Live! Sunshine!! (TV 2) ?
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How was the first episode?
At last, it's time to return to that idol juggernaut, Love Live. Sunshine's first season felt like a substantial improvement on the original show in all regards, and so far, Sunshine 2 is basically just doing the same exact thing the original's second season did.
Like with the original Love Live's sequel, this episode is essentially one long melancholy build to a sudden bright reversal. Also like that first sequel, the resulting episode is far from Love Live's best. In order to draw out “Mari learned the school's actually shutting down after all, but we're still not giving up” over a full episode, the show is forced to spend minutes on stuff like practice room logistics, and we get a whole lot of long pans over sulky Aqours members. Mopey Love Live is one of the worst Love Lives, and this episode suffers the consequences of that.
Fortunately, in spite of its narrative frustrations, this episode still demonstrates Love Live is one of the most effortlessly funny and visually dynamic shows out there. The terrific eye for physical comedy and fantastic shot transitions that give Love Live such energy show up in abundance, from silly match cuts of Chika yawning like her fluffy dog to funny interludes between Yohane and her long-suffering mother. Love Live's characters are very expressive, their mutual fondness is consistently contagious, and this episode's copious fluid animation is put to work elevating both the comedy and drama that results. This is a beautiful episode, and beyond simply being pretty, it puts its visual talents to work in service of its emotional goals.
Writing-wise, the individual scenes of this episode are somewhat hit or miss. I felt this episode leaned too heavily on all the characters' various gimmicks, as if it was trying too hard to remind us of their character gags. That said, there were also some nicely executed emotional moments between many of the key players, from Kanan's terrific interrogation of Mari to a scene where Chika acknowledged how her own enthusiasm actually downplayed Mari's struggles.
Overall, this felt like an acceptable but not terribly impressive return for a sturdy franchise. I wasn't impressed by this episode's narrative arc, but the show's beautiful execution and consistently striking visual comedy kept it highly entertaining in spite of itself. If the original series' second season is anything to go by, it's all uphill from here—Love Live is at its best as an upbeat campy spectacle, and the stage is now set for the good times to begin.
SimulDub Preview: The Love Live! Sunshine!! simuldub is generally reasonable, though it has a little trouble translating some of the eccentricities of the original. Some vocal tics, like Hanamaru's consistent “zuras,” are left entirely intact, but they feel a little strange in an English-language context without her accent. Other goofy flourishes, like Mari's consistent bursts of random English, are alternately translated into Italian or simply ignored, changing the nature of her character's absurdity somewhat. On the plus side, there does seem to be a little more tonal variety among the members of Aquors, and the actresses on the whole are suited well to their characters. I liked Michelle Rojas' somewhat deeper take on Kanan's voice, and Jeannie Tirado had a suitably elegant tone for Riko. Sarah Wiedenheft's Ruby felt a tad too squeaky, but that's a common problem when adapting that sort of character into English. On the whole, it's a perfectly fine dub, but the difficulty of translating Love Live's larger-than-life vocal gimmicks into English alternatives makes me side with the Japanese version on this one.
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