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Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club Season 2
Episode 8

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.4

One of the eternal ironies of Love Live! is that despite being built entirely around DIY amateur idols, it's never really dug too deep into the actual nitty gritty that goes into getting these girls up on stage. It's been there in the background for sure – subplots about a particular group's songwriter struggling for inspiration, training scenes where the cast get in shape or practice choreography – but we've never really gotten a whole episode about Kotori or Keke struggling to figure out the stitching on a costume. That's just not how this franchise roles, and getting bogged down in details would just impede what it and the audience are here for. This is especially true of Nijigasaki, where School Idol Magic seemingly lets characters manifest fully choreographed musical numbers through sheer force of will.

So it's a bit funny that the entire conflict of this episode centers around Yu struggling to finish a song on the day it's set to be performed. In any other show the idea they'd be able to pull that off would be ludicrous, but here it's actually questionable from the other end. Yeah it's nice for Yu to be writing a song for her nonet of idol girlfriends, but if push comes to shove she could always just tell them a heartfelt speech and the sheer power of their combined School Idol feelings would manifest into a new song without any viewer batting an eye. Lanzhu basically does that at the start of this episode just to vamp!

But even if I don't buy into the immediacy of the conflict, it is genuinely nice to get some focus on Yu. I half-joke about her being Nijigasaki's resident harem lead, but a good Harem anime will also make time to flesh out its hapless protagonist along with its bevy of potential girlfriends, so getting a deeper understanding of what makes Yu tick is important. I do wish that struggle had lasted a little longer, or taken more conversation with Mia to figure it all out. Mia, by the by, brings a pretty valid perspective to it too – it's all well and good that Yu wants to create a hypothetical perfect song that encapsulates her feelings about the School Idol Club and also pierces Lanzhu's heart, but sometimes you have a hard deadline and there's not really room to be a perfectionist when you just need to get something ready in time.

But this is still Love Live!, and there's not really room for anything as cynical as an artistic compromise for the sake of a deadline. So instead Yu finds her muse (pun partially intended) and realizes she wants to put part of herself into this song too, rather than just being a showcase for her harem and a vague post at Lanzhu. And that's a pretty nice sentiment to pay all this off with – any kind of creative work involves putting part of yourself into it, and embracing that idea instead of trying for some immaculate ideal is an important part of the artistic journey. So seeing Yu up on stage playing accompaniment is a pretty affirming image. The song itself is alright, if not standout for this franchise, but I'm especially impressed by the animation itself, breaking from Nijigasaki's usual style and featuring a full-on stage performance while delivering some stellar CG character animation. There's an honest-to-god Spielberg-style unbroken shot that manages to show off every character while seamlessly moving the frame across the stage, and it's so well-integrated you could trick me into thinking it was traditionally animated. One day I'll stop being impressed by how far this franchise's dancing animation has come, but so long as the soulless, dead eyes of CGI Honoka are seared into my brain, I'll keep praising it when they do things right.

On the whole, this episode is certainly an improvement from this season's lower points, and I'm thankful for some much-needed focus on Yu. But at the same time this conclusion to the much belabored School Idol Festival can't help but want for more time to develop its other cast. Lanzhu and Mia really could have stood to get focus before now, instead of seemingly waiting for it to come after our main cast have had their own episodes. As-is this is a fine enough emotional climax, but it really does feel like Nijigasaki is buckling under the size of its cast.

Rating:

Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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