Love Live! Sunshine!!
by Bamboo Dong,
How would you rate episode 2 of
Love Live! Sunshine!! (TV 2) ?
The girls were in despair last week over the future of their school, but they have a little hope this week. After talking to her father on the phone again, Mari has convinced the Uranohoshi Girls' High School administration to give them a chance to keep the school open, provided they can find 100 prospective new students by the end of the school year.
But before they can start practicing for the next Love Live, the members of Aqours realize that they need to come up with two new songs. It makes you appreciate the prolific songwriting capabilities of the composers and songwriters behind Love Live—Aki Hata has written hundreds of lyrics for the franchise alone. But for the characters, it's not so easy. They decide to divide and conquer the task, setting off in groups to brainstorm their new songs.
The episode is a little scattered, but it's one of the cutest ones in recent memory, as it mostly shows the girls goofing off and having fun as they procrastinate and squabble over their given task. The six-member team of Yoshiko, Dia, Ruby, Mari, Kanan, and Hanamaru find themselves hanging out at Mari's swanky condo, distracting themselves with a tower of candy and sweets, while Ruby giggles over a nature documentary in the corner. (And as an aside, we learn that Mari and the other third years are really into metal.) Later, they decide that the best way to bridge their differences is to play dodgeball, which leaves Yoshiko with red scores all over her face. Reading books for inspiration puts some of them to sleep, while going to a hot spring is similarly unproductive. Basically, a lot happens without accomplishing much of anything, but it works well for the episode. It's fun and lighthearted, and we learn a lot about the various girls' different quirks and interests.
Eventually it ties together in the end. They find themselves holed up in an old shrine to avoid the rain, drawing inspiration from the chiming of the bowls they've set out to catch the leaking water. It's a fairly predictable setup, but it brings the hectic nature of the episode to a great close, mirroring the lesson that the girls learn in the moment, which is that their different personalities and interests still manage to find a way to come together in harmony. It's a clever pacing tactic that makes you appreciate the disparate elements of the previous 20 minutes and heightens the mood of the rain scene.
It's actually quite nice having an episode that focuses on just some of the girls. It's a good detour from the sometimes-cheesy emphasis on “shining” that permeates Love Live Sunshine and gives us a glimpse at the girls being just ordinary, “normal” high schoolers. This episode has Aqours acting more like an after-school club rather than an idol group that has the immense burden of saving their school, and it's delightful.
As an added bonus, it's a decently good-looking episode, too. Despite being character-heavy, a lot of effort was made to ensure that the group scenes are depicted as a whole, with more individual character animation than was typical of the first season, which focused more on small movements and close-ups. The rain scene is especially cinematic, with more attention given to composition than I noticed in the first season.
All in all, it works out to be a great episode, especially coming off the season premiere. We spend a lot more quality time with Aqours and get a more impactful emotional resolution as a result. While the very end teeters on the edge of sentimentality, it sets the stage for the songs to come and does a good job of priming the viewers for the eventual reveal.
Love Live! Sunshine!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Bamboo resides in Southern California, and she's an unabashed idol fan. Follow her on Twitter.
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