Love Live! Sunshine!!
Episode 22

by Bamboo Dong,

How would you rate episode 9 of
Love Live! Sunshine!! (TV 2) ?

After their conversation last episode, Ruby and Leah are determined to put together a mini-concert for their sisters under the very Christmas tree they saw on their walk. And so they actually make it happen, which was mildly surprising to me, because I assumed everything they were talking about was more of a hypothetical “Let's do this sometime in the future!” rather than a “Let's do this literally right now.” Kind of like when you see a friend and say, “We should hang out sometime!” but you both know what that really means.

And so Ruby, Yoshiko, and Hanamaru decide to stay behind in Hakodate and crash at Leah's place for a few days to work on a new song. It's the first of many events that require a complete suspension of disbelief, because otherwise the episode kind of falls apart. It's best not to think about where the girls are getting their instrumentations on such a short notice. Also, maybe they shouldn't be dancing in the middle of the street; it's unsafe. But the hardest part is yet to come—in order to secure a spot in the local Christmas festival, they need to pitch their act to a grumpy panel of suits in a hotel ballroom. Nervous but resolute in the confidence they've gained from their sisters, they muster up the courage to introduce their act.

Throughout the whole process, it's nice to see the two younger siblings being pushed to articulate just what it is they love so much about their sisters. As an added bonus, it's another chance to see Ruby and Leah more fired up than usual as they square off in another spat about who has the best sister. It's somewhat ironic that an episode about the two girls finding their voices outside of their sisters is still ultimately framed by their relationships to Dia and Sarah until the very end. But as far as idol Christmas presents go, nothing really tops a whole new song.

Unfortunately, the episode meanders in parts. There's even a strange red herring in the temporary inclusion of Leah's two classmates, who appear multiple times to lurk menacingly on screen. It turns out that they're just admirers, and eventually they help give Leah the boost she needs to decide to continue being a school idol. After all, school idols are the pride and joy of their institutions, like football in West Texas, except with more satin.

Still, this week's offering just doesn't quite keep up the momentum the show has been gathering for the past few weeks. It was cute to see Ruby and Leah getting along and brainstorming their new song, but it seemed wasteful to pad that time with so many old Yohane and Hanamaru gags. There are only so many times you can run the same jokes before it feels like the writers are just stalling for time. Even Chika seemed like she was settling into a bit, playing the role of the wise sage who always knows what others are thinking, without really making a point. It almost feels like the writers were given the task of shoehorning the new song into the series, but they weren't entirely confident on how to pull it off. It's a letdown from last week's episode, which was heartbreaking yet poignant, and while the concept behind this episode was sweet, the execution didn't quite live up to the message.

Rating: B

Love Live! Sunshine!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Bamboo thinks Mari should've just chartered a bus to ferry them to their first qualifier. Follow her on Twitter.

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