Love Live! Superstar!!
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Love Live! Superstar!! ?
Community score: 4.3
When you think about it, it's kind of weird that “Student Council President Opposed To School Idols” is treated like a consistent staple of the Love Live! franchise. It's kind of like how everyone misremembers Humphrey Bogart's line in Casablanca as “Play it again, Sam” when it isn't. Of the three previous anime entries, Eli was the only president actually in conflict with the nascent School Idol club, and even she was more a disapproving mother trying to keep her idiot daughters from getting their hopes up over a pipe dream. The next two presidents were Dia, who was conniving to resurrect the School Idol club in the shadows all along, and Nana who all but leveraged her position to promote the club and her own secret idol identity. So for as familiar as Ren feels, she's actually pretty novel in her direct antagonism of all things School Idol, especially when she admits to not having a particular reason for her disapproval beyond them not aligning with her vision for Yuigaoka.
Like Chisato before her, we'll be waiting a bit to get the full picture on all that. One of the benefits of a smaller cast means we don't need to jam all of Ren's backstory and motivations into half an episode, and instead let things play out more organically. But what we see here is pretty solid stuff. A lot of that comes down to the character animation and expressions, allowing Ren's face and body language to communicate internal conflicts she'd never be willing to verbalize. We can tell without her saying a word that she's actually uncomfortable going back on her promise to treat the general curriculum equally, but goes through with it because she's convinced herself it's the only option to keep up Yuigaoka's lineage. The reveal about her troubled and complicated home life does a lot to flesh her out in very little time, and has me really interested to know just what's going on inside her head.
Though on that topic, I can already see a few hackles raised about Superstar potentially taking a third stab at “School Idols save their school” as the defining conflict. Personally I don't see it that way. Sure, we see Ren demanding the dean tell her about next year's enrollment numbers, but we also know this is literally the first year of the school's operation, and that it was revived from a formerly defunct school that Ren's mother attended. So to me this reads not as the school actually being in trouble – they certainly can afford a small army of skilled gardeners to handle all that lush greenery on campus – but as Ren feeling responsible for preserving her late mother's legacy, and combined with her family's personal financial issues she's trying to micromanage the school as the sole place she can exert something resembling power. I could be wrong, but this series has earned more than enough good will from me that I have faith it'll avoid copying its older sisters so blatantly.
That's all we get for now though, as this is another two-parter front loaded with gags. Sadly Chisato doesn't make a huge impression with her first official outing as a formal member of the group. That's probably for the best, as introducing another big goofball personality to the mix would kind of be overkill, and she does get in a few good lines trying to goad Kanon into running for president. But overall it's Sumire and Keke doing the heavy comedy lifting again. The Idol Mafia imagination sequence is of course a standout, along with the pair antagonizing Ren's dog, the apex predator of the Live Liverse. Personally my favorite is Sumire's amateur hour campaign Tiktok, for all the little touches it displays: the portrait orientation, the awkward blocking causing glare from the sun and showing background bystanders. It's all just perfect and another in a conga line of tiny details to elevate any given punchline in this series.
Much like last time this is ultimately a sampler platter for emotional climax next week, so it's a little hard to sum up. But I'm intrigued by what we've seen from Ren, enough to say this is a solid opening to her character arc. Plus I'm always up for some Sad Mom stories, so I'm thrilled and scared to see what happens next episode.
Love Live! Superstar!! is currently streaming on Funimation.
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