While new comers might not catch all the references, this week’s Love Live Sunshine ep is still full of interesting points as Aqours progress on their journey to become school idols.
Here’s my review.
Hanamaru and Ruby were the stars of this week’s ep and they really did make me like their characters a lot more. So right away the story of these two is similar to that of Rin and Hanayo. In fact we learn that Ruby’s favorite Muse member is Hanayo while Hanamaru prefers Rin. This is where the core of the ep is taken from so right away it’s clear that people who didn’t watch the original won’t be able to get the emotional connection this ep had.
We meet Hanamaru back when she was in preschool (loli Yohane cameo!) and how she never really connected with others, making her a rather lonely girl. She played by herself during recess, wasn’t that athletic, and starred as a tree in the school play. To counter this loneliness she took up reading and fell in love with it. We see her through the years still reading and eventually that’s how she met Ruby, by meeting her in the library reading a school idol magazine. From that point on the two were friends for life.
As for Ruby’s back story, well it was pretty much exactly how I imagined it to be. I mentioned in ep 1, talking about Dia at the time, that she was into idols back in the day but somewhere along the way suddenly got out of that phase, and that’s literally exactly what happened. Through flashbacks we see a younger Ruby and Dia cosplaying as Eli and Hanayo (Dancing Stars on Me costumes), singing Muse songs and dancing to their heart’s content. Muse was their life and to this day it still is, just not as openly as it was before. Anyways back to Ruby; so because of Dia suddenly not liking school idols anymore, Ruby has tried to force herself not to like them as much but it’s impossible to let her love for them go. This is also the driving force behind why she’s not signing up to be a school idol right away. I’ll get back to these two in a bit.
Coming off their successful first live show, Chika, Riko and You now have their approval from Mari and a club room to operate out of. It’s an interesting little room actually, located just off the gym floor in an almost storage closet type of room. The biggest thing worth noting in their new club room is a whiteboard with seemingly lyrics written on it. Hmm? You thinking what I’m thinking? Was this the exact room Dia, Mari and Kanan used when they tried to become school idols? It very well could be, but we’ll have to wait to find out. After they clean out the room they return some books to the library where they meet up with Ruby and Hanamaru. We also find out that Ruby has been spying on the newly formed school idol group and keeping tabs on what they’ve been up to. While Chika tries to recruit them on the spot, Riko and You tell her to stand down and not scare the first years so much.
From here we get the backstory that I already mentioned but I’ve got a bit more to add. When Ruby turned down Chika’s offer, Hanamaru was bothered by this as she knows how much school idols mean to her friend. Along with Dia not wanting Ruby to be involved with school idols anymore, Hanamaru feels she’s not cut out for being a school idol and because of this Ruby decides not to pursue that dream anymore. It’s a decision that bothers Hanamaru greatly as she wants Ruby to follow her dreams and do what she wants, not to be held back by others making decisions for her. After going to a bookstore (Yohane cameo!) and looking at a school idol magazine, specifically a pic of Rin from the Love Wing Bell performance (S2 ep 5), Hanamaru makes up her mind to try out being a school idol and in doing so gets Ruby to join as well. Just for a trial period though.
The back half of the ep is Hanamaru and Ruby joining in with training and seeing whether being a school idol will work for them or not. It’s clear Ruby loves doing what she’s dreamed up and now that she’s set her on her way, Hanamaru’s dream is fulfilled. It’s back to the books for her, back to a quiet life of reading books in the library until it’s time to go home. I liked the scene where Hanamaru and Ruby are talking on the stairs and Hanamaru says that Ruby need to be true to herself and can’t keep relying on others to make decisions for her. It was what Ruby needed to push her to keep going. In the end both Ruby and Hanamaru were able to overcome their personal challenges and join Aqours. Now that Ruby has joined, I’m sure Dia won’t be too far behind, especially now that she knows Ruby’s feelings regarding school idols.
So a point I’ve seen a lot of people talking about regarding this ep especially is that Love Live Sunshine is relying too much on Muse as a crutch and it’s not branching out and doing its own thing. Okay I can see where people are going with this and while yes it may seem like that, after thinking it over I’m not sure it’s really a crutch. It’s clear that Chika and the rest of the girls are inspired by Muse and want to start their own school idol project, but that doesn’t mean the whole show is just rehashing Muse with different characters.
For example: the similarities between Ruby and Hanamaru compared to Rin and Hanayo aren’t what I see as a crutch. To me, I see Ruby and Hanamaru looking at qualities Rin and Hanayo have and applying those to themselves. They’re not clones of Rin and Hanayo rather their just using the similar experiences they faced to help them follow their dreams. It seems logical that if you aspire to be like someone (an athlete, school idol, or whatever) you’d try to look for points about that person that you could use to connect with and help you to develop into your own person. Hanamaru used Rin as someone she connected with as Rin too didn’t feel cut out to be a school idol. While Rin and Hanamaru’s reasons for not wanting to be a school idol were different, Rin’s story struck a cord with Hanamaru and she was able to use this to help her overcome her personal struggles and eventually join Aqours.
So while Love Live Sunshine will still probably have an ep or two that have many references to the original series, this shouldn’t be viewed as a crutch or appealing to only the fans of the original. Muse is what inspired Aqours to form and it seems only natural that they’ll at times they’ll look back at the group who inspired them to overcome struggles they face along the way. But as long as Aqours keeps moving forward, making this story about them and developing into a group that can stand on its own, then that’s where they’ll truly be able to shine.
And finally the biggest takeaway from this ep is where Love Live Sunshine takes place in the flow of time. While it’s not actually said by anyone, we see the cover of a magazine that gives us the answer to this burning question. Love Live Sunshine takes place 5 years after the events of the original Love Live anime, meaning the girls are now in their 20’s. So while that finally answers that question, I’m still not sure I agree with the fact Riko wouldn’t know who Muse is. Granted it’s been a few years since they were there, but if Muse is still featured on the cover of school idol magazines you’d think Otonokizaka would be plastered with posters of Muse. I’m not sure if they’ll be coming back to this point or not, but I still just have a hard time accepting Riko didn’t know who they were.
Geez that was probably too long of a review. Anyways, let me know what your thoughts of this week’s ep are in the comments below.
Alright then thanks for reading, sorry about this coming late I’ll do better next week. Actually I have to do better next week because it’s a Yohane ep. Yep, get hyped because the Fallen Angel is about to descend.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week!
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