Breakfast in Bed, An EliNozo Fanfic

Breakfast in Bed

The faint light of the morning sun peers through a large bedroom window somewhere in the suburbs of Akihabara, it’s gentle glow enveloping the white-washed walls. A young woman, no older than 21 or 22, sleeps soundly underneath the plush, faded-pink blankets when her eyes slowly begin to roll open. She slowly awakens and begins to sit up in her bed, taking note and examining the room around her.

The young woman’s eyes glow a bright shade of blue, like the sky above, as she glances around the room, taking in the mellow surroundings. As her head slowly shifts to either direction, long locks of golden hair bounce back and forth, seemingly dancing with each of her subtle movements. Slowly, she picks up the digital clock on the stand beside her bed and reads it aloud:

“7:45” The young woman reads aloud, with a bit of the morning haze ringing with her voice. “Looks like I slept in a bit today.”

Continuing to take in the sights of the room, she looks down at the bed beside her. Blankets are tossed about, scattered towards the bottom of the bed, and the pillow itself is lying on the floor, clearly knocked off the bed.

“Looks like she’s up already.” She thinks to herself, pondering the person who has previously slept to her left. “I guess I should get up too…” She begins to motion herself upwards and attempt to get out of bed, when a voice cuts through the silence.


Accompanying the voice, another young woman, around the same age as her, entered the room. Her hair was a deep shade of purple, tied off to her left and braided. Along with her light purple nightgown, the young woman was clad in a subtle dark blue apron. With a smile on her face, the young woman greeted our sleeping beauty.

“Good morning, Elicchi~”

Eli looked up at the girl standing in her doorway, a hazy look still adorning her face. “Morning, Nozomi. I was just getting up.” As Eli once again attempts to motion herself off the bed, Nozomi walks over to her and puts one finger to her lips.

“Did you forget our arrangement? You were supposed to stay in bed this morning.” Nozomi playfully scolds her roommate. Beginning to walk back over to the doorway, Nozomi looks back at Eli. “Now, you lie back down and I’ll be back in a few minutes” Giving Eli a subtle wink, Nozomi leaves the room and Eli begins to move herself back into bed.

“That girl’s always so stubborn.” Eli remarks, poking at the young woman in her life. As she begins to relax again, Eli once again takes a glance around the room and looks over to her bedside stand, with the clock still resting atop now reading “8:00”. She motions herself over towards the stand and opens the drawer, revealing a small photo album within the drawer. Pulling the book out, Eli begins to thumb through it’s pages.

Adorning each page of this book, with the Otonokizaka High School seal, are memories from her days as a high school student. The early portions of the book are lined with pictures of herself and Nozomi together during their first year, class photos, and a commemorative photo of Eli’s victory in the Student Council elections. As the album goes on, the photos begin to transition into Eli and a group of girls in frilly dresses, singing and dancing. The last photo in the album shows Eli and her dearest friends, grouped with smiles on each of their faces, standing and kneeling in front of a flag that reads “Love Live Victory!”

With a smile growing on her face, Eli closes the book and places it back into it’s original position. Looking around again, she notices a photo frame resting atop the opposite side stand. Slowly, Eli crawls to the other side of the bed and pick up the photo frame. Resting inside, she sees a photo of herself and Nozomi. Taken on the day they bought the house, the two girls stand in front of it, each with one arm wrapped around the other’s shoulder, smiling and wearing a feeling of anticipation in their stature. Remembering back to that day, a warm feeling sweeps over Eli as she puts the photo back down.

Not more than a few seconds pass before Nozomi walks back into the room, carrying with her a tray. “I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long.” Nozomi slowly walks over to the bed and sets the tray down on the bed in front of Eli, unfolding the small stands at either side so it sits comfortably at the bed.

“Never, Nozomi.” Eli answers with a wink and stuck-out tongue.

Looking at the tray in front of her, Nozomi had prepared a full breakfast for her young friend. Adorning the tray lies a bowl of her favorite cereal, the crispy flakes becoming saturated by the cool milk. She had prepared a bowl filled with mixed fruits, with many sized chunks of apple, pear, peach, and grapes adorning it. A glass of juice stands tall in the corner of the tray, the orange liquid within chilled with a straw emerging from the top. Two slices of freshly buttered toast accompany a few strips of bacon on the tray’s final plate, both looking extra crispy and the toast lightly browned.

“Nozomi, you didn’t have to do all this.” Eli remarks, beholding the massive assortment of breakfast goodies in front of her.

“Of course I did. It’s a special day for you, after all.” Nozomi calmly reminds her. “I have to make sure my Elicchi is treated right.” Nozomi begins to walk over to the bed and slowly lies down next to Eli.

“You spoil me too much, you know, Nozomi?” Eli looks over at her now-resting roommate with a look in her eyes, a look filled with both gentle happiness and with a bit of tiredness still lingering.

“Of course I do, it’s my job.”

The two girls begin to chuckle, both relaxing and Eli beginning to think about the massive tray of food that lies in front of her. As Eli begins to eat, Nozomi grows a slight grin on her face, clearly happy at her roommate’s enjoyment of her home-cooked meal. She glances over at Eli and begins to move towards her. Nozomi then plants a soft kiss on Eli’s cheek and rests her head on Eli’s shoulder.

“Happy birthday, Elicchi~”

[Love Live Spoilers] Akiba and the Idea of Change

As I’ve talked about over several write-ups before, I feel two of the strongest themes expressed throughout Love Live are the ideas of being honest with yourself and the idea of moving forward and pursuing your dreams. However, I feel there is one other theme in particular that comes into play very much throughout the first season of Love Live. This theme is the idea of change and being able to change oneself, both in appearance and mentality.

Throughout Love Live, the idea of change is presented and explored through many different characters. Several characters within the show change themselves throughout the show, both from an attitude perspective and a personal perspective. The idea of change is presented mostly through little problems each character has with themselves and some of these problems become major plot points. Some examples of these problems include Kotori’s lack of self-esteem, thinking there’s nothing special about her, and Eli’s denial of her own feelings, leading to her initial animosity towards µ’s. Going with this idea of change and the former example, there is one area prominently featured within Love Live that exemplifies this concept of change more than any other.


Akiba is prominently featured within Love Live as being A-RISE’s territory, but more importantly so, as being a hub of idol culture, with pop-up idol shops becoming prominent due to the impending arrival of Love Live. More importantly, Akiba is expressed from early in Episode 9 as a constantly changing city. At around the halfway point, after the girls meet with Kotori in Akiba, Eli goes to Nozomi at the shrine. She begins to explain to Nozomi that she realized something from their trip to the district, which results in this quote:

“This place takes on more and more things all the time and changes dizzyingly fast. This place will accept anything.”

This first expression of the idea of change captures the essence of what Akiba means within the scope of Love Live. Akiba is a place that’s constantly changing as the trends and fads move from one to the next. This constant change and accepting nature makes the city a perfect place to try and change yourself and become something new. This gives Eli the idea for µ’s to perform their next concert in Akiba. With the city’s general atmosphere of acceptance and change, this makes the city a perfect choice for an idol group looking to find their footing in the idol world. With µ’s already showing to be gaining popularity, due to their feature within the idol shop, the group performing in Akiba would be a good opportunity to increase their exposure.

This idea comes into play more later on in the episode through Kotori’s position as a legendary maid in Akiba. With Honoka and Umi joining Kotori in working at the maid cafe, the two hope to inspire Kotori in her duty of writing lyrics for µ’s new song. Honoka comments on how Kotori seems to act different when in Akiba. Honoka says that she seems to act more lively than usual, almost like a different person. Shortly after, Kotori gives a quote that I feel really epitomizes the general feeling and use of Akiba within Love Live.

“Wearing these clothes makes me feel like I can do anything. Coming to this neighborhood gives me wonders and courage. I have a feeling this town would accept me if I tried to change myself.”

This quote expresses a big idea within Love Live and the series as a whole: the idea of change. Kotori has always been a follower who opted to go along with Honoka and whatever crazy ideas she has. Being in Akiba and taking the job at the maid cafe has given Kotori a new outlook on herself and helps her to be something she couldn’t be otherwise. Akiba helps Kotori to express herself in ways she never had before. This expression helps her grow in her own right and eventually gives her the inspiration to write the next song that µ’s performs: Wonder Zone.

However, Akiba’s influence doesn’t end with the closing credits to Episode 9, and instead the city becomes synonymous with Love Live and the idea of change and growth within the show. Akiba returns to a prominent center in Episode 3 of Season 2 with the girls searching for a new place to perform. Wanting to try a new location for a performance, the girls go to Akiba to try and gain inspiration for their next concert. With the girls noticing A-RISE’s stream outside UTX High within Akiba, Honoka is confronted and meets A-RISE for the first time. While maybe not seeming like it on the surface, this is another example of change being featured within the show and once again occuring in Akiba.

To make this point, we need to take a look at A-RISE throughout Season 1. During the first season, A-RISE is prominently featured on screen as the top idol group and the never-ending comparing point for idols and µ’s in particular. However, despite this prominent feature, A-RISE seems to be more of an obstacle to overcome throughout the season than legitimate rivals. None of the members are individually featured and they are never seen in person, only through performances and their streams. The third episode of Season 2 is the first time the girls of µ’s ever meet the members of A-RISE face-to-face. Tsubasa’s first appearance within the crowd sets about a huge change in A-RISE’s role within the series, shifting them from a role of this perfect idol group into a legitimate rival for µ’s, each having their own personalities, desires, and dreams. This sets the stage for future interactions between µ’s and A-RISE and humanizes them more, allowing for better development of the group as supporting members and a more active role in the story’s progression.

Moving further, the idea of change, or the lack of, is expressed once again in Akiba during Episode 6 of Season 2. With µ’s and A-RISE both being invited to perform at a Halloween festival in Akiba, Honoka and the other girls gain the thought to work on “impact” for their next performance. With the girls not really knowing how to achieve this impact, they have the idea to try changing themselves. This results in the group trying a variety of ideas ending in comedic results, from wearing school club-themed costumes to impersonating each other and going as far as a hard-rock look resembling KISS. However comedic the results turn out to be, they ultimately end without µ’s gaining an idea of how to change themselves.

Once again, in this episode, the idea of Akiba changing itself as a city is brought up by Honoka. With the girls unable to reach a decision on how to change their impact, they leave their usual cafe into the evening light of the Halloween festival. This prompts another great quote from Honoka and one that further pushes the idea of change and how it applies to Akiba itself:

“Halloween seems different during the day and night, doesn’t it? It’s beautiful.”

While a small quote and not directly related to Akiba, it further brings about the idea of change. Honoka notices the change in the appearance of the city streets between the day and night. During the evening into the night, the festive lights all trigger on and the bright sunlight is replaced with a seasonal glow and the streets take on a new image. This change, while referring to the change in appearance of the city from day to night, also shows how quickly something can change and how this change can appear. The atmosphere of night-time completely differs from night to day, and this rapid change synergizes with the constant feeling of change and growth Akiba represents.

Finally, the last moment I feel really goes with this theme of change actually calls on the opposite idea, with the focus on not changing who you are unnecessarily. With the day of the performance at the Halloween festival arriving, the girls were wholly unable to decide on what to do in order to change their image for the concert. However, panning across the group members enjoying themselves as they are within Akiba, Honoka realizes this is okay. This leads into her giving one of my favorite quotes from the entire series:

“I think we’re fine the way we are. We tried renewing ourselves since A-RISE is so amazing. But I think we’re the best the way we are now. After all, everyone’s unique. Normal high school students hang out with people like themselves, but we’re different. We took the time to get to know each other and accept each other. That’s how we made it this far. Don’t you think that’s our strongest trait? I like that about µ’s.”

It’s a bit of a long quote, but this is easily one of my favorite lines from the entire series and it carries with it a great message. Throughout the entirety of Episode 6, µ’s goes to extreme lengths to try and change themselves because they think it’s necessary to beat A-RISE. However, in the end, Honoka realizes they don’t need to because of how the group already is. Each member of µ’s is unique in their own way and that is one of the things that makes µ’s special. They made the effort to make a change and become friends with other girls they normally wouldn’t talk to. This change resulted in the girls all making new friends and developing a deep bond with people different than themselves. In the end, while the entire district carries an idea of change, µ’s decides they don’t need to change who they are to be successful.

Throughout Love Live, Akiba is synonymous with change. Being a constantly changing hub for otaku culture, the city constantly shifts and changes its look and feel to go with the trends. This position as a cultural hub leads into being one of the best places people can go to change themselves, and this is exactly what the district does. Throughout the show, several aspects of both character and story development occur with Akiba as a grounded center, all involving some level of personal growth and change in attitude.

[Love Live Spoilers] The Siblings of Love Live and How they Steal the Spotlight

With a show like Love Live, featuring 9 main cast members and a wide slew of supporting characters, it can be easy to forget some of these supporting characters when thinking back on how the show progressed and what each character did to move the show along. However, I believe there are a couple characters, in particular, within Love Live who hold a very close relationship with the main cast of the show and cause maybe the biggest impact on the show’s progression. So, today, I’m going to take a little time to give them the credit they deserve.

The siblings of Love Live may be the most important characters within the show’s progression.

Throughout the course of the show, spanning across both seasons and into the movie, the siblings of Love Live! School Idol Project have some of the biggest impact on the series out of any of the supporting characters, possibly enough to be considered main cast members. Through a wide variety of different actions and methods, the sibling characters help to steer our main characters on their path to being idols. Some of these ways may be harder to notice at first glance, but each one is important. As such, I’m going to discuss the two most important siblings and cover some of their biggest moments throughout the series.

Yukiho Kousaka – Who better to start with than the younger sister of the main character? Yukiho is one of the first supporting characters to be introduced within Love Live. She is introduced upon Honoka returning home lamenting Otonokizaka’s impending closure. Yukiho’s first appearance begins to impact the direction of the show immediately, with the first revelation being the UTX pamphlet and her intentions to apply there. While flipping through the pamphlet, Honoka finds a picture of A-RISE. This gives Honoka her first glimpse of a School Idol group, before she even knows what School Idols are. This eventually leads to Honoka taking the pamphlet and going to UTX to see why it is they’re popular. While at UTX, Honoka notices the streamed video of “Private Wars”, opening her mind to the idea of becoming a School Idol. Because of Yukiho’s intent to apply to UTX, Honoka was led to discover School Idols and she was given the idea to form an idol group.

The thing that Yukiho does, however, that I feel really makes her a special character is her grounded level-headed personality. This serves to counteract Honoka’s rash and impulsive nature, often helping Honoka with her tough decisions despite being Honoka’s younger sister. To me, the two most important moments of this idea come from Season 2, with the first taking place in Episode 1 of the second season. With Honoka acting lax and feeling like µ’s didn’t need to participate in Love Live, Yukiho brings up the point to Honoka that the next time Love Live is held won’t be until March. With this in mind, Yukiho points out the fact that herself and Arisa would be starting school at Otonokizaka in April (if they get in), which would mean the third years will have graduated by the time Love Live comes next. This sets Honoka into thinking about whether or not she should be participating, eventually leading into Nico’s challenge and Honoka’s ultimate decision to try to win Love Live.

However strong these moments were for Yukiho’s character, I feel like her best moment as the rational, level-headed counterpart to Honoka comes in Episode 11 of Season 2, with Honoka and the others conflicted on what to do about µ’s after the third-years graduate. With Arisa being insistent on joining µ’s after she joins Otonokizaka and dreaming of being a part of the idol group she loves, Yukiho confronts Honoka on the future of µ’s after the third-years graduate. Continuing on in the episode, Yukiho tries to get Arisa to not talk about the idea of joining µ’s to Honoka, citing that Honoka needs to prepare for the upcoming Love Live performance. However, I feel this was less to stop Honoka from being distracted while preparing, but more because Yukiho could see what was happening to her older sister. Yukiho could see the turmoil within Honoka’s heart and mind and she knew how much her older sister was struggling with what to do about µ’s. Finally, Yukiho talks to Arisa about what it is that Arisa loves about µ’s, eventually leading to an amazing moment with Arisa that we’ll discuss a little later. With all these moments, from her little instances of guiding her older sister to helping her to realize her own feelings, Yukiho has possibly the biggest impact on Honoka out of any other character within the show, all done with a serious but snarky attitude and with several little comedic moments slipped in.

Arisa Ayase – If I had to pick one favorite supporting character from Love Live and maybe even from any other show, you can bet Arisa would be very high on the list or would be considered my favorite. From the way Arisa is introduced and how it is that she helps her sister to realize what it is she really wants, to Arisa’s growing adoration for µ’s and desire to be a School Idol just like them, Arisa is one of my favorite characters from Love Live. Where as Yukiho acts as a level-headed middleman to Honoka’s impulsive nature, Arisa acts as the pure, innocent look on the world and a bright ball of optimism to contrast Eli’s serious nature and rational outlook on things. Arisa’s moments are many, being one of the most featured supporting characters in LL, but there are a couple I want to talk about in particular.

The first thing I’d like to talk about with Arisa is one of my favorite scenes from the entire series (in what is now one of my favorite arcs), her introduction. Arisa is first introduced in Episode 7 of the first season with Umi leaving the school and seeing her waiting outside the school listening to a song with headphones. Umi picks up her humming immediately as being the melody to START:DASH!! and walks over to Arisa to observe the video she’s watching, noticing it’s not the same video that was uploaded online. When Arisa notices Umi next to her, she quickly becomes starstruck and tells Umi how she is waiting for her sister, later revealed to be Eli. With this introduction of Arisa and her connection with Arisa, the seeds of Eli joining µ’s begin to be planted and Umi takes notice of how Eli had been the one to record the girls’ first concert.

With Arisa expressing her adoration for µ’s once more before the two leave, we move onto Arisa’s involvement in Episode 8, where she finally begins to open Eli’s eyes to her own desires. With Eli giving her practice run of the speech for the Open House to Yukiho, Arisa, and a few others, Arisa comments that she didn’t like the speech. This then prompts Arisa to ask Eli if this is really what she wants to do. This shocks Eli, being called out by her own younger sister on her desires and she is unable to respond. Arisa can see deep-down what it is that her sister really wants, and tries to point it out to her in one of the scenes that really shifts Eli’s perspective. Shortly after, the episode runs into the hallway scene with Eli and Nozomi where Eli finally breaks down about her desire to join µ’s. This entire breakdown by Eli and the realization of her own innermost desires is brought about by Arisa’s words cutting through her own mentality and causing Eli to re-think what she wants.

However, Eli isn’t the only way Arisa works to help the story progress and aid the girls of µ’s, as she is shown to help Honoka towards the end of the series. In the later portions of Season 2, Arisa is shown to be extremely excited about the idea of attending Otonokizaka, with her dream of joining µ’s seemingly becoming a reality. However, as we talked about before, Honoka and the rest of the girls are unsure about what to do with µ’s after the third-years graduate, and Yukiho can see this too. Yukiho has a conversation with Arisa regarding what it is Arisa loves about µ’s which leads into one of my absolute favorite imouto scenes, coming to us in Episode 11.

With Honoka still conflicted on the future of µ’s and not knowing whether to keep the name or let the group remain just the nine of them, Arisa and Yukiho confront her on the street outside the Kousaka family sweets shop. Arisa tells Honoka that she won’t be joining µ’s. She explains that she came to understand her own feelings about the situation the day before, after talking with Yukiho. Arisa tells Honoka that she loves µ’s as the nine of them. She loves the way they make progress step by step together and she isn’t part of µ’s, the group she idolizes. Finally, Arisa explains that she intends to be her own “хорошо” School Idol with Yukiho and their intentions to be an idol group seperate from µ’s. This scene, to me, is one of the best Arisa scenes from the entire series, in that it not only shows her own personal growth but she helps Honoka make one of the most important decisions she ever had to make. Arisa shows a personal acceptance that she’ll never be a part of µ’s, the group she so adores and idolizes, while still giving Honoka the push she needs to make a final decision to disband µ’s after the third-years graduate. Arisa’s innocent way of thinking and her ability to express how she feels openly is one of her best qualities, and it’s a feature of hers that really helps to drive other characters to realize their inner thoughts and feelings.

Love Live is a truly dynamic show, with each character working in their own ways to progress the story and each member of the cast, main or supporting, getting a chance to shine. However, among all the supporting characters and the various amounts of time they get, I feel that none shine brighter in their moments than the siblings. Throughout the series, Yukiho and Arisa both play a major role in the conception of µ’s, their growth as an idol unit, and even the inevitable fate of µ’s They do all this while not even being members of the group themselves. Through all the good times and bad that µ’s experience during their lifespan, the siblings are always there, acting as a firm support system and helping the group to reach their true potential.

[Love Live Spoilers] Aishiteru Banzai and Moving Forward

I’d like to start this off by saying right away: I absolutely love the finale to Season 2 of Love Live! School Idol Project. I feel that everything leading up to the graduation ceremony, the entire ceremony itself, and the aftermath come together to make an absolutely brilliant finale. Aside from how well I feel it completes this arc of the story (I have to say this arc because Love Live! The School Idol Movie exists), I feel everything about this final episode and the final pushing of Season 2’s message of growth and moving forward falls into place with the episode’s (and one of the series’ most) iconic song:

Aishiteru Banzai

Aishiteru Banzai is a song that isn’t featured for the first time in the Season 2 finale. In fact, Aishiteru Banzai is first heard by the viewer all the way back in the first episode of the series. It accompanies Honoka’s first meeting with Maki and the first time the two characters ever interact, which ultimately becomes a driving force behind Honoka wanting to become an idol. Maki’s singing moved Honoka from the first episode, and now the same song that moved her so much initially is set to be one of the final songs of the television series. It’s a beautiful song in and of itself, but I’d like to take a few moments before talking about the song itself to discuss how the theme of moving forward is expressed within Episode 13.

The first instance to me of this theme really coming into play and resolving comes with Honoka finding Eli in the student council room. Eli explains to Honoka that she remembered her time as student council president while looking through her album. She remembered the stress she was under and realized everyone was helping her all the time which prompts Honoka to hug her, citing the time that Eli held her when they almost didn’t make it for the performance. Honoka tells her the others feel the same way and tells of how she sees lots of things Eli left behind, most of all Eli’s love for the school and it’s students. Honoka says that the room is full of Eli’s feelings and cites those feelings as what kept her going as the president.

This scene feels special to me in it’s personal nature for Eli and how it shows her personal growth over the course of the series. Through looking back and remembering her time with the student council, she recalls all the ways that everyone had helped her along the way and helped her to grow in her own right. With Honoka running off to prepare for the ceremony, Eli and Nozomi comment on how Honoka herself has grown, stating that she’s a proper student council president. This brings to the forefront the growth in Honoka’s character since the start of Season 2, as she’s grown from being bubbly and forgetting things constantly to the strong, responsible student she is at the end of the season.

Secondly and probably the most important aspect of this theme of moving forward present within Episode 13 is the graduation ceremony itself. While this is more of a general example, this scene works perfectly to encapsulate Season 2’s theme of personal growth and moving forward no matter what happens. Graduation ceremonies are a time of both remembrance, with the girls’ reflection on their time at the school and their time with µ’s, and of progress and moving forward, as shown by the girls moving on from high school and into the world. This is shown throughout the episode with several examples of moving on from the past and accepting the bright future that lies ahead, waiting to be seen. This theme of remembering the past while also looking to the future is also found in particular in one certain scene that actually holds two parts that are relevant…

The rooftop scene during the girls’ final walk around the school before the third years leave holds two of the most important scenes from the entire episode to solidify this theme and bring about it’s ultimate resolution. With all nine girls coming to the rooftop, they recall their times practicing up there and how they started there because they had nowhere else to practice. They played, laughed, and practiced day in and day out, creating special memories for each of the girls. Honoka is then struck with an idea and grabs a mop and bucket, using the water to draw the µ’s symbol on the roof. Maki comments on how it’ll disappear quickly in the weather, Honoka remarks that that’s fine. This moment is, in my opinion, one of the most symbolic things that Episode 13 does to push it’s theme of moving forward. Just like the water will dissolve quickly in the weather at Otonokizaka, the past and their time as School Idols will quickly fade into memory. However, “it’s fine” because even though the water may dry and the memories be resigned to memories, µ’s will always hold them and cherish the time they spent as Idols and the time that they spent together. To the individual girls of µ’s, their time as School Idols and together as µ’s will never go away and they will cherish these memories wherever they go in life.

Moving on, there is one more part of this scene that I feel is particularly noteworthy when talking about the theme of moving forward. As the others leave and Honoka prepares to leave the rooftop, she begins to see after-images and memories of their time on the rooftop practicing. These memories take the spotlight for the scene and Honoka sees these memories of their time firsthand. This, to me, is one of the most important moments for Honoka throughout the entire series. Honoka begins to leave the rooftop and remembers her conversation with Umi and Kotori when the three first decided to use the roof. As she remembers this moment and her inital quote about seeing it through until the end, Honoka begins to smile, realizing that they saw it through to the end. Honoka finally realizes that even though their time as µ’s may be drawing to and end and she may be sad now, her memories of their time as a group will never fade and she will always have the pride of seeing µ’s and their dream through to the very end.

Finally, as I mentioned before, I’d be remiss talking about the theme of moving forward and not talking about Aishiteru Banzai, the entire song that came to inspire this write-up. Aishiteru Banzai holds throughout the course of it’s lyrics a bittersweet but happy feeling of moving forward, even if it may be hard and you may be sad. This feeling is splattered all over the lyrics and the song feels like the perfect melody for moving forward without regrets. As always, the lyrics will be coming from Aishiteru Banzai’s page on the Love Live wiki. Let’s just go over a couple of lines that really hold a lot of meaning to me in this episode (Some may not be in the episode itself, but they’re relevant nonetheless):

“Cheers for the love! I’m glad to be here, our present exists right here. Cheers for the love! It’s only just begun. I’m counting on you again tomorrow, we’ve yet to reach our goal.”

Looking closely at the lyrics, I’ve come to realize the introduction of the song leading into the chorus actually encapsulates the story of the feeling of Love Live itself. With the opening of the song, the lyrics begin bright and cheerful, telling you to look forward to tomorrow and that you haven’t yet reached your goal. This gives a sense of chasing your own dream into the future and always following that dream and embracing the present, which is the same feel that Season 2 starts with. Wanting to take advantage of the time they have before the third years graduate, µ’s resolves to participate in Love Live and aims to the best they possibly can. This feeling moves forward into the first verse:

“Smile. When you’re sad, let’s blow it all away. If you can laugh, the scenery will change peeking through the clearing weather. Even when you’re unsure, the road leading to happiness comes to view under the blue sky.”

To me, this line resonates with the first half of the second season and the development that comes in several of the characters over this time. Through the help of the other members of µ’s, each member begins to topple their own inner conflicts and problems that they’ve dealt with all their lives. From Rin growing more confident in her own image, to Nozomi finally having the friends she’s always dreamed of, to Nico being truthful about her position in µ’s, each member of µ’s is able to grow throughout the course of the second season, with help from their friends. Moving onto the next line:

“Rain falls from time to time but it’s harsh without water. Don’t wither, nurture everyone’s tree of dreams.”

To me, this symbolizes the time from Episode 10 and 11, wherein the harsh reality about the future of µ’s after the third years graduate sets in. The rain is another way of representing the sadness that the girls feel about the idea that they will only be together until the third years’ graduation, but the song tells to not wither, implying that the girls shouldn’t let the sadness cripple them, but instead use it to nurture their own feelings and memories of their time as µ’s. Rather than letting their sadness get the better of them, µ’s is urged to let that sadness feed into their own hopes and dreams and inspire them more to achieve everything they can while together. Finally, we come to the chorus:

“Now! Cheers for loving you! With the courage to never give up, let’s enjoy the present. Cheers for loving you! We can do our best, so wave goodbye to yesterday and look forward.”

Finally, the song’s first chorus comes to us in the final solidity of µ’s and all it’s members. Not letting themselves be overcome with sadness, they chose instead to make the best of the time they have left, enjoying their time together, making as grand a push in Love Live as anyone could have hoped for, and finally ending in µ’s taking home the victory. Even after Love Live and into the girls’ graduation ceremony, the song sends a message of waving goodbye to yesterday and moving forward with your own dreams. The girls will cherish the memories they hold from µ’s always as they move on in a post-µ’s world.

Aishiteru Banzai, in the end, is so much more than a song when looking at it’s relation to Season 2. It is a representation and a symbol for everything that Season 2 does and pushes, both in it’s message and it’s development of the characters and story throughout. It has really come to be the perfect microcosm and picture for what Season 2 means and the growth of µ’s, both as an idol group and friends. µ’s left an unforgettable impact, both in the anime and the real world, during their time as idols, so we as viewers (and they in-show) will always be able to cherish the memories and time we spent following the growth of a small group turn their dreams into reality.

[Love Live Spoilers] Sound Direction in Love Live (Pt. 2)

So, I’ve talked at length about this topic and how much I appreciate it, and I had thought about turning it into a multi-part write-up. I’ve finally decided to do it, so I’ll re-iterate the way I started my last one:

I absolutely love the sound direction in Love Live

As I’ve continued along with my rewatch, I’ve continued to notice more and more tracks that I absolutely love from this show’s soundtrack, both from the quality of the individual tracks and then how those tracks are used within the show. Love Live has a way of precisely conveying the emotions it’s looking to capture in each of it’s pieces and this really shows in how these songs are used within the show. I’m going to go again with the same type of format I used before, linking individual tracks and talking about what it is I love in each of these tracks. (Once again, a big thanks to /u/Falthie for graciously hosting the links for these tracks)

Kanashimi no Yoru – Kanashimi is a track that I have grown to love a lot more since buying the first season’s OST and I’ve grown to realize what a subtle, spectacular piece it is on it’s own. The piano that overpowers the first part of the song carries such a somber tone, tinged with a feeling of regret and remorse. This makes the track itself absolutely beautiful. The low notes coming into provide a backing serve to push this somber feeling even more. Even sitting here listening to the track for this write-up cuts deep for me. The song itself pushes the feeling it wants to get across as well as possibly any piece I’ve listened to, from Love Live or otherwise, and it’s just a masterpiece of an OST track.

Kanashimi is one that many people likely recognize for a different scene (*cough cough train*) than the one I’m going to discuss here today, but I feel this is a scene where the song itself really powers the scene emotionally and lets this scene itself take on a new level of meaning. The scene I’m referring to comes to us from Season 2 Episode 5. The track begins when Eli calls Honoka telling her that Hanayo is to be the center for the group’s performance at the fashion show. Rin remarks on how cute the frilly dress looks on Hanayo and seems to take back her normal, cheery attitude. However, as Rin begins to leave the room, she looks back at Hanayo as the other girls begin to adjust the dress. With the scene zooming on Rin’s face, she carries in her expression a sense of regret, longing deep inside to be the one to wear it despite being too embarassed to let herself. With Rin thinking it doesn’t suit her, Hanayo is shown calling Honoka herself asking her about what to do and trying to decide what to do. Hanayo can see Rin’s inner struggle and wants to help her, but doesn’t really know how to herself. The somber tone of Kanashimi no Yoru carries through this scene very strongly, depicting Rin’s feelings of remorse and Hanayo’s unsureness on what to do about her closest friend feeling this way.

Hanayo no Ketsui – Another track likely better known for a different scene, namely the scene in Episode 4 where Hanayo and the other first-years initially join µ’s, there was a scene in Episode 5 of Season 2 where I thought this track was used spectacularly, despite the scene itself being focused more on Rin. Before we get into that, let’s look at the track itself. Ketsui starts off soft with the strings creating an intro into the piano itself. The piano, while being soft, serves to create a feeling to me of dreams becoming reality and the strings coming in serve to carry this further into a happy track with the feeling of victory and overcoming one’s greatest obstacle: themselves. Finally, with the woodwinds coming in, the track grows into a grand victorious melody with the sense of a new door being opened in front of you, with the strings and high woodwinds beckoning and calling to a new future lying just ahead.

As amazing as the song itself is, it becomes exponentially better when looked at in the context of the show. The example I’ve chosen to use today comes to us from the ending of Episode 5, with the fashion show arriving and Rin going to prepare for the concert. With Rin opening her curtain to reveal the dress, she turns to see the others dressed as grooms. With Rin questioning it, the others explain how they had practiced with the intention of Rin being the center. As the piano kicks in, Hanayo comes forward and talks to Rin personally. She tells how she thought about how Rin felt and accepted the position because of Rin’s distress. However, Hanayo calls back to when she joined µ’s and Rin gave her a push to join, and Hanayo wants to do the same for Rin. With Hanayo beginning to say how everyone thinks Rin is cute, the strings begin to pick in and Hanayo reinforces how cute she thinks Rin is and how the rest of the group thinks she’s the girliest as well. Maki then says that the outfit suits Rin the best and both first years give Rin the push. The strings themselves pick up when Rin finally looks at the dress and accepts wearing it, before stepping out on stage. The victorious sound of the track fits perfectly with Rin’s personal victory and conquering her own inner struggle to finally embrace her girly side.

Nozomi no Mune no Uchi – Another sad, somber piece comes to us when looking at Nozomi’s past. This piece is one that I really didn’t notice as much on my first watch, but it really is a beautiful track. So, let’s do as with the others and take a look at the track itself. The woodwinds and soft strings open up the song with a sad, melancholic feel, an atmosphere that rings to me with a feeling of loneliness and desire to connect with others while being unable to. The piano continues to push this feel and the flutes pick up, continuing to stress the somber tone that the song begins with. However, as the song begins to pick up, soft strings begin to pick up and the backing strings begin to change their melody. As the song picks into it’s conclusion, it takes on an entirely different feel with the scales of the flute and the strong strings giving it a whimsical feel and the sense of the fulfillment of the first part of the song, the loneliness of the early parts of the song is cast off and replaced with a fuller, more complete sound.

While the track itself is incredible and I could go on for a while about just the music, I really want to stress how well this song fits it’s scene within the show perfectly. This track comes to us in Episode 8 of Season 2 with the track’s title girl, Nozomi, and her backstory. With Maki in Nozomi’s apartment, Nozomi comments on how µ’s as a group itself is her miracle. The track picks up with Nozomi’s introduction as an elementary schooler, moving around constantly and never really making friends. The lonely feeling of the woodwinds and strings in the early part of the song resonate with Nozomi’s feeling of loneliness, never being able to make friends at school. Progressing through the scene, the piano itself begins with Nozomi seeing Eli for the first time and realizing there’s someone like her out there, finally deciding to try talking to Eli and make friends with her. Moving forward, the strings start to change tone as she notices the other girls who would eventually become members of µ’s around the school. The strings finally break into the final portion of the song with reminiscence of the performance of START:DASH!! and moving into the formation of µ’s. With this transformation of the track within the scene, Nozomi is finally able to cast off the life of loneliness she had always known before and embrace a new adventure with new friends, finally cutting back to the apartment with the reflection of young Nozomi in the tea showing a smile. Nozomi looks TO BE on the verge of tears as she realizes how it is that µ’s has changed her life and given her new friends that she never had before, achieving her one wish.

Seitokai no Oshigoto – Seitokai is a special piece for this write-up because I feel it was perfectly used in more than one scene and for completely different reasons. Starting with just the sound of the song, the woodwinds that carry over serving as the melody during the first part of the song work perfectly to create the feel that the song is going for. It’s a soft, humble feel that carries with it a feeling of softspoken pride and a sense of everything being left in the right hands. This feeling grows as the song progresses into bombastic, powerful strings that move the song into a full-on display of success and prideful passing, with soft piano carrying into a soft, melancholy, and yet, at the same time, satisfying mood. While I could go on about how good this song is from a musical standpoint, I want to talk about two moments this track was used during Love Live and how well the song works in these scenes.

For our first scene, we go to Episode 7 of Season 2 and Eli worrying about the second years handling the Student Council work on their own. The piece picks up slowly with the high woodwinds as Eli questions if the three girls will be alright handling the student council on their own, to which Nozomi dispels these doubts. Nozomi reminds Eli that the girls will have to fend for themselves after the third years have graduated. Where this song really picks up though and captures the scene is when the low woodwinds come into play as that is when the scene transitions to Honoka, Kotori, and Umi in the student council room. The track here captures the togetherness and bond shared by the second years, as pointed out in the Love Live rewatch by Falthie. The track and scene both depict the girls working hard together and the strings pick up when the girls enter into the last leg of their work and pick it up, with the closing piano coming before the start of the student council meeting. The song flows incredibly well with the transitions of the scene, flawlessly bouncing from one set of characters to the other, and the music makes this transition seamless. It seems to capture perfectly the worry felt by Eli, moving into the determined attitude and hardwork being put in by the second years, finally ending with the questioning by Hanayo and Maki.

This track works again in a much different way in Episode 9 of Season 2, picking up when Cotaro shows Nico the snowmen he made of µ’s. The high woodwinds here work perfectly for expressing the sweet, loving scene between Nico and her younger siblings. Nico is overcome with pride and joy inside from her younger brother’s present, eventually leading into Nozomi and Eli arriving to walk to the venue with Nico. The low woodwinds here work to show the bond Nico has developed with her fellow third years over the course of the show, agreeing to walk with them and going as far as to even invite them in to her apartment, which Nico never would have done before. The strings finally pick up with Honoka, Umi, and Kotori preparing for the student council’s presentation and their confidence therein. This piece, to me, is one of the shining examples of the show’s OST because of how well it is used in multiple scenes.

In conclusion, I have this to say: Love Live has an absolutely spectacular soundtrack. Further than that, Love Live is shown over the course of the series to have fantastic sound direction, with each song being used within the series coming at a time where the track matches perfectly with the emotion it carries. While I may have used fewer tracks in this write-up than the last one, I felt like these were some of the most powerful tracks out of the entire soundtrack and served the best to capture the emotion they aspired to achieve. I don’t know that I’ve ever found a series where I felt so strongly about the sound direction throughout and how well I feel it is executed. Love Live cuts to the pinnacle of music anime for me by moving past the threshold of having quality insert songs, but by also knowing exactly how to use it’s backing tracks and how to make each moment of musical direction within the show meaningful.

[Love Live Spoilers] Yume no Tobira, The Door To Our Dreams

I’ll start this off by saying that I love the performances from Love Live! School Idol Project. Each one feels really in place, the animation for all of them is top-notch, and the music is obviously the best part of each of them. µ’s has this style of music in a lot of their main songs that I’ve grown to love as time has gone on, and it’s always present when the group is together. However, there is one song that, to me, captures the essence and feeling of µ’s better than any other song in Love Live, and it’s one that’s solidified it’s place in my heart as both a favorite song and a favorite performance.

Yume no Tobira

Yume no Tobira has solidified a place in my heart for a variety of different reasons that I’m going to go in-depth looking at today. It feels to me like the perfect µ’s song and the song itself seems to embody and show what µ’s is at it’s core. This is done through a variety of methods, some of which include it’s use within the anime adaptation, the music itself, general feel of the song, and the lyrics to the song, each of which I’ll go into more in-depth. I believe Yume no Tobira deserves this kind of attention, as it’s one of the most µ’s songs ever released and it perfectly embodies the feeling of the anime.

To start off, let’s take a look at the origins and in-series birth of Yume no Tobira. Yume no Tobira first came about as a concept in Episode 2 of Season 2, with the group taking an overnight trip to the Nishikino family’s vacation cottage in the mountains. While on this trip, the idea is proposed that µ’s should write and create a new song to use at the preliminaries, to ensure they don’t fall behind A-RISE in the competition. To do this, µ’s splits up into three groups (symbolizing the three µ’s sub-units), with Maki’s group to work on composition, Umi’s group to work on lyrics, and Kotori’s group to work on costumes. Though they struggled mightily on the way, each group helped each other out and worked as a team in order to accomplish the task they had set out to do, which eventually inspired each leader to create their portion of the song after the others had fallen asleep. µ’s worked together in their different groups to help push each other along, which also goes with a fantastic quote from Honoka in Episode 2 that I’ll share here:

“After all, there’s nine of us. If someone stops, someone else will pull them along. If someone is tired, someone else will push them. Even though we all stop and worry sometimes, we’re still making progress.”

This quote to me perfectly embodies the essence of what Yume no Tobira is: The idea that each girl helps one another and that all their feelings are as one. It really pushes the togetherness and bond that µ’s has that gives them this unbeatable chemistry as a group and creates this harmony within both their songs and their character interactions. This bond between the members shows itself in both the video and lyrics for Yume no Tobira and I believe this idea of each girl pulling each other along and pushing each other towards the future comes into play in the next episode, with the performance as well.

In Episode 3, µ’s has their first face-to-face encounter with A-RISE, while trying to decide on a place to do their performance for the Love Live preliminaries. The girls don’t want to use anywhere they had previously performed, so the idea was for µ’s to perform at a new location, which eventually led them to Akiba. Upon meeting with A-RISE and having a sitdown with them in the cafe at UTX, it is revealed that A-RISE has been keeping an eye on µ’s and knows about their members. Eventually, this leads to A-RISE offering to µ’s out of mutual respect the ability to use UTX’s rooftop stage for their performance for the preliminaries. µ’s happily accepts, but come time for their performance, are struck with shock and awe at the quality of A-RISE’s concert, and don’t think they can put on the same level of performance. Honoka once again steps up and gives a few inspiring words to lift the spirits of the other girls, along with the support of their classmates and friends, which leads into the performance itself.

Now, I could talk a lot about what this performance does and how amazing it is, but there are a few particular notes about it I would like to point out. First, during the verses, each of the girls split into three groups. These groups are the same groups they had split into for the training camp in Episode 2, and each takes turns as the center of attention for the performance itself. With lyrics talking about helping each other to achieve greatness, this part and the evolution into the chorus with the girls singing together really gains a whole new level of meaning. The girls start off in their seperate groups singing at the start of the song and each getting a little bit of the spotlight, but they all join together to make µ’s whole once the chorus arrives. To me, this embodies the idea that µ’s isn’t any combination of the girls, but instead µ’s is only µ’s when all 9 girls are together. Finally, the song progresses into what is my favorite little segment of the song. The girls move from one side to another, with Honoka pressing through the center, and they do this little motion which is probably my favorite part of the entire song. Aside from the appearance of it, which I very much like, to me, the raised hands and drawing down fists represents the idea of µ’s as a unit reaching for, and grabbing their dreams from in front of them. The entire performance to me feels very symbolic of the togetherness and group mentality of µ’s, which I plan to talk about in a later write-up, and it all feels very well-executed, with the group starting as seperate entities all combining into one unit by the end.

Looking at it and thinking about a point I touched on earlier, the entire performance itself is very similar to the song’s formation and creation in the beginning. Just like when they seperated into three groups to inspire the different members, the song starts off with the girls divided into units and singing in parts, bouncing back and forth. As it grows into the pre-chorus part, the melody of the song shifts and each girl sings solo within their own group, with each girl providing their own flair and personality to their group’s section. Finally, Honoka takes the lead, the group joins together, and the song enters into the chorus: a victorious upbeat sounding chorus with all of µ’s singing together. This, to me, goes with the end of Episode 2, when Maki, Umi, and Kotori all join together and create the song. In it’s conception and creation, Yume no Tobira mirrors it’s performance and it’s a very powerful effect.

Now, I’d be remiss to talk about Yume no Tobira and how powerful a song I feel it is without discussing the lyrics themselves. These may not be perfect translations, but I will be using the translated lyrics taken from the [Love Live wiki]( Right away, the first lines and the introduction set up the feel of the song and what it means for µ’s:

“The door to our dreams, I’ve always been searching for it. I’ve been searching for a connection between you and me.”

While this one may be a bit harder to interpret, I believe it implies to µ’s hunting for and chasing their dream, and this is an idea that has been prevalent in Love Live from the very beginning. The entire series started off with Honoka, Kotori, and Umi chasing a dream of being idols and saving their school from closing. Eventually, as the group started to gain popularity and more members began to join, the goal started to shift from just saving the school onto bigger plateaus, like participating in and even winning Love Live. The entire time, throughout the whole series, Honoka and the rest of µ’s have been chasing and looking for the door to their dreams, the one opportunity that will give them a chance to realize their dreams.

“Yes! Believe in yourself, believe in everyone. Tomorrow is waiting, so we have to go.”

This line for me goes back to a very basic idea of µ’s that is prevalent throughout the course of Love Live and is tinged in every song: the group mentality of µ’s. This line tells of not only believing in yourself and trusting your own feelings, which is a concept several members of µ’s struggle with, but telling you to believe in your friends and that they’re there to help you. It also tells of µ’s reaching for their own dreams together and reaching for that dream and the future held right in front of you.

“When I was tired, you encourage me; your smile is the best and so, I’m advancing little and little”

This is the ultimate embodiment of what µ’s is as a group: an inseperable group that all help each other to reach their goals and follow their own dreams. It implies that each member of µ’s helps each other along the way and that, to me, is one of the strongest aspects of µ’s as a unit. They’re more than just a group of idols, they’re a group of friends helping each other and pushing each other to bigger and greater heights. This group mentality is what makes µ’s so strong at it’s core and it’s a fundamental aspect in what makes them such a special group. Everyone in µ’s helps each other to achieve their goals, and everyone in µ’s works as a team to follow their dreams.

“The door to our dreams, everyone is searching for it, Wishing to find the meaning of our encounters, The door to our dreams, I’ll always continue to search for it. It’s the season you and I set off on a journey.”

Of course, we have to talk about the chorus, which sings a message of following your own dreams and seeing why it is these people were connected. It also sends a message of continuing to search for your dreams, implying there will always be greater dreams to chase. However, of course from µ’s, that journey can’t be taken alone, as the final line implies. This tells that no member of µ’s is taking this journey alone and that, no matter what happens, they will all continue to chase their dreams together.

Yume no Tobira, to me, is the crown jewel of what µ’s is and what a µ’s song embodies. The entire song, from it’s conception to it’s performance to the lyrics themselves, send a message of chasing your dreams and the idea of µ’s being stronger as a unit than alone. Every part about Yume no Tobira sings to how µ’s comes together as a unit and how everyone is always supporting their fellow idols. Each member of µ’s helps one another to experience things they never would have on their own, and inspires them to reach for greater heights and chase these dreams together.

[Love Live Spoilers] Rin: Why Self-Esteem and Confidence Matters

While I’ve talked in the past about idea of being honest with yourself and your own desires in the past, I feel that, in Love Live, there is one character in particular who transcends this issue into a very basic lack of self-confidence and unhappiness with her own image. She is a character that, throughout the show, exhibits the traits of a classic tomboy, almost never being seen wearing a skirt aside from their school uniform, and is practically just a human-shaped ball of energy and genki all the time. Of course, I’m talking about Love Live’s cat-like little first year herself:

Rin Hoshizora

Rin is introduced into the series through Hanayo as her best friend, and exhibits the same amount of energy in her first appearance as ever. She is first shown trying to convince Hanayo to join her and check out the athletic clubs at Otonokizaka, while Hanayo secretly desires to look at µ’s and attend their concert. While her appearances in the first couple episodes are brief, Episode 4 is where Rin makes her big first appearance and we learn a couple things about her, the biggest of which is her adversity to anything girly.

It’s shown that since a young age, Rin has always been adverse to doing most anything girly, especially wearing skirts. Many times, Rin would be picked on or made fun of when she would wear skirts. The other children would all tell her she was like a boy, both in attitude and appearance. This picking and joking clearly affected her even up to the modern day. Rin never wears skirts or girly clothing outside of their school uniforms. This was one of the primary reasons Rin initially did not want to be an idol. She didn’t feel being an idol suited her and she felt she wouldn’t make a good idol. This even carries into Episode 5 of Season 2 when the girls want her to wear the frilly dress for the fashion show, but she steadfastly refuses this idea. Rin even begins a bout of self-deprecation when talking with Maki and Hanayo, saying that she isn’t cute and implying that Hanayo is far cuter and would make a much better fit for the leader and center position in Honoka’s absence.

This entire after-school scene with the other first-years leads into the root of Rin’s personal problems: a severe lack of self-confidence due to her own low self-esteem and lack of happiness with her personal image. Rin shows that she clearly doesn’t think of herself as cute and she carries that thought with her in her own actions. Rin is always opposed to doing cute, girly things and always prefers to act in her own tomboyish manner, because she doesn’t like trying to be girly. Years of being picked on whenever she would try to do something girly even drives her adversity to wearing dresses and skirts, and it can be seen manifesting in how she chooses to dress, often opting for long pants and t-shirts as opposed to skirts and dresses. This lack of self-confidence and unhappiness in her own image really manifests itself in Episode 5 of Season 2.

Episode 5 opens with the second years of µ’s on a school trip and the first and third years left at Otonokizaka to try and manage for a fashion show that µ’s is going to be performing in. With Honoka, the group’s typical leader gone on the trip, the decision is made for Rin to be the group’s leader while they wait for Honoka and the others’ return. While Rin is opposed to this at first, she begrudgingly accepts, after Nozomi explains that Honoka picked Rin as the best choice and the first years agree. Explaining that Rin isn’t very good at that kind of thing, Maki and Hanayo chime in that Rin is pretty shy, especially when it comes to herself.

After a less than impressive showing at the group’s after-school practice, we come to the sidewalk scene with the three first years wherein we get a full look at Rin’s lack of self-confidence. She proceeds to put herself down, saying things like she wouldn’t make a good leader and she’s not someone who stands in the center. Rin says that she’s nothing like an idol, talking about how Hanayo’s cuter and more girly. With Hanayo trying to tell Rin that Rin is cuter than her, Rin vocally denies it and shouts that she’s not a good leader before running off. With Hanayo explaining to Maki about Rin’s past and her experience when she tried to wear girly things, Rin runs off and hides in an alley.

This scene to me shows the full scope of Rin’s own lack of self-confidence and her image of herself. From bashing on her own abilities as a leader despite having only one day of leading behind her, to her adversity to wearing anything girly and her self-deprecation of her own image, Rin is shown to be very damaged from a self-confidence point of view. Rin feels that she isn’t as girly or cute as Hanayo, and also indicates that she doesn’t think she sings as well as Maki. The constant insults she hurls at herself throughout the course of this conversation shows a clear lack of self-esteem and really shows why it is she doesn’t like doing anything girly.

Later in Episode 5, it’s revealed that, due to the typhoon, the second-years will be unable to return from their trip in time for the fashion show and that the remaining girls will be forced to put on their performance for the show themselves. At this time, the frilly dress to be worn by the center is introduced, and met with a look of shock by Rin. Rin strongly refuses the idea of her wearing the dress, saying that she wouldn’t look good in something so girly. This comment makes Maki bring up their normal outfits for concerts, to which Rin remarks that they are all wearing the same clothes and she’s on the outside. Rin goes so far as to say that she shouldn’t be the center for the sake of µ’s, which, in and of itself, implies a huge lack of self-esteem and self-confidence in her image. With the girls deciding what to do without Rin acting as the center, the idea of Hanayo is proposed and Rin jumps right on board with it, saying that Hanayo is much cuter than her and she would make a perfect center. While pushing the same point as the previous scene, Rin’s own lack of confidence and her low opinion of her own image is put fully on display in this scene. Going so far as to say it would be better for the entire group if she doesn’t act as the center speaks volumes for how she thinks of herself.

The next scene, however, is where this wall of Rin’s lack of self-esteem and her own disrespect for her own image begins to manifest. With the girls adjusting the dress for Hanayo, Rin is seen looking back at Hanayo, with a look in her eyes that screams of regret and doubt. Despite her own opposition to the idea of wearing the dress, Rin secretly has some desire to do it, that comes from deep down inside. It’s shown in this scene and multiple others that Rin really wants to dress like a girl and act more girly, but she is always too embarassed to do it. Though she brushes it off, it’s clearly apparent to the other girls of µ’s how she feels. As much as Rin insists that doing girly things and wearing dresses doesn’t suit her, she holds a desire deep within her to embrace her feminine side that she seems too nervous or scared to act on.

This idea of doubt in Rin’s heart and her own inner desires leads into the final scene, with the day of the fashion show arriving and µ’s preparing for their performance. With Nozomi telling the girls that they need to get ready for the concert, Rin gives a rousing speech and goes to her changing closet, to be met with the very dress that she starkly opposed wearing. Upon going to ask about this, she turns to the rest of the group, who have all donned groom outfits for the purpose of the concert. Eli reveals that the girls prepared for having Rin as the center and Hanayo goes to Rin. Hanayo thought about how Rin felt and accepted the position of center, only because she could see the inner turmoil and distress Rin was facing herself. Hanayo calls back (and the OST itself does this too) to the time when the three first years joined µ’s. With Rin being the one to give Hanayo the push, Hanayo wants to do it for Rin now. Hanayo explains how cute she thinks Rin is and Maki tells Rin to look at the outfit, saying it suits Rin best. This help and support from her friends in µ’s are the push it finally takes for Rin to tackle this lack of self-esteem herself.

Finally, the episode leads into the episode’s iconic song and one that really suits Rin the best: Love Wing Bell. With lyrics that talk about how even someone like Rin can be cute and a general idea of casting off hesitation and friends helping to reach new goals, the song itself speaks to Rin’s character. Throughout the course of the series and especially this episode, Rin is shown to have personal problems with her own cuteness and is always shown hesitating when wanting to wear a dress or act girly. Because of this, she always opposed wearing things like skirts or dresses, and always chose to act like a tomboy instead. But, because of the help of her own friends and each of the members of µ’s, Rin was able to overcome these self anxieties and feel more confident in embracing her own feminine side. She is even shown while the song is playing at practice after the concert, wearing a skirt during one of the group’s rooftop practices.

Rin’s story throughout Love Live is one of self-esteem and struggling with confidence in oneself. Due to past experiences of being picked on when she would wear a skirt, Rin always had problems with her own feminine image and this festered into her initially not wanting to be an idol and, later on, not wanting to be the center of attention. However, Rin was always shown to have doubts in this, showing deep-down that she always wanted to dress and act girly, but was too nervous to in the end. Joining µ’s would help to start a new era of Rin’s life and would begin to cause a change in her opinion. Because of the loving support of all her friends, Rin was able to finally tackle her inner demons and come out more confident in herself and with a higher level of self-esteem.

[Love Live Spoilers] MakiNico: Unbeatable Chemistry for an Unbeatable Pair

I’m not often one to jump heavily on-board with a yuri ship and talk at length about how much I love it, for the most part. Usually, I let my preferences take the form of an album of fan-art (or posts every ten days on /r/YuYuYu), but Love Live has brought out something inside me and I’ve really been drawn into one yuri ship in particular. I never expected to really appreciate this ship as much as I do, but as of writing this essay, I currently have 336 saved images of fanart of this pairing and it’s become one of my favorite pairings from any anime, so I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about this pairing that has grown on me and in my heart so much.

From the bottom of my heart, I adore MakiNico

In all my time watching anime, I don’t think I’ve ever had a ship/pairing of girls make me feel the way MakiNico has. With over 330 saved images of MakiNico fanart stored on my computer, I’ve never had a ship that I loved as much as MakiNico. For reasons I’ll go into, the ship has grown on me so much to the point that I’m now likely one of the most avid shippers among my friends and some chat rooms I use. But, why is it that I love MakiNico so much?

I think the most logical point when talking about characters and why it is that I love them is first to talk about the characters themselves. From my first watch of Love Live, both Nico and Maki resonated with me early on and quickly climbed to be among my favorite characters from the show, as well as anime in general.

With Nico, I had loved her from before the time I watched the show originally, as I was a big fan of her character design. However, my love for Nico went far further than that. Her tsundere attitude towards the rest of the group and her slow acclimation and change in opinions of µ’s is a type of character growth that I’ve always been a fan of, with some of my favorite characters from other shows (Karin from YuYuYu and Perrine from Strike Witches in particular) sharing this style of arc. Further than that, Nico has a passion for idols and being an idol that is unmatched from the rest of the cast. This passion carried her through dark times where every other member of the Idol Study Club had quit, due to Nico’s own dreams being too lofty for the rest. Couple this with Nico’s season 2 episode, the introduction of her siblings, Nico’s backstory involving the Idol Study Club, and her siblings’ image of her, and Nico just continued to rise in my personal rankings and my love for her continued to grow.

As for Maki, she didn’t have the good fortune of winning me over before the show had even begun. But, as I talked about a bit in my Nozomi write-up and similar to Eli’s growth in the series, Maki starts the series distant from the rest of the group, not really interacting with the other members. Maki always struck me as a loner, so it was really nice for me to see her growth and see her begin interacting with the other members of µ’s. Aside from her natural good looks and the positives of her character design, she is shown to have an impressive talent for the piano, coupled with her unique voice standing out among the rest of µ’s. Maki was one that took a little time to grow on me, but once she did, I was sold and I absolutely love Maki.

To me, though, the times when Maki and Nico shine the most are when they share the screen. Those little MakiNico moments are unbeatable to me, in terms of character interactions, just because of the way they’re handled. From a seiyuu standpoint, Soramaru and Pile share an incredible chemistry that I feel is almost unmatched when they share the screen, and this really translates into the characters. As characters, Nico and Maki have, I believe, the best on-screen chemistry of any members of the Love Live cast and this, in part, comes from how similar the two characters are. One thing that Nico, Maki, and Eli all share, and it could be part of why BiBi works so well as a unit, is this similarity in their backstory and characters of this sense of almost loneliness and seperation from the group that really defines their characters and development. Nico first comes into µ’s after previously bashing on the group while, at the same time, secretly envying them, Maki joins the group but distances herself from the rest until Nozomi helps break that wall, and Eli looks down on the group and views them as an embarassment until she’s convinced otherwise. This similarity in characters is what makes MakiNico work as a ship really well, to me, and it really defines their characters.

Now, the big thing that really inspired me doing this write-up today came with my rewatch of Love Live, specifically Episode 2 of Season 2 and a certain scene therein. This scene is probably my favorite scene from the entire series, topping some other scenes like the hallway scene from S1E8 and the beach scene from S2E11. This scene is really special to me because of how I feel it perfectly depicts Maki and Nico’s relationship and chemistry, and it just feels so natural. Starting with Maki talking about writing the song for the third-years, Nico quickly shuts her down, saying that each song should be written for every member of the group. This shows to me how much Nico cares about µ’s and how much she’s grown to be a part of the group. Then, Nico offers Maki a roasted potato, which she then splits in half and offers one half to Nico. This is probably one of my favorite moments from the entire series, it’s so sweet and it really feels to me like the perfect example of Maki and Nico expressing their true feelings. No matter how tsun either girl may act towards the other, the two truly care about each other and it feels like there is a real sense of affection and caring for one another through this scene. Then, just as always, Nico makes a comment on making sure she shines in the song and the two start to go back and forth once again. The way this defuses the scene and it delves back into the typical MakiNico interactions is just beautiful.

This entire scene to me is such a shining example of what MakiNico is through it’s structure. It’s structured in a way that starts with a light, happy atmosphere (with Eli being afraid of the dark), into serious conversation about the group (with Nico and Maki talking about the song), and finally ending with a sweet moment between Maki and Nico (with the splitting of the potato) before quickly reverting to typical MakiNico. In only a minute and a half, it manages to show each different facet of the two’s interactions and captures the essence of those interactions. It’s simple, but understated, and feels like the perfect MakiNico moment to me.

Aside from that moment, there are a couple other nice MakiNico moments that serve to solidify this caring bond that has grown between the two girls. The one that always comes to mind when trying to think of why it is that I love Maki and Nico together (along with the Episode 2 scene) so much comes to us from the aforementioned beach scene in Episode 11 with the girls talking about how µ’s will end when the third-years graduate. Nico begins to show a bit of annoyance at the idea of the group disbanding just because the girls are graduating, until Maki stops her promising that no matter what happens, they’ll keep being idols. Maki then says that she wants µ’s to be only theirs, and that she doesn’t want a µ’s without Nico. This scene and this moment in particular moves me to tears every time I watch it and to me, this is really the point where MakiNico feels real to me. Maki breaking down over the thought of a µ’s without Nico in it and her emotions at this point of the series touch me on a really deep level and it’s just another amazing point that I feel really shows what it is about MakiNico that I love so much.

Now…I’d be remiss to talk about MakiNico and not mention and talk about a certain song. If you know MakiNico, you probably know what song it is I’m talking about. I’d like to take a moment and look at Zurui yo Magnetic Today and how much it is literally the perfect song for the MakiNico ship. This song captures the essence of what MakiNico is at it’s foundation: Two tsunderes “tsun”ing at each other, all the while trying their hardest to cover up their true feelings that slowly leak out and bleed all over this song. The thing that really makes this song feel like the epitome of MakiNico and everything that MakiNico is to me has to be the way the song itself is structured. Each verse is sung in a back-and-forth style, with one girl singing a line and the other singing in response. It has a very back-and-forth feel that really suits the two of them and their back-and-forths in their scenes, finally converging in the chorus where their similarities begin to emerge. The little talking parts of the song between Maki and Nico are probably the best thing about the song to me, as each of their personalities really come out and come together in these segments.

I could go on a lot longer about why it is that I love MakiNico so much and what it is I adore about the two of them, but I would probably run far past the character limit for self-posts on Reddit, so I’ll cap it off here. MakiNico, to me, feels like the strongest ship in Love Live and there are so many amazing moments that have made me grow to love each character and their interactions especially. Maki and Nico have this unbeatable chemistry when together and it’s a chemistry that stands as strong as probably any I’ve seen in anime. Each conversation they have feels natural and has a flow to it, and it really drives home the bond they hold and their connection.

[Love Live Spoilers] Honoka, Susume→Tomorrow, and the Drive to Move Forward

One of the biggest things about Honoka that I enjoy and one of the largest factors in her rising up to #3 in my personal rankings for Love Live (behind Nico and Eli) is her drive. By that, I mean, one of the best things about Honoka is the passion, ambition, and desire to work hard that comes about when doing anything involving being an idol. While this drive is brought into question and her flame of passion for being an idol dies out a bit at times, it never fails to recover and Honoka goes back to being the bright, genki girl we all know and love.

Honoka is set up from the start of Love Live! School Idol Project as being lazy and lackadaisical when it comes to her schoolwork and other things, often times forgetting about homework or relying on Kotori and Umi to help. It is also demonstrated throughout the series, in Episode 7 of Season 1 in particular, that she is not the best at her schoolworks and often does rely on her two closest friends to bail her out when it comes to school. However, this laziness and carefree attitude towards her schooling is starkly contrasted whenever she does anything involving being an idol. From singing and dancing, to training, to the performances themselves, Honoka demonstrates an almost uncharacteristic level of devotion and dedication. Honoka is the kind of person where, once she sets her mind on something, she always sees things through to the end and she always strives to do as best as she can. This comes into play a lot throughout the series, but there are a couple moments in particular that I think really show her drive towards the end of Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2.

The first of these moments that immediately comes to mind for me when thinking of this topic is the auditorium scene with Honoka and Umi from the final episode of Season 1. With Honoka previously quitting being an idol from the shock of Kotori moving, coupled with µ’s withdrawing from the Love Live, Honoka had been depressed and seemed to be a soldier without a country to fight for. However, an afternoon with her classmates and a trip to the arcade where she would play the DDR clone with a friend would remind her of her own love for dancing. This, coupled with words from Eli about how she envied Honoka for her unshaken ability to act on her own emotions and feelings, sets something off in Honoka and seems to remind her of what it is she loves. This seems to re-ignite in Honoka her passion for being an idol, which inevitably leads to the auditorium scene with Umi wherein she gives a quote that seems to epitomize the point I’m looking to make:

“When we sang together here at our first concert, I had a thought. I wanted to sing more and keep being School Idols. I said I would quit, but that didn’t change how I felt. It’s not for the school or the Love Live. I just love singing. I can’t give it up…”

This quote to me perfectly embodies how Honoka acts about being an idol. Honoka has this indomitable drive and passion for singing and dancing that refuses to die and stays with her throughout the entire series, even through times when she was doubting herself and it seemed like everything was falling apart. This drive also shows itself early on in Episode 12. With Honoka home sick, in bed with a cold and a sprained ankle, she was still fully intending to go into school the next day and start practicing again. She even went to the point that she wanted to hold another concert before the Love Live, just in order to secure their position and make up for the previous performance being cut short.

However, this drive doesn’t end there, as it carried into Season 2 and is demonstrated early on, around the end of Episode 1. Previously in the episode, Honoka had been named as the new Student Council President for Otonokizaka and had begun to feel the pressure and stress that Eli herself had dealt with through the entirety of Season 1. This stress and her own self-doubt brought about by the events of Season 1’s ending episodes brought the idea to Honoka that maybe µ’s didn’t have to perform in the new Love Live. This was a decision and idea that was met with shock and some annoyance by the other members of µ’s, which grew and festered to the point of Nico herself wanting to challenge Honoka for the ability to go to the Love Live. Before this point, Honoka herself had also begun to question whether it was alright to not go to the Love Live, due to comments made by Yukiho about the status of the third-years, but nevertheless, she accepted the challenge and Honoka and Nico were set to race up the shrine steps, with the fate of µ’s attending the Love Live preliminaries hanging in the balance.

With Nico falling in the run and the race ending early, she and the other third years began to talk with Honoka about the idea of µ’s not going and what it meant to the third years. Because of the time-frame set for the Love Live directly following the next competition, the girls’ next opportunity to participate in the Love Live as School Idols would not come until the third-years had graduated. With all the other girls agreeing on wanting to go to the Love Live, it’s revealed that Honoka was worried about neglecting her duties as student council president finally saying that she wants to attend the Love Live and wants to keep following her dream of performing at the Love Live (which leads into something I’ll talk about shortly). The conclusion of this episode shows just how far Honoka is willing to let her drive carry her, declaring that people can do anything they put their minds to. It is here that Honoka declares her intention that she doesn’t intend to just participate in the Love Live, and that she intends to aim for a victory at the Love Live.

Honoka’s grand speech here to me really pushes the level of ambition she has when it comes to singing and dancing. She isn’t willing to accept just singing and dancing for fun, she wants to take her love, drive, and passion for being an idol and put forward the best effort she possibly can, which rings with every moment of her trying to be an idol throughout the series. Even calling back to the first Live, when no one showed up, Honoka refused to give up or lament on the failure of a concert, instead proclaiming to Eli that she wants to work hard and give people everything she can, in order to share with everyone the feeling she had standing atop that stage. Honoka’s passion for being an idol comes from her deep love for singing, dancing, and making others happy, so she strives to put her best effort forward in being an idol.

This passion and the idea of the drive to move forward can also be found in one of the show’s signature songs, Susume→Tomorrow. The lyrics of the iconic song ring with the sense and feeling of the drive and passion of every other member of µ’s towards being an idol. Looking at some of the English-translated lyrics, this sense becomes the focus of the song. Let’s take a short look at some of these translations and talk about them shortly.

“I feel we have a chance. Yes. Let’s push forward! I don’t want to regret it later, our future lies right ahead”

The first line of the song rings right away with the sense of passion and the desire and ambition from each member of µ’s, Honoka, especially. They can all see this chance to make something great and a future in music, and intend to push forward without and regrets. Right off the bat, this line is tinged with the passion and drive to work hard and always put your best effort forward, stating that their future lies right in front of them waiting to be grasped.

“Look ahead, look up, don’t wait for anything. Let’s go now, let’s go quickly, we can go anywhere. The sun’s shining and beckoning the future. Now, come. You come too. Forge ahead to tomorrow”

Another excellent line that rings with the sense of the future being just out of reach, waiting to be grabbed. The line seems to sing of the ability for the girls and anyone else to be able to do anything they set their mind to, as long as they give it their best effort. It has the general sense of not waiting on something you think you want, but instead, putting forward the effort to grab it and make your dream a reality. Skipping ahead a bit, let’s talk about a couple lines from the chorus in particular…

“Let’s go! It’s still the same world…Let’s go, as long as there’s a chance, I won’t give up…Let’s go! I’m starting to see potential. We can shine when we’re cheerful, there’s a place for us”

As to be expected of the chorus, it’s a collection and gathering of great messages the song and Honoka’s general characterization throughout Love Live are looking to push throughout the course of both the song and the show. There is a constant underlying message of giving your best effort and always being willing to fight and work for your dreams. Just like Honoka and the others have to put in long hours of practice, and they have to go through a lot of hard times throughout the course of the series, the song pushes the idea that, just like µ’s, the future is just over the horizon, waiting to be seen and experienced. It’s a very positive message of always working hard and never giving up on your dreams. There are a lot of other translated lines from this chorus that I absolutely love, but it would be make this write-up far too long, so feel free to go to the LL wiki and check it out for yourself.

While I’ve talked before about Love Live and it’s message through the end of the first season about being honest with yourself and your feelings, Honoka, along with Susume→Tomorrow, push throughout the series a message about hard work and being willing to fight and work hard at what you love, and the drive to move forward and do your best. Even in dark times, when everything seems to be falling apart and all their hard efforts seem to be for naught, Honoka continues to let her flame of passion for being an idol blaze a shining light through the darkness.

[Love Live Spoilers] Love Live: A Message of Being Honest with Yourself

Last night, I finished Season 1 of my most recent rewatch of Love Live, and I’ve been inspired more than ever before to start writing about things I appreciate from the show. That being said, over my Eli and Nozomi write-ups and the last few episodes, I’ve picked up on something I had never really noticed before about the latter half of the first season.

In Love Live Season 1, there is a prevailing theme through the second half of the season about being honest with one’s self and being honest with your feelings. It’s an issue that affects a lot of characters within the show in different ways and each character resolves this issue through different ways. It touches on multiple members of the cast throughout, so I’m going to take a short look at each character and how this idea is applied to them.

Eli – The first and, in my opinion, most obvious example is Eli and her personal growth throughout the first eight episodes of Love Live. Now, I’ve already talked at length about my thoughts on Eli, but I just want to take a few moments and re-propose those ideas in relation to this theme. As it is revealed throughout the course of Episodes 7 and 8, Eli has been at least somewhat following µ’s and the girls since their inception and the first concert. It is shown that Eli has always had an interest in the idol group and wanted to become an idol deep-down, but she cast off these ideas for the purpose of saving the school. Because she was so focused on saving the school in her own method, she completely shut out of her mind the idea of being an idol and opposed µ’s at every step. At the same time, due to her own history in ballet and her training as a child, she viewed µ’s as beneath her and an “embarassment to idols”, due to not being up to her level of dancing. This idea persists with Eli until around Episode 7, when Arisa is introduced and it is revealed that Eli had recorded the first Live in the auditorium for her younger sister. Arisa was shown to adore µ’s and idols, and this adoration finally started to break Eli and she began to doubt herself. This doubting was brought to a head in Episode 8, when Nozomi confronted Eli in the hallway in one of my absolute favorite scenes. This scene finally shattered Eli’s opposition to being an idol and let the inner turmoil she was experiencing spill out, which finally resulted in Honoka offering to Eli to join µ’s. Eli was able to finally drop her cold, harsh attitude and accept the idea of being an idol. She came to terms with her own desire to be an idol and finally started to be honest with herself about what she really wanted.

Maki – Our next example of being honest with one’s self comes from the tsundere queen of µ’s, Maki. Maki is introduced in the beginning of the series as a bit of a loner, not really having many friends and choosing to spend her afternoons after school alone in the piano room. After some insistence and pressure from Honoka early on and finally Hanayo indirectly causing her to become a member, Maki joins µ’s but she still tends to keep her distance from the rest of µ’s. It isn’t until Episode 10 that this wall begins to shatter, and it’s in large part thanks to Nozomi. Nozomi notices in Maki the same thing she sees in Eli: a person who’s denying their own feelings and instincts. She points this out to Maki, who doesn’t get it at first, but Nozomi then spends the rest of the episode trying to get Maki acclimated to the rest of the group. This is executed by Nozomi interacting with Maki in such a way, and eventually pinning a pillow fight starting on her, that Maki, after struggling with this idea for the entire episode, is finally able to use Nozomi’s name naturally. With this and the ensuing beach scene where Nozomi talks to Maki about how she loves µ’s and it’s members, Maki begins to finally drop her tsundere attitude with the rest of the group, and shows she is able to talk to Eli normally too. Because of Nozomi’s pushing and help, Maki was able to confront her innermost desire of being a part of the group and interacting with the other members of µ’s and was able to overcome her initial opposition to doing so.

 Kotori – With Kotori, we come to the controversial “drama” arc at the end of Season 1, when it’s revealed that Kotori will be moving away soon and likely won’t be back until after the second years graduate. This idea sparks a lot of backlash from Honoka and shock from the other members, but there’s an underlying layer to this idea that comes from looking at Kotori and her character. For the entire series, Kotori follows Honoka with whatever she does and always supports Honoka in her efforts. Honoka acts as the leader for the second years, with the other two always following along with whatever crazy ideas she had. In this, Kotori wants Honoka to tell her not to move, and to stay being a School Idol. Though she had decided to move on her own, deep down in her heart, she didn’t want to go, she just wanted Honoka to stop her. However, any time she tried to tell Honoka about her plans, Honoka was always excited about being an idol or performing for the Love Live, so Kotori never had the heart to tell Honoka, which led to the ensuing drama. Kotori could never come to terms with her own desire to stay, and always looked to Honoka to make this decision for her. While this almost ended with her leaving, Honoka was brought to her senses through the combined efforts of her friends and the other members of µ’s and met Kotori at the airport. Kotori had never been able to be honest with her own desire to stay in Otonokizaka and be a School Idol, and it took Honoka to make her finally decide to stay. While Kotori’s part of this is a bit more flawed than others, it still stands to make a point for the message of being honest with yourself and trusting your own desires.

Umi – Umi’s is an example of this that isn’t as obvious as some others and isn’t as much of a focus, but it still goes with this theme and kind of rings similar to Kotori’s. Umi always followed along with Honoka and always let Honoka drag her along with whatever she’s doing. As such, when Honoka quit being a School Idol, Umi didn’t see the point in continuing with Honoka quitting and Kotori moving overseas. However, it was obvious that Umi knew in her heart that wasn’t what she wanted. Umi showed to be one of the most upset about any of the girls of Honoka’s decision to quit, and she has a strong scene in the latter half of Episode 13 where she meets Honoka in the auditorium. Umi explains that even though she didn’t want to do it and didn’t want to be an Idol, Honoka took her along to an amazing place and Umi realized what she really wanted was to be an idol, which caused her to confront Honoka in the auditorium and tell her that Umi herself had wanted to be an idol, even after how strongly she had initially opposed the idea.

Honoka – If Eli’s is the most obvious example of this theme being used in Love Live Season 1, then Honoka is easily the second-most, stemming from her decision in Episode 12 to quit being a School Idol. Between the shock of µ’s going on hiatus and withdrawing from the Love Live, the revelations about Kotori moving, and her own depression from the withdrawal, Honoka made the decision that she wanted to quit being an idol. This was a decision that upset several members of µ’s, but after Episode 13 begins, it begins to become apparent that Honoka regrets this decision. Through the help of her classmates (Hideko especially) and their escapades through the day, eventually ending at the arcade and the DDR game, Honoka begins to realize she regrets the decision to quit. Honoka comes to realize herself that, in quitting, she was ignoring her own innermost desire and wanting to be an idol. She slowly began to come to terms with her own denial, through the help of both meeting Nico, Rin, and Hanayo at the shrine steps who are continuing to train as idols and Eli coming to her and telling Honoka what she’s done for her. Honoka finally goes to the stage and Umi meets her there and finally, Honoka is able to come to terms with her feelings and her desires. Becoming a School Idol, singing and dancing, was never about saving the school in the beginning. It wasn’t even about winning the Love Live or even going to the Love Live. To Honoka, the thing she loved the most was singing. Honoka finally comes to terms with the fact that she loves being an idol and wants to stay an idol, through Umi’s help and the help of the other girls.

Rin (Season 2 Spoilers) – I tried to keep this write-up mostly to Season 1 spoilers only, but there was one arc and episode in particular from Season 2 that I would be remiss to not mention, that being Rin and her personal growth. In flashbacks, Rin is shown from a young age to have always been a tomboy, to the point where she was embarassed to do anything girly or wear skirts. This point is exascerbated early in Season 1 with her initial opposition to being an idol, because she doesn’t think she would make a good idol. Rin has always struggled with her own feminine image since she was young, and it takes until Episode 5 of Season 2 to realize this. With the six remaining girls to put on a concert for a fashion show with Honoka and the second years stranded on their class trip due to weather, everyone decides on Rin to be the leader for the concert. Rin is initially harshly opposed to this, thinking she wouldn’t look good and not wanting to wear skirts or dresses or anything. However, Rin, throughout the episode, shows little moments of doubt when she looks at the dress. Hanayo notices this and realizes Rin isn’t being honest with herself. She’s opposing wearing the dress and being the center vocally, while secretly wanting to do it inside. With Rin still opposing the idea, Hanayo and Honoka finally organize the idea for Rin to go on-stage wearing the dress, with the rest of the girls wearing groom outfits. This fashion event turns into a big success and causes Rin to finally come more to terms with her own feelings and image, and she actually begins wearing a skirt in her practice uniform.

The concept of coming to terms with one’s own feelings and one’s innermost desires isn’t really a new thing, by any means, but I feel Love Live executes this idea really well, while not making it the absolute center of attention. It takes a little bit of analyzing, but throughout the course of Love Live, each character is shown to have their own issues with repressing their feelings and not acting on their desires that is eventually overcome. Each character’s way of overcoming this feels natural and it always reinforces the group mentality of Love Live, with others helping their friends to see what it is they truly want most.