Tag Archives: Love Live

Love Live: The School Idol Film- μ’s Takes Manhattan

I’ve talked about the first two series of Love Live. In both cases the results were fairly positive and I rather enjoyed the experience. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “but you’re literally the biggest killjoy in existence, you aren’t allowed to like things.” I’m sorry, but that accusation is still hilarious to me. Putting that aside, the second series of Love Live ended with Hanayo getting a message and running off excitedly, followed by the other members of μ’s. This film, released last year, follows that plot thread. So, does it lead somewhere interesting or will this be a waste of our time? Let’s look. 

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Story:

We open with the members of μ’s learning that the next love live competition is going to have a larger venue than any before. With plans for it to be held at the Akiba Dome. In order to make those plans come to fruition, they’re asked to go overseas as the winners of the last competition and gather interest. In the process, they find themselves riding a sudden wave of popularity, forcing them to question whether they really want to disband. 

The biggest weakness of the film is that a lot of the main conflict is based on retreading through the ending of the second series and the questions the girls have to ask themselves do lose some of their impact. 

That being said, overall, the film works quite well. The pacing is well done. The charm and fun of the series are very much present. Even the retreading does kind of work, given that there’s a strong impetus for them to have second thoughts. 

Characters:

The cast doesn’t develop all that much beyond where they were in the series proper. Which makes some sense, given that the film takes place directly after. The film’s strong suit lies in taking these familiar characters and putting them in a new situation. Which allows some new facets to emerge for their characters and enables some strong interactions among them. 

Art:

The artwork looks a lot like the artwork from the series.Which isn’t a bad thing by any stretch. the dancing and musical numbers are vibrant, interesting and very nicely done. The characters look good, particularly when it comes to their costuming, and the backgrounds are nicely detailed. 

Sound:

I can’t complain about the sound. The cast is made up of excellent singers who are also strong actresses. The sound track is as magnificent as you’d expect based on the series. 

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Ho-yay:

The film doesn’t include les-yay to the extent that the series does, probably because they don’t have as much time. However, they still have a good amount. Hanayo & Rin get a romantic moment. Niko gets seemingly jealous over seeing Maki act close to another girl. Niko, Honoka & Eri share a bed in the Honeymoon suite and there’s just a lot of general intimacy among the girls. 

Final Thoughts:

Love Live: The School Idol Film is about what you’d expect. It’s a charming film with endearing characters, superb acting and music and ample amounts of les-yay. I would say that it’s well worth the watch. As such my final rating is going to be an 8/10. Tomorrow, I’ll look at something where I don’t have a good idea of what I can expect. I’ll be looking at Magic Tree House

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Ktulu’s Third Annual Anime Awards & Shaming Ceremony

This year, I thought I’d try something a bit different with these. First off, I’m not going to bother with nominees. It occurs to me that having different nominees is only really helpful if I announce those in advance. Secondly, I’ll be hosting a “reader’s choice” awards. I’ll list every single anime I’ve reviewed this year, sorted alphabetically, in the comments section leave your own choices for the various awards. For those of you who are regular readers from AFT, I’ll be posting a special thread for you to use. You can vote for however many categories you want. They can be anything that actually relates to the award in question, regardless of whether or not I liked/disliked them. To give a few examples, Futari Wa Precure: Max Heart  won’t be eligible for the various film reviews & Corpse Party isn’t eligible for the comedic awards, because it has to be deliberately funny to be in the running for those. For your convenience, I’ve labelled all of the film reviews.

So, here’s our list of anime reviewed:

3×3 Eyes Seima Densetsu, Akuma no Riddle, All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku: Dash, Ankoku Cat, Appleseed (film), Cardcaptor Sakura: the movie (film), Choujigen Game Neptune: The Animation, Choujuu Densetsu Gestalt, Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch, Conqueror of Shamballa (film), Corpse Party: Tortured Souls, Death Parade, Divergence Eve, Dragonball Z: Fusion Reborn (film), Exlorer Woman Ray, Futari wa Precure: Max Heart, Gankutsuou, Ginga Ojou-sama Densetsu Yuna, Gintama, Glass no Kamen, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka, Hetalia: Paint it White (film), Hoshi wo ou Kodomo (film), Ice, Kannazuki no Miko, Kara no Kyoukai 6 (film), Kara no Kyoukai 7 (film), Kekkai Sensen, Kigurumikku V3, Kyattou Ninden Teyandee, Love Hina, Love Hina Again, Love Live, Love Live 2, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha As, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha Vivid, Mars of Destruction, Miyamoto Musashi: Souken ni Haseru Yume (film), Mushishi, Natsu no Arashi 2, Night Walker: Mayonaka no Tantei, Overlord, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, Sengoku Otome: Momoiro Paradox, Shigofumi, Shinrei Tantei Yakumo, Solty Rei, Spirited Away (film), Strike Witches, Sunabouzu, Uchuu Kyoudai, Whisper of the Heart (Film), Wooser no Sono Higurashi, X-men, Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru, Yuru Yuri 2, Yuru Yuri San Hai 

Now that that’s taken care of, let’s go over my personal choices for this year’s awards.

The Moffat Award for unbearably awful writing within a supposedly mostly serious series or OVA. Previous winners: Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge & Neon Genesis Evangelion

This year’s Moffat award winner is, from Madhouse, X-men. 

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You’re probably thinking, “really, Ktulu? You’ve reviewed Mars of Destruction, Ice & Corpse Party: Tortured Souls this year, but X-men stands out as the worst?” Yes, yes it does. Don’t get me wrong, all of these are terrible in their own right, but there are two things that makes X-men worse than those other three, for me. The first is that it’s the longest. Which gives it more time for its stupidity. The second is that I have a bigger attachment to X-men than I do those other series. I’ve never played the games that Corpse Party & Mars of Destruction are based on nor have I read the novel that Ice is based on. Maybe they’re good and the anime versions butchered them, maybe they’re just as bad. What I have read are a lot of X-men issues. As written by Chris Claremont, this is easily one of my favourite super hero teams. Which makes seeing them written as badly as they are in this series particularly infuriating.

The Simone Award for writing excellence is a mostly serious series or OVA. Our previous winners were Psycho Pass & Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. 

This year the Simone award goes to Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.

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This one was tough to decide with StrikerS, Mushishi & Death Parade all in the running, but, in the end, StrikerS is the one I have the most fondness for by a very slight margin.

The Abrams Award for Horrendous film writing. Our previous winners were End of Evangelion & Metropolis.

This year the Abrams Award goes to Hetalia: Paint it White.

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As fond as I am of the series itself, the film was a lazy drudge with recycled gags and basically nothing good that was actually original for the franchise.

The Miyazaki Award for stellar film writing. Our previous winners were Nausicaa & Kara no Kyoukai 4. 

This year’s Miyazaki award goes to Spirited Away. 

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An excellent film from Studio Ghibli and the best I’ve watched this year.

The Macfarlane award for most failed comedy. Our prior winners were OreImo & Kill la Kill. 

This year, the Macfarlane award goes to Sunabouzu.

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A series that treated rape as uproariously funny and consistently found new ways to defy good taste and be genuinely one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.

The Pratchett award for comedic excellence. Our previous winners were Bottle Fairy & Doki Doki Precure.

This year’s Pratchett award goes to Yuru Yuri San Hai.

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It was difficult to choose between this and the second series of Love Live but, ultimately, San Hai came out on top by the slightest of margins.

The Meyer award for worst written romance. Our previous winners were OreImo & Mawaru Penguindrum.

This year’s Meyer award goes to Love Hina Again.

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Have you ever wanted to see a love triangle with a guy, his sister and the girl who abuses him? If you answered in the affirmative, I question your mental health. But that’s what Love Hina Again provides.

Next up we have the Kanemaki award for greatest romance. The previous winners of this one were Btooom & Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha.

This year, the Kanemaki award goes to Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.

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They had a fantastic budding romance in the first series. In StrikerS, they have a stellar mature romance. Nanoha and Fate are a spectacular couple.

The Anno award for flattest, most uninteresting cast. Previous winners were End of Evangelion & Neon Genesis Evangelion.

This year it goes to Love Hina Again. 

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The only reason that Sunabouzu didn’t take this one is that its characters are supposed to be unlikable. That’s the joke. Love Hina gives us a bunch of characters we’re supposed to like, because… they’re one-dimensional and obnoxious and Love Hina Again lowers the bar by adding in the incestuous sister character.

The Moore award for best cast. Our previous winners were Sailor Moon & Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin.

This year’s Moore award goes to Death Parade.

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Death Parade gives us a  group of characters who are highly endearing and have a lot to them. Both in terms of major characters and in terms of one episode characters.

The Bendis award for worst major conflict. The previous winners were From up on Poppy Hill & Sword Art Online.

This year’s Bendis award goes to Ice.

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Ice is a series where the main conflict really doesn’t work even in concept. We have a future with only women. we have two major factions. One wants to save humanity, but not with the tested, functional methods we have to let two women reproduce with one another. They want to use some convoluted nonsense. We also have another group that hates science because it’s a man’s field (Nothing insulting to all the female scientists out there at all) and just wants to let everything end while they indulge in hedonism. Both of these groups are insufferably stupid and it makes their conflict really uninteresting.

The Claremont award for most compelling conflict. Our previous winners for this one are Psycho Pass & Shingeki no Kyojin.

This year’s Claremont award goes to Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A’s.

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What makes this conflict so good is that the antagonists are really endearing and have an incredibly sympathetic motivation. You want to see Nanoha & Fate pull through, but you also want the guardian knights to come out okay. You’re legitimately torn between the groups and it makes the conflict really compelling.

The Liefeld award for visual ineptitude. Our previous winners were Aku no Hana & Amada anime Series: Super Mario Brothers.

This year, we’re doing something a bit different and giving two out. One for the film category and the other for the series/OVA category. Our winners are Dragonball Z: Fusion Reborn & Corpse Party: Tortured Souls.

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In the case of Fusion Reborn, the big artistic failing is that the action sequences are weak, which is pretty sad when you have something as action-oriented as Dragonball. In Tortured Souls the big issue is that it looks goofy. The gore effects are overblown to the point of absurd and the monsters just look silly. The artwork takes scenes that are supposed to be intense and makes them unintentionally hilarious.

Next we have the Urbino award for visual excellence. Our previous winners were Nausicaa & Tokyo Godfathers. 

This year, there will be two. One for the film category & one for the series/OVA category. Our winners are Spirited Away & Mushishi.

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Both of these works are really well detailed with some stellar nature scenes and they just look really superb.

The Spencer award for acting incompetence. Our previous winners were the English dub of Sailor Moon & Neon Genesis Evangelion.

This year, the Spencer award goes to Ice.

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Ultimately, Ice suffers from casting several girls who can’t act in major roles and from Ishida Akira’s worst performance. In spite of him being a genuinely good actor.

The Sir Stewart award for impeccable acting. Our previous winners were Black Rock Shooter (OVA) & Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha.

This year’s Sir Stewart award goes to Glass no Kamen.

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What makes this series stand out are the multiple performances from Kobayashi Sanae & Yajima Akiko as their characters don different asks for the stage. They have to play their own characters, plus the characters their characters are playing and they have to do all of it really well for the series to work. Which they do, brilliantly.

The Perry award for ear-splitting awful music. Our previous winners were the English dub of Sailor Moon & Street Fighter II.

This year’s Perry award winner is Mars of Destruction.

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As much as I love classical music, Mars of Destruction uses it in a very shoddy way, not bothering to match the music to what’s happening on screen. That, in addition to the crappy sound mixing, makes it the worst.

Our final award is the Kloss award for loveliest music. The previous winners were Slayers Perfect & K-on: The Movie. 

This year’s Kloss award goes to Love Live series 2.

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The music in this series really is spectacular and the way the actresses harmonise is superb.

So, those are my choices this year. Feel free to leave a comment with your choices from the list or you can e-mail me at ktuluthedarkone@hotmail.com. Thanks for following me this year and I hope you’ll continue to do so in the following year, even when our tastes are very different. In two weeks I’ll post the reader’s choice winners. Have a happy Valentine’s all.

Love Live School Idol Project 2: The Yuri Musical Continues

Not too long ago I looked at Love Live. The anime portion of a multi-media project. It was an enjoyable series. The first series introduced us to µ‘s (pronounced Muse.) µ‘s formed with three members in order to gain interest in their school to prevent it shutting down. We saw the original three gradually grow into nine. We saw the nine girls coming together as friends & comrades, doing live shows and getting really, really, really homo-erotic with one another. So, our heroines managed to save their school in the end. Where are they going to go from there?

Story:

We open with Honoka giving a speech as the brand new student council President. Turns out Eri recommended her for the position. Hanayo is interrupted at practice by the news that they’re doing another Love Live competition. Most members of µ‘s are excited by the prospect and eager to enter but Honoka is strangely uninterested, saying that things are fine as they are. The girls are able to persuade her that µ‘s should enter by pointing out that this will be Nozomi, Eri & Nico’s last chance to compete in the competition since they’re graduating shortly after. They’re also able to ascertain why Honoka hesitated. The story follows µ‘s and their endeavour to win the competition, their coming to terms with the third years graduating and them just having fun and being yurirrific.

The biggest problem with the narrative in this series is that the main arc surrounding the competition is really predictable. You can pretty easily guess where it’s going to go just from the set up, without watching a single episode of the series. The series does do a lot well, though. The comedy in this is really effective. The first series was pretty entertaining and had some good comedic moments, but this one elevates it to a completely different level. There are also some really good moments in the main narrative, in spite of its general predictability and there is some effective tension surrounding the graduation and the question of where µ‘s is going to go from there. The ending is a bit bitter-sweet but it’s really effective.

Characters:

The girls get to develop further as characters than they did in the first series. There are several episodes primarily dedicated to developing them as characters and adding depth to the archetypes. Rin and Nozomi both get really good ones. I will also give this series credit over the first, Nozomi’s bad touch habit is virtually non-existent in this one. She gropes another girl without permission once. Which is still completely not okay, but at least it’s not a regular thing like it was in the first series. I bet Eri threatened to break up with her if she kept groping other girls. Either way, the combination of that getting toned significantly down and her focus episode combine to transform Nozomi into a really good character. The characters are still a lot of fun and there are still really good interactions, including some with the rival idol group, A-Rise.

Art:

Much like the first series, this one has really good costumes and dance numbers. The characters are still basically missing their noses, though. I think this art style was designed by someone with rhinophobia. That would explain so much. In spite of that, the art and animation are good.

Sound:

The cast is excellent. Love Live has singers who are also excellent in their roles. See, Ice, it is possible to have people who can do both. The music is superb. Both series of Love Live have really mazing soundtracks.

Ho-yay:

It’s easy to see why yuri fans gravitate towards this franchise. The les-yay levels are massive. Really, any potential pairing would make sense but there are some that come across more strongly than others. Rin and Hanyo continue to be really adorable. We’ve also got Nozomi and Eri, who also get quite a bit of les-yay with both Maki and Nico. Honoka, Umi and Kotori are all really homo-erotic with one another.

Final Thoughts:

Love Live series 2 is a definite improvement over the first. The characters are strengthened. The comedy is more effective and the story, overall, has more going for it. It’s not perfect, but it’s well worth watching. My final rating on it is going to be a 9/10. The first series was good. This one is excellent. Next week I’ll look at Solty Rei.

Courting Controversy with Censorship

No Angel Sanctuary this week because I found something that I really wanted to talk about. When I was looking up information about Love Live for that review I found out about a controversy surrounding the English release of the iOS game from KLab.

Basically, they decided that it would be a capital idea to censor out the homo-erotic subtext from the dialogue. Because acknowledging the existence of gay people would just be awful. I mean, someone might get the notion that people living their lives while daring to be attracted to other people of the same sex is perfectly okay and absolutely none of anyone’s business but theirs and their partners. Naturally, there was a completely reasonable and proportionate fan backlash calling this out for being complete bullshit.

Honestly, this never should have happened. I’m against censorship in general and censorship done for the sole purpose of pretending a minority group doesn’t exist is particularly sickening and inexcusable. But even in the context of social mores and what was viewed as acceptable way back last year, this was a stupid move. As bad as a lot of anime dubs have been when it comes to erasing homo-erotic text and subtext, the English versions have been getting better about not doing that. Because it’s becoming more and more apparent that it’s a bad business move.

I find two things entirely flabbergasting about the censorship in this case. There had been plenty of games with homo-erotic text and subtext released when the Love Live game came out. The Neptunia franchise is big on that and the first of those came out in 2010. The second Fallout game had a potential shotgun wedding between women and that came out in 1998. Several Bioware games have had the option for LGBT romance. In EA’s Sims series you can have two men or two women snog, jump into bed together and marry. Final Fantasy XIII, released worldwide in 2010, had Fang and Vanille and, as far as I know, they didn’t censor a damn thing. So, why is all of that perfectly acceptable to most gamers but the English division of KLab still thought that their game took it too far?

That brings me to the second thing. This was sub-textual stuff that they censored. Speaking from experience, most people who really hate seeing LGBT content are very good at pretending it doesn’t exist as long as the characters don’t snog or outright declare that they’re romantically interested in each other. Remember, this is the group that insists that Trowa can’t have a thing with Quatre in Gundam Wing because he is clearly in love with his sister. Why that’s supposedly better, I haven’t the foggiest. The point is, they’d almost certainly dismiss any homo-erotic dialogue as the girls just being good friends. Except that now they can’t because the censorship attempt stirred up enough controversy that the reasoning behind it is well known.

I should add that just this June there was an update to the English version of the game which supposedly fixed the dialogue so that it’s true to the original. Although it really shouldn’t have taken them more than a year given the negative reception.

So, you might wonder why this is a big deal to people? Aside from the obvious anti-censorship thing. Well, the fact is that not many games include LGBT subtext or text. There are some out there, certainly, but you might get a game or two a year that has a bit if you’re lucky. Naturally, this means that people who are fans of that type of content tend to be excited for those few games with it. So, when the developer of one of those, or at least their division in your area, decides to be a dick and remove that it’s kind of a big deal. More importantly, it’s representative of a hostile, regressive attitude that is, to put it bluntly, offensive.

KLab deserves all the criticism they got for the initial bollocks and for taking so long to address it. I do hope that they and other developers learn from this and we don’t have to deal with another situation like this in future. However, realistically speaking we probably will. Censorship has been around for a long time, after all. About the best we can do is remain vigilant and continue to give companies that pull this kind of nonsense a linguistic thrashing.

Love Live! School Idol Project: Yuri Musical

Love Live School Idol Project is a multimedia project. There were a lot of different companies behind this. ASCII Media Works, Lantis, Dengeki G’s Magazine and Sunrise. The overall project included games, music, manga, light novels an anime series and an anime film. Today we’ll be looking at series one of the anime brought to us by Sunrise in 2013.

Story:

Our heroines happily attend Otonokizaka Academy when they get some bad news. Due to a lack of interest in the school, it’s slated to close with their current first years being the last class. The student council President and Vice President, Eri and Nozomi, are determined to find a way to gain interest, but have no idea how to go about it. Meanwhile, second year student Honoka is also trying o think of a way when she happens to pass a very popular school and notices something. One of their big draws is that they have a popular school idol group attending. Honoka decides that the best thing to do would e to form a school idol group for Otonokizaka and gets her best friends, Kotori and Umi to join her in the endeavour.

On the downside, the anime delves into artificial sources of tension overmuch. What do I mean by that?Well, they’ll introduce a character and make a production about whether or not that character is going to join Honoka’s idol group, μ’s (pronounce Muse). And this is something they do thrice. Well, I saw that character with the group in the opening sequence but maybe that actually isn’t going to happen said no one ever. To be fair, this is the first series and it is important to show how these girls all get involved in μ’s. The problem is the pomp over whether or not they will. There are a lot of things done well in the series too. The pacing is really good and I like that the girls are allowed to actually fail at a few points. Which does create some genuine tension that actually really works. The story is simple, but it’s effectively executed and it ends with a good note.

Characters:

The characters are pretty archetypical. I will say, to the series’ credit, that several of them are allowed to develop and grow over the course of the series. I will also say that, in all fairness, they aren’t poorly done archetypes, the execution does work in the context of a series like this. The characters are a lot of fun and there are some really good interactions. My biggest issue is with the character of Nozomi. To be specific, with her tendency to go into bad touch mode. She gropes the other girls without their permission on several occasions. The worst part is that most of them would probably totally allow it if she asked properly. I don’t think Rin would since she only seems to have eyes for Hanayo, but the rest probably would, assuming she asked nicely. Even if they wouldn’t, that would still be inexcusable behaviour.

Art:

To the series’ credit, the costume and character designs are really well done. It’s also really good at doing the lighting and dance numbers during μ’s lives. The backgrounds are also nicely detailed. My only real complaint is that this is one of those series where noses don’t exist. It may be a stylistic choice, but it’s a really head-scratching one.

Sound:

The casting in this is really good. Due to the nature of the series, they needed ladies who were good singers and actresses. As such, we have the singer Hori Eriko (stage name Pile), Tokui Sora, Kusuda Aina, Mimori Suzuko, Nanjo Yoshino, Uchida Aya, Nitta Emi, Kubo Yurika, & Iida Riho. Most of whom gravitate more towards singing and don’t really have many acting credits. Still, they all do well in their roles. The music and singing are both really good.

Ho-yay:

There’s a lot of les-yay in this. It might just be on the level of Yuru Yuri. We’ve got Honoka with most of the other girls, particularly Umi, Kotori, Eri, & Maki. There’s also the dynamic between Rin and Hanayo. Which is incessantly adorable. We’ve also got Nozomi and Eri, who come across as a couple who have been together for several years. There’s also Nozomi in general with her totally uncool bad touch tendencies. Incidentally, she’s another shrine maiden yuri girl.

Final Thoughts:

Love Live School Idol Project is an enjoyable series. The story is well done. The characters are mostly good. The music and acting are impeccable and the art is good. If you enjoy musical school anime, give it a go. My final rating for it is going to be a 7/10. In future, I’ll look at the second series. But next week is going to be Divergence Eve.