Here we are once again reviewing another entry in my favorite idol anime franchise, Love Live! This time we will take a look at the 4th generation, see what this unique five member group of Liella (“Lii-ell-uh” not “Laai-lah”) brought to the dance and find out where they stand in Love Live! Superstar!!, aka Love Live! 4.
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Idols, School Life, Slice of Life
Number of Episodes: 12
Plot Summary: The story is set in the Yuigaoka Private Girls High School that lies between the Omotesando, Harajuku, and Aoyama neighborhoods of Tokyo. Kanon Shibuya, eager to enter the music course failed to do so. On the first day of school a Chinese transfer student named Keke Teng (pronounced “Kuukuu Tong”) heard Kanon sing to herself and greatly admired her voice. She eagerly invited her to become part of her school idol group but she refused. After much deliberation Kanon eventually accepted and thus began their journey to become future Love Live! legends alongside three other girls who would join them over time.
Left to right: Ren, Chisato, Kanon, Keke and Sumire.
The best way to describe Love Live! Superstar!! is a return to basics. What I mean by this is of all the groups that came after μ’s Liella’s journey felt the most similar. This does not mean they are a carbon copy or they aspire to be “just like them” since Aqours already tried that in Sunshine S1. No this felt like a journey tailor made for fans yearning to see a return to form. Without spoiling anything longtime fans of the franchise will either feel a sense of deja vu or like an old friend returned after the journeys of Aqours and Nijigasaki. It is about a group of girls coming together aspiring to achieve greatness while treading familiar ground and adding their own spice to the classic formula. Some of the ladies took notes from their legendary senpai and again added their own sauce to their assigned by the school idol goddesses archetype. Heck, whether intentional or not one of the girls’ personal obstacles was to show what made them unique from their senpai.
Staying on the topic of obstacles the most common one most of the girls face is lack of confidence, be it on stage or not believing they are worthy of being in the spotlight at all among other reasons. As is tradition no matter how simple or complex the girls show they are all worth rooting for and want to watch succeed at all they aspire to be. Also like their predecessors they have superpowers because as was established long ago school idols are almost superhuman. How much power they use I leave to viewers to see for themselves.
As always when not facing life head on and kicking butt on stage school idols are a bunch of lovable dorks and the girls of Liella are no exception. Some show their magnificence right away while others, aka the last one to join, unleashes her dormant power then becoming my unexpected favorite member.
Liella in the OP and their main rivals, Sunny Passion.
The presentation is as good as it gets four generations in. By now most fans know what to expect from the franchise, vibrant colors, tons of excellent and references to iconic facial expressions, great songs and of course stellar performances be they solo or together as a group. Special nod goes to the drawing like Bonus EDs after the “next episode” preview so be sure to stay tuned afterward for lovely extra songs.
Before we get to what is usually the most important part I was admittedly surprised Superstar!! is the first ever entry in the franchise that a season ended in 12 episodes over the usual 13. I say season because the ending left room for either a 2nd season of movie. Not that the finale was inconclusive but rather there was room left for more in the future should there be a continuation.
Update: A 2nd season was announced. Huzzah!
Ever since Sunshine Season 2 I have been very wary of anime entries botched the yuri for the sake of pandering to specific fans. In Superstar I admittedly had to wait a bit before getting a grasp of which girls were most likely to get hitched. I will say wait a bit unless you are a trigger happy shipper. Near the end most viewers will have a better idea.
Overall Love Live! Superstar!! was a return to basics with Liella adding their own spice to the traditional formula. Most of what Love Live! fans who chose to continue the franchise is here and accounted for: Cute, fun, quirky and sexy girls, good character arcs, very colorful presentation, nice songs and of course yuri material. Nijigasaki currently reigns supreme on the yuri front but Liella delivered some bliss of their own. Highly recommended to aforementioned fans still watching the franchise.