I stated in my review of the first season that the 3rd generation of the Love Live! franchise is my favorite so while I am always excited for every anime installment since the 1st generation I was especially hyped for the 2nd installment of this one. Question is whether “NijiGaku” impressed yet again among fans and possibly changed minds of critics who were not keen on the different direction from the norm this group took? Let us find out as we take a look at the 2nd season of Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club.
Review of the 1st season HERE.
- Love Live! Nijigasaki Season 2
- Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Dōkōkai Season 2 (Japanese)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Idols, School Life, Slice of Life.
Themes: Music, Yuri
Number of Episodes: 13
Plot Summary: The Nijigasaki High School Idol Club are still in full swing after the first School Idol Festival. It went so well they announced plans to host a second one. As they were ready to rock once again they were greeted by a new foreign school idol Lanzhu Zhong who made a strong first impression. However, when they extended an invitation to join the club Lanzhu refused, disagreeing with their approach to what school idols should be. Meanwhile two other girls, Mia Taylor and Shioriko Mifune would also play major roles in this new story of NijiGaku’s.
Fans knew they were in for something special when this was the first thing they saw.
Like other 2nd seasons in the franchise this one served to tell more stories the heroines had to tell or take care of unfinished business such as Setsuna’s. At first I thought this would be a story of the girls coming together to show Lanzhu the true power of teamwork as they became a fully fledged group on their way to becoming legends but that was not exactly the case. They do learn more about the power of teamwork through Lanzhu’s challenge but there is more a focus on forming units (small sub-groups of two or three members), such as A・ZU・NA and DiverDiva growing their bonds that way by learning more about each other and themselves. I also thought this would primarily shine the spotlight on the three new girls Lanzhu, Shioriko and Mia but again that was not entirely the case. As far as screen time before their full story was revealed Lanzhu got the most followed by Shioriko and Mia who at most got one or two scenes per episode before her big moment. That is not to say one’s development before their big episodes was worse than the others as all their stories were done quite well, just a heads up to prepare fans.
Lanzhu Zhong gives off a strong first impression. Cool, confident, charismatic and sexy. However, like other antagonistic girls before their truths were revealed there is more to her than her shiny outer shell lets on.
Mia Taylor is similar to Lanzhu in that she has a tough outer shell but she is more a tsundere willing to help when the need rises. She has a good ear for writing music, something to keep in mind when it is her turn. Being half-American expect her to have some American tastes.
One nice touch about these two is with Lanzhu being from Hong Kong and Mia the US they randomly say things in their native tongue. This is especially important for Mia. Viewers will know what I mean when the time comes.
Lastly but certainly not least is the newcomer I did not expect to love most of the three Shioriko Mifune. The first surprise was unlike many fanged girls before her who are energetic Shioriko, before and after joining the team, is calm, well-mannered, kind and caring. Very rare seeing a mostly chill fanged beauty. She enjoys listening to and supporting people in need, something that plays an important role in determining her future goals.
Along with the new trio more N. Girls from the Love Live! School Idol Festival mobile game make their anime debut. However, not just on merchandise or silent background characters but some of them are voiced such as Jennifer and Rakshata here and have small but important roles in both the story but the overall theme of Gen 3. That is to show the growth and influence of Love Live! in the lives of lesbians (and some het women) of this universe. How motivational and life changing the work of school idols generations past has become not only in Japan but across the globe as girls like Lanzhu, Mia and Emma show. While not as big outside their home country the awesomeness of school idols motivates girls to become great themselves and/or inspire others to do the same. Naturally Haruka returns with her own little side-story along with a surprise debut. There are actually several surprise debuts observant and cultured peeps will greatly appreciate. I do not mean more school idols, hehe.
I made it a goal this season to show how beautiful Yu is every time she let her hair down. She is already pretty regularly but becomes even stronger at home. There is another important reason I showed this screen grab of her.
That is mostly it for the newcomers and side-characters. What about the beloved 10? It is a mix of ongoing stories, such as Rina and Shizuku and unfinished business like Setsuna and Kasumi. Besides that is one very important detail. See, what we usually get from the Love Live! franchise are a group of girls over time coming together through their shared interest in school idols, overcome challenges and become stronger through performances and inter and intrapersonal character development then go on to try and become champions. Here it is different. When we last left our heroines they were a group of girls with individual goals who come together to form a school idol club to help each other find their path through the world of school idols. This is exemplified in Season 2 with a second focus on most of the girls thinking about their path forward thanks to everything they have learned/are learning about themselves, their homies and peeps. They become physically, mentally and socially stronger to find their dream of strengthen the ones they already had be it music themed or something else. This along with the aforementioned personal obstacles left to settle or new ones to overcome. Everything mentioned in these two paragraphs are not unique to Gen 3 but there is a stronger focus on them across both seasons.
As is tradition for the franchise the presentation gets better and better with each new anime, be it a second season or new generation. Nijigasaki S2 is no different. The animation is some of the best non-movie I have seen thus far. Personal bias here but most of the performances, be they snippets or full Solo, Unit and ESPECIALLY Group songs are some of my favorites in the franchise. The fact the Group songs are rare not only make them special when we do get them but the ones here were excellently executed in every conceivable way, especially the entire last episode. Words cannot do that finale justice.
Main event time. Ever since Sunshine S2 I have been wary of second seasons mainly due to potential “botches” of established couples in the first season. This especially because, as mentioned, Nijigasaki are my favorite group in the franchise along with their couples. Happy to say not only did the couples remain intact despite them forming units and bonding with different gal pals remain intact but most of them grew even stronger this season. Lilies even started blooming around two of the new trio. The above two couples, Ayumu X Yu and Ai X Rina had the most on-screen development while the other two had cute moments. Nijigasaki remain the gayest group in the Love Live anime universe. Also keep two things in mind:
- Pay close attention to Shizuku at key points. Viewers will know when.
- I alluded to the relationship between idols and fans playing a role. Last season I thought they were a detriment to excellence. However, I was very, very wrong. The excellence did not dissipate at all.
Overall Love Live! Nijigasaki S2 continues the series tradition of the second season taking everything that made the first one great and pumping them up big time. From old and new character development. , more side-characters, expanding the world of school idols, even better presentation and performances for the most part and of course ramping up the fluffy gayness with a bit of extra spice. all of this along with that amazing finale solidified Gen 3 as my favorite in the franchise. Fans of the first season will most likely love the second one. Not sure if this will change the minds of critics of the first but perhaps some will have newfound respect for the Nijigasaki High School Idol Club. Hopefully another Love Live tradition continues and a movie conclusion is on the horizon.
I already mentioned why Shioriko is my favorite of the new trio. Last season I said Rina Tennoji was my favorite member of NijiGaku. After this season I can confidently say that not only does that remain true but she is one of the greatest school idols of all time. Speaking of GOATs Yu Takasaki is one of the greatest yuri harem protagonists.