After the Love Live! School Idol Project Season Two finale, which literally ended with a message asking the viewer to watch the Love Live! The School Idol Movie for the continuation of the story, it’s hardly a surprise that the film picks up directly where the season finale left off. What’s genuinely unexpected though is the dramatic shift in location that occurs moments later which moves the group of Japanese girls out of their safety zone in Tokyo, Japan all the way to New York in the U.S.A.
The portrayal of New York is hardly the most realistic representation with a seeming lack of the earthiness and history that many would associate with the city. This is a large Western city as seen through the lens of a Japanese animation where all of the buildings are shiny and new, the people are friendlier than cast members at a Disney theme park, and it’s somehow plausible that the rest of the world outside of Japan has an interest in Japanese schoolgirls singing and dancing in mini-skirts. The events that happen in New York City are just as fantastical and illogical as those that happen in the main Love Live series and, like with the anime series, it’s best not to overanalyse things too much and just go along with the flow.
Despite the change in location though, this movie isn’t about the μ’s adventures in North America. Instead, the main focus is on each team member coming to grips with the group’s breakup and deciding once and for all if following through with their promise to stop performing after the eldest students graduate is indeed the best thing to do.
There is a sense of déjà vu here as a lot of the conversations between the μ’s members are ones that were already had within the second season of the Love Live! anime series. With the point of no return veering on the horizon though, it’s completely understandable that the characters would be second-guessing themselves. It’s just unfortunate that this requires so much repetition for those fans who have seen all of the episodes of Love Live! School Idol Project, which would be the target audience for this movie.
Something that will lead to many interesting conversations post-viewing is the subplot involving Honoka and her mysterious new friend that she meets first in New York, and then later on back in Tokyo. There are a variety of flashbacks throughout the film’s runtime that suggest that this woman could be a childhood friend of Honoka’s but the character’s conveniently random appearances, the fact that no one else ever seems to see her, and her uncanny physical resemblance to Honoka all make one wonder if she is in fact some sort of hallucination caused by Honoka’s stress and uncertainty regarding her own future and ambitions.
No answer is given either way regarding the woman’s identity but it certainly adds another level to the film’s events.
Blu-ray and Special Features
While the Blu-ray disk really only contains a textless version of the film’s closing credits and several promos as extra features, the Limited Edition release also comes with a large box to hold the film and the first two seasons of the anime series, a collection of colourful postcards featuring each member of μ’s, and a booklet which contains character artwork, plot summaries, and character profiles. All of these physical bonuses are well-made and hold great appeal for collectors and hardcore fans of the series.
Love Live! The School Idol Movie is a light-hearted and fun return to the energetic world of anime school idols. The sudden increase in fan service may frustrate some viewers but fans of the two preceding Love Live! School Idol anime series should be able to look past those embarrassing moments and appreciate the film’s valiant efforts to both provide something bigger than the events in the two series, with the relocation to New York, while attempting to tie-up several character story-arcs during the return to Tokyo. Love Live! The School Idol Movie may not be for everyone but it’s highly recommended for fans of the μ’s and the, now much larger, Love Live! franchise as a whole.
Zone A Blu-ray Available From: Amazon.com / Amazon.ca
Zone B Blu-ray Available From: FishPond.com.au
Disclosure: The Blu-ray featured in this review is the Zone B Blu-ray release by Madman. Alternate releases are available in other regions. A review copy was provided by Madman.
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