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  • Iris Chu

Love Live!: Something for Everyone

The Love Live! series currently consists of 4 main groups: μ's (pronounced "muse"), Aqours, Nijigasaki High School Idol Club, and Liella. Each of the girls in these series become school idols for their own reasons, and strive to achieve their dreams while facing many different problems, which shows that while life is not all sunshine and rainbows, we have to work with others and face the music to keep on going.

Lovelive is a Japanese multimedia project created by Kimino Sakurako and was co-produced by Bandai Namco Filmworks (formerly known as Sunrise), Lantis, and Dengeki G’s magazine in 2010. Bandai Namco Filmworks is in charge of the animation, while Lantis is in charge of the music production, and Dengeki G’s magazine produces many articles about Lovelive in its magazines, and is in charge of Lovelive’s own magazine, Lovelive Days, and the many fan polls that series has. This is because Lovelive is one of the first reader participation projects, which means that many of the important details, such as the formations in the dances of the PVs, members of the sub-units, the names of the groups and even one of the characters, are chosen by readers of the magazines, or for example through polls.


Sunrise is one of the most well-known animation studios, having produced many famous shows such as Gundam, Cowboy Bebop, Code Geass, among many others. Lantis is also one of the most famous music record labels in Japan, releasing the songs for Idol Master or Uma Musume, and many more. The next time you watch anime, you should have a look at the music label, as there is a large possibility that it was released by Lantis. Dengeki G’s magazine is a very well-known anime magazine, being the 2nd most popular anime magazine according to a poll and has over 300 issues. Over that, all of the 3DCG (three-dimensional computer graphics) are produced by the studio Sublimation, which has done CG for anime like Evangelion, Gundam, and more. They have said that many of their staff enjoy Lovelive.



Tapestries of Liella hanging from the walls of a sublimation studio

μ's are from the Lovelive School Idol Project which started in 2010, and whose anime was aired in 2013. Its members consist of Kousaka Honoka, Minami Kotori, Sonoda Umi, Koizumi Hanayo, Hoshizora Rin, Nishikino Maki, Yazawa Nico, Ayase Eli, and Toujo Nozomi, who go to Otonokizaka High School in Akihabara. It was the first generation in Lovelive. It was not very well known before its anime release due to its poor animation quality in its first music video due to the technological limits of 3DCG at the time, which caused it to only sell 434 copies, of which 10 were bought by the father of Honoka’s voice actor. This shows that not all legends start big. When you look at their concerts, especially the earlier ones, you will see that they started with small stages and simple outfits, but have grown to hold their own concert in Tokyo Dome, the biggest stadium in Japan. Unfortunately, they disbanded in 2016, but as it is the first group of the series, it is a great place to get into the franchise. If you want to see characters, people, and a franchise grow, this is the series for you.

Aqours are from Love Live! Sunshine!!, which was announced in 2015 and whose anime was aired in 2016. Its members consist of Takami Chika, Watanabe You, Sakurauchi Riko, Kurosawa Ruby, Kunikida Hanamaru, Tsushima Yoshiko, Kurosawa Dia, Matsuura Kanan, and Ohara Mari. They go to Uranohoshi Girls' Highschool, located in a small seaside town in Uchiura, Numazu. The group references μ's quite a bit, so it is good to watch Love Live! School Idol Project before watching it, although you would still understand it if you haven't watched the first series. Their concerts are of the highest level in Lovelive, as they are the longest active group in Lovelive with over 7 years of experience, and they have Saitou Shuka and Kobayashi Aika, who are both great dancers. The choreography in Aqours songs are usually more difficult than those of the other groups. On top of that, Aqours has the best storyline in Lovelive, so it is recommended for people who are looking for good content in reality (as opposed to in the series), or a good plot.

Nijigasaki High School Idol Club was a side project that was started in 2018, and has a different style than the others, as those in the Club are solo idols instead of being a group, so they don't have a group name. They started off in the mobile app Lovelive School Idol Festival ALL STARS, which is not that loved by some fans, as it has a pay to win system, does not require much skill, and the story is seen as very "cringe". However, one advantage is that the 3DMVs in the game allow you to make any idol dance any song in any costume you want.


The anime aired in 2020 and currently has 2 seasons. It focuses more on character growth than the plot, emphasising the club's motto of being “friends but rivals”, with many fans liking the episode 6 of the first season in particular. This is why this series could be recommended for those who want to see a more slow-paced story.

Liella is the school idol group from Yuigaoka Girls' High School, a brand new school in Shibuya. It was announced in 2020 with the anime airing in 2021. They are currently putting out new songs and holding concerts at a frightening pace, each of them having almost a new one each week. There used to be 5 members, but 4 additional members joined in the second season, and it is planned to add more in the third season. Many of the voice actresses are very talented, but still lack in experience, and so it's easy to see how they improve with experience as imperfect performances get polished. This is why this group could be recommended for people who are more interested in in-person content, and want to see people grow and improve themselves in real-time.

Lovelive is a multimedia franchise, which means that it is not just an anime, and exists through many different medias such as manga, light novels, games, songs, and more. Each of these follow a different timeline, which allows fans to experience the stories and characters from different perspectives.

Unlike many idol franchises, Lovelive does not just show cute girls doing cute things, but instead deals with many problems that also occur in real life like bullying, overly expectant or overly strict parents, poverty, self-hatred, identity crises, autism, and even has scenes of characters breaking down. Because of this, a lot of fans that enjoy Lovelive are not interested in animes like K-on or Idolmaster.

Another very interesting aspect of Lovelive is how the characters' voice actresses have live performances and perform as their characters, and they don't just do the same dances as the characters on stage, but they also recreate the facial expressions of the characters. They even recreate very difficult stunts like a double leapfrog, or a roundoff followed by a backflip. Aida Rikako even learned the piano in 3 months and played the song “Omoi yo hitotsu ni nare” on stage.


Saitou Shuka performing a double leapfrog

Inami Anju in the middle of a backflip

This amount of syncronization between the voice actresses and their characters cannot be found in any other franchise, as unlike other franchises, they do not just voice the characters, but become one with them. That is why even today, over 6 years since they have disbanded, you will sometimes still see the voice actors of μ's talk about their characters.

The voice actresses themselves are also pretty interesting. There is Maeda Kaori, whose official alias is “amuse’s mad dog” (amuse is the company with which maeda is currently affiliated) and is known for just going crazy on livestreams. Other than that, there is Koizumi Moeka, who broke her phone by showering it to “clean it”, and the hashtag that was born from it, #iphoneシャワー, become no.1 trending on Twitter in the whole world.

The most noteworthy of all, is the aforementioned Aida Rikako, who seems to now have to mess up something every time she appears in a livestream and has created a legacy by doing extremely "memeable" things. Examples include drawing in an extremely hilarious way, thinking that leaves fall from trees in May, creating the infamous “hamburger incident” hitting Kobayashi Aika, who is in Aqours with her, on the head on stream, and breaking her phone by putting a dumbbell on it, which seems to be a tradition in Lovelive voice actresses, as each generation has one person who has broken their phone. These are only some of them and there are many others that are also very funny.

The songs from Lovelive include a very wide variety of genres, ranging from slower and calmer genres like ballads and classics to more fast paced ones like jazz and pop, with some even being rock or metal. With this many options, everyone is guaranteed to find something that they will love.

Aside from the four main groups, there are also other ones, namely the virtual school idols from Hasunosora Girls' High School Idol Club, and those from the School Idol Musical, and Aqours has a fantasy spinoff planned for this summer.

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