Each Love Live! School Idol Project and School Idol Festival character has her supporters. Each girl’s quirks and habits are celebrated and repeated throughout the fandom, as ways to communicate with like-minded individuals and used as a beacon for expressing one’s love for both that character and Love Live! as a whole. However, out of all the characters, I feel that Kotori Minami has likely left the most lasting visual impression on not only the Love Live! fandom, but also Love Live!’s online presence as a whole. I find that there are three reasons why I think Kotori is such a memorable and visible part of Love Live!, which I’m going to elaborate on below.
First, based on personal observation I find that Kotori is the most popular with cosplayers. A second-year student at Otonokizaka High School, she is one of the founding members of μ’s alongside her best friends, Honoka and Umi. Skilled with a sewing machine, she comes up with all of the costumes and uniforms that the girls wear throughout their many concerts, and I believe that this is why so many cosplayers gravitate towards her. Kotori is a kindred spirit who understands both the effort and joy of not only wearing an outfit but also creating it, in addition to possessing a unique look that makes her instantly recognizable.
The second reason is the power of the “Kotori Photobomb,” pictured above. Seen briefly in the first anime opening, Kotori’s face appears right in front of the camera and covers half the screen. Between Kotori’s rabbit-like features and the way that her close proximity to the lens distorts her face’s proportions, the photobomb has become a fixture in the collective memory of Love Live!’s fandom as an internet meme. Kotori’s face is photoshopped onto various other unrelated shows and contexts, is the logo for the unofficial Love Live! School Idol Festival wiki, referenced and parodied by fan artists, and is even brought back in the final episode of the anime.
The third and final reason I’m going to give is kind of a personal one, as it’s one of my favorite scenes in the entire Love Live! anime. From very early on in the series, there is talk of an extremely popular maid in Akihabara named Minalinksy. The existence of this maid seems to trouble Kotori, such as when she asks Nico where she got a Minalinsky autograph. Eventually, it’s revealed that Kotori herself is Minalinsky, and it results in this:
Again, Kotori creates an unforgettable moment, as the image of Kotori holding the gashapon shell halves against her eyes transmits is endearingly silly. The scene itself is hilarious, especially the way Rin reacts so genuinely to Kotori’s poor disguise, but even outside of that context “Minalinsky” has left her mark, such as in this Run, Minalinsky! browser game.