The girls of Love Live! Sunshine!! have a lot to live up to. With the anime currently airing, their story is now known to a wider audience, and they draw inevitable comparison to their Love Live! senpai. While the members of Aqours are unique enough to not feel like carbon copies of μ’s, I find that it’s still worth looking at them relative to each other. In particular, given that Honoka and Chika are the central heroines of their respective Love Live! franchises, I thought it would be best to compare them as protagonists, to see what effect they have on their world.
Before continuing, it’s important to keep in mind that Love Live! has two seasons, and Love Live! Sunshine!! two episodes, so the amount of content to work with is rather uneven.
On the surface, Honoka and Chika are fairly similar. Both are energetic, and tend to act before they think. Both are second years and are roughly similar in height and weight. Notably, for both the discovery of school idols changes their lives: Honoka sees A-RISE and is inspired to embark on a new adventure, while Chika seeing Honoka and the rest of μ’s earns a similar result. Though they have their fair share of differences, especially because Honoka comes from the big city and Chika a coastal town, they’re generally of the same mold.
Where the two begin to differ significantly is in their motivations. At the beginning of Love Live!, Honoka’s wants to save her school from facing closure given a lack of new students, and she believes that becoming a school idol will give her school enough notoriety to stay open. Eventually, she gains the desire to compete in the grand Love Live! championship to see how far she and her friends can go, but initially she has a concrete goal to pursue. The steps taken along their way are at first a means to an end.
Chika, on the other hand, describes her desire to form of a school idol group to be one of self-improvement. She sees herself as rather mundane, and the path of the school idol as one where even a plain girl can become something special. But what is the end point for Chika? There is no explicit determination of when Chika will be good enough or special enough, so her goal is much more abstract and much further in the realm of dreams.
Chika’s reason for becoming a school idol is likely going to change as Love Live! Sunshine!! continues, but when looking at her character next to Honoka’s in the early phases of the latter’s story, there are actually two very different stories at work. Honoka’s narrative focuses on taking the steps necessary to overcome a giant obstacle, and learning to love and live along the way. Chika’s, in turn, is more open-ended, and I think this has the potential to transform the story of Aqours into something dramatically different even as their school is likely headed towards some sort of peril.
I believe that this is going to render Love Live! Sunshine!! a different enough franchise from its predecessor that it can garner fans who might not have been interested in the original. While there’s still plenty of crossover appeal between the two girls, the new series will probably be strong enough to stand on its own.