As a media franchise meant to both attract new fans and bring back old ones, there are certain traits that recur throughout Love Live! One such example is the “student council president as idol.” There was Eli Ayase in the original Love Live!, followed by Dia Kurosawa in Love Live! Sunshine!! Now, the new Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club features Setsuna Yuki. But while all three share similarities, it’s Setsuna’s particular brand of perfectionism that sets her apart from the others.
Eli, Dia, and Setsuna are all portrayed as having very high standards for themselves and others, but in each case they come from a different place. Eli’s is born from her past in the hyper-competitive world of Russian figure skating. Her initial conflict with the other characters is that she doesn’t think they’re serious enough about honing their bodies for physical performance. Dia is almost the opposite: the act of striving for flawless action and behavior is ingrained in her but manifests most powerfully in her absolute love of school idols. Dia’s gatekeeping of Chika when the latter initially expresses interest in forming a school idol group is evidence of this. Setsuna departs from Eli and Dia in that her perfectionism comes from trying to achieve what she thinks is the core purpose of school idols: to convey their passion to their audience because it’s what drew her to school idols in the first place.
Ironically, however, that desire to give to the fans causes the initial conflict in the series. Setsuna believes in her vision to such a degree that she accidentally makes another member of the Nijigasaki High School Idol Club, Kasumi Nakasu, feel unable to express herself in her own way. Racked with incredible guilt over the realization that she was pushing her own ideas onto others, she decides to disband the club. That in itself is a kind of perfectionism—the notion that such a mistake requires a total forfeit—and further highlights the weakness of such a mindset.
Another important aspect of Setsuna Yuki and her role as student council president is that she tries to keep it separate from her school idol experience. “Setsuna Yuki” isn’t even her real name, but another identity of her true self, Nana Nakagawa. She comes from an extremely strict household that forbids entertainment like school idols and anime, and the only way to excel in both her school life and her personal interests is to keep them separate. As such, this Superman/Clark Kent approach (complete with disguise glasses) further highlights Setsuna’s perfectionism. Incidentally, Setsuna is also a huge anime otaku, pursuing that hobby with a similar fervor to her school idol performances.
Of the three student council presidents, I think Setsuna might wind up being my favorite, and I think it has a lot to do with her relationship with her own perfectionism. Setsuna eventually comes to the realization that maybe competing against other school idol groups (as is standard in the world of Love Live!) may not be the right direction for the Nijigasaki High School Idol Club—a lesson she learns after confronting not only the problems caused by her lofty ideals but also the solutions that it can create. Rather than following one way of doing things, she makes it possible for every member to reach their own unique pinnacles.
Image source: Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club Episodes 1 and 3.