A new Love Live! anime is out this season, and it has a lot of firsts for the franchise. Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club emphasizes the importance of individual differences over previous series’ focus on teamwork and unity. It’s helmed by a different character designer, trading the familiar “glossy” designs of series past for ones that feel a little more “matte.” And with a plot derived from a mobile game, this new show features an audience stand-in—the blank-slate player character adapted for a different medium. To my pleasant surprise, the transformation of this character has been quite successful, and the girl we now know as “Yu Takasaki” strikes the right balance for her role. From Player Avatar to...
Finally, we’ve arrived at the final character spotlight for the nine original girls of Love Live! School Idol Project, and I’ve saved the best for last. Hanayo Koizumi is my favorite character and I hope you’ll indulge me as I gush about why Hanayo is the best, and why I feel such a strong, personal connection with her character.
In the Love Live! School Idol Festival rhythm action game, characters are typically associated with one of the three main statistics: Pure, Cool, and Smile. Nozomi Tojo is a “Pure” girl, yet she is also clever and cunning. She frequently talks about punishing other girls by rubbing their breasts (her infamous “washi washi”). Even her physical appearance as the most voluptuous character pushes the association of purity away from her. The word “Purity” as it pertains to idols is usually associated with their connection to sexuality and demeanor, but I think that it takes on a slightly different meaning when it comes to Nozomi.
Introduction Being the main character of Love Live! School Idol Project isn’t easy. Honoka Kosaka is presented as energetic and generally appealing, but this also means that she doesn’t engender hardcore devotion quite to the extent of the other characters. She’s the Naruto, Sailor Moon, John Cena, and Superman of her story. And like those figures she is routinely criticized for being bland and boring. But to criticize Honoka for filling her role as protagonist is a bit harsh in my opinion, and I believe it’s important to look at her character in a fairer light.
In my Love Live! School Idol Project character posts for Apartment 507, I’ve often touched upon the idea that many of the characters of Love Live! highlight a mix of innocence and maturity. Umi is disciplined yet prone to panic. Maki is cool on the surface but can get easily flustered. Nico performs the role of the naïve idol, but is in fact incredibly pragmatic. Out of all of the μ’s girls, it is Elichika Ayase (Eli to friends and family) who comes across as the most adult. I believe that this stems from her identity as a Half-Russian character.
Whether it’s her sharp, elegant features or her beautiful singing voice, Maki Nishikino tends to be among the most popular Love Live! School Idol Project and School Idol Festival characters. One of the frequently sought after qualities for an idol, real or fictional, is a sense of transition between innocence and adulthood, where the fiery passion burning within a girl can be interpreted as having both a product of purity and an increasing awareness of the temptations of the world. In this respect, there’s probably no one who toes that line better than Maki.
Each Love Live! School Idol Project 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.
Whether her fans come to know her through the music, the anime, or the mobile game, one look at Rin Hoshizora establishes firmly her role in Love Live! as “the energetic tomboy.” Rin has the boyish looks and the athleticism, and her performance outfits often incorporate pants instead of skirts. Being a tomboy also means often getting addled with certain narratives. For example, characters of this archetype often have a moment where they discover or are able to indulge in their more feminine side, and in this respect Rin is no exception. Yet, I find her story to be something more special. When Rin embraces her feminine side, it's not so much about a girl rejecting masculinity as it is...