Love Live! Sunshine!! Season 2 Episode 13: Our Own Radiance (Final Impression)
It’s not over! Not just yet!
Aqours’ story comes to a close, but only temporarily as a movie was announced right after the finale aired. Which probably surprised absolutely no one. But I’m sure fans are scratching their heads wondering what could possibly happen next. Sunshine received a much more final and finished ending compared to LLSIP’s ending which was a hook to the movie. There’s no “IT’S BIG NEWS!” at the end, just smiles and rainbows. I just hope for the movie they don’t go to New York. I’m still holding out on Italy. International school idols, anyone?
Really long review, coming up!
This episode was definitely a finale. It’s the last day of school at Uranohoshi and we see Aqours saying their goodbyes to the school. The graduation ceremony is held, the students grab paint brushes and write out happy messages on the school walls, and of course we learn that Aqours had won Love Live. We saw the girls in rooms significant to them, the first years it was the library, Riko and You in the music room, the third years in Mari’s office, and of course the club room. The girls closing the doors together was a nice touch, especially when they closed the gates of the school together. It was pretty bittersweet, where at first everyone was pretty happy but memories of their time in the school came back. Another very touching scene was when Dia and Kanan gave Mari her diploma in her office. Handing her a special diploma like that was basically their way of saying “Thank you so much for all that you’ve done. You shouldered so much for us and fought until the end, and we appreciate it”. More on that later.
The episode itself is pretty straightforward. Chika still struggles with not knowing Aqours’ radiance and her mother gives her a little push to not give up and figure it out. Chika throws the paper airplane, which was there as a symbol in the show that many fans couldn’t figure out (the path to their “radiance”), and it flies so far it lands on top of the school’s roof. As Chika walks the halls she hears her friend’s voices from memories in certain areas and when reaching the roof, finally starts to cry. After hearing a noise, she heads to the gym and finds all the students there, even the third years even though they were supposed to be gone? Wanting to sing together one last time, that’s exactly what they do, and Chika realizes that the radiance she was looking for was always there with her, in their struggles and singing and dancing. It was literally “Maybe the radiance was the friends we made along the way”.
I hadn’t felt emotional until that point. The way the final song was constructed, with going back to Aqours’ beginnings and showing them in every single outfit and performance they ever did, it definitely made me emotional. Seeing how far they’ve come made me smile. Plus, the song’s lyrics were really sweet.
Aqours isn’t completely done as of yet, but we won’t be seeing them for awhile until the movie releases which I’m guessing probably won’t be until the end of 2018. So now, we need to look back on this season and Love Live Sunshine in general.
This season was easily much better than the first season. It goes to show how much more enjoyable the show can be when they completely drop the Muse references. In the first season, and I know this was the whole point, Aqours was too dependent on Muse and trying to emulate them, that Aqours didn’t even feel like an actual group. They didn’t have their own identity so in some ways it was hard to really care for them. However in season two that’s been rectified and you can see how Aqours is their own group now. We’ve seen their struggles and how they still continued to have struggles when it came to interpersonal relationships, money issues, winning Love Live, and their school. Some characters got to shine and show different sides to themselves with some much needed growth, and we also had the treat of getting to have a connection with the rival group! There were things that this season did right, but not without its shortcomings.
One glaring issue I had with Sunshine was the plot: the closing of the school. For LLSIP I understood the significance Otonokizaka had, such as the school being a tradition for the females in Honoka’s family, it would mean Kotori’s mother would lose her job, and so on. When it comes to Uranohoshi…why? Why do they care so much about the school? What is so significant about it that they want to save it so badly? Their school is being combined, it’s not like they’re going to be separated. There was never this huge reason why us as viewers can understand why they wanted to save the school. While of course the third years would leave, the second years and first years would still go to the same school and still be friends, so why was this so hard for them? I guess the only reason would be a sense of community. They live in a tiny rural town where all the kids that live there go to the school. Uranohoshi was one of the few things they felt that really belonged to them and made them special, but this was never outright said making the message unclear or just not powerful enough. And speaking of the school, it felt like that was more of the plot than Love Live was. So much more attention was placed on saving the school than on the actual Love Live, showing significantly less idol activities. Which is pretty funny to say considering that we had a huge number of insert songs, but not all having to do with the actual Love Live competition. I really felt this way in last week’s episode with their finals performance not having enough emotional backup because so little time was spent on building up to their song. In a show called Love Live, there was…so little Love Live. Drama could also be a little cheesy, and there were moments that I didn’t like (look at my review for episode 7).
One of the main things that I had wanted when coming into this season was more development and intermingling among the girls, and to an extent, that’s what I got. Many characters had gotten their time to shine, with much needed episodes for Dia and Ruby and a bonding episode. But I felt like the series didn’t push enough.
Everyone knows that Hanamaru’s character was completely twisted to something else, and that You was basically insignificant but I’ll touch more on that later. While there was development for some of the girls, there was still a lack of unity. And by that, I mean that the girls still stuck to their year groups and didn’t branch out. While we did have the first and third years bonding in episode two, it still stuck with the usual pairs of Kanan/Mari and Yoshiko/Hanamaru with the Kurosawa sisters in the background. We did have that wonderful Riko/Yoshiko episode that was a step in the right direction, but that was the most we got. The first years stuck with each other, the second years stuck with each other, and the third years did the same. This is something the original did much better, where I thought of Muse as a little family. We had Nico and Hanayo as the ultimate idol experts, Nico, Honoka, and Rin as the baka trio, Eli and Umi watching over the group in practices, Nozomi and Maki having their moments when Nozomi helped her fit in with the group, Honoka and Hanayo’s solidarity of loving food and having to diet, Nico and Kotori working on costumes together, we had the subunit episode, and we also had that episode where they acted like each other. They didn’t just stay in their groups, they actually spoke and interacted with one another. Aqours was not like that. We could have had You and Ruby work on outfits together, Riko and Dia being the responsible ones of the group, Chika and Yoshiko being the baka duo, or something! But they were just so separate and clung to themselves that there was this sense of family that I didn’t feel from them that I felt from Muse. This could also be seen in their songs where the second years would sing together, the first years would sing together in another part, and so on. It’s too late to fix this problem, and it’s pretty disappointing.
Now, when it comes to individual characters I’ll leave that to my rankings.
Enough with the bad, there was still a lot of good in this season. Visually, it was stunning. The animation was starting to dip in the last few episodes and I don’t blame them considering how much work they put into this series. It’s amazing how much the CG has improved from the original series. I felt like each performance was more beautiful than the last, with sparkles and shiny and colors. The CG models look fantastic, not having the problem of porcelain doll face the original had and instead having natural expressions. It looks almost seamless with the 2D animation so that’s a major win, especially with more and more CG shows popping up trying to achieve quality like this. And when it comes to music, Love Live always nails it. This had to be the best set of songs we’ve ever gotten. I know I said at first that I wasn’t a fan of MIRACLE WAVE, but the song has grown on me a lot. However, my favorite song is still MY Mai TONIGHT and the full version is great. We also got the full versions of Saint Snow’s songs and…they left me speechless. The girls are cute and shiny, their outfits are cute and shiny, it’s all just cute, colorful, and fun. It was always a treat to watch their performances because of all the work that was put into it. So, shoutout to the animators.
And just like with my final review of the first season, I have to give my rankings on the girls. I’ll try not to make it too long as I talk about them individually, but man my ranking sure has changed.
Riko continues to be best girl. Previously Mari was my number one but after the anime I had this sudden realization of my love for Riko. I’ve always identified with her and see a lot of myself in her. I love that she she’s polite and sweet but also isn’t afraid to show a more assertive side, and in this season we also see a more silly side to herself. We knew she had her little guilty pleasures, but seeing Yoshiko kind of rub off on her was entertaining. She finally was able to get rid of her fear of dogs, and knowing people in real life that do fear dogs, I’m so proud of her! She was able to conquer her fear and move on, so much that she actually has her own little dog now! Riko had nice moments, her little discussion with Yoshiko being my favorite. She had most of her development in the previous season, but Riko was still there to put a smile on my face and make me happy. She’s cute, silly, responsible, and just so sweet. I just love Riko to death.
Dia shoots up from her previous seventh spot to second, surprising me still. I hadn’t liked Dia last time because I thought she was too rude and harsh to the girls, even though I knew how she was watching out for them. I didn’t find her likeable and I thought her sudden change to the silly character was off putting. However, that changed completely in this season. It turns out that Dia is awkward as hell and can’t really make friends easily. She’s strict, sure, but she puts up this responsible leader type because she felt like she needed to act that way. Because of that, it shaped her to be distant among her peers. Dia is socially awkward, something to which I relate to, and I found it endearing when she tried so hard to get the others to call her Dia-chan. Under that harsh exterior, she’s an incredibly sweet person. She’s also a great older sister to Ruby. Just like Riko, she’s responsible, sweet, and a little silly and her episode made her one of the most relateable characters in the show.
Ruby was in dire need of another episode, because while I always loved Ruby and had her in fourth place last time, she still had this baby side of her personality the anime kept shoving in our face that made many people just dislike her. Again, I always loved Ruby but her two episodes with Saint Snow had to be the best episodes this season and made her even better than before. Ruby was given this opportunity to really shine and step forward by herself. She was always dependent on her older sister and she knew this herself, and she also knew that her sister would leave. Ruby took the initiative to console Leah, a person Ruby normally wouldn’t associate with (at least alone) and decided to make a song with her. Ruby stood on her own two feet, learned to be more self-reliant and independent, and even more confident. She’s grown from little shy Roobs to the more grown Ruby we know now. I’ve seen more people love Ruby more and it makes me real happy. She’s a great character that deserves a lot more love.
It hurts to move Mari down two places from second to fourth, but it’s just that Dia and Ruby shone brighter than her. Yes, other people shone more than Ms. Shiny. Well, only slightly. Honestly, I love Riko, Dia, Ruby, and Mari pretty much equally. They all make me feel so happy the same way, which is how I feel with the Muse third years. Now, Mari didn’t really get her own episode but she got lots of great moments. Sure we had the fun meme-y Mari we all know and love, but we also got lots of serious moments. Serious moments where she showed her vulnerable side. Mari was one hell of a trooper this season as she carried ALL of the stress and weight of the school’s closing. She tried her hardest to convince her father to give them more time, to not close the school, etc. What Mari didn’t want to do was disappoint everyone in the school, so the school’s closing probably hit her the most out of everyone as we saw her shed tears many times. Seeing this caring side of Mari was great because my one fear for Mari coming into this season was that they were going to make her into the meme character and nothing else, and thankfully they did the exact opposite. She’s a strong girl that dealt with so much stress that I wish the anime had mentioned maybe a little bit more, but either way I’m happy with how they treated her. Also, no washi washi! Thank god!
Kanan went from third to fifth. I’m disappointed that she didn’t get her own episode, I still think MIRACLE WAVE should have been about her but whatever. I wanted Kanan to get an episode because she had the least amount of time in the first season. I liked Kanan a lot though because I thought she was really cool, I liked her simple design, and her friendship with Mari and Dia was nice. This season Kanan had good moments but it wasn’t enough. We did see some surprising funny moments with her, such as her being afraid of heights and the dark, giving her a suddenly cute side. I still think she’s cool and her friendship with Mari and Dia is still great, but I just wish there was more to her.
Yoshiko actually stayed in the same spot in my list at sixth, which is kind of hilarious. Yoshiko is a disappointing case. I had wanted her to get more development, which I thought we had gotten in the dog episode. In that episode she explained why she stuck to her fallen angel persona, believing in invisible forces, and destiny and all that. And it was all to cover up, or explain her bad luck. It showed this sad and vulnerable side to Yoshiko we had never seen, and I thought that would have been the start to her gradually letting go of her chuuni side and working her way to accept herself. Because using her fallen angel shtick to cover for her bad luck isn’t exactly accepting or loving herself, it’s more of an escape. Yoshiko putting her chuuni side away would have done wonders for her character, but instead she stayed completely the same and stayed in the background as the comic relief character with dumb one liners who never really contributed to anything. It’s sad because I was starting to like her a little more but seeing as how she’s stayed completely the same, she’s staying the same in my list too.
This is a surprise as You was previously “worst girl” but now she’s bumped herself up a couple places to seventh. Last season You was at the bottom of my list because I thought she was boring and bland. Her episode was terrible and there wasn’t much You content other than her being a good friend and being good at pretty much everything. Unfortunately this season did her wrong. Let’s be honest here, if You was taken out of this season it wouldn’t change the show in any way. That’s how insignificant she is. It says a lot when the rival characters get more development and spotlight than You. It’s just…really sad. I feel bad for the fans though I never understood the popularity in the first place. But, believe it or not, the very few You moments we got in the last few episodes bumped up her ranking for me. The way she stood on the box when they were preparing for the closing festival and acting like Chika did on the very first episode, and her response to Chika’s question in episode 12 were good additions. She has a strong bond with Chika as they’ve been friends since childhood and she always wanted to do something with her together but Chika was never good at sports. So to finally do something with her best friend made her really happy. She loves Chika a lot and always watches over her, so yes, she’s a good friend. But I like that we got to see how strongly she felt about being in Aqours. It’s small, but it’s something at least. It’s just sad that You was pretty much ignored this time. It’s so telling how ignored she was because it took me awhile to find a You screenshot to use here. I only found this one. Yikes.
Hanamaru took the biggest dip from being fourth/fifth to eighth and this is another sad case. She suffers pretty much the same problem as Yoshiko as being the comic relief character in the background, but much worse. I liked Hanamaru in the first season because I could relate also to her social awkwardness and her love of books. She was a little snarky but she showed a strong side to her when she confronted Dia when it came to Ruby wanting to be a school idol. She was sweet and a little naive, but at the same time very mature with her love of difficult literature. But for some strange reason, the anime decided to change her character completely to be nothing but the girl that says zura and eats. all. the. damn. time. There’s nothing wrong with eating, we had Honoka and Hanayo who loved to eat but that trait wasn’t their entire character. Hanamaru was literally only there to eat and talk with her mouth full, and also there to play off of Yoshiko. Speaking of which, I thought she was really mean to Yoshiko. There’s nothing wrong with playful teasing among friends but sometimes her teasing was just really mean, like talking shit about Yoshiko being fat, how she’s bad at talking to people, that she’s weird, etc. Sometimes she would really just cross the line and I found myself getting really annoyed with Hanamaru. And again, that makes me sad because I had liked her before but now sometimes I don’t want to even look at her. Why? Why did they have to do Hanamaru so wrong?
And, it comes to no surprise that Chika is dead last. I never was a fan of Chika honestly, as she was eighth last time. I never like characters like Chika who are too loud, brash, a little dumb, and impulsive who don’t think before acting. Now don’t get me wrong, I know Chika has a good heart. She cares about others. One thing I always liked about Chika was that she thought herself as a normal girl, to which I can relate. She found something where a normal girl like her can shine in, but the thing with Chika is that there was an oversaturation of her and not much development. I know Chika thinks she’s normal, I know that she wants to save the school and make others happy, but what else is there to her? The anime would constantly tell us this about her but it just because repetitive and boring, and instead of seeing more interesting sides to her, I just kept finding how annoying and selfish she can be. The episode where the school didn’t get enough applicants still bothers me because of how easily Chika was ready to give up the Love Live because they didn’t save their school. Again, read that review to understand. And just because Chika is the main character, she gets the most screentime, she gets the most centers, the most solos, so much that she sometimes takes up too much screen time. Like, get out of the way! There are eight other girls there, give them a chance! This is more of the anime’s problem and not exactly Chika, but I’ve already made it clear why I can’t just stand her.
It bugs me to hear people say that it’s hard to give equal development to nine characters, when the original, while not perfectly, did a much better job at it. There’s some decisions in this season that were very questionable and aggravating, but I still had fun watching this season. I’m looking forward to the movie because we still don’t know what’ll be of Aqours. Will they continue, or disband to give us a chance at the Perfect Dream Project girls? That…seems like the best bet. All in all, this season was better but I’m still unsure of the rating I’d give this. For now, I’ll stick with a 7/10 and give myself more time to think. Hopefully the movie will come soon, but until then this’ll be the last one. Thanks for reading this far!