(Last post for 2017 😀 Hope everyone had a good year, and a happy 2018 to all~)
Allow me to get my “thanks” out of the way as I really do appreciate what this series has managed to deliver in these two seasons. I could wax poetic a bit more as to how much I’ve grown to enjoy this franchise in what would be a year for me now (as I started getting in to Love Live! Sunshine!! right around when the first season was about to end), but let’s save that for some other time. The ani-webs are most likely overflowing with “Love Live!”-love by the time this goes up anyway, so allow me to sort-of break away from that, and let me ramble to you a bit about why exactly I liked this show.
I write this to; one, sort out my own feelings for the show in a more structured manner now that it’s all over (for now); and two, to hopefully aid you in sorting out your own feelings as well, whether or not you find yourself here as a fan of the series, or of the franchise in general. For fans, this might be a rehash of a lot of things already discussed in a lot of different places, but I do believe I put enough of a personal twist to this… analysis of sorts, to make it worth your time. For non-fans, well, stick around. Maybe you might come across something nice.
Now, it’s no real secret that one of the more prominent narratives of Love Live! Sunshine!!’ is one that revolves around the concept of hard work. In a previous post, I liken the show’s approach to said concept to that displayed in sports anime. That the entire premise of forming a team and them having a unified goal to work towards is more or less the bare-bones plot of Love Live!, much like a high school baseball team vying for the Koshien, or really any sports club aiming to compete at a national level. Of course, it’s not as if the idols are facing off against each other on some stadium (man that would be something) but the anime does make it clear that there is something at stake and that only one idol group can seize that something — whatever it is they’re aiming for.
In line with that I believe that the more undersold theme for Love Live! Sunshine!! in particular is the notion of failure. Experiencing failure. Acknowledging failure. Accepting failure. The idea that things don’t always go as one would want them to; that that much in the way of success is dependant on a lot of things beyond one’s control; and, perhaps most important of all, that failure is normal. It is this approach to the concept failure that made Love Live! Sunshine!! seem so grounded in its presentation, in stark contrast to Love Live! (the orginal series) and μ’s along with the sheer magnitude of what they were able to accomplish in the show’s universe.
For all intents and purposes, μ’s’ stint as school idols, in my opinion was nothing short of a perfect ride. They hit some bumps along the way sure but in return not only had they saved their school (by the end of just the first season no less), but also managed to also attain nation-wide acclaim (even world-wide as per the movie) despite basically being an upstart idol group composed of girls that generally did not have any sort of experience prior — where canonically, only a few characters have any sort of formal backgrounds in dance and/or music to begin with.
That is to say such clean and perfect outcomes have no place in a more “realistic” world. Men are not gods of myth, nor are school idols goddesses. For man the act of seeking perfection is akin to him flying high in the sky in hopes of reaching the sun, yet only to realize midway that he instead had been diving towards the sea floor; towards a mere reflection of it. It’s a foolish, needless, and a downright abnormal endeavor — for “man”, that is. As we find over the course of Love Live! Sunshine! this particular endeavor has actually been best personified, not just by some mere “person” fittingly enough, but by Aqours’ normalian from the planet normal: the normal monster Takami Chika herself.
But alas; where the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne triumphed handedly, the normal monster and her merry band of hopefuls despite their herculean efforts, could not.
Where μ’s succeeded, Aqours failed.
So yes, I would agree that this is a victory in itself. But let us also not forget what they had initially set their sights on. Turning the 0 into 1; the 1 into a 10; the 10 into 100; 100 to 1000 and so on. The girls went as far as getting ten-fold of their own group’s numbers and then some. Which is already quite the feat. But that was as far they could go before the appointed time. In that respect, they did fail. They themselves recognize it as much, and so should we.
The “problem” arises when one apllies this mindset in the sole pursuit of their dream. Some might be able to remember this nice albeit brusque passage from one of anime’s best counselors (lol), Hikigaya Hachiman of Yahari/Oregairu fame, and in his words:
“Hard work betrays none, but dreams betray many. Working hard alone doesn’t assure you that you’ll achieve your dreams. Actually there are more cases where you don’t. Even so, working hard and achieving something is some consolation at least.”
A popular trope and argument to the idea that the only thing you need in order to achieve success is dubbed “the fallacy of hard work”, which is what Hachiman touches upon in the above statement. It brings to light a reality of sorts that says that achieving one’s dreams is in fact subject to a lot of factors outside just working hard. Wealth. Opportunity. Connections. Talent. Luck. Bringing it back to μ’s real quick, you could say that one of the reasons why they did so well was that they were situated near what many consider as the mecca of otaku (and by extension, idol culture) in Tokyo’s Akihabara — owing to better exposure and subsequent better reception to more established fan bases, whereas Aqours would seem to have had the more uphill climb coming from a more regional scene.
It took up to the final moments of the second season for her to understand what it was that she had been searching for. Ironically it was something they only managed to acquire after everything they’ve been through. A radiance of their own — reflected in the sea of lights that shone in front of them as they performed; like the shine of the sun on the water’s surface; in the sea of sunshine made by everyone. The ardor of Takami Chika and the rest of Aqours may not have been enough to achieve their ultimate goal, but by the end she and the rest of the girls may have instead achieved “something even greater”, beyond what any of them could have imagined.
It’s kinda funny, almost serendipitous even, looking back at everything that happened in the series up until now. Takami Chika, who attributed anything and everything good that happened to her and her companions as being the result of miracles, ended up not getting the miracle she wanted most when she needed it most — a miracle in the form of just two more potential admittants to fill their quota. Yet the world would not grant her even that. Rather, it could not. Nor has it ever done so, ever, for her and the girls of Aqours.
That truly makes us aware of the passage of time. And then, we notice that perhaps it is precisly because this time will never come again that we can truly enjoy this moment for what is is. It’s because we know that what is happening now will never happen again, that we can do our very best. Because we all know things will come to an end someday. Because we all know that tomorrow will still come even after it’s over. Because we have to start walking towards the future. That’s probably why everone smiles“
If precedent is to be followed (rather, the broadcast confirmed it right after, but), the girls will set sail once more. One final time on the big screen. But we see them off for today. Tomorrow is fast approaching. A new day awaits. New stories to be told.
(… remember when I said I wound’t wax poetic? tehe~)
What an amazing post. I loved it. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks! I’m glad it turned out to be nice read 🙂
that got deep, leap! now it hyped me for when i watch the anime!!!!
It really did xD lol sweet, would love to hear your thoughts on it when you do, haha!
if it sucks, i’ll keep on blaming Leap for recommending me awful shows!!!!! hahaha
I kid, if you can go deep with it then I think I can enjoy it as well, despite the idol fantacism that I just cannot get into.
aaaah, I always really love reading posts like this. The care that you have for the series is very showing and your writing is very lovely~!
That Uranohoshi part also got a really big “OHHH” out of me, btw.
Looking forward to seeing more of your stuff and thanks for sharing!
Likewise, it’s getting responses like this that really make my day :3 I’m very happy you enjoyed it, and thank you for dropping by and giving it a read.
Haha! I was worried if I was coming across being a bit too melodramatic when I was writing that line. But, well, I’m glad I kept it then 😀 (admittedly I too had that “OHHH” moment when I realized it myself xD well, whether or not that’s /actually/ what “uranohoshi” was meant to represent is beyond me, but it’d be nice if it was, right?)
I was gonna write something on your post on LL!SS!! episode 12, but I figured I’d wait on whether you’d write something for the finale too. So if ever, I’m looking forward to that as well!
You put it more better than I ever could, lol. I think a lot of people who enjoy underdog stories will like Love Live Sunshine. While that doesn’t mean μ’s were super talented or anything, there were definitely more obstacles in Aqours’ path, and they have experienced more failures than successes. To quote the show, Aqours literally started from 0 but you can say μ’s started from 1 — the latter don’t really have prior experiences in school idols, but the pieces of the puzzles were already there from the beginning.
I started writing this post right early during the second season so I had a bit of time to let my thoughts soak xD I agree, and I almost think it’s a shame that Love Live! (as a whole) has the stigma that it has currently because Sunshine does have a legitimately good story behind it.
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