Impressions – Love Live! Sunshine!! Episode 5
The time we had anxiously awaited has finally come… the fallen angel, Yohane, has made her appearance. Obviously her chuunibyou tendencies had already made her stand out even before the anime started (the audio drama that came with Guilty Kiss’ first single had already introduced us to her antics), but now it’s time to see who Yoshiko Tsushima really is.
As it turns out, Yohane’s somewhat of an internet celebrity for her nicovideo lives where she… does fallen angel stuff. Whatever that is. But she’s got a dilemma, the girl; she wants to throw that identity away and become a riajuu. She wants to enjoy a normal school life, as a normal girl. And yet she still finds herself doing fallen angel things, and she even let her “secret identity” slip during introductions at school… and now she’s too embarrassed to go back.
But fate is on her side! The Aqours she saw shining are looking for… individuality. Impact. Something that’ll make them stand out, and their popularity go up as a result. And guess who’s got plenty of that? Well, Yohane of course! So, when she tries to come back to school and Zuramaru (with whom she’s been acquainted since kindergarten) finds her, she’s scouted by Chika, who’s looking for the kind of quirkiness Yoshiko’s fallen angel side can give them. So You makes the outfits, and they go ahead with the idea, which at first leads to many complaints on how daring the costumes are… and yet another hilarious moment between Riko and Shiitake at Chika’s home. Poor Riko has been through so much already! (Oh and did I mention that Yoshiko incidentally showing her Yohane self in front of the class before receiving Maru’s glares was already pretty damn funny?)
Speaking of Riko and Chika, and I have to admit that I absolutely love their dynamic. We’ve already had quite a few scenes between the two of them, and it’s always with Riko that Chika has her more interesting discussions. This time you see her admitting that she used to believe that everyone was rather plain; but that their moments together have helped her realize the individual appeal of everyone, to which Riko replies that even if they’re plain, she should think of what they can make happen when brought all together. This definitely feels like the kind of discussion only Riko and Chika would have; it sets a clear dynamic between the two which is nothing less than lovely, as Riko brings out Chika’s more thoughtful side, while Chika pushes Riko to be herself and chase her dreams.
So they eventually record a video appealing the “little demon” thing, which immediately heightens their ranking… but at the cost of Dia’s furor (she finds the outfits far too indecent), who shows them reality; this kind of immediate impact just doesn’t last. Some minutes later, they’ve lost a good five hundred places.
Realizing that, disappointment settles in, and Yoshiko takes the blame; it is, after all, her quirk on which they made a losing bet. She leaves them, and resigns herself to abandoning her chuunibyou tendencies.
But, obviously, the utopic world of Love Live! doesn’t go that way; she needs to be herself.
I love the chase scene. Of course there’s the emphasis on individuality, but the liveliness of seeing everyone running around chasing a girl desperately trying to run away from herself definitely conveyed the show’s idealism well; there’s a sheer desire to live that has to be transmitted, and this kind of scene is just perfect for the purpose.
This last scene also brought µ’s back to the center of the discussion. This episode had fewer throwbacks, which I didn’t mind as we’ve already had many chances to see just how loved µ’s are in Sunshine. They can leave more space for Aqours themselves at this point (although I’m sure we’ll be hearing lots about µ’s anyway, especially as third years’ story seems linked to µ’s as well). But still they appear in this discussion between Chika and Yoshiko; because Chika wants to tell Yoshiko about what made μ’s legendary. And as she says, it has to be their honesty with themselves, just how straightforwardly they were able to express their longing. (Remember Snow Halation in season two?)
I really like how this brings us back to episode three when we saw Yohane taking off her mask in awe of Aqours’ first performance. Earlier Zuramaru mentioned that Yoshiko used to see herself as an angel in kindergarten; she believes that Yoshiko is actually a perfectly normal girl, and relates her condition to a desire to find her own brilliance. (To be exact, a desire to reunite with an original state of brilliance that got lost along the way). This make her joining Aqours perfectly natural; what they bring to the stage is exactly this individuality. Yoshiko wants that too; to be able to shine as Yohane, as who she wants to be. And so she joins Aqours in yet another deeply heartwarming resolution.
This is the kind of scene that busts the myth of Chika as a Honoka 2.0. While I’ll admit this bothered me originally, honestly it’s hard not to laugh at the notion by now. There’s a simple reality which is that Chika has realized µ’s inspirational power, and that gives her a special substance. She can intellectualize what makes µ’s so special, and this is unique to her; Honoka was part of µ’s, so she didn’t have that thought process. That makes Chika stand out, some will say for the better (although Honoka will forever be my favorite).
This episode also kept true to the theme of Chika extending her hand to those running away from their yearnings. This hand carries a lot of weight; it’s not just Chika being nice to others, it’s also an extension of the hand Honoka showed to others, and the hands of µ’s that reached so many people out there, both in the world of Love Live! and in our world. It’s a gentle hand, yet also one that contains so much desire to live, chase one’s dreams…
I might have preferred last week’s episode, truth be told. That one made me so emotional, an emotional response which Yohane’s story didn’t quite reproduce; admittedly it was a fair bit less dramatic, with lots of time spent on (once again crazy effective) comedy. In that sense Yohane’s definitely a stand-out character (but who isn’t in Aqours?), at least in that she’s a whole lot of fun. But still, this episode was excellent. We got another character fleshed out (once again Sunshine has been surprisingly fast in that regard), and once again with that ever-present spirit I only find in Love Live (don’t take my word for it though, if I write these posts here it’s because I’m aware of how biased I am). The episode ended with some build-up to the inevitable 3rd year drama, yet it seems the next episode won’t be focused on any character in particular, but rather on the activity of creating a PV. It seems natural to leave some of the drama for the season’s climax (which makes me believe there really will be a continuation). But anyway, and I have to repeat myself here, Sunshine has been continuously amazing, and has absolutely crushed my expectations as a fan; I really couldn’t be any happier about this new project.