Impressions – Love Live! Sunshine!! Episode 6
And here I thought the sixth episode of Sunshine would be mostly fun and games… well, I was wrong. After several episodes of excellent character building, this latest entry was bound to focus on something else; the choice here being to depict the characters making a PV. At first I imagined we would simply get to see them having fun creating a video for their new song or something along those lines, but as it turns out, I was quite far from the truth (then again I’m terrible with predictions). So, let’s go over this, shall we?
And we start with the biggest plot twist of all time; the school’s closing down! Or to be exact, it’s fusing with another school. At any rate, Uranohoshi is in danger! (No cookies for guessing what this should remind you of). So, yes, everyone was anticipating Sunshine to reproduce what was a major part of the original’s premise, and here we are. Obviously, Love Live being Love Live, it doesn’t pass up on the chance to make a gag out of this as Chika runs around, rapturous about the prospect of reproducing the exploit the legends, µ’s, achieved before them.
But, and this is the $1000000 question; just what did µ’s do to become legends? On the surface… not much. So, what do Aqours decide to do? A PV underlining the beauty of their town (a decision most likely inspired by µ’s’ Wonder Zone). On paper this is a wonderful idea; except… there isn’t that much to incite people to come. Still, they get to work, Ruby having to warn her sister that she’ll likely come home late as a result. I love the interactions between the Kurosawa siblings because they’re always meaningful; we see that the bond school idols had created between them has been broken, and that things aren’t the same. Sure, Ruby is shy, but the way she can’t even enter the student council’s office when Dia is barely even working is telling; things just aren’t the same between them, even though the flashbacks (and some subtle moments during their conversations) show that they care for one another a lot. School idols connect people together, and these two are a great example of what happens when such a bond is abruptly broken.
Such interactions are meaning in the sense that they’re not simply banter, but moments that give insight into how the characters are, and what their relationships really are like. And Sunshine has had plenty of that… even more so than the original’s first season.
Going back to the main storyline, they film some scenes, edit the whole at Chika’s home, but they hardly seem confident. The reunion ends in another lovely Chika – Riko scene in which the former displays quite a bit of maturity Right after that, we see Kanan visiting Mari’s home; a mysterious scene in which Mari seemingly begs Kanan to enroll Uranohoshi one more time. She told Chika and You that she was on a simple break from school, but this scene raises the question; did she truly intend on coming back to school anytime soon? Was it really just a matter of outside circumstances, or is there some deeper personal reason?
With this scene ends of a most amusing first part; Chika’s lovely goofiness, Yoshiko’s fallen angel antics… all of the typically Love Live humor is present, much to my pleasure. The episode does later on include some more gags, such as Riko’s fear of dogs; but the tone is unmistakably more serious.
Aqours show Mari the PV, which she fiercely criticizes, saying they don’t get the true appeal of Uchiura. She offers her help, but Chika understands that there’s no point in making such a PV if they don’t get it themselves.
This episode also goes some way in building up to the 3rd year conflict. It has the most of Mari as of yet, and we get to see a totally different, more serious side of her. In front of Aqours she uses random English words, which heightens the image of her as a somewhat random girl. However, when talking to Dia she appears as much more serious, lowering her voice and telling her what she really thinks, for instance that she’s running away from her love of school idols. This moment, which happens after Chika runs into Dia dancing and has a proposal to join the club turned down, might be overlooked, but it’s the first visual confirmation we get that the third years indeed attempted to be school idols some years back. Upon learning that Dia used to love school idols, Chika attempts to go after her, but Ruby stops her; it’s not time for this. But the build-up has been terribly effective so far.
This was a big portion as well, but let’s not forget the main question: just what is Uchiura’s appeal? After another fruitless reunion at Chika’s home, Aqours’ leader gets her answer when, early in the morning, everyone gets together to open the summer season. It’s a little ceremony they do on the beach every year. To her, this is but a tradition, a natural part of any year at Uchiura; to Riko, however, it is quite unique. Looking around her, she realizes this town has a surprising number of inhabitants. All gathered in one place. And this is what makes Uchiura’s appeal; it might seem empty at first glance, but it’s this very scale that brings people together that much closer together. This is something Riko hadn’t experienced in Tokyo. Thinking of it, it’s a striking contrast from the appeal of Akiba as µ’s saw it; Akiba was big and ever on the move, and as such it could accept everyone and everything amid its constant buzz. Uchiura, precisely because it’s so small, brings people together. The feeling of community is indeed important, and certainly stronger than it was in the original.
Realizing this, Chika decides to have everyone help them so they can film a PV focusing on this aspect, complete with the new song Yume de Yozora wo Terashitai – a wonderful scene! I loved the song, and the outfits are marvelously elegant. At the end, Chika looks to the horizon (or more precisely the future), expressing that she’s now realized this town isn’t empty at all, and that they can achieve their dream; they’ll chase it until the very end, starting from this very place. It’s a warm ending in the purest Love Live style, once again.
This ending, however, helped me realize part of what makes Chika so special. Honoka had limitless belief in herself and others; she never doubted, never second-guessed anyone or anything. Chika, however, has expressed both that she used to think Aqours were plain and that she used to believe her hometown was empty. She has these thoughts, these doubts, that make her stand out, and far less “extreme” than Honoka.
What a satisfying episode this was. I was frankly expecting to have “pure” downtime after all the character build-up; one episode of fun and games before getting back to business. And that would’ve been fine, too. But here we have none of that; it’s an episode just as important as the others, filled with insightful character interactions and interesting moments that teach us more about the third years. It advances the story well, and there’s this feeling than Aqours are coming into their own more and more, the only µ’s references here being mostly comedic. Oh, and we even have a great new song! Once more, I walk away more than pleased by Sunshine; color me ever more impressed by a series that, even as a fan, I didn’t expect to go as far as surpassing its predecessor, at least in some ways.