*Before we jump into my review, I would like to say something. I do not intend to bash Sunshine for the similarities it shares with its predecessor School Idol Project. If you are looking for a post like that, look elsewhere. What I’m going to be doing is looking at Sunshine for what is: a show that was made to imitate a previous success and as such has repeated themes and even a plot point or two. What is important to know however is that Sunshine does do different things than School Idol Project and this is what I’m here to talk about.*
Love Live has become so popular that we have not only gotten a 24 episode anime, a movie, countless games, and albums, but we have now entered spinoff territory. In an attempt to recreate the success of the original we now have Love Live! Sunshine!! which introduces us to a new bunch of nine girls all wanting to be school idols.
It all starts with μ and a girl named Chika Takami. Chika is blown away the first time she sees a video of μ and soon becomes obsessed with the group. Soon Chika has decided that she’s going to become a school idol with the hopes of shinning just like μ. The headstrong Chika soon begins to look for girls to join her School Idol Club.
It isn’t easy to gather girls to be school idols, especially when you live in Numazu. Numazu is considered to country to support an idol group and everyone initially doubts Chika’s efforts. Chika doesn’t give up and soon gathers eight more girls who will join her in becoming Acqours: You Watanabe a childhood friend of Chika’s who joins in order to connect with Chika by sharing an activity (also obsessed with uniforms), Riko Sakurauchi, a pianist who becomes the composer, Ruby Kurosawa a shy girl who loves idols, Hanamaru Kunikida, a friend of Ruby’s and an avid reader, Yoshiko Tsushima who believes she is a fallen angel (aka Yohane), Dia Kurosawa the student council president and Ruby’s sister, Mari Ohara the school chairman, and Kanan Matsuura a student who was on break due to her father being injured. Together these nine create Acqours.
Becoming school idols was the original goal however; the girls soon learn their school may be combine and shut down. This same situation happened with Chika’s idols μ and she believes that this will be their key to success. They have no such luck saving the school and find that since μ won the Love Live things have only gotten harder for school idols, especially when you’re located in the country.
Animation wise, Sunshine is brilliant. The disliked dancing animations from School Idol Project are mostly gone here and the performances look amazing. Plus Sunshine boasts a fantastic, refreshing setting in Numazu. Everything from the school to the beaches, even Chika’s house are completely different from the packed streets of Tokyo. While their location is a hindrance to their idol activities, it is really nice to look at.
Sunshine also features a fantastic soundtrack. I honestly enjoyed every song the show presented to me. Each one was a new sound and a new direction for Acqours. My personal favorite is the insert song from episode 9, Mijuku DREAMER, due to the amazing video it was paired with. This particular performance has a lot of meaning to Acqours accepting the third years into their ranks and it touched me. Its really interesting because each song is paired with a vital moment for Acqours and each performance lets you see the group grow and mature. I’m actually rather impressed thinking back on how much each song/performance really means to the group and the show. And trust me, the final performance of the season is well worth it.
At the end of the day Sunshine may seem like it has an average plot but it really has a lot of heart, maybe even more so than the original. The ending they managed to pull off was absolutely breathtaking. The one real limitation was the show being limited to one season which prevents it from being better than the original and as such I really hope we are graced with a second wacky season of Acqours.