Because the third entry within the franchise, Love Dwell! Nijigasaki Excessive Faculty Idol Membership has so much to dwell as much as, following within the footsteps of each the unique sequence that efficiently established the franchise’s method, and Sunshine!!, which primarily based itself in that method however was in the end about placing your individual stamp on the world. In Nijigasaki, we see one thing that tries to interrupt away from each of those and do one thing totally different, however can it obtain the identical ranges of success by doing so?
Based mostly on the cellular recreation Love Dwell! Faculty Idol Competition All Stars, the sequence introduces us to Ayumu Uehara, a scholar at Nijigasaki Excessive, and her finest buddy Yu Takasaki, as they hang around and revel in themselves round Odaiba. Whereas chilling simply outdoors of Diver Metropolis, they hear cheers and music coming from the efficiency space simply outdoors the primary entrance to the mall. Heading over to take a look at the commotion, the pair discover themselves enraptured by the performer, a college idol by the identify of Setsuna Yuki, who seems to be from their faculty’s Faculty Idol Membership! Impressed by her efficiency, Ayumu decides to check out being a college idol herself with Yu appearing as her producer. But, after they try to affix the membership the next day, they uncover it has simply been disbanded! After discovering one of many membership’s former members, Kasumi Nakasu, it seems that the group had an argument over their future course which prompted Setsuna herself to actually rage give up and pull the plug on all the factor. After shortly changing into pals, the three resolve to save lots of the membership and start work on pulling all of the members again into the group once more.
Whereas its older siblings targeted extra on a linked story, Love Dwell! Nijigasaki Excessive Faculty Idol Membership takes extra of an episodic strategy. Though it’s backed by a core thread of attempting to drag the Faculty Idol Membership again collectively, it principally provides attention-grabbing character vignettes that dwelling in on every of the primary ladies and tries to worm them into your coronary heart because it develops them via quite a lot of conditions from the lovable and comedic, to the extra emotional and critical.
How a lot the story and these character moments resonate with you’ll rely upon how nicely you’ll be able to join with every of the ten ladies, one thing that emerges as each a power and a weak spot for the sequence because it usually forgoes depth for breadth, providing a variety of various character stereotypes for viewers to latch onto. Whereas every one brings one thing totally different to the group, character growth tends to be restricted to their particular person episodes they usually don’t actually develop that a lot outdoors of them – as soon as their main hang-up is resolved, then they’re just about arrange for the remainder of the present. Loads of these hang-ups are typically fairly relatable although, for instance Rina’s struggles along with her social nervousness, or Kanata’s struggles to help her youthful sister in an absentee guardian family, so it finally ends up being fairly straightforward to see the world via their eyes.
Character design has at all times been one of many fundamental strengths of the franchise and it’s nice to see that proceed right here as there’s lots to like with not solely every character’s fashion but additionally their particular person personalities, whether or not that’s Kasumin’s overbearing cuteness, Ai’s boundless vitality or Karin’s “attractive nee-san” vibe. It actually brings all of them to life and actually lets you discover a particular character to love and comply with.
One factor that Nijigasaki does try and do is break with some parts of the established method, and whereas it does nonetheless have that acquainted construction of attempting to kind an idol group and push via all of the challenges which can be thrown the ladies’ approach, there’s no faculty to save lots of from closing or any massive melodrama. As a substitute, it comes throughout as cute and comparatively light-hearted, tucked away from the limelight of among the heavier beats of its predecessors.
This does current an issue although in a sense of a scarcity of ambition, the place it comes throughout as extra of a spin-off somewhat than the core entry within the franchise it’s meant to be. The principle battle is resolved pretty early, and there’s a scarcity of course for lots of the sequence with nothing for the ladies to essentially goal for. That is the place the sequence falls down as a complete, because the connecting thread isn’t sturdy sufficient to maintain pulling you alongside for all the journey.
This does come again round after we get to the large finale of the Faculty Idol Competition, but it surely’s actually too little too late, even when it does exit with a bang. The previous few episodes are the place it actually shines, because it actually nails its central idea of exhibiting a gaggle of idols who every carry out solo, however on the identical time come collectively as a gaggle and assist one another out. It’s grounded and sensible, feeling similar to how some expertise companies function in instances the place you see particular person artists or abilities pitching collectively and collaborating, notably within the VTuber world. We additionally get some pretty character arcs for Ayumu and Yu, with the latter surprisingly rising because the strongest character regardless of being the illustration of the participant within the cellular recreation.
For many who are coming into this for the music, I can say you’re in for an absolute deal with as that is the world the place it actually lives up the franchise’s fame by inserting some completely cracking tunes. It additionally advantages extra from the sequence’ construction as there actually is one thing for everybody right here with every of the characters adopting a special fashion, together with candy serenades (Ayumu), cutesy idol pop (Kasumi), pop-rock (Setsuna) and even EDM (Karin). The latter two are undoubtedly my private favourites and are typically prompt crowd pleasers in dwell live shows with songs like “DIVE!” and “VIVID WORLD” being designed to get you in your toes. The opening, “Nijiiro Passions!” and the ending, “NEO SKY, NEO MAP!” are additionally a few nice tracks, whereas the sequence’ rating, composed by Naoki Endo, encompasses a vary of catchy tunes and themes that match nicely with the precise animation.
Animated by Dawn, the visuals are very cute and vibrant as you’d count on from an idol present, nevertheless it doesn’t really feel fairly as excessive price range as its predecessors, as there are extra noticeable montage segments and utilization of nonetheless frames. Music performances look good and put an attention-grabbing spin on issues by making them extra like a music video, inserting animated scenes primarily based on the artwork that was used for the ultra-rare playing cards within the recreation.
It additionally makes good use of Odaiba as a setting, following on from each the unique sequence and Sunshine!! in bringing an actual space of Japan to life. Selecting Odaiba can also be attention-grabbing as it’s not solely the placement of the life dimension Unicorn Gundam (which does get a cameo!) however can also be the placement for the annual Tokyo Idol Competition, and I wouldn’t be stunned if the occasion supplied some inspiration for the sequence’ massive hurrah. Utilizing Tokyo Huge Sight for the college although is fairly hilarious because the place is way too massive!
The UK launch of the sequence is delivered to us by Anime Restricted, with all 13 episodes offered over 2 discs that includes each the English dub and Japanese with English subtitles. I feel the English dub is okay, however I did discover among the character voices have been a bit too comparable to one another making them exhausting to select. The Japanese solid does a greater job of giving every character a definite fashion of talking and is mostly hotter and extra vibrant in tone; eccentricities are typically a little bit toned down compared in English.
On-disc extras embody Season 3 of the animated yon-koma cartoon Nijiyon!, in addition to promotional movies, commercials and clear opening and ending. Bodily extras come packaged in a sensible trying darkish blue collector’s field and embody a 28-page booklet showcasing characters, outfits and settings, and a stunning set of artwork playing cards that includes the artwork from the Japanese blu-ray volumes.
Total, the primary season of Love Dwell! Nijigasaki Excessive Faculty Idol Membership is a strong and fulfilling entry within the franchise, but it surely doesn’t do something particular regardless of it attempting to alter course and break free from the established method. Whereas it has good music and a different solid of vibrant characters, it’s simply too unambitious and lacks a driver for the plot to maintain you hooked during. In the meantime, its episodic format can work in opposition to it, the place chances are you’ll end up turning off for characters that don’t attraction to you. Regardless of all this, it does end on a powerful word and I feel these bored of among the franchise’s extra widespread story beats and character designs will discover this a refreshing change of tempo.