The first time I ever heard of Love Live! was when Crunchyroll listed the second season of it on their simulcast schedule last year. It looked interesting, so I added it onto my watch queue. It wasn’t until I heard that there was a free-to-play rhythm game for mobile devices, that I finally decided to dive into the Anime. I wanted to familiarize myself with the franchise before diving into the game. So fast forward about a year later, and here I am as a huge Love Live! fan. This all basically started from how great I found the first season of the Anime. So thanks to NIS America, the first season of the series was released stateside in their traditional Premium Edition form for me to own in physical form. So here’s my review and thoughts of the Anime and the Premium Edition itself.

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Love Live! School Idol Project 1st Season Premium Edition

Publisher: NIS America
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Media: 2 Blu-ray Discs
Language: Japanese w/ English subtitles

Love Live! School Idol Project is a multimedia project that spawned back in 2010 from the joint efforts of a magazine company, a record label, and an animation studio. What we got was Love Live!, a story about a group of female students who decide to become idols in order to save their school from closing down. Numerous songs were released, music videos made, and even live concerts happened. Then in 2013, the Love Live! Anime finally aired.

As I stated above, Love Live! School Idol Project is about a group of seven female students who become idols in order to prevent their school’s closure. This is where the show starts. News of the school closing is revealed to the students. One of the students, Honoka Kosaka, is really shocked by the news. After some events happen, Honaka comes up with the idea that they should form their own school idol group in order to save the school. This sets up the premise for the whole show. Introducing the cast members in their own ways until the whole group is formed.

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The varied cast of characters of Love Live! are what made the series so enjoyable to watch. Sure, some are a bit cliche and are types you’ve seen before. Even with all that, I felt that the way they were written and how well each of the girls compliment each other was enough to keep things fresh and interesting. After seeing one episode, I was already psyched to see the next one because I wanted to continue experiencing the adventures of these seven girls. It’s a pretty feel good story as well, as you’re witnessing these girls start from nothing and working hard together in order to become something.

Of course, every feel good story has to have some drama and Love Live! has its moments. Unfortunately, one of those moments was a real bummer for me. Near the show’s conclusion, things get really dramatic. I won’t spoil the details, but it left me feeling sour. Maybe because I had so much fun watching the adventures of these girls, that seeing them in some really bad situations made me really sad. That’s half true. The other reason I was fairly disappointed by it was how it was set up and concluded. It felt forced in a way, since it sort of comes out of nowhere. Maybe that was what the writers were going for, but I couldn’t help but feel slightly uneasy about the whole thing.

Even though the couple of last episodes weren’t as enjoyable to watch for me, I still came out of the whole show very satisfied since it still ended on a high note. It starts out great and I was hooked the whole way. The most enjoyable thing for me though would have to be the music tie-ins. This began as a music project and these girls are idols, so there’s a lot of music featured in this show. I had no awareness of all the music made before the Anime, but I still found enjoyment in them when I heard them the first time throughout the show. Needless to say, I loved the music.

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One neat detail I also enjoyed was how the ending music was handled. A good chunk of episodes focus on a specific character in order to develop them a bit more, and this is further implemented into the ending song by having that character sing it alone. I always enjoy it when Anime shows do something different with their endings for each episode and they keep me interested in seeing the ending song and not skipping over it.

Last thing I’ll talk about in relation to the show is the art style. I really like the character designs and how each character has something that is very unique about them. Since music videos are a feature in this show, the art style will often switch over to a set of 3D models during these. I’m assuming it’s to stay true to how the music videos were made, and to maybe limit the work for the 2D artists. So you’ll often see switches between the two being made in these music videos, from a 2D close up of the characters then to a wide angle of the 3D models performing the choreography. Things like that. I didn’t mind it much, but it’s really easy to tell the difference between the two. Perhaps unavoidable with the technology being used, but it’s unfortunate that the two weren’t melded together better to create a more smoother and consistent style.

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If you’ve ordered an Anime from NIS America before, then you should have a good idea on how this release is set up. A Premium Edition was only released initially, and this is done in the same manner as previous releases by NISA. The show is only available on Blu-ray in a special premium box and along with it you’ll get a hardcover artbook with episode and character guides, a Weiss card, and a digital promo card for use in the Love Live! free to play mobile game. The release is Japanese audio with English subtitles only, and has a MSRP of $64.99, which you’re sure to find for lower at various Anime retailers.

While NISA releases tend to be pricey compared to other subtitle-only releases, the extras are often good enough to warrant them. I feel that way also with this certain release. The included hardcover book offers a good amount of items that fans of the show, and the other aspects of Love Live!, will find enjoyment in checking out. If you’re into Weiss cards and the F2P mobile game, the other bounses are also nice inclusions. So I find this release worth it if you’re a fan.

As of the writing of this review, the Love Live! School Idol Project 1st Season Premium Edition is currently out of stock. However, a limited reprint is currently planned in July. So there’s another chance to buy it if interested. An English dub is also planned and will be included in the show’s standard release later this year. So there will be other chances to pick up a physical copy of the show. If interested in checking it out right now though, the first and second season of the show are both available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

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The 1st season Anime adaptation of Love Live! School Idol Project was a great introduction for me into the world of Love Live!. I had no prior knowledge of anything in the franchise when I came in, so I highly recommend checking it out if you’re curious on what Love Live! is all about. I would even recommend checking out the show again after experiencing all the other parts of Love Live!, like the songs and music videos. It really shows how true the show was to what was already established, which only made me enjoy the Anime even more. So whether you’re already a fan through its other offerings or curious on what Love Live! is for the first time, I found the Anime to be simply great no matter which perspective you’re viewing it from. A definite must-watch for me, and a worthy investment for the Premium Edition release. Otaku Dome gives Love Live! School Idol Project 1st Season Premium Edition a 90 out of 100.

Categories: Anime, Reviews, Slider Content

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