The Internet is Vast and Infinite. Also full of streaming idol contests, apparently.
I was pondering whether or not, given some of the charts shown later in the episode, there were any internet hacking shenanigans going on in this episode, but whilst Nico has previously proven herself quite adept around a keyboard (at least whilst trolling idol groups on internet forums), I’m pretty sure that Arisa and Yukiho aren’t exactly the sorts to have a Love Live voting bot-net at their beck-and-call. Infact, given that half of our heroines active fanbase seemed to be at their concert, and didn’t seem to have their ‘phones out, I wonder who was actually voting for them.
But I’m digressing in an attempt to justify the silly post title.
1) Student Council President
Just a reminder.
2) Just hold that thought for a few minutes…
It’s been a while since we’ve had one of these, but at long last we’ve had another of those weird cuts in Love Live, where they jump between scenes mid-conversation. I mean, just think for a moment about what happened here – they started explaining to Honoka why she was being naive in the classroom, then paused long enough for Hanayo to grab a camera – merely for effect, not for filming – and drag them all down to the courtyard to continue the conversation into it’s next sentence.
Not to mention that they had to wait for Maki to put in her hair ties between scenes. That’s got to have taken at least five seconds.
Still, I guess it’s not quite as jarring a jump as going from the school to the train station several days later between sentences.
3) Sexual Harassment!
Given that Nozomi is involved, I’m pretty sure that Honoka’s first statement is considerably more accurate than Kotori’s suggestion of “Sexy Dynamite”.
Apparently “sexy dress” means “Chinese dress” in Japan. I have to admit, I do somewhat think that some of the costumes that they’ve already appeared in during the show are, if not necessarily quite as form fitting, more attractive and/or sexy. Maybe my metrics on such things are off, though.
It did cross my mind, with the show being so in love with being referential as it is, that the costume might have been in reference to a card from the School Idol Festival mobile game. I don’t generally track what is going on with that, but from a cursory scan of some of the fansites, that doesn’t look to be the case. Feels like a lost opportunity to do something nerdy, honestly.
4) Student Council President
Just a reminder. Again.
5) Wonder Zone…
There’s something a little comical about them writing-off performing in Akiba due to the crowds and potentially annoying A-RISE – for one thing, they already are kind of picking a fight with the due to the very fact that they’re in the same Love Live qualification block as they are. I mean, what are A-RISE going to do – dance at them harder?
More than that, though, I also remember that they already performed in Akiba back in the ninth episode of the first series, so surely it should have been written-off for that reason alone, as with every other location they discounted, anyway?
6) Watcha do? Watcha do?
I do love the way that Private Wars fades up during this scene here – I mean, just given the lyrics to the song (or the “I do Private Wars” part, anyway), it sets up a certain tone of “oh, damn, they’ve been caught in enemy territory” – only for it to immediately be deflected by the fact that A-RISE are totally the nicest people.
Admittedly, that’s not really a particular shock for anyone who’d been paying attention to the few scenes in which they appeared in the first series – A-RISE have always been portrayed as actually being throughly pleasant people – but it’s nice that they’ve not chosen to demonise them as some why to drum up tension (or that they aren’t the crazy, yoyo-wielding, mask-donning idol group from Wake Up, Girls!) – although I guess the side effect of that is that it’s kind of difficult to root for our heroines instead of A-RISE.
7) Where were they hiding?
Going back to point 2 again, this is another of those weird cuts. In this case, during the Japanese TV broadcast they’d have at least inserted an advertisement or two in the middle to make it a little less jarring, but Yuki and Erika kind of just appear from nowhere here between sentences. Given that the foyer looked completely empty when she and Honoka arrived, I would say that maybe Kira paused her conversation to wait for them to turn up, but then Nico and Hanayo (admittedly not the most athletic pair) were in hot pursuit and still managed to arrive on scene later.
Which rather suggests that Yuki and Erika just materialised like a pair of MahJong playing shrine-maidens.
I have to say, Kira (always my favourite member of A-RISE, for what it’s worth) frequently comes across as being adorably petite. They are real inconsistent about her height, admittedly – she’s the shortest member of her unit, though part of that is just that Erika is real tall – but she fluctuates in comparison to, say, Honoka. I think over the course of the episode, she’s shown as being taller, shorter and of equal size next to our erstwhile heroine.
Still, there’s something about her design which just smacks of petiteness, and I can’t quite put my finger on what. Maybe it’s just the hair style reminding me of someone I can’t quite specifically remember, but I don’t particularly care, because she’s still cute.
8) I Do Private Wars
I find it pretty amusing that A-RISE seem to have managed to collate all sorts of little-known information about the members of Mooo’s. I guess that when they say that they do Private Wars, what they actually mean is that they have a well-developed spy network.
Although when I say well-developed, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s accurate – I mean, I kind of question what they are saying about Rin in light of what we’ve previously seen in the show…
OK, so one of those screen grabs – where it was shown that she had absolutely zero flexibility – was from back partway through the first series, but even then, she didn’t seem like the most aggressively athletic of girls back when Umi was literally dragging her up a mountain just an episode ago. I’m pretty sure that Nico has managed to outpace her on at least one occasion too.
It also amuses me that they’re basically praising Hanayo here for having a squeaky (many would say occasionally annoyingly so) voice.
Still, they did at least draw a conclusion over The Legend of Minalinsky – I guess that Kotori must have quit her job as Akihabara’s Charisma Maid back when she was intending to head abroad to attend school. I guess that at least makes how she deals with her time allotment make a little more sense now, particularly given she’s added being a member of the student council to her list of things that she does in seemingly very little time.
9) Thanks for all the Flowers…
It’s probably not all that surprising that Nico has been sending A-RISE flowers – I mean, she’s enough of a fan that she has two posters of them in the Idol Research Club’s club room. It’s also a little funny that, as Nico’s charm point, Kira refers to her as the groups necessary “Koakuma” (Imp or Little Devil, depending on your choice of subtitle provider). That’s, to a degree, a real nice way of saying that she’s a bit of a jerk, or at least that’s the way I’m going to read it, largely because it’s probably the most accurate read of Nico’s character.
Maki’s sideways glare towards Nico when her A-RISE fangirling is revealed is a little precious, though as an episode, particularly coming from the last couple, there’s precious little ship-baiting in this time around, unless you are looking really closely and grasping at a few straws.
10) As If Kakifly’s Lawyers Weren’t Enough…
Nico probably shouldn’t appear in silhouette dressed like this, or at least with her hair tied up in this fashion. I’m pretty sure that The House of Mouse are pretty serious about protecting their Intellectual Property…
Although the actual curious take-away from this episode is that two weeks have passed in the course of this episode.
11) Winter Uniforms
Kind of inconsequential, I guess, but I think this is the first time we’ve seen the younger sister characters in their middle-school winter uniforms – prior to Arisa’s introduction, I’m pretty sure we only saw Yukiho in that short-shorts ensemble that she seems to like wearing around the house.
12) SHOCKING PARTY!
Given the new A-RISE song is called Shocking Party, the presentation is certainly quite appropriate – it’s really quite astonishing. The animation is genuinely top-notch, fluctuating from cut-to-cut between being animated on the 2s and the 1s – that is, of the 24 frames per second of footage, at the worst there is a unique frame of character art every second frame, and for a few cuts they hit the full-animation dream of all 24 frames of animation being unique. They all look good and on-model as well, with interesting colouring and shading, which makes the whole sequence look really quite remarkable.
Sure, they cut away to other things for extended periods to reduce the amount of work that needed to be done, but between the excellent choreography, the camera work and the stellar animation – not to mention the quality of the song itself – I don’t think that A-RISE could possibly have made a bigger impact than they did here.
I also like their costumes a great deal. Given the navel uniform stylings, they’re very current Akiba-chic in a sense, which I suppose makes some sense given that’s where they’re situated. It makes me wonder who Kira’s favourite Ship Daughter is…
(Also, they’d better release an actual A-RISE single this time instead of hiding their song on the OST!)
13) Door of Dreams
The Moooo’s performance, thanks to the nature of what it was following, had an awful lot to deliver. It didn’t do too badly, but after the super-fluid hand-drawn A-RISE performance, it’s a little jarring to note that, as I mentioned back when talking about the new OP in episode 1, that much of the CG used is animated on the 2s (12fps). I’d have to presume it’s for reasons of saving time – not so much render time, as the background movements are more frequent than the characters, and they actually alternate which characters they adjust on alternate frames in places, but because they are likely doing all the character pose adjustments by hand on a frame-by-frame basis. Even much of the 2D animation was a step-down from the A-RISE performance, though – there’s a close-up shot of Nozomi early on which looks particularly unspectacular for some reason. Maybe it’s the less exciting colouring.
I’m probably being a bit unfair, though. I do think that it’s a pretty big challenge to successfully animate a performance which includes nine, rather than three, idols. For cuts which include the entire unit, that’s three times the number of characters to draw, and it’s rare that you’re in a situation that you are dealing with only one of them being in frame. That’s likely a large part of the reason why they use CG for these things. There’s also the fact that they need to frame the whole performance in a fashion that allows you to keep track of a much larger group – having nine members certainly gives you a lot of opportunity to do interesting things with dance choreography, but it also equally ends up limiting the way in which you can frame or shoot what is going on.
That said, it probably does hold together better than most of the performances from the first season, other than maybe No Brand Girls, but the show set way too high a hurdle for it to leap. In isolation from the rest of the episode, it’s pretty good, and there’s things about the choreography that I do really like.
The new song – Yume no Tobira (Door of Dreams, the same as the episode title) – is pretty OK. I’m sure it’ll probably grow on me, particularly once I get ahold of the CD version and loop it a few times through, but at the moment it rather sounds, for want of a better term, Peak-Moose. That is, it sounds an awful lot like what you’d get if you stuck every other Love Live song in a blender for a few minutes.
I’m also not sure where those transparent – I’m not sure what they’re called, but the over-shirt things – appeared from between them saying they were about to start, and them performing. They certainly didn’t seem to bring them out of the dressing room.
No Brand Girls is still my favourite not-A-RISE Love Live song and performance, though!
I will say, mind you, that judging from those graphs we saw during the performance, Mooooooooo’s looks to have, inexplicably, ranked higher than A-RISE – we saw A-RISE’s line rise about 5 squares on the graph, where as our heroines went up about nine or ten…
Maybe Yukiho has that bot-net after all?