Crayon Rin-chan: The Idol Empire Strikes Back – Love Live Series 2, Episode 5

Posted by DiGiKerot in Love Live! at May 6, 2014 on 11:14 pm

It’s a little easy to be mean towards Rin – certainly, it’s something I’ve been guilty of myself, and it’d be a little over-easy to write this particular episode off as fulfilling a contractural obligation to give every character at least some kind of focus for merchandising reasons.

Whilst that would be enormously unfair, as a character, the show hasn’t really given us much of a reason to actually care about Rin, pretty much using her as a warm body to fill up space when necessary. Even when the trauma that this episode was based upon was brought up in the first series, back when she joined in with the school idol antics in the fourth episode, it was very much as a c-plot in a episode mostly centring around Hanayo getting over her anxiety issues and Maki her pride. Her joining Moo’s was never really sold beyond her going along with the flow when Hanayo and Maki joined.

Which is part of what this episode is attempting to address, I guess, though it feels like there’s a bunch of statements made here that haven’t really been given much grounding in the show.

OK, I’m being unfair given that English is supposedly her only bad grade, but I need to justify the post title somehow!

Rin is a pretty weird character. It doesn’t always come across particularly well in the Crunchyroll subtitles, but she’s a whole bundle of affectations wrapped up with a somewhat dissonant appearance that sits half-way between girly and tom-boy. A lot of her speech comes across as childish – aside from the usual cat-noises, she typically refers to herself in the third person, something that even Nico only does when she’s in character and wants to appear particularly demure.

It’s where the overall tone of the show works against the content somewhat, in so much as it’s a little tricky to determine if it’s intended to come across as stunted emotional maturity, or if it’s a case of overcompensation taken perhaps a little too far, both routed in past emotional traumas and the fact that young boys are kind-of jerks.

I’d really like to give the staff the benefit of the doubt, and swing towards it being mostly the later, because, frankly, it makes for a more interesting character in my personal opinion, but in any case, it is nice that the shows staff have at least produced an episode now which gives the viewer at least some possible reading on her mannerisms beyond the obvious “the staff think it’s cute”.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t personally think they’ve left it a little late in the series to try to build some empathy towards Rin – whilst we aren’t really talking about massive swings of quality difference, this was probably my least favourite episode of the second series of Love Live thus far, and a huge amount of that is more character bias than necessarily the actual content. I’m, at this point, never going to enjoy a Rin episode as much as I would a Nico one, simply because there’s orders of magnitude of difference in how much I enjoy the characters.

But, hey, at least Rin feels more like an actual character rather than a cat-noise generation device now! In any case, on with the specifics.


I’d imagine that most of the people who read this blog picked up on this anyway, particularly if you are actually paying attention to the spoken dialogue, but the Crunchyroll translation somewhat fudged the joke here. Honoka is, obviously, doing that stereotypical anime thing (which I have to wonder if anyone does in real life, beyond being referential) of loudly declaring their arrival at the sea (UMI DAH!), which Umi responds to by telling her to stop shouting her name.

The exact situation is largely obvious from the audio, but that second line from the Crunchy version (“You don’t have to keep saying it”) somewhat obfuscates the joke in a way which simply adding the word Name into would probably obviate – she’s annoyed that Honoka is, specifically, yelling Umi over and over, but it’s not clear here.

Not that I’m not full of sympathy for the people having to translate this particular kind of pun – it’s always going to end up being a little obtuse from a text-only point of view without either leaving a word in Japanese (and risk being exclusionary to some degree) or sticking some great whacking translators note in. Still, some consideration should probably be made for the fact that the audio dialogue being spoken isn’t exactly so complicated that most the audience couldn’t hear UMI being yelled.

2) At A Push…

What are they even wearing to the pool here?

There are pretty much two reasons for this pre-credit pool sequence, by my reckoning. Firstly, it seems like some kind of sudden play to actually display some kind of leadership characteristics in Rin – that she at least can manage to convince and drag her friends down the the pool.

Secondly, it gives them an opportunity to use another version of that pushing scene which is echoed throughout the episode, in this specific case suggesting that Maki and Hanayo, despite no particular prior evidence, are being pushed forward in their endeavors by Rin.

3) Ye of Little Faith

You know, girls, maybe you should have a little faith in your leader and stop deterring Honoka from trying to stop it from raining – you should really be remembering that time back in the first episode of the second series when she actually did make it stop raining through willpower alone.

4) Yeah, I’m shocked too!

I have to admit, this is probably the logical leap I have the most trouble following this episode. I think the reasoning as to why a first year, rather than one of the third years, should take the lead is sound, but how that ended up concluding with Rin, as opposed to, say, Maki, is a little odd.

Honestly, it’s mostly that we’ve been shown nothing prior to this that would suggest that Rin has any kind of actual leadership traits, nor are we really shown anything in this episode to suggest she does. On most of the prior occasions in the show in which she has had actual involvement, she’s generally been the one being dragged around by the whims of others – just look back a couple of episodes ago, when she was being (literally) dragged up a mountain by Umi.

Then again, Hanayo is probably even less assertive, so I’m kind of just presuming that Eli or Honoka suggested it, and everyone just went along with it. Maki seems like the sort who has too much of a weird sort of pride that wouldn’t allow her to not be humble enough to agree that someone else was better for the position if pressed on it, if you get what I mean.

I would have said that it was a not-so-subtle play by Eli and Honoka to force her to get over some of her anxiety issues if there hadn’t been an entire series of episodes since they last arose in the actual show, and even when they did crop up then, it was prior to her having become a school idol. Hanayo was pretty much the only one who had any kind of inkling of them.

5) Nya! Nya! Nya! Nyaaaa!

Rin’s sudden inability to count, devolving into mere cat noises, aside, this is another one of those scenes which doesn’t really come across all that well in the subtitled versions. It mostly comes down to the fact that Crunchy doesn’t tend to acknowledge some of her peculiar affectations – particularly those Nya’s she tends to end her sentences in – in their translation. The result is that, when her speech sudden leaps up a politeness level and becomes super-formal, as it did here, it doesn’t really read as being different enough to be noticeable. Rin is talking out of character, but it’s not entirely obvious that is what she is doing.

It does raise the question as to whether or not there’s a way to retain all of the third-person references and silly cat noises in the translation without being overly cute and obnoxious. Then again, if they’re annoying in the original language, they should probably be so in the translation as well!

6) All but the most self-centered people think…

She’s talking about Nico, right? In the negative sense, obviously.

7) I suppose I should acknowledge this…

…but I presume that everyone is probably, by this point, completely fed-up with the memetic qualities of this particular Umi-Face, with it having been plastered over all and sundry the last couple of days. Certainly, out of everything that happened in this particular episode, it’s this particular cut that seems to have actually gained traction.

I have to admit, I generally found the stuff in this episode with the second years to be the more entertaining portions of the episode, but that was perhaps the point in those scenes? It’d have been easy for them just to ignore those characters for much of the duration of the episode, but by bringing them back in sporadically, it allowed them to effectively break up some of the tonally heavier content with some gags without making things too tonally dissonant. Not to say that the shenanigans back at the school were devoid of humour or anything, but they did pick their moments sensibly in those regards.


When Rin queries why the door is locked, Nico explains that it’s because she’s always trying to catch her. Aside from pointing out Rin’s spotty success rate in that regard, it’s a little funny to think that, shoe being on the other foot, Nico had the foresight to presume that Rin would make like her and attempt to scarper when placed into an awkward predicament. It’s the kind of petty thing that Nico would totally be into.


Just your weekly remind… wait a moment, she’s being responsible for once! Colour me shocked!

10) Well, she does have to give up being a school idol next year…

I guess it’s because of her exotic lineage (not that such things tend to be that visibly obvious in anime form), but it’s cute that the agent here is trying to pick up Eli (as does another later on, if you are paying attention). The model is cute as well – she kind of has a bit of the look of Yoshino (probably my favourite MariMite character, if you were to push me on it) about her, I guess, admittedly with something of a less-stern look to her facial features.

11) Post Traumatic Skirt Disorder

Given that the rest of the girls seem to have managed to get changed into these rather dapper suit-based costumes – with at least three layers to them – in the space of time that it took Rin to draw a curtain and look at a dress, I’m going to have to assume that the thought of wearing a skirt once more was so shocking to Rin that it literally caused her to pass out – whilst remaining on her feet – for a good half hour or so.

I have to admit, I do feel that they were being a little too blunt in the way that they echo the scene from the first series of Maki and Rin pushing Hanayo forward to idoldom here, with Maki and Hanayo doing much the same for Rin. It’s not so much that I don’t think it’s an effective and poignant gesture, it’s more that they felt the need to actually remind us, with a montage of footage from the earlier episode, that it’s what they are doing. It’s actually a little uncharacteristic of the series to be doing that – the show makes a habit of being self-referential to a degree, reusing visual cues from prior episodes of the series (or wider franchise content, for that matter) on a semi-regular basis, but this is the first time I can remember them having felt the need to rub the audiences face in it.

Also, Maki does look incredibly dashing in this costume.

12) I’ll let you formulate your own comment…


I suppose it’s kind of a shame that they didn’t go for a full stage performance here, but honestly, I wouldn’t really want to be the guy who’d have to deal with either hand-animating or CG animating that wedding dress throughout an entire dance sequence. The choice of going into a montage of backstage fashion-show footage and the second years being on vacation was cute enough, and drew a bunch of the plot strands together relatively effectively, so no-harm, no-foul, I guess, and the song isn’t really the kind of up-tempo number that would result in the kind of dynamic performance animation they normally go for anyway.

I do also think it’s cute that Nico managed to get the Yoshino-look-a-like to pull a Nico-Nico-Ni for the group photograph!

Also, the promo for next weeks episode looks pretty damn hype, in so much as it looks like the kind of really dumb episode that I really, really enjoy.

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