LOVE LiVELM@STER: To The Nico’ing Other Side – Love Live series 2, episode 12

Posted by DiGiKerot in Love Live! at June 25, 2014 on 10:36 pm

This week on Love Live… It’s not actually the last episode yet.

Of course, the big Love Live news this week is that the sales figures for the first volume of the second series of Love Lives home release are out, and, at over 82.000 copies, it’s breaking all kinds of sales rankings – it’s pretty much the best selling single volume of TV anime, if not ever, then certainly of recent times.

Anime sales figures are not a simple thing, though. Comparison doesn’t always make sense, and it’s certainly not a linear representation of the genuine popularity – the number of overall fans or wellwishers – that a show has. The reality of the matter is more complicated equation combining the number of fans, their passion towards the property and their spending power, all modified by the meta-context and meta-content of the release itself.

It in case of Love Live, it’s a little easy to get reductive about what made it sell so well – particularly because there’s a couple of really obvious reasons that go someway towards explaining it – as if trying to make an excuse as to why it sold better than Highbrow Show A, but the fact is that nothing sells well unless it’s actually popular to some genuine degree. It’s easy to point to the concert lottery ticket, but such things only have value in the first place because the success of the TV anime, combined with a certain popular mobile game drilling the songs into people’s heads, made them popular.

To take a few steps back again, though, it’s worthwhile noting that pretty much no fan-popular anime has a one-to-one sales ratio between purchasers and copies sold. A lot of hobby media – BDs, DVDs, games and sometimes CDs as well – will often come with store exclusive extras. That is, if you buy a particular volume of a show – or sometimes a set of volumes or an entire series – from a particular store, you’ll get some kind of premium bonus, in addition to whatever general first pressing item is available with it. As an example, if you ever see me wandering around an anime convention, those Puchimas pins I normally have attached to my bag were only available if you bought the first season BDs from specifically CDJapan/Neowing.

My con bag. It’s a bag. For cons.

Those aren’t even particularly great examples, though – particularly if you can get to the retail stores in the centre of Akiba, there’s some really neat stuff you can get, like posters, wallscrolls, deskmats, paperweights, or store-specific collectors boxes to put your BDs in (HMV at least used to do cute ones with the shows characters in store uniforms). The point is, though, it’d be foolish to look at a popular show – particularly a nerd-popular show like Madoka or Monogatari – and think that everyone who bought those releases only bought one copy. If a show has multiple good store exclusives, the small minority of particularly passionate fans will buy multiple copies. That’s the real story behind those “guy bought twenty copies of this game” stories you see on some trashier news outlets – whilst I wouldn’t necessarily say some of these guys aren’t crazy, there was probably something at least moderately cool behind each of those copies that you aren’t being told about.

This is certainly part of the story with Love Live – a number of stores are offering some moderately nice special items for collecting all the volumes from them – but the main point in mentioning it is that people buying multiple copies of a particular disk isn’t something that’s exclusive to idol cartoons, rather it’s something that is surprisingly common. That’s why I say a fanbases passion and spending power are significant to how many copies a show sells. Any anime title, outside of Ghibli releases, selling a significant number of copies isn’t necessarily an indicator of mainstream popularity or even awareness.

I also got this sexy Horizon deskmat for buying all of the second series from CDJ

Saying that, in the case of Love Live, the store exclusives are more to do with how they’ll sustain sales past the first volume more than it necessarily matters for this one, rather it’s the specific packaging contents that super-charged the sales here. I’m sure all you fellows playing School Idol Festival appreciate the value of a guaranteed SR card, even if the code-redeem cards are often comparatively neutered next to the standard unlockable ones.

But then there is the matter of the concert lottery ticket. Attending cartoon idol concerts in Japan is kind of a hard process, rarely as straightforward as simply buying a ticket. Since the TV anime, and the launch of LLSIF, demand for Love Live concert tickets has skyrocketed, and despite moving to increasingly large venues, continues to be high. To put this into context, the annual Love Live shows are now being held in the Saitama Super Arena – this is the same venue that the huge iM@S concert crossing over core-iM@S, Cinderella Girls and Million Live was held in back in February (the weekend after LL 4th, as it happens!), and is larger than the venues most iM@S shows are held in. It seats, like, 30,000 (plus) people. It’s also held twice over consecutive days, and people kind of want to go to both (even if it means trudging through snow – that recent episode of Love Live had some basis in reality…)

What buying a copy of the BD gets you is access to the ticket lottery – if gives you the chance to be able to purchase a ticket to the event. It goes without saying that, the more lottery tickets you have entered into the system, the more chances you have of actually getting a seat at all, although I gather it also means that, in the event are multiple tickets are lucky, the more chances you have to get good seats.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t the concept of general ticket sales, but when you have 82,000 tickets in a lottery for a third of the number of seats, well, the chances of there being significant numbers of tickets left become a little minimal.

Thus, the most dedicated fans buy multiple copies of the BD, to get multiple lottery tickets, to increase their chances of getting good seats. Or, at least that’s the perception, and it probably ends up resulting in some people adjusting their purchasing plans upwards in order to persist in having a better odds. Basically, the attach ratio for the release is a little jacked, and whilst most people will certainly have only bought the one, that a tiny fraction of others have bought anywhere between three and thirty makes it real difficult to draw any conclusions about how the show will sell going forward – the tokuten situation will likely result in some continuing to buy multiples, but figuring out the drop-off to volume two is difficult given that they may only have sold this first disk to 20,000 to 40,000 unique people even given it’s sales numbers.

The rather unfortunate side effect of this is that the show ends up becoming the anime equivalent of FIFA ’09 or the Madden of five years ago – no-one actually needs twenty copies of Love Live volume 1, so people strip the codes out of the boxes and take them straight down to BookOff or Mandarake in an attempt to recoup some of their investment. This works to a degree when you are selling 20-30,000 copies of something, but when you sell 80,000 and a good half of them go straight back to the store or up for auction, and they know exactly why they are going back, you very quickly end up with the value of a fully stripped set being a mere 100yen from some retailers, or a ton up for auction for 500yen. A lot of people are probably very disappointed about exactly how out of pocket they are right now, though!

Saying all that, at the end of the day, why a show sold as many copies isn’t really as important as the fact that the show did sell that many – I doubt the folks at Bamco and Sunrise are losing sleep over the fact that their show only really sold to maybe 30,000 unique people when lying on their beds made of cold, hard cartoon idol cash-monies. You really can’t undersell the fact that they manage to fill the Saitama Super Arena twice, either – even if some are taking advantage of their more enthusiastic acquaintances, most anime shows would kill to have a good 40,000 people who give enough damns to drag themselves through the snow for a concert.

It does make me wonder if any cartoon idol promoter will ever just do the honest thing, cut down on the industrial waste and just straight-up sell their A-Block tickets for £600 a piece (though some Love Live tickets have previously gone for more than that at auction, as much as resale is frowned upon). That doesn’t really write as good a headline as record breaking sales, though!

Honestly, I’m not really entirely sure what point I was actually supposed to be making here. I think it’s probably something about how the sheer number of disks Love Live shifted is likely either a bigger or smaller deal than you think it is, but at the same time, it’s not really something you can draw any real conclusions about the industry from – I saw some wild statements being thrown around on Twitter and on forums that don’t really hold water, and people trying to use the numbers to justify arguments it isn’t really relevant in. This applies to me as much as anyone, but if you don’t live in Japan and have active, ongoing communication with fandom of varying degrees of rabidness, or spend all your time trawling Japanese forums, it’s not really sensible to make sweeping statements about somethings popularity over there, particularly not based on these kind of numbers.

But, hey, I’m supposed to be talking about a cartoon here, and honestly, I expect most of my readers know at least as much about anime sales as I do, and quite probably more, so I’ll just get in with it rather than wasting more of your time!

1) The Truth Behind Their Victory

Finally, the reason behind our heroines popularity has become entirely clear – out of all the school idol units, they are the only ones which are drawn correctly!

Or to pick on the animation slightly less, it must be due to the fact that moo’s have the greatest variance in hair colour of any of the school idol units – green and blonde/yellow hair? That sure is comparatively exotic, isn’t it?


What is it they say, the definition of idiocy is repeating the same action and expecting a different result? We all know, from back in the first series, that Nico has no luck with random draws – when previously faced with drawing lots for school festival performance locations, she completely struck out, so why risk leaving it up to her again?

That being said, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and I guess it worked out for them this time, as Nico drew the final performance slot. We don’t get any kind of insight into how the Love Live finals actually work, but I guess it’s voting again, and unlike what the preliminaries suggested, I suppose it’s probably done after the last performance has completed – going last gives you the advantage of being fresh in the audiences mind when it comes to polling time. At least, that’s why I presume they consider it as being an advantageous thing.

3) Short and Stout

Apparently, Eli is a teapot, and Umi just doesn’t know what the heck is going on. Maki looks like she’s signalling that the whole situation is OK, though, even if it’s not what her face is immediately suggesting.

Also, Nozo-Nozo-Mi! Or something to that effect, anyway.


It’s, perhaps, more than a little too Hideaki Anno a touch, but I could help but notice the traffic light in this scene here – it pops up in their conversation at the point when it’s noted that it’s their last practice session ever (At least at the school). The slightly counter-intuitive thing about it is that it flips from walk to stop on the side that’s visible to the audience, but obviously, to coincide with that the traffic facing side doing the opposite – as the conversation restarts, we see traffic start to move.

Which isn’t really significant to all that much, but it was cute.

5) A Difficult Challenge

Skipping a chunk of the episode here, but can anyone spot which futon Kotori is going to be sleeping on? It’s pretty difficult to work out…

Speaking of Kotori, I do kind of wonder what the deal with the sleepwear is – those separate leg sections are kind of weird…

Also, a hair-down Nico is fine, too.

6) As if there was any doubt…

…as to why the birth rate in the Love Live universe is so low, and why parading a bevy of cute girls in frilly costumes singing cute songs attracts students to your all girls school, I will point out that only one of the couples here even looks remotely heterosexual, and even then it’s a little tough to tell with any degree of accuracy if that is actually a guy there.

Just saying.

7) Zico-Zico-Zzzzzzz

It’s somewhat cute the way in which some of the characters – though only some of them – are sleeping in a fashion that is someone reflective of their character. The obvious one is Nico – mostly because of the way she is sprawled out, but clearly she is doing her token Nico-Nico-Ni pose. Maki, alternatively, is assuming her perennial face-desk pose, whilst Rin is… I guess that’s supposed to be catlike in some fashion? I dunno…

Everyone else, I suppose, is just boring.

8) Kinda like a moe Oroborus

Skipping another bunch of content (because, honestly, I have absolutely nothing to say about the rooftop scene), I will mention that the Love Live logo presented here is ripped straight from the opening of very original Bokura no LIVE, Kimi to LIFE animated PV, from the DVD bundled with the first Love Live single. It’s one of the ways in which this episode, in a sense, brings things back around in a franchise full circle.

9) A Rookie Error

Honoka’s mother has cracked open her cyalumes way too early here.

Kotori’s mother who is wielding an odd choice of colours here, actually – she’s offering Kousaka-Mom what looks (to my colour blind self) like an Orange, which is Honoka’s image colour (and is what Honoka’s mom is slinging, Wolverine-style, already). That’s fine, but she has a blue in her other hand – that particular shade is pretty much Umi’s image colour. Kotori’s image colour is a light grey (well, it’s white on the Love Live Kingblade). We don’t actually get to see what colour glowstick she is using at the concert, either!

10) Last Live?

The new song for this episode, KiRa KiRa Sensation, is cute, I guess – the opening bars sound a little too much like a bizarro-mode Bokura wa Ima no Naka De to me, though, and kind of throws me off as a result. It feels like there were a few more hand-animated cuts during the dance compared to what we usually get, but maybe I’m just imagining it.

The thing which kind of made me, somewhat guiltily, laugh was the way it cut to the crowd-eye view of the audience post song, and whilst we can hear them cheering, all we see is a stone-still crowd of heads. No bouncing around excitedly. No arm-waving live a bunch of crazy wotas. Just a bunch of unenthused, disinterested-looking people.

Coincidently, many of the pre-concert cuts of the characters getting counting up were referring back to prior content from episode 13 of series 1 in the way they were framed.

11) And Speaking of Cyalumes…

We do actually get a pretty decent look at what glowsticks people are waving around whilst they are calling for an encore, although, terrible colour-vision that I’m possessing, it’s a little tricky for me properly ascertain. As best as I can identify, though, the important characters have…

Honoka’s Parents – Orange (Honoka)
Yukiho – Orange (Honoka)
Alisa – Light Blue (Eli colour-range)
Maki’s Mother – Red (Maki)
Tsubasa – Orange (Honoka)
Erina – Blue (Umi colour-range)
Anju – it’s always held slightly off-screen, but the glow looks to be in the Nozomi purple/turquoise kind of colour range.

But, as I say, my colour vision sucks over the kind of red/green-heavy colour spectrum that a lot of the Love Live character colours span, and whilst it doesn’t look to me that anyone is sporting Hanayo, Rin or Nico colours (I’d just have to presume Kotori’s mother is properly representing), I could well be wrong.

12) And Finally..

…the episode ends with a re-use of the opening animation from the first series. I will say, aside from the fact that Aikatsu totally wouldn’t get away with re-using it’s first series CG at this point (read that as you will), those suggesting that our heroines managed to get changed really quickly may well have missed the fact that, whilst the crowd has been calling for an encore, all their cyalumes have disappeared. Do you know how long those things take to wear down like that? They’ve clearly been keeping the audience held there for a while. I’m less certain that Honoka’s father is crying about his daughters self-made popularity and success than I am about him suffering a sore throat from shouting, or perhaps he is suffering from a lingering back injury that is playing up thanks to being on his feet for many, many hours.

Not that the amount of time elapsed probably shouldn’t have been obvious from the fact that Honoka’s classmates have run all the way back to their school to grab additional costumes for them, but, hey, since when has Love Live ever really committed to the concepts of linear space and time?

Although, on a related note, doesn’t anyone think it’s a bit strange that they just happen to have an entire set of costumes prepared, a dance practiced and a song written and produced for something that they’ve never actually performed previously within the context of the show itself? In a world where school-idol legends A-RISE apparently only have two songs, it’s seems our heroines just have completed musical masterpieces oozing from their pores.

13) That sure looks familiar…

…but then, I’ve been seeing this screen an awful lot recently…

As for the current School Idol Festival event, which is ending tomorrow, I’m presently desperately holding on to a top 200 finish on the song scores for dear life!

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