Review: Love Live! The School Idol Movie (DVD)

After Love Live season 2 ended with the promise of more from μ’s, the Love Live movie throws us straight back into the world of Otonokizaka Academy and the nine girls we’ve come to know and love for a final send-off. The first thing you’ll notice almost immediately is a big increase in the production value compared to the TV series. No expense has been spared to make this last outing for μ’s look incredible, and while the song and dance numbers still use cel-shaded CGI it’s pretty well handled and looks great in motion.

As the school year draws to a close, and the girls muse over their future (Aaha. Ah. Sorry) μ’s are invited to New York for a concert that will put school idols on the world stage. The girls take off for New York and land straight in a series of jokes based around the culture shock of being in a huge Western city (Hanayo crying over the lack of rice and everything being served with bread, Umi generally just being a total racist), the prevailing theme of the future sets in as the girls must decide what they’ll do once this is all over and the 3rd year trio of Nozomi, Eli and Nico leave the school. Honoka gets lost and meets a busker from Japan who helps her back home and puts her on the course to answering the questions of the future.

After the New York event is more of a success than anyone ever imagined, the girls’ fame explodes the question of the future becomes an even bigger issue. With the help of rivals-turned-BFFs A-RISE, they hold the school idol concert of a lifetime in Tokyo and finally make the decision we’ve been waiting for them to formally announce since it first came up in the TV series. Spoiler alert: μ’s break up, because of course they do and there’s a new group of girls waiting in the franchise wings with Love Live! Sunshine.

Given the time constraints of the movie format each girl gets their moment, but the movie focuses largely on Honoka which comes as no real surprise. She’s not the most interesting of the lineup by any stretch but she’s fairly well rounded as the ‘main’ character to build such a large ensemble cast around and you’ll find yourself rooting for her. Unlike the series, the movie does spin into Disney-style spontaneous song-and-dance numbers for each of the three years groups throughout the movie, but it was always fun and thematic, so it didn’t feel out of place.

As a Love Live! fan, this movie is thoroughly enjoyable and a nice sendoff to a bunch of great characters, but it has to be treated as an extension of the two seasons of TV anime that came before which should come as no surprise. As a standalone movie there’s not much here for a newcomer or curious non-existing fan to enjoy. It looks great, and the songs are catchy, but it’s strictly for the Love Live fans only.

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A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.