Today, Tiger and Rabbit sit down to discuss phenom Rabu Raibu!, also known as Love Live! School Idol Project in the West. Launched in Dengeki G's Magazine, this multimedia project by ASCII Media Works, Lantis, and Sunrise has taken the world by storm. The many forms of Rabu Raibu! include music, anime, manga, music videos, video games, and much more. In this entry of Retro ReCAP, Tiger and Rabbit focus on the anime and its characters, music, and style.
Rabbit: It's time for another entry of Retro ReCAP!
Tiger: What's the topic this time?
Rabbit: I was thinking of recapping Rabu Raibu!
Tiger: What? Why? What made you pick that anime?
Rabbit: Uh... because I thought it would be a fun one to talk about.
Tiger: Why? I don't like it; I mean I'm not a fan or anything.
Rabbit: We've watched it a couple of times though and you've even bought me a few of their CDs and live concerts too.
Tiger: Well, I knew it was something you'd enjoy but I'm not into it at all.
Rabbit: Why are you being so defensive?
Tiger: Me? Defensive?
Rabbit: Why are you answering my questions with questions?
Tiger: I'm not doing that; I just don't want to talk about this because I don't like the series.
Rabbit: We've watched the anime a half-dozen times so far, you've even gone as far as suggesting we watch it when I wanted to watch something upbeat. We now even own all of their singles and albums. I know you play their mobile game too. You also play the music when we're in the car together...OMG!
Rabbit: You're a closet Rabu Raibaa, aren't you?
Tiger: No, I'm not!
Rabbit: Well, I know you like Ayase Eri a lot.
Tiger: It's Eli not Eri.
Rabbit: And you hate that Koizumi Hanayo always says “Nico Nico Nii!”
Tiger: Hanayo doesn't say that, her catchphrase is “dareka tasukete!”
Rabbit: I also know your favorite singer is Uchida Aya who is the Seiyū for Sonoda Umi.
Tiger: Ucchi voices Minami Kotori, Mimori Suzuko is Umi's Seiyū.
Rabbit: ^shocked face^ You are so a Raibaa!
Tiger: I'm not, I swear it!
Rabbit: Why are you denying it? It's not a big deal that you're a fan, a little surprising since Rabu Raibu! isn't something I'd peg you to like. Still, it's nothing to be ashamed of.
Tiger: Of course it is! Rabu Raibu! is the sugary happy-go-lucky upbeat anime garbage you enjoy! It's not something I should like... but I do.
Rabbit: Hey! I'd be offended by that statement if it wasn't true. I think it's great that you can get in touch with your inner happy kitty instead of always being the overly violent and heartless cat that you are.
Tiger: Hey! I'd be offended by that statement... if it wasn't true.
Rabbit: ^claps hands^ I think this is so awesome! This is going to be fun. Do you want to explain what Rabu Raibu! is since you're our resident expert?
Tiger: *sighs* You can do it; I'll just correct you when you get something wrong.
Rabbit: ^giggles^ Also known as Love Live! School Idol Project, Rabu Raibu! is a cross-media project that debuted in the August 2010 issue of Dengeki G's Magazine. It tells the story of a group of high school girls that become school idols to save their school from closing.
Tiger: Kōsaka Honoka, a second-year student at Otonokizaka Academy, was the one who came up with the idea to become school idols. She roped in her friends Minami Kotori and Sonoda Umi to become the group μ's, which is pronounced “Muse.”
Rabbit: Eventually other students joined in the fun such as first-year students Nishikino Maki, Hoshizora Rin, and Koizumi Hanayo.
Tiger: Rounding out μ's are the seniors Yazawa Nico, Ayase Eli, and Tōjō Nozomi.
Rabbit: What makes Rabu Raibu! special is that it's more than just a manga or an anime. LL is a phenomenon that includes music videos, video games, and a yearly live concert with the Seiyū! Nitta Emi is the voice of Honoka, Uchida Aya is Kotori, Mimori Suzuko is Umi, Pile voices Maki, Iida Riho is Rin, Kubo Yurika voices Hanayo, Tokui Sora is Nico, Nanjō Yoshino is Eli, and Kusuda Aina voices Nozomi.
Tiger: For the sake of clarity, let's just focus on the anime and the music from the show to start.
Rabbit: Start dash! The anime is produced by Sunrise, directed by Kyōgoku Takahiko, and was licensed for North America by NISA. There are two seasons which consists of thirteen episodes each. The first season follows Honoka as she comes up with the idea to form a school idol group to save Otonokizaka Academy from closing due to low admittance. μ's gets off to a bad start and faces heat from the Student Council, but soon the group grows in size and support.
Tiger: The second season follows Honoka and the gang as they continue their pursuit to win Rabu Raibu, the school idol contest, as well as how they cope with the pending graduation of the senior members.
Rabbit: Finally, Love Live! School Idol Movie sees μ's traveling to New York to promote the Love Live competition.
Tiger: I don’t want to get too into the movie since it’s hard to talk about without spoiling the anime.
Rabbit: I definitely hate spoilers and the vulgar rogues who release them.
Tiger: Vulgar rogues?
Tiger: ^rolls eyes^
Rabbit: μ's is made up from some of the best anime girls ever in existence.
Tiger: Aren’t you being a little biased there?
Rabbit: You don’t agree with me?
Tiger: I love them but they aren’t the best, they kind of all into the stereotypical role that most of these shows take. I think it’s the Seiyū that really make μ's.
Rabbit: Very true but we shouldn’t talk about them until we discuss the lives.
Tiger: Fair enough, let’s talk about the actual characters first then.
Rabbit: We already mentioned them briefly but the members of μ's really deserve a closer look. First, there’s the leader of μ's, Kōsaka Honoka. She’s a vibrant and upbeat character that sweeps everyone up in her love of singing and dancing. She can be forgetful and spacy at times but her true love for her school, friends, and μ's are always present.
Tiger: Her best friends and fellow second-year students are Minami Kotori and Sonoda Umi. Kotori is a “go with the flow” type of person who oversees μ's costume design and early choreography. She’s also the daughter of Otonokizaka Academy’s director.
Rabbit: She really loves her pillow too.
Tiger: Umi is your stereotypical tsundere character. She has to balance her activities with μ's, archery club, and helping at her family’s traditional dance and martial arts school. She is the most down to earth and tends to come off as a little naïve. Don’t wake her up either, she is scary if you do.
Tiger: Then there’s the first-years. Nishikino Maki is the daughter of a wealthy family of doctors and she is expected to pursue the same career. She is a gifted pianist and composer who comes off as haughty but eventually fits in with μ's.
Rabbit: Hoshizora Rin and Koizumi Hanayo were best friends before μ's formed. Rin is very athletic and comes across as tomboyish. She even has a complex about wearing cute girly clothing because she was made fun of as a child. She’s cheerful and energetic much like Honoka. Hanayo is shy and has poor self-esteem but always dreamt of being an idol. She loves eating rice and becomes a totally different person when talking about idols.
Tiger: Next are the third-years of Otonokizaka. Ayase Eli is the mature president of the student council. She is determined to save the school but unlike Honoka, has a different plan on how to do that. Eli is good at academics and was also a ballet dancer, which leads to her eventually becoming μ's choreographer. Eli’s best friend is Tōjō Nozomi, who she met at Otonokizaka. Nozomi was forced to move often as a child and was never able to make any lasting friendships until Eli and the rest of the girls of μ's. She’s the oldest and acts as the voice of reason for many of the members but she also has a mischievous side to her. Nozomi’s main hobby is fortune-telling which she uses to predict the future with accuracy.
Rabbit: Last but certainly not least is the universe’s number one idol, Yazawa Nico. She is the president of the idol research club which merges with μ's. She is the most dedicated member in her pursuit of becoming an idol and has been trying to gain that status since she first entered high school. Even though she is a senior, Nico still comes off as childlike because of her young appearance and immature nature. Though she is an attention seeker and acts like a big shot, Nico truly cares about the other members of μ's.
Tiger: Oh my gosh!
Rabbit: What? What happened?
Tiger: It’s so sad!
Rabbit: What is?
Tiger: *cries* They’re seniors!
Rabbit: ^pats Tiger on head^ It’s okay. I thought we weren’t going to talk about the sad stuff so you don’t cry.
Tiger: *sobs* Like the final live?
Rabbit: Yeah, we’ll just skip over that.
Tiger: No! It’s over!
Rabbit: ^shakes head^ It is over but μ's will live forever on the CDs and BDs we own.
Tiger: *moans* It’s not the same!
Rabbit: Just to explain why Tiger is freaking out, μ's officially ceased activities on April 1st, 2016 when the seiyū performed the μ’s Final LoveLive! ~µ'sic Forever♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪♪~.
Tiger: SO SAD!
Rabbit: We’re not going to talk about it yet so see’mon, get yourself together!
Tiger: Just change the subject already.
Rabbit: Going back to the characters, who is your favorite?
Tiger: Are you really asking me to pick just one of the wonderful girls of μ’s?
Rabbit: Wow, you sound like me. Okay, then who’s your favorite out of the first-years?
Tiger: I’ll say Rin is my favorite, I love her energy and tomboyish-ness. She’s cute too, which goes to show you can be both cute and athletic at the same time.
Rabbit: Good choice, I’d have to agree with you though breaking through Maki’s cold attitude was always a highlight for me too. For the second-years, I’d say Kotori is my favorite. She is so adorable and is always putting the others first. It was so great to see her special ability shrine through when the rest of μ’s found out about her side gig too.
Tiger: I have to stick with Umi, she’s the first character I really latched onto way back in 2010. Her tsundere personality is just too cute and she tends to be the most grounded out of the group. She also knows when to work but still has fun too. She’s also super weak to Kotori’s pleading face, which is adorable.
Rabbit: You remind me a lot of Umi too.
Tiger: You’re more of a Rin type.
Tiger: As for the third-years, this is probably the hardest one to pick, they’re all so awesome!
Rabbit: I definitely have Nico as my favorite third-year. She was annoying at first but I really fell in love with her personality in the end.
Tiger: I’ll pick Eli, the student council president. She is mature and so cool yet has these cute weak points that only her friends see. I like that they didn’t make her perfect too, and her faults are her charming points. I think it’s time for us to talk a little about the music and what μ’s looked like before the anime.
Rabbit: When μ's sings in the anime, it is usually done with stylized CGI which mimics the original animation in the PVs aka promotional videos. These PVs were actually how μ's first got their start.
Tiger: Yup, first were the fan votes in Dengeki G to pick character names, themes, etc. Then they debuted the character designs and some of the first artwork.
Rabbit: But μ's didn’t come to life until the first PV of Bokura no LIVE Kimi to no LIFE came out.
Tiger: Looking back at that PV, the character art looks so different than in the anime. Especially since Bokura no LIVE Kimi to no LIFE shows up again in the anime.
Rabbit: Yup, the first PV released way back in August of 2010 before the anime was even in production. As you watch μ's PVs in chronological order, you can see them slowly morph into the characters that became the standard in the anime.
Tiger: That PV still has a special place in my heart, it’s where it all started. It’s crazy too because the single only sold 434 copies in its initial sales phase, making it a total failure. Eventually, LL gained traction and flourished. Since we’re already talking about the music, let’s mention how it works in the anime and in real life.
Rabbit: In the show, most of the lyrics are credited to Umi while Maki writes the songs but in reality, various composers write the music for μ's and their subgroups; Printemps, BiBi, and Lily White.
Tiger: While the composers change from song to song, Hata Aki has written the lyrics for almost every song. She even did some work on one of my favorite anime, Lucky Star.
Rabbit: There are a lot of great songs in a variety of genres, so it doesn’t all just sound like idol/pop music.
Tiger: The centers always change too, which is a feature I love. Even though Honoka is the leader, the center spot and the lead vocals are shared amongst the members. Many of the song centers were even chosen by fan vote.
Rabbit: There are fan favorites like No brand girls and Snow halation which have specific parts in the songs for fans to participate in, known generally as Wotagei.
Tiger: There are classics like Wonderful Rush and Natsuiro Egao de 1,2,Jump! Which both released before the anime.
Rabbit: Then there’s songs like Wonder zone and START:DASH!! Which were featured in the anime.
Tiger: There are also songs sung by the three subunits, solo songs, and some fan service songs such as Zurui yo Magnetic today.
Rabbit: All in all, μ's and its subunits released over 100 singles spanning their six-year career.
Tiger: And we own it all. It’s crazy just how prolific they were compared to other similar anime idol groups.
Rabbit: If you haven’t been able to tell, music is integral to Rabu Raibu. With a bunch of singles released before the anime was even shown, it was only inevitable that μ's would hold a live concert.
Tiger: How exactly do you hold a live when your idol group is made up of a bunch of anime characters? Simple, just dress the Seiyū up as the characters they voice.
Rabbit: The lives are one of my favorite things about Love Live! Getting to see the Seiyū sing on stage and interact with their fans is really fun. Plus, they’re very good performers and I found them a lot more entertaining to watch than The iDOLM@STER.
Tiger: Ooh, you did not go there.
Rabbit: I’m not trying to start a fan war and while I do enjoy The iDOLM@STER, especially Cinderella Girls, they don’t have the detailed choreography that μ's has.
Tiger: And μ's only has nine members. The literal hundreds of iDOLM@STER members are hard to keep track of.
Rabbit: The μ's Seiyū also have great personalities and they were just a blast to watch. I really enjoyed their streaming shows as well, which they hosted a bunch of along with radio shows. Too bad it’s all in Japanese making it hard to follow along with. Though there is a group of dedicated YouTubers who have been working for the past couple of years to sub the best clips from these internet shows.
Tiger: Going back to the lives, one of my favorite parts is seeing the animated PVs come to life. Not only did the Seiyū dress up in the same costumes as their animated counterparts, but they also replicated the dances. Heck, some of the Seiyū even copied their anime characters hairstyles and hair colors. I can even remember some of the dance steps since we’ve watched those lives so many times.
Rabbit: That’s what I call dedication because some of those hairdos are gravity defying.
Tiger: We’ve talked about our favorite characters but what about our favorite Seiyū?
Rabbit: Ooh, that one is tough because while the anime characters have their own personalities, I feel that the Seiyū are incomparable when it comes to their charm features.
Tiger: I definitely agree, it’s hard to pick but why don’t we pick our favorite from the different grades, just like we did for the characters.
Rabbit: For the first-years, my favorite Seiyū has to be Pai-chan who voices Maki. Her drama time skits are the best. She gets embarrassed easily and they always seemed to give her the most out there lines.
Tiger: I’m sticking with my girl Rin and going with Rippi as my favorite first-year Seiyū. Rippi is actually pretty similar to Rin in a few ways which I find endearing. She does a spot-on Kansai mother impersonation too.
Rabbit: I think Mimo who voices Umi is my favorite second-year. She’s more reserved than the others but I love her funny faces and cute voices she would do during the internet shows.
Tiger: Wow, we actually switched our second-year choices. Ucchi, who is Kotori’s Seiyū, is my favorite out of this group though Emitsun is a close second. Ucchi’s antics were some of my favorite bits from the lives and the other appearances the μ's Seiyū had.
Rabbit: The third-years are so tough to pick from. I really feel they are the best characters and the best Seiyū but in the end, I have to pick Kussun who voices Nozomi. She was one of the younger Seiyū but really held her own amongst the veterans of the group. She was also super funny which surprised me since she first struck me as kind of shy. Also, Kussun in pigtails and a gangsta cap will melt anyone’s heart.
Tiger: I’m going against the grain here and saying Soramaru is the best third-year Seiyū and maybe the best out of all the μ's girls. She is so quick-witted and charming, everything I’ve seen her in is entertaining. She’s also my favorite Milky Holmes Seiyū and I’ve kind of stalked her by buying all the games and anime she’s in.
Rabbit: That explains the Senran Kagura games.
Tiger: I feel like we can talk about μ's forever but I think we should move on to some of the other projects that they were involved with, like the video games and SchoolFes.
Rabbit: Not only are there a few Vita rhythm games for Love Live! but μ's starred in another game called Kamisama to Unmei Kakumei no Paradox for the PS3.
Tiger: Also known as The Guided Fate Paradox in the West, the nine girls of μ's voice characters as well as provided character songs for the game. The confusing thing about this is that the μ's characters are the ones credited as the CVs in the game.
Rabbit: Wait, so the real life voice actresses behind μ's don’t get credit?
Tiger: They’re listed in the credits too but on the character album, the vocalists are listed under their μ's names, not their real ones. Talk about bringing fictional anime characters to life.
Rabbit: μ's biggest hit game has to be SchoolFes, the mobile rhythm game that has over 30 million players globally. One of those, I know is you, Tiger.
Tiger: Yup, I’ve been playing SchoolFes every day for over a year!
Rabbit: Wow, that’s dedication.
Tiger: It’s a really fun rhythm game that features card collecting and building your digital idol group to compete in Love Live!
Rabbit: Cards, I should’ve known. How many digital cards do you have?
Tiger: I currently have over 200 though I’ve collected over 350 unique cards total.
Rabbit: LL also has two physical card games, one dedicated just to LL and the other is a part of a bigger collectable card game.
Tiger: SchoolColle and Weiβ Schwarz! Both of which I collect.
Rabbit: Excuse me?
Rabbit: I thought you only played Weiβ Schwarz.
Tiger: *shrugs* I do only play Weiβ Schwarz but I also collect SchoolColle cards.
Rabbit: Why?! Why on earth did you start another collection?!
Tiger: SchoolColle has cards for the songs too unlike Weiβ Schwarz which just has character cards. Plus, SchoolColle has the same artwork from SchoolFes, so it’s like I get to keep my SchoolFes collection in real life.
Rabbit: ^shakes head^ There is no hope for you.
Tiger: Well as much as I love μ's, I think we need to wrap up this Retro ReCAP.
Rabbit: Got somewhere to be?
Tiger: Actually there’s a SchoolFes event going on right now and I need to check in so I can keep pace and make sure I get my SR card.
Rabbit: ^shakes head^
Tiger: So, what where your first impressions of Love Live! School Idol Project and how have they changed since then.
Rabbit: I really thought LL was a cute and fun anime but I never paid too much attention to the other parts of the project until they were already in full swing. When I started to really listen to the music and saw their first live, that’s when I truly fell in love with μ's and their Seiyū. We’ve fallen in love with a lot of different groups like this, the first one I can remember is Ho-kago Tea Time from K-On! but they didn’t have the same pull that μ's has had on me.
Tiger: We’ve already mentioned The iDOLM@STER which was probably one of the earliest projects to combine anime, music, and live performances together but like you mentioned, we weren’t really into them from the beginning. Of course, after μ's, there seems to be so many of these groups popping up. There’s Wake Up, Girls!, BanG Dream!, Walkure, i☆Ris, and a bunch of others I can’t think of right now.
Rabbit: Notice how they all really like to use exclamation points?
Tiger: And while μ's is *sniffs* over, Aqours is already in full swing. They’re the next iteration of Love Live!
Rabbit: I still love Milky Holmes too but part of that is because two of their members were also members of μ's. What about you Tiger, you haven’t mentioned your first impressions or how you now view LL after all this time.
Tiger: I truly thought it was another one of your fluffy feel good anime that I hate and I didn’t want to like it as much as I ended up liking it. The first live really did help make a connection but I also think watching the streaming shows on Nico Nico opened my eyes to μ's. Then, I heard Wonderful Rush and I was sold.
Rabbit: Yeah, I never thought you’d actually enjoy the music since you are so picky.
Tiger: Hey! I’m entitled to like pop music every once in a while.
Rabbit: Yeah, like when hell freezes over.
Tiger: Anyway, I have learned to love the charms of LL including its fun and cute anime, the catchy music, the entertaining lives, and the addicting gameplay in the games.
Rabbit: At this point in time with μ's officially over, we’ve basically consumed all we can. We’ve seen all of their lives, own all the PVs, we’ve listened to all the music, and have watched the majority of their internet shows. There’s only one thing we haven’t seen yet and that’s-
Tiger: Nope, we aren’t watching it.
Rabbit: Why not? It’s the only thing we have left to see.
Tiger: Exactly! Once we watch the last day of their final live, there’s nothing left! I don’t want μ's to ever end!
Rabbit: But they did end! They aren’t going to make anything else. It’s not like you can’t ever watch it again either, we own the BD, we can watch it again whenever you want.
Tiger: But it won’t ever be new again after we watch it. That means there’ll be nothing new left for us to see.
Rabbit: Are we ever going to watch it?
The CG animation in early PVs is stiff
The movie doesn’t have enough μ's in it
Seeing the Seiyū cry at the final live
The variety of music
The Seiyū and their wonderful performances
μ's is just awesome
Season 2 Episode 11 gets me right in the heart
Seeing μ's grow as a group throughout the anime
the 18 members of μ's