DVD Review: Love Live! School Idol Project – Season 1
04/09/2015 Leave a comment
The Love Live! sensation finally hits home-video; but is this particular series – and more importantly this DVD release – any good? Find out in our review of Love Live! School Idol Project – Season 1.
The traditional school Otonokizaka High is situated between the three towns of Akihabara, Kanda, and Jimbocho. This school is also in imminent danger of closing. Because of this crisis, the second-year student Honoka Kosaka takes center stage with eight others to do something about it!
“To protect the school we love so much, we have to do all we can… We have to become school idols! By becoming idols and advertising how great our school is to the world, more students will want to apply!”
Love Live is one of those rare shows that can take a potential meaningless occurrence, such as the Idol phenomenon, and transform it into an entertaining, comical and heartfelt felt story that keeps you coming back for more. Of course in Japan Idol’s are a big thing, as they are every-where, but in the UK their aren’t as big and to the casual anime fan – and those who prefer action over cute stuff – Love Live may be given a glance over; however Love Live: School Idol Project – Season 1 is a show that’s worth giving a go as you may be pleasantly surprised by its outcome; a fresh of breath air from the norm if you will.
It all starts when three highschool friends Honoka, Kotori and Umi discover that their beloved Otonokizaka High will be shut down within the next three years due to not enough students attending the school and so in a bid to drag-up new students the trio of friends form a School Idol group; which is apparently extremely popular in this universe of Japan. It sounds like a great idea but before they can even begin the trio of friends run into some huge problems. For starters the student council, along with the school’s director, will not support this idea of School Idol’s being used to promote the school; additionally these wanna-be-idols have no experience or understanding of how to be an idol or what it involves.
This is what makes Love Live: School Idol Project – Season 1 so interesting and entertaining to watch; it starts from the ground-up and has a believable story. The road to fame, which non-of-these girls are after, is always difficult to obtain and this show explains how a bunch of friends become popularity objects of their school; but of course we are getting ahead of ourselves. The first few episodes of Season 1 introduce the prospect of School Idols, the trio being formed as a group and – with reluctance from their school – a performance; it all goes horribly wrong yet the trio continues moving forward and in turn gain new friends, followers and the chance to perform in the School Idol Festival.
The objective is to attract new students to the school but along the way this ‘seems’ to get lost in translation as when the group finally achieves nine members – each of which were introduced via their own episode after the groups debut performance – they start to rigorously train for the upcoming School Idol Festival; a festival which sees the top 20 School Idols perform against each other in a bid to become the best. Its easy to see the two storylines becoming blurred; but they are one and the same – if the group, which by now have named themselves U’s, place highly in the rankings and potentially win the School Idol Festival then their beloved Otonokizaka High should be saved. Time is crucial; everyone is training hard and there is plenty of songs to be sung but at the end of the day it all depends if you like this type of cutsey, bright and vocal anime show; its not usually for me but the story of seeing an underdog rise to success it always one that I find entertaining; and this is exactly the kind of Story Love Live: School Idol Project – Season 1 is all about; but coincidentally theres also more on offer – such as the feelings of each member of the group, all of which is explored at some point in the series.
This DVD release of the first season of Love Live: School Idol Project actually contains some noteworthy additional material as not only is a selection of textless songs included but original Japanese promotional assets have also been bundled onto the disc; all of which are subtitled in English so we can understand them as well as watch them.
Interestingly enough there is more to be seen in the bonus features than one might expect; as clicking on the textless ending will play three variations of the ending song. For starters there is the first episode ending, the regular ending and then the final episodes ending which – just like the first – uses anime from the episode as opposed to a traditional ending. Disappointingly however it’s the same song sung by the same group; as I am sure that the ending differs slightly (in terms of who is singing the song) on the episodes which see new members recruited – although I could be mistaken.
The final pieces of bonus material are a selection of Japanese TV spots and trailers that promote the release of Love Live: School Idol Project in Japan and, for the first time in quite a while, there are no trailers for other anime releases.
Media: DVD 9 x2
Running Time: 2:31:28 (Disc 1), 2:08:36 (Disc 2)
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps
The story within Love Live! School Idol Project – Season 1 was an unexpected welcome and one that I enjoyed from beginning to end; it sees three long-time-friends form an Idol Group in an attempt to save their school from being shut-down. Everyone is against them and yet they continue to disobey the negativity and push forward; along the way gaining new friends, support from their school-mates and a chance of a lifetime. Its fun, it’s comical and it provides all of the right kind of entertainment when you most want it; even if you don’t like Idols.
Unfortunately however the positive aspects of this DVD release by MVM Entertainment mostly end at the series itself as when it comes to this DVD then I can’t help but feel that it is a bit amateurish. For starters the DVD Menu, much like the previously released Patlabor OVA Series 2 release, lists all of the episodes individually with no Play All or Setup options – which I guess is to be expected as its Japanese (with English Subtitles) only. It just screams ‘basic’ and gives the impression that its home-made rather than an officially released product. The biggest disappointment however is the English subtitles; as they can become confusing when multiple people are talking at once; even more so when multiple people are talking on top of a music video being played in the background. Why exactly is it such a problem? Well for whatever reason every piece of dialogue/music is subtitled and placed together at the bottom of the screen; which means that spoken dialogue and audio from songs appear all together in one jumbled mess.
With some practice you can overcome it; but it can become quite difficult to follow the conversation taking place especially when the subtitles for the song jump from below the dialogue to above it within a matter of seconds. This is most notable in Episode four, which is where the issue ‘really’ stands out. In reality this is the only real flaw with this release, which considering you need the subtitles in order to watch the show then it’s a pretty big flaw, as the picture quality and DVD chapter markings are exactly as you would expect them to be from a high-quality DVD release.
Love Live! School Idol Project – Season 1 is one of those anime shows that I assumed I would never like due to its cutesy appearance and idol nature; but yet once again, and just like I did with K-ON!, I found myself to enjoy most of what the series has to offer. Sure it has a few complainants, such as the poor CG sequences blended in with traditional animation during the dance routines and confusing subtitle choices, but it’s a series that provides an engaging and entertaining story which sees you wanting the girls to succeed in their bid to save their school. If you are fed-up from the constant stream of fan-service, bloody fist-fights or magic then Love Live! School Idol Project – Season 1 is a release definitely worth considering; but be warned this is DVD and SUBTITLED ONLY but a Blu-ray release with English audio is expected to surface next year.
Love Live! School Idol Project – Season 1 will be available on DVD as a ‘English Subtitled only’ release from the 24th August 2015. A Blu-ray re-release, with an English Dub track, is expected to become available next year.