27 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Love Live episode 1 – Jpop! My kingdom for music other than jpop!

Love Live! School Idol Project - 01 - Large 03

Love Live is about a bunch of complete and utter morons trying to find ways to keep their school open. I can see why the school is closing too, since clearly their standard of teaching has left those attending a combined IQ in the single digits. One of the girls goes to another school and sees some teenage girls being exploited on a big TV screen as ear-piercingly terrible music causes her to stumble and grasp onto a railing. It is then that she decides, in a rare moment of genius, that blaring similar awful music at her school would scare away any bulldozers trying to knock it down. She then goes and runs around in traffic.

I’ll give this to Love Live before I start the usual bout of complaining: The creators clearly enjoyed making this. After watching stuff so bland you could feel the creators souls drain away via the screen, like Roman and Amnesia, Love Live is a real bundle of joy. Even though my cynicism beat me down and tried to keep my brow furiously furrowed, a piece of majestic operatic music would accompany a character’s reaction, or someone would pull a particularly dopey facial expression, and momentarily that frown would quiver and something resembling a grin would form across my face.

Love Live! School Idol Project - ED - Large 03

The character designs look like they all came off the same production belt. They all have the exact same face, with the only things changing being their eye colour, hair colour and hair design. It’s actually quite eerie when the girl has the same face as both her mother and her younger sister. The fruit pastel colour design does suit the tone of the anime though. It’s essentially just another ‘moe girls doing X’ show, but does that genre correctly. Minimal focus on melodrama, actual narrative structure, strong directing with musical cues and consistent tone. I’ve talked about the music already, but I really do love how they pull some grand operatic music when the female lead goes through her despair when she realises her school is shutting down.

Best of all, the characters break out into dance for the ending song naturally as the credits start to roll, seamlessly with what was happening in the episode at the time. I don’t know how long I’ve been saying this, but all anime is improved by impromptu dance and musical numbers. Thing is, the reason I like impromptu dance numbers is the inherent amusement in seeing characters break continuity when they start busting out the moves. It’s less exciting in something about idols. It was done great in this episode, but just having them appear on stage as actual idols is never as interesting.

Love Live! School Idol Project - 01 - Large 26

I can totally understand why you might love this. The main reasons why I don’t are far more personal. One is that idol culture creeps me the fuck out. Particularly the more I read about AKB48, the more I get disturbed by the whole thing. Teenage girls dressed up as elementary school students trying to appeal to grown men as they adopt the mannerisms of young children as fetishistic objects before being thrown aside by their record company once they reach the ripe old age of 20. Yup, idol culture creeps me out.

But far more than that, and even more personally, is the songs are all jpop. I. Hate. Jpop. I don’t really like East Asian music in general, but I really dislike regular pop music anyway. Jpop is the worst of the worst. I’m pretty sure the only reason I can’t get into Macross as much as I should is because I hate that entire genre of music. Not only does idol music suck and the culture is creepy, it’s been done in anime so many times before. Japan, I genuinely love your cartoons, but your music is terrible. The best song from anime for the past few years has been by a 70’s band from Scotland. I’ve said this on twitter already, but you could improve Love Live by replacing jpop with absolutely any other genre of music. In fact, I would probably be all over it.

Think about it seriously for a second. Imagine Love Live but with bluegrass? Where the girls get their hands on some straw hats and a pair of banjos, sit on a three-legged stool in the middle of the road and start busting some yeehaww tunes? Or Bollywood music, complete with suitable costumes, with the bonus that you could probably make the dance routines about the same? Or they commandeer a set of bongos and start up a samba dance club to save the school? Or find some massive speakers hidden in a rabbit hutch and start up a club dedicated to dubstep? Or how about the fusion of two genres about feeling happy all the time, moe and reggae? Or they get painted up and start up a moe moe death metal club? Anything, anything, ANYTHING other than jpop.

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  1. Posted January 9, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    JPop >> all other forms of music

  2. Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    This is not anime that happens to have jpop in, it’s jpop that somehow got an anime. I understand your pain but there’s nothing we can do about it. Maybe massreplacing every instance of the word by “jpoop” in your post will make your juvenile self feel better.

    In unrelated news, the constant transitions from 2D to 3DCG during the dancing make me wish the mediocre CGi stayed all the way through because it would be slightly less awkward.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink


      OK, using that from now on

  3. Inushinde
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    I’d love if they’d make an anime that was essentially the high school moe equivalent of the whole Norwegian black metal thing in the early 90’s. At least then they could call their band Moehem, and I’d be entirely onboard for that pun alone.

    • Lanf
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:48 am | Permalink

      I’d prefer it if it was the same setup but True Scottish Pirate Metal instead, they could call it Moeretsu Pirates.

    • Gan_HOPE326
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Well, there’s Detroit Metal City, which is not exactly the same thing, but yet.

      Sadly, the main character there is the lead singer of a Death Metal group, but he ASPIRES to singing J-Pop. So yeah.

      • Scamp
        Posted January 10, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

        Detroit Metal City is cynicism to the extreme, while Love Live is the exact opposite

    • Edraii
      Posted January 11, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Even weirder would be if they made it around the 80’s metal… I’m pretty sure that would weird me out even more than Panzer does.

      There are some decent Japanese metal bands, but everyone knows true metal is a thing of the past for the most part :(

  4. Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Man, I’d love an anime musical. Not as retarded as Glee (please!), but more in the line of Disney movies. This needs to happen!

    • Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:34 am | Permalink

      Just thinking out loud here, but I think an anime in the same vein as Sweeney Todd would be fantastic.

    • Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      The oldest anime films from the 50s were Disney clones with talking animal sidekicks and song-and-dance numbers and everything! The Tale Of The White Serpent etc.

      • Scamp
        Posted January 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        Aren’t they all meant to be terrible though? That’s what I’d heard

  5. Erif
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    There’s no way you’re getting me to watch this, Scamp.

  6. Fumoffu!!
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    For someone who hates Jpop with a considerable proportion of the fibers of your being, you really made a questionable choice.

  7. cepech
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    “The best song from anime for the past few years has been by a 70′s band from Scotland.”

    But YES’s from London

    • Scamp
      Posted January 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Are they? Huh, wonder why I thought they were Scottish

  8. Stef
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I don’t really like East Asian music in general

    All of it? Really?

    • Scamp
      Posted January 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      Well, it would be narrow minded of me to say I don’t like /any/ East Asian music. From what I’ve heard, some of the Electronic Dance is all right, although by its very nature electronic dance tends to sound largely the same anyway. Also some decent Indie Rock, but seeing as that’s my favourite genre of music, it’s not a surprise I like that. Plus they are no way near as good as what Europe and the US produce for that (seriously guys, The Pillows aren’t that good)

  9. Posted January 10, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    For some reason the characters remind me Pretty Cure. LOL

  10. Posted January 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    JPop << all other music genre

    I rolled my eyes seeing the OP, ED and them singing on the stage. "People actually liked these crap?" The music, the lyric, they all sound the same to me.

    • Yalanjini
      Posted January 14, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      To explain it simply, my music tastes is not very broad
      1. Acoustic guitar country. (Taylor Swift)
      2. Upbeat pop songs with a touch of electric guitar (K-On, Love Live, 一路两个人)
      3. Female vocalists with what others would call grating singers (Celine Dion)
      4. Piano and Violin Ballad (A lot of mandopop songs. 勇气 or 童话)

  11. fathomlessblue
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    While I think you’re being a wee bit harsh, I also have to agree with you for the most part. With the exception of the odd artist like Maaya Sakamoto, most j-pop I enjoy tends to be through association with anime OP/EDs.

    It’s not just the mentally behind idol groups that proves too creepy for me to handle, but the whole aesthetic behind the music. As j-pop/idol-groups tend to focus on the idea of perfection in everything they do, the sound feels too clean & regulated. The music comes across as incredibly artificial, so no matter how powerful the singer’s voice I rarely sense any genuine emotion from it. Admittedly, that’s true for much western pop too, but you feel it far more in the eastern scene. At least we don’t have Hatsune Miku as a recognisable pop star.

    Then again, my definitions of great music are bands like The Pogues, so I’m probably looking for something very different. If you can’t sense the sweat & stale beer within the sound, I’m probably not that interested. ^^

    • Scamp
      Posted January 11, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      There is value I think in totally clean regulated aesthetic. That’s the draw of high sci-fi as in Star Trek. It’s more the culture than the aesthetic that turns me off.

      Although interesting point about Hatsune Miku. It’s kinda fitting that one of the most recognisable jpop stars is completely artificial in every way. Has a lot to say about the industry

      • fathomlessblue
        Posted January 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        I’ve been waiting for it dawn on the idol fan-base that Hatsune Miku is likely either an in-joke aimed at them, or a damning exposé of everything wrong with the sub-culture that created it. No luck so far. Maybe tomorrow… ^^

        I agree with that the notion of perfection can be put to good use; I just don’t think actually putting those ideals onto people living in an imperfect world is a good idea, especially with the level of fetishisation attached. The perfection found in sci-fi can revel in fantasy, suggesting possible futures that we will likely never see”. Idol-groups use fantasy to create an unhealthy tailored image of perfection based on delusions & deceit, which you can (figuratively…I hope) reach out & touch. Big difference!

  12. JoeQ
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    ‘Or how about the fusion of two genres about feeling happy all the time, moe and reggae?’

    Bob Moeley and the Wailers!

    You what would be REALLY awesome? JAM Projecxt getting their own moe anime!

    • fathomlessblue
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      No woman, no kawaii.

  13. Yalanjini
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Different style of music ey?
    Faux-metal but they fucked up and made it sound terrible. Babymetal released a comparably better second single. Yes, you read that right.

    Not sure what genre this is ripping off. I’ve been searching everywhere for the name. The best I can say is that it’s something you will play on Spanish Dance night.

    Sounds like something from Britney Spears, Toxic-era. Not one of my favourites.
    Even worse by my exceedingly excellent tastes.

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