My Love Live! Shrine
It's no real secret that I love Love Live!, so, while making this site, I thought I'd make a page to talk about the franchise and why it means so much to me, and make some collections of my fav characters!
What the heck is Love Live?
Love Live! is a multimedia franchise from Japan that focuses on groups of high school girl characters coming together to form pop music idol groups, quite often in pursuit of a goal like saving their school from closure. Created by author Sakurako Kimino, the woman also responsible for lesbian romance series Strawberry Panic, it encompasses anime TV shows and theatrical movies (all produced by Sunrise Animation, the same studio known for shows like Mobile Suit Gundam, Cowboy Bebop, and Dirty Pair), music recordings, video games, stage plays, and live concert events. I mainly engage with the franchise via the anime and music/concerts, though because the actual arcade rhythm game never made it to America, I do love the PlayStation port of that game!
The characters are voiced by actors with singing talent, who also portray them in the live concerts. Thus, it's common to have favorite characters and favorite actors whose energy you enjoy in the live shows. So far, with the exception of one specific case due to medical reasons, the characters are always portrayed by the same actors across all their appearances in the franchise.
Who are these girls?
µ's - Otonokizaka Academy Idol Club
µ's (pronounced "muse") is the original Love Live! group, the girls who started it all in the original series, Love Live! School Idol Project. The nine members - Honoka Kousaka, Kotori Minami, Umi Sonoda, Maki Nishikino, Hanayo Koizumi, Rin Hoshizora, Nico Yazawa, Eli Ayase, and Nozomi Tojo - came together to try to stop their high school, Otonokizaka, from closing. In the process, across two TV seasons and a theatrical film, they became absolute legends, and µ's is still massively beloved by Love Live! fans to this day. They have been inactive as a group since 2016, though they did release a reunion single in 2020 accompanied by a live performance at Love Live! Fest, and µ's actors still make appearances from time to time on promotional streams and in new materials for the video games.
Aqours - Uranohoshi Girls' High School Idol Club
Aqours (pronounced "aqua") is the second Love Live! group, and the stars of the two TV seasons and theatrical movie that make up Love Live! Sunshine!!. Unlike most of the other groups (until some of the newer projects launched), who lived in Tokyo, Aqours comes from the rural setting of the village of Uchiura, near the coastal city of Numazu. The nine members - Chika Takami, You Watanabe, Riko Sakurauchi, Ruby Kurosawa, Dia Kurosawa, Hanamaru Kunikida, Yoshiko Tsushima (aka Yohane), Kanan Matsuura, and Mari Ohara - came together much like their predecessors, to try to stop their high school, Uranohoshi, from closing, using µ's as an inspiration (in fact, Sunshine is the only direct sequel series in the franchise). Hugely loved by the fans, Aqours are the longest-running Love Live! group of all time, and are still active today, recording new songs and performing live concerts. They are also about to become the very first Love Live! group to get a new anime series after their original series concluded, and the first to branch out of the school idol genre, with the arrival of fantasy alternate universe spinoff Yohane of the Parhelion: Sunshine in the Mirror in mid 2023.
Nijigasaki High School Idol Club
The Nijigasaki High School Idol Club broke with tradition in several ways. There is no single idol group in this club; rather, the Nijigasaki club is entirely made up of solo idols (who are also part of small sub-units). The Nijigasaki girls - Ayumu Uehara, Kasumi Nakasu, Setsuna Yuki, Rina Tennoji, Ai Miyashita, Karin Asaka, Emma Verde, Shizuku Osaka, and Kanata Konoe - were also not trying to save their school, which is a large and very successful Tokyo high school. Created originally for the mobile game Love Live! School Idol Festival All Stars, the Nijigasaki girls' story is more focused on rebuilding their own club after it dissolved due to internal drama, and about finding their own unique voices as solo performers. Nijigaski is also the only major club so far to have a member who is not an idol, in the form of manager and idol fangirl Yuu Takasaki. They made their way to television with the two seasons of the series Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club, which will soon be getting an OVA follow-up. In the second season, the club gained three new members: Lanzhu Zhong, Shioriko Mifune, and Mia Taylor. Nijigasaki also received a shortform comedic spin-off, Nijiyon Animation.
Liella! - Yuigaoka Girls' High School Idol Club
Liella! is the third "main series" Love Live! idol group, and fourth overall, the stars of current ongoing TV series Love Live! Superstar!!. Breaking with tradition again, Liella! has set several Love Live! firsts, such as being the first group to start with fewer than nine members, the first main group to gain new members after their first season, and the first Love Live! series to show the characters start as first year students and depict them aging up through the passage of time. Their high school, Yuigaoka, was new and on shaky ground, so the original five members of Liella! - Kanon Shibuya, Keke Tang, Sumire Heanna, Chisato Arashi, and Ren Hazuki - came together to make sure it succeeded. In their second season, Liella gained four new members, all first year students as the original characters aged up to become second year students: Kinako Sakurakoji, Shiki Wakana, Mei Yoneme, and Natsumi Onitsuka. Liella! is the first Love Live! group in history to get a third season of their TV anime, and have now added two more members: Margarete Wien and Tomari Onitsuka, the younger sister of second-gen member Natsumi.
Hasunosora Girls' High School Idol Club
One of the newest Love Live! projects, the Hasunosora Idol Club comes from the countryside around Kanazawa and is the very first "virtual idol" club in the franchise's history, performing as vtubers via a new mobile app called Link! Like! Love Live!. As they are so new and are not in much English-language material, I'm not actually very familiar with them! I do love the new art style, though!
Takizakura Girls' Academy Idol Club & Tsubakisakuhana Girls' High School Idol Club
Another very new project, these two idol clubs made their debut in the first ever Love Live! stage play, Love Live! School Idol Musical. As the play has not been released to video yet and is not available in English, I'm not very familiar with their members, either!
My Love Live! Journey
I started at the beginning - School Idol Project - and it's what sucked me into the world of Love Live. I was captivated by the fun and emotions of the series, and by the time the µ's story ending, I was a total crying wreck. By that point, I was the newest resident of idol hell. I watched Sunshine and cried all over again, falling for the girls of Aqours just as hard. It's never let up since, as I then watched Nijigasaki and are currently watching and loving Superstar.
µ's is still my favorite generation, even if just by a hair, because I absolutely adore those girls, their songs, and their relationships. School Idol Project is like a cozy blanket to me, a place I can go and be happy, spending time with these girls who feel like old friends now (even if I have to avoid the ending of the series a lot of the time, because of how much it makes me cry).
Love Live! opened me up to a whole world of big feelings and music, and - as somebody who didn't figure herself out until long after high school - let me live vicariously a bit through the girls' adventures, getting to experience a youth I didn't quite get to have. It makes me laugh, makes me feel warm and happy, makes me cry...it's the whole deal for me. I think Love Live! is such a beautiful and special place to spend time, and it definitely became a huge part of my life.
I love all Love Live! girls, completely and totally, but I do have extra-special favorites from each generation.
Nozomi Tojo - µ's
The absolute very best girl! Please check out my Nozomi sub-shrine!
Nico Yazawa - µ's
Maki Nishikino - µ's
Kotori Minami - µ's
Hanayo Koizumi - µ's
You Watanabe - Aqours
Yoshiko Tsushima - Aqours
Mari Ohara - Aqours
Riko Sakurauchi - Aqours
Yuu Takasaki - Nijigasaki
Setsuna Yuki - Nijigasaki
Rina Tennoji - Nijigasaki
Shiki Wakana - Liella!
Keke Tang - Liella!
Sumire Heanna - Liella!
Kinako Sakurakoji - Liella!