Cloudy Days in Love Live! Sunshine!!: Where Bad Communication and Gaslighting Collide

Perhaps to the surprise of very few, it wasn’t too long ago that I sat down and finished Love Live!’s second incarnation, Love Live! Sunshine!!. For all intents and purposes, Sunshine is exactly the same plot as the first Love Live!: a group of three second-year high school girls working hard to become school idols, eventually recruiting three first-years and winning over the skeptical group of three third-years to round out their final group. While a good portion of the Love Live! fanbase and tenets the show is built on are problematic due to their sexualization of young girls, the show itself is typically not any worse than any other anime you may have seen. Unfortunately, though the first season gave me a wealth of girls supporting girls and legitimately touching moments, Sunshine never quite got its feet off the ground. Much of this can be attributed to protagonist Chika’s lack of personality or drive, but the aspect that truly ruined the whole season beyond redemption was the gaslighting of Mari by the two friends she trusted the most, and the show does nothing to show how what they did was wrong.

Spoilers if you haven’t watched past Episode 8 of Sunshine.

Love Live Sunshine Kanan Mari2

(Screencap via Love Live! Sunshine!!, “Young Dreamer”)

Continue reading

Not Getting the Full Combo: Gender and Agency in Mobile Idol Games

I am still in idol hell.

It’s been three months since my criticism of Love Live: School Idol Festival, and my opinions really haven’t changed that much. I just have to admit it to myself: I like the game mechanics despite the problematic material. Though I may not have replied to all the comments, I have read through all of them, and I do appreciate all the points that you, the commenters, brought up. Reading through them, though, one topic continued festering in my mind: are there any female-marketed equivalents to SIF? I have a phone incapable of running mobile games (and BlueStacks is especially hard on my poor laptop) so I haven’t exactly had the opportunity to go delving; however, sometimes life just drops a gift on your doorstep, and heaven forbid I ignore it. I present for your comparison pleasure: I-Chu.

Hello darkness my old friend... via visual-novels-are-life @ Tumblr

Hello darkness my old friend…
via visual-novels-are-life @ Tumblr

As you can probably guess, I-Chu takes the same kind of game mechanics, but instead of playing as Muse (the band from Love Live), the player takes on the role of a producer/teacher, watching over a whole wealth of bands featuring boys of many different types and cultures. Game mechanics-wise, the games are roughly similar: tap circles, score points, idolize idols, scout for better idols. Story-wise, however, is where the two diverge, and I think this game better illustrates some of what makes SIF slightly more problematic than I-Chu.

Continue reading

Love Live: School Idol Festival and Trends That Should Not Be Trending In the Consumption of Cartoons

TW: Discussion of child sexual abuse and child pornography

The other day my friends finally dragged me into idol hell. To some of you, you know exactly what this means. To others, let me introduce you to Love Live School Idol Festival, based off the current popular anime Love Live. I have not watched the anime myself—everything I know is strictly from the game and what other people have told me—but I don’t believe the plot would be that much different. In the anime, nine high school girls band together to create an idol group. Idol Festival takes that plotline and makes it into the most addicting rhythm game ever.

Love Live School Idol Festival GameplayIdol Festival’s game mechanics are, perhaps unsurprisingly, simple. On the screen, a set of nine dots are laid out. As the music plays, the player, in turn, must tap the corresponding circle when they are highlighted: it’s kind of like DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) for your fingers, for lack of a better game to compare it to. You get more points by leveling up your idols; represented by different girls on cards; the usefulness of these cards represented by if they’re canon characters or not. The non-canon characters are there to allow beginners to fill their parties, but will eventually become useless as it’s impossible to reach certain ranks of completion without canon character cards. The idols are then leveled up by “practicing” with other idols (essentially “feeding” other idols to one to make that specific idol stronger), and leveled up even more—to an “idolized” state—when they practice with the same exact card. And… that’s it. It’s a fun tablet game, or computer if you run BlueStacks, but nothing terribly out of the ordinary. However, as I was playing through, unlocking different character stories and just shitting around, I noticed a trend that is also indicative of a worrying cultural shift in cartoon consumption both in Japan and in America. Continue reading