Overall Score: 90/100
Release Year: 2016, 2017
Genre: Idol, Comedy, School
I will be making a lot of comparisons to Love Live! School Idol Project (which I will refer to as “SIP” or by it’s idol group μ’s) in this review, which can’t be helped since I was doing that in my head the whole time I was watching both seasons. This review is mostly spoiler free for both series, but there are minor, essentially non-spoilers toward the end.
The basic story in this season is, as the original, not very good, but worse since it takes a lot of cues from SIP (and the same original story writer), and has much the same pace, with a few exceptions. However, it is clear that the writers improved even since SIP season 2, with, for example, a fair amount of character development for 12 episodes and a good amount of hard(er)-hitting failure moments. I think this makes up for the lack of depth in basic plot, since of course any story can be simplified down to a few archetypes, but the higher-level details are what makes it unique, and likable.
Out of all of the things in the show, there is one thing that is very high quality. The 3D models. This was shocking, but welcome, as it was one of the things that I was hoping would be improved upon, and they were VERY much improved upon. In all honesty, I think they could even be used for something like a short (which I would definitely watch). Other than that, the art looks essentially identical to SIP, meaning this is overall better.
Here is where the show falls flat for me. First off the BGM and voice acting was nothing special, just like SIP. However, the μ’s songs were iconic, memorable, and borderline perfect, meaning they did exactly what they intended to do (in conjunction with the animation). Aqours’ songs, on the other hand, are not bad, which is bad, because the songs should be above average, and it rarely delivers. Some songs are very memorable (OP and ED), but not nearly at the same level. Others have expressed opposite opinions.
The characters are a strong point for this series. As I mentioned, there is more character development than in season one than in SIP season one. It does the same thing SIP season 2 did, which is have a few character-focused episodes, leaving room for them to do more of those in season two, which they did. There is also a clearer focus on character group development (third years, siblings, etc.), but it is STILL unheard of for characters to really interact outside of their groups, except as the full unit of Aqours, which in my opinion is a major flaw shared with SIP. A good point is, from the get-go we know what almost every character does with their free time in the present, something we didn’t get with μ’s. Another strong point, no Nico-esque character. I just don't like Nico.
If this show came out on its own, with no precedent, I would be giving it a higher overall score, and I think I would like it about the same as SIP. But since it came out after, I couldn’t help but notice every single re-used character trait, story element, major plot point, etc. and that ruined my enjoyment. It is not by any means bad on its own, but they clearly went with what works. One small thing I found strange was that most of the characters do not look the age they are supposed to… In comparison to μ’s, even the Aqours first years overall have a more mature feel to them, although I kind of like the goofing around kind of interaction, it can be jarring. The voices do not help their seeming lack of age.
The story in this season is much improved compared to the last, as it is much less re-hashed from SIP. It still has the same basic story, but there are a lot of different details, like events unresolved from the first season, hardly acknowledging the future graduation of the third years, etc. The only problem I had, and it wasn’t a big one, was that Aqours did not meet any of the members of μ’s. Not something that made it worse, but something I would have liked to see. The ending is cohesive and gives good closure. Then they announced a movie.
Art: Identical to season 1
Identical to season 1, but with one or two more memorable songs.
There were some character development episodes, but nothing particularly special, so its essentially the same as season 1. Any line that was even remotely a catch phrase is repeated at least once, which I don't like. It's very apparent that the creators are aware of the memes surrounding the show, but it's not too obnoxious. I did warm up to Saint Snow in this season, though.
I think this season is better by a lot. It changes and adds a few simple things, that go a long way. The more original story allowed be to like it a lot more, and the songs were more impactful. I am definitely interested in watching the movie, but I thought that the ending was exactly what it needed to be, so… from a story standpoint, I think it’s a bad idea.