The collective anime fan community entered a dark time a couple months ago when the announcement was made that the idol group μ’s (pronounced muse), from the anime Love Live! will be breaking up this spring. The nine girls of μ’s have captivated the anime viewing community since they were introduced to us back in 2013, and nothing has brought us together quite like this show, and its subsequent best girl debates. As a matter of fact, the three of us here at Anime Arcade have Love Live! partially to thank for coming together, as some of our first conversations were debates such as these.
For those of you who may be confused about why we would be depressed about the breaking up of a fictional idol group, its because they’re not exactly fictional. Behind each of the characters is not just the voice actor, but an idol who has continued to release singles, and perform live shows using the character as their avatar. Many of us outside of Japan have kept up with the new releases through the app game called Love Live! School Idol Festival, and over the years have become quite attached to our characters. μ’s will be performing their final live show on March 31st and April 1st of 2016… Dark times indeed.
While no group will ever be able to replace the original nine, we will have a little something to pull us out of our post μ’s depression. A new generation of girls has been announced under the group name Aqours (pronounced aqua), and we will be seeing them in the summer 2016 anime, Love Live! Sunshine!!.
Inspired by the μ’s story, second year student Chika Takami decides she wants to start a school idol group to help save Uranohoshi Girls’ High School from shutting down. Its a familiar setting with a whole new group of girls, and we are all boiling over with anticipation at the idea of seeing their version of the story. We have been given a few glimpses and some introductions from the new group, and even got a Valentines Day treat in the form of messages from each of them. Needless to say, its enough for many fans to begin picking their best girl, so lets take a look and see if you can figure out who your favorite is!
Riko Sakurauchi is a second year student who recently transferred into Uranohoshi Girls’ High School. Her previous school was actually Otonokizaka High School, the school that the μ’s girls attended. Riko is the quiet, reserved type, and actually doesn’t much relish the idea of being an idol, but thanks to some pressure from her friend Chika, she ends up joining Aquors.
Riko appears to have a fairly plain personality, but she recently moved from Akihabara and she prefers to stay indoors, so there could be more than meets the eye with this one. I’m getting some Kotori vibes from her; she seems to be the quiet and supportive type, but who knows? maybe shes a closet otaku. Here is a Valentines Day message from Riko.
Hanamaru Kunikida is a first year student, who is the daughter of the family who runs the nearby temple. Hanamaru is best friends with fellow idol, Ruby Kurosawa, but is otherwise introverted. She prefers reading books over watching TV and surfing the internet, which makes it hard for her to relate to other kids at school. Hanamaru suffers from low self esteem, and tends to be very self deprecating, but is actually quite gifted at writing and singing.
Hanamaru joins Aquors as a way of supporting her friend Ruby without any knowledge of what it is to be an idol. Its quite clear that she is a great friend, but I hope that she is able to break out of her shell as the show progresses. Her best friend appears to be the early fan favorite, so I fear that shes at risk of following in Hanayo’s path and being overshadowed. She seems really sweet, and it should be nice to watch her become more confident in herself as the show progresses.
Dia Kurosawa is a third year, and is the student council president at Uranohoshi Girls’ High School. Dia is the elder sister of Ruby Kurosawa, and daughter of a well known family in the fishing industry. Due to her upbringing, she is very refined, and always speaks in a formal manner. Always prideful and a perfectionist, Dia wont stand for incorrect or sloppy work.
It looks like Dia will be filling the “bad guy” roll, just as Ellie did in the first season of Love Live!, but I trust that she will come through and soften up as the series progresses. I love the sound of formal Japanese, and often I’m quite fond of the traditional Japanese characters. Dia fits this bill perfectly as someone who practices the art of wearing a Kimono (Kitsuke) and plays the Yamatogoto. I anticipate her being a favorite of mine once she takes a step down from her inevitable high horse.
Second year Ruby Kurosawa is Dia’s little sister, and is therefore also the product of a well known and wealthy family. She is intensely shy, and especially so around men since she has had no interaction with them outside of her father. Ruby tends to cry a lot, but always has the support of her best friend Hanamaru to help her get through any situation. She has always looked up to idols, so when the opportunity presents itself to be a member of Aquors, she doesn’t let her shy nature get in the way, and even ropes Hanamaru into joining with her.
Ruby is an early fan favorite, and its easy to see why; she’s insanely adorable. Her appearance is basically a mix of my two favorite μ’s girls in Maki and Honoka, so I obviously melted when I first saw her, but I hope there is a little more to her personality then just being super shy. Her and her sister seem like polar opposites, so I’m sure that will be an interesting dynamic. Ruby is also apparently very good at needlework, so chances are good that she will be the one making costumes for Aquors.
Chika Takami is in her second year at Uranohoshi High, and plays the role of main protagonist in Love Live! Sunshine!! Chika is the youngest of three sisters, and her family owns a Ryokan, which she is very proud of. Her and her sisters are actually big fans of μ’s, which acts as inspiration for Chika as she goes forward to form Aquors.
Chika is basically the Honoka of the “Sunshine generation”, with a genki personality to match. I love Honoka, but It may have been nice to see a different type of center this time around. Lets hope that most of the similarities are only superficial, because it would be a disappointment if Chika was simply Honk 2.0. All the same, we can look forward to her “can do” attitude being a huge source of motivation, and the main driving force behind Aquors as they push toward the Love Live!
Kanan Matsuura is a third year student, and lives with her grandfather who runs a dive shop on a nearby island. She finds great pleasure in simply taking in the beautiful scenery of Uchiura, where their shop is located. Kanan is the childhood friend of Chika, and is a mature and calming presence in Aquors.
I hate to say this, but Kanan seems like the most boring of the characters so far. I get the impression that she will play a role similar to Umi, by reigning in some of the craziness that her friend Chika is sure to cause. We will probably be seeing plenty of her in a bikini though, which will surely be enough to make her the favorite of some.
Yoshiko Tsushima is a first year student, and definitely the most eccentric character this franchise has ever seen. I’m going to go ahead and let her self introduction do the talking…
Just from gazing upon Johanne’s eyes, you have fallen hopelessly in love. I am Tsuhima Yoshiko Johanne, the fallen angel who will send you down to the inferno of love, where the flames burn eternal. Hey, did you know? I’m really a demon. After all, when I go for a walk, it always rains. When it snows, I always trip. I’ve never won a convenience store raffle in my life. And I got the flu right before finals. This bad luck isn’t just coincidence. I feel the anger of god as a sinful fallen angel because I’m far too cute. Well? Why don’t you join me and fall from heaven too? I promise it’ll be fun.
What’s not to love?
Yō Watanabe is in her second year at Uranohoshi Girls’ High School, and provides a very energetic and positive outlook to the group. Yō is the proud daughter of a ferry captain, and looks forward to taking his place one day. Thanks to her upbringing and a daily routine of running and weight training, she is probably the most athletic in the group, and is particularly talented at high dive.
Based on her personality, Yō appears to have been raised with a heavy military influence in her family, which is probably where she gets her trademark salute. Seriously though, nearly every single time she has appeared at this point she is saluting. Hopefully she tones it down a bit, or its bound to get a bit old. Being an idol doesn’t seem to come very naturally to her, so it will be very interesting to see how it is that she ends up joining Aquors.
Last but certainly not least is my early favorite, Mari Ohara.
Mari is a third year student, and the daughter of a Japanese mother, and an Italian-American father, who owns a chain of Italian-style hotels. She has a very cheerful personality, and moves to the beat of her own drum, but does not find herself well suited to be an idol. She loves to go horseback riding, and is particularly good at singing.
I love the fact that Mari clearly comes from a wealthy family, but does not have the typical haughty attitude expected from rich girls in anime. Her kind and confident personality should be a nice addition to the mostly timid cast of characters. Interestingly, her bio makes if clear that she has absolutely no interest in being an idol, so chances are that she will be one of the last people to join Aquors. The best part? Mari is a fan of industrial metal… Seriously guys, idols and metal; it’s a match made in heaven.
I can’t say with certainty since we know so little, but my early prediction for best girl is definitely Mari.
So there you have it, the nine new idols of Love Live! Sunshine!! There are some very clear similarities between the new girls and their predecessors, but for the most part its a completely fresh cast of characters. Keep in mind that when the show airs we will be learning all kinds of new things about these girls, so its best to reserve judgment until then. While there will always be an emptiness left by the departure of μ’s, we have plenty of reasons be optimistic as we journey into this new era.
What do you think guys? Excited? Who is your early contender for best girl? Sound off in the comments! Lets all bask in this glorious hype together.