Episode 5 – Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club Season 2

I like to think I’m pretty inoculated to Love Live! shipteasing. After four full seasons and two movies, it’s kind of hard to get me to bite on anything this franchise throws at me. Or so I thought, until this episode not only opened with Shizuku basically asking permission to borrow Yu’s two girlfriends to form a unit, but then showed her the Beauty & The Beast fanfic she’d written about Ayumu and Setsuna. That’s a level of shipping I just wasn’t prepared for, and I had to go take a walk around my neighborhood in the middle of this episode to recover. I barely blinked when Superstar pulled the Only One Bed trick with Keke and Sumire, but Shizuku’s imagination was just a little too powerful for me.

The rest of the episode is pretty fun too. While this is again about some of the Nijigasakids forming a unit, it looks to be the start of a multiparter, with their debut at least one more episode off. That extra time gives the jokes and drama a lot more room to breathe compared to the last episode, and allows the show to really really indulge in fueling the shippy fanartists of the world. Nobody could ever blame Love Live! of not knowing what its fanbase wants, and that list includes watching Ayumi not-so-silently panic when she sees Yu and Shizuku out on a secret solo date. Like, Setsuna even says the quiet part loud on that front, because subtlety died back when Ayumu tackled Yu onto her bed last season. My only real complaint about the group amusement park date is that we don’t get to see more of the Not-Precure stage show they watch. That looked really cool! Show me some magical girl Love Lives dammit!

It’s also a good opportunity to actually bring Shizuku into the fold. Her introduction was pretty much centered on her and Kasumi, so tying her with the others in her unit needs some leg work if the show wants it to feel like anything besides grouping up the leftover characters. Meanwhile Ayumu and Setsuna already have a pre-existing rapport, but it’s always been with Yu as the fulcrum point, so giving them more time together via their impromptu stageplay with Shizuku does a lot to flesh out their eventual unit’s dynamic when there isn’t a gradient-haired harem protagonist in their midst. I’ve had a soft spot for Shizuku’s drama kid energy ever since her focus episode, and seeing that weirdness maintained and expanded to include others is really endearing. It’ll likely be a while before we see the real thing, but I’m already excited to see this trio in action.

And amongst all the silliness we even have time to check in on Lanzhu. She hasn’t actually spoken with Yu since the first episode, but at last we get a bit more insight into why she’s less than thrilled with our heroine’s dedication to the School Idol Club. It’s not that Lanzhu’s not a team player – she does collab with Mia after all – but that she doesn’t believe in investing your work and passion into other people. If you have a dream, it needs to be for yourself, and you need to put all of yourself into it to achieve it. It’s certainly opposed to the friendship and handholding tenets of this franchise, but it’s still an understandable motivation, and Yu’s quick to pick up that her nascent rival is saying all of this out of her own form of compassion. You can tell the other characters – and the narrative at large – think she’s wrong, but she’s not painted as an asshole looking down on others out of a sense of superiority. There’s doubtlessly more drama to come from this, but for now I’ll just thank Lanzhu for inspiring a wonderfully sweet ferris wheel ride with Yu and Ayumu to close out the episode.

In-all this is pretty great rebound for Nijigasaki. It’s back in this franchise‘s comfort zone of gags, character work, and light drama, and quite possibly manages to be the Shippiest episode in the entire franchise. Can’t really ask for more than that.

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Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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