Love Live! is a Japanese multimedia project co-developed by ASCII Media Works' Dengeki G's Magazine, music label Lantis and anime studio Sunrise that started in 2010 and resulted in short stories, music videos, music CDs, actual live performances by the singers, a Winter 2013 Anime and a manga (among other things) based on a fictional group of school idols named μ's.The story is thus: Otonokizaka High School, which borders three very different cities, has been seeing major decreases in applicants, to the point that there may not be enough for the next year to create an entire class. If this happens, the school will cease accepting applicants and close down once its last remaining students graduate.In order to prevent this, a second-year student named Honoka Kōsaka comes up with an idea. Why not form a school idol group and become an overnight sensation, bringing exposure to the school and saving it from closure? Of course, things can't possibly be that easy...The series has been licensed by NIS America for North American audiences, who then sub-licensed the simulcasting rights to Crunchyroll.A second season has been green-lit to air in the Spring of 2014.
Bechdel Test: There are no important guys in this show at all, so the girls talk about becoming idols, or what to do about grades, or keeping their school from having to close due to the dwindling population.
Book Ends: The anime's final episode brings back the song from the first episode's ending sequence.
It then follows this up by having the entire group sing START:DASH!! from episode 3, but with the entire auditorium full this time, which makes the song both the first and last song performed by μ's in the anime.
Breaking the Fellowship: Happens in episode 12 and the first part of episode 13, after various members leave the group for personal reasons.
Call Back: Starting with episode 8, the anime used some of the settings from the existing music videos, starting with using exactly the same song and dance as the very first release (albeit shortened to fit).
Episode 10 has Hanayo's rice in a bowl.
Hanayo's call for help at the end of episode 6/start of episode 7 is repeated with all of the first years in episode 12.
The Chessmaster: Nozomi is a mild example. Episode 8 reveals that she had been prodding them along based on fortune telling, from as early as when they were asking for name suggestions, so they would reach nine members. She played a significant role in getting Nico, Maki and Eli to join, and getting Maki to want to join also indirectly helped prod Hanayo, which also resulted in Rin joining.
Cherry Blossoms: It marks the beginning of the school year during the first three episodes.
Chromatic Arrangement: Honoka(pink), Umi(blue), Kotori(green) when they perform for the first time in episode three.
Color-Coded Characters: In episode 11.note Honoka is red, Umi is blue, Kotori is green, Eli is light blue, Nozomi is violet, Hanayo is orange, Rin is light green, Maki is purple, and Nico is pink
Drama Bomb Finale: The anime jumps immediately from happy events into a string of bad news (with some good mixed in) starting from episode 11.
To summarize: Kotori recieves an opportunity to study fashion overseas, but can't decide whether to go or not. Meanwhile, μ's is finally in a position that qualifies for Love Live, but Honoka overworks herself and collapses with a fever in the middle of a performance, when Kotori intended to tell Honoka about her going overseas right after. As a result, μ's withdraws from Love Live without Honoka's input while she's recovering and Umi informs Honoka about Kotori's plans too late for her to change anything. They then find out that their past performances were enough to save the school, but ultimately all this does is remove the last of Honoka's motivation. Seeing these events as being entirely her fault, she decides to quit being a school idol. μ's then goes on indefinite hiatus because they're down two important members.
Happy Ending: Honoka stops Kotori from leaving, μ's ends up back together, and they fulfill every goal except for entering Love Live.
Enemy Eats Your Lunch: Nico swipes Honoka's and Umi's fries, but is caught when trying to steal Honoka's hamburger. When Honoka demands her fries back, Nico defiantly opens her mouth, causing the former to clarify by having her buy new fries.
The Glasses Gotta Go: Played straight with Hanayo, who decides to wear contacts as a sign of pursuing her dream as an idol.
The Glomp: Honoka does it to Umi in episode 3 after the latter is guilt-tripped into taking part in the concert despite objecting to the Dangerously-Short Skirt on their uniforms.
Heroic BSOD: Honoka suffers through a couple in episode 12. First, while recovering from an illnesss due to overexerting herself, she learns their group has withdrawn from the Love Live contest. She snaps out of it after hearing that the school has a lot of interested prospective students, which will prevent them from closing down the school. But then Umi delivers a Gut Punch to her when she tells the group Kotori is leaving to study overseas.
The final episode has elements of this with a performance in front of a full auditorium somehow prepared in the time it takes Honoka to run to the airport to fetch Kotori and back.
Hope Spot: In episode 12, one is sandwiched between two bad things. While the group isn't taking part in the contest due to Honoka overexerting herself and getting sick, their school also won't be shut down because they managed to get enough middle schoolers interested in applying for their school. Then as they celebrate, Kotori and Umi finally tell the group that the former is going overseas to study fashion design, which throws Honoka into a Heroic BSOD.
Backfires horribly on Honoka in episode 11 of the anime.
The Leader: While Honoka would prefer to say that μ's has no leader, the rest of the girls unanimously agree that she's a Type III example (with some Type IV mixed in).
And, just in case people don't get it after episode 6 of the anime was devoted to this point, episode 8 has Honoka single-handedly change everyone's mood and opinion to match hers not once, but three times, which is the only reason anything even got done in said episode.
Loophole Abuse: In episode 7, the girls learn about the national Love Live idol contest. They want to enter, but realize that Student Council President Eli will probably refuse their request. Umi then mentions that they could just ask the school director for permission, and go over Eli's head. Unfortunately Eli is talking to the director at the time, and voices her opposition to the contest. However, she is overruled, and the director approves, on the condition that none of them fail their upcoming tests. Rin, Honoka, and Nico suddenly look worried once they hear that, since their grades aren't the best to begin with.
Magic Skirt: The Dangerously-Short Skirt that they wear in the P Vs with their dance movements should have them flashing multiple times, especially with how low the angle of the camera can be. But this only failed in the 2nd PV where they're wearing black shorts underneath, and the 3rd where it shows how it would actually turns except they're wearing swimsuits. In full force in the 5th PV where they're outdoors with a strong wind blowing and multiple low-angle camera shots and yet stayed covered.
Meaningful Name: In Greek mythology, the Muses are goddesses of the arts, dance and music being among their main specialties, and there are nine of them. With this considered, it's a particularly apt name, invoked by Nozomi.
Meido: Kotori wears one in a cafe she works in. Naturally, the rest of the group gets to wear one.
Mood Whiplash: Episodes 11 and 12 end on rather downbeat notes, followed immediately by the fairly upbeat and cheerful ending song.
Never Trust a Title/Non-Indicative Name: "Love Live", aside from being the name given to the real-life performances, means nothing in any part of the franchise aside from the anime, where it's introduced as a school idol tournament in episode 7.
Even then, it merely acts as a sub-goal that would greatly assist in the main goal of saving the school. Come episode 12, μ's drops out of the running for the event and A-RISE wins off-screen in episode 13.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: While not really a villain, we find out around mid-season that Eli was the one that uploaded the video of μ's first performance, with the idea that no one would like their songs or dances and the group would break up or quit. This plan backfired however and μ's became much more popular as a result, with all the positive feedback from the video causing more people to join the group, including Eli herself.
Older than They Look: Due to her pigtails, childish antics, and less developed body (even in comparison to the first-years), it's easy to forget that Nico's actually a third-year. It gets lampshades in the beach episode where some think of her as a under-classmate or little sister.
Oh Crap: All of the girls have this look in their face in episode 10 after they accidentally hit Umi during the Pillow Fight and wakes her up. Even Eli and Maki seemed kind of fearful, particularly after she throws the pillows back rather hard.
Parental Abandonment: Averted. Several of the girl's parents can be seen or heard from time to time, such as Honoka's or Maki's. Kotori's mother is also the principal for the club's school.
Please Don't Leave Me: Honoka towards Kotori in episode 13, when she catches her before leaving for her plane, and tells her not to leave. Kotori for her part, never really did want to leave, and was hoping Honoka would stop her before she got on the plane.
School Festival: In the audio drama that comes with the fifth single, it features a maid cafe run by the first years, a Haunted House prepared by the second years and the third years host a fashion show...of a sort.
Spell My Name with an S: Eri vs. Eli, Arisa vs. Alisa, and Niko vs. Nico. Official streams use the latter, the former and the latter, respectively.
Spoiler Opening: The opening should give away who joins μ's almost immediately even though they don't fully form until episode eight.
Justified. There have been music videos prominently showing all nine members starting from their debut in 2010, including live events where the voice actors sang and danced to the group's songs, so this is a simple case of a Late Arrival Spoiler that could not have been avoided.
Stealth Hi/Bye: Nico does this in episode 5, when she stalks Kotori. Honoka arrives and the latter strongly suspects having a stalker watching her. She goes to investigate, but doesn't see anyone, then Nico suddenly appears next to her, and flicks her finger at Honoka, causing her to fall back and knocking her out for a short while.
Tempting Fate: Kotori receives a letter that offers her the opportunity to study fashion overseas right after a conversation where she, Honoka and Umi agree that they want to be together forever.
Those Three Girls: The three girls who supported μ's from the very beginning and who helped them during their first concert and cheer up a depress Honoka.
Title Drop: The anime reveals that Love Live is the name of an idol competition.
Too Dumb to Live: A non-fatal example happens with Honoka in episode 11. Having finally broken into the top 20, the group decides to do a big performance at the school's upcoming festival to keep them there and qualify for Love Live. Sadly, the performance is ruined when Honoka collapses after the first song, since not only did she insist on jogging every night on her own instead of getting proper sleep, she even did so the day before the performance, in heavy rain.
Honoka, Rin, and Nico are subjected to an academic variation of this during episode 7. Since their grades are bad, they have to study a lot for the upcoming exams, or else they won't be given permission to enter the idol contest. Umi even goes so far as to stay over at Honoka's house for a few days to ensure she's studying. In the end, they all barely pass.
A more straight example occurs in episode 8, when Eli agrees to teach them to dance, and has them start out with the basics, such as stretching and balancing their weight while standing on one foot. Despite her harsh regimen, the girls don't waver too much, as they're motivated to keep the school from closing.
Troll: Before joining the group, Nico would post hateful comments on μ's' website and videos, among other things.
Underdogs Never Lose: Subverted. The team does not win the Love Live contest and is won by A-Rise. Though the reason is because μ dropped put of the contest after Honoka's collapse and not actually losing.
Verbal Tic: Rin ends most of her sentences with nya.
In episode 3, their first performance has almost no students in the auditorium. However, a few do eventually show up.
In episode 11, Honoka collapses at the end of their first song at the school festival.
In episode 12, a few things occur. First, Honoka's group isn't taking part in Love Live due to her illness. Secondly, their school won't be shut down due to interest from middle school students applying there. Third, Umi tells the group that Kotori is going overseas to study fashion design. The combination of the first and third incidents causes Honoka to suffer a severe Heroic BSOD, and tells the other girls she's going to quit becoming an idol.
The school director tells Eli, with Honoka overhearing, that their school will stop accepting applicants the following year and later be closed down. Which was the worst thing that could happen for them, and the main reason why Honoka tried to form a school idol group to begin with.
A couple are given in episode 12. First, Honoka hears that their group won't be participating in the Love Live contest due to the Principal's concern that they may be overexerting themselves after she falls ill during the school festival. Secondly, Umi tells the group that Kotori is going overseas to study, and will probably be gone until after high school graduation. Third, Honoka, suffering from a Heroic BSOD due to the first two lines, tells the group she's quitting being an idol.