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Franchise: Love Live!

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, an anime that spanned two seasons 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 anime series has been licensed by NIS America for North American audiences, who then sub-licensed the simulcasting rights to Crunchyroll. The first few chapters of the manga were released worldwide in English digitally via ComicWalker.

It also has its own Mobile Phone Game, School Idol Festival, which has been translated into English and officially licensed for overseas audiences.

A movie follow-up to the anime has been announced.

The first set of blu-rays for the second season of the anime holds the record for strongest first-week anime sales.
  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Averted. Eli's decisions can and do get overruled by the principal.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Nico gets one in episode 4 of season 2, when her sisters are revealed to the other girls, along with more focus on her painful past of trying to start an idol group.
    • Rin gets one in the fifth episode, when she's chosen to be the temporary leader of the group while Honoka, Umi, and Kotori are stuck in Okinawa due to a typhoon during their school trip.
    • Nozomi gets more focus in the eighth episode, which details quite a bit about her past.
  • Adorkable: Umi, who tries to be the group's Straight Man but can't help but imagine and practice cutesy idol routines in private.
  • All Just a Dream: At the beginning of episode 4 of season 2, Hanayo is reading to the girls who made it past the first round. A-RISE made the cut, along with some other groups. Then Hanayo keeps the tension up as she slowly reads the fourth team that made it, and it wasn't μ's. Then it cuts to another scene, and Honoka says that's the dream she had. It becomes a case of deja vu where after the opening credits, the same exact scene happens again. Other than Honoka telling Nico to drink her juice box to make it different (and she doesn't drink it), Hanayo once again drags out the 4th team to make the cut, only this time she says their group.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: To AKB0048.
  • Alternate Continuity: The anime differs from the rest of the franchise on several key points.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Nico's mother, whom several of the girls again mistake for Nico as they did with her sister, shows up in episode 13 of season 2. She does the "Nico-Nico-Ni" act when introducing herself to Honoka and the others. Nico then tries to get her to head towards the auditorium while throwing a childish tantrum, before seeing the others and acting slightly more composed.
  • Amusing Injuries: After Nico flicks her finger on Honoka's forehead, the latter stumbles backwards and apparently gets knocked out by it. In the next scene, she has a band-aid on her forehead.
  • Archer Archetype: Umi is one of the calmest and most down-to-earth of the girls, and is in the archery club.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Yukiho asks Honoka one in episode 11 of season 2, wondering what the girls plan to do with μ's when three of the members graduate. This question then is on the mind of all of them for the rest of the episode as they wonder about what to do after the Love Live contest.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Umi does this to Honoka after she quits being a school idol.
  • Art Evolution: There are changes in character designs in all five pre-anime PVs, post-anime illustrations are much more consistent.
  • Ascended Fangirl: Hanayo and Nico.
  • Asleep in Class: After waking up early for practice, Honoka would just sleep in class to make up for it.
  • Beach Episode:
    • Episode 10 of the anime.
    • Episode 5 of season 2 for Honoka, Umi, and Kotori, though it gets subverted because a typhoon hits shortly after they get there, forcing them to stay in the hotel for most of the trip, and their flight home gets canceled as well.
  • 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.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Honoka, Umi, and Kotori have to reach the location where their concert is being held in episode 9. Unfortunately it's snows all day, and gets worse by the time the three are done at school, causing both the trains and traffic to come to a grinding halt. The three girls decide to simply run there, since they really can't afford to miss this concert, but the wind blows even harder as they try to leave the school grounds. Then Honoka and the others find out the ENTIRE student body came in, and shoveled a route to the location for them, in addition to giving them snow boots to help them make it in time.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Played with Nico who usually makes no effort to be anything but ornery or even Jerkassish, but plays up her character as an idol as incredibly Moe Moe and incredibly sweet. (Although it should be noted that she is not a bad person by any means.)
  • Book Ends:
    • The anime's first season'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 season 1.
    • Then there's the episodes "First Live" and "Last Live", referring to the first and final μ's performances.
    • A scene of the nine members holding hands at an empty beach and staring into the ocean as the sun rises/sets accompanies both the group finally becoming cohesive and the decision to disband when the older members graduate.
    • Aishiteru Banzai is the first song heard from the main characters (in this case Maki) in the very first episode of season 1, as she plays it on the piano. The same song is used as the graduation farewell song in the second season's final episode as μ's last song, with all of the members save the graduating third years singing, with Maki once again on the piano.
    • The final song performed at Love Live is "Bokura Wa Imo no Naka De", the same song used for the opening of Season 1.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: Happens in episode 12 and the first part of episode 13, after various members leave the group for personal reasons.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 10's Beach Episode, where the girls just goof off instead of practicing like Umi had wanted them to.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Eli and Arisa are a quarter Russian.
  • Butt Monkey: Nico.
  • Call Back: Both seasons of anime are full of this trope. 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 scene where Eli joins in episode 8 is copied almost exactly from the 1st PV, just with speech this time.
    • At the start of 2nd season, Honoka throws the microphone upward in the same fashion as she did in the 4th PV, albeit mirrored.
    • The ensuing Disneyesque sequence also features the exact same scene with Nico and Maki from the 1st PV.
    • In Season 2 Episode 1, Honoka is once again eating bread under the same tree with the same ensuing phrase, "The bread today is delicious as usual!" from Season 1 Episode 1.
    • In Season 2 Episode 1, Honoka once again ditches her jacket and bag, and does the same run towards the camera with it spinning as Season 1 Episode 1, this time in the shrine. The group also sing the opening lines of Susume Tomorrow.
    • The second season opening theme is full of these with short animations of the girls based on BD covers of the first season. The ending theme also has a few visual call backs to the first season ending, most noticeably the repetition of the girls standing in a line with Honoka singing at first, then the rest joining in and shaking maracas. Also the part where Honoka give her hand to a viewer is pretty much the same way she did in 4th PV.
    • In the second episode of the second season, the girls break into groups of three to brainstorm ideas for their new songs. These groups are all subunits of μ's that have released singles.
    • In episode 3 of season 2, Honoka verifies that by "μ's", Hanayo means the protagonist idol group and not the soap brand. She made a similar comment when the group name was suggested in episode 2 of the first season.
    • Also in episode 3 of season 2, Rin is sent after Nico, who was running away. Rin was also the one who chased Nico when she tried to run away in her introductory episode in season 1.
      • She's also sent after her in the following episode. Nico lampshades this in episode five when she locks Rin in the practice room before she can run away, giving her reasoning as "Because Rin is always the one who chases after her."
    • In episode five of season two, Hanayo and Maki push on Rin's back to encourage her to be the center, mirroring the shot from the first season where Rin pushes Hanayo on the back to join μ's.
    • Also in episode five of season two, the beginning repeats the gag from the first season where Honoka loudly yells about them being at the ocean (pronounced "umi" in Japanese), only for Umi to tell her not to yell people's names (this joke was Lost in Translation) in the English subs.)
    • For a little while in episode eight of the second season, the girls try to simulate romance using a video camera and a "giving chocolate to the audience" scenario. The ones with Hanayo and Maki reflect scenes from the "Mogyutto 'love' de Sekkinchu!" pv.
    • The girl's sleepover clothes in episode 12 are the same ones used in the "Music S.T.A.R.T." PV. They also invoke the song's title as their pre-performance cheer line.
    • μ's encore performance for the Love Live finals is the entire "Bokura wa Ima no Naka de" OP sequence from the first season frame by frame.
    • Before doing the encore performance, Honoka recalls her words to Eli after μ's first live in episode 3 of first season about even the audience are not cheering for them (μ's), they still want to do their best so they can get across their feeling. The difference, this time they are watched by so many audience.
    • Honoka's father cries again after watching μ's live performance in episode 12 of second season, just like he did in episode 13 of first season.
    • Kira Kira Sensation 's dance is the combination of their previous songs & PV.
    • The ending theme for the final episode has Kotori randomly photobomb one of the scenes. This is a reference to the opening of season 1.
    • Before Honoka leaves the rooftop in episode 13 of season 2, she recalls the conversation of herself, Umi, and Kotori about the rooftop is the only option for their practice place from episode 2 season 1.
    • When they stop in the llama's stall, Eli still found that the brown ( female) llama is not too friendly, especially to her, just like the experience she had with it in episode 8 of season 1. On the other way, Kotori still found that the white llama, is so fluffy, and playing around its neck, just like she did in episode 4 of season 1.
  • Can't Catch Up: The girls are at first excited at the prospect of another Love Live contest in the second season. However, they begin to doubt their chances when they realize they have to go up against A-RISE again, who won the first Love Live contest. Eli however, manages to cheer them up, and after they convince Honoka, she says they're going for the win this time around.
  • Cat Smile: Rin.
  • 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: The official image colours are Honoka(Orange), Umi(Blue), Kotori(Grey), Hanayo(Green), Rin(Yellow), Maki(Red), Eli(Light blue), Nico(Pink), Nozomi(Purple).
    • The only episode in the anime that actually has the full group wearing color coded outfits is in episode 11. When performing "No Brand Girls", Honoka wears red, Eli in light blue, Hanayo in orange, Rin in light green, Kotori in dark green, Nico in pink, Maki in cerise, Umi in blue, and Nozomi in violet.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Honoka tends to do this, which causes Hanayo to retort.
  • Conspicuous CG: Used liberally during dance sequences, especially the opening theme.
    • Up to Eleven: It would not be an exaggeration to say that most of the dance sequences switch between drawing the characters normally and in CG at least every ten seconds.
    • It's quite noticeable during the last song and dance sequence at the end of episode 13 in season 2, particularly during the outdoor sections. Honoka in particular stands out.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment/Thanks For The Mammaries: Courtesy of Nozomi.
  • Cool Big Sis: Nozomi to the other girls (though her methods are less than orthodox, as mentioned above); Eli in a literal sense.
  • Couch Gag: The ending credits of the second season concludes with one of the girls catching a feather. The girl who catches it is different for each episode, usually whichever girl had the most focus that episode.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Hideko, Mika and Fumika grabbed μ's' costumes for "Bokura wa Ima no Naka de" and were carrying them just in case μ's needed to do an encore at Love Live. An unlikely scenario due to just how many idols were performing in a row and μ's performing last, but it did end up happening.
  • Cry Cute:
    • Honoka breaks down in tears in episode 9 after giving Eli The Glomp, and telling the others that she really didn't want to miss the final preliminary round. Some of the others shed a few tears too at the emotional reunion, including Nico and Nozomi.
    • The entire group does this in episode 11 of season 2 as they decide what to do with μ's after Eli, Nozomi, and Nico graduate. Some of them try really hard not to cry, but eventually the emotions overwhelm them as well, such as Nico and Maki.
  • Cute Little Fang: Rin has it for one episode.
  • Dancing Theme: The girls dance in the opening as well as during their songs.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: A-RISE, who meets Honoka's group in person for the first time in episode 3 of season 2, knows a little bit about what makes the latter's group so special. They also view them as a rival as a result.
  • Debut Queue: The first few episodes introduce the girls who join the idol group, and Honoka usually does whatever it takes to get them to join.
  • Deconstruction: Of Genki Girl, somewhat, in the last few episodes.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Eli who becomes much nicer after joining μ's.
  • Did I Say That Out Loud: In the first episode of season 2, Nico brings a camera to a dance rehearsal. Some of the other girls wonder what she plans to do with it, and Nico says she wants to upload the footage online to gain popularity at showing them doing everyday training. She then starts muttering that she plans to make herself look good so that people would insist she be the lead, only to then have one of the girls mention that they can hear her. Nico then plays dumb and attempts her cutesy schtick.
  • 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.
  • Evolving Credits: The girl that grabs the feather at the end of season 2's ending credits changes every episode, generally whichever girl had the most focus.
  • Expy:
    • Umi bears a strong resemblance to Mio of K-On!: both have Performance Anxiety, are the songwriters and believe their best friend is bossy and pushy.
    • Honoka is a lot like Yui, also from K-On!: they're both energetic and loopy/ditzy semi-protagonists with short brownish hair and a one-sided hair decoration.
    • In the game School Idol Festival, several idols wear resemblance to some from The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls: for example, Christina is a blonde nun with a foreign name (like Clarice from CG) and Sachiko is a grey-haired girl with twintails and second-grade syndrome (like Ranko from CG)
  • The Faceless: Honoka's father.
  • Fanservice: Averted, even in the Beach Episode.
  • Fiery Redhead: Rin.
  • Finger Framing: Part of the dance for 'No brand girls', it's even part of the official fan light-stick movements taught by the voice-actresses during the 4th live concert.
  • Flower in Her Hair: Part of the μ's costume for the Love Live preliminaries involves everyone wearing flower crowns.
  • Freudian Excuse: Hanayo wonders if Rin's refusal to be the leader in episode 5 of season 2 is because of how boys made fun of her when they were in grade school anytime she tried to wear a skirt. Rin tries to claim she's not cute and girly enough to be the leader, but the other girls eventually manage to convince her to do it, and at the end of the episode she finally works up enough courage to try on a regular skirt with her street clothing.
  • Freudian Trio: The three second years form one with Honoka (Id), Umi (Superego), and Kotori (Ego).
  • Friendly Enemy: A-RISE towards Honoka's group as seen in episode 3 of season 2. They at first compliment Honoka's group members, and offer the use of their stage being built on their school. And after μ's performs their song, even A-RISE's group leader seems impressed by it.
  • Genki Girl: Good gosh, Honoka. Not to mention Rin and Nico to some extent. Unlike the other two Nico invokes this trope.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Nico and Nozomi (of the non-girly variety).
  • Girls Are Really Scared of Horror Movies: Invoked in episode 8 of season 2. They're actually just watching a romance movie, but Umi treats the scene where the couple kisses like this, and shuts it off before the kiss takes place. The camera even focuses on her eyes quivering as the scene plays.
  • 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.
  • Got Volunteered: Rin is chosen to be the temporary group leader in episode 5 of season 2. Naturally she doesn't want the position, but Honoka is away on a school trip, and Eli is overseeing student council activity, so they need her to take control for that week.
  • Graduate from the Story: Discussed by the members in the final three episodes of season 2. They talk about what to do regarding μ's, and what their plans are for the future. Eli, Nozomi, and Nico then graduate in episode 13, although Hanayo gets a text before they go their separate ways, and says she needs to tell them about it in the clubroom.
  • Heroic BSOD: Honoka suffers through a couple in episode 12 in season 1. 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.
  • Hey Lets Put On A Show: The first few episodes, somewhat.
    • 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.
  • Idol Singer: The premise.
  • Improbably Female Cast: Justified, as the setting takes place at an all girls school, and focuses on the girls forming an idol group.
  • Infectious Enthusiasm: This is what made Honoka, and the entire group by extension, succeed.
    • Backfires horribly on Honoka in episode 11 of the anime, as it leads to her getting sick and making the group drop out of Love Live as a result.
    • In the second season, the members of A-RISE bring up that they noticed this and compliment Honoka for it.
  • Irony: Despite her Animal Motif, Rin is actually allergic to cats.
  • 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.
    • During episode 12 of season 2, Honoka suggests they do a sleepover at school. A Flash Back then shows Kotori asking her mother for permission, and she's told that she needs to submit the paperwork two weeks in advance, which throws Kotori off. Her mother then states that perhaps she did get the papers, and simply overlooked it. She then approves their request.
  • Magic Realism: It is a mundane setting for the most part, but then you get things like Nozomi's accurate tarot card fortune-telling, Maki's supernatural display in 6th PV, and Honoka making the rain go away by yelling really loud.
  • Magic Skirt: The Dangerously Short Skirt that they wear in the PVs 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.
  • Manly Tears: Whenever Honoka's father sees one of μ's performances, it always results in this.
  • 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.
  • Miko: Nozomi.
  • Mood Whiplash: Episodes 11 and 12 end on rather downbeat notes, followed immediately by the fairly upbeat and cheerful ending song.
  • My Rivals... and Zoidberg: During her first meeting with μ's, A-Rise's Tsubasa points out the strong qualities of all members of the group, except Nico, who gets a Stealth Insult instead.
  • 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.
    • Season 2 appears to avert this. Love Live is central from episode 1.
  • 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.
  • Not So Different: Nozomi explains to Maki in episode 8 of season 2 in her Flash Back how she came from a Friendless Background because of constantly switching schools due to her parent's work. But the she meets Eli, who acted like a loner as well, and ends up befriending her. They also notice the other girls in similar situations, such as Nico when she first tried to form an idol group, but until Nozomi saw Honoka's group, she wasn't sure how to reach out to them. Hence why she was hoping they could sing a song they all contributed to for the next performance, but she was okay with just singing one they already did. After hearing Nozomi's reasoning, Maki then insists that they come up with that song together.
  • 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.
    • Played straight with Nozomi. Due to the nature of her parent's work, she ended up moving quite a bit, so couldn't make any friends as a result. And when she reaches high school, she ends up living alone in an apartment.
  • Passing the Torch: Nico nominates Hanayo as the new idol club president in episode 13 of season 2. The latter tries to object, but is overruled by the others, and Nico states she's the most knowledgeable one regarding idols.
  • Performance Anxiety: Umi.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Both Eli and her sister have blonde hair and blue eyes.
  • 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.
  • Race for Your Love: Well, they're not lovers, but Honoka does this in episode 13, for Kotori, and pleads with her not to go.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Kotori's mother, the principle of Otonokizaka. She lets μ's perform on the opening campus as long as they pass their final.
  • Refusal of the Call:
    • In the first season, several of the girls initially refuse to help or join Honoka's school idol group. However, The Power of Friendship gradually wins them over, even Student Council President Eli who acts as an Obstructive Bureaucrat through much of the series.
    • In the first episode of season 2, Honoka, of all people, doesn't seem eager at the prospect of another Love Live contest, and says they don't really need to enter it. This obviously shocks every single girl there, as they expected her to be the most excited. Fortunately, several other characters manage to make her remember how she felt when she wanted to enter the first one, along with the fact that this would be the last time the third years could participate in a school idol group.
    • In episode 5 of season 2, Rin is made the temporary leader while Honoka was away on a school trip. She at first reluctantly accepts it, but doesn't feel she's worthy enough, and is more happy being a support character. However the other girls, especially Maki and Hanayo, try to encourage her, and Hanayo also tries on the dress Rin was supposed to wear for their song since she realized her friend was under a lot of stress at the moment.
  • Santa's Existence Clause: Discussed in episode 2 of season 2. When the girls arrive at Maki's family home in the mountains for a song brainstorming session, the latter asks them not to use the chimney, partly because it's still too warm outside to use it, and partly because her father told her Santa won't visit if the chimney isn't kept clean. She then shows some writing and drawings from "Santa" inside the chimney, prompting Nico to laugh at her for still believing in Santa. However, the other girls don't want Maki's belief to be shattered, so they try to keep Nico quiet about it.
  • Saving the Orphanage: In this case, saving the high school. They manage to save their school from shutting down due to an unexpectedly high number of applicants after their school idol performance.
  • Schoolgirl Series
  • 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.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: In the novel, Kotori tried to win the second prize of a swimsuit contest. Because a 50000-yen shopping coupon would help her buy materials for new costumes, but a 100000-yen rice cooker would not.
  • Second Year Protagonist: The founders, Honoka, Umi and Kotori.
  • Senpai Kohai: Episode 10 of the anime is dedicated to getting rid of this.
  • Sequel Hook: Episode 13 of season 2 announces the upcoming movie right before the girls go their separate ways.
  • Serious Business: When Umi claims she has some experience in love during episode 8 of season 2, Honoka and Kotori suddenly take a very big interest in it. Several of the other girls end up wanting to know as well, causing her to collapse from the pressure and state she's never dated a boy or experienced love in that form.
  • Shout-Out: A particularly bizarre one for an idol anime, at the start of episode 4 of season 2; one of the groups said to have made it past the Love Live preliminaries, Mutant Girls, is made of four girls in ninja outfits with color-coded masks in blue, red, orange and purple. Sounds familiar?
    • And in episode six of the same season, the girls try to change their image to something more rock and dress up like KISS. Hilariously, screenshots of the episode were found and retweeted by Gene Simmons. Yes, really.
  • Shrinking Violet: Hanayo.
  • Sick Episode: Honoka in the first half of episode 12.
  • Smashing Watermelons: Hanayo tries to smash a watermelon in episode 10, which is also a Call Back to the third music video.
  • 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.
    • Season 2 then repeats the discrepancy with Nico by replacing what would normally be Ks in her siblings' names with Cs. That means Cocoro, Cotaro and Cocoa instead of Kokoro, Kotaro and Kokoa, 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.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: One happens during the first episode of the second season. Honoka, having become the new Student Council President, goes up on stage, then throws the microphone up high, catches it, and busts into a song and dance sequence. Then it's hilariously subverted in that said sequence never really happened, and instead she developed Performance Anxiety shortly after going up on stage. To be fair, she does say making up a speech as the student council president on stage isn't the same as singing a song.
  • 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.
    • In episode 9 of season 2, it starts to snow on the day of the final preliminary round. Several characters state it's supposed to stop snowing by the afternoon, giving Honoka, Umi, and Kotori plenty of time to get there after their presentation at school as the student council. So naturally their presentation is delayed by an hour, and when it wraps up, it snows even more, causing both the trains and traffic to stop. The three girls decide to just hoof it to the venue, but then the weather worsens as they attempt to leave the school grounds, forcing them to stop momentarily against it.
  • Third-Person Person: Rin. Honoka and Kotori also refer themselves in third person from time to time. While Nico only do this whenever she tries to act cute.
  • Those Three Girls: Hideko, Mika and Fumika who supported μ's from the very beginning and who helped them during their first concert and cheer up a depressed Honoka. They also showed up throughout the second season in various supporting roles.
  • Title Drop: The anime reveals that Love Live is the name of an idol competition.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Rin and Hanayo respectively.
  • 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.
  • Tsundere: Maki has some leanings towards this.
  • Training from Hell:
    • 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: Averted in the first season, played straight in the second. Made more difficult by the fact that they have to go up against A-RISE, who won the Love Live contest the last time.
  • Verbal Tic: Rin ends most of her sentences with nya.
  • Wham Episode:
    • 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.
  • Wham Line:
    • 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.
    • Honoka says that they don't need to enter the second Love Live contest during the first episode in season 2. The rest of the group does a collective Big "WHAT?!" at her response, followed shortly by another What the Hell, Hero? moment.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • In episode 12, when Honoka says she's quitting due to the Wham Line of Kotori studying overseas. It shocks all of the other members, and causes Umi to deliver an Armor-Piercing Slap to her.
    • Maki is suspicious of Nozomi and Eli in episode 8 of season 2, particularly due to Eli's insistence that they create a love song for their next performance despite not having any experience or references to draw on in it. At first the latter two says they'll just stick to a song they know after failing to come up with any good ideas. But Maki follows Eli and Nozomi to see what was going on, and then learns that Nozomi was hoping they could all create a song together. Once Maki finds that out, she then reconsiders her position on not making a new song, and gets the other girls onboard as well.
  • Writer's Block: Umi, Kotori, and Maki all suffer from this in episode 2 of season 2. They're unable to create any lyrics, outfits, or music due to the immense pressure they feel to having to come up with a new song for the second Love Live preliminaries. Fortunately the other girls help them and allow them to spend some time relaxing, after which they come up with some ideas.
  • Yes-Man: Kotori seems to always agree with Honoka's opinion when she says something other than what the rest of the group thinks.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Used in most of their costumes, Nozomi's school uniform, and Nico and Kotori's practice clothes.
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alternative title(s): Love Live School Idol Project
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