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"Aqours, Sunshine!"
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Love Live! Sunshine!! is a Sequel Series following the first anime of the Love Live! franchise, Love Live! School Idol Project. Like its predecessor, it's part of the Love Live franchise and its cast have been integrated in the franchise's tie-in Rhythm Game Love Live! School Idol Festival.

The anime follows the adventures of Aqours, the school idol group of Uranohoshi Girls' School. Chika Takami, a student in Uranohoshi and resident in the seaside neighborhood of Uchiura at Numazu city, Shizuoka prefecture, decides to start her own idol group along with her friend You Watanabe, inspired by the school idols of µ's. However, much like with Honoka Kousaka and her own group, things won't go so easily, but as long as they don't give up, their dream just might come true.

It began airing on July 2, 2016 in the Summer 2016 Anime schedule, licensed by Funimation, and was also dubbed as a part of Funimation's Summer Broadcast Dub line-up. A second season aired from October 7, 2017 as part of the Fall 2017 Anime lineup. Much like its big sister, a movie titled Love Live! Sunshine!! The School Idol Movie Over the Rainbow is in production, releasing on January 4, 2019 in Japanese theaters.

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This series provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Pretty much everything regarding Chika and Riko's relationship, an integral part of Season 1, disappears in Season 2 without explanation.
  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Subverted, like the original series. Despite her attempts to prevent Chika from forming a school idol club, Dia gets overruled by Mari, the school's director.
  • Against the Setting Sun: Chika explains her dream of forming a school idol group to Riko while they watch the sunset on the beach, but this is mostly because she just stopped Riko from jumping into the freezing springtime ocean.
  • All for Nothing: Aqours makes it into the Love Live! finals, but fails to attract at least 100 applicants by the deadline to keep Uranohoshi open even after being given two extensions by Mari's father. Unable to take the news well, they question whether or not it'll be worth continuing on with Love Live!.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
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    • The walrus mascot that You dresses up as in "Koi ni Naritai AQUARIUM" and Season 2, Episode 4 is a real mascot named Uchicchi, who serves as the friendly face of the Izu-Mito Sea Paradise.
    • Grilled mikan and mikan stew are real dishes, contrary to popular belief outside of Japan.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • In Season 2 Episode 10, Mari's Volkswagen van suddenly starts flying for some bizarre reason, and sails into the sky in front of the full moon while the entire group smiles brightly. It then pans down to the van sitting parked at the top of the hill, which makes it quite unclear what exactly happened and if it was someone's imagination or a metaphor for something.
    • It's not entirely clear if the final scene in the series finale (where Aqours performs "WONDERFUL STORIES") actually occurred or was simply Chika's imagination.
  • Animation Bump: The scene in episode nine of season 1 where Mari's running in the rain is highly detailed and the movements are very fluid.
  • Anime Catholicism: Uranohoshi is actually a Catholic high school, which could imply that some, if not most, of the girls are Christian. Despite this, all the girls do pay their respects and pray to the Shinto shrine Nozomi worked at when they visit Tokyo.
    • Ruby can also be seen wearing a stylized crucifix necklace in Episode 7 if one pays attention.
    • And then there's also almost everything about Yoshiko's Yohane persona note . Lampshaded in Season 2 episode 2, where Hanamaru counters one of Yoshiko's "Yohane" moments on the basis that they're in a Buddhist temple.
  • April Fools:
    • For April Fool's in 2017, it was announced that the series would have a live action adaptation. It does get the live action treatment... in the form of a puppet show.
    • In 2018, it was announced that they had created a Hyper Fabulous Ultimate Jumbo Nesoberi EX Chika. In addition, the Yasudaya Inn, the real-life ryoukan which Chika's family's ryoukan is based on and where the massive neso was placed near, changed their sign to "Tochiman Inn" for the day.
  • Arc Number: Zero. Aqours gets zero votes in the Love Live selections, which is a big source of frustration to Chika; even after Aqours gets popular enough to have thousands of views on their music videos, their school still receives zero attendees for the open house; finally, Chika expresses a wish of turning their zero into one, inspiring You to come up with a Team Hand-Stack that forms a zero, but because of their finger motions, is also a one. There's also the song "Step! ZERO to ONE".
  • Arc Symbol: Season 2 establishes a translucent, blue feather as the symbol of Aqours, as a contrast to the pure white feather associated with µ's. In the final song, "WONDERFUL STORIES", the song's bridge uses a "blue bird" as a metaphor for the radiance they were searching for.
  • Arc Words: In both Japanese and English, the word "shine" and its derivatives appear throughout Sunshine!!, from their first single's title, "Kimi no Kokoro wa Kagayaiteru Kai?" (Is Your Heart Shining?), to dialogue, to Mari's catchphrase ("Shiny!"), to the name of the sequel series itself. It always pertains to the image of school idols and often, to Aqours' goal as a group.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: You asks this to Chika in Episode 8 by Title Dropping the name of the episode, which causes Chika to briefly lose her composure.
    You: Isn't it frustrating?
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Mari gives one to Kanan for never telling her the real reason why she refused to perform at the Tokyo live two years ago and how she really felt. Mari prepares to receive one in turn to make it even, but Kanan offers her a hug instead.
  • Ascended Extra: Saint Snow.
    • Sunshine!! gives the rival group a lot more development than School Idol Project did. Saint Snow not only gets three insert songs, but Leah even gets a shared Character Focus episode with Ruby in Season 2, the duo get two dedicated episodes total, and they team up with Aqours in Season 2 Episode 9 to perform "Awaken the Power" as Saint Aqours Snow.
    • In real life, Saint Snow is generally treated as an extra sub-unit. They have their own singlenote , their own calls and responses, and even perform in-concert with Aqours.note 
  • Ascended Fangirl: Chika, Ruby and Dia were all fans of idols before becoming idols themselves.
  • Babies Ever After: Shiitake gives birth to two puppies during Aqours’ performance in the finals.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • The show quite quickly establishes that Chika is supposed to be an Expy of Honoka. The show then just as quickly deconstructs Honoka by establishing Chika as her Foil during the Wham Episode.
    • Episode 1 of Season 1 ends with Chika inviting Riko to be a school idol. The latter smiles at the thought... only to politely refuse.
    • In Episode 12, Chika mentions going to Kanda Shrine and meeting "the perfect person to talk to", raising the hopes of Dia and Ruby (and the audience) that said person would be Nozomi, who worked as a Miko there. It turns out to be Saint Snow instead.
    • In Episode 8 of Season 2, Aqours takes a trip to Hakodate to watch Saint Snow perform in their regional qualifiers. They stand on stage, and the music begins to play...but the scene suddenly cuts to black and fades in to the Top 3 results, where Saint Snow is nowhere to be seen. It also turns out they didn’t perform at all since both of them collapsed and were too shocked to continue singing, therefore dropping them out of the competition.
    • In Season 2 Episode 9, Ruby and Leah are shadowed throughout the episode by two suspicious-looking schoolgirls. Turns out they're just Leah's classmates, and they want to root for her.
    • Season 2 Episode 10 explicitly draws parallels to a major plot point in School Idol Project, as Mari suddenly reveals that she's going to college in Italy, giving up an offer to become director at the new combined school in Numazu, and she made the decision without telling anyone. However, instead of trying to stop her, Dia and Kanan both accept her decision whole-heartedly, and also reveal that they've decided on what they want to do after they graduate on their own, meaning that they'll all go their separate ways after graduation day.
    • Saint Snow's third song, "DROPOUT!?", starts as a rock ballad, and is the part that is heard in the anime. In the full version of the song, it starts as a rock ballad... and as soon as the opening is over, the song immediately segues into power metal.
  • Be Yourself: This is the centerpoint of three Character Focus episodes for two characters, Yoshiko and Dia. These serve to give them character development without actually changing the characters.
    • Yoshiko's focus episode in Season 1 has her grappling with her Chuunibyou persona and feeling that she should rid herself of it so she can fit in and make some friends in high school. Chika manages to talk her out of it by convincing her that she can be accepted without throwing away a part of herself. Her focus in Season 2 more or less repeats the message, except this time surrounding a loosely-defined Filler plot about owning a dog.
    • Dia's (much more humor-oriented) focus involves her feeling as though she has difficulty connecting with the rest of the group outside of Mari and Kanan, so she attempts to change her image by being friendly to the other members, which creeps them out a lot. At the end, Chika convinces her that the way she is is an integral part of keeping Aqours together, and that that alone makes her just as much of a friend as the rest of the group.
  • Beach Episode: Episode 10 is this, where Aqours spends a day at the beach. Also qualifies as a Breather Episode since it takes place after the third-year drama is resolved.
  • Big Fancy House: Mari's house, which is located on an island off the coast of Numazu and is based on the real Awashima Hotel. The first and third years pay a visit in Season 2 Episode 2 to work on a song. Though, they had too much of a good time there so Dia forces them to her house.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Episodes 11 and 13 of Season 2 fall in this category because they deal with Aqours having to leave their school behind. Episode 11 is especially heartwrenching because the student body sings a melancholic farewell of everything having to end to the embers of a giant bonfire that has died out. Episode 13 shows them struggling to stay together and closing the gates to Ura High.
  • Book-Ends: A paper airplane motif is used in the second season's premiere episode and doesn't return until the season finale.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase:
    • Towards the end of Season 2 episode 2, Mari tacks a "zura" at the end of one of her lines.
    • Chika also does this in S2 episode 4 when she works with Hanamaru herself during a job.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Saint Snow and Aqours' combined team name is quite literally "Saint Aqours Snow".
  • Brick Joke:
    • When the first years stay behind in Hakodate while the rest of Aqours return to Numazu, Dia has a fantasy that the first years were going to betray them and form their own idol group with Saint Snow called "Saint Aqours Snow". When Saint Snow and Aqours team up and perform "Awaken the power" at the end of the episode, the combined group is literally credited as "Saint Aqours Snow". They even have their own logo on the front cover of the respective single.
    • At the beginning of S2 episode 10, Chika's family gives her a New Year's ball. Later on, they send her on a back-and-forth hunt leading back to the ball, which is now lit up with a message of support for her efforts in the Love Live!.
    • The scene from the opening of the first season where Aqours is on the beach (and Yoshiko falls over) is referenced in the very last song in the series, "WONDERFUL STORIES".
  • Broken Aesop: In episode 5 of Season 1, Chika gives Yoshiko a Be Yourself speech, allowing her to express her Yohane persona as much as she wanted as a member of Aqours. Despite this, "It's Yohane!" is still her catchphrase among them up to the second season.
  • Call-Back:
    • The first episode of Season 2 re-enacts the scene in which Riko attempts to jump off the pier in Season 1, but this time it's Chika jumping and Riko catching her.
    • Chika's "normal monster" act from the first episode is referenced twice in Season 2; first by Riko in Season 2 Episode 1, where she does something similar to cheer up Chika, and later in Episode 5, where You does the same to encourage her.
    • Season 2 Episode 8 recycles a gag used in Season 1 Episode 10.
      Hanamaru: Seconds, zura!
      Yoshiko: Already!?
    • Season 2 Episode 11 is full of references to the first season, between Mari making an upgraded version of her Stewshine called "Stewshine Premium", Mari using her big red approval stamp (on people's foreheads), Riko's doujins, and You standing on a box and advertising for the School Idol Club.
    • Season 2 Episode 12 is even more stuffed with references; in addition to reflecting on every character's development up to that point in the story, there are lots and lots of details, such as Hanamaru's "Back to the Piyoko Manju Part II" (and someone else eating it), the voting paper from Aqours' first live performance in Tokyo, Riko playing "Omoi yo Hitotsu ni Nare" on the piano, and a recreation of the UTX jumbotron scene from the very start of the series.
    • The Season 2 finale amps it up even further, including a scene where Chika remembers the various little things that happened during their time at Uranohoshi, and the entire ending song, "WONDERFUL STORIES", which consists of Aqours referencing almost every single insert song in the series note  (and related events) while dancing in the respective outfits.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Mari sprained her ankle trying to perform an incredibly difficult maneuver (that Chika attempts to perfect in Season 2), then proceeded to attempt performing in the Tokyo live with the original Aqours in spite of her handicap. While the injury itself didn't knock Mari out of the race, it's Kanan's concern for her friend's injured leg and fear that she and Dia were holding Mari back (combined with Poor Communication Kills) that ultimately forces the original Aqours to disband.
  • Cast of Expies: A lot of people compare the Aqours members to the µ's girls, but exactly how much of µ's was exported into them isn't clear. However, Chika herself states that she's inspired by µ's, and we get some similar tropes in both idol groups as well: nine girls (three first years, three second years and three third years), a student council president, a blond 'foreigner' third year, an energetic ginger main girl and so on. These intentional comparisons and subversions tie in with Sunshine!!'s Central Theme of succession, change, and finding your own path independent of your own idols and predecessors.
    • All the girls are rather similar to µ's girls, and could be considered expies if it weren't for the fact that they usually resemble more than one girl from the previous installment, which helps to ease the similarities. Mari, for instance, combines elements of Eli note  and Nozomi note .
    • Dia at the beginning plays the same part as Eli had in the first season of Love Live note , but the two are not so similar in personality. Dia's favorite indeed is revealed to be Eli precisely because she was a school idol as well as a student council president.
    • Yoshiko also takes over Nico's shtick as the a member who often puts on a weird act while also being the Butt-Monkey of the group, but has a chuunibyou persona which she struggles with in her Day in the Limelight; unlike Nico, who fully embraced her "cute idol" act. This makes Yoshiko qualify more as a Foil of Nico rather than an Expy, but the similarities are still obvious.
    • The fourth episode draws explicit parallels between Hanamaru and Rin, as neither of them felt they would make good idols (though for different reasons) and both have a distinct Verbal Tic; and also between Ruby and Hanayo, who was also a long time fan of school idols and had to overcome her shyness in order to become one. The effect is doubled when you consider that Hanamaru and Ruby are a pair of first-year best friends, just like Rin and Hanayo were.
    • Many of the similarities listed above are most evident before those members join Aqours, and the changes they go through in their arc prior to their joining help get them off the tracks established by µ's. For instance, Yoshiko's alter ego, unlike Nico's cutesy act, is a hindrance and not a "tool", and her friends encourage her and help her manage it rather than give her unamused looks when it comes into play. In another example, Mari's eccentricities, hidden motives, and methods of bypassing the Obstructive Bureaucrat end up backfiring on her emotionally rather than it having gone all according to plan as Nozomi had.
  • Catapult Nightmare: In the first episode of the second season, Chika dreams that she's chasing a light. Then a tear falls, shatters the glass below her, and she falls into an abyss. She wakes up panting.
  • Central Theme:
    • The first season focuses on finding your own identity, rather than trying to be just like someone you admire.
    • The series as a whole has a recurring theme of overcoming failure and hardship. Aqours fails to garner any votes at the Tokyo live event, the 3rd years have to come to terms with their failure to perform two years ago, Aqours fails to pass the Love Live! regionals, Chika must master a difficult technique in the face of stepping down from Love Live!, and Aqours even loses the school they had worked so hard to save, and yet every time they get knocked down, they find in themselves the strength to push on.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Season 2 episode 5, Kanan is seen holding a notebook that reads "Aqours Dance Formation Idea Notebook", but its significance isn't revealed until the next episode. It contains the performance technique that caused Mari to injure herself, forcing Aqours to drop out and disband two years earlier.
  • The Chessmaster: It's eventually revealed that Dia, in part, played them all; she was the one who wrote "Aqours" in the sand in the second episode, likely expecting Chika and her friends to find it and make "Aqours" the name of their group.
  • Chromosome Casting: Sunshine!! one-ups the original series by taking this to its logical conclusion. Not only is the entire voiced cast comprised solely of females, there are no males period in the entirety of Season 1, and only four males total show up in the entire series: Mari's father, Chika's father, Riko's fathernote  (Meanwhile, Hanamaru's father and grandfather appears in one of the illustrations for School Idol Diary) and a random background character during the Season 2 Episode 11 ending. Even then, the characters' fathers have most of their faces obscured by the camera.
  • Collective Groan: Mari receives one to a bad pun she makes in season 2 episode 5.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Much like the Otonokizaka uniforms, students at Uranohoshi wear different colored bows (or in the third-years' case, ties) depending on what year they're in; first-years wear yellow bows, second-years wear red bows, and third-years wear blue ties.
  • Comedic Spanking: When Yoshiko tries to draw on the lottery that will decide their performance position for the Love Live! qualifiers, Dia decides to challenge her at Rock, Paper, Scissors, with the condition that if Yoshiko wins, she can spin the lottery. Right when Yoshiko and Dia throw their hands, Hanamaru bops Yoshiko on the butt, causing her to not form her usual unique scissors and end up with paper instead.
  • Conspicuous CG: The dance scenes are once again partially animated in CG, and unlike the original Love Live!, improvements to CG animation means that the 2D/3D transitions no longer invoke Uncanny Valley and look significantly more fluid. Most moving vehicles, like the buses and Mari's van, are also animated in CG.
  • Continuity Cavalcade:
    • The season 1 finale has Aqours reenact, on stage, the story of how they got together.
    • The season 2 finale's ending features outfits and backgrounds from across both seasons.
  • Continuity Nod: While holding Dia in a tight grappling hold in episode 9, Yoshiko declares that her name is "Yohane", in reference to Dia scathingly telling her to drop that aspect of her four episodes previously.
  • Couch Gag: The ending credits of the second season features at least one of the girls after their bus ride. The girl prominently shown is different for each episode.
  • Cruel to Be Kind:
    • Turns out this was what Dia was attempting to do all along. She wanted to discourage anyone, especially her younger sister, from becoming school idols and getting their hopes up so high, because she knew that the pain if they failed would crush them. Mari also does this in episode 6, mainly by letting them go to a show in Tokyo, to be crushed by the competition.
    • Kanan's modus operandi for forcing the original Aqours to disband and pushing herself away from Mari; she was afraid that she and Dia were holding Mari back from pursuing her future, so she faked stage fright so they wouldn't perform. Because she never actually said a word about anything, Mari left for two years believing her friends had abandoned her.
  • Cue the Sun: At the end of season 2 episode 6. During the sunset the day before, Kanan had given Chika until the next morning to perfect a really challenging sequence or else give up on it. Chika manages to nail it by the time they see each other again at sunrise.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Aqours finds themselves on the receiving end of this following their performance in Tokyo, as they wound up in last place and failed to garner even a single vote from the audience.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The one the third years share forms an important subplot. They formed a school idol group as first years and were successful enough to get invited to an event in Tokyo, but Kanan refused to sing, claiming she had stage fright. In actuality, she was worried about Mari, who had an injured ankle but was insisting on performing anyway, and was turning down an opportunity to study overseas in order to be a school idol. They disbanded and have barely spoken to each other since.
  • Darker and Edgier: With the more established light-hearted tone of the original series in place, Sunshine!! features a more ambitious and dramatic character-centric story that isn't afraid to pull Reality Ensues on its main characters. There are still light-hearted moments and comedy being thrown around, but when Sunshine!! gets depressing, it gets depressing.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Ruby helps Leah break out of her shell by relating to her feelings and experiences through their older sisters, Dia and Sarah.
  • Demoted to Extra: About half the cast ends up suffering this by Season 2, where the greater emphasis on an overarching narrative renders them more or less useless. Most obvious in this regard is Riko, who goes from a main character to comic relief due to her relationship with Chika becoming an Aborted Arc.
  • Denser and Wackier: The comedy here is even more zany compared to the original Love Live!, and Yoshiko and Riko mainly become the victims of such scenes.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Chika very nearly crosses it after Uranohoshi fails to gather the required number of applicants by the deadline, rendering their effort to save the school meaningless. Chika, utterly distraught, tells Aqours that she's abandoning the attempt to win Love Live!, which, by extension, would disband Aqours. It's not until her friends give her a Rousing Speech that she realizes that they don't have to save the school itself to etch its legacy into history.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: Downplayed. Season 2 has two episodes where Aqours visits the snow-covered Hakodate. The fact that it's even Christmas time only becomes apparent with a giant tree near the end of episode 8, and continues with an event performance in episode 9.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune:
    • As usual, the opening and ending themes are performed by Aqours' voice actresses.
    • Season 2 Episode 11 takes this to its logical extreme: the extended version of "Yuuki wa Doko ni? Kimi no Mune ni!" featured at the end of the episode has everyone singing it. Even the voice of Shiitake.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Frequently invoked as a theme in the show to instill the beach and summery feeling. Aqours members are often appropriately shown going barefoot on the beach in their school uniforms with their footwear set aside, especially Chika. In the case of the promo music video for the first season, Chika actually runs off barefooted to catch curious Mari straight from cleaning the school pool (traditionally in Japan, the norm is no footwear at the pool or while cleaning one) without bothering to grab her shoes or socks. In the show proper, it doesn't seem to crop up much, although Kanan does shed her footwear by the beachside in the twelfth episode of Season 2. Chika's barefoot moment in the first episode of this doesn't count because she fell in the water trying to protect Riko and her footwear needs to dry off, but the scenes do draw attention to her feet on the beach.
  • Drama Bomb: Season 2, Episode 7 is full of this. While Aqours makes it to the Love Live! finals, they fail to reach the minimum requirement of attracting 100 applicants by the deadline, and thus Uranohoshi will merge with another high school and shut down. Chika and Mari in particular don't take it well at all.
  • Dramatic Irony: Played for Laughs. In Season 1 Episode 10, Dia attempts to put Aqours on a brutal training regimen that she "borrowed" from µ's, claiming that they followed this training routine, so Aqours should try it too. Anyone who has seen the original Love Live! knows that µ's never actually attempted doing the routine. Sure enough, when Aqours tries it for themselves, everyone who exercised except Kanan passed out from exhaustion.
  • Dramatic Wind:
    • The first time Dia proclaims her stance against Chika's idol group, the open window behind her lets in a gush of air that blows against Chika.
    • When Riko takes off her shirt in preparation for jumping in the ocean, a wind blows the shirt dramatically behind her.
    • This happens again to Chika when she hears Saint Snow rehearsing their song at the Kanda Shrine.
    • During the Season 2 finale, Chika shouts "Fly!" after throwing her paper airplane, which cues a gust of wind to blow the paper airplane out and across the ocean.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The subunit configuration of Mari, Riko, and Yoshiko for Guilty Kiss originally appeared as a trio in the song "Mijuku DREAMER" before subunits were formed.
  • Eureka Moment: Chika has one on the train back from Tokyo after pondering why µ's left no trace of their existence behind at Otonokizaka.
  • Everyone Is Related: Almost everyone in Aqours can be linked to each other in a chain. Chika is Childhood Friends with You and Kanan, the latter of whom is Childhood Friends with Mari and Dia, the latter of whom is Ruby's big sister, who is friends with Hanamaru since middle school, who went to elementary school with Yoshiko. The odd one out is Riko, who is a transfer student from Tokyo and thus has no relation to any of the other characters.
  • Excited Show Title!: The exclamation point from the franchise name, plus two for the subtitle, giving it three exclamation points total.
  • Expy: Episode 12 shows a young girl who resembles Honoka with green eyes, sliding down a handrail, and since it's the handrail of one of the stairs fronting Otonokizaka, this is absolutely an intentional resemblance.
  • Face Plant: Played for Drama. While running through the pouring rain from Dia's house to Uranohoshi to confront Kanan, Mari trips and falls flat on her face. Battered but determined, Mari gets up and keeps running.
  • Fake-Out Opening: S2 episode 8 begins with the girls seemingly stranded in the middle of a blizzard. Except they're not really stranded, as the snow suddenly clears to reveal that they're actually in Hakodate.
  • Filler: Season 2 Episode 5, which focuses on Yoshiko and Riko trying to take care of a dog. It doesn't really do anything for the plot aside from introducing a plot device (that's totally unrelated to the episode) that is used in the next episode, and it doesn't give much character development either aside from a brief scene at the end of the episode. The most that comes out of is Riko overcoming her fear of dogs, which leads her to adopt a puppy in the series finale. And Ship Tease.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: The Puppet Show opens with a parody of the Three Little Pigs, where the second-years are chased by a coelacanth, with the former as the pigs and the latter as the wolf. The story then goes on to parody various Japanese folktales such as Urashima Tarou, Kachi-kachi Yama and Momotarou.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Dia's reasons for rejecting the formation of a school idol club in Season 1 Episode 1 are too specific to count as common knowledge. This hints that not only is she a hardcore school idol fan, she was also a school idol.
    • The sounds that Riko hears during the diving scene in Season 1 Episode 2 will eventually be her piano recital piece and Episode 11's Insert Song, "Omoi yo Hitotsu ni Nare".
    • In Season 2 episode 2, the sound of the raindrops leaking through the roof in the temple creates a melody that inspires the first years and the third years to come together to make a song. The melody is used in the chorus of the following episode's Insert Song, "MY Mai TONIGHT".
    • Likewise, Chika's insistence of the "shiny" theme for Aqours is used for Aqours' performance in Uranohoshi open house event as the song "Kimi no Kokoro wa Kagayaiteru Kai?"
    • Incidentally, the "Sora mo Kokoro mo Hareru Kara" Promo Cards were released for Love Live! School Idol Festival 13 days before the song was used as an Insert Song for Season 2 Episode 7.
    • In Season 2 episode 6, Sarah and Leah's room is briefly shown while Chika calls Sarah for advice, as snow falls outside. Two episodes later, Aqours visits a small restaurant in a snow-covered city, and Ruby stumbles upon Leah in that very room inside the restaurant building.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Once Aqours and Saint Snow get to know each other a little better, their relationship develops into this, with Chika seeking advice from Saint Snow every once in a while. When Saint Snow has an accident on stage and is forced to retire from Love Live, they drop the "rivalry" bit and start supporting Aqours full-time.
  • Friendship Trinket: During her separation from the group to participate in a piano competition, Riko sends the other members of Aqours hair scrunchies to wear as bracelets at the Love Live preliminaries as a symbol of unity.
  • Funny Background Event: At the start of Hanamaru's flashback in episode 4, Yoshiko can be seen in the background performing a "summoning" motion with a stick.
  • Gag Haircut: In the series finale, Yoshiko falls out of a cherry tree and runs away. When Hanamaru and Ruby go looking for her, they find out that she attempted to do her hair for the graduation and school closing ceremony, which resulted in an extremely messy attempt at doing an Odango Hair style. Hanamaru and Ruby agree to fix her hair... which results in just turning her hair back to normal.
  • Gainax Ending: The series finale had viewers wondering how the final scene managed to occur in the first place. Chika follows her paper airplane into the now-closed Uranohoshi, as she reminisces on the memories she made with Aqours. Then she suddenly spots what looks like You and Riko, and heads down to the auditorium... where everyone from school is there, in uniform, and the other eight members of Aqours are on-stage asking Chika to perform with them one last time, also in uniform. Never mind the fact that the third-years were said to have already departed long before the scene supposedly takes place. Some viewers have even chalked the ending up to Chika seeing things or being delusional.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Season 2 Episode 7 has Yoshimi, Itsuki, and Mutsu deliver a big speech to Chika to bring her back to her senses and make her realize that they don't have to literally save the school in order to preserve its legacy.
  • The Ghost: Mari's father becomes this for most of the second season. She regularly gets phone calls from him about the potential shutting down of the school and his condition that they gather a hundred applicants in order to keep it open, but due to this show having an overwhelmingly female cast, he is unseen until a flashback in S2 episode 10 (though with most of his face obscured) and still remains unheard.
  • Got Me Doing It: In Season 2 Episode 6, Riko mimics Yoshiko's "Yohane" persona on what appears to be instinct. It takes her a few seconds before she realizes what she's doing.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: It's raining when Dia reveals the truth about Kanan not singing two years prior and when Mari goes to confront her about it.
  • Hairstyle Inertia: Eight of the girls are shown in flashbacks to have hairstyles with very minor differences to their current ones.
  • Happy Ending Override: The final episode of season 1 ended on a very high note, with Aqours recapping the events of the season for their Love Live! performance, with everyone from Uranohoshi at their side, and ending the episode performing "Mirai Ticket". The first episode of season 2 pulls the rug out from under them by revealing that not only did they fail to clear the regionals, things have gone From Bad to Worse concerning the school's survival.
  • Hourglass Plot: The third years' subplot is structured in this manner, as two years ago, Dia and Kanan enthusiastically hatched a plan to save the school by founding a school idol club, dragging a reluctant and uninterested Mari into their scheme. In the present day, traumatized by their failure on the big stage, Dia refuses to let Chika start a school idol club, while Kanan has ceased attending school and wants nothing to do with school idols. On the other hand, Mari is enthusiastic about Chika's club and wholeheartedly supports her over Dia and Kanan's objections.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: This is Chika's motivation for starting a school idol group, as she perceives herself as a perfectly normal person who has no special attributes. Seeing μ’s, a school idol group composed of normal girls just like her, inspire her to create her own idol group and become something just like μ’s.
  • "I Know What We Can Do" Cut:
    • In season 2 episode 2, Kanan suggests that the first- and third-years play together. And she only gets to the point after they start playing dodgeball.
    • In the same episode, Dia suggests that the girls open up to each other. She elaborates on this after they're already in the bath.
  • Idol Singer: The characters make up the idol group Aqours, though like the group from the previous series they're "school idols", not professional idol singers.
  • Industrial Metal: Mari's favorite music genre is industrial metal, actually.
  • Infectious Enthusiasm: Essentially how Chika gets Aqours off the ground. It's deconstructed in Season 1 Episode 8, where Chika reveals that she constantly feels pressured into staying positive for fear of the rest of the group losing faith in her and disbanding.
  • Irony: Some fans have noted how ironic it is that a show with Sunshine!! in its name manages to be significantly more depressing in tone than its predecessor.
    • And just like its predecessor, there's also the "One of the tallest girls is voiced by the shortest seiyuu, and vice versa" trope applying here (Mari and Ainya, Hanamaru and King, respectively).
  • It Was with You All Along: Chika's motivation for the series, and that which the other girls in Aqours eventually strive to find, is their own "radiance", the thing that makes them shine and special. The entire reason that Chika enters the Love Live! is because she believes that she can find her radiance by becoming a School Idol like µ's. Eventually during Aqours' Last Dance, Chika finally realizes that the hard work and determination they put into becoming School Idols is to prove that their radiance already existed inside of them.
  • It's All My Fault: Leah blames herself for ruining her sister's last chance at Love Live, which causes her extremely deep frustration and nearly convinces her to give up being a school idol.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Yoshiko's Affectionate Nickname for Riko is mistranslated by official subs as "Lili" despite the nickname being a play on Riko's name.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Mari receives a collective one from the other girls at the beginning of season 2 episode 5.
  • The Last Dance: The ending of Season 2 sees Aqours and Ura High send off their company with Chika in a final song.
  • Last Episode Theme Reprise: The Season 2 finale reprises "Aozora JUMPING HEART" as the opening theme song, this time with added shots of the first, second, and third years getting together and looking at the screen behind them, which now says "WINNER: AQOURS".
  • Late for School: Chika oversleeps on the first day of the second term, in spite of telling her friends she would get up without any help.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In a piece of promotional illustration, Hanamaru is shown taking a book which looks suspiciously like The Little Prince.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the first episode of season 2, Mari declares in her opening speech that the second season has begun. You and Riko notice this, with the latter commenting that Mari meant the second term.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Dia and Mari's dynamic is like this, especially when their jobs as Student Council President and Director are involved.
    Chika: Is this [pool-cleaning] going to work as special training?
    Mari: Dia just forgot that she had to get the pool cleaned.
    Dia: You're the one that forgot!
    Mari: I told you! Once summer starts, you need to do something about getting the pool cleaned!
    Dia: Well, I am doing something!
    Mari: Oh, yes! Something!
  • Like Father, Like Son: All of the mothers of the main cast can be identified by having identical hairstyles to their daughters. The Takami family takes it one step further: Idiot Hair is apparently genetic among them.
  • Long Song, Short Scene:
    • There is a full 1 minute version of the heavy metal song that Mari showed off for about 10 seconds in Season 2 Episode 2.
    • Both of Saint Snow's new songs in Season 2 are barely featured; "CRASH MIND" is previewed briefly as a video on a smartphone, and "DROPOUT!?" plays for several seconds before the scene cuts to the results.
    • In Season 2 Episode 12, Riko is briefly seen playing a piano version of "Omoi yo Hitotsu ni Nare" as a Call-Back to Season 1 Episode 10. The official soundtrack has a track called "Omoi yo Hitotsu ni Nare ~Riko's Piano Sonata~", which covers the entire song, all six minutes of it.
  • Love Confession:
    • Episode 10 presents an intentionally vague case in which after Chika insists that Riko enter the piano competition instead of going to Love Live (since Chika claims she originally invited Riko into the group in order to rekindle her passion for piano), Riko immediately hugs Chika, calls her weird, then says "I love you.". While the framing of the scene certainly makes it seem very romantic, later episodes make a point of not referencing the scene or what the fallout might have been.
    • The Season 2 finale has You confessing to Riko, which the latter responds to in kind. Due to the way the scene is structured, it's likely a Call-Back to S1 Episode 10.
  • Luminescent Blush: Ruby when Chika speaks to and touches her for the first time.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "Natsu no Owari no Amaoto ga", Chika and Kanan's duet song, is an incredibly sad song set to really bouncy electro-pop.
    • "Sakura Bai Bai" is quite cheery in usual CYaRon! fashion but is quite bittersweet lyrically.
  • Magic Skirt: A handful of scenes feature skirts either not moving or staying in shape despite gravity saying otherwise, but Season 2 episode 1 has a particularly egregious instance where Chika flips up on a pull-up bar while the camera is situated below her; Chika's skirt appears to break all known laws of physics to prevent a Panty Shot.
  • Masochist's Meal: Yoshiko's "Tears of a Fallen Angel", which is a variation on takoyaki that substitutes the octopus with a "healthy" amount of Tabasco sauce. Ruby eats a single one and spends the next scene jumping around outside the bar from the sheer spiciness. Yoshiko and Mari are fond of them, though.
  • The Movie: Love Live! Sunshine!!: The School Idol Movie: Over the Rainbow, in which Aqours travels to Italy in much the same way µ's traveled to New York. Bonus points for veering into both Colon Cancer and Long Title territory thanks to inheriting the title of the previous movie and just tacking new subtitles onto it.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Chika's mother could easily pass off as a younger sister to all three of her daughters, especially since Chika is a full head taller than her.
  • My Rule-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Mari usurps Dia's position on Chika creating a school idol club on the basis of being the school's director, and thus being able to bend the rules because she has more power than Dia does.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the premiere, the camera does a 360 spin as Riko runs toward the viewer, echoing a similar shot with Honoka from the first episode of the original series. This is done again in season 2's premiere with Chika.
    • Chika mispronouncing µ's as "yooz" initially, which is also how Honoka also mispronounced it at first. In the English dub, Chika mispronounces it as "mousse", just like Honoka.
    • Just like Honoka's "ほ" and "Ho." sweaters, Chika has "チ" and "Mikan." sweaters.
    • In Episode 3, Yoshiko appears wearing a mask and sunglasses, as to conceal her identity, just like Nico Yazawa.
    • In the OP, You is doing something similar to Kotori's signature photobomb.
    • For a meta nod to the first series, the ADR director of the dub is Maki's voice actor, Caitlin Glass.
    • The training schedule Dia used in Episode 10 is the exact same one Umi drew up in Episode 10 of the first series, just with an "Aqours" label stuck over "µ's".
    • At the very end of Episode 12, Chika suddenly sees a feather slowly falling from the sky, grabs it while looking rather stunned and then smiles as she holds it; this final shot is extremely similar to Love Live's second season ED, where several feathers fell from the sky and each episode had a different girl grabbing one of them and smiling at the camera.
    • Season 2 as a whole tends to reference other canons and supplementary material much more than Season 1, such as showing Mari's taste in Industrial Metal and pointing out Hanamaru's dislike of noodles. Ruby is also mentioned to have designed the outfits worn for "MY Mai TONIGHT", a character trait from Dengeki canon that was originally thought to have been discarded since You typically fills the position of costume designer in the anime.
    • The latter half of Season 2, Episode 4 is one big reference to the "Koi ni Naritai AQUARIUM" PV, as it features Aqours working part-time at the Izu-Mito Sea Paradise, complete with similar outfits. You even dresses as Uchicchii, as in the PV.
    • In Season 2 Episode 5, Riko's drawing of Anko resembles a real drawing of a dog Rikyako sketched in an interview.
    • In Season 2 Episode 7, You and the rest of Aqours perform an animated version of Shuka Saito's call and response used in live Aqours concerts.
    • In the "Welcoming Sarah and Leah with Hospitality!" audio drama, Ruby is dressed in a coelacanth costume, which pokes fun at the infamous April Fools' Day puppet show.
    • The subunit versions of "Hop! Step! Wai!" feature the subunit performing their subunit stage introduction in the middle of the song, capped off with the subunit shouting "Hop! Step! Wai!" at the end.
    • A series of special nesoberi keychains released for Comiket 94 feature all of the Aqours nesos with sleeping faces except Mari, who is wearing the anime eyepatches from Season 1 Episode 10.
  • Necktie Leash: There's one instance where Dia pulls Mari toward her by her neckerchief when Mari entertains a distraction. Unlike most examples of this trope, neither is a man, and Dia's hardly the one with the control in the relationship.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Being in an old, poorly lit Buddhist temple, where there's creaking noises, freaks out Kanan, of all people; she tries to hug a random pillar for comfort, then later tries to hug Dia.
    • After declaring she's not afraid/they can't be that high up, Kanan looks down the glass floor at Goryokaku Tower and ends up hugging Mari.
  • Not So Different: Ruby's character arc in Season 2 involves her and Leah Kazuno realizing that they're actually quite similar to each other; namely, both of them realizing that much of their lives revolve around their older sisters and that they're worried about what they'll do when their sisters can't be there for them anymore. Subsequently, their shared arc involves the both of them trying to step out of their older sisters' shadows and become independent.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Chika remarks this of Uchiura, though that is likely about to change with the founding of Aqours and the popularity it has been garnering.
  • Off-Model:
    • There's a particularly bizarre continuity error in season 1 episode 1 during the pier scene. Riko jumps straight off the pier, running full tilt, and Chika catches her... with both of their feet planted firmly on the ground. This later gets a reference in season 2 episode 1, in which Chika jumps off the pier and is caught by Riko, but suddenly went from facing the sea to facing away from the sea and appears to have never jumped despite doing so three seconds ago.
    • There is a scene in season 1 episode 9 where Mari's tie is mistakenly colored yellow like the first year tie, instead of being teal.
    • In season 2 episode 8, while the three unnamed idols ask Aqours for a picture, Mari's white winter coat becomes the same shade of brown as the rest of the girls' coats. The coat turns back to white for the picture itself and afterwards.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The coelacanth in the April Fool's puppet show and that Ruby holds in one piece of artwork is an actual stuffed animal sold in Japanese stores predating the Love Live franchise.
  • Once a Season: The girls visit a city during each Sunshine!! season, with the episode title being the name of the city.
  • One-Gender School: Just like Otonokizaka, Uranohoshi is an all-girls' school.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Any time Mari drops her broken Engrish-laden Japanese and accent usually indicates that something serious, dramatic, or depressing is happening.
    • Played for Laughs in Dia's Character Focus episode in season 2, where she tries to be friendly to the other members in order to warm up to them. Everyone is slightly terrified because Dia not being Dia freaks them out a little.
  • Out of Focus:
    • Season 2 episode 2 pushes Chika, Riko, and You out of the way to focus on the first years and the third years, who need to figure out how to bond to write their own song for Love Live!
    • Season 2 Episode 9 reduces the screentime for the 2nd and 3rd years (except Dia and Chika) to scene cuts that occur periodically throughout the episode. They come back by the end of the episode for the insert song.
  • Performance Anxiety:
    • In a flashback, Riko is revealed to have suffered this during a piano performance as an Otonokizaka student, leading her to give up playing the instrument at large.
    • Subverted with the third years. This initially seems to be the reason why they failed as school idols two years ago, but it turns out that the reason they didn't perform was because Kanan deliberately didn't sing out of consideration for Mari's injury, as well as to disband the group so Mari could go study abroad after constantly refusing to do so she could keep being a school idol.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Episode 9 reveals that two years ago, Kanan deliberately did not sing during the third years' performance in Tokyo out of consideration for Mari, who had injured her ankle and insisted on still performing. As Mari was expected by her family and school to go abroad to study but kept refusing, Kanan put on a cold front and decided to disband the group in order to force Mari to do so, concerned that the former was sacrificing her future prospects by staying in Uranohoshi. This led to Mari leaving the country with the perception that her friends had abandoned her. For her part, Mari wanted nothing more than to continue being school idols with Dia and Kanan and refused to go abroad because she did not want to. The failure of all parties involved to communicate their feelings clearly led to their estrangement in the present day, which went unresolved until Chika forcefully sat them all down to discuss it.
    • In Episode 11, intending to prevent this from happening to the second years, Mari advises You to talk her feelings out with Chika.
  • Previously On: Each episode starts with a brief recap of the events that occurred in the previous episode. Exceptions:
    • S1 Episode 4: Hanamaru opens her diary, recounts her younger days and how she came to be fascinated by books, and her encounter with Ruby.
    • S1 Episode 8: Aqours watches Saint Snow perform in the Love Live selections.
    • S1 Episode 9: A flashback of Dia, Kanan, and Mari after their failed performance in Tokyo, where Kanan contemplates retiring from idolhood, and insists that Mari go study abroad.
    • S1 Episode 11: The rest of Aqours see Riko off as she travels to Tokyo to participate in a piano competition.
    • S2 Episode 3: Mari answers the phone call she got at the end of the previous episode.
    • S2 Episode 9: Ruby and Leah stand back-to-back in the street. The episode then shows How We Got Here.
  • Product Placement:
    • Noppo, a local bread treat, is featured in Episode 7, where Aqours' schoolmates give the group a whole bag to munch on during their trip to Tokyo. Hanamaru is also seen eating a single treat in Episodes 9 and 12.
    • Another example crops up in Episode 10, where Yoshiko reveals that she flavored her "Tears of a Fallen Angel" with Tabasco sauce.
  • Pun: Guilty Kiss' stage introduction, "Ai koso subete, GUILTY KISS", is wordplay on the word "ai" for "love" and the fact that all three actresses have "ai" in their names.
  • Punny Name:
    • The Japanese name for Mari's Stewshine is a pun; in Japanese, it's called "シャイ煮", which is quite literally a portmanteau of "shiny" and "nimono", and is pronounced exactly the same way as Mari's "Shiny!" catchphrase.
    • Likewise, You's special yakisoba is called "You-kisoba", which is a play on "yakisoba", "yousoro", and You's name.
    • The song "Sakana ka Nanda ka?" puns Kanan's name in the middle of the title.
  • Puppet Show: One was made as an April Fools' joke in 2017.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The 3rd years, who comprised the original Aqours, are eventually recruited into the new Aqours, thus reforming them in a sense. However, it takes a whole lot of convincing, including resolving a subplot, to make it happen.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Since Love Live's popularity exploded thanks to the events of the original anime, there are now a lot more people participating every year. This however also means that there is now a higher expectation for new applicants to step up their game; having pure determination is no longer enough to get through into the next rounds. The first time that Aqours participates in Love Live!, they end up coming in 30th out of 30 participants despite putting on an amazing performance. Likewise, even though they sing their hearts out, the first time they participate in the Love Live! prelimanaries they don't advance into the next round.
    • Unlike Otonokizaka High, which was situated in the middle of Tokyo, Uranohoshi Girls' High School is in the middle of a rural fishing town, situated far from other cities, and requiring a lot more effort to go to school there. Which means it's no wonder that, even with Aqours' growing popularity, many people would be reluctant to go to such an out-of-the-way area just to go to school. Ultimately, even though Aqours is able to pass the preliminaries and enter the Love Live! finals, they are unable to get the 100 perspective students they needed in the time required and thus Uranohoshi will be forced to merge with another high school and shut down.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Some of the music tracks in the original Love Live! were reused in Sunshine!!
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: When the 1st years and the 3rd years have to team up to create a song for the Love Live! prelims, Dia and Ruby quickly realize that this is essentially the core dynamic between the two groups: Hanamaru and Yoshiko are more reserved and prefer more relaxing indoor activities, while Mari and Kanan are more outgoing and energetic and prefer to stay active. Only Dia and Ruby seem to get along due to being sisters, so their problem involves trying to get everyone to meet in the middle to put their heads together and create something.
  • Running Gag:
    • Riko's interactions with dogs, mainly Shiitake, which get progressively funnier and funnier. She's slowly gotten used to them after the events of S2 episode 5, though.
    • Season 2 replaces Riko's dog gag with her "diamond" face.
    • In drama CD's and live intermissions, Hanamaru tends to demonstrate her unusual knowledge and fascination with military forces from various time periods, which often works its way into the gags.
  • Saving the Orphanage: While this isn't their goal initially, when Chika catches wind that Uranohoshi is in the process of being shut down and its population merged with a school in Numazu, Chika decides to make their idol group successful to save Uranohoshi, and believes that since μ’s did it, Aqours can do it too. Unfortunately, despite repeated extensions and Aqours' rising popularity, they miss their mark by the tiniest margin. Chika and Mari take it very badly.
  • Scenery Censor: During the bath scene in the second episode of season 2, Hanamaru is close to the camera. Mari and Kanan's heads are seen behind her, then Hanamaru moves a bottle of soap to the other side of the screen in front of Dia who then stands up.
  • School Festival: Aqours puts one together with the help of the other Uranohoshi students in episode 11 of season 2. However, despite the lighthearted antics that are typical of school festival episodes, it's still tinged with sadness since this is more of a "the school is closing" festival than a cultural festival; it's the last festival the school will have before it shuts down.
  • Schoolgirl Series: As with the original series.
  • Sequel Escalation: While it isn't touched upon until later in the season, Dia explains that the competition in the Love Live had grown greatly since the first because of its level of success. The number of entrants in the previous year's Love Live, for example, was over ten times that of the first, so winning the Love Live now would basically mean surpassing over ten times the number of groups that A-RISE or µ's did in the past. Sarah Kazuno of Saint Snow even states that some school idols can apparently sing and dance as good as professional idols.
  • Sequel Hook: The finale of Season 2 sees Aqours going their separate ways but with the prospect of sticking together and finding each other again despite that. Sure enough, much like the first series, a movie has been announced which will likely wrap up the last of Aqours' story.
  • Sex Sells: In Season 1 Episode 10, Dia's plan to make the Takami family's shop popular involves making Kanan pass out flyers in an attempt to attract customers with her figure. It ends up that Chika asked some friends to visit the shop anyway, so the plan doesn't happen.
  • Ship Tease: The entire series is stuffed with it, which is partly due to the producers trying to throw some bait for its target audience. It's particularly egregious with Riko, who is teased with three different characters; her relationship with Chika forms a major crux of the plot in Season 1, there is a Filler episode in Season 2 explicitly dedicated to shipping her with Yoshiko, and in the final episode You declares her love to Riko, which is framed under the pretense of a Call-Back and is supposed to be non-romantic but is pretty obviously made to tease that ship as well.
  • Shockingly Expensive Bill: In addition to being prepared by Mari, a Cordon Bleugh Chef, this is probably the reason the "stewshine" failed to sell, being 100,000 yen a bowl.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns:
    • Mari's silly antics and strange way of speaking drop when the third years' subplot starts to take over the middle of the first season. Additionally, quirkier characters like Yoshiko, who aren't important to the subplot, are given noticeably fewer lines as well. Once the subplot is resolved, they immediately return to prominence.
    • Zigzagged in Season 2. Due to the heavier drama focus, some characters get scaled back quite a bit, like Mari, who noticeably loses her groping habit that was evident in the first season. The exception is Yoshiko, who got subject to Flanderization and turned into a comedy relief character.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sleep Cute:
    • In the end of the first PV, Chika falls asleep on the bus, which runs over a bump and nudges her to fall on Riko as in this trope. Riko is awake, but decides to lean her head on Chika's in the last few moments of the video.
    • Several other instances of this happen in the background with other members of Aqours during scenes taking place in buses and trains.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: One of the main concepts of Sunshine!! that becomes more apparent later in the series is that it approaches both its core conflict (the school closing) and overarching plot points with a realistic outlook, as opposed to School Idol Project, which is generally more idealistic. This is best exemplified in the entirety of Season 2; while the overarching plot in SIP Season 2 was pushed into the background in favor of more character-driven stories (due to the school already having been saved by that point), Sunshine!! Season 2 plays up the core conflict as a very real thing that might happen and is constantly hanging over everyone's heads, and in the end, despite their best efforts, Reality Ensues and they can't save their school.
  • Spinoff: One to the Love Live! franchise.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The Third-Years get far and away the dominant amount of focus throughout the series.
  • Stepford Smiler: Both Chika and Mari attempt to put up a brave face at times to hide the extreme amounts of emotional pressure they're under. This aspect of Chika's personality is explored in Episode 8, in which it's revealed that Chika tries to repress her feelings of frustration out of fear that if she doesn't uphold her cheerful personality to lead Aqours, the group would internally collapse.
  • The Stinger:
    • S1 episode 1 ends with a Mood Whiplash, where Riko is invited by Chika to become a school idol. The former smiles, but then apologizes.
    • The scene after the credits of the Puppet Show shows the first-years leading a coelacanth march, followed by a This Is a Work of Fiction disclaimer.
    • At the end of Season 2 Episode 11, Aqours' name in the sand at the end of the credits is washed away by the waves, and the scene cuts to the second chorus of "Yuuki wa Doko ni? Kimi no Mune ni!" being performed by everyone at the school festival.
  • Thanking the Viewer: The songs "Thank You, FRIENDS!" and "No. 10", which are explicitly about Aqours' fans.
  • This Is the Part Where...: In S2 episode 6, with five friends at her side, Chika still can't pull off a really hard move. She yells that it's supposed to be the part she would do it. And then the other three arrive...
  • Title Drop: S2 episode 6: "Aqours Wave" is name-dropped within the episode.
  • Title Scream: The cut to commercial is prefaced by the words "Love Live! Sunshine!!" appearing onscreen with Aqours shouting the show's name. However, in more serious episodes (like Season 2 Episode 7), the cut to commercial will be completely silent instead to avoid Mood Whiplash.
  • Time Skip:
    • The cover for a magazine celebrates the Love Live's fifth anniversary. Since the first and second Love Lives, won by A-RISE and µ's respectively, happened in the same year, this implies a time skip of at least four years between the end of the second season of the original Love Live anime and the beginning of this one.note 
    • The Season 2 finale takes place the Spring after the Love Live! finals, and doubles as a Whole Episode Flashback, as Chika reminisces about the group's times at Uranohoshi High.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Overlaps with Flashback Cut because of how short it is, but it follows the trope in that it begins happy before everything goes bad. Mari, Kanan and Dia do a pre-performance routine behind a curtain while we hear audience cheers, and they nod at each other before the curtain rises. Kanan, who was in the center, turns around, freezes, and stops smiling, the cheering disappears, and we only see their backs while Mari and Dia look at Kanan in dead silence.
  • Trying Not to Cry: During the finale of Season 2, Aquors promises not to cry while facing the downfall of their school and Chika is quick to affirm it when tenderhearted resident crybaby Ruby is the first to buckle. Predictably, Chika herself breaks down and throughout the episode several other girls follow suit, tears all around.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The main plot follows Chika and the rest of Aqours over the course of their idol activities, while the subplot follows the third years each reacting differently to the progress of the group while dealing with the repercussions of their falling out two years ago.
  • Unmoving Plaid: This is used for the glitter effect on the costumes for "Awaken the power". This is only used in 2D drawings, and still it's spectacularly unnoticeable. Yet since there's a trend of all Love Live! concert scenes to have the same, or even more, CG scenes put into them, this is even less noticeable.
  • The Unreveal: In Season 2 Episode 11, Chika asks Yoshiko to tell her the future of Aqours. Yoshiko prepares to tell her, and... scene cut.
  • Vertigo Effect: Kanan looks down the glass floor at Goryokaku Tower. The background (outside) quickly zooms out while the foreground (floor) slowly zooms in, to show how she feels being so high up above the ground.
  • Watching the Sunset: Chika and Riko watch the sunset on the beach while Chika explains her motivations for forming an idol group. Later, Riko watches it on her own while reflecting on a botched performance in her past, for a song with oceanic themes.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 8. Aqours fails terribly at the Tokyo performance. Cue them having to deal with the emotional consequences of the event.
    • Episode 9. The end of third years' arc, setting Mari, Dia, and Kanan to finally join Aqours.
    • S2 episode 2. Mari's father gives her a stern warning: they must get at least 100 prospective students or Uranohoshi will be closed down, no matter what happens with Aqours in Love Live!
    • S2 episode 7. Even after Aqours passes the preliminaries, they fail to get enough prospective students. The girls, especially Chika and Mari, are distraught.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The first season's plot revolves largely about Aqours trying to follow in µ's footsteps, so naturally, the plot for most of the first season is pretty much copy-pasted as well. However, Episode 8 invokes Reality Ensues, and that's where Aqours begins to find their footing.
  • With Lyrics: The song "Kiseki Hikaru" from the 7th Blu-Ray is based on some of the anime's background tracks, most notably the recurring track "Let's Make a Miracle!" that appears regularly throughout the series.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Pretty much every time it looks like the girls are getting close to saving their school, it turns out they haven't.
  • You Are Fat: Played for Laughs as part of a Bait-and-Switch in Season 2 Episode 9. The episode and the episode before it went whole hog on demonstrating Hanamaru's Big Eater tendencies... but when the aforementioned gag came into play, it was Yoshiko who was accused of being heavier than the others (despite having nearly the same body type as everyone else), due to her and Leah's combined weight being heavier than Hanamaru and Ruby's.
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