Love Live! (ラブライブ!): School Idol Project 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 voice actresses behind the main characters, anime, manga, light novels, and video games.
The Original Series follows the adventures of "µ's" (pronounced "muse"), a fledgling school idol group in Tokyo, as they try to save their school from closing due to lack of students. In 2016, the group has performed their Final Live and is currently on hiatus.
A spin-off sequel called "Love Live! Sunshine!!" started in 2015. It focuses on "Aqours" (pronounced "aqua"), a new school idol group from the remote seaside town of Uchiura. The group has their own discography, live shows, anime and printed media that are separate from their predecessors. They are currently the "face" of the franchise.
In 2017, another franchise spinoff was introduced: "Love Live! Perfect Dream Project", which focuses on nine new and different recruits. However, unlike its predecessors, these nine girls are not a group, but individual acts competing to be the top idol, thanks to audience participation.
The works in this franchise so far are:
- Love Live! School Idol Project: Composed of 26 episodes divided into 2 seasons, a movie and an OVA.
- Love Live! Sunshine!!: Composed of 26 episodes divided into 2 seasons and a movie.
- Anime music videos:
- Bokura no LIVE Kimi to no LIFE: µ's 1st single
- Snow halation: µ's 2nd single
- Natsuiro Egao de 1,2,Jump!: µ's 3rd single
- Mogyutto "love" de Sekkin Chuu!: µ's 4th single
- Wonderful Rush: µ's 5th single
- Kimi no Kokoro wa Kagayaiteru kai?: Aqours 1st single
- Koi ni Naritai AQUARIUM: Aqours 2nd single
- HAPPY PARTY TRAIN: Aqours 3rd single
- TOKIMEKI Runners: Nijigasaki High School Idol Club 1st single
- Love Live! School Idol Project: Alternate Continuity written by Sakurako Kimino and illustrated by Arumi Tokita.
- Love Live! Sunshine!: Alternate Continuity written by Sakurako Kimino and illustrated by Masaru Oda.
- Maru's 4-Koma: Illustrated by Toshio Takenouchi , with scenario written by Sakurako Kimino and character designs by Yuuhei Murota.
- Transfer Student Festival: An official weekly 4-panel webcomic series revolving around the N cards in Love Live! School Idol Festival.
- Various 4-Koma centered around the school idols of Nijigasaki High School.
- Love Live! School Idol Diary: A series of light novels (later adapted to manga) written by Sakurako Kimino and illustrated by Natsu Otono and Akame Kiyose with character designs from Yuuhei Murota. It roughly follows the anime continuity.
- Love Live! Sunshine!! School idol diary: A series of light novels written by Sakurako Kimino and illustrated by Inou Shin and Akame Kiyose with character designs from Yuuhei Murota.
- Love Live! Anthology: A manga anthology drawn by a variety of illustrators, different for each chapter.
- Love Live! Sunshine!! Comic Anthology: A series of anthologies, official compilations of manga by various artists.
- Short stories published in Dengeki's G's magazine or released in booklets with the Blu-Rays.
- Radio dramas included in the singles and albums.
- Love Live! School Idol Festival: A Rhythm Game developed by KLab and released on Android and iOS in Japan in 2013 and overseas with an English localization in 2014. The game focuses on assembling a team of 9 members of varying stats to create an optimal high-scoring team.
- Love Live! School Idol Paradise: Another Rhythm Game developed by Dingo and released on Playstation Vita in Japan in 2014.
- Love Live! School idol festival ~after school ACTIVITY: The arcade spin-off of Love Live! School Idol Festival.
- Puchiguru! Love Live!: Developed by Pokelabo and released on Android and iOS in Japan in 2018, Puchiguru! is a puzzle game starring the adorable nesoberi plushies in digital form, tapping and matching them for the highest score possible. Shut down in May 2019.
- Love Live! School idol festival ALL STARS: An upcoming mobile rhythm RPG game to be released in 2019 that serves as the successor for Love Live! School Idol Festival.
Tropes related to the franchise as a whole:
- Adaptation Displacement:
- Most people (especially in the west) don't know that the franchise originated from a series of music videos with short stories that accompanied them.
- The pre-Anime Manga adaptation (School Idol Diary counts too) is also this in the Western fanbase. Unfortunately, several fans occasionally mistook them as doujins. (And again, not helped to the fact that Anthology manga (officially released manga with chapters contributed by doujin artists) exists as well.)
- All Animation Is Disney: As mentioned in the Adaptation Displacement above, this happens occasionally for Anime-only watchers, mistaking the official manga adaptations for doujins.
- Alternate Continuity: The franchise has a lot of different continuities going on. The anime differs from the earlier days of the franchise on several key points. There are also more recent things such as the novel and the smartphone game School Idol Festival. While heavily based on the anime, they have several notable differences. Nevertheless, the franchise's many continuities do a lot of internal shout-outs.
- Animated Music Video: The franchise started out as a series of these, which were accompanied by short stories that gave backgrounds to the characters. Though the franchise has since expanded into other mediums, music videos are still made alongside the releases of singles.
- April Fools' Day: The franchise loves to celebrate April Fools' Day. Notable entries include the Aqours Puppet Show, the giant Chika Nesoberi in Uchiura, and the child versions of µ's and Aqours in SIF.
- Artifact Title: The group of nine (characters and their respective voice actresses) was initially introduced by the name "Love Live" and the first single, Bokura no LIVE Kimi to no LIFE, was also released under that name. Following an invitation in the November 2010 issue of Dengeki G's magazine for readers to submit suggestions for the name of the group, and a poll in the December 2010 issue, they became known as "µ's". After that point, "Love Live" appeared to have no particular significance aside from being the name of the franchise. However, the anime then re-introduced it as the name of the school idol competition which serves as a plot point for both seasons.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- The original designs for the µ's girls were significantly different, which include less exaggerated and detailed eye designs and more "samey" faces between each of the characters, which made it easier to tell them apart through their hairstyles and hair colors than their faces. In addition, the group was actually called "Love Live!", with their group name of "µ's" being given later following reader polls.
- The Uranohoshi uniforms used by the Sunshine!! cast were originally black in very early promotional material. The year placement of some of the girls were also different prior to the anime.
- Ensemble Dark Horse: The rival groups are as popular as the main group.
- Friendly Fandoms:
- Due to the fact that Love Live! has a Rhythm Game spinoff, Love Live! School Idol Festival, there is some overlap between general rhythm game players and Love Live! fans; in fact, some LL! fans who got into the franchise through SIF end up watching the anime too.
- The fandom also get along well with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure's fans (due to both being currently the popular series in the 2010's), which also resulted in many enormous crossovers. Further cranked Up to Eleven for Sunshine!!, making both of their series' harmoniously blending like coffee and cream, to the point of associating the Love Live! franchise with Jojo, mostly as a "shared universe".
- Ditto to Doki Doki Literature Club!, which is also crossed with a few µ's characters, at least until the 3rd Solo Live Album had Eli (coincidentally) doing the Monika pose.
- Also Ditto to Initial D fans post Sunshine!! Season 2, Episode 10 (mostly during a scene of Mari driving).
- Les Yay: Has a long list of examples for each group, and with ALL STARS, expect more to come.
- LGBT Fanbase: Though the franchise is mainly aimed at a male audience, it's quite popular amongst lesbians and bisexual women (especially on the West), mostly for all the Les Yay between the characters and the pretty outfits in School Idol Festival. This image perfectly sums it up. As a result, a large portion of the fanbase was very upset to find out about KLab's Cut-and-Paste Translation of School Idol Festival, since it removed a lot of the Les Yay. Later they did put the Les Yay back in.
- Minority Show Ghetto: Not the Anime itself, but the Manga adaptation (and in a very lesser extent: the School Idol Diary novels).
- Official Fan-Submitted Content:
- The reason why the franchise is considered community driven is the ability of fans to submit and vote on different content of the franchise such as the group name, sub-unit names and its members, song centers, etc.
- Many doujin artists also submitted their stories for the Anthology manga collection.
- Signature Song:
- "Snow Halation" by µ's. It is arguably the most famous song within the Love Live! discography, and the only one within the fandom to have a consensus on the penlight colors to be used at concerts during the song: White for most of its duration, until the start of the final chorus whereupon everyone switches to orange, an effect meant to mimic the visuals in the original PV video.
- "Bokutachi wa Hitotsu no Hikari", also by µ's. This song is well-known as one of the tearjerking finale songs played in The Movie's final scene.