Non-management: This was an idea that had been tossing and turning my mind for the past few years. Eventually, I became confident enough my writing abilities to turn those ideas into an article. Thankfully, by the time that I stopped clucking, Anime Feminist had established itself as a well-read and well-moderated forum for discourse on all things anime and feminist.
I’d like to give a big thanks to Anime Feminist for commissioning my article. I’d like to also thank laureninspace & joseinextdoor for being my very patient editors. Below is the (summary) short to the article. If you’re interested in reading it, click the link embedded in the title or at the end of the article sample:
“Idols as hope” is an inspiring setup. That is, until it’s undercut by the notion of “idols as product.”
If I were asked to describe Love Live in one word, it would be “optimistic.”
Not “catchy,” though the songs in Love Live are very catchy. Not “silly,” though the shenanigans the characters get into are funny, or “dramatic” though the conflicts they’re written into feel theatrical. That’s because my most striking memory of the show is at its very start, when Honoka and her friends truly believe they can make a difference.
The Love Live girls love their school, which they learn is going to close. School attendance isn’t what it used to be due to Japan’s low birthrate. Boards of Education throughout Japan have decided to shutter the least attended schools so they can merge ever-diminishing student bodies. This is a very real issue, as Japan’s shrinking and aging population is a concern that has plagued the nation for decades. It’s a challenge that still requires a solution.
Love Live frames the immediate conflict of a school shutting down as a symptom of a larger issue within Japanese society. However, rather than wallow in the hopelessness of such a backdrop, the girls of Love Live resolve to save their school by becoming school idols. They hope to compete in and win at “Love Live,” a contest between school idol troupes all over the country. They hope that the fame they acquire from their efforts and victory will attract more people to enroll at their school, and that the enrollment uptick will be enough for their school’s Board of Education to reverse their decision to close it.
They embody hope, and Love Live strives to make this hope relatable to audiences everywhere by embedding it in the girls’ characters. Nico’s facade as vainglorious idol trash is belied by the responsible role model idol that she wants to project to her younger siblings. Nozomi’s guise as a shadowy behind-the-scenes people-fixer brings all the characters together as friends and idols. Honoka is indefatigable to the point of recklessness, and when she finally does collapse due to exhaustion and depression, it’s the very friends she inspired who act as the idols who pick her up.
“Idols as hope” is an inspiring setup. That is, until it’s undercut by the notion of “idols as product…” READ MORE HERE