Honoka Kōsaka is a girl who belongs to Otonokizaka Academy. When the school is planned to be closed down due to a lack of applicants, Honoka becomes determined to save it. Honoka goes to UTX, where her little sister planned to go for high school, and sees a crowd watching a music video of A-Rise, UTX's school idol group. Learning that school idols are popular, Honoka and her friends follow A-Rise's footsteps to start a school idol group called μ's (ミューズ, Myūzu, pronounced "muse") to attract new students. Once they successfully prevent Otonokizaka Academy from closing, the girls from μ's aim for higher grounds and participate in Love Live, the ultimate school idol competition featuring the best groups in the country. Despite winning the competition, the girls from μ's disband soon after for their own personal reasons.
Where appropriate, plot descriptions mentioned below refer to the anime television series. Other parts of the franchise, such as the manga and novel series, feature some variations in the storyline.Honoka Kōsaka (高坂 穂乃果, Kōsaka Honoka)
Voiced by: Emi Nitta (Japanese); Marieve Herington (English)
Honoka is the main character of the series, and is a second-year student at Otonokizaka Academy. Her family works in a wagashi
shop named Homura. She loves singing and has a cheerful and bubbly personality and she never gives up on anything, to the point of usually overexerting herself. She is shown to be lazy and reluctant to do work, but is highly driven when it comes to her school idol activities. Her hobbies include swimming and collecting stickers. She is the leader of μ's, and is seen taking center position in some of the group's songs. She later succeeds Eli as student council president.
Eli Ayase (絢瀬 絵里, Ayase Eri)
Voiced by: Yoshino Nanjō (Japanese); Erica Lindbeck (English)
Eli is Otonokizaka Academy's third-year student council president who is determined to save the school. Although she opposes Honoka's plan at first, she ends up becoming the second to last girl to join μ's. She is part Russian because of her grandmother, and tends to say the Russian word "хорошо" (IPA: [xərɐˈʂo]
; pronounced horosho
, "good"). She is extremely talented, excelling at academics and athleticism, and is able perform her duties as the student council president flawlessly. Eli's specialty is quilting, and her experience with ballet qualifies her as the group's choreographer.
Kotori Minami (南 ことり, Minami Kotori)
Voiced by: Aya Uchida (Japanese); Cristina Vee (English)
Kotori is Honoka's classmate and childhood friend, who is the daughter of Otonokizaka Academy's chairwoman, whom she closely resembles. She is known for having her head in the clouds despite holding responsibility as the group's wardrobe supervisor and choreographer. She is very considerate of the feelings of the people around her, but also indecisive and prone to going with the flow. She later becomes part of the student council and assist Honoka and Umi in doing their student council duties.
Umi Sonoda (園田 海未, Sonoda Umi)
Voiced by: Suzuko Mimori (Japanese); Kira Buckland (English)
Umi is Honoka's classmate and childhood friend who is a member of the school's kyūdō
club, in which she is quite accurate. She believes Honoka is bossy and pushy, but realizes the perks of having an adventurous friend, usually acting as the voice of reason for her. She is the main lyricist of the group. As the daughter of an iemoto
mother and a shihan
father, Umi has expertise in kendo
, and nichibu
. Umi is said to be very scary by Kotori when her sleep is disturbed by others during the training camp with the members of μ's. She later succeeds Nozomi as the student council vice president.
Rin Hoshizora (星空 凛, Hoshizora Rin)
Voiced by: Riho Iida (Japanese); Faye Mata (English)
Rin is an athletic first-year student skilled in hurdling, association football and basketball. Like Honoka, Rin has a cheerful personality but loses motivation easily and is a tomboy. She is best friends with Hanayo, who she tends to look after, and has a habit of ending her sentences with "-nya" (the Japanese equivalent of meow). She has a complex about looking "cute" due to an incident in her childhood in which several boys made fun of her for attempting to dress more feminine. She is eventually able to get over it with the help of her friends and expresses her femininity more.
Maki Nishikino (西木野 真姫, Nishikino Maki)
Voiced by: Pile (Japanese); Caitlin Glass (English)
Maki is a first-year honor student who comes from a wealthy family of doctors. She is a talented singer and pianist, but is expected to become a doctor and inherit her parent's hospital, which causes her to refuse joining μ's at first. She is initially haughty and standoffish, but eventually warms up to the group over the course of the series. Maki is the main composer and vocal coach of the group. She later becomes the vice president of the Idol Research Club.
Nozomi Tojo (東條 希, Tōjō Nozomi)
Voiced by: Aina Kusuda (Japanese); Laura Post (English)
Nozomi is the third-year student council vice-president, and the oldest of the group. She acts as the voice of reason to Eli, who was the first friend she made after spending her whole school life transferring from one place to another due to her parents' work, choosing to live by herself in order to stay in Otonokizaka. She also acts as the spiritual leader of the group, and has an almost all-knowing vibe to her, acting when she knew things got too far and even naming the group based on events that were yet to happen. Although she is not from that region, Nozomi speaks in Kansai dialect. Her hobby is fortune-telling, and she uses it to quickly fit in at a new school whenever she is forced to move. Despite having a serene personality, she has a rather mischievous side to her, and is prone to groping the other girls when she finds them distracted or depressed in a form of "cheering them up".
Hanayo Koizumi (小泉 花陽, Koizumi Hanayo)
Voiced by: Yurika Kubo (Japanese); Xanthe Huynh (English)
Hanayo is a first-year student interested in drawing and origami. She is referred to as Kayo, an alternate reading of the kanji in her name. Her closest friend is Rin, who is her childhood friend. She has an extreme fondness for rice and eating in general, and is a shy person at heart. Prior to joining μ's, she had poor self-esteem and was prone giving up easily. She has dreamed about being an idol since she was little and her catchphrase is, "Somebody, please help me!" or a variation depending on the media. She later becomes the president of the Idol Research Club.
Nico Yazawa (矢澤 にこ, Yazawa Niko)
Voiced by: Sora Tokui (Japanese); Erica Mendez (English)
Nico is a third-year student interested in fashion, and thus acts as the group's wardrobe supervisor alongside Kotori. She has the strongest desire to become an idol out of everyone in μ's, and has tirelessly worked hard in order to achieve her goal. However, much to her chagrin, Nico is childlike in appearance and behavior despite her age, looking much younger than the rest of the group. Nico formed the Idol Research Club, but all of her club members left one after another because of her high standards. When Honoka and her friends ask her to have the club as μ's base of operations, she is reluctant at first, doubting how far they are willing to go to become successful idols, until she approves of their effort and eventually joins the group. She has a tendency of acting like a big shot and constantly craves attention, but is deeply caring of the people around her. Unlike the other members of the group, she has an idol persona, and tends to invoke her catchphrase, "Nico Nico Ni" with an accompanying pose. After she graduates, she passes on the role of club president to Hanayo. Nico's three younger siblings are Cocoa Yazawa (矢澤 ココア, Yazawa Kokoa)
(Voiced by: Sora Tokui (Japanese); Janice Kawaye (English)
), Cocoro Yazawa (矢澤 ココロ, Yazawa Kokoro)
(Voiced by: Sora Tokui (Japanese); Stephanie Sheh (English)
) and Cotaro Yazawa (矢澤 虎太郎, Yazawa Kotarō)
(Voiced by: Sora Tokui (Japanese); Julie Ann Taylor (English)
). She is a very good cook.
Yukiho Kōsaka (高坂 雪穂, Kōsaka Yukiho) is Honoka's younger sister who often does embarrassing things in private. Voiced by: Nao Tōyama (Japanese); Christine Marie Cabanos (English)
Alisa Ayase (絢瀬 亜里沙, Ayase Arisa) is Eli's younger sister who is a big fan of μ's. Having mostly lived abroad due to her being part-Russian, she is unfamiliar with many Japanese customs. Like her sister, she tends to say the Russian word "хорошо" which means good. Voiced by: Ayane Sakura (Japanese); Brianna Knickerbocker (English)
Tsubasa Kira (綺羅 ツバサ, Kira Tsubasa) is the leader of rival group A-Rise and is a student at UTX High School. Voiced by: Megu Sakuragawa (Japanese); Cassandra Morris (English)
Erena Toudou (統堂 英玲奈, Tōdō Erena) is a member of A-Rise with a more adult look than the others and is a student at UTX High School. Voiced by: Maho Matsunaga (Japanese); Erika Harlacher (English)
Anju Yuuki (優木 あんじゅ, Yūki Anju) is a member of A-Rise with a princess-like demeanor and is a student at UTX High School. Voiced by: Ayuru Ōhashi (Japanese); Corina Boettger (English)
Since the first issue of ASCII Media Works' Dengeki G's Magazine was published, the editors of the magazine have hosted reader participation games whose development is directly influenced by the people who read the magazine. The project was first announced in the July 2010 issue of Dengeki G's Magazine, which revealed that the magazine would be collaborating with the anime studio Sunrise and the music label Lantis to co-produce the project. The project officially began with the August 2010 issue of Dengeki G's Magazine, which introduced the story, characters, and a more detailed explanation of the project. The original plan for the story was written by Sakurako Kimino, who also writes the short stories for Love Live! featured in Dengeki G's Magazine. Original character design and illustrations are provided by Yūhei Murota.
Starting in August 2010, online mobile phone popularity contests have periodically been held to rank the characters, which influences the positions of the idols in the anime music videos produced by Sunrise. For example, the idol who ranks first in a given contest will be in the center position in the front row in the music video that follows. Other polls are used to determine different aspects of the idols, such as hairstyles and costumes. Starting with the November 2010 issue of Dengeki G's Magazine, readers were polled to determine the name of the idols' group. After the editors narrowed it down to the five most popular names, readers were polled for a final time, ultimately choosing the name μ's. A similar polling system was used to determine the names of the three mini units: Printemps, BiBi and Lily White.
A manga adaptation titled Love Live!, written by Sakurako Kimino and illustrated by Arumi Tokita, began serialization in the January 2012 issue of Dengeki G's Magazine. The manga ended serialization in the magazine's May 2014 issue and was transferred to Dengeki G's Comic starting with the June 2014 issue. The first tankōbon volume was released on September 27, 2012, and three volumes have been released as of May 27, 2014. The second manga titled Love Live! School Idol Diary, written by Kimino and illustrated by Masaru Oda, began serialization in the June 2014 issue of Dengeki G's Comic. The first volume of School Idol Diary was released on September 26, 2014.
A light novel series titled Love Live! School Idol Diary is written by Kimino and contains illustrations by Yūhei Murota, Natsu Otono and Akame Kiyose. ASCII Media Works published 11 volumes between May 30, 2013 and August 29, 2014. A fan book titled History of Love Live! was released on September 10, 2014, which features the Love Live! articles published between the July 2010 and February 2013 issues of Dengeki G's Magazine.
A 13-episode anime television series, produced by Sunrise and directed by Takahiko Kyōgoku, aired in Japan on Tokyo MX between January 6 and March 31, 2013 and was simulcast by Crunchyroll. The opening theme is "Bokura wa Ima no Naka de" (僕らは今のなかで, lit. "We're Living in the Moment") and the ending theme is "Kitto Seishun ga Kikoeru" (きっと青春が聞こえる, lit. "Surely Our Youth Can Be Heard"); both are performed by μ's (Emi Nitta, Aya Uchida, Suzuko Mimori, Yoshino Nanjō, Pile, Riho Iida, Aina Kusuda, Yurika Kubo and Sora Tokui). An original video animation episode was released on November 27, 2013. A second season aired on Tokyo MX between April 6 and June 29, 2014, also airing on TV Aichi, Yomiuri TV, and BS11, and was simulcast by Crunchyroll. The opening theme is "Sore wa Bokutachi no Kiseki" (それは僕たちの奇跡, lit. "That Is Our Miracle") and the ending theme is "Donna Toki mo Zutto" (どんなときもずっと, lit. "Always No Matter What"); both are performed by μ's. An animated film titled Love Live! The School Idol Movie was released in theaters on June 13, 2015. It was released on Blu-ray in Japan on December 15, 2015.
Both anime series and film are licensed in North America by NIS America, who released the premium edition of the first season on Blu-ray on September 2, 2014 and an English dubbed version was released with the standard edition of the first season, along with the premium edition of the second season, on February 14, 2016, as well as the standard edition of the second season on April 12, 2016. The series also began airing on Mnet America from February 5, 2016. The film was released in North America by NIS America on June 28, 2016 in a premium edition, and July 26, 2016 in a standard edition, both with an English dub. MVM Entertainment released the first series in the United Kingdom on July 27, 2015 on DVD, with plans to release it on Blu-ray Disc in 2016 with an English dub. MVM Entertainment will also release the second series in 2016. Madman Entertainment released the first season in Australia and New Zealand on June 10, 2015 on DVD.
A free game titled Love Live! School Idol Festival was developed by KLab and released by Bushiroad for iOS devices in Japan on April 15, 2013. The game is a collectible card game with elements of rhythm game and visual novel genres. A version for Android was also released. The game was localized into English and released worldwide on May 11, 2014 for both iOS and Android devices, and also received localizations available in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea. At the end of September 2016, the English version of the game will add Korean support due to merging between the two servers.
A series of three rhythm-action video games developed by Dingo Inc., titled Love Live! School Idol Paradise, were released on August 28, 2014 for the PlayStation Vita. The three games were released as Vol. 1 Printemps, Vol.2 BiBi and Vol.3 Lily White. These games sold 88,169 physical retail copies altogether within the first week of release in Japan.
Rin Hoshizora became the new face of the Puyo Puyo games in 2015 as part of a campaign by Sega to market the popularity of the anime by giving her a place on all of their current franchises.
Aside from individual and duet singles, the nine idols of μ's are divided into three mini units with their own singles themselves: Printemps (Honoka, Kotori, and Hanayo), BiBi (Eli, Maki, and Nico), and Lily White (Umi, Rin, and Nozomi). Five of μ's' singles include an anime music video.
Anime News Network had two editors review the first season in 2013: Carl Kimlinger reviewed the first six episodes of the series, finding fault in some of the characters lacking depth and the use of 3D animation in the dancing scenes, but praised director Takahiko Kyōgoku for his use of visuals and for giving a realistic approach to idol groups. Rebecca Silverman reviewed the latter half of the series, criticizing the 3D animation and the characters not breaking stereotypes but found it enjoyable because of its charm and offering viewers some characters they will like, concluding with, "When you're feeling down, give this a watch, because if nothing else, Love Live! has its heart in the right place and only seems to want us to smile." Silverman reviewed the second season in 2014, commenting on its tendencies to get melodramatic and lack of equal attention to the main cast, but praised it for fixing the problems she found in the first season and providing genuine emotion from its characters, saying that "it is a lot of fun and one of the most enjoyable entries into the idol genre, a position it solidifies with this second season."
In 2014, Love Live! won the Anime Work Award in the 19th Animation Kobe Awards, an annual anime event in Kobe, Japan. In 2015, μ's won The Best Singing award in the 9th Seiyu Awards. μ's ranked No. 8 among Oricon's best-selling artists of 2015. The group sold over 800,000 music CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray Discs for over ¥3.15 billion. This is the first time μ's has reached the top 10 in the annual list of best-selling artists. In 2013, μ's was ranked at No. 64, and was ranked at No. 13 in 2014. μ's was ranked No. 10 among Oricon's best-selling artists of 2016, earning about ¥2.54 billion in 2016. μ's is the only female idol group from anime that ranked No. 10 among the top 15 Nikkei Entertainment's Girls Group Ranking in 2016.
Love Live! was ranked No. 1 in top-selling media franchises in Japan for 2016 and ranked No. 4 in 2015. The franchise earned over ¥8 billion in 2016 and ¥5 billion in 2015. This includes the raw yen totals of Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, music CDs, novels, and manga, but not video games, film tickets, digital downloads, and other forms of media sales. In 2016, μ's received the Special Award in the 30th Japan Gold Disc Awards and their second best album Love Live! μ's Best Album Best Live! collection II was also chosen as Animation Album of the Year. The group even dominated Tower Records Japan's anime CD ranking of 2015.
Fans of the English version of the Love Live! School Idol Festival game discovered that most of the homosexual subtext between the various girls depicted in the game were removed. In some instances, overt references to relationships between girls were changed to imply a relationship between a girl and a boy. Klab has since issued a statement on the controversy:
"We have reviewed the English version of Love Live! School Idol Festival in light of our gamers' thoughtful and heartfelt comments. Overall, we think that our localization effectively conveyed both the content and tone of the original. We also think that perhaps we could have done better with the translations of some of the dialogue. We view our relationship with our gamers are [sic] very much a two-way street: we hope to provide fun and entertaining games and are always open to feedback (including constructive criticism) where we can do better."
An update released on June 30, 2015 made adjustments to the translated text to retain their original meanings.