A Crunchyroll of the Dice 3rd Play Play-Off: Love Live! School Idol Project vs Kiznaiver

We’re in the home straight now! With only two more battles to in the 2016 edition of ‘A Crunchyroll of the Dice,’ we’re kicking things off with the third place paly-off. As always though, first, I give you … a quick reminder of the rules:

  1. The losing semi-finalists have been paired up for battle, and I will now be watching episode four of each anime
  2. If the series has multiple seasons, I stick with season 1
  3. I have to at least try to watch the episode, no matter what show has made it through

This particular battle is between two very different series. The ever popular Love Live has been a consistently good series thus far that had a little stumble in the last round, but was still pretty good. Meanwhile, Kiznaiver has been a consistently high scorer but has been a little mixed in terms of overall quality for me. Both series were eliminated in the semi-finals after only scoring four points though, so they’re on level pegging in terms of how they exited the tournament. But who will shine through this time? Will Love Live’s consistency be enough to see it through, or will Kiznaiver’s slow improvements give tit eh edge? Let’s find out …

 

Love Live! School Idol Project

ll41We open up with a recap of our intrepid trios less than successful first concert and a reminder that they want to keep going, then cut to Kayo in class thinking about how she wants to be an Idol. She has a little trouble speaking loud enough for the teacher to be happy with her reading and decides that being an Idol is impossible for someone like her. Now that’s just stinkin’ thinkin’, microphones are wonderful things when it comes to volume. Cue the catchy opening theme. It surprises me that this hasn’t grown old for me yet, as it still isn’t my sort of thing musically, but there you go. That’s a testament to the quality I guess. I still want to kill the CG though.

We cut to a shed where the main trio are watching an alpaca. Kotori is particularly enamoured by the beasty, but the others want to hand out fliers as they cannot remain a club without adding two more to their number. There’s some talk about the alpacas being cute, and then they start go mad … well, one licks Kotori, and another growls at Umi. Kayo turns up and calms the situation because looking after alpacas is her job. Honoka recognises her as the sole audience member and immediately starts to try to intimidate Kay into joining the group. Kayo recommends Nishikino, and Honoka agrees that she’s make a good member, then Rin comes and saves Kayo by calling her for PE.

Later, Rin ask Kayo what club she’ll be joining, but Kayo isn’t sure. Rin is joining the Track Club. Rin also figures out that Kayo is considering joining the School Idols. She thinks that Kayo would be a good Idol because she’s cute and would be popular. Kayo asks if she can make a selfish request and says that if she’s going to be an Idol, then she’d like Rin to do it with her. Rin says her hairs too short and she’s not girly enough to be an idol, and we cut to a flashback. When they were tiny, Rin was wearing a skirt that Kayo thought looked cute on her, when some boys wonder by and pass comment about they didn’t know she even owned a skirt because she always wears pants. This embarrasses Rin a bit and so she doesn’t feel like being an Idol would suit her. Kayo spots Nishikino take a sign up leaflet and sees that she’s dropped a book.

ll42Meanwhile, Ayase and Toujou are in with the principal and Ayase is trying desperately to get the School Idol Club closed down. There must be more to this than we’re seeing. The series has been good at setting stuff up thus far, and so I can’t believe that she has such a blind hatred for this. Here’s hoping for some backstory. Anyway, the principal points out that the group aren’t really unpopular, despite their flopped concert. As it transpires, someone recorded the concert and put it online!

Kayo turns up at Nishikino’s house to return the book, but Nishikino is at the hospital right now. Her Mum says that she’ll be back soon but is at the hospital right now. The family run it, and Nishikino will take it over one day. Nishikino turns up and Kayo returns the book, and starts talking about Muse, but Nishikino freaks a little in embarrassment, and falls over, slaying a wild arm chair in the process. Kayo confesses to stalking Nishikino … well, stopping by the music room to listen to her sing in secret, and Nishikino points out that she music career is over already as she’s going to study medicine. She does agree to support Kayo a little if she’s going to be an Idol though. The first half ends with Kayo stopping by the bakery and finding Honoka behind the counter, serving.

Honoka sends Kayo upstairs, and she nearly walks in on Honoka’s sister complaining to herself about her size, then almost walks in on Umi singing and posing. Kotori turns up and they watch the video of the live show. It apparently has a lot of views. Kayo is enamoured by it, and Honoka starts to push her into joining again. Kayo says that she isn’t suited, and the trio confess to their faults in an effort to encourage her. Honoka finally backs down a little and says she can think it over and get back to them. Meanwhile. Nishikino is watching the video and looks pretty upset, likely due to her dreams of being a musician taking a backseat, and Rin is trying on a dress. Kayo looks back over some old photos of herself singing, and we cut to school again. Kayo reads out loud again, a little louder this time, but stumbles over her words. Both Rin and Nishikino look concerned. At lunch, Nishikino tells Kayo that her voice is beautiful, she just needs to practice projecting, and gives her a vocal warm up to try. The two manage to harmonise nicely, and Kayo perks up. Rin turns up and tries to get Kay to come and see the upperclassmen to say that she wants to be an Idol. Nishikino tries to stop her, saying that Rin shouldn’t rush her and should let her gain some confidence first. Rin throws a clear jealousy fit and gets into an argument with Nishikino, which leads to Nishikino accidentally letting slip that she wrote Muse’s song, and the two girls both dragging Kayo through the field. I like this group as dysfunctional alternate trio, and it’s really cool to see the show switch the focus to them so fervently here while still advancing the main story.

ll43Long story short, Rin tells the main trio that Kayo has always wanted to be an Idol, and Nishikino confirms that she has a good voice. Rin and Nishikino both agree that Kayo should do it, albeit for different reasons, and the two girls agree to support her. Kayo finally steps up and, after listing her faults, begs to join the club. Of course, she’s accepted, and that brings the membership up to four. Rin and Nishikino are both crying because they’re happy for Kao, and then get cajoled into joining too by Umi and Kotori. The next morning, Rin and Nishikino are complaining about being up early to train, and they find Kayo ready to go. She’s ditched the glasses to try contacts. The three start to bond a little better, culminating in Rin bounding about and calling Nishikino Maki-chan while pulling a cat face.

Finally, we cut to the twin tailed girl that’s been turning up intermittently since episode one as she leaves mean comments on Muse’s website. Trolls. They get everywhere. In all, that was a major return to form after slipping slightly last episode. The question now is whether Kiznaiver will continue to build on the ground that it made last time … let’s find out!

 

Kiznaiver

kiz41Flashback to open things, and we’re back in Kacchon’s past where he’s told by someone with a Kiznaiver mark on her neck that she’ll get his pain back. He declares that he wants it back with everyone, not on his own, and that gets the girl thinking. Suddenly, she ages, and Kacchon recognises her as Sonozaki. He then awakes in a neck brace with Chidori staring at him. He mutters Sonozaki’s name, so Chidori pulls a Tenga and whomps him. The funky opening comes next, and it’s still a real standout for me in terms of musical style and visuals.

Back from the intro and the gang are discussing how Hisomu seeks out pain. Maki confirms with him that he just wants physical pain that there’s nothing psychological in it for him. He is particular in his tastes though, and prefers sudden pain that he can’t imagine, and doesn’t expect. He gets all aroused again and points out that he ran away because he thought that the unexpected factor would be better if they didn’t know each other. He seems to like Kacchon though, which leaves Tenga to question if Hisomu is gay. Hisomu says that it makes no difference whether he’s connected to a human or an animal, and ponders what pain he’d feel if he were connected with a farm-raised tuna. I’m not sure this is as funny as I suspect it was intended, but it’s interesting at least.

Later, Yuta questions how they’re choosing Kiznaivers and Nico suggests that they’re picking people to see if they can become friends. Maki is displeased that Hisomu is in the group and says that she views everyone as casual acquaintances rather than friends, which upsets Nico. Yuta calls her on it, but she’s not interested. She tells Yuta that he cares too much about looks, and he says that he has his eye on her. There’s a call back to Yuta’s obese past when he tells Maki that her ‘boobs are huge’ and she says that his used to be even bigger. Burn, right there … but Yuta doesn’t care and says he personality is awful.

Back with Kacchon, it is revealed that Hisomu was at the hospital at the same time as everyone else. Flashback time, and Dr Sonozaki gives him a Kiznaiver prescription to help him feel alive. Chidori is annoyed that Kacchon is curious about Sonozaki. It would really help Kacchon’s case if he told her about his dream, but he appears to be too dense. Hisomu wants her to have a fit of jealousy and smash a cup in Kacchon’s face.

kiz42A few days later, perve teacher is sending everyone off for summer, and the students are all talking. Yuta tells his harem that he may be too busy to do much, and then Hisomu turns up in class, drawing the harem’s attention and making Yuta jealous. Nico calms the conflict a little, and the group exchange e-mail addresses … which Nico points out that Maki wouldn’t do with a casual acquaintance. Suddenly, Tenga’s Hulks senses tingle, and he sees Kacchon’s bullies. He wants to give chase, do some clobbering, and get Kacchon’s money back so that he can take fifty per cent (which is more than originally agreed). Suddenly, a level sixty, wild Sonozaki appears. Not having any pokeballs to hand, the group receive a mission instead: A Summer Training Camp!

With the exception of Tenga and Maki, the group are happy to eat the massive bowl of rice in front of them. Sonozaki tells them that if they agree to the camp then they’ll learn a secret about Kiznaivers. She also says that, as the rice bowl is a warm up for the camp, they have thirty minutes to finish or face a 100,000 yen fine. Tenga is suddenly inspired to eat at that, but Kacchon leaves to follow Sonozaki. Chidori catches up just as he invites Sonozaki to the camp. He says that she wanted to connect all of humanity, so that should include her too. He manages to trade e-mail addresses with her, much to Chidori’s horror.

The bullies are in an arcade complaining that they can’t extort money from Kacchon with Tenga around. They consider killing Tenga, but the School Guidance Councillor is behind them and decides to give them advice: how to shoot a real gun! What a weird school. Anyway, Tenga is hungry again after eating the rice. Chidori turns up with food and tries to send Tenga away, but he won’t leave. After Chidori leaves, they open the food and find that Chidori has made food for both of them. We jump forward tot eh morning, where everyone has changed outfit apart from Kacchon because … I don’t know. Maybe his wardrobe is like Doug’s from the old cartoon, and is full of lots of the same outfit? There’s a CG bus with a casual Sonozaki inside, all ready to come along with the group.

The journey gets off to an awkward start with a silence hanging in the air and a jealous rage building in Chidori. Ever the optimist, Tenga decides to break the tension by instigating a game of Shiritori. I have no idea how this game works, but Sonozaki loses, so they start again … and Sonozaki loses again. Let’s do some research … players take it in turns, and each player must say a word that begins with the final letter of the previous word. Only nouns can be sued, words cannot be repeated, and you cannot use words that end in ‘N’, as no Japanese word starts with this letter. Cool, sounds fun. And the name of the game translates to ‘taking the buttocks’, which makes me smile.

kiz43So, with the game falling apart because Sonozaki sucks, Maki reminds her that she agreed to reveal a secret if they went on the camp. She replies that the experiment was carried out by the Kizuna Committee, to which she belongs, and that originally, one third of the city belonged to the committee.  The committee work behind closed doors (by which she means in the Gomorin mascot suits). Lots of people have left the city recently, and the committee has been losing members, but they still continue on. The experiment is backed by multiple parties and … they’ve arrived. The group has to walk the remainder of the way to the camp. Kacchon questions Sonozaki as he thought that she’d decline his invite to the camp, but she says that she was taught to accept kindness form others. Meanwhile, Maki points out to Yuta that Hisomu riles him up a lot. They don’t trust Hisomu. Tenga tells Chidori that she looks ready to kill and asks if she’s sure that she’s not still in love with Kacchon. She punches him, and he says that he’d be willing to help her with Kacchon. Chidori strops off a little then stops and watches Kacchon and Sonozaki walking together. She goes back to Tenga and asks for his help, and he says that she has a cute side, leading to her doing some more punching.

We cut to a speeding van where we see that the guidance councillor has kidnapped the bullies. Eh? Perve teacher is with them, and the bullies have been linked kiznaiver style. And so the episode ends. While a little disjointed at times, that was a fun little romp actually.

 

Let the battle commence!

I will now compare each series on several different aspects. The winning series in each category gets two points, and both series get one point in the case of a draw. The categories are: Best Story Progression, Best Character Progression, Best Individual Scene, Best Character, Best Animation, and Best Soundtrack.

This was an interesting one this time around, as both stories are now hitting their stride nicely. For Love Live, this was always the case, but Kiznaiver is has only just stabilised in my opinion. In terms of comparison, it’s worth noting how different both series are in the story that they’re telling, and in turn why the way they’re doing it seems odd to me. You see, Love Live is actually a pretty laid back tale, yet it’s marching forward in strides each time, while Kiznaiver seems to take it a bit slower, despite feeling like some quicker paced chunks that focus on individuals would benefit it. There’s no denying that they’re both affective at this point though. As far as the story goes, both kinda moved the same distance in that the episodes set up what’s to come (Love Live by growing the band membership and Kiznaiver by changing location) rather than making a full step in the storyline. For that, they draw. Best Story Progression: Draw

So, the big issue that I’ve had with Kiznaiver from the start is how it jumps about without focussing enough on any one character to really give and quick progression. It did take some steps to change that this time around by having Chidori’s jealousy shine through, having her accept that she still has feelings for Kacchon, and showing her embracing Tenga as a friend by not only cooking for him but asking for his help. This is a big step as far as I’m concerned because not only is out of character for the series, but I like both Chidori and Tenga as characters, so it’s good to see them moving forward. Meanwhile, the switch of focus for Love Live meant that we got a lot of stuff about kay, Nishikino and Rin. Rin didn’t really advance per se, but both Nishikino and Kayo took the spotlight as we learned of Nishikino’s future work/life balance, saw Kayo face her insecurities, and started to build friendships with the alternate trio. This is pretty hefty and just about edges it over Kiznaiver, purely for how much the characters were built up, but it was close. Best Character Progression: Love Live

I may get some flak for this, but I don’t honestly think either show had an individual scene that really leapt out this time around. They both had some good moments, with Love Live’s coming from the clash between Rin and Nishikino as they try to support Kayo in their own ways, and Kiznaiver had the closing moments with Chidori and Tenga, but neither set felt as big as some of the others in the tournament. This one’s another draw.  Best Individual Scene: Draw

This one was so close. Despite not being the main focus of the episode, I thought that Nishikino was really well handled in Love Live this time around, and seeing her turmoil about wanting to work in music but feeling obligated to go into medicine was a nice touch that rounds her out as a character. I just can’t not give the points to Tenga though. He continues to be one of the best parts of Kiznaiver for me, and here he showed a lot of different things by bringing the comedy, trying to break an award tension, and stepping up as a friend. For the sheer number of hats that he’s wearing, he takes the points. Best Character: Tenga (Kiznaiver)

Two very different styles on show here, both of which are executed well. The reason that Love Live edges it is that it feels smoother overall. While Kiznaiver has a beautifully stylised feel to it, the animation did feel a little jerky at times, especially when it came to Hisomu. Meanwhile, despite being an older show, Love Live remains consistently strong and avoids feeling as dated as some older shows could. Best Animation: Love Live

This is an odd one to rate because neither series has any background music that really pops for me. In terms of opening and closing songs, both series are good, and neither has anything that’s really bad. It could be argued that Love Live is currently a little over reliant on the (admittedly good) ‘Start Dash’ song, but that’s not enough to drop it down. This one is going to have to be another draw. Best Soundtrack: Draw

 ll44

Final Scores: Love Live – 7 points, Kiznaiver – 5 points

And so Love Live scrapes third place with its third 7 – 5 victory of the tournament. Interestingly, the only time that it didn’t win by this exact margin, it lost 8 – 4 to Flying Witch. That is perhaps a sign of consistency. Anyway, both of these series are thoroughly enjoyable, and are more than deserving of their final placings.

All that remains now is to crown the first Crunchyroll of the Dice champion. Join me next time for the chilled out final battle between Flying Witch and Amanchu!

 

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