For the longest time, Idols have always been one of the defining features of Japanese pop culture. Moving in on the popularity, the anime medium has also been dishing out multiple idol projects which have spun out many big hits. “Love Live!”, from a simple magazine-and-fan-based start-up, has blossomed into different media, with CDs, 2 animated seasons and a social app game, amongst others, capturing an enormous fan base in Japan. It has since exploded in popularity amongst the Asian and Western fans as well. Building on their motto, “The story which makes our dreams come true”, the project features many popular songs from 9 schoolgirls from the group “µ’s”.
9 voice actresses were scouted to form the team, not only to act as the voices for the 9 heroines that make up µ’s in the animation, but also to perform “live” as a whole group featuring the same dance steps as the animation to provide two simultaneous experiences for the fans.
On Dec 8th, the social app game “Love Live! School idol festival” achieved the amazing feat of reaching 10 million downloads worldwide.
Along with our media friends, we had the honour to attend a special interview session with Suzuko Mimori (the voice behind Umi Sonoda) and Sora Tokui (as Nico Yazawa) at Anime Festival Asia 2014.
Between the both of you, who is better in the game for “Love Live! School idol festival”?
µµ : That would be definitely Tokui-san.
Did the both of you have any dance lessons before joining µ’s?
Tokui : No, there wasn’t any dance lessons for me and I have never tried dancing before. So it was very challenging for me.
Mimori : For me it’s totally different. I learnt different dances like ballet, tap dancing and jazz when I was around 7. I was doing dance jigs before I debuted as a voice actor, so I actually have a longer career in dancing than as a voice actress (laugh).
Soramaru and Mimorin will be releasing a new single each for BiBi and lily white respectively. Could you share what is the feel for these new singles?
Tokui : BiBi’s first song “Fuyu ga Kureta Yokan” (冬がくれた予感) has the feel of the previous song “Natsu, Owaranai De” (夏、終わらないで). It’s a love story, about someone falling in love, but with very strong emotions portrayed, coupled with BiBi’s feminine style.
The 2nd song “Trouble Busters” is a very lively and happy tune, so I am really looking forward to performing it live on stage.
Mimori : The new song is pretty much a lily white-style song, having a very nostalgic 80’s Japanese idol song feel to it.
The first song “Aki no Anata no Sora Tooku” (秋のあなたの空遠く) is like a sad love story, about a girl who tries to deliver her love to someone she love but is unable to reach him.
The second song “Futari Happiness” (ふたりハピネス) is also quite a slow song, and giving a very strong feeling of a girl’s feeling for someone she likes. I am also very looking forward to perform it live.
As μ’s is a very large group, are there any difficulties for everyone working together in such large group?
Tokui : Not really, it is a very happy and lively group to look forward to each time working with one another when we gather together for dance lesson and recordings.
Mimori : It’s all girls all around, so every time we gather, we talk about fashion and make up. Therefore, there is a lot of girl’s talk involve so it is a very enjoyable moment.
What is your favourite song from the Love Live! School idol festival?
Tokui : A-NO-NE-GA-N-BA-RE! (あ・の・ね・が・ん・ば・れ!) for sure, especially at the last part where it goes “sha ba da do be do ba”!
Mimori : It has to be from Honoka chan and Rin chan’s Mermaid festa vol.2 ~Passionate~.
It has been 5 years since Love Live! started. Do you have any unforgettable moments?
Mimori : There are a lot of memories for me, but the one which is most unforgettable for me definitely is during the recording for “Bokura no LIVE Kimi to no LIFE” (僕らのLIVE 君とのLIFE).
That particular day was very dark and it was raining heavily with incoming typhoon, I got lost and could not find the studio. After finding my way there, I was also not sure of what kind of character Umi-chan was supposed to be at that point in time, so I simply sang it in a lively manner and with full power.
Tokui : I was very happy when Love Live! was announced to have a television series. When the project started, I sang while hoping for the series to be animated one day, so I am very happy that this dream had been fulfilled.
The songs from μ’s have been spread globally, even to the Western countries, what do you think is the main reason that is so?
Tokui : The songs are great!
Mimori : I think so too! Since the songs are filled with emotions, and we try very hard to bring out the feelings of the songs. This is probably be the main reason.
Other than the characters that you are representing, which other character do you like the best?
Tokui : I like Kotori very much! She is very cute and very feminine.
Mimori : I think it should be Rin-chan. She is very tomboyish but she has very feminine side which I feel is similar to me to a certain extent.
What can the fans expect from the upcoming next live?
Tokui : The stage is much larger and the arena capacity is increased compared to the μ’s →NEXT LoveLive! 2014 ～ENDLESS PARADE～ this year. I’m excited and looking forward to enjoying the live together with even more people next year.
Mimori : Now that the second season of the anime has been completed, we definitely have more new songs compared to the last live we did. It will also be nice if we can perform it closer to the audience.
How would you relate yourself to the character you are voice acting?
Tokui : The stubborn side of Nico is definitely similar to me.
Mimori : The serious part of Umi side is similar to me. I have been having dance lessons since young, and similarly Umi also practices Kyudo since young, so the seriousness of Umi when practicing from very early to very late is similar to what I have experienced.
This is the 3rd time Love Live! have been invited to AFA (twice in Singapore and once in Indonesia), are there any plans to go to the next AFA with more members?
Tokui : Hmm, all 9 members have not performed overseas as a group before, so I would be looking forward to perform live to the overseas fans some day.
Mimori : I hope it can be like a graduation trip.
For Tokui-san, do you go “Nico Nico Ni” to people around you from time to time when you are not voice acting?
Tokui : I do! Yazawa Nico have a smile mark as her symbol, so whenever I see any similar marking, I will instantly buy them!
Do both of you have any message for your fans in Asia?
Tokui : A lot of fans have been supporting Love Live!. In fact, I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Love Live was also airing on the television in my hotel room yesterday.
I am also very happy to see many overseas fans are cosplaying as Love Live! characters at events I attended in Singapore.
Do please continue to support us on the Love Live project.
Mimori : Even though Japan and Singapore is separated from air with just only 7 hours, but I feel that we are so much closer because there are many Love Live fans and fans who like anime waiting for us in AFA and calling out for us, it really felt amazing and heartwarming for us.
Do support us if there are more Love Live events that will bring anime fans together in Asia in the future.
What is your favourite food in Singapore?
Tokui & Mimori: 1,2 Fried Hokkien Mee! ! We always tried to find fried hokkien mee when we visit Singapore restaurants in Japan.
About “Love Live!” Project
“Love Live!” is a cross-media project that encompasses the motto “The story which we make our dreams come true.” A youth drama that follows 9 high school girls, it has been developed in various media including TV Anime, CDs including both music and anime trailer video, magazines, comics, mobile phone applications, and card games. It has also been developed through radio programs, live video streams via NicoNico, and through live concerts and events hosted by voice cast.
The 2nd season of “Love Live! School Idol Project”, the project’s TV series, finished airing on TV in June 2014 in Japan. The show is also available in various countries and regions across the world on TV and on the Internet, and its theatrical version is now in production.
Official homepage: http://www.lovelive-anime.jp/worldwide/
That’s all we have from Love Live! μ’s, stay tuned for more from Ani-Culture.net !