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Old 2016-09-05, 22:17   Link #6
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Newfoundland, Canada
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Imagine for a second that you've never watched any Love Live anime episodes, and that you're not at all familiar with its characters. Somebody shows you two sets of screenshots for two different young anime girls. Based on those screenshots, would you say that the two girls are mostly similar, or mostly different? And if different, what would you say those differences are?

Here's Girl A

Spoiler for Girl A screenshots:

And here's Girl B

Spoiler for Girl B screenshots:

In my view, there's some stark differences here. And so it's with this crucial comparison that I put forward my tentative interpretation of Chika Takami's character. Warning: This will be a long post.

I considered putting this in this thread, except I really do intend for this post to be about Chika. I only intend to discuss Honoka's character to the degree that she is important to Chika... but going by my interpretation of Chika's character, that is very important. Now, let's go back over those kid images.

The Girl A (Chika) screenshots are from two different Sunshine episodes. We see Chika sitting all by herself, cheering for her swimming star friend You. Then we see Chika being encouraged by Kanan (off-screen) to jump into the water. It's clear that Chika is a bit afraid to take the plunge.

The Girl B (Honoka) screenshots are taken from Love Live Season 1 Episode 1, and the Love Live Movie. We see an adventurous girl gesturing theatrically as she climbs a tree, leading her two more cautious friends to join her. Then we see that same adventurous girl jump wildly with a very intense look on her face.

These screenshots present two very different girls. And perhaps these screenshots are reflective of who these girls are prior to their respective discoveries of "school idols".

Going by Sunshine Episode 1, Chika's introduction to school idols is through seeing a μ's video on a jumbotron screen. I think Chika was awed by μ's because μ's look like normal girls, but were nonetheless sparkling as school idols. So Chika saw real hope here. Hope for a more colorful life, hope for an escape from normalcy. This is in sharp contrast to Honoka who was searching for something to preserve something that was important to her. Honoka was already content with who she is while Chika was maybe not content with who she is.

The next is a bit of a stretch, but I think it's a logical one - I think that Chika focused on Honoka in particular, if for no other reason than Honoka is the μ's member that looks the most like Chika. Chika saw someone that looks a lot like her, but seemed to be living a dream in Chika's eyes. So because of that captivating similarity/difference mix, Chika took hold of that dream herself, and hoped to become just like Honoka.

And so Chika puts on the "Honoka Kousaka" costume. Chika's yellow "chi" shirt, did she wear that before she saw μ's on video? Or did she get that shirt as a way to be more like Honoka, given Honoka's "ho" shirt?

So Chika decides to be like Honoka. Chika pushes herself to interact more with other people, she pushes herself to put together a school idol group. And for the first 7 episodes, Chika really is loving it, for the most part. Everything is going swimmingly well for the first 7 episodes. Chika is very much enjoying playing the role of 16-year old Honoka Kousaka. Chika really is happy here... but she's also wearing a costume.

Then Episode 8 happens. Then "0" happens. It devastates Chika. That much is crystal clear, of course. But what's less clear is this - Has Chika really, truly bounced back from it yet?

Time for more Chika screenshots!

Spoiler for Sunshine Episode 9:

These 3 screenshots are from early on in Episode 9. It is from a scene of Chika being a good leader, and successfully encouraging the rest of Aqours. But then we see Chika turn around, hide away a little, and show what looks like sadness, or at least real worry.

And here in Episode 10 we see Chika again try to be a good leader for Aqours...

Spoiler for Sunshine Episode 10:

Not 1, not 2, but 3 sweat-drops! Do these sweat-drops subtly reveal something?

For a point of comparison, here is a flu-addled Honoka going against well-reasoned concern/worry coming from 7 other μ's members:

Spoiler for LL Season 1 Episode 11:

So, here's a character speculation - It's not fun for Chika anymore. Or, at least, it's not as fun. This has become more of a burden for Chika and less of a joy. Chika is actually hurting some.

Maybe Chika is just doing what she thinks she should do as "Honoka Kousaka". Chika is now doing this mostly for the sake of her friends and community. She doesn't want to let anybody down! She feels like she has to strongly push forward with Aqours because to give up or show weakness now could hurt all of her new friends, as well as her old friend You. Chika doesn't want to let them down, so Chika is keeping her more insecure feelings to herself. But Chika knows, or at least suspects, that Riko sees beyond Chika's "Honoka" costume. So Chika focuses more on Riko, as a source of cherished new friendship and comfort during a time of struggle for Chika.

Perhaps Chika's real personality is like a cross between Kotori and Hanayo. Chika is a sweet sensitive soul that finds it hard to be a take-charge leader in the aftermath of the painful "0". She's still doing it because she desperately wants to do right by the rest of Aqours.

I'll leave it at here for now. Again, tentative character interpreation. It is certainly possible I'm going a bit too far with it, and Sunshine's remaining episodes could contradict my argument. I would have liked to have had at least one more episode of "nervous leader" Chika for that added bit of evidence, but given recent Chika/You discussion on the Episode 10 thread, I figured now would be a good time to put this character interpretation out there. Because I think Chika is maybe taking more heat than she deserves, and so it might help to explain just how much of a struggle this may have become for her. Trying to be someone else, someone very different from yourself, is often not easy.
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