This year’s April Fool’s brought out one of the best things ever from Love Live!: the “announcement” of a new 80s-style action anime called CYaZALEA☆Kiss.
But the Love Live! fandom and the 80s anime fandom generally don’t overlap, so I’m here to explain some of the jokes/references on both sides.
The name itself: “CYaZALEA☆Kiss”
The characters featured in this video are collectively known as Aqours (pronounced “aqua”), and are the heroines of the Love Live! Sunshine!! iteration of the franchise. These nine girls, in turn, are composed of three idol sub-units with their own distinct styles called CYaRon!, AZALEA, and Guilty Kiss. In the “plot” to this video, the three sub-units must join forces, but rather than calling them “Aqours,” their separate group names have just been mashed together.
It’s sort of like if you called the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “Leodonphalangelo.”
The narration is a spoof on Fist of the North Star
The introduction of a post-apocalyptic backdrop set in the year 20XX is a reference to the opening narration of Fist of the North Star, a violent 80s shounen series about a world-saving martial arts hero who can make bad guys explode with his fists. In the anime, the narrator explains how in the year 199X, the Earth was ravaged by nuclear war, setting the stage for the series.
On top of that callback, the over-the-top voiceover featured in CYaZALEA☆Kiss is none other than Chiba Shigeru, the actual narrator from Fist of the North Star! Famously, he’s known for getting more and more ridiculous and impassioned over the course of that series, and he brings that very style to this April Fool’s gag:
The general feel of the opening is an homage to Saint Seiya
From the team aspect, to the outfits the girls wear, to even the swooping logo (featuring 80s cel-animation shakiness), the whole CYaZALEA☆Kiss endeavor is largely based around the 80s shounen manga and anime Saint Seiya. Following a group of heroes who gain special armor and cosmic powers based on the constellations, Saint Seiya is famous for pioneering the “armored pretty boys” genre, and was responsible for bringing many female readers to Shounen Jump.
The general art style is also very reminiscent of the aesthetics of Saint Seiya author, Kurumada Masami.
Sentai colors run amok
At the beginning of the opening video, all the girls in CYaZALEA☆Kiss announce their designated colors, similar to what’s often seen in Super Sentai and other tokusatsu works. But whereas those shows typically have six, maybe seven members at most, there are nine in this case. Not only does this cause a jumbled mess of talking-over, but the actual colors named can get very specific.
Riko: Sakura pink
Kanan: Emerald green
You: Light blue
Mari: Violet red
These are the actual signature colors of their respective characters in Love Live! Sunshine!! too. If you buy a glow wand (or “light blade,” as they’re officially called), it’ll come with all nine of these colors.
Though perhaps not intentional, it also harkens back to the sentai parody anime Shinesman, which featured a team of red, gray, sepia, salmon pink, and moss green.
The character designer and artist for CYaZALEA☆Kiss is a famous 80s manga artist
While the overall look of this parody is based on Saint Seiya, the actual artist himself is not Kurumada but rather Shimamoto Kazuhiko, creator of Blazing Transfer Student and Aoi Honoo, aka Blue Blazes.
Blazing Transfer Student is a ridiculous school fighting manga. Blue Blazes is an exaggerated semi-autobiographical work about Shimamoto’s time in art college, when his classmates included modern anime/manga luminaries such as Anno Hideaki of Evangelion fame. The former received a 1991 OVA by Gainax (the original Evangelion studio), while the latter was adapted into a TV drama in Japan in 2014.
What did you think of CYaZALEA☆Kiss? Did you appreciate it as an 80s anime/manga fan, as a Love Live! fan, or perhaps as both?