Aug. 9, 2019, 9:41 a.m.

Hello! My name is Azeku. I recently joined Sukutomo because I wanted to connect with more Love Live! fans, as well as share my own love for the series. This is my first post, and I hope that I will be able to touch at least some of you with what I have to say.

I first discovered the Love Live! franchise around a year and a half ago and instantly fell in love. One of the reasons I did was because of Takami Chika. Although I am a huge manga and anime fan, there are few characters that I feel I can personally identify with. Chika is one of them. This is because at the beginning of Chika’s journey, she was a “normal kaiju” who had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. When Chika first discovered µ’s, she longed to be like them. She saw a group of girls just like her achieve a miracle, and so she believed that if she tried hard enough, she could achieve the same radiance as µ’s. But no matter how much Chika tried to emulate µ’s, she kept failing. During Aqours’s first performance, she wasn’t able to attract enough fans to even be recognized as a club. Later, at a regional competition, she received a grand total votes. And compared to µ’s saving their school within their first season, Chika wasn’t able to save her school, even at the end of her journey. When I first started watching Sunshine, I was in a similar situation as Chika. I was just a young high schooler who had no special talents and who blended in with the crowd. Most of the time, I did what my parents or teachers suggested I do because I did not know what I wanted to do. And if there was something I did want to do, I would try my best at it, but more often than not, fail miserably. For example, when I joined my school’s swim team, I was the slowest one on the team. No matter how fast I swam, I could never catch up to anyone else. Additionally, when my parents encouraged me to try out to be an ocean lifeguard, I was barely able to complete the rigorous run and swim, ending up dead last out of over sixty people. The story of Aqours is based off of real life. Chika taught me that everyone will encounter many failures in trying to reach their goals.

The second lesson Chika taught me was to accept my failures and try again. Even when the generator broke down in the middle of her very first performance, even when she received zero votes in their first competition, even when her school was closed down, even when she didn’t even make the preliminaries of the Love Live! competition, Chika never gave up and always stood back up, no matter what she went through. Chika inspired me so much with her perseverance. It was one thing for me to watch a shounen or isekai hero with great power, skill, and talent persevere through supernatural challenges, but to see a normal high schooler my age stand up against realistic challenges, some of which were similar challenges to what I have encountered, was completely different. If I were in Chika’s position, I would have quit after the first concert. In fact, I was considering quitting the swim team because no matter what I did, I wasn’t good enough. But Chika showed me that even when nothing went my way and even when I was in the shadows of people much greater than I was, I should stand back up, not only to try and reach those above me, but to surpass them. Like she sings in “Yuuki wa doko ni? Kimi no mune ni!,” even though everyone fails sometimes, your dreams won’t ever fade (roughly translated). Chika kept standing up against everything that came her way in order to reach her dreams. When she was not able to perform her flip for MIRACLE WAVE, she kept practicing through her injuries until she was able to successfully perform it. And even after losing in the preliminaries for Love Live!, she came back the next time and was able to win. Chika motivated me to continue swimming and to give my all in doing so. Thanks to Chika, I was able to catch up to my teammates, even become co-captain of the team last year, and even though I missed the selection to be a lifeguard the second time I tried out, I was able to pass the third time! After winning Love Live! and finally reaching her goal, Chika realized that she was happy not because she had accomplished what µ’s had, but because she was able to rebound from her failures and become stronger in doing so. The third lesson that Chika taught me was to enjoy the journey because, as cliche as it sounds, the journey is part of the reward. Even though I was physically and mentally straining myself every day, I eventually started to have fun in the water.

Despite Chika’s overarching story being one of the main factors for why I love her, her personality also has a large contributing factor as well. In various non-plot driven situations of the anime, as well as Sukufesu stories and drama CD’s, her overwhelming positivity and genkiness (is that a word?) are able to shine through. For example, when writing her New Year’s calligraphy or when Hanamaru finds her “lyrics” notebook, her forceful shouts that seem like they are from a fighting game prove how she always gives 100% of her energy no matter what she is doing. Even small things such as her yawning at the same time as Shiitake always cheer me up. Chika is also very caring for her friends and always thinks of them first. While many group leaders can claim to have brought their group together, Chika is also responsible for helping to advance the rest of Aqours’s individual stories. From helping Dia, Kanan, and Mari to reconcile with their past to encouraging Yohane, Hanamaru, and Ruby to come out of their shells and interact more with others, Chika shows that she has the influence, courage, and compassion of a leader. Even in her own birthday story on Sukufesu that was released a few days ago, she wanted to help set up her birthday party so her friends wouldn’t have to work. And although I have historically stayed away from social media outlets due to some people I know having been bullied online, Chika encouraged me to join Sukutomo so I could connect with others who share the same passion as me. Additionally, Inami Anju has one of the best voices I have heard, which helps further enhance Chika’s appeal. Anju/Chika’s voice always shines out, especially during the upbeat and positive “Aozora Jumping Heart,” “Genki Zenkai DAY! DAY! DAY!,” and “Kinmirai Happy End,” during her energetic uplifting solos in “Yuuki wa doko ni? Kimi no mune ni!” and “One More Sunshine Story,” during the relaxing and peaceful “Mattete Ai no Uta,” ‘“MY LIST” to you!,” and “Yozora wa Nandemo Shitteru no?,” and finally during her long powerful notes of “MY MAI☆TONIGHT” and “Thrilling One Way.” In every new Aqours song, I look forward to seeing what this dazzling duo will bring.

I know I wrote a lot, but I wanted to share how much Chika means to me. Chika has inspired me to attempt to sing, to follow seiyuu activities more, to reach out to the larger community through the LA live and Sukutomo, and to always do my best at whatever I do. Even when I fail, she will be there to encourage me to get back up. I don’t have a lot of merchandise yet, but I saved all year to scout for her limited UR, and got her on my seventh pull!

I am also not a very good artist yet, but I hope the drawing below and this post is enough to thank her for everything she has done for me.

Chika, Happy Birthday, and thank you so much!