The following is actually taken from a little rant I wrote on /a/'s Love Live thread. I didn't start the thread this time, but there was some really nice discussions taking place, so it was very enjoyable.
The reason I'm sharing this is because I had been meaning to make a write-up on the "drama" that takes place in the final few episodes of Love Live, and why I feel the hate towards it is largely misplaced and mistaken. The discussion turned towards that issue, however, so I ended up writing my thoughts out there and then, instead.
It's not as well-planned and thought-out as I initially wanted it to be, but I feel it gets the general message across. So, without further ado, my thoughts on the final 3 episodes of Love Live! School Idol Project:
Okay so I'm actually going to try and address the issues people have with Honoka's breakdown and the subsequent drama that occurs in the final episodes of Love Live, because I feel it's something that's largely misunderstood and gets more hate than I feel it deserves.
Firstly, let me start by saying that I did not enjoy the "drama" the first time I viewed it, largely because I felt it was out of place, and really disliked the lack of initiative Kotori showed in regards to handling the situation.
With that being said, to anyone who believes Honoka's reaction was "stupid", unwarrented or unbelievable and forced, I have to say it's not as far off as you might think.
This is something that more comes from life experience, but even if you're young you might be able to relate. Any time you truly focus and dedicate yourself to something, as Honoka did with μ's, you lose a lot of perspective on things, since you're so invested into this one particular aspect of life. If you've ever personally tried really hard at something, maybe you can understand this. For the younger people in this thread, that might be your studies, sports or hobbies. For those of you my age or older, it'd be work, or hobbies that you still hold onto.
Now imagine that you've been working at this one thing for weeks, months even. Every bit of you is attached to this, and if something doesn't go well, it can mentally break you. I know, from an outsiders perspective, it isn't much. You really have to experience it personally to understand what I'm talking about here. Keep in mind this happens as a result of whatever it is taking up a LARGE percentage of your life. Anyone who leads a balanced lifestyle will be more adept at brushing such things off, since they have a better sense of context and perspective that allows them to move on without being too caught up in it.
But in this case, Honoka IS caught up in it. She's deeply invested, μ's is the group she formed with her 2 closest friends, and despite how many hurdles and trials they've faced, each time they have managed to overcome them and move forward, as a group. Come episode 11, they are SO CLOSE to their goal. This is the performance that will decide whether they can maintain their ranking. Honoka is sick. It starts raining for their outside performance. Guess who fucking motivates the group to do it? Honoka. They perform No Brand Girls, then Honoka faints from her fever. After all her practice and effort, it's not the group who falls short, but her. Imagine the mental burden and guilt from knowing that.
Now imagine recovering and having the group tell you they decided to withdraw from the event you were all trying so hard to get into. Most of you won't even be able to relate to such a feeling of letting not only yourself down, but those closest to you. Whatever, Honoka takes it in stride, returns to school and they all get back into the groove of things. Now for some fucked up reason, is the time Umi decides to tell the group Kotori's leaving, because Kotori was unable to earlier. Put yourself in Honoka's shoes. You've been best friends with this girl from childhood. You made promises to always be together, and thus far, you have. Everyone managed to move on through the strength of their unity and friendship, and now, out of nowhere, she tells you she's leaving. Anyone who thinks Honoka is weak for acting the way she does is living in a fairy land. On top of all this, you have to keep in mind Honoka is a high school girl. She's not a fully mature adult, and I've seen many adults handle lesser situations with far less grace and composure.
Now I'm not arguing Love Live is the deepest show, or that it's final episodes couldn't have been handled a bit better, but a lot of this hate for the "drama" seems to just be people bandwagoning and throwing around stupid words like "forced" thinking it makes them clever. It doesn't. Honestly, my biggest complaint with how the final episodes were handled largely falls on Kotori. People give Honoka a lot of shit, but honestly she reacted fairly reasonably given the situation.
That's just my 2 cents. It's frustrating seeing people not understanding that. Honoka is a lot stronger than people give her credit for, and anybody who's ever tried their hardest to do something should be able to empathize with how she reacted to her best friend declaring she'd be leaving, them being pulled out of Love Live (without asking her) and her feeling guilt for letting the group down from her passing out.
In all honesty, I really respect Honoka, not just for being able to bring everyone together like she did and drive them all forward, but also for being able to recover from a slump that would have turned a weaker-minded person away from such activities forever. I really think she's an admirable leader, and wish that opinion were more common amoungst the western Love Live fanbase.