Love Live! School Idol Project is probably one of my favorite anime so far. Hands down.
What I like
The story is incredibly touching. It's one of the first anime to actually make me feel for the main character. The show doesn't just show you their journey, it pulls you along with them. As the show progresses, you make the same revelations as each of the characters do, you feel as if you're alongside them. For example, at the beginning of the show, Honoka starts μ's to save the school from shutting down. But after gathering so many members and doing a few shows, both she and us start to realize she's not exactly doing it to save the school anymore, she's doing it because she loves it, and she loves her friends. There's another example I'd like to give but it's kind of a spoiler for the last 2 episodes.
In their performance at the school's open house, Honoka falls down because she overworked herself, and got a fever due to working in the cold rain. While she was away recovering, the rest of the group decides to pull their name from the Love Live rankings, and go on hiatus. Not only that, but Kotori was planning on talking to Honoka about her leaving the country after that performance. This ends up spiraling into Honoka leaving μ's out of guilt. She didn't feel like she was worthy enough to be an idol, since she felt completely responsible for their name being taken out of Love Live. I took forever to get to my point, but we feel with Honoka. We know exactly how she's feeling. And when Umi slaps Honoka, we feel that too. We go on the same emotional journey along with Honoka, but also everyone else. We understand how everything is just piling on top of Honoka, and she feels too overwhelmed to continue anymore. What's worse is that she feels like everything on her back is entirely her fault, and we actually see where she's getting that from. It's fantastic, and I no-joke almost cried. Almost. ;)Another thing I like about this is the music of course. I don't know if I just have bad things to compare it to, but the only other musical anime I've watched is K-On! and we all know how I felt about K-On!. I thought K-On!'s music was kinda dumb, and a little repetitive. But Love Live just felt a lot more fun. The songs in Love Live helped tell the story, as opposed to being in spite of the story. Not to mention they're actually good songs otherwise. I felt like each of their performances was not just a way to squeeze in the thought "Wait, wait! We still have songs!", and was actually a tangible achievement each of the characters made, as idols and as people. I don't want to compare Love Live to other anime the whole time though, so here's another thing I especially liked.
I absolutely love every single character. The show has 9 main characters, which can be challenging to keep track of but this show handles it exceptionally well. I never felt like any of the character's personalities just didn't fit, nor did I feel any of them were boring. Every single character had a distinct, lovable personality, which I think is partially the reason "Nico Nico Nii" has become such a phenomenon. It's funny even if you haven't seen the show, yet ten times better once you have seen it, because you realize Nico is actually the complete opposite of that. Not only is every character unique, but they all work together in some magical way.
Not to mention this show is hilarious. It nails both visual and spoken comedy.
What I don't like
Of course, no show is perfect. I felt like Nozomi's character was sort of a... Mary Sue? I didn't like how she basically made everything come together for the first half of the season. However, the show did dial it down for the second half quite a bit. But again, for the first half it was kind of annoying that she told us everything was by fate. That's just boring. If Nozomi just didn't have that part of her character, if she didn't read her magical cards, the plot would not change at all and I would honestly like her character a lot more.
Much better than K-On!