Okay, it’s been two months since I put out a prelude post to this. If I announce a post project and two months pass by, that usually means that I’d completely forgotten all about it, or was just too lazy to do it.
I know first impressions mean a lot, but the truth is that pure laziness is the best excuse I could come up with here. And pure laziness is my excuse for not thinking of a better post title too; then again, we all know that the main protagonist’s real name is not Karen Aijo…it is Bakaren.
For real though, I have quite a few legit reasons for being tardy. I have been doing a lot of work over the spring season for The OASG, and have even begun my own anime-watching project there, where I take a look back at Escaflowne, a show of my youth. I had stepped back from my regular Otaku Theater column, only for me to end up back on the anime trash-talking bus.
Here on Anime Solstice meanwhile, I’ll be taking a look at Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight, a show that really annoyed the heck out of me when it originally aired in 2018. I asked myself whether this was even a good idea to do this review project, considering how much I tore apart Mahouka way back when, when I marathoned the entire thing, non-stop. At first watch of Revue Starlight, the main protagonists frustrated the heck out of me, the overall surreal atmosphere of the show really took me by an unwelcome surprise (for some reason), and thanks to all of that, an indescribable rage boiled up in me. And so here I am, returning to this show that pissed me off so much, and going in with a far more open mind…and a stress ball at hand if/when I need it.
But before I begin, I should say that these posts won’t be in any strict show order, and I won’t be entirely going over them episode-by-episode. This was the ‘cool weeb’ show that I missed out on, and I might as well be cool and hip and write about it in a…well…okay, let’s just get cracking here.
(NB: This post, along with the others, will contain spoilers for Revue Starlight)
Right from the get-go, we are introduced to our two main dorks, Karen and Hikari. And oh good lord, Karen is such an idiot. And here was me thinking the only anime sword lesbian idiot was Utena Tenjou. Do such idiots make good main protagonists though? Well they certainly make memorable ones. Her ‘promise’ to her apparent BFF Hikari is the main plot of the show, but the moment Hikari arrives at the Seisho Music Academy, you really get the impression that she was the one who broke up the friendship on bad terms. I think that this sub-plot of Karen vs. Hikari was also something that frustrated me at first watch. At the time, I didn’t really warm to either of them, and sure enough the fact that they were polar opposites means they’d make the perfect yuri couple, right? But something just didn’t seem right to me…something that I just couldn’t understand or explain. That was back then, though, so what do I think about them now? Well Karen is still an idiot, so no change there.
I’ll confess something here, about my original watch. When I picked this show for my OASG column, I merely saw Revue Starlight as just another idol show with a little action added to it, and so I suppose one could say that I went into a bit of a baby rage when I saw that it was actually something not just different to the likes of Aikatsu, AKB0048 and The Idolm@ster, but something much much deeper. It was a shallow way of thinking, and for that I apologize. I didn’t think about the art direction, metaphors, or anything like that. And I won’t use the excuse of being burned out after quitting the Madoka Magica franchise, which was full to the brim with metaphors, either. I created this blog to look at shows with a more open mind, after all, and I hope that I can do this with this Revue Starlight post project.
Anyway…the fun begins when Karen discovers the fight club for the first time, and sees her beloved face-off against the class rep Junna. She, and in turn we, finds herself confused in how these two could fight like this, and with weapons to boot; Hikari with a rope dagger, and Junna with a bow and arrow, and with a giant giraffe presiding over it all.
Mr. Giraffe has no name or background, or one we can find anyway. He towers over the Revues as its overseer, arbiter, critic and spectator. Straight away in episode 1, he is portrayed as the ‘key’, just as Kyubey was. Madoka Magica‘s prologue sees Madoka witness Homura fight a losing battle against a witch, with Kyubey joining Madoka and telling her that there’s nothing she can do to help Homura unless she becomes a Puella Magi too…the very thing Homura is trying to prevent.
The winner of these auditions will be granted the opportunity to be Top Girl, to stand on any stage they want. Surely this would be something many actors and actresses desire; it’s certainly something that’s drilled into this music academy. To be the greatest, the most talented and skilled on stage. Nearly all of the girls in Seisho Music Academy seem to have already accepted their fate of being ‘safe’ performers, thanks to both Maya and Claudine being top of the class. But these Revue auditions aren’t just something for the other girls to get their chance to be Top Girl, but also something for them to take a look at themselves, and who they are deep down. At first glimpse, we see Karen earn her title as ‘Bakaren’, but she’s someone who is devoted. Someone who is a fighter. And someone who would work hard to earn respect and trust from the one person she made that ‘promise’ too oh so long ago.
We all know that Revue Starlight is all one big secret underground theater fight club, where the first and second rules are that you don’t talk about said fight club. Oh yeah, and where these yuri girls battle each other to see who is the best…umm…yuri girl. Like I said, pretty much everyone at the academy is already convinced that the winner will be either Maya or Claudine…and with good measure too. The both of them ooze charm, grace and authority in the academy. They are both highly talented and skilled at battle, and so it’s pretty unsurprising that we can see the two of them as rivals/wives right from episode 1. Of course with Karen being who she is, she’s convinced that she can topple both of them just like that, and yet she soon realises that it doesn’t quite work like that. And so like some headless chicken or Leeroy Jenkins, she charges into the world of Revue Starlight without a single care of the rules, all because of this ‘promise’. The promise that Karen and Hikari made as young children, and something that some committed theater students like Hikari might have brushed off already.
But heck, I have no right to be making any polarizing opinions – these are only the opening episodes, after all, and I’m just making this judgement from Hikari’s ‘pseudo-tsundere-ness’ (yikes, say that word 5 times fast!). But we do learn later on that she only puts on this front because she objects in Karen’s participation in the auditions, leaving to think that she doesn’t want her involved thereby keeping her safe and oblivious.
Okay so I’ve already said my peace when it comes to Karen vs. Hikari & Maya vs. Claudine, so what about the others? Well in terms of prettiness, class rep Junna does it for me. In my original watch, Junna was the girl I disliked the least, and now I’ve watched these beginning episodes again, I’ve grown to like her more. Her passion for theater was what did it for me, and her commitment to become Top Girl. She decided to attend Seisho Music Academy against her family’s wishes, and I think because of this, she feels a sense of trying to be the best, to be the one the other girls rely on, and the one to turn to for help. She’s already the class rep and honor student, as well as highly talented on the stage, so does she believe that becoming Top Girl will be something her family will accept (or even understand)? An inferiority complex, perhaps? Or is this a matter of her just wanting to take to the stage to stick it to her doubting family?
I might go into some more detail about Junna in a future post, because so far she has interested me the most. I know that upcoming episodes will concern her, and especially how mad she got when Karen came charging in out of nowhere to ruin her audition against Hikari.
I said in the prelude post that I don’t like leaving shows unfinished, and so I am going to finish this show, raging at the top of my lungs or not. More posts will be coming here of course, and I guarantee you that at least one of them will be solely devoted to Mahiru. Maybe I’ll even squeeze in a post that contains nothing but memes and all the reasons why this was such a ‘cool weebs’ show. We’ll see…
Hmm…pseudo-tsundere-ness…I should add that word to my dictionary so it doesn’t keep spell checking it.
Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight is available now on HIDIVE and home video.