Sooooo…you can take a wild guess at what this third post is going to be about. That one girl who chases after her beloved Karen, who feels left behind by everyone else in the show, who doesn’t have that much of a direction in life both at the academy and after graduation, and who just can’t catch a break at school, at all. Our favourite adorable muffin & disaster lesbian, Mahiru Tsuyuzaki.
It really does feel like a lot of yuri shows have this one girl who ends up down on her luck, and who ends up straggling behind everyone else, almost to the point of obscurity. While Junna remains my favorite girl in Revue Starlight, we really cannot help but feel for poor Mahiru, especially considering how quickly her roomie Karen does a 180 on her when Hikari arrives on the scene; literally the very second Hikari arrives in their classroom as a transfer student, Karen flips over. But Junna and Mahiru are almost polar opposites, in how we see their behavior in the show. Junna has the aura of a class representative, and comes across as a girl who could take you on but is in fact as sweet as pie. Mahiru, on the other hand, is that one adorable little muffin in the show who could hand you your ass in a heartbeat, and still be that adorable little muffin.
As I watched the episode devoted to her, ‘Where The Light Is’, I was thinking to myself what’ll be the end result for our muffin girl.
“At least give us one happy ending where this girl is either reunited with her love or sees how wonderful life really is for her…”
…and so did we get it?
(NB: This post has approved and endorsed by The Official Mahiru Tsuyuzaki Fan Club, and will therefore contain plenty of
disaster lesbian moments/Revue Starlight spoilers)
A Hokkaido girl born and bred, Mahiru Tsuyuzaki comes from a simple household, where she found her glimmer in baton twirling. Her success at middle school won her her place at Seisho Music Academy, but unlike the others in her class, she struggles on why she’s there.
“What have I really done to be here? What can I possibly hope to accomplish here? I could have done all this at a normal high school back in Sapporo, so what did the academy see in someone like me?”
While the end result for all of these girls is to become Top Girl, and to stand on any stage, I genuinely never got that feeling with Mahiru. We see early on in her episode that she’s an extremely hesitant girl. And this was what I meant when I called Mahiru that girl left behind. She has a lot of talent, won many awards for her dance performances and baton twirling as a young girl. She can dance and can do singing scales practice just as well as the others, so what is keeping her from being on their level?
It’s pretty easy to answer: Mahiru is just a shy and simple girl. Performers live to stand out and strive to be noticed among everyone else, and so the fact that Mahiru seems unable to do that sort of prevents her from being on the level of Maya and Claudine…and even on the level of some of the other girls, like Junna, Hikari and Kaoruko. It’s really heartbreaking to watch, considering how much of an adorable muffin she is. In a scene where she gets a package from home, we see her watch a recording of an old local TV news broadcast, where a reporter interviewed a junior high school-aged Mahiru when she found out she had been accepted to Seisho Music Academy. When asked, she struggles to find answers on what she wants to do there and hopes to achieve in the future. While the people around her shrug this off as nerves in front of a TV camera, this is just as heartbreaking to watch. I myself didn’t really know what I wanted to do after graduation, and had no career goal, so I totally feel what Mahiru is going through. Perhaps her younger self was thinking that perhaps an average and regular high school in her local Hokkaido would have been a better choice than somewhere like Seisho Music Academy, where you are expected to live up to high standards and achieve high goals.
Glimmer is a word that is thrown around a lot in Revue Starlight. The definition of glimmer can be a ‘tiny spark of light’ or a ‘sudden idea’ (or it can be in-game currency in the Destiny franchise). Episode 5 really emphasizes the idea that Mahiru can only find her glimmer when she is with Karen. Her motivation to carry on and to remain hopeful for a bright future at the academy revolves around being with Karen. It almost reaches the point where she is unable to think rationally unless she can get her fill of Karen-ness. Added to this preexisting shy and hesitant nature, an inferiority complex begins to build up in her and consume her. She’s good enough of a performer to deserve her place at the academy, sure enough, but because she is so unnoticeable and unremarkable compared to all the others, she has to cling onto her roommate Karen for support, because she can’t think of any other place to be. And all this comes crashing down the moment Karen’s old childhood friend Hikari arrives…
Because Mahiru has had to rely on Karen so much to keep going at the academy and not feel so inferior, the fact that her idiot of a roommate suddenly decides to turn her sole attention to someone in her past that she hasn’t even seen in years frustrates the hell out of her. Now this isn’t something that comes only in episode 5; this has been a seed that has been growing for a while. For instance, in the opening episodes we become under the impression that the Revue auditions are something that is kept a closely guarded secret, and because both Karen and Hikari are a part of it, we simply assume that Mahiru is kept in the dark, thereby putting the idea out that the auditions/fight club/secret society are something that Mahiru just cannot be a part of. We later learn that this is totally untrue, when we discover that every girl takes part in the auditions too.
Also, earlier on in the show, Kaoruko harmlessly teases Mahiru in the baths when she notices that her beloved Karen has disappeared, just as her own beloved Futaba has. But what frustrated me a little more was how, later on in episode 5, Hikari even decides to poke at her in the locker room when Mahiru unleashes some frustration. I don’t know about you, but this really did come across as some kind of gloating on Hikari’s end. And so considering all the crap that she has had to put up with in the first four episodes, it was only a matter of time before Mahiru just…snapped.
In her audition, Mahiru chooses to take her frustration out on the very person she adores, asking her why she suddenly ran to the arms of another person; heck, even the audition is called ‘Revue of Jealousy.’ In my opinion, out of all the auditions I’ve seen so far, the Revue of Jealousy comes across as the most stylish and spectacular. I’ll be looking forward to future Revue auditions in future episodes, and I’ll be unconsciously comparing them all to this one, no doubt.
The end result is pretty predictable, but despite this, we as the viewer still feel satisfied. Karen ends up making Mahiru realize that it has been her long-term inferiority complex that has been holding her back in life. She lets her know that she can be capable of many things at the academy, regardless of whether she is by Karen’s side or not. One other thing she reminds her is her one trait that is ‘unique’ among her classmates: her kindness. Despite her vying for Karen’s attention, Mahiru is the most selfless out of all of them. While we see a lot of rivalry among them (I mean we only need to watch Maya and Claudine bicker), we don’t really get that in Mahiru…because in all reality, she doesn’t have a rival. Hikari may be someone she looks at in some kind of love triangle, but in terms of the academy itself, there is no-one…
…and so deep down, we all love Mahiru, because we should feel pity for the yuri girls who end up on the back benches…every single one of them. She may not be my favorite girl in the show, but her origins episode is one that stood out for me. Here we see that Mahiru doesn’t need Karen to create her glimmer – by recognizing her own good traits both on and off-stage, she is perfectly capable of creating her own glimmer. The academy clearly saw potential in her, and didn’t just want anyone to fill up the class.
Despite this end result, I still believe that that complex of hers still remains. Psychiatrist Alfred Adler put out the idea that everyone has some kind of inferiority complex, and is something that should be seen as a stimulant and motivation to healthy development. Mahiru may have won many awards for her baton twirling, and earned her spot at the academy, but these auditions, and in particular the Revue of Jealousy, show that she still has a long way to go. But as she learns, she doesn’t need to cling onto anyone to get to the top, when she can do it herself.
I hope that this was a better post title than the likes of ‘First Post’ and ‘Electric Boogaloo’. If it isn’t, then you are more than welcome to call me out on it, and help me think of an even better one for post number four.
Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight is available now on HIDIVE and home video.