Revue Starlight – Ep. 2

There’s been plenty of anime for me to enjoy this season though none have gotten me as excited as Revue Starlight has. Jumping the shark is still a possibility this early on but right now, this show just clicks for me. It’s brimming with so much pizzazz and clever imagery that I couldn’t possibly ignore. This is an anime worth keeping an eye on.

At its second episode, Revue Starlight‘s biggest task was to shed light on the magical girl-esque Revues. Ultimately, the show doesn’t explain the logistics entirely — the talking giraffe, for example, is something we’ll just have to roll with for now — but to its credit, it does a good job easing you into accepting that this is par for the course. Karen is as confused about these auditions as we are. She tries to get some information but both Hikari and Junna (Hinata Satou) refrain from revealing too much. Apparently, the punishment for doing so would be paying a hefty fine. Not the most extreme punishment but then again, studying at this school must be expensive (it’s apparently based on the real-world troupe, Takarazuka Revue).

Not only is Karen’s behavior believable, it also doesn’t betray the grounded tone of her life at school. I mentioned last post that I’d be okay if this show was a straight up idol show so I like that this anime is keeping that aspect somewhat intact. It kind of reminds me of Persona in that way; the characters live a double life with a supernatural component to it but they otherwise continue their lives as normal students.

You do learn two major details about the Revues though. First is the exact nature of the crown and the “Top Star” title that everyone is vying for. She who becomes Top Star will be recognized as the most talented and skilled performer and gain complete control over the fate of their career. It’s essentially a plot device representing the acclaim and security one wants when making it big in showbiz. The second detail is that the Revues are more of a continuous tug of war and less of a concrete tournament. Fights seem entirely organized based on how heated a rivalry in the real world has gotten, as seen when Junna is granted a rematch against Karen.

Speaking of which, I thought Junna was going to be a one-off opponent but her arc is more extensive than that. You learn a lot about how ambitious she is in this episode. While everyone’s convinced that Maya (Maho Tomita) and Claudine (Aina Aiba) will remain the cream of the crop, Junna wants to surpass them. She trains herself to exhaustion to a close a gap that just seems to keep getting bigger. The Revues she partakes in actually represent who she sees as a rival. I thought that match against Hikari was random but it was actually Junna wanting to see if she’s better than the transfer student. Because Karen won, she’s now the one Junna has her sights on hence the rematch.

It appears that Karen wasn’t going to be involved in these competitions to begin with. Something that’s become apparent these past two episodes is that Karen isn’t that great at performing arts. She must be competent enough to get into the academy but in a number of scenes, you see her barely able to stretch to sing on key. Both Junna and Hikari tell Karen that her lack of skill (or “shine” as they call it) should make her ineligible to compete in the Revues.

What Karen does seem to have though is her unwavering resolve. She’s passionate about performing arts as noted in the numerous times she happily takes position zero during practice and when she wins a Revue. She’s well aware that Maya and Claudine are high benchmarks but she still hopes to be at the top someday. Perhaps what threw off the giraffe was the fact that Karen hopes to reach her goal with Hikari. Unlike the others, she isn’t consider just herself in her aspirations. This could come in conflict with the fact that there can only be one Top Star but for now, this is what is making her eligible for the crown as much as everyone else.

While the Underground Theater is indeed real, it appears to function more as a representation of what the competitors are currently feeling. The main props featured in this rematch are mannequins and giant glasses. While these objects give Junna unique means to trick Karen during battle, they also speak to her personality. The mannequins represents her fear of being just another student at the school while the glasses suggest that these are the only signifying trait she thinks she’s recognized by. Junna’s willingness to fire arrows through the glasses speaks to her desire to be more than just that. It almost feels deconstructive as in any other idol show, she would be just “the girl with glasses”. Even the fighting speaks to the characterization. Junna uses the environment to her advantage which shows her superior skill while she fights very aggressively to “surpass” Karen. Conversely, Karen is largely on the defensive since she’s not as fixated on being better than anyone like Junna is.

In the end, Karen wins the duel though Junna accepts the results this time around. The latter learns not to rush through her aspirations and she even becomes closer friends with Karen now that she understands her more. With how the Revues are structured, it’s possible that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Junna in action and I hope this show will explore this newfound friendship some more.

In the meantime, there’s a couple of other gears turning in the story. Happening in parallel with the main duel was another one between Maya and Claudine. Their rivalry has been established as a long lasting one so one can infer that this duel was neither their first nor their last. Perhaps the one to pay more attention to though is Karen’s roommate, Mahiru (Haruki Iwata). She hasn’t been too keen about living with both Karen and Hikari and the ending suggests she’s envious of the dream those two share. Perhaps Mahiru fears that Karen is replacing her and with the Revues going on, that feeling is bound to make it to the stage…

OP:Hoshi no Dialogue” by Starlight Kukugumi

This OP was shown at the end of last episode but I wanted to screencap the non-credits version instead. Anyway, I’m really liking this OP. I’ve been listening to the song a lot lately; it’s a catchy idol J-Pop song with musical affectations thrown in. The best aspect of this sequence though is how it goes from the characters being friends at school to bitter rivals at the Revues.

Thanks for reading!

Revue Starlight is officially available on HIDIVE.

For all of my Revue Starlight Episode Reviews, check out the show’s archive page!

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