Revue Starlight – Ep. 5

If you need any more proof that Mahiru has gone insane, look no further than here. It was about time too. For past couple of episodes, you could just see the gears turning in that girl’s head. What actually threw me on a loop was how crazy she is. I knew Mahiru snapped but I didn’t think it was at that levelRevue Starlight really didn’t clown around in that regard.

At first, you’re led into siding with Mahiru in this friendship triangle. After the events of last episode, Karen and Hikari seem closer than ever before which, in turn, increases Karen’s determination to “shine” tenfold. Karen now wakes up on time, practices by herself or with Hikari, and has taken her classes much more seriously. It’s a profound change and the fact that it was Hikari who helped ignite it makes Mahiru incredibly envious.

Driving the sympathy for the latter further is new information regarding her first year with Karen. You see in a flashback scene, Mahiru backstage during the first Starlight performance, nervous until Karen cheers her up. In a recorded interview, you find out that Mahiru, despite her talent, only really applied to Seisho at her grandmother’s suggestion. Piecing it together, you can see why Karen has made Mahiru feel more comfortable about her academic path and it becomes easy to sympathize with her as that anchor is seemingly vanishing.

That is until you see that Mahiru’s obsession with Karen has delved into borderline stalker territory. She sniffs her friend’s pillow, stares at her sweaty towel, and tries to take a sip from her water bottle (probably for an indirect kiss even). It is played for laughs what with having Hikari very conveniently in the vicinity in every instance (also, R.I.P. Kauroko’s dignity). Still, I can’t help but find a creepy undertone to it all. I mean, if you change a few things in this bit, Mahiru would be a great yandere character.

Not that you’d need to though. I think the Revue got that side of crazy covered.

What a glorious fight that proved to be. Part of me was hoping for Mahiru to fight Hikari, especially after their confrontation in the locker room, though I’m much happier to see her fight Karen instead. Karen needed to be confronted with Mahiru’s inner thoughts and there’s no better way to do that than have the latter try to beat the shit out of her with a baton.

I didn’t think the baton would be that powerful of a weapon but I stand corrected after seeing it shatter the ground beneath it in one scene. Needless to say, Karen appropriately runs for her dear life (can you even die during these auditions?).

The imagery utilized in this Revue is a tougher nut to crack than the ones that came before it. Junna had glasses and mannequins to represent her complex surrounding her individuality. Maya used swans and the concept of height advantage to signify her status and power. Mahiru has cutouts of cats and a baseball motif because…uh…well, if you look at her side of the dorm room closely, you’ll see that she has a baseball cat plushie…

…SYMBOLISM!

For real though, I want to say it’s maybe a mascot for a baseball team Mahiru likes, specifically one in Hokkaido since it’s mentioned she’s from there. And in case you asked, I checked and the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters have bears as mascots so maybe the cat is due to copyright. Anyway, I think it’s like Hikari’s love for jellyfish. It’s just something Mahiru enjoys outside of her academics.

That could very well be the point in fact. There’s a line Mahiru speaks, explaining that everything on her “stage” is “‘what I want…and what I don’t have'”. In other words, her stage is representative of her desire to have things back to the way they were. If the mascot is something she enjoys in her downtime than having it in the Revue suggests that she, deep down, wants to come back home, away from Seisho. But if she had to stick with the school, she’d like to be with Karen. That side of the coin leads to the another group of props Mahiru uses: a recreation of Seisho’s campus, the stage used in the school festival, and cut-outs of her and Karen. These all visualize her wish to enjoy school with Karen and perform Starlight with her as its two leads.

If nothing else, this fight was a blast to sit through. Mahiru is simply a joy in this fight with how crazy she is. She pretends to be Karen for a brief re-enactment. She happily runs after the latter with the deadliest baton of all time which she uses as a baseball bat. She uses Karen as the baseball. In the midst of their own commotion, the two fighters accidentally enter the other duels, eliciting some confusion. At the end of their fight, their attacks are accompanied by sound effect bubbles Batman ’66 style. It’s the wackiest fight Revue Starlight has pulled off so far and it pull its off splendidly.

The music is just great. It sounds more like a broadway musical number than the more operatic pieces we’ve heard in past revues. I’d say that’s a very appropriate choice for a fight such as this.

As always, the direction in these auditions is top-notch. That hair twitch as Mahiru prepares to batter up is such a great touch to the action. I particularly love that Karen reveals she doesn’t remember her promise to Mahiru that they’ll be together “forever” while Hikari is right across the room. It really frames this dynamic even when I account for Claudine’s superfluous presence. Even better is having Karen and Mahiru’s final conversation behind the recreation of Seisho’s campus with a drawing of them looming over. It effectively has them fighting “backstage” and it accentuates the intimacy of their confrontation.

Unsurprisingly, Karen wins the match. She has to if this story is to have her climb the ranks (remember, she started in last place). It’s what Mahiru learns from the fight that I find most interesting. It is insulting that Karen has forgotten her promise to Mahiru but it sheds light on their friendship. Mahiru doesn’t depend on Karen the same way Karen depends on Hikari. With Hikari, Karen has someone she wants to be equals with and that drives her to become better at her craft. The most she really depended on Mahiru was waking up on time.

For Mahiru to want this retained suggests that she’s been friends with Karen both to feel like she has a purpose but to also feel less insecure about her shine in face of other talented students. The locker room scene also suggests this where Mahiru accuses HIkari of stealing Karen away from her and the latter tells her that is not a light accusation to make. At first, I thought Hikari was just being stone cold as usual but she may have had a point. Is it really stealing if Mahiru is actually way too convinced that Karen belongs to her and she needs that bond to feel better about herself? Maybe not. And as Karen points out at the end of their duel, Mahiru is a fine performer in her own right. She doesn’t struggle nor does she need someone to push her to her limits like Karen does. This fixation on the status quo is ultimately all in her head.

As much as these Revues bring out the darkest sides of these characters, they are a learning experience for them. Things don’t go as planned for Mahiru but she does recognize her obsession as cowardice, grows from it, and despite the hostility, she’s still friends with Karen. With this matter resolved though, you have to wonder who will be Karen’s next opponent. That or maybe we’ll focus on a different pair?

ED: “Fly Me to the Star” by Mahiru Tsuyuzaki (CV: Haruki Iwata)

I guess this ED will keep changing. I’m liking it but man, I’m going to have to say goodbye to some WordPress storage…


Thanks for reading!

Revue Starlight is officially available on HIDIVE.

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