This episode piqued my interest as it is the first one that does not primarily involve Karen and/or Hikari. Not that I was worried though. I’ve grown to really like the whole cast of Revue Starlight so if the anime wants to give the spotlight to someone else, I’m content with it. And really, I can’t think of a better person to hog the spotlight than Kaoruko — a selfish, entitled, narcissistic, and haughty girl who can’t stand it when her best friend is achieving something and she’s not.
Yeah…I love her. In reference to what I’ve said before, forget Top Star. Best Girl material right there.
On a much more critical note, I found Kaoruko to be a really entertaining character. The appeal to her personality reminds me of Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh!. It’s such an inflated ego that you may end up amazed at how far it’ll go. I mean, this girl has acted this way since childhood. In a flashback provided by this episode, you see her confidently modeling for passerbys and her dialogue with Futaba suggests that she wants to be spoiled by her parents instead of diligently perfecting her craft.
Again, that’s just when she’s a little girl. Move forward to present-day and you see her constantly expecting Futaba to tend to her needs, however petty they may be. When she fails the first round of auditions for “Starlight”, she immediately expects Futaba to hand the role over to her. And when that fails, she resorts to winning Revues for those Top Star Powers instead of practicing like most people without the help of a Talking Giraffe would. All things considered, it’s awe inspiring how low this girl can sink for something she wants.
It’s no wonder that Futaba has gotten tired of this shtick, training to be her own performer as opposed to being stuck in someone else’s shadow. Can anyone blame her for briefly cutting ties with Kaoruko? She earned and deserves that potential spot in “Starlight”, especially when you find out how hard she’s worked to stay in Seisho. Kaoruko, meanwhile, throws a fit; throwing accusations at her friend rather than be happy for her. And in the ensuing fallout, the scheme she concocts to fix things is pretending to quit Seisho and hope that’ll make Futaba sad. Granted, it was an fun bit (especially with Karen’s constant crying) but did it really not occur to Kaoruko to just talk to Futaba? You know, like friends do most of the time? Karen and Hikari even did that exact same thing not too long ago. Oh well, we have the Revues for a reason.
At first, I thought that the battlegrounds of the week were actually shared by the two girls. It’d make sense considering their shared childhood and shared prior knowledge in theater. As time went though, I started to realize which part of the stage is whose. The traditional Japanese residence presumably connects more to Futaba than Kaoruko. It’s indicative of her feeling that she’s been living under the same roof as her best friend. That the area gets trashed as Futaba overwhelms Kaoruko seems deliberate; an easily missed detail that refers to her desire to branch out from her opponent’s shadow.
Meanwhile, the field full of blossom petals at the end is connected to Kaoruko. The battle even transitions to this area right when she gains the upper hand on Futaba. As for the petals themselves, I believe they’re connected to the whole shine term Revue Starlight has been throwing around. In a few lines of dialogue, Kaoruko speaks about her or Futaba being a flower that blooms. It’s essentially her way of understanding what it looks like when someone shines on stage. How fitting that they fill the stage as Kaoruko resolves to set a strong example as a performer again.
Personally, I love that Revue Starlight mostly keeps Kaoruko the way she is. She come to acknowledge Futaba’s goal and reconciles with her but fundamentally, her personality is the same. Within the very climax of the Revue, Kaoruko comes to an understanding with her friend, apologizes, and offers to eliminate herself…only to then reveal that it’s trick to gain a cheap shot at her opponent’s jacket. Her feelings are indeed genuine but she still couldn’t resist rubbing it in that she got Futaba to care about her again. Later in the ending, you see Kaoruko wake up on time and ready for Futaba to give her a ride. You find out she now envisions to be on the top with Futaba…but her entitled and haughty tendencies still surface. It’s surprising but it is also impressive of Revue Starlight to give someone some much needed character development, while not completely changing her attributes. Plus, if it means we get to see more of Kaoruko messing with people, I 100% approve on that stance alone.
- In spite of her attitude, I still thought young Kaoruko was adorable. I love her mannerisms and the way she talks.
- Wow, they actually acknowledged the messes Hikari leaves in the dorm room. You know, for someone so uptight, she’s surprisingly untidy in this respect. Also, will this dorm ever provide Hikari her own stinking bed?
- It warms my heart to see Mahiru looking past her whole Karen complex. Extending her sisterly attitude to Hikari is so charming.
- Huge props to Revue Starlight for continuing the bond Futaba developed with Claudine back in Episode 3. I originally thought it was just some one-off development. I really like this supportive side of Claudine too, helping Futaba improve her tap dancing and helping her process through her fallout with Kaoruko.
- I love that a similar dynamic is attempted with Maya and Kaoruko and yet it feels like Maya got the short end of the stick here. Futaba leaves a bunch of candies for Claudine to thank her for her support and Maya just gets one piece and a written taunt. Never change, Kaoruko. Poor Maya though…
ED: “Fly Me to the Star” by Kaoruko Hayanagi (CV: Ayasa Itou) & Futaba Isurugi (CV: Teru Ikuta)
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