You’re really throwing me on a loop there, Revue Starlight…pun not intended.
Going in, I was extremely curious about this episode as it was going to be solely about Nana Daiba a.k.a. Banana-chan (Moeka Koizumi). Her stepping out of the auditions for “Starlight” to work behind the scenes came as a surprise for everyone in the 99th class and she has been notably absent from the Revues themselves. Surely, Revue Starlight had something in store for this character and after last episode’s curious post-credit scene and preview, it had to be something big.
This episode really did not disappoint in that regard. In fact, it’s a game changer for the remainder of the anime.
At first, this episode seems like a simple flashback episode at Nana’s past. You even get to see the aftermath of the 99th Class’s first performance of Starlight from her point of view. From here, we learn that Nana has lend a helping hand to almost everyone in her class for all sorts of things. Acting, props, sets, lighting — everything. It’s that versatility and assistance that earns Nana her “Banana” nickname. While already associated with bananas, the nickname goes beyond that and refers to her being a sweet person that everyone likes having around. Gradually though, things begin to take an ominous turn as learn what she has truly done. Beating all of her classmates in the Revues, becoming Top Star, and make a wish to relive the first “Starlight” all over again. And again and again until she has effectively trapped herself and everyone else in a time loop.
I suppose this means Nana is officially the antagonist of Revue Starlight. She’s certainly a threat of some kind, as this time loop could go on for eternity. The fact that she even defeats Maya and that whole fight isn’t even shown also suggests that she ain’t a slouch in the Revues either. Plus, anyone who looks directly at the camera for the final shot will instantly look ominous to the viewer. I am, however, hard pressed to say that Nana is a villain. There really isn’t a trace of malice in what she’s doing. She seems to genuinely love her friends, love the accomplishments she’s made with them, and she wants to relive it over and over again. It’s disturbing but it’s not nefarious. It’s just frighteningly sympathetic.
One thing is for certain is that, in a lot of ways, Nana now acts an antithesis to the her classmates, certainly at least Karen. Whereas as everyone else seeks to grow as performers and shine even brighter for the next “Starlight”, Nana is convinced that the first go around will never be topped. She’s most likely wearing rose tinted glasses here but the point is that she’s afraid of the second performance being different from its predecessor. It could end up being worse and even if it does happen to surpass it, she doesn’t want to know. And so, whereas the others vie to become Top Star for control of their future as stars, Nana has fought and won countless times to repeat the past, reliving what she considers to be glory days and never again worry about what fate has in store for her.
Revue Starlight has never been shy about employing symbolism and this turning point of an episode is no exception. I originally dismissed Nana’s tendency to take pictures as a mere character quirk but with new context, it has actually spoken a great deal about her motivations. Documenting life at Seisho throughout the years reflects her desire to capture memories; to be a witness to the world and events that she loves and to keep in her mind forever. There’s a particularly peculiar scene early on in the episode where you see Nana take pictures even in a dorm left empty by her peers going on vacation. It’s as though Revue Starlight is foreshadowing the time loop as Nana will literally relive the past and she’ll be the only person who’ll witness and remember it all.
There’s also a really interesting use of light in this episode. Upon entering the underground theater, Nana is greeted by a series of blinding lights. This is most likely in reference to the concept of “shine” and more specifically, when a Stage Girl shines brightest as Top Star. Not only does this foreshadow Nana’s victories, it also makes “shine” appear powerful as though it is some omnipotent source that the Top Star taps into.
The symbolism may extend further than that as upon winning, you hear Nana comment that the lights are too blinding. This could mean two things. One, it’s referring to the future. It’s full of infinite possibilities and the uncertainty blinds Nana, scaring her into rewinding time. Two, it’s referring to her memories of the first “Starlight”. Like I said before, it’s rose tinted glasses she’s wearing here. She’s convinced that performance was a glorious one and even if the do-over surpasses it, it wouldn’t replicate what she’s feeling. She wants to reclaim that feeling and so she enacts her wish. And yet, despite going back in time, Nana still thinks the light blinds her, perhaps meaning that she’s still trying to replicate what she once felt and she’ll keep repeating the loop until she does.
Come to think about it, those lights are also shaped like Hikari’s hair clips. Now, that has to be intentional considering the ending Revue Starlight unveils.
Quite a big question mark is now floating above Hikari’s head as it’s revealed that her transfer to Seisho is an entirely new phenomenon in Nana’s time loop. This puts some scenes into perspective, particularly any time Nana interacts with Hikari. What seems like the usual “getting to know the transfer student” banter is now re-contextualized as Nana being extremely curious at this unforeseen anomaly in her loop. That Nana even briefly sees Hikari before beginning her most recent loop is a peculiar moment in of itself. It’s as though Hikari arrived to put an end to her shenanigans. If that is the case then, how did this girl even know about the loop? What motivates her to stop it? This new information raises more questions than answers.
To think a little bit outside the box, there’s actually Karen to consider as well. I highly doubt Karen took part in the Revues in the past timelines. The giraffe discounted her to begin with and it’s only upon seeing Hikari in a pinch did it spur Karen to transform into a Stage Girl. Knowing new context surrounding Hikari’s appearance also puts Karen’s involvement into a new perspective. Is there something meaningful to consider with Karen’s dream back in Episode 1 now that it’s actually timed with a change to the timeline? When Hikari went out of her way to keep Karen out of the Revues, was it to keep her out of this battle against Nana? And with the two girls working together to become Top Stars, will Hikari involve her friend in putting an end to this loop?
I suppose we’ll just have to learn in due time. For now, it seems that Nana is neglecting something. She looks at Hikari as the biggest change to her loop but the reality is that there’s actually two girls she needs to consider.
ED: “Fly Me to the Star” (Instrumental)
I was expecting a Banana version of this song but having just the instrumentals makes a ton of sense. Why have Nana sing about reaching to the stars if she has already reached it countless times? It’s even reflected in some shots. Her feet lands on Hikari’s light-shaped hair clips, a contrast to previous versions of the ED where people reach towards it with their hands. Rather than have Nana stand proudly in the spotlight for the final shot, you have her copy of the “Starlight” script instead. After all, it’s not herself that she wants to see shining, it’s the memories she holds dear to her heart.
Thanks for reading!
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