Lapis Re:LiGHTs – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)

Lapis Re:LiGHTs is a flapship product of a new mixed media project created by KLab and Kadokawa and it seems to take the school idol concept from Love Live! and adding in a more fantastical twist. The show takes place in Flora Girls Academy, a school where its students study witchcraft as well as train to become idols for reasons that I’m sure the show will eventually explain (hopefully). There’s a myriad of characters divided into different groups thought at the forefront is Tiara (Yukari Anzai), a new girl in town enrolling into the academy. She’s joined by her childhood friend Rosetta (Risa Kubota), bookworm Lynette (Mizuki Yamamoto), and best friends Lavie (Live Mukai) and Ashley (Iori Saeki).

Knowing from the official synopsis that Lapis is an idol anime, I couldn’t help but notice that the premiere doesn’t really mention any idols (or whatever the in-universe equivalent of it is). You have Rosetta giving Tiara a tour of the campus in the A part and you get to see all the various facilities available and activities the students in engage in but there’s no stage shown, let alone anyone rehearsing a performance. Were it not for the OP showing the girls in their idol outfits, you might not have been able to realize that this is a show about idols. I guess the show wants to build up to the idol element (chances are Tiara doesn’t know about it) but it is a odd decision that’s potentially a bit misleading.

With prior knowledge, a couple of details stand out and hint at how the idol element will come into play. Characters noticeably whistle to conjure spells, implying a strong link between magic and sound. Perhaps the characters need to use magic as they sing during their performances? Tiara finds out that her group have the lowest student rank, Lapis, and are at the verge of dropping out. Although it’s weird that Tiara had no idea about this vital aspect of the school she’s enrolling in, this detail does hint that she and the others must compete as magical idols and perform well enough to stay in school. Why it has to be idols is beyond me but again, I’m sure the show will explain why (hopefully).

Vague idol element aside, I do find Lapis Re:LiGHTs fairly engaging. The premiere smartly focuses on our main group of characters while still sprinkling in cameos of the other groups. Tiara and Rosetta’s friendship is pretty charming right off the gate, you really get the sense that they’ve been friends for years (not to mention some romantic subtext with Rosetta). The other girls are shown more briefly but I like Lynette’s shy and easily flustered personality and there’s some promising banter between Lavie and Ashley. More importantly, the premiere establishes some compelling story threads. A flashback reveals that there’s a rift between Tiara and her older sister, Eliza (Kana Hanazawa); the latter evidently opposes Tiara enrolling in Flora Girls Academy (maybe she’s an alumnus?). Rosetta doesn’t seem to be aware of the rift as she reminisces positively on Tiara and Eliza’s sisterhood. At one point, Tiara bumps into a higher ranking group and one of the members, Yue (Yuu Sakruagi), immediately becomes hostile after realizing who Tiara is. Methinks we have our main rival character.

I’ll also say that there’s some promising artistry behind this show. Yokohama Animation Lab delivers a consistent quality to the visuals. The sets, be it the prestigious and sophisticated looking school or the populous and lively town surrounding it, look great. The direction can be quite good in certain moments. I really like how the opener gives Tiara a very unassuming introduction as a passenger in a carriage. There’s an amusing hard cut between Tiara talking about her enrolling in Flora Girls academy and her setting foot there for the first time. By far, the highlight of the episode is when Tiara overlooks the town and sings a lullaby Eliza used to sing to her when she was bedridden. The transition from sunset to nightfall, the use of color by the animators, and Yukari Anzai’s singing all combine to make a very stunning musical number.

Save for some of the vagueness surrounding the plot, I enjoy the premiere of Lapis Re:LiGHTs a fair amount. The characters probably won’t be the most complex people out there but they seem charming enough and some of the threads established here pique my curiosity. And however the story fares, I feel pretty hopeful that the show will at least look and sound good.

OP: “Watashitachi no STARTRAIL” by Lapis Re:LiGHTs Stars

ED: “Planetarium” by LiGHTs

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Watch Lapis Re:LiGHTs on Funimation

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