What happens when the inseparable ties between two friends become weakened? Futaba and Kaoruko battle it out on the Stage of Destiny. Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. A trick to short run shows like this is having to move characters forward in a meaningful fashion without making it seem like they’ve undergone massive character changes overnight. In the aftermath of last week’s episode, Mahiru still clearly cares about Karen but she’s no longer viewing Hikari as a romantic rival and shutting her out. Instead, she’s shifted into being more of what she was before she came to Seisho: the big sister. She was mostly this for Karen anyway, making sure she woke up on time and keeping her focused in class. Now she’s taken on this role for Hikari, except Hikari has more…basic things she needs help with.
Like many geniuses, Hikari doesn’t need help getting up on time in the mornings or staying late for practice. Instead it’s the more mundane things she has trouble with–she leaves the room a mess and refuses to fold towels and put them where they belong, even saying “I’m just going to use them later anyway”. From their brief appearance this episode, Mahiru’s now serving as a balance between the real world and her roommates’ constant striving to be Top Star. It’s a good role for her, though I hope she doesn’t let go of her passion, either.
2. While the first part of the series was built around setting up the characters as they are in the present, the second part has been invested in building up who these characters were before they came to Seisho. Episode four delved into Karen and Hikari’s past as children and what led to them making the promise to one another to become Stage Girls. Episode 5 gave us a brief look into Mahiru’s past as the ace singer of her small town and big sister of a large family. Now here we’re getting a glimpse at Kaoruko and Futaba’s relationship.
Kaoruko comes from a family of traditional dance artists, training in their style since she was a young girl. Much like Mahiru, she was the “ace” in her hometown…but unlike Mahiru, instead of fear freezing her growth, it was arrogance. She’s used to being fawned over and treated as royalty, and she’s already at the point where she needs to be “convinced” to keep practicing when she and Futaba are both children. She teases quitting and the only thing keeping her from doing so is her friend Futaba mentioning she really wants to see her keep dancing. And so, for the sake of her “Number One Fan”, she decides to keep progressing.
3. Again and again, we come back to the idea of “talent” alone not being enough to achieve your goals in Seisho. Kaoruko is what’s commonly known as a “gifted” kid–the kind of kid who was able to tackle the basics of life easily and was constantly praised for it. Gifted kids get lazier as they get older, because they think they can apply the same level of effort to everything and life will always be a breeze. For Kaoruko, the reality check comes when the production crew for the play asks everyone to do a preliminary audition for Starlight, and Kaoruko bombs so bad she isn’t even chosen to have a speaking role. Despite having several more chances to pass future auditions, she chooses to quit rather than keep training to improve.
Later, she mulls over the idea of winning in the Revue to get the part she wants, only…well. She’s really bad at those, too. Six episodes in and I’m still confused about how these rankings work. Directly related to her status as a lazy genius, Kaoruko has apparently been losing duels left and right but hasn’t risked elimination yet.
4. Kaoruko’s failure at the first audition…and her actions surrounding that behavior, eventually lead to our performance for the episodes, the Revue of Promises. Inspired by Kaoruko’s brilliance, Futaba has worked harder and harder to reach her goal–she’s gone from just barely making it into Seisho Academy at all to becoming one of the ladies chosen to have a speaking role in the latest Starlight production. But instead of the person she cares about and admires the most being happy for her growth, she’s chosen to be jealous instead…resulting in a rift between the two characters.
This episode goes out of its way to make Kaoruko unlikable here–she complains about Futaba attending extra tapdance practice with Claudine, she asks for Futaba to step down so she can take her role…she even threatens to leave Seisho. It’s frustrating to watch, but lines up with who she’s been portrayed as up to now–constantly lazy, coasting by on her existing skills, needing Futaba to do everything not related to class. Even in the match she doesn’t change that much. She just remembers she promised to become Top Star for the sake of her number one fan, but like I said at the start of this…characters don’t just do complete 180s. The last two episodes we saw just how manipulative she could be, attacking her opponent while she wasn’t looking, threatening to tell on Hikari and Karen when they missed curfew. In her fight here, after realizing Futaba’s feelings, she threatens to cut off her own pin and “surrender”, only for Futaba to try and stop her…and nearly wind up losing her own pin and sash instead.
Fortunately that’s not how things wind up ending. Instead, Futaba is briefly blinded by the brilliance of her friend’s technique, and loses her sash in one final clash, which is still a bit frustrating. There’s an explanation as to why the idol should probably continue to stay ahead of her fan, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see Kaoruko get some proper sense beaten into her. Oh well.
5. In the stinger for next week’s episode, we see Banana standing on the audition stage while going over her script for Starlight. Banana seemingly took herself off the board several episodes ago when she volunteered to become a part of the screenwriting crew for this year’s production of Starlight, but isn’t that just another way of saying she’s working behind the scenes? At the same time, when Maya defeated Karen in episode three we got a look at the rankings…and Banana was actually somehow third, ahead of everyone other than Maya and Claudine. She’s clearly still in the game, so what’s she up to?
Revue Starlight is available for streaming on HI-DIVE.