Fittingly for a series so inspired by theatre, Revue Starlight has quite a spectacular finale. Across its twelve-episode run, the musical, magical, swashbuckling school story explores themes of competition and rivalry, unfair systems, and love and friendship. It brings these all together in an ending that packs a wonderfully metatextual and rebellious punch, with its main characters Karen and Hikari (and the relationship between them) taking the lead.
You knew I wasn’t finished writing about this show. Read the full piece on AniFem!
Never trust anyone who says high school is “the best years of your life”.
That said, of course, it can feel that way at the time, especially in comparison to the looming threat of adulthood and all the scary responsibilities and realities it contains. While I knew even back then that year ten was not the peak of my existence, the passage of time and its implications of change struck me with deep apprehension. After a rocky beginning to my teen years, I’d finally settled in with a group of good friends, and the thought that we might have to separate due to something as mundane as graduating was terrifying and wrought with injustice. Things were good. I didn’t want to lose anyone, didn’t want anything to change, wanted to hang onto that little slice of fun carefree (ish) existence.
Would I have trapped us all in a time loop to preserve the ties of our friendship group and avoid the pressures of adulthood? A magical cryptic theatre giraffe never asked me, so I suppose we’ll never know. But a little part of me would, you know, see where you were coming from if you decided to do that.
Spoilers ahead for Revue Starlight episodes seven, eight, and nine! Continue reading
Stage musicals blur and bend our perception of what is “real” in a way that’s sort of unique to their medium. With the audience sitting in the same room as the actors (perceived as characters) on the stage (perceived as the fictional world of the story), their suspension of disbelief becomes a little more elastic and more forgiving. We’ll accept the background scenery rolling away because we understand that it’s a set change, we’ll accept the chorus turning and addressing the audience because we understand the “fourth wall” in theatre is much more malleable than it is in movies or television, and we’ll accept characters over-emoting because we understand that they have to convey these feelings to people who can’t see them up close. And most importantly, we’ll accept characters breaking into song, because of the theatricality of the whole thing. The audience-story relationship is by nature more ethereal, so we have fewer demands that theatre conform to “realism”.
In a way, this means a story about the theatre is the perfect place to play around with perceptions of “reality”, and that’s where we come to the delightfully bizarre and distinctly musical Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight. Continue reading