Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight, sparkles, and the comic relief episode

Tomohiro Furukawa’s overarching direction of Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight is an interesting cycle of influence. Furukawa worked alongside Kunihiko Ikuhara on Mawaru Penguindrum and Yuri Kuma Arashi. Ikuhara’s directorial flair has clearly inspired a lot in Revue Starlight, especially in the mechanical transformation sequence that transitions Karen Aijou from Seisho Music Academy to a surreal underground dueling stage

Yet, Ikuhara was influenced by the Takarazuka Revue itself: the main subject of Revue Starlight. He also drew inspiration from Takarazuka-influenced anime and directors like Rose of Versailles and Osamu Dezaki. Rose of Versailles in and of itself is often synonymous with the Takarazuka Revue, and helped cement its top star system — the same system that is under scrutiny and criticism in Revue Starlight. Furthermore, Revue Starlight isn’t just an anime project, it’s a multimedia project that includes a stage play directed by former Takarazuka actress and director Kodama Akiko.

No other episode showcases this cycle of influences better than Episode 5, “Where Radiance Resides.”

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Our “Starlight” — more Takarazuka influences in Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight

“Starlight. It’s the story of goddesses drawn by the glow of the heavens. We can fight and argue and disagree but there are ties that bind us together.

Yet, we may just as easily be pulled apart, never to meet again. It is a sad story.

The tale of those eight women captivates us.

The song of those eight women draws us in and compels us.

Let’s go to that stage. To that shining star together!”

-opening narration between Karen Aijou and Hikari Kagura, Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight, Episode 1

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Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight and the Mystery of Daiba Nana

Height frequently decides one’s fate in the Takarazuka Revue, if not definitively, then at least in setting would-be Takarazuka stars down a certain path. Only those who become otokoyaku (the Takarazuka women who play male roles) can be the top star. And only those who are naturally tall and well-proportioned can become otokoyaku.

Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight‘s “Banana” Daiba is tall.

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Position Zero, This is Tendou Maya: establishing the Takarazuka status quo in Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight

Before we ever see her duel in full, Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight tells us that Maya Tendou is already established as the revue’s top star.

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The Star Knows — Junna Hoshimi’s dueling stage in Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight

Junna Hoshimi wakes up earlier than her classmates. The sun is just beginning to filter through the windows when she walks outside for her morning run. Her roommate, Nana Daiba, is still asleep. On her desk is a pamphlet for Starlight and a dog-eared, bookmarked script. She leaves a message: “I will show you that I can seize my own star.”

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