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.”

“We haven’t had auditions yet. Don’t assume that the leads have been decided.”

Junna Hoshimi to Karen Aijou, Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight, Episode 1

When Junna is introduced in the first episode of Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight, she is the first student in the studio that morning outside of Karen Aijou (who has day duty) and Karen’s roommate Mahiru Tsuyuzaki. She hands out flyers reminding Karen, Mahiru, and Nana of their Starlight play that’s over a year in the future. She admonishes Karen for thinking that the leads are already decided. Junna is framed as studious, hardworking, and authoritative — all traits that are reiterated when she receives more of the spotlight in Episode 2. Unlike Maya Tendou and Claudine Saijou, Junna’s talents aren’t presented as inherent.

Junna is talented — all of the young women in Seisho Music Academy are — but above all else she is a hard worker who will make up for any talent gaps or opposition with effort and ambition. While Nana’s dormitory desk is filled with photographs of previous plays, a pinboard with more pictures, cute buttons and stickers, Junna’s desk is filled with notebooks, textbooks, scripts and the Starlight flyer. Only her note to herself, adorned with a few hand-drawn stars, is personalized. Junna arrives first and stays late, redoing exercises from class.

Purple-pink light from the tiara representing the elusive “top star” position follows Junna throughout Revue Starlight‘s second episode outside of its place atop the dueling stage. It accompanies her on her morning run, is seen above the trees when she arrives at school, is over her shoulder in dance class, and glints off of the bed frame in the school nurse’s office. Even when Junna faints, light refracted from the tiara appears on the floor through the lenses of her glasses — a precursor to Junna’s dueling stage. Junna isn’t the only member of the 99 class that the tiara follows, but it appears behind her frequently as a reminder of what she aspires to.

Junna’s personality is also reflected in her chosen weapon and dueling style. The bow and arrow, another nod to how she collects information, assesses it, and attacks repeatedly from a distance, wearing down her opponent, regardless if that opponent is a difficult piece of classwork or a classmate on the dueling stage. In classes, Junna is often framed with her head turned away or cut off completely. Her eyes are frequently hidden by light reflecting off of her glasses.

Glasses play a large role in Junna’s stage setting. The acrobatic trappings and large colorful stars of the first audition stage are replaced with ruined arches and doric columns. These pediments of these setpieces have two round holes resembling glasses that refract light, distracting Junna’s dueling opponent — in this case, Karen — while Junna shoots arrows covertly.

Onstage, Junna relies on attacks from a distance and subterfuge. The glasses pediments help, but Junna also uses a group of mannequins to distract her opponent. For Junna, the mannequins also represent how, even with all of her effort and ambition, she still feels like one of many.

This added information and framing recontextualizes Junna scolding Karen in the first episode. Junna’s words aren’t for Karen as much as they are for herself. If the leads have yet to be decided, then Junna will use everything at her disposal to overcome any personal weaknesses. It also casts her annoyance at others in dance class who are cooing over Maya and Claudine. Junna certainly admires them, and is taking copious notes, but also becomes aggravated when the class too becomes their stage. Her scolding of the entire class is also a reminder to herself, and her initial disgust at Karen waltzing into the special revue unaware is understandable. All that effort and Karen defeats her in a debut where Karen wasn’t even chosen to participate.

Yet, at the end, two lights shine down onto Karen and Junna from the glasses pediments. Karen wants to perform onstage with her childhood friend Hikari Kagura, and has set out to prove that more than one stage girl can have the center position, against the tradition of the revue. After defeating Junna, Junna accepts this, signified by the lighting, while still strengthening her resolve.

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8 comments

  1. Thank you for the great article!

    I found it really interesting in how the mannequin with glasses was labeled as “Hoshimi Junna, Age 8” and how that implies that she’d felt a lack of purpose and individuality from such a terribly young age, until finally finding her dream of being on the stage.

    The imagery of the identical mannequins in the perfectly lined up classroom also reminds me of Mawaru Penguindrum and the kind of anxiety that the show tackled with the Child Broiler concept, and how it is a component of a highly conformist society. Junna’s dream grants her an identity and she’s desperate to not be ground to dust, to not become invisible again.

  2. Brilliant write up, the details about the constant light following Junna was definitely something I missed. On the topic of the glasses as a main motif of her stage, it’s interesting that she chooses many times to shoot THROUGH the glasses, breaking them, in a very parallel way that she wishes to break free from the norm, from the mold, from herself and become someone special. But at the end of the fight, what casts the spotlight onto her are those exact same glasses. Great stuff.

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