Editorials/Essays

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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Fan culture and growth in IDOLiSH7

In the double-feature of IDOLiSH7‘s anime debut, hapless newbie producer Tsumugi Takanashi books an outdoor venue that seats three-thousand for her rookie group, IDOLiSH7. Despite hard work handing out flyers, and trying her best to drum up interest, only nine people show up. Tsumugi tearfully apologizes, only to have all seven group members laugh and say that’s about how many people they expected.

This is where I fell in love with IDOLiSH7. 

At times as unrealistic as its idol anime counterparts, IDOLiSH7 excels in nitty-gritty business details like venue sizes and whether your favs are truly best friends behind the pretty smiles. The answer to the latter question is no, but that doesn’t mean they can’t care about each other deeply as business partners working towards similar goals. After all, no one besides your group mates will understand just how hot that one guerrilla live was, or what it was like to perform to a crowd of only nine people (twelve if you include your own staff). IDOLiSH7 also explores what happens when one member or subunit is significantly more popular than the group, and is never afraid to show disagreements between members, even over small, seemingly insignificant things. Some of the conflicts are melodramatic, but most are grounded in a reality that actively chips away at the veneer of being an idol group, especially one under a smaller company.

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