“A mysterious night that seemed to span an entire year. If she would be kind enough to tell me about her exploits, I would respond with the memories of mine.”
-“Senpai,” Night Is Short Walk On Girl
Many, many years ago, before I worried as much about anything and everything, I had nights like the one in Masaaki Yuasa’s anime film adaptation of Tomihiko Morimi’s novel Night Is Short Walk On Girl. Nights where the entire world seemed to stretch before me endlessly. Nights where I would seemingly be lost in the Vermont woods until the light of day revealed a small trail behind my campus. Nights that could contain everything from romance to heartbreak, or both.
The time I told my friend smoking languidly in a dirty spotlight outside his townhouse that he was beautiful.
The time a group of friends and I decided to snowboard at 2 a.m..
The time another friend and played beer pong until sunrise using the half-empty bottles abandoned after a house party.
From it’s opening act, it was clear that Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight had something to say about the stage — what young women give to it, what they receive from it, all wrapped up in a Takarazuka package. Karen Aijou has what is quickly revealed to be an impossible dream in Takarazuka: to occupy position zero, center stage, with her friend Hikari Kagura. Seisho Music Academy and its enigmatic giraffe host naturally guide her down the traditional path of fighting others for the top star position, pitting Karen and her classmates against one another in seemingly inevitable conflict.
That is, until Karen breaks the cycle and shatters the status quo, dragging Hikari and their other classmates with her. Laying the groundwork for Karen and Hikari are Claudine Saijou and Maya Tendou.
Building castles in the sky is a forte of mine. From a very young age, I immersed myself in books, reading everything I could get my hands on from local library recommendations to my mother’s romance novels (which I really shouldn’t have been reading at that age and definitely didn’t understand until I was much older). In junior high school I found anime through Sailor Moon and never looked back. This coming April I will have been blogging about anime here at Atelier Emily for six years. Anime obviously means a lot to me.
It was all too easy to become lost in the media I consumed. Walking down the street with a pair of headphones, I could suddenly imagine myself figure-skating an olympic-winning routine. At night, I could re-read one of the many books stashed underneath my pillow and imagine myself as someone who wasn’t cold, awkward, and ugly. Instead, I was gregarious, beautiful, and warm.
This isn’t a confession or revelation or even a caveat to couch my words. It’s just a statement to preface talking about Violet Evergarden, since I’m still unsure as to how much I actually enjoyed the series. In some moments, I think back on how pretty it was. In other moments I think of narrative gaps and melodrama. If I’m comparing Kyoto Animation series of 2018, Tsurune has already been more emotionally resonant than Violet Evergarden ever was, and it’s not even finished yet with a few production issues.
I was never invested in Violet herself — which is probably why the episodes dedicated to her backstory seemed so sluggish and boring — but I loved the stories of the people she helped, either directly or indirectly, through letter-writing. This series was a test of how much I value aesthetics and animation even when the central storyline doesn’t interest me personally.
In my most chuunibyou moments of college, I clung to quick phrases and quotes from a variety of media that I consumed at the time. One of these series was Grey’s Anatomy, which I watched with my suite-mates and friends as a fun exercise in procrastinating rather than doing the mountain of homework we had saved up for that Sunday evening. I don’t think Meredith Grey’s “But as human beings, sometimes it’s better to stay in the dark, because in the dark there may be fear, but there’s also hope” is as profound as I initially thought when I was much younger, but there’s a lot of raw honesty and nuance to this statement.
Sometimes, we keep ourselves in the dark because, deep down, we are aware of an awful truth and unwilling or unready to accept it.