tomohiro furukawa

Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight and the Mystery of Daiba Nana (Part 2, more Takarazuka criticism)

Nana “Banana” Daiba is tall.

She is talented.

The series makes a point to show her high up in the revue duel standings — third, behind Claudine Saijou and Maya Tendou. It’s a clear message that she should be one of the trainees to beat. Not only is she diligent, but she has natural advantages that other trainees don’t have. Only tall young women have a chance at becoming otokoyaku. In the strict Takarazka Revue tradition, only otokoyaku can become a top star.

Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight is concerned with challenging the Takarazuka system and pressures that come with it. Karen Aijou and Hikari Kagura’s promise to stand on the same stage together is the first step in this direction. Seisho Music Academy’s framing device of the play Starlight is another: it sets up the status quo to be challenged.

Two young women try to grasp a star at the same time. One of them is struck down while the other lives. Even if they want to share it, or claim it together, they cannot. “And it shall be bestowed upon you, the Star which you have longed for.” is Starlight‘s tagline, but the words are a poison. Once that star is bestowed, solitude follows. Only one person can claim position zero.

Only one stage girl can become top star.

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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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To be a center — Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight Episode 1

“The normal happiness, the pleasures of a young girl, all burned away to aim for a distant twinkling.”

-Giraffe, Shoujo ☆ Kageki Revue Starlight, Episode 1

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