[Cockatoo's Anime Review] Revue Starlight
So basically in this series I will be reviewing some sort of anime , talking about what I liked/didn’t like, if I’d recommend it, etc. I’ll be marking when spoilers start in each section so if you’re interested in watching the anime, I’d recommend coming back after you’ve watched (unless you don’t care about spoilers). Will it be well-written? No. Will I try? Probably.
I’m aiming towards doing shorter anime (12-26 episodes) since I don’t have the time to watch longer shows, however I am open to taking recommendations/suggestions so comment them or message me if you want a review on one.
Starting this off, I’m gonna be talking about one of my favourite anime: Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight!
Starlight. This is the story of goddesses guided by the light of the stars. They collide and clash, they grow closer even as they pass each other by. However, they are pulled apart, never to meet again.
Anime: Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight
Genre: This is really hard to pin down, but I’d say: Musical, Slice-of-Life, Drama, Action
Rating: Probably would put this at 13+
Warnings: (Spoiler) There’s a brief shot with blood in episode 10. Other than that there’s no real injuries.
Length: 1 season with 12 episodes (24 minutes each) + 3 OVAs (7 minutes each)
Synopsis: The plot follows a group of 9 high-schoolers attending the prestigious Seisho Music Academy — an all-female technical school specializing in theatre production. Aijou Karen, the main character, dreams of performing on stage, however her clumsy, easygoing nature often prevents her from reaching the top ranks. One day, her childhood friend, Kagura Hikari, suddenly transfer to Seisho, and Karen is once again reminded of their childhood promise of performing the play ‘Starlight’ together, which happens to be Seisho’s yearly production.
Through trying to rekindle her friendship with Hikari, she accidentally finds a secret elevator within the school that leads to a massive theatre underneath. The theatre serves as a battleground that Karen and her classmates have to simultaneously sing and duel with weapons in a series of performances hosted by an omnipotent talking giraffe; the prize being the title of ‘Top Star’ and the role of the lead in ‘Starlight’
Would I Recommend? Yes
Where Can I Watch? The official EN sub/dub release is on HIDIVE, however it is locked behind a paid subscription (you can access it if you have a VRV account). If you’re unable to pay for the official release, I do have a Google Drive with all the episodes + OVAs subbed, so you can message me on Discord for the link.
Revue Starlight is genuinely the most ambitious and artsy shows I’ve seen in a good while. While the story is pretty straight-forward, its direction, sound design, visuals, and characters blend together to create an encaptivating experience that I couldn’t look away from. If you really want to know how much I love this show, I just went through my 5th full rewatch of the series to make this review. Something I’ve noticed is that some people say the more slice-of-life first half of each episode is unnecessary compared to the latter half. However, I’d strongly argue that the first half of each episode is the set-up that drives the plot, and RevStar simply wouldn’t work without it. While the second half is definitely the more exciting part which the intricate fight scenes, moving backgrounds, etc. I actually enjoy the first half just as much. Though it captures the slower moments, the characters personalities + the bouncy animation help keep things entertaining, and I really did end up liking the entire cast by the end of the series.
My only complaint is that I wanted more. I think a 13th episode for Claudine would have helped her a lot since she’s the only main who didn’t get an exclusive revue. While a huge aspect of Claudine’s character is her relationship to Maya, I think she should have been given more time to show her character considering she is, in a lot of ways, Karen’s foil. Its Claudine’s role in Starlight that Karen is looking to take, so I really would have liked it if we saw their fight as a standalone + highlight more of their similarities/differences. Another minor complaint I have is about the last episode, ‘cause while its gorgeous and nearly-perfect, I just think its really funny that they had Hikari wallowing in a sand pit of her own despair and sorrow for 10 months and Karen trying to rescue her, and then cut to their friends enjoying hotpot. Like it’s a good scene, but it doesn’t fit with the tone of the last episode.
Other than that, the anime was masterfully executed from start to finish, and the magic of the show stays no matter how many times I rewatch it. There’s a fair bit of foreshadowing in the earlier episodes about Nana, and rewatching it and realizing how ominous she is was definitely A Thing. I’ll be elaborating more on the specific parts I enjoyed in the other sections.
(Spoilers) The plot is simultaneously straight-forward and completely outlandish. Like WHO went “what if we had a bunch of theatre students, but they also hit each other with swords for clout.” Most of the anime consists of two halves: the regular lives of the characters building up to the main conflict + the revue fight that resolves that conflict and furthers the overarching main plot. Slowly we have Karen and Hikari establishing themselves for the top position, there’s some time-looping shenanigans revealed, and we have the final fight between Karen/Hikari vs Maya/Claudine, who are the previous holders of the lead roles for Starlight. I almost died when Karen and Hikari won, only for the giraffe to be like “fight” and having Hikari yeet Karen off the tower like… BRO. Of course they have a happy ending, with Karen going “society stinky” and them finally achieving their dreams of performing Starlight together. I really enjoyed the plot, even though I don’t think its the thing that stands out the most in the series (the experience itself probably overshadows the plot). It’s solid and keeps me interested, what more could I ask.
The heart of any anime is its characters, and for me the characters make or break a show. If I’m being honest, despite having only 12 episodes to establish its 9-member cast, I found the characters to be some of my favourites ever. I could literally talk about each one of these flamboyant, chaotic little gremlins individually, because this happens to be the rare case where I actually love all of the characters (I can’t even say that about Love Live, so that’s really saying something). However in the interest of not making this review 12 hours long, I’ll try to keep this section as short as possible.
First off, in general the characters are all likeable and stand out on their own. They do certainly follow their troupes, however I found a lot of them surprised in good ways, and their little quirks and moments are defined not only when they’re the focus of an episode, but in the background as well. Design-wise, there’s a lot of thought and detail put into their visual aesthetic, and it suits their personalities. Personally my favourite design is Nana’s, who looks like a giant banana. Like. Her name is Daiba Nana, which you can read as Dai Banana (which means big banana), so they just ran with that and made her tall with blonde-hair that’s tied up to resemble a bunch of bananas. 10/10.
As much as I’d like to talk about each character, since this is a review I can’t really spend 2000 words analyzing them. Of them, I think Nana and Junna are my favourites, which is sort of weird since I could probably talk about Claudine or Mahiru longer than I could talk about Junna. Nana however, is different, and she’s the one character I think I’ll be highlighting in this review.
Nana is introduced as the mother hen of the group, and she’s a very nurturing and kind person. She plays a more supportive role in the first-half of the series, supporting Junna through her arc and generally just sitting there looking like a Big Heckin’ Banana. However, episode 7 absolutely throws every notion of the series out the window and shows the darker side to Nana. Nana seems to be a fundamentally lonely person, and she becomes very protective of her friends, who she sees as her found-family. The extent of her protectiveness comes out in the revues, where its shown that Nana actually won the revue, even trampling Maya and Claudine, the apparent best students in their year. She makes her wish to the giraffe: to repeat their first-year performance of Starlight. That’s when you realize Nana has created a time loop, and its revealed that she’s been looping the same year at least 60 times. Her motivation for looping the years is to both preserve her time with her friends, as well as prevent the possibility of them getting hurt by the unknown future. I really did not expect the Giant Banana Mom character to be the morally-grey character, but she is. Rewatching the show makes her seem super ominous, like heck, one of her first lines is “I know everything”. Seriously, if you haven’t seen the show, please watch it.
I’m not really good at paying attention, and I’m not good at using my brain to think about the visuals of an anime, but the visual design is very solid. The animation is well-done, especially in the fight scenes where it utilizes not only the characters, but the stage around them. The slice-of-life scenes are good too, with how the characters move around exaggeratedly to express their personalities and keep things interesting. The lighting is good in displaying the emotions of the theme, and I really like the contrast between the harsher, artificial lights in the revues compared to the more mellow, natural lighting in the regular scenes. Of course, there’s some rocky patches since there’s a limited budget, but it’s really not noticeable.
The only reason I found out about Revue Starlight was because I saw the voice cast and went “oh, this will be interesting”. All the voice actresses nail their parts well, and their performances suit the characters so well, I didn’t realize that like half of the cast had never voiced for an anime before. Even if you didn’t know Japanese, you can discern each character’s personality just from their voice and how they talk. During the revues when the characters are singing they use their actual voice actresses without switching for a double, and I’d consider the music some of the best yet for an anime. The OST’s good, don’t know how to describe it since it’s like an hour and a half long, but I use it for study music so :/ there’s that. The actual revue songs are phenomenal, they’re all very grandiose and convey the flow of the fight well. The vocals are great, I think in particular Maya’s voice actress absolutely nails her parts. Only thing is that since there’s singing + dialogue overlapping sometimes, it can be a little hard to follow if you’re reading subtitles.
Honestly, RevStar is really hard to describe, since its mostly the experience of watching it that makes it so good. Tried my best, woo. I really would recommend it, I’ll say it for the 1000th time. WATCH REVUE STARLIGHT. Please. I need to talk about it with someone.
In the future maybe I’ll pick an anime I’m not so emotional invested in to review (maybe even one that sucks). If you actually read this far, congrats, I’m sorry this didn’t make sense. I promise it makes more sense if you watch the show uwu.