「舞台少女」 (Butai Shoujo)
“Stage Girl”

Here by popular demand: a Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight post! I don’t usually take requests (being a snobbish pianist at heart), but Revue Starlight is a genuinely interesting show and it could a few words to that effect can’t hurt. I should make clear, though, that here on RandomC when we don’t spend a post on a new show it’s not because we don’t like the show, or because it’s bad. Blogging bad shows is a unique challenge that we sometimes indulge in. Mostly, it’s because we don’t have the time. All the RandomC staff are real people with real lives and each season our coverage is a matter of triage. By all means, let us know which shows you’re excited for and would like to see blogged, but we respond much better to polite proposals than to capital letters. As most people do.

Not that you want Passerby blogging your show anyway. He doesn’t actually talk about anime. He just wants to use them as an excuse to explore wild tangents.

On that note, let’s talk about coming-of-age stories. Anime sure has a lot of those, doesn’t it? Even outside anime they are common, but this medium we love is particularly flush with stories of generically attractive youths pursuing their dreams and finding themselves. Perhaps it’s a matter of target demographic. Perhaps it’s because so many anime are set in high schools or star high school students. Perhaps one lead to another. Whatever the reason, the end result is that on first glance seasoned anime viewers (the kind who have the good taste to read RandomC, naturally) will probably find a show like Revue Starlight quite familiar. Even with all its bells and whistles Revue Starlight is not only is it a coming-of-age story, it’s a specific kind of coming-of-age story. Ever watched any idol anime? The Idolm@ster? Love Live? Well, don’t worry about those. We’re actually going to be talking about magical girl anime.

All magical girl anime are coming-of-age stories, told of young women who overcome obstacles on the path to adulthood. What those obstacles specifically are don’t much matter; the ‘magical’ part of the magical girl genre requisites some level of fantasy and any obstacles — taking the form of a monster-of-the-week, or a dark rival, or the heat death of the universe — are usually metaphorical anyway. This fuzzy flexibility allows any theme pertinent to a young, female audience to slide comfortably into magical girl anime, and in return magical girls to slide into any number of thematic settings. Take idol anime, for example. All idols in anime as we know it basically play the part of magical girls, but transforming only on stage, with the powers being song and dance and general charisma. As is appropriate; magical girls, even within their own stories, is theatre, play acting. When the young girls in question transform they are temporarily empowered, take the role of an adult, and play the part to prepare themselves for actual adulthood. Again, it’s metaphor, and theatre is metaphor. Plus, theatre is innately magical itself, inviting the audience to, for a brief moment, eschew reality and step over into a different world, to make believe.

Revue Starlight has evidently figured out the relationship between theatre, magical girl anime and coming-of-age stories and so it has taken the logical next step: magical theatre. Actually, I guess, Princess Tutu figured it out much earlier, right down to the battle ballet. Regardless of whether it’s a coincidence, a rip-off, or an homage, Revue Starlight has a very interesting theme going for it. This is not just in storytelling, which I’ve been labouring up until now, but also in aesthetics. For example, combat in magical anime has traditionally been very ritualised affairs (the same spells and transformation sequence every episode), so why not go all the way and make it literally theatre? Combined with the otherworldly imagery, Revue Starlight turns into a visually captivating show even without examining technical aspects of art and animation.

That said, join me again next week when I’ll probably talk about surrealism, and Utena.

OP Sequence

OP: 「星のダイアローグ」 (Hoshi no Dialogue) by スタァライト九九組 (Starlight Kukugumi aka the main cast)


  1. I didn’t quite know what to make of this. It’s kind of like Kaleido Star meets Deadman Wonderland. Well yes and Utena, but surrealism? I don’t know, the giraffe wasn’t on fire so I’m going for Symbolism because of the slightly Wedekind vibe.

  2. From what I’ve seen this far, elements of Symphogear and to a smaller extent Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku vibes. That’s pretty much up my alley of things that I watch.

    And from experience thus far, I am approaching this show with skepticism. Why?

    I learnt to be highly suspicious of emotionless talking animals

    This might just be a farce to what happens in episode 3 and 8…

    And a transfer student in a magic theatre girl show… Very suspicious. Will she pull out an RPG 7 or MG3 or a pipe bomb from her sleeve?

    Henrietta Brix
  3. Phew, sure took you guys so long to review this one…i’ve been checking on RandomC everyday to see if any of you guys picking this up.

    I’ve been going in and out from Reddit, and turns out discovering Revue Starlight is directed by Tomohiro Furukawa-sensei, who worked together with Ikuhara Kunihiko in Mawaru Penguidrum project. This is why this anime is brimming with Ikuhara’s influence: Utena, Penguindrum and Yurikuma. I dont think this gonna be some idol anime, and the closest we ever gonna get is feeling the Utena’s vibes. This is where i’m gonna get caught in the net, because i am a serious fan for this kind of cult series. XD

    The introduction alone got me all hyped up even before the real battle started; and when its finally kick in, boy oh boy i felt all nostalgic and shivers all over, reminiscing the same vibes i had when watching Revolutionary Girl Utena many years ago. As can be seen in Revue Starlight, its talent versus talent, elites versus elites and so on; its the battle between charisma. Foreseeing how Karen immediately jumped into Hikari and Junna’s battle midair, i think shes gonna be one of those characters that introduced as one of the strong ones in the show. Not bad.

    Whatever it is, i had my expectation in this series when i first saw the PV, and now my expectation is getting more higher as the story goes on. God i hope they’ll maintain the quality, so im praying for you studio Kinema Citrus.

    holy shit just look at this!
    Karen is already my instant fav!
    Im really liking the concept…gah cannot wait for the next episode <3

    onion warrior
    1. I could certianly see the Penguin Drum parallels. That whole “transformation sequence” if you can call it that reminded me alot of Penguin Drum. Very interesting first episode.

  4. XiV

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