「ひかり、さす方へ」 (Hikari, Sasukate e)
“Towards the Light”
As expected, this week we finally get the Hikari episode. That’s only fair, considering that last week we got the Nana episode and the two have been set up as opposing forces and if we get one we might as well get the other. They also happen to be two of the more interesting characters in this anime so I naturally welcome any screentime that they manage to get.
That said, Hikari’s backstory as revealed in this episode is not particularly eye opening and probably what you’ve already guessed at. Her promise with Karen, her transfer to England, and her aspirations for the stage have all been well established. Sure, they fill in some details — I assumed that Hikari left at an older age and that she and Karen hadn’t communicated with each other for a while, as opposed to the regular mail — but overall the plot rolled one without too many surprises. More important than the plot, though, was the world building — we learn that the revues extend beyond just Karen’s school, and that the price of entry is more or less your soul. I was half joking when I said that ‘there can be only one’, but apparently these girls do have to take each other out, Highlander style and, I don’t know, take their powers for themselves. This sheds light on Hikari’s motivations, but it actually does more for Nana. It seems like she saw all her friends shine on stage in their first production of Starlight, want to hold onto that instead of see her friends destroy each other, and decided that the only way they can shine forever is if she keeps winning and resetting the revue. In that light, it’s almost like that she’s the hero, no? I don’t know if the rest of the girls know about the price demanded by their giraffe patron, but I’m wagering they don’t, and Nana decided to shoulder the burden entirely by herself. Again, her decision is a bit egocentric but the entire idea of the revues is about egocentricity, and Nana at least seems to have the most benign intentions.
If Nana is nominally a ‘hero’, does that make Hikari the villain? Revue Starlight talks of tragedy this week, and in particular shows us what seems to be a pastiche of the Scottish play (performed by a pastiche of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts). It should be noted that the titular Macbeth was not a good person. At all. He murders his king under his own roof, usurps the throne, and plummets his country into ruin. All this, in pursuit of his ambition. And that is, in essence, Hikari’s story, is it not? She, like her other classmates and rivals, are driven by ambition. And Hikari is an usurper, presumably sent by the giraffe to break the loops and shatter the pax balbisiana. Sure, Hikari has all these wholesome reasons for doing what she does — the promise, regaining what she feels was cheated from her — but ultimately she is a disruptive and destructive influence. Time will tell whether this is for good or ill.
On that note, where does the plot go from here? The climactic showdown between Hikari and Nana, which could have been a finale performance in its own right, is already done, and while the spectacle was quite satisfying many narrative resources were burned for its sake. Hikari has lost her cloak of mystery and Nana her aloof invincibility. But Revue Starlight still needs to remain compelling. I, for one, am sustained by all the little questions that keep popping up. Why does Karen sing Hikari’s ED this week? Why is Hikari the only one who’s left-handed? If Hikari was able to reignite her passion seemingly through sheer force of will (remember boys, it’s not about the size of your blade, it’s about how you use it) does that mean it’s a renewable resource and the whole conflict is meaningless? Are we really going to bring up prophecy nonsense at final act of the story? And more besides. I doubt I’ll get all the answers, but I’ll take whatever comes.
Full-length images: 12.