「かげきしょうじょ!!」 (Kageki Shoujo!!)
THE BIRTH OF TYBALT
Tybalt was in love with his cousin Juliet, he was forsaken by his light. No, scratch that, it was never his to begin with. That’s how Sarasa connects with the mysterious character (so distant from who she is, as many point out). When it comes to our girl, it all starts in Kabuki. Her first passion, the one she never really stood a chance. No matter how good she was, how much talent she had, that door had never been open for her. One thing that took me by surprise was Sarasa’s awareness of her own skills, that scene in which she’s watching Akiya’s performance and then goes on to give the biggest child-like pout and mutters “I’m better,” was an eye opener. Characters like Sarasa usually go down the route of “unaware genius.” It was way more satisfying as a viewer to see her character present a tridimensional personality. One thing it seems Sarasa was actually unaware, was the true depth of her feelings toward Akiya-kun.
When Ai finds her silently staring at the results board and is surprised by her friend’s lack of reaction, my take on it is this happened because through understanding Tybalt, Sarasa undergoes an intense journey of introspection. And that journey revealed a part of her she’d been avoiding. Sarasa is a good natured girl. She’s honest, bright, optimistic, supportive, ambitious and has a big heart. But she’s also a human who feels things, and when it comes to feelings, there are no rights or wrongs, they just are. Part of the human experience is to go through unpleasant experiences and unpleasant feelings, it’s to face adversity–be it through our own doing or the world. I saw this moment as the beginning of Sarasa’s coming of age–an experience such as this is a deep personal experience and I loved how the show chose to portray her in silence, taking it all in rather than externalizing it.
Speaking about growth, Ai’s first ‘defeat’ was a better route than if she had actually gotten the role of Juliet. I remember speaking on my first reviews about how I was looking forward to when Ai would honestly want something, and this was the perfect response. For the first time she truly desired to achieve something, only to fail at it. But in this case, her failure strengthened her character and her resolve, it showcased how far she’s come and it leaves that aftertaste of “and how far she will go!” The same can be said about Ayako. It felt thoroughly deserving to see her land Juliet’s role. Her performance was in complete alignment with Tachi’s description of “an innocent and bright fourteen year old.” In the aftermath of believing herself to be unfit, unworthy and untalented, it was a graceful outcome. It showed us what’s possible once we detach ourselves from our fears–not pretend they don’t exist, but when we acknowledge them and consciously choose to act regardless of them, because there’s something within us stronger than our fears.
Now, if you’ve never seen Amadeus, please make yourself a favor in the form of a huge popcorn bucket and sit down for a cinematic ride. I’ve never seen the play, but the movie is amongst my all time favorite list of feature films. This iconic story–more fiction than historically accurate–portrays the extraordinary relationship between Mozart and Salieri, the genius and the hard worker. It’s a brilliant tale about passion, music, rivalry, eccentricity and resentment. Sawa mentions her affinity with Salieri’s character and Phantom grounds her with some good reasoning, if Kouka’s student body was mainly composed of geniuses, they wouldn’t really be as exceptional as they are. Their ensemble thrives due to their teamwork. While Mozart has his own category as a genius, Sawa and Sarasa were only apart by a single vote. And what was it that tipped the scale to Sarasa? THE MOE FACTOR.
Kageki Shoujo’s first season was a beautiful character study and introduction of the main cast, it set the stage for the challenges the girls will face in their second year–now slightly more mature and aware of how to better explore their voices. The direction and writing was sensible when portraying delicate topics such as sexual child-abuse, social anxiety, bulimia and the resulting trauma of these experiences. My main concern with the depiction of abuse has always been the aftermath. And I was immensely pleased with how Ai’s character was given the opportunity to heal, not by pretending it never happened, or by creating more layer of masks to cover her wounds. She took a hard look at herself, at her thoughts, feelings and behaviors and how these impacted on her life and her reality, and then she found what was possible for her. Traumas does not define who we are, they are part of out stories, but they are not our identity. What truly makes us are our personal values.
The friendship between the main cast was a delight, it was realistic and even in the case of Hijiri-senpai (sue me, I like her twisted personality) there was no extremist case of antagonism–as it’s most common in shoujo anime. At first glance, characters like Kaoru and Sawa can fool us into thinking they’re just another case of the usual tsundere and the uptight iinchou, but we were shown how even these types can stand as individuals with much depth. Kageki Shoujo!! was a pleasant (imo underrated) surprise that might pass unnoticed by many. It’s been a while since I’ve watched weekly shows–streaming services have spoiled me, I’ve turned into a binger– and joining RandomC has been an overall interesting experience especially when it comes to that. I think I would’ve preferred to binge Kageki Shoujo!! Ha ha. But that’s just a personal confession. On that note, as I finish typing this review, all I’m left with is: man, I’ll miss this show.
Full-length images: 36.