English Dub Review: Revue Starlight “Nana Daiba”

Eternal Recurrence

Overview

Through a series of flashbacks to the 99th Class’ first year, Nana relives the best moment of her life: performing Starlight at the 99th Seisho festival. She wishes she could live in that performance forever, and her wish is granted. Thanks to the underground revues, Nana earned the ability to exist on any stage at any time. She’s been using these wishes to replay the 99th class’ first year, over and over again, culminating in their performance of Starlight. In her latest time around, though, something is different. Fate has chosen to send Hikari to the academy, and by beating Nana underground, she snaps everyone out of the time loop.

Our Take

Well, this is quite a revelation. While it’s still not exactly clear how the Revue process works, we’ve learned a ton of information this week. This show once again does a phenomenal job of deepening their character’s motivations in naturalistic ways, even when the world they inhabit continues to reveal itself as more and more fantastical.

This episode began with the 99th Class’ first performance of Starlight, and finally unveiled the show’s ending. It’s a tragedy. The two goddesses don’t reach the star that they’ve been striving towards. The rest of the plot points and dialogue were pretty true to the girls themselves, not just their roles, so it seems as if this could be foreshadowing as well. Maybe there isn’t room for two stars on the Stage of Fate.

If anything, though, all of these characters have been living in a kind of Nietzschean tragedy of their own for some time now. Nana wanted to keep replaying the same year over and over again, stealing how many countless years from her friends. It’s heavily implied they don’t notice, but it is also shown that Nana uses her knowledge from previous recurrences to her advantage, Groundhog Day style. That’s pretty dark, even if they don’t choose to portray it that way.

This episode also finally gave me some reason to care about Hikari. It’s almost too late, but I’ll take what I can get. Her as an X-factor, complicating the equation that Nana has been living out for who knows how long, is an interesting twist. Maybe this is the reason that Nana moved from Class A to Class B. She appears to have much more talent at manipulating people than onstage anyway. Her advanced age might have made her see the value in novelty, and her rote memorization of the other girls’ moves seems to have left her a little rusty when facing a new opponent.

She isn’t completely cured of her old ways, though. This revelation was actually expertly foreshadowed last week when Nana was scolded for trying to cast the 100th Seisho Festival performance of Starlight the same way as the 99th, a sentiment echoed in this episode by Maya Tendo. I don’t think she or the director of Class B is aware of the time loop, but any character (especially her roommate and underground Revue sleuth Hoshimi) finding out is a great new bit of suspense for the show to introduce at this stage in the game.

What I’ve been thinking about most since watching the episode, though, is Karen. While she was one of the people caught in the loop for so long, her trajectory has been changed the most by the introduction of Hikari. Now that she’s finally reaching her full potential, it seems as if she’ll be the one to make a wish to the giraffe. My guess is that she’ll wish for a future production of Starlight starring the 99th Class, but this show has certainly thrown me curveballs before, so I don’t think anything is certain at this point.

Revue Starlight has grown from a kind of inorganic competition anime into a reasonably deep character drama that incorporates its fantastical elements with increased smoothness by the episode. It’s always a treat to watch a show improve as it moves through its run, but it’s something else when it turns out the show was always something different than you thought it was. I liked what Revue Starlight was when it started, but what it’s doing this late in the game has the potential to take the show to an entirely new level for me. I can only hope that they keep it up.

Score
9/10

Zach

Cartoon Philosopher

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