You can’t step in the same river twice.
After eight episodes, we finally learn the plot of “Starlight,” the musical within Revue Starlight, the show, as the 99th class performs it at the 100th Seisho festival. The play is about two women who make a childhood promise to each other to be together, but unfortunately, one of the women gets amnesia after a head injury and forgets the other. The second woman knows of a pair of stars that will be able to restore her memory. The women travel to find the starlight and find a group of punished goddesses who are trapped by the light. They give the light to the two women, and while the amnesiac regains her memory, the woman who brought her there is blinded, and the two never see each other again. After the show, Hikari teaches Karen about the book that inspired “Starlight” and Nana and Hoshimi finally talk about Nana’s time loop. Karen and Nana square off in the underground Revue, and Karen emerges victorious. There are only four girls left, going into the final day of auditions, and the stage of fate could be anyone’s.
We’re looking at the end game here. It was a good digression for the episode to finally tell us what “Starlight” is about, even if it is a little bit on the nose as far as applying to the current story goes. It makes sense, given the media empire Revue Starlight is trying to create, but it does serve to remind me of the litany of modern-day Shakespeare adaptations that were all the rage in Hollywood in the nineties and early 2000s. Making a contemporary story work with the framework of a classic is a lot more impressive than creating a fake classic to have your modern-day story parallel.
This doesn’t take anything away from the dynamics of the 99th Class, however. I’ve bought in pretty hard to most all of these relationships. This was actually the least I’ve ever disliked Karen and Hikari. Hikari knowing about the background behind “Starlight” and Karen having absolutely no clue was totally true to their characters, and provided some more depth to their interactions. It was certainly a massive help that Hikari wasn’t unnecessarily mean to Karen, even when she asked a few unintelligent questions.
The other duos are working as well. In this episode, we’ve seen Futaba and Claudine grow closer together, and that’s left Kaoruko and Maya as an unlikely duo. Most of the conflict, though, is reserved for Nana and Hoshimi. Hoshimi confronts Nana about her imprisoning the world in the same year for who knows how long. Nana reveals that she had been making small changes each time around in order to keep things fresh for herself. This nicely parallels how the “Starlight” script is slightly different in this iteration. (As a side note, they had alluded to changing the script before, and I had wondered about that. It seems as if each year, a new writer does their take on an adaptation of the book, rather than there being an infinitely mutable script). Hoshimi tells Nana that she was a stage girl all along, and we believe her. Repetition doesn’t necessarily imply recurrence.
As we move into the final quarter of the show, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions. For instance, the final four. We know that Hikari and Karen are going to make the cut. We’re also sure that Maya is going to be the third member of the quartet, but who is our last lady? My money is on Claudine. The former top two and the current rising stars make for more dramatic tension, and besides, Maya hasn’t had her arc resolved yet. We saw her get closer to Futaba in a more instructive (and seemingly romantic) capacity, and she scolded Nana about casting the same this year as she did the year before, but she has yet to gain anything for herself. As I mentioned last week, I hope she’s up against Hikari on the last day of auditions. That would leave Maya vs. Karen as the other pairing.
I’m also curious to learn what drives Maya. She’s the only member of the 99th class who hasn’t had an inkling of backstory. While I know we’re sure to flashback to Claudine’s past as a child star, Maya’s mystery is probably the most compelling. Where does she come from, and more importantly, what plans does she have for the stage of fate?