English Dub Review: Revue Starlight “Promise Tower”

The reconciliation we’ve been waiting for.

Overview

On an off day for Class 99, Hikari has gone missing. Karen searches the school for her, but she’s nowhere to be found. Karen spends the day looking for Hikari all over town, as the two discuss their pasts and futures together over the phone. They reunite at the tower where they made their childhood promise to each other and renew their pact. Meanwhile, Mahiru and the rest of the class hatch a plan to cover for Karen and Hikari missing curfew. While it seems to work at first, when the girls return at dawn, they’re found out. As punishment, they will be receiving a legendary, extra harsh training routine, starting tomorrow.

Our Take

This was overall a good episode that was sorely needed for this story to continue to work, but I do have a few gripes about how we got here. Hikari’s motives have been revealed. The secret auditions come at a mysterious cost, and she was worried about Karen having to pay for it. We also find out that the role of the top star will be a role that transcends time, whatever that means. While this makes Hikari slightly more likable, her withholding of information and erratic behavior really comes off as plot contrivance more than anything.

This continues into the conceit for this week’s installment. Hikari takes her suitcase with her like she’s going to leave school, but why would she? She’s even more dedicated to achieving top star than Karen is, so there’s no reason for her to bail. The practical reason for her walkabout was to have her and Karen meet again at the tower to reaffirm their pledge to one another, but it was not the most artful way to get there, and that does stick out.

While a lot of the plotting to get to this point have been pretty annoying, I feel like we’re finally cooking on Revue Starlight. The secret weapon of this show continues to be its stellar supporting cast, and seeing them work on a little caper to cover for Hikari and Karen was not only entertaining in its own right but is a good sign for future episodes, when the stakes are higher. I still can’t help but feel for Mahiru. The entire class knows that she’s being ditched for Hikari. She’s actually the one that leads the ploy to disguise Kaoruko and Futaba as the missing girls. Her intense likability and sweet nature continue to make Karen seem selfish and capricious. But, maybe that’s what it takes to be a top star.

Maya & Claudine and Kaoruko & Futaba each have their own moments within their respective couples. Claudine continues to study hard to catch up to Maya, and Futaba has made it clear that she’ll give the auditions her all, even against Kaoruko. As the auditions heat up, these pairings are going to be especially charged, and these small moments go a long way to build the necessary tension.

We don’t find out much from Hoshimi this episode. Hikari gives us all the exposition about the underground auditions, but we don’t get a lot. Karen even seems to imply that there could be two winners. The lack of rules has been somewhat interesting from a medium that often over explains itself, but we’re a third of the way into the season, and I’d like to know how to root for characters, even if I haven’t fully decided who to root for (besides Mahiru).

Another thing that comes to mind this week is the actual number of characters potentially in the running for the top star. With Nana seemingly out of the running completely and Mahiru not making an appearance underground yet, that leaves Maya, Claudine, Hikari, Karen, Futaba, Kaoroku, and Hoshimi. That’s seven girls for nine spots. Does this mean that Nana and Mahiru are actually in the underground auditions, and we just haven’t seen them yet? Furthermore, Starlight the musical within the show has eight roles, as stated by various characters, but I saw nine in the opening shots of the episode.

As many answers as Revue Starlight gives you, it often leaves you with more questions. We still know very little about the giraffe, or what it means to be a top star. What we do know is that everyone but Karen and Hikari is willing to step over each other to win, and if I know anything about anime, that kindness is sure to be the quality that’s going to get them there.

Score
5.5/10

Zach

Cartoon Philosopher

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