I always thought they were better as a doubles act.
It’s the final day of auditions for the underground Revue. The nine girls of the 99th class have no idea what the leaderboards say, so each thinks they have a chance at the top star. So, Futaba and Kaoruko, Hoshimi and Nana, Claudine and Maya, and Karen, Hikari, and Mahiru all discuss who might take the stage of fate. Claudine reminisces with Maya about their first meeting, and how Maya defeating her allowed Claudine to become the stage girl she always knew she could be. Hikari and Karen renew their promise to each other once more. When the auditions begin, Hosimi, Nana, Mahiru, Kaoruko, and Futaba are all placed in the audience, as the four remaining competitors engage in a two-on-two match. After fighting their hearts out, Karen and Hikari best Claudine and Maya, who confess their love for each other. Then, just as Hikari and Karen are turned against each other, Hikari removes Karen’s cloak, defeating her in seconds.
Plenty of plot this week. It was good to see a little further into Maya and Claudine’s backstory, even if it didn’t go as far into the past as I predicted last week. Maya’s transformation from a rival to a love for Claudine was, while somewhat predictable, still very powerful. When Maya uses Claudine’s native French to declare her love, it’s a beautiful moment. Claudine is still obsessed with winning and losing in a way that Maya has transcended, but I got the feeling that’s something Maya will teach her as their relationship deepens. It’s a partnership with a lot of room to grow, and I’m glad to see their relationship on par with Hosimi and Nana’s or Futaba and Kaoruko’s.
The meat of the story, though, was Hikari and Karen. I don’t find that the sunk cost fallacy often pays off, but this may be the exception that proves the rule. I spent much of this series complaining about the dullness of the main characters and their relationship. A childhood promise story is not nearly as interesting as any of the other three duos in Revue Starlight, but by committing so much screen time to these two leads, now that we are finally at the high stakes part of this story, I do feel something when Hikari seemingly betrays Karen. It’s not as much as I felt for even Claudine and Maya, but it was more than I expected.
The headline here is that, once again, Hikari has made a decision for herself and Karen without talking to Karen at all. Hikari’s sneak attack is no doubt so that she can attempt to sacrifice herself for Karen. It’s meant to show that Hikari has learned a lot about the friendship between the last Revue and this one, but I find the opposite to be true. Once again, Hikari thinks she knows what’s best for Karen. My only hope is that Karen, who seems to have the ability to flout the giraffe’s rules will call Hikari out on this when she inevitably returns to the stage.
Most of this episode is taken up by the two-on-two battle, and it’s definitely one of the more impressive Revues the show has had thus far. It started out a little bit ridiculous, where Hikari and Maya were asked to pick teams for this penultimate matchup as if we didn’t know exactly what the sides would be. (I actually think it would have been much more interesting if they were flipped and the quartet would have each had to deal with taking on their typical partner.)
There are two episodes left in the season, and they are sure to break from the usual formula of character work in the first half of the show and switching to the Revues in the second. I would actually be pretty surprised if we left the Stage of Fate at all before the epilogue. That seems like a lot of Karen before we’re finished. My biggest hope is that they cut that with a little bit of the rest of the cast. There is still the entire mystery of the giraffe that has gone mostly unremarked upon since discovering that Nana and Hikari had both met him before. Additionally, all nine girls are underground right now, and it would certainly be a shame not to hear more from all of them (especially Mahiru). While this episode wasn’t my favorite of the bunch, it was still plenty strong and leaves room for a satisfying finale.