Houston, we have Yuri.
The Seisho festival is fast approaching, and with Nana moving below the line, all the girls are cozying up to her in hopes of getting the lead. Claudine is still coping with her loss to Maya last episode, with some help from Futaba, Kaoruko and Mahiru commiserate about their second banana status, and Hikari locks Karen in a shed. Meanwhile, Hoshimi tries to figure out just what the hell is going on with the underground auditions. Finally, Karen loses to Maya and Claudine bests Futaba. *Phew* I think that’s it this episode.
As you can see, this is a pretty plot-heavy episode, and as we get to know the characters better, the show begins to show the makings of a really strong drama. There are nearly a dozen named characters, and with only a little backstory for some of them, I already feel deeply submerged in the world. We’ve continued to stay away from Karen and Hikari’s pasts, but it feels like we’re circling that particular series of revelations.
This episode did a lot of work to flesh out the rest of the supporting cast. Whereas the last episode was mostly focused on Hoshimi, with a little time devoted to the ensemble, this week we do the opposite. Besides checking in with all the girls, we spend most of our character development time with Claudine, still reeling from her devastating loss to Maya the night before. She was a former child star—a detail I had forgotten—but she believes it’s made her complacent, and she pledges to redouble her efforts going forward. A simple motivation, but certainly effective. She delivers this speech to the red-headed Futaba, half of the most codependent partnership in the 99th class. Claudine will go on to defeat her at the end of the episode.
Futaba’s roommate Kaoruko, is the true standout of this episode, however. After cornering Mahiru in the bath, she bares her soul (and much more), lamenting that she’s worried the Futaba is leaving her for bigger and better things. She’s still slightly coy about a sexual relationship between the roommates, but there is more than enough to inform you that these girls are more than just dance partners. It was refreshing to have this out in the open, and even more so to see Mahiru have to grapple with her feelings of abandonment. Ideally, this marks a turning point for her going forward.
Speaking of turning points, it’s like Hoshimi read last week’s review. She spends the bulk of her time in the episode researching magic and giraffes, trying to figure out just what’s happening under the school. This is another subplot that I’ll be following with great interest because the show has given no indication as to what a giraffe, or a swordfight for that matter, has to do with auditioning for Starlight.
We also find out a little more about Starlight in this episode. It’s apparently a tragic play about eight goddesses who are separated by either fate or by conflict with each other. It’s not much, but it’s substantially more than we had before. This is ideally enough to start a deep dive into the lyrics of Starlight that play during the underground auditions.
This is still my main issue with the show so far, though. The mystery doesn’t really feel earned. Characters act erratically and we just have to trust that the show is going to explain itself. So far, the character work has been superb, but the mystery box-style plotting is starting to test my patience. I’m somewhat satisfied learning about our supporting cast, but our leads are still two ciphers to me at this point, Hikari especially. Shouldn’t she be happy that Nana moved behind the scenes? This opens up a spot for her to perform at the Seisho festival
This goes double for the secret auditions. I’m still not sure what’s literally happening down there. The battles seem like they are, but they keep calling it a revue. They sing the lyrics of the songs during the battle, but Karen was surprised when Maya was quoting the show. Hopefully, Hoshimi can figure this out because I’m having some trouble. The leaderboard was another thing. After winning two matches, Karen loses to the top-ranked fighter, and immediately drops to ninth place? Why? I’m sure the plot needs her down there for some reason, but it doesn’t make a ton of sense.
Still, if this is all I’m complaining about, Starlight Revue is definitely doing its job. It’s way better than a show with its strange hypertextual origin story has any right to be. Hopefully, you’re watching along with me.