English Dub Review: Revue Starlight “Toward the Light”

I still don’t like Hikari.

Overview

After shrouding it in mystery for the better part of the season, Hikari Kagura’s past is finally revealed. It turns out that Hikari left for London as a little girl, and she and Karen only communicated in letters as Hikari trained to be the best. The year before she would eventually return to Japan, she was involved in another set of underground Revues. She would eventually take second place in those auditions, and be robbed of most of her shine. Hikari persisted, however, and the giraffe saw promise in her. He gave her a second chance at a Revue and sent her to Japan to Seisho academy to train with and against Karen. Now, after Hikari bests Nana, ending the time loop, and Karen beats Claudine, the two are on a collision course!

Our Take

Finally, we delve into Hikari’s character. While I applaud their effort in making the character sympathetic, I still find her standoffishness to be more about servicing the plot than coming from anywhere reasonable in a character sense. Hikari being a bad friend to Karen when they were kids does not justify her continuing the behavior when they grow up, it just underlies a larger character flaw that I don’t think the show really cares about. Revue Starlight has shown itself to be a series that cares deeply about the interpersonal relationships of its core characters, Kaoruko and Futaba are great examples of that. But it has also displayed an incredible capriciousness for some of the ladies in the 99th class. My love of Mahiru, and my disappointment with her treatment so far has been well documented. I think Karen is very much in the same boat.

Don’t get me wrong. I did like this episode. I think that Revue Starlight has shown a knack for pacing and character development. I just also think that the show doesn’t always analyze the directions in which they develop their characters. I think Hikari’s backstory is just a little bit too busy. It doesn’t really work for her to have been a kind of cruel kid to motivate Karen, and then go through the personal tragedy of losing her shine, and then move back and be cruel to Karen again to protect her from the truth. It’s redundant, and with the anomalous exception of the scene where Karen and Hikari first watch “Starlight,” she’s a pretty bad friend. When Kaoruko acted this way, it was a set up for Futaba standing up for herself, but when Hikari does it, the show wants the audience to sympathize with her. But I won’t.

I think it’s a good move to make her the one to break Nana’s eternal recurrence because it gives me any reason to care about her at all, but that’s about it. She’s the least connected to the rest of the cast. I know she’s new, but she seems to have no relationship to any of the other girls. Two-thirds of the way into the show, I should have some idea of how she feels about the other talented students (Maya and Claudine) and should understand her place in the class’ hierarchy, not just extrapolate it from her spot in the rankings. During her flashback to the woman who beats her in her first Revue, I thought it was Claudine. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Hikari had some sort of relationship with the very gifted European student she had a match with this time to contrast with the one she lost in the flashback? They seem to be going for that by recreating the set of the play she did in London in her Revue in Japan, but it’s superficial at best.

I don’t’ want to go in on this show too much, though. I’ve enjoyed Revue Starlight; I even enjoyed this episode. It just focuses on the weakest link in the show, and that happens to be the main relationship, conflict, and center of the whole thing. It’s weird to like a show that I feel has misplaced its core so bad as much as I do. Revue makes it up by spending as much time as possible with a very likable ensemble, but it merely prolongs the oncoming disappointment when we return to this ‘main’ story. It was interesting to learn there are other Revues, and that the giraffe may have been doing this for quite a long time, but the larger mystery isn’t the show’s strength either. At the end of the day, this show lives by the singular-character-centric episode, and it dies by the same. This week was just built around one of the weakest members of the ensemble. And when one of them gets a solo, you should just grit your teeth and wait for the next song.

Score
6/10

Zach

Cartoon Philosopher

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