With this episode, it becomes clear that Revue Starlight is less about Karen and more about the development of the entire cast. This week we get into the insights of Kaoruko and Futaba through the former perspective. Although spoiled, bratty and not-at-all serious about the Revue audition, I very much welcome her as a person who offers a different perspective to Revue Starlight. Previous characters have showed us time and again how much effort they work on to be the chosen ones, especially the girl with glasses Junna who compensates her lack for talent with tremendous amount of practice. That leaves Kaoruko as the one left behind since she’s clearly too laid back to put all her effort into improving herself. And like how a spoiled kid acts she behaves selfishly, making decisions just for the sake of making certain people (Futaba) feel bad, and in the end one could argue that she doesn’t really earn it – her character arc and her Starlight audition. While these claims are not incorrectly, for me it’s more about Kaoruko learns to change and be more serious in the process.
Needless to say, Kaoruko and Futaba’s dynamic isn’t Revue Starlight greatest moments. We have seen these kind of friendship breakdown and reconcile before in Revue Starlight, with better success (Karen & Hikari, Karen & Mahiru), add to the fact that 1) they’re side characters with predictable development and 2) this relationship is unbalanced somehow. As for 1), the moments Kaoruko announces she’s going back to Kyoto, we all know for sure that Futaba will run after her and that she’d never leave. It taps on all the similar beats and makes me think why don’t shake thing up a little? For 2), I can totally see that Futaba can be better off without Kaoruko. Futaba has been following the girl’s step in every decision, and this episode is meant to be a trial for Kaoruko to realize and appreciate how much Futaba has done for her. At the end, while she does acknowledge that, things pretty get back to status quo.
In fact, I’m more interested with the other angle Revue Starlight focus on: the parallel between Karaoku and Tendou Maya. This show has been consistently bring up the point between natural talent vs hard work. Take Tendou and Claudine for example, for all the efforts Claudine make, she’s still one step behind Tendou because Tendou has the talent plus the heavy effort. Karaoku is one of the natural talent. She’s the prized kid where her parent is an expert at Japanese dance. But without the will to be on top she starts to fallen behind to Futaba, who practices day in, day out. Because of that Tendou somehow seen through Karaoku. There’s a line that Tendou said to her (it’s pretty vague by the way) that reminds her that she needs to try harder for those who support her and “the feeling that you have a duty to be the best you can be”. The duel, unfortunately, isn’t that exciting compared to previous duels. For the show that consistently surprises us with its smart visual storytelling, this episode is also unremarkable in that regard. Karen is sidelined into a loud, one-dimensional character and I didn’t appreciate that much. Not really Revue’ Starlight’s high point, but it’s still solid enough to make it a damn good time.