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Anime / Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight

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Let's aim for Top Star!note 

"And it shall be bestowed upon you, the Star which you have longed for-"

When they were children, Karen Aijo and Hikari Kagura make a promise with each other that one day they'll stand on the stage of Starlight, a song and dance revue troupe famed all over the world. However, Hikari transferred schools and moved to England. Time passes, and now the girls are 16 years old. As a student at Seisho Music Academy, Karen is very enthusiastic about the lessons she takes every day, holding the promise she made with Hikari close to her heart. But the cogs of fate turn, the two girls are brought together once again. The girls and their classmates will compete in a mysterious audition process to gain acceptance into the revue.

Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight is a Japanese multimedia franchise created by Bushiroad, featuring a stage musical, an anime, three mangas, and a yet to be released game. The musical first premiered in September 2017, with a second run in January 2018. A second musical is set to premier in October 2018. Produced by Kinema Citrus, the anime began airing in July 2018.


A Mobile Game titled Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight RE:Live was released in Japan on October 22nd 2018, while a global version was released on April 22nd, 2019.

The franchise contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Maya and Claudine excel in all areas of revue. The former is the daughter of two stage actors, while the latter has been acting since childhood.
  • Actor Allusion: Brittney Karbowski voicing a character named Karen. Hmm, sound familiar?
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Because the anime adaptation is a Lighter and Softer take on the story, nearly all the girls, with Karen being the sole exception, are considerably nicer to each other in the anime unlike their more aggressive stage play counterparts. In the stage play version, their rivalry with each other is borderline hostile enough that they mostly don't consider each other as friends and their revue auditions are comparatively more aggressively intense as a result. In the anime, their rivalry is friendlier, and while still intense, their revue auditions are much less hostile as a result.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Episode 5 focuses on Mahiru.
    • Episode 6 is Futaba and Kaoruko's episode. It's notably the first episode where The Protagonist Karen doesn't have a major role.
    • Episode 7 does the same for Nana. Her name is even the title of the episode.
    • Episode 8 is Hikari's turn. In fact, for two thirds of the episode none of the other girls even show up physically, only in her flashback or the photo Karen sent to her.
  • Adapted Out: The teachers from the stage play: Class A's meek adviser Tsuruko-sensei, Class B's stern adviser Karasuma-sensei, and the imposing Seisho headmaster Souda-sensei are all missing in the anime version and are instead replaced by Class A's adviser, Urara-sensei (though Class B's adviser has yet to be seen) and the Giraffe, both of whom are composites of all three characters. Subverted with the Korosu from the stageplay as while they're absent in the anime, they show up in the game as enemy units the girls have to fight against.
  • Adults Are Useless: Subverted; the class's wacky scheme to conceal Karen and Hikari's nighttime absence from the teacher appears to work, but when they get back the next morning, the teacher passes by on a bike and sentences everyone involved to a Cool and Unusual Punishment.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Nana is frequently known as "Banana" by her classmates, due to her Trademark Favourite Food. It also comes from her full name Daiba Nana. If you split the family name you get Dai Ba Nana, or Big Banana.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Hikari comes across as this when she meets Karen for the first time since they were children, though it is hinted that her aloof nature is an act.
  • Alternate Continuity: The stage play and the anime may initially share certain plot and character elements together, but ultimately, they're this to each other as the stories and character interactions differ greatly between them at certain points from the beginning. The Overture prequel manga and the RE:Live mobile game both follow the anime's storyline while ignoring the play's events, while the 2nd stageplay obviously follows the first stageplay's events more directly while ignoring the anime's.
  • Animation Bump: Hikari and Junna's duel in Episode 1 was already impressive enough animation-wise but one certain shot is an obvious stand-out moment: the part where Junna grabs onto a ring and is hoisted into the air, mixing a bit of CGI in seamlessly as the "camera" moves to create a true sense of space.
    • In general, all the auditions count as an Animation Bump, but there's some noticeable moments in the more grounded scenes as well, like Maya's introduction.
    • Episode 7 includes a very subtle but memorable example: the episode doesn't have a lot of extravagant animation, focusing mainly on staging to set the mood, but at the very end of the episode, the shot of Nana turning to face and seemingly address the audience is very fluid, making the moment all the more unsettling.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Despite the characters all vying with each other to be Top Star, and their not too pleasant interactions with each other at times, they all band together to try and keep Karen and Hikari from getting into trouble after both girls miss the school curfew and don't return for the night. When the two girls do return in the morning, the rest of the class is there to greet them and welcome them back.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: During the final day of the auditions, Karen does this with Hikari and Maya does this with Claudine since it's a two-on-two duel.
  • Big Damn Heroes: After Hikari is Pinned to the Wall by Junna, Karen is quick to jump to the former's aid.
  • Boarding School: Seisho Music Academy is this, with a few of the characters being roommates. The other three schools introduced in RE:Live are also this as well.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the finale, the Giraffe turns to the "camera" and addresses the audience directly. Not the audience of the revue, the audience of the show. He theorizes that performances such as Karen's and Hikari's exist because audiences such as the viewer wish to see them. He implicitly blames audiences for the tragedies that appear to be unfolding, directly discussing the entire show's theme about how cutthroat and competitive the musical theater industry is in Japan - ultimately building greater spectacles on the crushed hopes and dashed dreams of those talented individuals who still come up just a little short.
  • But Not Too Foreign:
    • Claudine has a Japanese father and a French mother.
    • Lalafin from RE:Live is Half-German, Half-Japanese.
  • Childhood Friends: Karen and Hikari are this. Futaba and Kaoruko also have this relationship.
  • Cliffhanger: Episode 10: With Hikari and Karen victorious from their Revue Duet, they are pitted against each other for one more revue, on an elevated stage. Hikari reminds that, in spite of the two winning the duet, the auditions must still end with only one victor. Hikari strips off Karen's coat, and Karen falls off the stage. The episode ends there.
  • Coat Cape: As seen in the page image, the characters all wear this as part of their revue costumes. Stage combat in the series is won by the victor managing to dislodge the loser's coat. The girls from Siegfield in the mobile game wear coats like this as well.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Hikari is not the least bit pleased that Karen jumped in to duel Junna after the latter pins her to a stage fixture with an arrow, as Karen interfered with an audition for the Starlight revue.
  • Crossover: With Toji No Miko for a 2019 collaboration with their mobile games.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Subtly implied with Nana, who despite appearing less proactive towards revue than her classmates, is ranked third in the class. Not to mention that, throughout the "Groundhog Day" Loop, she was skilled enough to become Top Star every single time before Hikari came along.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: After Karen defeats Junna in stage combat twice, the former ostensibly manages to win the latter over to her way of thinking, as Junna becomes much more amicable towards Karen.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The opening and ending themes are sung by the nine main characters.
    • The ED, Fly Me To The Star, gets extra credit for the number of different versions it has. In each episode the same song is sung by different characters, either solo or as a duet, as each character gets focus on them in the plot.
  • Exact Words: As a rule, the school's gates are locked at 6 in the evening, and any students who make day trips out into town have to be back by then. Because no one mentioned the bolded part of the rule to Karen when she went out to look for Hikari, the two girls wind up returning to school by 6 in the morning. It doesn't save them.
  • Evolving Credits: The visuals of the ending credits changes depending on which characters are the focus of the episode.
  • Evolving Music: The ending theme is sung by different characters depending on which of them are the focus of the episode. In Episode 7, an instrumental version is used.
  • Food as Bribe: After learning that Nana has ambitions to write for revue, her classmates start giving her candy in the hopes that she will consider them for starring roles in any plays she writes.
  • Foreshadowing: Fans have noted that The Reveal in Episode 7 was actually foreshadowed subtly and cleverly in the first half of the anime, with at least one Japanese fan making a video noting some of these moments.
    • One notable moment is the announcement of Hikari's transfer in the very first episode being met by a very brief but pointed shot of Nana reacting with surprise. Her entrance is also uncannily similar to Homura's introduction in Puella Magi Madoka Magica—the main character has a strange dream involving an Aloof Dark-Haired Girl, and that girl transfers into her class the same day. It later turns out that (spoiler for both Revue and Madoka) just like Homura, Hikari is trying to end a long-running "Groundhog Day" Loop and save the protagonist from having her soul (or "shine") taken away.
    • Another early hint of Nana's interest in Hikari was dropped in Episode 2 when Nana is the one who confronts Hikari trying to force the elevator open.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Kaoruko is interrogating Mahiru on her feelings towards Karen in the bath, she holds a rubber duck between her fingers and makes it squirt water.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • Maya finishes her fights saying this. Amusingly, she didn't bother changing the eastern order of her name despite speaking in English.
    This is Tendo Maya.
    • Justified for the giraffe in London, as it is, after all, in London. When Hikari responds to it in Japanese, it switches to Japanese for her.
  • Gratuitous French: Being half-French, Claudine occasionally throws some French words in her speech.
    • On a roll in Episode 10. After Maya and Claudine lose in the Revue Duet against Karen and Hikari, they share a conversation that is all in French.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Nana has actually won the auditions of the Giraffe a long time ago, and the wish she made when she became Top Star was to be able to perform Starlight with her friends again, the exact same play they did in their first year. She was sent back to when they had just arrived at school, and since them she has been repeating the same cycle of performing Starlight in the first year, becoming Top Star in the second, and them going back in time.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Junna trains herself to near-exhaustion, but finds that she still can't hold a candle to characters like Maya and Claudine, who possess natural talent for revue.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Hikari's attempts to prevent Karen from participating in the auditions only serve to make the latter all the more determined to get to the bottom of them.
  • Homage: Many scenes in the anime have visuals and thematic beats paying tribute to Revolutionary Girl Utena. Considering director Tomohiro Furukawa worked with Kunihiko Ikuhara on two other anime series and is considered his protégé, it makes sense.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": In Japanese, Karen's name is meant to be pronounced as "Kah-ren" (with the "a" sound being like how "father" would be pronounced in English), but the English dub instead pronounces her name as it typically is in most English-speaking countries (with the "a" sound being pronounced like "air"). While the name "Karen" is one that can be found in several different cultures, it's still a bit odd.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The last scene of episode 7 is framed in a particular way so it looks like Nana is talking to the viewers.
  • Lighter and Softer: The anime compared to the stage version. In the original stage play, the girls' rivalry and competitiveness were played up more, with the characters being borderline antagonistic and even hostile to each other even outside revue battles, though they all eventually become better by the end. Contrast this to the anime where the girls are friendlier and closer to each other from the start, and where the story drives every one of them to become even closer throughout the events they go through. Seisho Academy's cutthroat curriculum is also toned down and much less harsh in the anime as a result of omitting Seisho's headmaster Souda-sensei and the fantastical activities they have to go through, turning the school into a more mundane performing arts school with the more fantastical revue activities happening in the background in secret from those uninvolved in it instead of the forefront like in the play.
  • Maximum Fun Chamber: Due to Karen and Hikari being out after curfew, and their friends attempting to hide this from the teacher, the whole class gets subjected to "traditional hardcore training." Supposedly it's so intense that previous victims dropped out of school afterward. Exactly what it consists of is never revealed, but it leaves some of them pretty sore the next day.
  • Mood Whiplash: The last few minutes of the first two episodes practically ooze with this. To wit, Karen is yanked from the atmosphere of an otherwise normal acting school, dressed up in a revue costume, and dropped onto a stage, where she is expected to sing and engage in stage combat with her classmates as part of the auditions for the Starlight revue. And if that wasn't enough, the auditions are overseen by a talking giraffe.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: In a series otherwise full of perfectly normal humans, the presence of a talking giraffe and the Mood Whiplash that accompanies his scenes and plot involvement is rather jarring.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The ending sequences of Episodes 3-6 feature one or two characters with their voice actresses singing "Fly Me To The Star," with different variations based on who is featured in that particular episode. In Episode 7, Nana is the focus of the ED... but there is no singing.
  • One-Gender School: Seisho Music Academy, the school where the series mainly takes place, is an all-girls' school. Since Seisho is heavily based on the real-life Takarazuka Music School, which is also all-female, it only makes sense.
  • Picky Eater: Kaoruko is subtly implied to be one, dumping parts of her lunch she dislikes onto Futaba's plate.
  • Pinned to the Wall: In Episode 1, Junna pins Hikari by the coat to a star-shaped stage fixture with one of her arrows.
  • Reality Ensues: To cover for Karen and Hikari when they miss the school curfew, the girls think of a ruse that mostly relies on the teacher looking in the right direction in the right time and failing to see through Claudine's obvious acting. It seems to have worked, but as the teacher casually informs them the next morning, it didn't.
  • Rotating Protagonist: The prequel manga focuses on a different character in each chapter.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Everything about the stage combats is a metaphor for how fiercely competitive the theatrical world is.
  • Rule of Three:
    • In the scene when Hikari is introduced to the class, Karen excitedly jumps to her feet, and is subsequently scolded by her teacher and told to sit down, three times.
    • Three times in episode 5 Mahiru is caught by Hikari trying to do something with Karen's stuff. All three scenes end with Mahiru throwing the object with a small scream.
    • The stage combat between Karen and Mahiru has a baseball joke where Mahiru hits Karen with her mace as if she was hitting a ball, throwing Karen in a trapdoor that leads to another stage. The joke is naturally repeated three times.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Ee-yup. Mahiru's character is largely built on her having a massive, blatant crush on Karen, and the prequel manga all but explicitly states Futaba and Kaoruko are dating.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Claudine is bitterly resentful towards Maya for being the lead in rankings, and seeks to usurp her position.
  • Secret Keeper: The auditions for the Starlight revue are not common knowledge, and known to only a small handful of students. The giraffe also threatens Karen with penalties if she were to tell anyone else about the auditions.
  • Secret Underground Passage: Seisho Music Academy contains one of these, accessible through an elevator located in an obscure corner of the building. It leads to the stage where the giraffe holds the auditions for the Starlight revue.
  • Serious Business: Junna treats revue as this, and shows open hostility towards anyone who shows admiration towards others who are good at the field, believing that such people are not serious about bettering themselves and advancing past said individuals.
  • Seven Is Nana: Episode 7 is, sure enough, all about Daiba Nana. Her name is even the title of the episode, making it something of a Pun-Based Title.
  • Shown Their Work: The writers are clearly well-versed in the field of Japanese revue, with several subtle nods to the field that might be missed by a casual viewer.
  • Shrinking Violet: Mahiru is incredibly shy.
  • Sleepyhead: Kaoruko is often seen on the verge of falling asleep.
  • Sliding Scale of Cooperation vs. Competition: While most of the school views attaining Top Star as a goal and thus compete with each other for the position, Karen wants to shine on the stage collectively with all her classmates. It is to be noted that this is a very radical opinion, as there can be only one Top Star.
  • Takarazuka: The premise of the series is clearly heavily based on the Takarazuka Revue, or more specifically, the Takarazuka Music School (down to the gray uniforms). The military-esque uniforms the girls wear during stage combat are also typical of the kinds of costumes common in Takarazuka productions, and the dramatic direction of the "auditions" calls to mind the melodrama that characterizes Takarazuka productions.
    • It's worth noting that Kodama Akiko, who currently directs the Revue Starlight stage musicals, was part of the Takarazuka Revue for almost a decade.
  • Talking Animal: The auditions for the Starlight revue are overseen by a talking giraffe.
  • There Can Be Only One: There is only one Top Star. However, Karen seeks to change that.
  • Tone Shift: Starting at the second half of the show, in episode 7, the story breaks the episodic pattern it established and goes into backstories that reveal sinister truths about what's going on, and the tone becomes more serious and less cute.
  • Transformation Sequence: The sequence where Karen dresses up for the auditions is effectively treated as such by the show, right down to being Stock Footage in future episodes. Since it would be hard to stretch the act of putting on some clothes too long, most of the Stock Footage is dedicated to the process of making the clothes and accessories.
  • Unknown Rival: Mahiru resents Hikari for being Childhood Friends with Karen, and becoming the focus of Karen's attention since her return. Hikari is oblivious to these feelings.
  • Weapon of Choice: Each character wields a different weapon for stage combat.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 7. Turns out there is a "Groundhog Day" Loop going on because Nana became Top Star long ago and she refuses to let her happy days with her classmate end. Also, Hikari randomly showed up after many loops, which implies there is much more to her than meets the eye.
    • Which is followed up immediately with episode 8. When Hikari was abroad in London, the school she attended had the auditions too, complete with what seems to be the exact same giraffe. She lost, after which it was revealed to her that the creation of a Top Star drains the motivation and energy of all of the losers, which makes the whole thing even more sinister than it already was.
  • Wham Shot: Episode 10 ends with Hikari stripping off Karen's Revue coat, and Karen falling off the stage.
  • You Just Ruined the Shot: Karen's Big Damn Heroes moment to "save" Hikari after Junna pins her to a stage fixture is met with disdain from both of them, as Karen interfered with a Starlight revue audition the other two girls were participating in.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Claudine wears a Type A with her school uniform.

Example of: