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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 made a promise with each other that they would one day stand on the stage of Starlight, a theatrical production 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 as 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 become the "Top Star".

Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight is a Japanese multimedia franchise created by Bushiroad, featuring two stage musicals, an anime, three manga series, and a mobile game. The musical first premiered in September 2017, with a second run in January 2018. A second musical premiered in October 2018 and is set for another run in July 2019. 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 the global version was released on April 22nd, 2019. Shoujo☆Conte All Starlight, a series of animated shorts, premiered in July 2019. Episodes are first made available to -Re LIVE- players within the game app, then uploaded to the official YouTube channel and are free to view for 2 weeks.

Two movies have been announced. The first movie: Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight Rondo・Rondo・Rondo, which was released in Japanese theaters on August 7, 2020, is a feature-length recap of the anime's events told in Nana's perspective with brand new scenes not shown in the original TV series. The second movie features a brand new story set during the 99th's third year in school and premiered in Japanese theaters on June 4th, 2021 after a delay from its original date of May 21st due to COVID-19 concerns. The Blu-ray of the movie released in December later that same year.

The franchise contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Maya and Claudine excel in all areas of revue. The former is the daughter of a famous actor, while the latter has been acting since childhood. Akira and Shizuha from -Re LIVE- as well as Koharu from the second stage play are also their own schools' respective top students.
  • Aborted Arc: Despite having a live concert revolving around it, the Starry Diamond Revue story arc in the -Re LIVE- mobile game is this, as out of the six songs, only the Sirius and Orion Revues got full event stories and playable units featuring all the characters involved in those Revues. Gemini, Auriga, Taurus, and Procyon weren't as lucky as they only have 1 card each attached to their respective Revues before the game abruptly stopped releasing content related to Starry Diamond. What's worse is that only the events of the Gemini and Sirius Revues are referenced in later event stories outside of the characters' Bond Stories, while the rest don't get so much of a mention or a hint of acknowledgement after all is said and done. On the plus side though, the Gemini and Auriga units have mini-games attached to them at least, so they're not completely forgotten.
  • Actor Allusion: Brittney Karbowski voicing a character named Karen. Hmm, sound familiar?
  • 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.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • The Seisho girls are capable of more impressive feats during the auditions in the anime than they are in the stage plays. Justified, since an animated medium allows the characters to fight more creatively than live actors could.
    • The Korosu from the stageplays go from humanoid enemies created by Seisho's Class B whose only advantage is their overwhelming numbers against the girls, to outright monstrous beings of different shapes and sizes in the mobile game, capable of erasing stories from existence and memory.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The anime as a whole to the first stage play as it fleshes out the characters more and further expands on the general lore behind the Revues thanks to its 12-episode format.
    • Seisho's Christmas event in -Re LIVE- is a perspective-flipped retelling of the Overture manga's Christmas story in its final chapter, detailing what the rest of the 99th were up to while Hikari was out preparing her Christmas surprise for them.
    • The 'Wartime of Farewells, Rerun' event is a second performance for the in-universe play. The event story expands on plot points mentioned in the related card set and had few scenes altered.
    • For the 2nd anniversary of the JP server, Rinmeikan's 'Ghost Patrol Story' also gets an event featuring the rerun of the play, expanding on the original play of the initial sets. On top of a new event story, they also had 3 new cards introduced along the event and an event Memoir.
  • 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 as she's mostly the same in both mediums, 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.
  • 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 known as "The Legendary Hazing", it's left to the audience's imagination exactly what it entails, but Junna's discription of it doesn't paint a pretty picture.
  • 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. Koharu is also relatively quiet and distant from people, mostly owed to her lack of friends before high school.
  • Alternate Continuity: At first glance, the stage plays and the anime may initially share certain plot and character elements, but ultimately are this to each other due to the differing plot points and character relationships in each medium. The Overture prequel manga and the -Re LIVE- mobile game both follow the anime's storyline while ignoring or contradicting the plays' events, while the second stage play continues where the first stage play left off and incorporates characterization from the anime at some parts. Curiously, the pamphlet of #2 revival suggests that some of the events in the anime (or at least, events that happened similarly but may not have played out exactly the same way due to said plot contradictions between both mediums) also took place in the stage plays' continuity, such as stating, "[Claudine and Maya] teamed up on the final day of the auditions".
  • Alternate Self: The Korosu from the stage plays and the Korosu from the mobile game are considered entirely separate entities from each other thanks to their different origins, purposes, and appearances in both mediums. However, their role as antagonists for the Stage Girls to fight and defeat remains the same.
  • 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.
  • Aw, 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.
    • They initially come off as the most impersonal school in -Re LIVE-, but the Edels from Siegfeld care a lot about each other. The event "Siegfeld General Hospital High-Class Prescription" is a good example of this.
  • 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.
  • Between My Legs: Hoshimi in episode 2.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Sweet Mahiru ends up giving Karen a run for her money during their audition duel, all the while saying that she has no talent, confident or radiance. Episode 7 reveals that Nana has been keeping her class in a timeloop for decades, which is a lot on its own, but she's also had to consistently beat the likes of Maya and Claudine in revues in order to do so. This applies to -Re LIVE- too. Michiru presents herself as the most approachable of all the Edels but has quite the tactical mind and a respectable streak of ruthlessness. Tamao is probably one of the nicest, if not the nicest, character in the game, but by Arcana Arcadia, she becomes impressive enough to garner the attention of Akira and Kaoruko, both of whom had previously looked down on her.
  • Big Bad: In the first stage play, the closest thing to one in the story is Seisho Music Academy's own headmaster, Souda-sensei, with both Maya and Nana serving as two separate antagonists against Karen. In the second stage play, it's Seiran General Arts Institute's Yakumo-sensei.
  • 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.
  • Bowdlerize: The Worldwide server censored and changed this one important conversation between Aruru and Shizuha likely as a means to downplay the very dark implications happening during the scene so that the game's age rating would go unaffected. Aruru found Shizuha cutting herself, asking her why during the Arcana Arcadia Main Story, as Shizuha was having trouble with the 'Judgement' role she is playing. This only applies to the English translation, as the Korean and Traditional Chinese translations are not edited like this. On the other hand, only the text in English was translated differently. Aruru's voiced dialogue from the original remains unchanged:
    • Original JP
    Aruru: ...って、なにしてるの!? そのカッターナイフ、どうするつもり!? (..., What are you planning to do with that cutter knife!?)
    • Worldwide version
    Aruru: ...What are you doing?! Why are you pinching yourself?
  • Breaking the Fellowship: The main conflict of the second movie, as the girls participate in another round of revues to come to terms with their respective partners taking different paths after graduation.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Episode 12, 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.
    • Before the final revue in the second movie, Karen faces the audience and asks Hikari if the audience was always this close, if the lights on the stage were this hot, and if the stage had always been this terrifying.
  • 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, as well as Futaba and Kaoruko. From the game, there's Aruru and Misora, and Akira and Michiru.
  • Canon Welding: The franchise seems to be doing this lately by welding the canon of the stageplays with the mobile game, -Re LIVE-.
  • Call-Back:
  • 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.
    • Rondo Rondo Rondo ends with Nana seeing a vision of the girls laying in a bloody mess on the stairs of the Starlight tower and Hikari saying her fated stage with Karen still hasn't ended.
  • 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 Siegfeld 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.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • According to Hinata Sato, when coming up with the third tragedy of Junna's rant about class 2-A's "three great tragedies" (itself a reference to the "great tragedies of William Shakespeare", something Junna mentioned in the first musical) in #2 revival, she took into consideration the anime and 4-koma Starlight. Satou changed up this particular line for every showing of #2 revival, and while "half-twintails that don't suit me," used in the matinee on day 3, was presumably about one 4-koma gag of Junna putting her hair up for an audition, it also drew titters from viewers who knew of Satou's other roles as twintailed characters Leah Kazuno in Love Live! Sunshine!! and Alice in Stray Sheep Paradise.
    • An ad promoting the 27th Summer Performance Festival involving Seisho, Siegfeld, Rinmeikan, and Frontier (the same important festival the 4 main schools of -Re LIVE- were preparing for in fact) can be seen on a train the Seisho girls are riding in in the sequel movie.
    • As shown in the sequel movie, Karen's second choice of performing arts school if she didn't pass the entrance exams to Seisho is revealed to be Seiran General Art Institute.
  • Crossover:
    • With Toji No Miko for a 2019 collaboration with their mobile games.
    • With Hatsune Miku, where Mahiru has to star in a special play featuring Hatsune Miku as one of the main characters, though the Miku featured there is an explicitly non-sentient A.I. projection just like in real life and not an actual person in-story.
    • With BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! in -Re LIVE- in a collaboration event, where the girls of Poppin' Party get to meet the five main characters of -Re LIVE- and help them for a special play involving bands.
    • With Love Live! Sunshine!! in another collaboration event in 2020, where the Seisho girls meet Aqours to celebrate a 100 year old festival both groups are participating in by having a performance collab together with them.
    • With Symphogear in a 2021 collaboration event, featuring Hibiki Tachibana, Tsubasa Kazanari and Maria Cadenzavna Eve. There's also a Fushichou no Flamme (Tsubasa and Maria's first duet) covered by Maya and Claudine.
    • With Steins;Gate in another collaboration event, where Rintarou Okabe helps out the Seisho girls in a play where he insists that the story must have a happy ending for its characters.
    • With Sakura Wars in another 2021 collaboration event, featuring Karen, Hikari, and Mahiru meeting Sakura Shinguji, Gemini Sunrise, and Erica Fontaine from said series after the latter three were mysteriously displaced from their homeworld to the Revue Starlight universe when Karen opened the tametebako they were using for their production of Urashima Taro.
  • Crystal-Ball Scheduling: The franchise is, as a whole, made of this trope. Often events in the plays the characters are doing reflect what they're going through in the real world, with the parallels between the play Starlight and Karen and Hikari's story in the anime being only a few of many, many examples.
  • 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.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: 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.
  • "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.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: When she dozes off in class in the first episode of the anime, Karen has a dream of falling atop of what seems to be Tokyo Tower after someone familiar (Hikari) pushes her off of it. Guess what happens near the end of episode 10?
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Korosu are dark, oddly shaped creatures who exist to feed on stories from around the world and wipe them off from existence completely unless they're defeated in stage combat. Though their exact purpose and origins are completely different between the stageplays and -Re LIVE's- iterations, their inhuman nature stays the same.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Occurs multiple times in -Re LIVE-.
    • In the "Detective Karen on the Case" event, Karen is forced into better understanding her role of Sherlock Holmes by being given an actual mystery to solve, that being to find who stole her precious umeboshi. Also applies to the girls in the roles of Lupin and Moriarty (Yachiyo and Mahiru respectively), as it's them who collaborate to steal it and make it a mystery for Karen to solve, effectively putting them in their respective roles as well.
    • During the Unnamed Play arc, Tamao goes out of her way to act in a way that provokes others. She acts haughty, arrogant, and competitive towards Kaoruko when she is generally good-natured even when Kaoruko provokes her. She is completely dismissive of Rui and even implies that Rui is a helpless burden when she is normally nurturing and gracious. She is distant and aloof towards the other girls in Rinmeikan when she is usually rallying them all to work together and cares deeply for each one of them. This is because she is intentionally invoking O.O.C. Is Serious Business in everyone she meets to make them terrified of her both on and off the stage. Oh, it's probably worth noting that the Major Arcana role she's playing is none other than Death, who is corrosive, indiscriminately cruel, and feared by all for its unpredictability.
  • 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.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In Episode 9, Hikari shows Karen a copy of The Starlight Gatherer, the book on which the Show Within a Show is based and scraps of English text are visible as they page through it. Notably, it opens with the passage
    The Star remembers it all.
    When Fury was Passion.
    When Curse was Faith.
    When Escape was Bravery.
    When Jealousy was Affection.
    When Despair was Hope.
    When Arrogance was Pride.
    The Star remembers it all, together with its twinkles.

The viewer will soon learn that Fury, Curse, Escape, Jealousy, Despair, and Arrogance are the goddesses played respectively by Junna, Futaba, Kaoruko, Mahiru, Nana, and Karen in last year's performance. With the exception of Pride/Arrogance (since over the course of the anime Karen's more closely associated with Flora) the current and former identities of the goddesses are suspiciously apropos for the characters who portrayed them.

  • 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.
    • Perhaps due to their school's America motif, all of the Frontier kids including Elle have at least one or two English words in their revue introductions.
  • Gratuitous French: Being half-French, Claudine occasionally throws some French words in her speech. When she's playing sick to keep the teacher from learning Hikari and Karen broke curfew she exploits it by dramatically saying things like "the weather is nice today" in a language she knows the teacher won't understand.
    • 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.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Mahiru realizes she's in love with Karen, and starts getting jealous when Karen spends more time with Hikari, even practicing extra. The envy is what fuels her in their duel, and for a long time she has Karen on the ropes.
  • "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; of particular note is how both series involve the characters having surreal one-on-one fights with each other where they have to knock something off the opponent's body. Considering director Tomohiro Furukawa worked with Kunihiko Ikuhara on two other anime series and is considered his protégé, it makes sense.
  • How We Got Here: The main story of the mobile game -Re LIVE- opens with Karen and Hikari clashing against Siegfeld's Akira Yukishiro and Michiru Otori in a dual revue overseen by the Giraffe. The rest of the game's story then shows the circumstances that led to these new round of Auditions against the new schools in the first place.
  • Improbable Weapon User: In the -Re LIVE- mobile game, some cards will give the stage girls things that match the theme that they will wield as their weapons such as Cheerleader Yachiyo using pompoms as her crossbow, Yuyuko throwing christmas bells instead of kunais in her Oyuyu card and writing brushes in her Magician card.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
    • The mobile game already assumes that you've watched the anime series, so details like Karen and Hikari winning the Auditions, them getting the lead roles of Flora and Claire for the 100th Seisho Festival, and that the Auditions drain the Brilliance of the Revues' losers when a Top Star is chosen, are immediately given away to the players right at the beginning of the first Main Story chapter.
    • The 3rd Revue Starlight live, "Starry Diamond", also assumes that you've cleared at least Main Story 9 as the Rinmeikan Stage Girls' stage introduction lines, which were changed during and after Main Story 9, don't bother hiding that their school's Performance Department was reformed into the Performance Association after it was effectively shut down at the end of that Main Story.
  • 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 of 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 than they already were throughout the events they go through. The anime also has more slice of life scenarios between the girls and Seisho Academy's cutthroat curriculum is also toned down and much less harsh as a result of omitting Seisho's headmaster Souda-sensei. The Revue battles are treated as fantastical instead of being a part of Seisho's education like in the play and the Auditions are more or less magical in nature in the anime unlike in the play where it's only implicit.
  • Lost in Character:
    • In episode 11, Hikari disappears for months and nobody seems to know where she has gone or how she can be contacted. Episode 12 reveals that Hikari was trapped in the underground theater, endlessly repeating a one-person reenactment of the tale of Starlight. Played more comedically in Mona Lisa Hikari Bond Story 2, where the only thing to get her out of acting as Mona Lisa is being told to act as Mona Lisa acting as Hikari.
    • Nana runs the risk of it in -Re LIVE-, admitting that in the course of writing her adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, she found herself over-empathizing with the Phantom.
    • For a more humorous take on the trope, in 4-koma Starlight, Junna immerses herself so deeply into the role of a 5-year-old for an audition that, even after getting the part, she still does not break character.
      "Hold it!! Junna's autosuggestion hasn't worn off!!"
      "Go call for someone who knows hypnosis!"
    • Akira's practically shaped her life around becoming the Dying King from Elysion's Chapter of Kings. She often calls herself a king, and a lot of how she acts is based off how she believes a king should act.
    • Lalafin sometimes breaks the fourth wall by narrating events happening in real time like a tokusatsu show.
      Lalafin: Everything up until we arrived at the shopping mall has been the A Part, so now we're starting the B Part.
      Aruru: What? A Part? B Part? What's that mean?
      Lalafin: You don't know? In anime and super hero shows, there's the part of the show before commercials and the part after commercials.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Episode 8 mostly focuses on Hikari, however, during the Revue of Solitude, we see Karen facing off against Claudine... And Karen wins. This barely gets seconds of focus but shows just how far Karen has come.
  • Metafiction: The series approached topics like this in the television series, but it goes full throttle in the second movie, where the characters each have to challenge their partners and peers on the "roles" they're all supposed to play in their spheres (this includes the roles they play as characters in the series), discussion on what happens to a character who has fulfilled their role, and the Giraffe bringing back its speech on how audience investment keeps the girls in this bloody feud.
  • 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.
    • Similarly with Rondo Rondo Rondo, where the giraffe informs Nana everyone is writing a new ending to Starlight. Moments later Nana sees blood dripping from one of the star props and then sees a vision of the girls laying in a bloody mess on the stairs of the Starlight Tower.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The premise of the series is very heavily inspired by the Takarazuka Revue. More specifically, Seishou Music Academy is based on the real-life Takarazuka Music School, right down to the similar 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 Akiko Kodama, who currently directs the Revue Starlight stage musicals, was part of the Takarazuka Revue for almost a decade.
  • 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.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Unlike the first stage play, we don't get to see Maya and Claudine's clash in their Revue against each other while Karen and Junna were having their second square off. Instead, we're treated to the aftermath: Maya standing victorious over a defeated Claudine amid the ruins of their revue's stage. To a certain extent, most of the other revue duels that aren't the main focus of the episodes in the series count too.
  • 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. The mobile game introduces more schools, all of which are girls-only as well.
  • 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.
  • Powercreep: A new card is released almost every week, and the new card will almost certainly have an upgraded kit of a pre-existing card or have new gimmicks that are reworked variants of old gimmicks. New card base stats also gets inflated every few months.
  • 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.
  • Saving the Orphanage: The Rinmeikan girls' primary motivation for entering the Auditions and winning it as Top Stars in the first place is to save their school's Performance Department from being shut down.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Claudine is bitterly resentful towards Maya for being the lead in rankings, and seeks to usurp her position. After episode 10, although the two are on better terms than before, their rivalry remains, but with less hostility.
  • Secret-Keeper: The Auditions 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. In the stage plays, the rule of secrecy is non-existent, and while the Auditions still aren't common knowledge among students in that continuity, they're more or less part of the chosen students' education in school.
  • 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.
  • Self-Deprecation: Mahiru tells Karen that she only came to the school to please her grandmother, and doesn't have any talent, radiance or confidence...while beating Karen to a pulp during their duel.
  • Self-Sacrifice Scheme: Hikari's reason for taking part in the auditions is to pull one of these off to prevent Karen from having her brilliance stolen. Her plan is to become Top Star but refuse the wish that came with it so the brilliance of the losers wouldn't be taken. It backfires, as Hikari's disappearance leaves Karen so miserable that she essentially loses her brilliance anyways.
  • 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.
  • She's a Man in Japan
    • "Wartime of Farewells", one of the plays in -Re LIVE-, is about knights on two opposing sides of a war. The English translation has characters refer to roles in the play by male pronouns, which posed little issue at launch even if considering Seishou is an all-girls school. However, Chapter 7 of the Main Story, released for the Japanese server eight or so months after launch, revealed names of some knights... obviously female names like "Mariavera", "Claudia", and "Katalina".
    • In the English localization, Akira is occasionally referred to with he/him pronouns.
  • 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.
  • Show Within a Show: The in-universe play Starlight is the main focus of the anime and stage plays. -Re LIVE- also features productions of several shows by the various schools, some of which are original works, and some of which are references to well-known fictional works, usually in conjunction with the gacha release of characters in their stage costumes.
    • "Wartime of Farewells", the play alluded to in the Seishou students' higher-rarity cards at launch, becomes relevant again in Chapter 7 of the Main Story, when most players would either have seen characters from the set on gacha banners or pulled them and therefore have some knowledge of its story.
    • "Elysion" and "Captain Twins" feature in the storylines of Siegfeld and Frontier respectively, and the Rinmeikan production "Ghost Patrol Story" is featured in various Memoir cards. Variants of characters from these schools wearing their stage costumes are permanently in the -Re LIVE- paid gacha pool.
    • So far, every act of Arcana Arcadia has included parts of Play A's script.
  • Shrinking Violet: Mahiru is normally incredibly shy, unless she's onstage performing. Shiori and Rui from the mobile game are also the same way.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The Yumeoji Sisters from -Re LIVE- have polar opposite personalities. Whereas Fumi is more temperamental and blunt, Shiori tends to be more soft-spoken and meek compared to her older sister.
  • 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.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: 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.
  • Swapped Roles:
    • In the Mafia Famiglia Crossfire event in -Re LIVE-, a mix-up in the costume department causes all the girls' costumes' measurements to be incorrect. It was the measurements themselves were assigned to the wrong roles, so the costume that was supposed to be for Kaoruko fits Nana perfectly, the costume intended for Maya fits Kaoruko, and so forth. Interestingly, the roles they were going to play were ones that fit their characters to a tee, with Maya playing a powerful and strategic mafia boss, Kaoruko playing the dainty and sheltered mafia boss' daughter, and Nana playing the maid who would do anything to protect the daughter from harm. But because of the wardrobe mix-up and a limited timetable, the girls have no choice but to take on each other's roles at the last minute, with Maya as the dutiful maid, Nana as the daughter, and Kaoruko as the boss. They make it work, and they note that being put in roles that were unnatural for them helped expand their acting capabilities.
    • Also in -Re LIVE-, it's noted that as children, Misora and Aruru's first performance together was in a production of The Wizard of Oz with Misora as Dorothy and Aruru as Toto. Now, as teenagers, they're doing Wizard of Oz once again with Aruru in the role of Dorothy with Misora as Toto.
  • Talking Animal: The auditions for the Starlight revue are overseen by a talking giraffe.
  • Tarot Motifs:
    • Stars and a Tower (right next to each other in Major Arcana numbering) figure prominently in both the play "Starlight" and Hikari and Kagura's story.
    • -Re LIVE's- Arcana Arcadia is centered on Play A, a play where all the characters are assigned tarot cards as roles. Both the characters of Play A and the game's characters' arcs are heavily based on their tarot cards' meanings.
  • There Are No Therapists: Whether the revues do involve actual fighting or not, the hypercompetitive environment these characters are in is not doing them any favors mental health-wise, with consequences ranging from working to a self-harming degree (Junna in Episode 2 of the anime and Shizuha) to inferiority complexes (Fumi being the most extreme example) and more. That's not even counting outside circumstances, such as the pressure Kaoruko has had on her since birth to take over her family's dance school or Aruru's baggage over being left at an orphanage when she was a baby with no knowledge of her birth parents. However, there's no sign that any of them have mental health support.
  • There Can Be Only One: There is only one Top Star. However, Karen seeks to change that.
  • Those Two Guys: Masai and Amemiya, the two main representatives of Seisho's Class B (who are also part of the 99th Class), are the main scriptwriters and directors of Class A's plays and are always seen together.
  • Time Loop Fatigue: Subverted. Despite Nana repeating the same school year 60 times, the other Seisho girls were completely unaware of its occurrence. Nana even seemed to be unaffected by the repetition despite retaining her memories and acting out each year exactly as the first.
  • 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 like a typically cute Schoolgirl Series.
  • 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.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mahiru delivers one to Karen during their duel, calling her out for spending so much time with Hikari. In Main Story 15, Ichie gives one to Fumi for not addressing her trauma from Siegfeld and projecting her unfulfilled wishes onto Tamao.
  • 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.
    • In the 7th chapter of -Re LIVE's- Main Story event, Maya seemingly gets erased from existence with none of her classmates from the 99th remembering anything about her.
    Main Story Chapter 7 title card: "Maya Tendo Erased"
  • Wham Shot: Episode 10 ends with Hikari stripping off Karen's Revue coat, and Karen falling off the stage.
    • The last few chapters of Main Story 13. Part 14 has Shizuha committing self-harm, which is arguably the darkest the game ever gets, and Part 15 is where it's revealed that Aruru is an orphan and has been performing her happy-go-lucky attitude this whole time.
  • 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 the revue the other two girls were participating in.