With some good decision making, I think its time to dig into the world of talking about seasonal shows once again. At least the ones that I really enjoy and want to see other people enjoy too. Kageki Shoujo is one of those series that I don’t think got enough attention. I just haven’t seen enough people talk about it even in my little friend sphere online. I don’t know why, but I thought it was something special. Especially since you don’t really see a lot of modern series with a niche subject. A subject with girls working in a competitive school for drama and singing. Maybe it’s the rakugo situation once again. Hard to tell.
The first thing that got me was Kageki Shoujo being a reference to a lot of shoujo dramas from the past. Some of them that I’ve actually watched. For instance, there was that mention of Rose of Versailles with one of the main characters, named Sarasa, wanting to be the top performer in a specific Takarazuka troupe and play Oscar herself. The mentor-ship program with some references to class S material from the past. Sometimes I worried that the show would exist more in references to these great drama story instead of having meat of its own instead of material, but it didn’t. In fact, the material in the anime is very strong.
Kageki Shoujo starts with the meeting of two different characters under a great tree. Ai Narata, the former idol who quit after some wrong happenings with some male audiences to join the legendary Kouka, an elite school for acting and singing. Ai is very skilled in singing and dancing, but she is afraid of men touching her and doesn’t know how to emote that well. All of which is the opposite of her roommate Sarasa Watanabe who expresses herself a bit too much and while having no experience, has almost unlimited talent in acting and dancing while being absurdly tall. The two don’t get a long with each other at first until they finally can see the value in each other. Time for the Centennial group to go.
The two finally connect together from their misunderstandings that feature facing Ai’s trauma heavily in a realistic way, Sarasa and Ai finally at least become friends with each other. None of that drama is handled wrongly by the way. It all is very believable and crushes Ai’s past does revolve around her mother going through her acting career rather then caring for her daughter, her mother’s significant other sexually assaulting her, and then the fans of the idol group that Ai joined holding her hand for too long. Ai left a lot of things to join this male less group at Kouka Academy and suddenly all of that still followed her. While Ai did not leave behind her drama in the end, she found a way forward and Sarasa helped with that.
After that, there are some serious arcs revolving around the acting school at Kouka Academy, different classmates that have their own motivations like the twins Chaki and Chiaki who are finding their own separate routes in the acting fields, Sawa who has her own trouble as the leader of the group, Yamda and her weaknesses she must overcome, and Kaoru who is best girl and takes her learning seriously. I like how acting is connected to their personal lives. Sarasa facing her drama of copying other actors in the acting field at first with her background with Kabuki and her supposed boyfriend Akiya and then her breaking away from that to get her own style of acting for the roles she wants to accomplish through her experiences. Eventually, she at least has an idea. That’s a good way to end it.
I love the different styles of arcs that appeared in Kageki Shoujo. It wasn’t just the beginning arc where the girls met. Considering that Ai, Sarasa, and the others are the 100th class of the Kouka Academy, that means a special celebration which not only shows off other members of Kouka Academy from ages past from people who are currently in troupes to golden members, it was also a good and explosive way for us to see all of the academy. I also loved the last arc centered around auditions. That was my favorite part of Kageki Shoujo because acting and experiences tied together in one of the most powerful and personal experiences that I’ve seen in a show for a while. It also added some extra tension by giving the girls a sign of what their careers are going to be like considering that they faced each other for roles.
On a visual level, Kageki Shoujo really isn’t that special. Besides the fantastic character designs that are classic older shoujo and other tropes in different situations, there really isn’t anything to write home about most of the time. Some sequences stand out because of how well directed and focused they are. For all the acting and dance training that gets involved in Kageki Shoujo, there is a lot more standing and sitting around in appropriate moments that fills scenes with great character interactions. Some of these scenes are high lights like when Sarasa goes on the stage for the first time and has the light on her. That was so quick and yet so incredible. Small elements like that are what make Kageki Shoujo stand out compared to other shows.
So yeah, if I gave a ranking of scores, Kageki Shoujo would be an 8/10 for me. For this blog, that means it’s a good. What problems do I have? Well, it could be a lot more focused or could have dug into what it presented a bit more then it did. Ai’s idol life still follows her around it does all her to give stage advice to those around her. So, everything is still there. It just didn’t have as much impact that it could have to make it stand out be special. Some of that could have been the lack of production values in the show to make more moments expressive and stand out more. But yeah, it was still all good for what it did and I really do want more. If that isn’t the sign of a successful season, then I don’t know what is. Please let it happen.
I agree, Kageki Shojo hasn’t gotten nearly enough love! It’s a great show with a surprising amount of depth. Though I have a long history with shojo, so I’m not that surprised that I liked it. I actually really liked the artwork, it reminded me of those classic shojo that I used to read when I was a kid. It’s funny, I’ve really enjoyed the KS series, but I never really thought of mentioning it on my blog, I’m not even sure why. Thanks for pointing that out, maybe I’ll write about it in the future.
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I hope you do!